The main character of the game. Cecil is a Dark Knight of the Baron Empire, torn between his loyalty to his kingdom and feelings against having to commit atrocities against several nations. Eventually, he decides he's had enough and defects from Baron to try and stop them and later Golbez from gathering the Crystals. He and Golbez appear in the Dissidia series as representatives for Final Fantasy IV and is one of three representatives of his game in the Spin-OffTheatrhythm Final Fantasy.
BFS: Just like most Final Fantasy heroes. Hard to tell in the 2D releases, but in the DS release, some of his swords are thicker than his arms and longer than he is tall save for the head. Of course, this is probably due to the Chibi art style, because his official renders show him wielding swords of standard sizes.
Dude Looks Like a Lady: But it only became obvious after one, technology developed to the point that we could clearly see what he looks like, and two, the series became popular enough for Yoshitaka Amano's artwork for it to be gathered up into artbooks (as usual, happening later for the anglophone world than Japan).
The Good Captain: Sort of. He does try to blame his men for questioning the king, but that was also when he still described himself as a coward. He gets better after his Character Development.
Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Played straight when he transitions from a dark helm as a Dark Knight to a nice headband as a Paladin.
The Hero: He grows into the role after abandoning Baron for its atrocities.
Heroic BSOD: Suffers from this for quite a long time once he's been freed of the Mysterious Girl in The After Years. Although you can use him during his BSOD, his stats are absolutely pathetic. It's not until he sees his dark side about to kill Ceodore that he snaps out of it and returns to being the ass-kicker we all know.
Honorary Uncle: Yang asks him to be Ursula's godfather during her birth.
How Do I Shot Web?: After the Paladin transformation, he's reset to level one, with the damage capability he had at the beginning of the game. (Fortunately, he gains levels extremely quickly.) His holy-element Mythgraven Blade/Sword of Legend helps him be effective while he's re-leveling on the way down Mt. Ordeals.
Lawful Stupid: Averting this trope is actually a plot point for him, as he worries that he's becoming a tool of Baron without any morality in the beginning of the game. The decision to avert this is also what causes him to turn against his homeland.
Light is Good/Dark Is Not Evil: Before the king turned evil or, rather, before Cagnazzo began to impersonate him, it's very strongly implied that Dark Knight!Cecil was actually a just and noble warrior.
However, it still sometimes makes him a Hero with Bad Publicity; even at the start of the game, some of the people in Baron seemed freaked that the king is having his knights learn dark sword techniques and generally bothered by the fact that he's a Dark Knight.
My God, What Have I Done?: His reaction to attacking the Mysidians and inadvertently burning down Mist and killing Rydia's mother.
Has the very same reaction in The After Yearswhen he remembers everything he's done under the Mysterious Girl's control, but especially when he realizes he's given Edward a Carnelian Signet (aka Bomb Ring), the very same thing that he inadvertently destroyed Mist with 17 years prior.
Papa Wolf: One of the factors that broke Cecil out of his Heroic BSOD is when his dark side attacked Ceodore.
Punch Clock Villain: He's never evil, but he does assault a sovereign nation without provocation and steal their national treasure because his king orders him to. He then becomes a delivery boy for an object that kills almost all of the summoners for similar reasons, at which point he quits his position.
To Kain. Both are orphans raised by the King, both rose high in the Baronian ranks, both vow to fight against Baron. But right-handed Cecil stays the course and becomes a Paladin, while left-handed Kain ends up Brainwashed and Crazy and working for Golbez.
To Golbez. The two are brothers and it is only through luck that Cecil did not end up in Golbez's villainous role.
Stay in the Kitchen: His treatment of his obviously competent lady love, Rosa, often takes this to extremes. Despite she and everyone else pointing out that she is a) a high-level White Mage with top-flight archery skills and b) in love with Cecil and utterly unwilling to leave his side, Cecil, often brusquely, tells her to stay behind because he doesn't want to see her hurt. This reaches the point of absurdity towards the end when he orders not only her but Rydia (you know, the nuketastic spellcaster) to stay safe on Earth, but has no problem taking along Edge, who spends half his time in battle faceplanted. (Fortunately, neither of them listen.) His opening scenes in The After Years show that he still maintains this attitude toward her even after being married to her for 17 years.
Warrior Prince: Although he does not officially bear the title of Prince, he is King Baron's ward and heir.
When All You Have Is a Hammer: Enforced in the first US localization, which removed the Darkness ability from Cecil's Dark Knight menu, meaning all he could do was swing his sword or use items.
"Cecil, Rosa. I cannot bring myself to face you both, not yet. I must test myself as you did, Cecil, at Mt. Ordeals. I will train until I've surpassed my father as a Dragoon. When that time comes, then I shall return to Baron."
Cecil's long-time friend and ally, and commander of Baron's Dragoons. Involved in a Love Triangle with Cecil and Rosa. He appeared in the sequel to Dissidia as one of the main characters to the new plot and appears as a playable, unlockable sub-character in Theatrhythm Final Fantasy.
Ascended Glitch: A bug in the original Japanese release of FFIV causes Kain to repeat the last move another character makes when he equips a certain weapon in the final battle. Apparently, more than one person on the dev team thought this was awesome and in the next game, created a job class based on it: the Mime.
