A former top-ranking member of Shinra's elite paramilitary unit, SOLDIER. Now working as a mercenary-for-hire, Cloud takes a job with the anti-Shinra organization AVALANCHE to bring down his old employers. Actually a low-level Mook whose troubled childhood and failure to qualify for SOLDIER left him with severe self-confidence issues. He then gets put through so much mind-scrambling experimentation that he confuses his own memories and achievements with those of his best friend (and SOLDIER 1st Class) Zack Fair. After the truth is revealed, he suffers a Heroic BSOD, but thanks to a Journey to the Center of the Mind, he comes to terms with who he is and rebuilds his persona from the ground up.
Break the Haughty: As a child, Cloud avoided the other village children because he thought of himself as superior to them and like most boys his age, tried to become a hero like his idol Sephiroth by joining SOLDIER and was promptly rejected. However, it seemed like his claims of superiority was more a case of him trying to justify his own loneliness.
Broken Hero: He's one of the poster boys for this trope.
He promises such to Tifa, and later becomes Aerith's bodyguard.
In Advent Children, he feels this way towards his entire family, which causes problems as his track record of success isn't very impressive.
Determinator: Holy shit, HOW! In his pre-game fight with Sephiroth. Sixteen years old, relatively untrained, no super powers or super strength, 5'7" tops (assuming he didn't grow between ages sixteen and twenty-one) and maybe 100 pounds soaking wet and fighting against Sephiroth - half a foot taller, probably at least twice his weight, genetically manipulated, trained from birth, insanely strong (and just insane). Cloud is knocked out while his town burns, but gives chase, eventually fighting Sephiroth, getting impaled by Sephiroth, and while still impaled on the man's blade and hoisted several feet in the air, somehow manages to get the upper hand and send Sephiroth flying into a pit of Mako.Badass indeed.
Fake Memories: Though it's something of a journey to figure out how and why he has them.
Flanderization: If you haven't played the original game, you'll be surprised at how non angsty Cloud was. He did angst and express hesitation and insecurities, but only at key points and for good reasons, and at the end of the game seemed perfectly fine. In his appearances since, he has been an angsty brooding loner. Square Enix states outright in The Reunion Files (basically the Ultimania for Advent Children) that they regressed his personality back to a mindset they thought fans would be more familiar with, making this a case of Pandering to the Base. In all fairness, it'd be downright absurd to think he'd just be emotionally fixed by the end of the game. Anyone who might go through what Cloud went through might need a few years to fully reconcile. Like 30 of them.
Right Handed Mirror: To Sephiroth. Both are the result of experimentation with Mako and Jenova cells, but while right-handed Cloud regains his sanity and becomes a hero, Sephiroth descends into an Omnicidal Maniac.
Super Soldier: SOLDIER was comprised of humans who were exposed to large amounts of raw Mako (giving them their distinctive Glowing Eyes) and, in some cases, injected with Jenova cells, granting them superhuman strength, speed, and agility. While Cloud was never in SOLDIER, Hojo's experiments were similar, if not identical, to the process of creating a SOLDIER.
Troll: Through dialogue options, it's very possible to make Cloud give some pretty dickish responses purely for the lulz of it all. He even appears to be this canonically, as shown from his frequent teasing of Barret during the Midgar section of the game. It gets dropped for the most part after he undergoes his Heroic BSOD, which indicates that it may well have been another element he picked up from Zack.
The boisterous leader of AVALANCHE, a group of eco-terrorists trying to prevent Shinra from draining the planet's life energy in the name of profit. His cause is actually a cover for a personal vendetta against Shinra. He later comes to terms with his grudge and accepts responsibility for the damage AVALANCHE caused, vowing to save the planet the right way.
Big Good: From his perspective in the beginning of the game, given that he's leading AVALANCHE and giving orders to Cloud & co. He gradually comes to realize that maybe he wasn't quite as noble as he thought.
Moral Myopia: Initially, he doesn't care about the lives of many people besides Biggs, Wedge, and Jessie (who all die really early on) and Marlene and Tifa. He fights Shinra primarily out of revenge and his self-righteous Saving the World claims are just his self-justification. This would count as Moral Dissonance, if Cait Sith didn't call him out for it later on, and later his acknowledgement that it was wrong.
Shoot The Television: An NPC mentions that he once did this using his gun arm with a Sector 7 television monitor that was displaying a broadcast by President Shinra. He didn't win any fans that day, as the only other television in Sector 7 was in AVALANCHE headquarters.
A member of AVALANCHE and Cloud's childhood friend. She also owns a bar called "7th Heaven" in Sector 7 of Midgar. Though she realizes that something is very wrong with Cloud's memories, her indecisiveness prevents her from saying anything until it's too late. She vows not to let the same thing happen again, gaining the strength to help Cloud rebuild his persona.
Silk Hiding Steel: More like 'Steel Hiding Silk' as she looks like a Biker Babe, runs a bar, and fights with her bare hands, but inside she's more feminine than Aerith with her Distressed Damsel fantasy with Cloud, her domestic skills, and role as Team Mom in the main group and AVALANCHE.