Breakout Character: One of the most famous Ensemble Darkhorses of the series. He got to be a central character in The After Yearsdue to his dark side being a major antagonist, and is one of the more plot-important characters in Dissidia 012. Even Tetsuya Nomura is a Kain fanboy and tried really hard to get him in the first Dissidia, looking at him for IV's representative villain at one point instead of Golbez.
Easy Levels, Hard Bosses: While the other characters' Lunar Trials involves completing various tasks, Kain's is instead a murder mystery that requires little input from the player. The only way to fail here is to give the wrong answer to a choice given at the very end. Contrast the true challenge of the Trial: a Duel Boss with Lunar Bahamut, which can be devastating unless the player knows how to time Kain's Jump with Bahamut's countdown to Mega Flare.
Enemy Without: Kain?/Dark Kain in both IV Advance and The After Years.
Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: It takes a while for him to get there. His shoulder-length blond hair comes into play when he becomes truly noble in his heart, turning into a Holy Dragoon.
Heel-Face Revolving Door: The most common perception of him, though in truth he only is brainwashed twice, and he notably fights off another attempt at brainwashing without even letting the struggle show on his face.
And actually, some versions of the game reduce the number from two to one, with Golbez intentionally allowing him to briefly rejoin Cecil to steal the last Dark Crystal.
Lightning Bruiser: In The After Years, he is flat out the best party member in the game by pure stats — his HP, Strength, and Stamina are among the best in the game, but unlike a lot of other party members who can say the same, he has Speed rivaling the Eblan Four ninjas, and that's not getting into his White Magic which includes Haste, Blink, and Esuna. The only catch is you need to keep him at Level 15 as the Hooded Man so he can get the full value of his Holy Dragoon stat growth, but all you lose if you don't is lose out on some max HP, and he's still going to get the Strength and Speed regardless of level.
Mythology Gag: Starting with the Dawn of Souls remake for Final Fantasy II, the boy that Ricard Highwind (the series' first Dragoon and bearer of the surname Highwind) adopts is named Kain. This was brought full circle when remakes of IV had Kain mention that the name of his father (who died note fighting an evil empire; i.e. Ricard's Heroic Sacrifice against Emperor Mateus in II) was Ricard (although it's highly unlikely due to age; Kain tells the 17-year-old Ceodore that he was about his age when he heard news of his father's death; the Kain seen in II is merely a child).
Damsel in Distress: The first time she comes down with Desert Fever, requiring Cecil to go searching for some rare medicine. The second time, Golbez invokes it by abducting her and holding her hostage.
Generation Xerox: She wished to become a White Mage and fight alongside her lover, much like her mother did. The only difference is that Mrs. Farrell's husband was a Dragoon, and Cecil's a Paladin...
Informed Attractiveness: While by no means ugly, her reputation as a world famous beauty seems a bit of a stretch when the other female party members are also quite beautiful. YMMV of course on if they're more attractive than Rosa or not.
And to be fair, it's largely the Baronians who praise her beauty to the skies, and since she's the only female playable character from Baron, she could very well be the most beautiful woman in the kingdom.
The Ingenue: She's pure of spirit, although she's not naive or stupid.
Pregnant Badass: In the original release of The After Years, Ceodore is 16. The After Years takes place 17 years after the original game, implying she was possibly already pregnant during the end-game. The Complete Collection re-release de-aged Ceodore to 15, but included the Interlude chapter where she's playable for part of the chapter and later explicitly states she's pregnant.
Silk Hiding Steel: A pure and loving healer/queen who dresses very well and kicks ass.
Action Girl: And one of the first ones in a Final Fantasy game, no less.
Badass Adorable: If you level her sufficiently, she can one-hit desert creatures with her little Ice Rod.
Big Damn Heroes: One of her iconic scenes is showing up as an adult (supposedly killed by a sea serpent a few weeks earlier at age 6), after everyone is about to die, and kicking Golbez's ass. This was a guy who took a Meteor spell to the face and walked it off.
The Big Guy: A surprisingly non-shoehorned example. Rydia has the highest damage potential of any party member, with Bahamut easily hitting the 9999 damage cap.
Fits this in the team dynamic somewhat, as her adult version tends to be mature and centered as opposed to Cecil's brooding Hero, Rosa's Heart/Chick, Kain's stoic Lancer, and Edge's Smart Guy.
Black Magician Girl: As a child, since she only has access to the Chocobo summon (and possibly Goblin if you find the item).
Deadpan Snarker: She shows signs of this as an adult in the original SNES translation, although that could be chalked up to the localization team's efforts to voice her "inner child" due to the Plot-Relevant Age-Up. Subsequent rereleases tend to focus on the "childlike innocence" angle in her dialogue.
Justified Trope: Rydia didn't forgive Cecil too quickly, but she was rational enough to realise that he felt remorseful for what he'd done after he saved her life after she attacked him and even continued to protect her from his own allies from Baron. The Plot-Relevant Age-Up also helped a lot — Cecil was surprised she still wanted to fight alongside him now that she could protect herself, but she pointed out there were more important things to consider than their own discomfort (and given she spent at least a decade there, it would've given her time to truly forgive). As for forgiving Kain, though... well, maybe Leviathan explained things to her so her anger wouldn't fester?