Woman in Black: She's got the outfit in Advent Children, but (as with everything involving Tifa and appearance-based personality cues) subverted to hell and back.
Yamato Nadeshiko: Let's see here, devotion to the man she loves, check. Good domestic skill, check. Team Mom, check. Iron heart that is strong enough to snap The Hero out of his Heroic BSOD, check please. She has everything except a connection to Wutai/Japan and the attached cultural trappings.
Aerith (Aeris) Gainsborough
"Just hang in there. Someday we'll look back at these hard times and laugh."
A young woman who sells flowers for a living in the slums of Midgar. Her years on the streets have given her a outgoing, street-smart but caring attitude. She is the last living Cetra, a precursor race who were driven to extinction by JENOVA. Having dated Zack Fair for a number of months, she finds herself attracted to his shadow in Cloud. Her independent nature leads to disaster when she decides to take the burden of defeating Sephiroth all by herself, abandoning the party and traveling to the Forgotten Capital alone. This leaves her vulnerable to attack, and she is killed by Sephiroth.
Distressed Damsel: A bit pluckier than the norm, although there's still a whole level dedicated to rescuing her. Not to mention at the beginning of the game, when you have to save her from Shinra soldiers by crushing them with barrels (although you do have the option of making her fight them herself).
Flanderization: In her original game, Aerith was pure hearted, spiritual and caring, but was also stubborn, flirty, independent and witty. However, SE has ramped up the Incorruptible Pure Pureness, emphasizing her connection to the planet and de-emphasizing her more headstrong character traits in favor of generic sweetness and innocence. Her Dissidia 012 Ultimania profile describes her as having "the innocence of a little girl". This is the same woman that threatened to rip off a mafia don's balls.
Then again, this may only be the case after her death and upgrade to Big Good, as Crisis Core shows her personality as far closer to what it was in the original game instead.
Iconic Item: In every appearance, even in concept art, Aerith has her hair ribbon. Crisis Core takes time to specifically show where she got it and why she continues to wear one years later. The White Materia also serves as one to a lesser degree.
Innocent Flower Girl: But not too innocent (especially considering she threatens to rip off a guy's balls at one point, makes a guy parade in drag around his Love Interest, flirts with strangers to sell her flowers, etc.)
In the Wall Market section, she selects what is implied to be an incredibly provocative red dress, and actually wants Don Corneo to pick her as his girl, complimenting him on his taste if he does. In contrast to Tifa and Cloud who are just doing it for the mission, Aerith has no qualms at all and evidently finds the whole thing fun, irrespective of the threat.
I Will Wait for You: Subverted, she told this to Zack in their last phone conversation, but not knowing what happened to him after four years with no word, she said she was moving on in her last letter.
Loving a Shadow: Initially interested in Cloud because of his resemblance to Zack, her first boyfriend. And that they both fell through the church roof while she was tending the flowers and wearing the same uniform. However, getting her on the date scene will have her admit that she would like for Cloud to open up to her so she can know the real him.
Parental Abandonment: Her father, Professor Gast, was murdered by Professor Hojo when she was barely a few days old, and her mom ended up kicking the bucket and leaving her to be adopted seven years later after both her mom and herself were subjected to horrific experiments by Hojo.
Squishy Wizard: The most powerful magically but can't take a hit well.
Yamato Nadeshiko: Looks the part well, but is more rebellious and flirty than the standard. Nor does she have the cultural baggage assiociated with Wutai/Japan. OTOH, she plays the trope straighter in Advent Children.
A strange wolflike (or possibly lionlike) creature who joins Cloud's group after being rescued from the Shinra HQ. Red XIII was the name he received as a specimen designation while held captive and experimented upon by Professor Hojo. Even though he is 48 in human years, his age is comparable to around 15 to 16 years old by his own species' standards and is very wise. He fights alongside Cloud and his allies to fulfill his duty to the Planet to defend it as a warrior.
A cat riding a giant stuffed toy Moogle, working as a fortune-teller in the Gold Saucer. He is really a puppet controlled from far away by Reeve, Shinra's head of Urban Development. Even though Reeve works with the evil Shinra, he develops a keen interest in saving the planet. He is useful to the party, as he knows all about the Shinra's plans. Despite his playful and carefree persona in the form of Cait Sith, Reeve is actually a sombre and serious man, though he does harbor a good heart with a natural worry for others.
The Mole: Cait Sith is actually controlled by Reeve of Shinra, but still decides to remain with you once discovered. The trope is later inverted when he essentially becomes a spy for AVALANCHE within Shinra, despite starting the other way around.
No Pronunciation Guide: His name seems easy to pronounce, but it's actually the name of a Gaellic mythological creature pronounced 'Kett Shee'.
Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: This was how Reeve is exposed in the Japanese version of the game. Reeve speaks with a Kanto dialect and Cait Sith with a Kansai dialect. When stressed due to Hojo taking over the Mako Cannon, Reeve inadvertedly speaks to Scarlet and Heidegger in Kansai, then Cait Sith speaks to Cloud and the others in Kanto. Thus they realize that he's Reeve.
What the Hell, Hero?: Calls out Barret for his bombing missions from earlier in the game. It comes off as somewhat hypocritical, however, since he's... y'know, with the Shinra, but Reeve was never crazy about the killing of innocents to begin with.
"Sit your ass down in that chair and drink your goddamn TEA!"
Voiced by: Kazuyuki Yama (Japanese), Chris Edgerly (English)
A gruff airship pilot with dreams of going into space. He is the most uncouth of the protagonists; he constantly swears and loses his temper, and chain-smokes cigarettes. Despite this, he has a good heart, and is even voted temporary leader of the party at one point. He fits into the archetype of a father type character.
In Advent Children, he made a freaking Bahamut Summon flinch by stabbing it on the head!
His Big Brawl Limit Break is one of the most powerful in the game. Does he use gigantic blasts of energy, magical powers, summon the very elements to fight his foes? No. He just runs into the middle of the enemies and hits them. A lot.
He tries to look it too; his victory pose consists of him going to dance around in joy. But instead he stops himself and just takes a drag of his cigarette.
Badass Bookworm: He doesn't show too much of it, but it requires a lot of patience, technical knowledge, and general intelligence to fly and maintain any aircraft. Cid's seen to be competent with light aircraft, a zepellin-like airship, and a jet-type one and was hand picked to be the world's first astronaut and man in space.
Plus, he controls an entire fleet and his home is filled with machinery, including a half-built car in what looks to be the sitting room. It's fairly safe to assume that he's the most booksmart playable character in the series.
Badass Normal: One of the most prominent examples. He doesn't have innate magical powers, an assault weapon for a hand, combat training, or genetic enhancements. He's got a home made spear and dynamite.
Berserk Button: Cid's pretty protective of his toys, such as the Tiny Bronco and the Highwind. He's also extremely upset about Shinra's decision to cancel its space program.
Grumpy Old Man: Well, he's only 32, but that's old by Japanese anime/video game standards.
Senior Sleep Cycle: Depicted as having one in-game, apparently as part of his grumpy old man portrayal. When the party is forced to stay at the Ghost Hotel in the Gold Saucer, Cloud's speech apparently puts him to sleep. Later, he is seen napping on the bridge of the Highwind just before Barret declares him to be the new leader. Finally, if the player chooses him to accompany Cloud on a gondola ride at Gold Saucer's Round Square, he will doze throughout the entire ride.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He swears, smokes, is verbally abusive to pretty much everybody, but he gave up his dream to save Shera, genuinely tries to make amends to her, fights tooth and nail for the planet, joins the WRO, and gives a passionate speech about the need to protect the planet.
Leeroy Jenkins: He certainly has this attitude, even if he doesn't actually ruin any plans for the party, as shown by his gung-ho attitude about fighting Shinra.
The Undead: Vincent is, to all intents and purposes, a walking corpse animated only by Chaos. The resemblance to a vampire is purely intentional (although he's actually closer to a zombie when you get right down to it).
An outlandishly-dressed ninja girl from the Japanese-lookalike town of Wutai. As a rebellious and cocky tomboy, Yuffie desires to restore her homeland Wutai to the glorious nation it was before being conquered by Shinra. Despite her sometimes obnoxious personality, she is friendly, helpful, and willingly helps the party in their battles.
She is one of the characters who Cloud can date on the Romance Sidequest, and while not as tender as Tifa or Aerith is rather sweet. She also lays into Cait Sith a lot more than the other women when she finds out he's holding Marlene hostage.
Despite seeming not caring about Wutai she is upset over how it became a resort town after the war and would much rather it was seen as more important.
She also becomes really upset over Aerith's death.
All Your Powers Combined/Mega Manning: According to the Ultimania guide, this is how Zack learns his Limit Breaks — he meets someone, and upon doing so, learns how to copy their Limit Break and modify it to create his own, such as Meteorain->Meteor Shots and Healing Wind->Healing Wave.
Badass: The beginning of Crisis Core firmly establishes him as this, and it only gets better from there... up until, well.
Been There Shaped History: Besides his influence on Cloud's past, Zack was the guy who named the 7th Heaven bar, bought Aerith her iconic hair ribbon and suggested she sell flowers, and is partly responsible for sparking Yuffie's obsession with Materia.
BFS: Although he wields a standard Cool Sword before he inherits it.
Breakout Character: Arguably bigger than Vincent. Both got their own spinoff, but not only is Zack's better received, but Zack got the honor even though he only appeared in an optional flashback, as opposed to being a former playable character.
Chick Magnet: Almost as much as Cloud. Case in point: Aerith and Cissnei in the same game. Way to go Zack.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold / Troll: Implied in the original game and then retconned out of the 'verse with Crisis Core. Cloud in the original game could give some pretty dickish responses in the dialogue trees. The game's Reveal, where it's learned that he based his Badass persona on Zack's, seems to indicate that he picked this up from Mr. Fair. Crisis Core, however, does away with all of this and writes Zack asanythingbut.