Glass Cannon: Her summons will blast your enemies into oblivion, but Rydia by far has the lowest health of any of the group. If not sufficiently leveled by the time you've reached Zeromus, it's likely he'll have her face down on the floor half the time.
Squishy Wizard: She's really squishy as a child (for obvious reasons), coming in with just a fraction of the HP that Cecil has. She retains the lowest HP as an adult, too.
Happily Adopted: Growing up in the Feymarch, she seems to regard the Eidolon king and queen as her new parents. The feeling's mutual.
The Heart: She takes the deaths (and "deaths") of teammates the hardest, despite not knowing them for nearly as long as the rest of the party did. Her breaking down in sobs over their loss is what motivates Edge to swallow his pride and accept your help.
I Choose to Stay: The ending for the original game implies Rydia chose to stay in the Feymarch and live with Asura and Leviathan. The After Years turns this one-sided — Asura and Leviathan send her back to live in Mist because she's still a human, and despite growing up in the Feymarch, they thought it would be better for her to be with her own species.
Magikarp Power: Downplayed but present. When she joins the party she's Level 1 with no spells, only enough MP to summon Chocobo once, and only 30 HP so she's easily killed. Once she starts gaining levels, she'll learn Blizzard, Thunder, Cure, and her pitiful stats will start growing. By the time you get to Damcyan, she's probably at least on-par with Cecil for competence.
Parental Abandonment: Her mother is inadvertenly killed due to Cecil and Kain's actions and her father is never mentioned.
Plot-Relevant Age-Up: Hand Waved by a time flow difference between the regular world and the Feymarch. While only a week or so passed for everyone else, a decade passed for her. This is a conceptually popular target for fan-fiction, as the game glosses over it (due to space limitations on the original cart), but seriously, a decade. One has to imagine a lot happened for her!
Randomly Drops: She has four summons that are randomly dropped at a very low probability (1/256) by certain random encounters, so rare that most players will never see them. Goblin is a Joke Character and Mindflayer is only so-so, but either Bomb or Cockatrice can be a Disk One Nuke if you get them early enough.
Even moreso in The After Years, just this side of Fran for being as revealing as possible while still wearing enough to be called "clothing." The outfit gets bowdlerised in the English version and more closely resembles actual cloth. The fun point is, instead of complaining, the fans actually appreciate it.
Why Did It Have to Be Fire?: Rydia is unable to cast Fire, and is afraid to cast it at first because Cecil and Kain unknowingly destroyed her hometown with Bombs (the monster, not the explosive device).
You Kill It, You Bought It: All of her optional summons are acquired by defeating the monster in battle first, as their code of honor states not to answer the summons of a Summoner who hasn't proven him/herself worthy of controlling them.
Character Development: Out of all the cast, it's between Edge and Palom for the most noticeable shift in characterization between the original game and The After Years. The interval does a lot to cool Edge's temper and make him a wiser and more mature man, if still reckless and informal.
Glass Cannon: He will spend a lot of time face-down in the dirt, even when buffed up, but his damage output is almost as good as the frontline fighters like Cecil and Kain and he has much higher speed than them.
Lightning Bruiser: While he's still more focused on speed and power, in The After Years his HP is much better.
Highly-Visible Ninja: You don't find many ninja who dress in pale lilac. Likely this is because Eblan is located in a desert, which both requires different colors to match the landscape and ensures that wearing black will cause you to overheat and die, but that doesn't explain why he keeps wearing the same outfit everywhere else...
Shooting Superman: He really should have known better than to attack the Archfiend of Fire with... fire.
Small Name, Big Ego: He's skilled, no doubt, but he's far more boastful than warranted. Not to mention he seems to think he's more valuable than Rosa and Rydia when they're ordered off the Lunar Whale.
Stepford Smiler: In the DS remake, specifically the Lunar Subterrane. Edge is as outwardly cocky as ever, but his inner thoughts are more or less utter terror about where he is and what they are doing.
Crutch Character: Of a sort; Tellah can easily solo the dungeon you initially find him in, and it's easy to start relying on him without preparing for his inevitable departure right after. Later, when he regains his memory, Tellah can easily two shotmajor boss characters, provided only you get him there at full MP... which makes it awfully painful when you're suddenly thrust into a major boss fight after he leaves the second time.
Four Is Death: He's the fourth party member (after Cecil, Kain, and Rydia) to join in the fourth iteration of the franchise. He's practically marked for death from the get-go. Despite what several other characters go through, he's the only one who joins the party that dies and cannot be resurrected.
Gameplay and Story Segregation: Storyline-wise, Tellah just doesn't have the strength to use Meteor without killing himself. Gameplay-wise, Tellah isn't able to cast Meteor due to it costing 99 MP, and he only has 90 max. The developers overlooked the idea that in some releases, players can use items on him to boost his max MP. Oops.
Grumpy Old Man: Justified. First his daughter married against his wishes, then she dies.
Senseless Sacrifice: Subverted. His last stand against Golbez, the almighty Meteor spell, fails to kill him, but it does wound Golbez enough that he loses control of Kain, allowing the party to rescue Rosa before she's killed by a giant blade.
Heartbroken Badass: The "badass" is debatable, but you can bet yer ass that Anna's death hit him hard. Her Rousing Speech to him did ease his pain a bit, but he's still mourning 17 years later.
Item Caddy: The Salve ability, which originally just spread a potion to the entire party, is buffed considerably in later versions to allow Edward to use items on the entire party provided you still have the stock.
Magic Music: He can cast buffs and status effects with his music.
Magikarp Power: After level 70, his stats skyrocket. This is only really applicable in the GBA version, though.
The Medic: Edward can make an effective healer in the DS version and The After Years due to his Salve ability; combined with the Economical Ring, which doubles the effectiveness of items, he will easily out-pace a White Mage because items heal instantly. It makes him a bit of a Money Sink, however, which actually lets you avert Money for Nothing.
Musical Assassin: Well, none of his songs actually inflict damage, but they can turn things into toads for easier disposals by the others.
Sheltered Aristocrat: Edward isn't fond of court life or the politics he is expected to preform as Prince either, but he grows into his position as a The Good King by The After Years.
The Smart Guy: Knows quite a bit about the habits of desert animals. And, of course, music is good for one's intellectual development.
Support Party Member: Before getting powerful weapons nothing he can do will actually hurt the enemies that much, but he can help the party a great deal with Bardsong and Salve.
Took a Level in Badass: The original versions of the game notwithstanding, both the GBA and DS remakes, as well as The After Years, have seen Edward discard his Joke Character status quite triumphantly (in the case of the latter, it's more evident in the story, but damn, Edward has balls of steel).
Badass: Oh hell yes. He comes in with a huge amount of HP, plus he's the only one who survived the Bomb attack on Mt. Hobs, and has an ability that can power him up to hit things even harder than he already does.
Disney Death: Probably the mother of all examples. When he is re-encountered unconscious in the Sylph Cave, the lead Sylph tells you that he was found at the mouth of the cave, which means that he a) survived an explosion that was meant to destroy a castle; b) somehow broke through a collapsed wall that none of your party could budge; c) fought his way through several levels of monster-infested tower and finally d) swam across a sea of molten lava to collapse at the cave entrance.
Easy Amnesia: Briefly suffers this after Leviathan's appearance and works as a Baron troop. He gets his memory back after the party beats him up a bit.
A Black Mage from Mysidia, he's impulsive, hot-headed, and arrogant. He comes to idolize Tellah and dreams of being a Sage.
Ascended Extra: In The After Years. While a lot of party members have individual Tales, Palom arguably has the most fleshed-out role outside the final five party members of the original game, not only getting his own Tale, but Porom's Tale contains two flashbacks expanding on his growing maturity over the time skip and his quest to become a Sage during it.
Child Mage: A powerful Black Mage at the age of five.
Combination Attack: Before anyone else was using Bands, Palom and Porom had Twincasting as their signature move, setting off a small number of hard-hitting attacks after a sizable delay. In The After Years, Twincasting is retconned into a Band during the twins' flashback. They actually lose the band as they grow up and apart, but regain it during the final chapter, stronger than ever.
Insufferable Genius: Palom in The After Years has let his Bratty Half-Pint tendencies mature into this, trading his hilarious boasts for a constant air of superiority. He's not going around declaring himself Mysidia's greatest Black Mage anymore, he just acts like it, and while it's entirely true, he's no less infuriating for it.
KidAnova: In the original game. It comes back to haunt him in The After Years, when Luca is pining for him and Leonora is aware of his reputation and doesn't care for his attitude much. "Palom In the Sky" is likely their revenge for his ways as a kid.
Mentor: In The After Years. And a surprisingly good one. How many other Final Fantasy characters have explained so clearly to anyone how mages work, and used that knowledge to tutor a novice on how to use a new school of magic?
Misaimed Fandom: In-universe, he idolizes Tellah and wants to be a Sage just like him, but what Porom has to spell out for him in a flashback, and what he doesn't understand, is that it isn't just mastery of magic that makes you a Sage, it's the people and world you help using your magic, and Tellah traveled the world for decades before he settled in Kaipo. Palom takes the news heavily but decides to keep going, though in the present there's hints he's realized he's not as cut out for it as he thought.
The Mole: The twins reveal, when Cecil finishes his trial at Mt. Ordeals, that they weren't sent to help him; they were sent to spy on him, because the Mysidians wanted to find out what he was up to and didn't believe that Cecil had made, from their standpoint, a Heel-Face Turn. When it's clear that he has, they come clean and start to genuinely help.
White Mage: Similar to Palom, Porom has the best Spirit and MP in The After Years, making her the best White Mage, though without Leonora's Black Magic and Rosa's archery skills to give her offensive potential other than the game's strongest Holy. She also has no means of restoring her own MP due to lacking Osmose or Miracle, so while she is the strongest, she has the worst staying power.
Wise Beyond Their Years: She's precocious enough that the Elder decides to use her and her brother as spies on the man who viciously attacked their town.