Right Handed Mirror: As Cloud is, he is this to Sephiroth. Their backstories and origins are even more similar, but Zack becomes a hero while Sephiroth descends further and further into madness and villainy.
A famous war hero and SOLDIER 1st Class, Sephiroth is a living legend within Shinra. After going AWOL for several years, Sephiroth suddenly reappears to murder the President of Shinra and blaze a trail of death across the world. He was the end result of a Super Soldier program designed to harness the power of the Ancients. Unfortunately, a misunderstanding causes him to be infused with the cells of the malevolent, virus-like alien JENOVA instead. He stumbles across the truth of his origins and is driven insane, his madness catalysed by the influence of JENOVA. Coming to the conclusion that he is The Chosen One of the Planet and that the broken body of JENOVA is his biological mother, he initiates a terrifying plan to absorb the Lifestream into himself and become the successor of JENOVA. Although Cloud delays this plan in the short-term by throwing Sephiroth into the Lifestream, in the long-term it allowed Sephiroth to absorb the knowledge of the Lifestream to the point where he could influence the world psychically, manipulating those with JENOVA cells and creating solid astral manifestations of himself.
All There in the Manual: You really do need to get into the side materials if you want to fill in the blanks this guy's story has.
And Then What?: Until the Compilation, it wasn't explicit as to what Sephiroth was actually going to do with his godlike power after obtaining it, with interpretations ranging from Take Over the World to Omnicidal Maniac. According to Advent Children, the ultimate result was the Planet's destruction, it's hinted that he intended to use the Planet as a vessel similar to Jenova, and basically lead him towards a new planet (his "Promised Land") and rule it as a god.
Audience Surrogate: In a comedic way during Crisis Core, for those who don't like LOVELESS. He's not the biggest fan of it, and he's not afraid to mention that he's bored of Genesis "beating it into (his) head".
Back from the Dead: Technically speaking, Cloud killed him before the game began, but he persisted within the Lifestream. Then he came back in Advent Children.
Badass: His appearance isn't for showing off. Remember that gigantic snake that gave the party problems earlier in the game, which you had to get a chocobo to outrun? Sephiroth had to go through the same area, but he didn't bother with the bird. He impaled the snake on a tree.
Blade Spam: In more recent iterations of The Compilation of Final Fantasy VII as well as Kingdom Hearts and Dissidia: Final Fantasy, Sephiroth seems to be able to strike his opponent several times with only a few tactically-placed slashes of his Masamune. In Kingdom Hearts II, he possesses a move called Flash, where he dashes past Sora; if you don't use the Reaction Command, Sora eats about 7-9 slashes. In Dissidia, his slashes inflict upwards of four blows at a time (his Octoslash, in particular, hits eight times in spite of Sephy only swinging five times).
The Pawn: His FFVII museum bio in Dissidia 012, as well as some careful readings of Sephiroth's dialogue in the original game, however, will hint that he's ultimately this to Jenova, or at the very least that he's not completely dominant over Jenova.
It is closer to a retcon than an artist attribute. Every successive iteration will clock the sword at 3 meters long.
Depending on the Writer: His characterization varies wildly after his initial appearance. Advent Children has invoked Flanderization as described below, Crisis Core explores his pre-madness Sugar and Ice personality, Kingdom Hearts retools him as Cloud's Enemy Without existing only to Troll him, and Dissidia see him as a Punch Clock Villain interested only in recovering his memories. Also subject to this trope are his power levels, ranging from just a master swordsman to a Flash SteppingMagic Knight, and his relationship with Jenova regarding which of them is really in control of the other.
Disney Villain Death: This is how Sephiroth is first defeated: When Cloud attempts to finish off Sephiroth at the reactor and ends up being impaled by him, Cloud ends up using his own body as a lever, and then hurls Sephiroth down the shaft of the Mako Reactor. Unfortunately, he hadn't exactly died afterwards.
To Cloud, as an ex-member of SOLDIER, but later it turns out that he's actually Aerith's Evil Counterpart, since Cloud never was a member of SOLDIER and Sephiroth and Aerith have more traits in common: both are children of Shinra scientists involved in the Jenovas Project, both use seraphic symbolism, both are capable of avoiding dissolution in the Lifestream, and both are linked to one of the Ultimate Magics. Furthermore, Sephiroth believed that his mother was an Ancient betrayed by humans whereas Aerith's mother actually was one. During development, they were even considered to be revealed to be siblings or lovers, driving their connection deeper.
Expanded upon in the novellas. Both Aerith and Sephiroth retain their forms within the Lifestream. Aerith keeps hers due to being a Cetra, Sephiroth keeps his due to his immense power and sheer force of will. The novellas paint them as the supreme forces of light and darkness within the Lifestream, Sephiroth tainting the Lifestream with his Jenova cells and Aerith trying to purify his corruption as best she can. In the Case of the Lifestream - White, Aerith even considered creating her own Remnants to oppose Kadaj, Loz, and Yazoo, but decided it was more important to contact Cloud in person and let him handle it.