Dummied Out: Cid has a dummied out skill in the original version of the game, named "Airship." Presumably, had the skill been finished, it would have allowed him to call down an airstrike similar to the Invincible's volley attack from Final Fantasy III. This, along with quite a few aspects of the character, gets a Call Back in Final Fantasy VII through the character of Cid Highwind.
When All You Have Is a Hammer: Literally. His special ability? A non-MP-consuming version of the Scan spell. He finally got new moves in later ports/sequels — Upgrade, which makes his hammer hit elemental, and Risk Strike, which which is a more powerful hammer hit.
Blatant Lies: In the SNES/GBA version, his advice when facing the CPU proves very useful when put into effect. In the DS version, if you value your sanity, do NOT listen to him this time around unless you want to be brutally creamed by the Attack Node's new attack which can turn into a Total Party Kill if not leveled enough.
Crutch Character: He'll fall down with two strong hits. His faint animation in the DS version literally vaporizes him into his clothes.
Voiced by: Takeshi Kaga (Japanese), Peter Beckman (credited as Anthony Landor; English)
A dark sorcerer who is believed to have taken over the kingdom of Baron from within. He seeks out the four Elemental Crystals in an effort to activate the Tower of Babil and claim great power, but there is more to his past and his goals than even he knows.He plays a pivotal role in the plot of the Dissidia: Final Fantasy, where he appears as the villain representing Final Fantasy IV.
Anti-Villain: He's characterized as this in Dissidia. The After Years and his actions in the prequel Dissidia 012 move him to firm Anti-Hero territory now that he's acting under his own will in both games.
The Atoner: He's hugely remorseful after Zemus' control is broken and seems willing to die to make up for it.
Badass: He takes Meteor to the face and shakes it off like it was nothing (all it does is break his mind control spell on Kain). In the original versions of IV, his defeat in the Dwarven Castle reduces him to no more than a single hand, and he comes back seconds later. Plus, if he too is bound by the fact that a summoner dies when their summon kicks the bucket, he doesn't succumb to the loss of his Shadow Dragon and survives for the entire game. Oh, and he's one awesome mage.
Brainwashed and Crazy: For the great majority of his life he has been Zemus' puppet in destroying humanity.
Crutch Character: In The After Years. When you first set out to the True Moon, he's just shy of 3,000 HP, probably has at least an extra thousand health on everyone else and has Firaga, Blizzaga, and Thundaga. This, in tandem with Taunt to draw enemy attacks, makes him an excellent meat shield and Black Mage. As well, many monsters on the moon are plain immune to lower-level magic, and Palom and Rydia won't learn those "-aga" spells until Level 41, making Golbez pretty much the only offensive spellcaster you have until you level them up another ten-fifteen levels. However, around the level where you're likely to end his scenario, he stops gaining spells and HP until everyone else has caught up and, in the case of spells, he's eventually surpassed by dedicated casters.
Darth Vader Clone: His Dissidia art provides the current page image. Besides his appearance as seen in his DS render, he's a Badass Baritone and is Cecil's brother and is brainwashed by Zemus, the true Big Bad.
Death Seeker: Implied in The After Years. Golbez has a nightmare where Cecil kills him, and the Dark Knight accuses him of wanting to die at Cecil's hands to atone for his sinful life. Golbez might succeed in this, sacrificing himself to save Cecil from the Dark Knight, or if he survives, he seems to get over it, telling Cecil he cannot hide anymore and saying he's ready to confront his past.
Depending on the Artist: His armor is either bright blue, dark blue, or black, and the lining of his cape is either blue or red. In the Super NES release, his boss sprite had dark blue armor with a blue cape, but his player character sprite had brighter blue armor with a red cape. In his DS render seen above, he has black armor and a blue cape, but his in-game model has black armor and a red cape. His Dissidia appearance adapts this by presenting his dark blue and black armor with the blue cape for his default outfit while his gold and black armor with a red cape is his alternate outfit.
Evil Counterpart: To Cecil. In The After Years, they use opposing schools of magic, both have abilities that rely on drawing enemy attacks from allies, and Golbez's unique sword, Ebony Blade, draws a parallel to Cecil's Holy swords. In the original game, Cecil even reflects that since they share the same heritage, it could easily have been him that Zemus chose to control instead of Golbez. And also, just look at theirrenders.
Hidden Depths: A meta example, remakes of the original game and his appearances in Dissidia and The After Years have turned him into one of the more complex characters in the Final Fantasy IV universe, while in the game's original release he was little more than a generic Tin TyrantEvil Overlord. Even after his stint of Brainwashed and Crazy ended, he didn't show much personality besides hints of The Atoner in the original Super NES release.
TAY takes this further during his final moments with his former henchmen, the Elemental Archfiends. In particular, Scarmiglione notes that even though he was hideous, Golbez looked past that and invited him into his ranks, hinting that even while brainwashed, Golbez still held some goodness in his heart.
Left-Handed Mirror: To Cecil. Beyond being just the main protagonist and antagonist, they are siblings and it was only luck of the draw that it wasn't Cecil in Golbez's shoes.
Magic Knight: In TAY, he arguably plays this straighter than any other cast member save for Ceodore. He has a huge equipment draw including most of the mage-type robes and rods along with the knight-type swords, shields, and heavy armor. He also learns more Black Magic than Cecil, Ceodore, or Kain learn White Magic, including Flare and Meteor, so Golbez is perfectly capable as an attacker or mage. The only disadvantage he has compared to other Black Mages like Rydia and Palom is that he doesn't learn the Standard Status Effect spells they do.
Master of None: Golbez is not as effective a physical fighter nor mage as the other, more dedicated characters, but his high HP and his taunt ability make him an effective tank as well making him one of the most versatile characters in the game.
Meaningful Name: His original Japanese name "Golbeza" is a mistranslation of Golubaeser, also known as the Golubac Fly, a black fly named for a town in Serbia. According to the legends, the flies were born from the body of a decomposing dragon, reflecting Theodor's fate and likely explaining Golbez's pet Shadow Dragon. In the DS remake, Zemus takes the symbolism further by calling him "an insect birthed from womb of dragon's corpse", twisting the Mysidian Legend to refer to the Golubac Fly.
My God, What Have I Done?: After he's freed from Zemus' control. Particularly the bit about leaving his baby brother Cecil to die in the wilderness.
Ominous Pipe Organ: His Leitmotif, "Golbez, Clad in Dark(ness)." Notably, Golbez was the first villain to get his own foreboding theme.
Purple Eyes: In the DS port of the original game and PSP port of The After Years. Other depictions show him with Green Eyes, but you could Hand Wave it as somehow being due to his armor, since the green eyes are never depicted when he isn't wearing it.
Squishy Wizard: A most notable inversion on the "squishy" part, which probably comes from his armour. It says a lot about how durable he is gameplay-wise that the team needed Meteor to beat him. And even then, it doesn't work! He could qualify as a magical Lightning Bruiser if he was a bit quicker.
He only has 9,999 HP during the boss fight in the Dwarven Kingdom, so Rydia only has to land a summon three times. But he makes staying alive that long really, really hard.
The Stoic: In The After Years, unless the topic of discussion is Cecil, the Crystals, or the Mysterious Girl, don't expect much more than the very occasional off-hand comment. He doesn't even soften up when dealing with the Elemental Archfiends (his loyal [former] subordinates), deaths included! It probably doesn't help that he spent most of his life under Zemus' control, leaving not a lot of space for his own personality.
Tin Tyrant: You don't get to see what he looks like underneath until the ending.
Villainous BSOD: Implied to be the reason why he retreated after first fighting Cecil. Attacking his little brother and being ordered to finish him off seemingly shook Zemus's control, and Golbez appears to temporarily regain his senses and recognize Cecil before he retreats and lets him live.
Trick Boss: He ambushes your party from behind moments after you defeated his somewhat easy first boss form. Hope that you inverted your party formation and healed, because he's a lot tougher the second time around.
Affably Evil: He doesn't appear to hold any ill-will towards the party, nor does he gloat at them.
Artificial Stupidity: In the DS version, if you hit him with certain types of attacks (such as summons) while his cloak is closed, he'll cast Blizzara on himself to heal himself. If you use those same types of attacks while his cloak is open... he'll still use Blizzara on himself, which will only damage him further. It's very easy to exploit this.
(to Edge) "I respect men like you. Men with...courage. But you are a slave to your emotions, and so will never know true strength. Such is the curse of men."
The embodiment of Kain's repressed hatred and jealousy for Cecil, he wishes to act out Kain's buried desires to kill Cecil and claim Rosa for himself. Defeating him is the purpose of Kain's Lunar Trial in the GBA and PSP releases. He returns in The After Years to torment Kain with the same temptations once again.
Animal Motifs: Dragons, even more so than the original Kain. His Dragoon armor has scale patterns on it, and in the Lunar Trial he transforms into Lunar Bahamut.
Ascended Extra: Only took part in a short sidequest exclusive to the Advance release, but was a major antagonist in The After Years.
Climax Boss: The fight with him occurs immediately after The Reveal that the Hooded Man is Kain and this guy is an impostor.
Cutscene Power to the Max: He makes his introduction to Porom by slicing apart an entire pack of enemies in one hit. Immediately after this, he joins the party, and said skill is nowhere to be found.
Depending on the Artist: In his CG renders for the PSP release of The After Years, he does indeed look exactly like Kain with just minor differences to his armor. In his artwork, however, he wears blue and red armor that looks nothing like anything Kain wears in any of his prior depictions.
Evil Gloating: "Come, Rosa! It's time for the main event! You'll see me walk right up to him...And tear him apart limb from limb!"
Evil Laugh: Lets out many when he finally has Rosa in his grasp.
Expy: Given Riku is an Expy of Kain, Dark Kain becomes an Expy of the Riku Replica in The After Years. He's presumed to be the real Kain for most of the story, acts in the same manner Kain did in the original game, and has a similar moment as the Riku Repluca does when, after being defeated by the original Kain and laying dying, he wonders what will happen to him once he's gone.
Lightning Bruiser: Much like the real thing in The After Years, he's got a lot of HP and Strength, and the Speed to make usage of it. Porom's Tale slightly emphasizes it — he's going to fill his ATB gauge, attack, and have it fully charged again by the time one of your other party members gets a turn.