Fallen Hero: He definitely fell, and hard, but given who his employers were, the "hero" part might be shadier than we realise (although it is implied in various scenes that he actually didn't know about some of the dirty secrets of the company).
Fallen Angel: Invoked by his Safer Sephiroth and One-Winged Angel appearances.
Fantastic Racism: A much-overlooked element of his character is that immediately after he snaps, he comes to believe that he's the last Cetra and that it is his duty to take the Planet back from humanity. For the entire Nibelheim burning scene, he preaches about how he will retake the world from the inferior race for the sake of the "chosen ones"...
Faux Affably Evil: In the side materials, there's no denying that he's just as evil as in the original game (post-madness), but he seems more Affably Evil as he does everything with a calm demeanour and never insults anyone in the way that, say Exdeath does. In the original game, however, when while he may be calm and collected, it's clear that he's enjoying mocking Cloud's insecurities and his status as a "puppet" and takes the opportunities to do so with gusto.
Flanderization: Invoked in-universe. After his second death at the end of VII, he survives dissolution in the Lifestream by focusing on his hatred of Cloud and his desire for vengeance, giving him a strong enough emotional core to maintain his sense of self at the cost of letting less-focused traits be stripped away. This is why, come Advent Children, he's completely absorbed in rubbing his revival in Cloud's face.
Flash Step: Uses these liberally throughout the Compilation and his spinoff appearances.
Freudian Excuse: Let's see, his childhood friends were apparently beginning to defect from Shinra, as well as their dying, he then learns that his "mother" was allegedly a cosmic monster found in a stratospheric crater that nearly spelled doom and that his creation was related to research made by Hojo relating to monsters already in the Nibelheim Reactor, which, in Crisis-Core, the former part of this discovery was told to him by his former friend Genesis and reads the accounts from Professor Gast; all of this causing his mind to completely snap and become vengeful. That qualifies for one, all right.
Go Mad from the Revelation: Probably a posterboy for the trope, especially when it comes down to the revelation that he was created from Jenova's cells. That little detail ultimately proves to be true only from A Certain Point Of View, but by that point it doesn't matter; he's already lost it.
Human Mako-sicle: When Cloud and the others discover his body at the Northern Crater before Cloud, due to Sephiroth's earlier statements as well as Hojo, ends up giving Sephiroth the Black Materia again, he is seen to be in a mako-cocoon in stasis.
Humanoid Abomination: It turns out that being injected with the cells of a dead alien god while you were a fetus will do this to you. His very presence is a threat to the world, he contaminates the Lifestream dead or alive, he refuses to stay buried, and his nickname is The Abomination.
In Advent Children, it seems he's earned the title "The Nightmare".
It's All About Me: Think about it this way. Sephiroth's goal in the original game was to become a god; something which involved wiping out literally everything on the planet. Therefore, there would be nobody left to rule, nothing to control and not even the tiniest scrap of life left on it. The world would just be a dead rock floating in outer space. So, why does he want to accomplish this? Because, by the time he decides to do it, he's gone so insane that he literally no longer cares about anyone who isn't himself and Jenova.
And even then, it's also likely he no longer even cares about himself, either: When Cloud essentially tells Sephiroth about possessing nothing that he doesn't cherish before defeating him, in response to Sephiroth's request that Cloud tell him what he cherishes most so he could take it away, Sephiroth doesn't even flinch, despite the obvious implication that he'd have to destroy himself just to spite Cloud by destroying literally everything cherishable.
Japanese Pronouns: Before Sephiroth went insane, he used the arrogant term of "Ore", but after after the Niebelheim Incident, he always uses the formal and polite term "Watashi," alluding to the fact that he has devoted himself to his "mother's" cause.
Lack of Empathy: Averted (pre-madness, at least). Sephiroth has shown himself to possess empathy (though when Tifa met him she thought he was "rather cold"). Notable examples are his encouragement for Zack to not have to obey Shinra's command for him to kill Angeal earlier in the game, as well as giving Zack permission to return to Midgar so he could see Aerith as he knows he's worried about her. Post madness, on the other hand...
Laughing Mad: In Cloud's flashback, Cloud/Zack goes down to the basement of Shinra's mansion at Nibelheim and locates Sephiroth a few days after the incident at the reactor, only to hear Sephiroth chuckling dementedly. This is the first sign that Sephiroth went mad from the revelation that he might have been created as a Jenova clone.
Left Handed Mirror: To both Cloud and Zack. While they are all three the result of inhumane experimentation, Cloud and Zack become more and more heroic, while Sephiroth becomes more and more villainous and insane.
The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: One of the prevailing theories as to why, once he took over (or was taken over by, Depending on the Writer) Jenova's consciousness, he began acting a lot like she did, trying to eat the Lifestream — that's probably just how Jenova's species's hunger instincts work.
My Death Is Only The Beginning: After falling into the mako reactor, he ends up becoming somewhat stronger, or at least more knowledgable. Also, Word Of God states that his revival in Advent Children had him becoming much stronger than before, and it is also implied that Sephiroth might return after the second defeat (specifically "I will... never be a memory").