Love Makes You Evil: As evidenced by his reluctance to hurt Rosa, deep down he's still motivated by Kain's love for her.
Pet the Dog: He's not totally evil, as evidenced when he rescues Porom and her party for no benefit to himself, and later tells some brainwashed guards to value their lives in spite of being controlled.
Purple Is Powerful: In Kain's Lunar Trial, he has donned a purple version of Kain's armor, and Lunar Bahamut is primarily purple.
The Reveal: The "Kain" you've been seeing all game in The After Years is actually Dark Kain, and the real Kain is the Hooded Man.
Cutscene Boss: Your party heads down to the center of the moon to help Golbez and Fusoya defeat the Big Bad Zemus, only to arrive just in time to see them easily dispatch the villain. Cue Zeromus, who proceeds to absolutely flatten everyone.
Mind Rape: He did this to Golbez while Golbez was still a child.
More than Mind Control: In the DS version, it's implied he wasn't directly controlling Golbez or Kain, but instead exploited and cultivated the growth of their negative emotions (self-loathing and jealousy) to turn them evil. It's also hinted that, possibly in addition to this, he impressed his thoughts and goals onto them as if they were their own.
One-Winged Angel: He starts as a bald, blue floating guy, changes to an indistinct blue smoky ghost, to a massive, freakish crustacean insect... thing.
The Paragon Always Rebels: He is said to be the cream of the crop among the Lunarian sages, which is why even after he was forcibly sealed in stasis his mind is awake and (more importantly) dangerous.
Sealed Evil in a Can: His physical body is this for the majority of FFIV. His malice was sealed by the Lunarian crystals after FFIV, then set loose by the actions of the Mysterious Girl in The After Years
A knight in the service of King Baron. He is utterly devoted to the kingdom, even when Cecil is not, and remains so when it's revealed that the real King was killed and replaced with one of Golbez's servants.
Expy: Of a certain other Gadgeteer Genius named Lucca. Though, this is a bit of an odd example, as Luca appeared in FFIV before Chrono Trigger existed, but had no personality or combat abilities until TAY.
Gadgeteer Genius: According to Cid, Luca is even more proficient with machines than he is — and consider all he does for you in the base game!
All Your Colors Combined: Two of their Band abilities, "Wheel of Elements" where the four combine together, "Ultimate Art: Advent of Phoenix" where they all combine with Edge. The latter even comes with a chant. However, "Wheel of Elements" is thematically closer, since it actually consists of the four using their elemental powers in sequence, while "Advent of Phoenix" just uses fire.
Flat Character: Their individual personalities don't get a lot of time to shine through, as they individually receive equal focus in Edge's Tale (which doesn't last long,) and once Edge's Tale is complete, they contribute nothing to the plot save for a scene deep in the final dungeon.
Satellite Character: And outside of their mini-quests in Edge's Tale, where being on their own they talk little, all their dialogue is them talking to Edge.
Awesome by Analysis: Yang has not officially given her any training when the game begins, but a flashback shows she's been watching him train the other monks in Fabul her entire life and has picked up on a lot of his techniques.
Establishing Character Moment: When she runs off to Mt. Hobs alone, Yang and his Monks go after her, worried she'll be hurt. They find her copying Yang's Establishing Character Moment from the original game, taking out a force of Domovois on her own before Yang and his Monks join with her to fight the Mom Bomb. This princess will not be a Distressed Damsel
Lightning Bruiser: Her standout stat is her Speed, third-highest outranked only by Edge and Tsukinowa. While her physical stats and HP are outranked by most of the dedicated physical fighters, they're still much higher than the mages of the group and she can still deal a good amount of damage even before she gets equipment that makes up the difference.
Retcon: The Complete Collection de-aged her from seventeen to sixteen so she would still be a year older than Ceodore.
Royals Who Actually Do Something: Her character arc is that she wants to be this, but Yang doesn't think a princess has a need for combat training. Ursula doesn't listen, and he eventually relents and agrees to take her on as a proper disciple.
The Red Mage: She can learn both White Magic and Black Magic, but does not learn every Black Magic spell. She gains her spells at much higher levels than other characters; she gains Holy at level 70, the 3rd-tier elemental spells at levels 78, 80, and 82, and Flare at level 85.
Squishy Wizard: The squishiest — at Level 99 she's one of only three party members with less than 4,000 HP, and the other two are Calca and Brina. And then, if the random factor in HP gain doesn't like her, she can flat have the worst HP of all.
Took a Level in Badass: She stutters a lot and is respectful of Palom initially, despite him being a Jerkass. Once he insults the Epopts, though, she's had enough and tells him off, at which point for the rest of the game the stuttering stops. This event coincides with the completion of the Tower of Trials, and thus she begins to learn Black Magic as she levels up from now on.
Edward's assistant. She originally desired to be a scholar, but one day she heard his voice, and so abandoned her plans to become his secretary.
Joke Character: Unfortunately, while Edward Took a Level in Badass, he passed his "usefulness" to his secretary. Piercing Sight gives an enemy a random elemental weakness (which Harley herself has no way to exploit) and has a very low success rate, while Gil Toss is much weaker than in other entries in the series to the point that it's useless, even with the Money Spiders in the final areas giving you lots of cash for it. Her Band abilities are also horrible, with all but Feast of the Land taking up the turns of half your party or greater, two requiring specific equipment set-ups, and another having random effects. And even then, the party configurations required to use her Bands quite simply suck.
Awesome But Practical: Brina's Dance, which casts a random White Magic spell for no MP cost. Random Number God aside, most of the time you get Cure or Cura, which is pretty good considering that in Rydia's Tale your party has no White Mage and thus only Brina has any healing powers. If you're really lucky, you can even get Haste and Curaja.
Lethal Joke Characters: They have horrible abilities, few Band skills, and the worst stats in the game, including the lowest HP growth. However, a determined player can farm Phase Equipment from end-game enemies, their exclusive equipment. The Phase Equipment pieces have the best defensive stats in the game, the Phase Cutter weapon has power equal to Cecil's Ragnarok, and between the five pieces, you're looking at +20 to all stats including Speed — and if you want to leave out the Phase Body for the Clown Clothes, you lose their 20 point Stamina boost but get a second 20 point boost to Speed. Hello Lightning Bruiser!
Biggs and Wedge
Ascended Extra: They are the two soldiers who questioned Cecil about taking the Water Crystal from Mysidia at the beginning of the original game.
Drill Sergeant Nasty: Biggs, so very much. His Establishing Character Moment is to snap at Ceodore that his royal bloodline is meaningless and he won't be considered a knight until he passes his trial of knighthood, and then to hit Ceodore for agreeing with him.
Mythology Gag: Named after the recurring pair of characters in the series.
The apparent main villain of The After Years, she shows up to steal the crystals. It turns out that there are multiple Maenads, and they were gathering the Crystals to take back to their master, the Creator, who also created the crystals.
The Battle Didn't Count: It's possible to win the battles that the party is supposed to lose to her, but the same result happens each time anyway. And in the storyline, even when someone does kill her, another Maenad just takes her place.
Her first act upon arriving on Earth is to petrify the Eidolons and take control of their minds. This gives her a diverse arsenal of powerful minions at her beck and call, and also deprives the only other Summoner left, who is an ally of her enemies, of her ability to call them herself.
She then attacks Baron and takes control of it, but leaves Cecil in charge with brainwashed guards, and people appear to assume Cecil and Baron repelled the attack and all is normal. When she begins using the Red Wings to gather the Crystals, people are alarmed but mostly are confused, King Cecil is The Hero after all, so no one suspects that Baron is really on the warpath again. And it's implied by the timeline that she or the Red Wings hit the Crystals quickly and often simultaneously, so word doesn't much spread about what's going on until it's too late.
When Palom petrifies himself to try and protect the Crystal in his grasp, she declares it a Senseless Sacrifice, she'll just shatter him and free it.
When fighting alongside an Eidolon, she places herself in the back row, granting her resistance from physical attacks.
During the boss battle with her and Bahamut, she uses Black Hole to nullify the player's status buffs as the Mega Flare countdown hits 1, negating their attempts to protect themselves with Reflect or Shell.
Easily Forgiven: Considering that it is at least hinted at that the Maenad possess a Hive Mind, yet neither Leviathan nor Asura are shown to resent the child Maenad in the ending in any way.
Emotionless Girl: Mostly; arrogance and contempt are there, but that's about it.
Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: In a scene with some Fabul monks, she flat-out states that the idea of "honor" is foreign to her, as is the idea they'd fight her because of it knowing she'll kill them for their effort.
Evil Counterpart: Bears a great physical resemblance to Rydia, even being mistaken as her by Cecil initially, and is also able to control Eidolons.
Evil Knockoff: Interlude reveals it's because the Creator made the Maenads in Rydia's image after gathering data on her through a Crystal.
Everyone Calls Her Mysterious Girl: Justified, as there's no way of knowing her real name until the last five minutes of the game. And even then, 'Maenad' is just the name given to her race as a whole.
Karmic Death: The ones that control Odin and Bahamut are killed by them once the Eidolons regain their senses.
Oh Crap: After an entire game of talking down on and disregarding most of the party as a threat, her composed, high-and-mighty demeanor immediately turns into fear once Rydia, Leviathan, and Asura free (a now very angry) Bahamut from her control. Then comes the following exchange (mid-battle no less) where she desperately tries to defend herself.
Pragmatic Villainy: She's after the Crystals only. Unless one of the heroes is directly obstructing her, she doesn't care about them. On the other hand, if they prove themselves useful, she's willing to make deals with them.
Punch Clock Villain: The Maenads you find on the True Moon are just standing around waiting for orders.
You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: She uses those very words before attempting to kill the party after Cecil returns to his senses. Subverted in that the party never helped her do anything.
The real Big Bad of The After Years, he is the sole surviving member of an alien race that prospered itself into extinction. He designed the crystals and sent them to various planets to test their evolutionary processes, and eventually declared them all unworthy of existence. He does this to the world of Final Fantasy IV as well, setting the plot.