Omnicidal Maniac: Maybe. His goal in the first game was a bit confusing to some. Though it's a given that his plan requires all life on the planet to be obliterated in order to make a wound big enough for the lifestream to come out to mend.
One-Winged Angel: Trope Namer. He goes through Bizarro Sephiroth and Safer Sephiroth before reverting to his own body. In later appearances, he has become a literal one-winged angel.
Our Angels Are Different: His Safer Sephiroth form is clearly intended to resemble one of the Seraphim, with a single black wing in place of one of his arms. Later appearances feature him with that same wing on one of his shoulders, channelling Fallen Angel for all it's worth.
Posthumous Character: In the original game Cloud had already killed him long before you even pick up the controller. Up until the very end of the game, you only ever see him in flashbacks, and what you're chasing around are really clones/hallucinations/pieces of Jenova/physical representations of his willpower/whatever.
Post Mortem Comeback: By focusing on his hatred of Cloud, Sephiroth prevented the Life Stream from assimilating him, while using Kadaj and his gang to find what was left of Jenova to bring about Hojo's reunion theory, thereby allowing him to be reborn.
The Power of Hate: How he survives between VII and Advent Children, he concentrates on maintaining and building up his hatred of Cloud so he can maintain his own identity in the lifestream and resist being absorbed into the collective.
Psychotic Smirk: Gives a very nasty one after he's killed Aerith. And after the Nibelheim incident (although Crisis Core retcons this to a slightly sorrowful/rageful expression).
Retirony: Variation (according to Crisis Core): He was considering retiring from Shinra and SOLDIER after the Nibelheim mission (the reasons are implied to be a growing distrust of the organization and guilt from his friends' deaths). Instead he gets his Start of Darkness while there and goes totally off the deep end.
Start of Darkness: Made very, very clear, as opposed to the other bad guys in the game, who are just kinda evil from the get-go.
Sugar and Ice Personality: Crisis Core gives him this personality pre-madness — he's composed, aloof, and professional, but he's also capable of being loyal and worried about his friends. He can also be pretty considerate, as evidenced by Zack once the two start to become friends. Comes complete with several Pet the Dog moments, such as the end of Chapter 7, when Sephiroth informs Zack that Genesis copies have been sighted in Midgar, particularly noting their presence in the slums, and gives him permission to return to the city because he knows Zack is worried about Aerith and wants to see her. Another example is, when Zack has doubts about trying to kill Angeal after the latter turned traitor, Sephiroth agrees with him and also encourages Zack to not carry out his duty (The fact that Angeal was also Sephiroth's childhood friend helps a lot). Also, it makes sense that in order for him to become as emotionally warped as he eventually did, there had to be something there to warp.
Trauma Conga Line: Crisis Core explains his Start of Darkness was the result of this. His two closest friends go rogue and rebel against the company, he's the one usually sent out to fight their forces, he finds out about the genetic experiments that created the two as Super SoldierHumanoid Abominations, and Shinra is implied to never show any concern for his feelings about the chaos unfolding around him. Before Nibleheim it's so bad he's planning to retire after that mission...and then one of those rogue friends appears and pushes him to discovering he's a genetic experiment just like them.
Tykebomb: He was genetically altered in the womb and raised pretty much from birth to be a Super Soldier.
The Virus: Is the cause of Geostigma in Advent Children. Hinted at in the movie, outright stated in the novellas. The virus was created through his tainting of the Lifestream from within. After he first noticed he could do it, he kept doing it for the sheer enjoyment of tarnishing everything. There are even hints he had been further breaking Cloud's psyche via Cloud's Geostigma infection. Once he was infected, he let Sephiroth in.
Walking Shirtless Scene: The front of his jacket is always open, exposing his chest. During his Final Boss battle with Cloud he sheds the trenchcoat, and attacks him wearing only his pants and boots. Heads straight into Fan Disservice, given that he's covered in blood and sporting a Slasher Smile at the time.
Where I Was Born And Razed: Although Sephiroth himself doesn't seem to realize it (he mentions that he "has no hometown"), it is implied in the games (and confirmed via Word Of God) that Sephiroth's hometown was actually Nibelheim, the very same place he ended up burning to the ground.
Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: See Freudian Excuse. It's worth noting that, in-universe, he actually averted this as Cloud and co. refused to give him any sympathy whatsoever on account of all his various atrocities. Come Advent Children, Cloud changed his tune and decided Seph was someone to be pitied more than anything else.
Zero-Effort Boss: The Sephiroth vs. Cloud final boss fight was infamous as impossible to lose. The only reason he's considered better than the other Final Fantasy Zero-Effort Boss, Yu Yevon, is because Sephiroth was fought beforehand in his One Winged Angel form where he was indeed a difficult boss, unlike Yu Yevon.
"I'll control the world with fear. It takes too much to do it like my old man. A little fear will control the minds of the common people. There's no reason to waste money on them."
Bastardly Speech: His introduction, where he states that his plans are to turn the Planet into a police state. Thankfully, he's not that serious about it.
Big Bad Wannabe: He gives a grandiose speech about how he's going to rule the world through fear moments after Sephiroth has murdered every last gorram person in his building. He tries hard but he just never manages to catch up up to Seph in the villany stakes.
Heel Face Turn: He toys with it in the first game. Finally switches sides in Advent Children. Apparently all it took was getting shot by Diamond Weapon in his office to suddenly realize how bad everything was.
The Sociopath: Set up as one in the original game. Less so in the sequels.
The Starscream: He attempted to have AVALANCHE attack Midgar as a means to usurp his dad in the business in Before Crisis. Surprisingly, his father takes his son's attempt to backstab him pretty well, relatively speaking.
Reassigned to Antarctica: He is put on an "extended assignment overseas" at Junon (in actuality, put under house arrest in Junon) after it became apparent that he aided AVALANCHE in their efforts to eliminate Shinra so as to remove his father from power. Considering the alternatives (ie, being sacked or executed, possibly even both), this punishment was actually very light.
The Unreveal: When he and Cloud meet in Advent Children, Rufus begins to explain how he escaped his office before Diamond Weapon killed him but Cloud doesn't care and interrupts him before he finishes. The side novellas later explain it.
The Unfettered: Nobody has ever seen him cry and he is never shown to have much fear for his own safety, much less those of his subordinates or anyone else. Case of Shinra shows his Heel Face Turn as a calculated method of patiently getting back on top of the world and rebuilding the corporation (which he had done, by the time of Advent Children) after Mako ceased to be a viable power source.
Left to right: Rude, Reno, Tseng, and Elena.
"A pro isn't someone who sacrifices themselves for a job. That's just a fool."
The Department of Administrative Research, unofficially known as the Turks, are Shinra's Black Ops unit. They carry out assassinations, blackmail, and the forced recruiting of potential SOLDIER candidates. Their roster consists of Tseng (leader), Reno, Rude, and Elena. Before Crisis introduces Tseng's predecesor as the leader, Veld, and eleven more Turks, one of which is named Cissnei to take a prominent role in Crisis Core.
Childhood Friend Romance: Tseng for Aerith, sort of. They were never friends, but he was one of the few people Aerith knew when she was a child, and he's had an unrequited thing for her all the time since.
Some have the wrong impression that Tseng was a childhood friend of Aerith due to a mistranslation in the original game ("I've known him since we were little", rather than "since I was little"), even though we see a flashback of Tseng, as a teenage member of the Turks first meeting Aerith, who is a preteen girl, thus they never were little together nor were they friends.
Determinator: In Advent Children, Rude and Reno are clearly out of their league against Kadaj's gang. They don't care. They just keep fighting.
Easily Forgiven: By Barret. President Shinra may have given the order but it was ultimately the Turks (specifically Reno) who led the group of soldiers that marched up the Sector Seven plate, murdered everybody else in AVALANCHE and then dropped the plate; crushing and killing hundreds, maybe thousands, of people and leaving many more homeless... all the while framing AVALANCHE themselves for the whole thing per the orders of their boss. Barret is utterly devastated by the event; letting out screams of sorrow and blasting debris with his gun-arm out of fury and grief. By the time of the next encounter with them, though, he doesn't make any mention of his friends. Possibly justified in that Sephiroth has pulled Eviler than Thou on everybody by that point but still.
I Owe You My Life: Before Crisis reveals that after Veld and the player Turks betrayed the company and went rogue, Scarlet ordered the last three members loyal to Shinra — Tseng, Reno and Rude — exterminated and the Turks shut down. Rufus intervened to keep the group alive, demanding their absolute loyalty to him in exchange.
A Million is a Statistic: The effect of Reno and the Turks following through with the command to drop the Sector 7 plate, killing hundreds or thousands of people has noticeably less impact on the characters in the long-run than Aerith being killed before their eyes.
Minion with an F in Evil: Elena. Even if she manages to punch Cloud unconscious in Icicle Inn, her immediate response is feeling regretful about it and just leaving him behind to recover rather than apprehending him.
No Pronunciation Guide: Tseng. Lampshaded in Crisis Core when Zack finds a camera with Tseng's name on it, and thanks to the odd spelling doesn't realize who it belongs to; he then wonders how one pronounces the name.
Also "Reno" is derived from the romaji "Reno," and should therefore rhyme with Leno, rather than be given the Nevada pronunciation. "Rude" could confuse as well; some refuse at first to pronounce it the obvious way.
Punch Clock Villains: To the point that they even agree to help the heroes when they are found off-duty in Wutai. They'll still commit atrocities when ordered to by their boss, but hey.
Skippable Boss: The only times they have to be fought is the first Reno fight and the fight with Rude at Rocket Town. All others can be skipped or those areas passed over. Even the final confrontation is skippable, if you've completed the Wutai quest.
Spell My Name with an S: The official Romanizations [in Japan] of Elena's and Reno's names were, once upon a time, "Yrena" and "Leno" [specifically in the Official Establishment File artbook].
Ship Tease: Between Tseng and Elena, Zack and Cissnei. You could also mention how Tseng likes Aerith and Rude likes Tifa, but in that case it's kind of one-sided.
Sibling Rivalry: Before Crisis reveals that Elena's older sister was a Turk, and Elena resented her for outperforming her; she refused to join the Turks while her sister was a member. She joined after her sister retired along with many other Turks from that game, following their defeat of Zirconiade and decision to follow Veld's lead.
Stalker with a Crush: Tseng towards Aerith and Rude towards Tifa, so much that Rude will refuse to attack Tifa during boss fights. Subverted by Elena, who has a crush on Tseng but doesn't actively pursue him.
The Unfought: At no point does the party ever actually engage Tseng, the leader of the Turks, in combat. He can, however, be fought in the Training Mode in Before Crisis.
Manipulative Bastard: To the citizens of Midgar. Drop part of upper Midgar onto the Sector 7 slums, blame it on AVALANCHE terrorists, and "send the rescue care of Shinra, Inc." He always preferred to take the route that would get him what he wanted and would make Shinra look good to the general public.
Irony: He's the head of the Public Safety division, and yet what he's best known for (Dropping Sector 7 on the slums and causing massive casualties) was unarguably unsafe and inconsiderate for someone of his position, which is more or less the point of his character.
Out-of-Character Moment: Despite his normally buffoonish nature, during the Sapphire Weapon attacks Heidegger performs his duties with an unwonted cool professionalism.
"Hojo of Shinra, Inc. ...An inexperienced man assigned to take over the work of a great scientist. He was a walking mass of complexes."
Voiced by: Nachi Nozawa (Japanese), Paul Eiding (English)
Bigger Bad: Along with Jenova in the main game, he's the source of everything evil in the story.
Brain Uploading: Dirge Of Cerberus more or less says that after his death, his consciousness ended up inside the World Wide Network, AKA the Internet.
Card-Carrying Villain / Obviously Evil: Look us in the eye and tell us your Evil Radar wasn't going off when he first appeared. He also admitted to being one when Cloud confronts him. See For Science!. This is also one of the few examples in the former trope where it isn't intended to be funny.
Evil Is Sexy: In-universe. The bikini girls at Costa Del Sol seem to think so.
Evil Laugh: He is fairly restrained in the original game, until the final confrontation, during which he was pretty close to a complete break with reality. In Dirge Of Cerberus, however, he gives Kefka a run for his money.
Grand Theft Me: He takes over Weiss the Immaculate's body prior to Dirge Of Cerberus. If the Novellas are anything to go by, he also did this to Sephiroth between his own death and Sephiroth's fight against AVALANCHE.
Hoist by His Own Petard: Hojo attempted to defeat the party by injecting himself with Jenova's cells. However, this resulted in him being defeated due to losing his sanity as a result. In Dirge Of Cerberus, it is also revealed that the specific reason for him injecting himself with Jenova's cells was to strengthen his body enough for him to possess Omega, but this attempt predictably backfired on him due to losing his mind and then being killed, and thus resulted in him uploading his consciousness into the World Wide Network.
Kavorka Man: Somehow managed to win Lucrecia over from Vincent.
This is definitely demonstrated on the beach.
Lack of Empathy: When Lucrecia asks to hold Sephiroth during an argument that was implied to be Sephiroth being shipped off to Shinra, as well as Lucrecia's attempts to help Vincent in recovering from Hojo's experiment, he mocks her and also pulls a Not So Different on her.
The Man Behind The Monsters/The Man Behind the Man: Aside from Jenova herself, all of the antagonists of the FF7 universe can be traced back to his experimentations. He's responsible for the creation of Sephiroth and Genesis, his experimentations on Elfé is what lead to her getting her superpowers and forming AVALANCHE, and he's also the one controlling Deepground in Dirge of Cerberus, as well as the fact Deepground began as an off-shoot of SOLDIER, which of course was based on Hojo's research.
Papa Wolf: A rather strange example. He planned to fire the Sister Ray a second time prematurely to send as much power as possible to his Sephiroth, his son, for no real reason other than the fact that "Sephiroth surpasses science".
The Starscream: It is implied in Before Crisis that Hojo intended to fake a kidnapping so he could "defect" to AVALANCHE (who aren't nearly as good as their successors).
Cloud: "What are you doing...?" Hojo: "It should be obvious. I'm getting a tan."
You Killed My Father: He killed Professor Gast, Aerith's father. He also places Aerith and her mother into seven years' worth of inhumane experiments, which eventually resulted in her mother's death shortly after she gives Aerith to her foster mother after escaping Shinra.
The Villain Makes the Plot: Probably the best example in the franchise. 90% of everything bad that happens in the game happens because Hojo was being a complete bastard without any rhyme or reason beyond the fact that he could. Sure, he eventually gets out-evilled by Sephiroth (like every other bad guy and their dog) but that doesn't change the fact that basically everything happened because of him.
"Kya ha ha!"
Responsible for the Shinra Corporation's Weapons Development department, Scarlet specializes in creating Glass Cannons. Is also the one who carried out the Corel Massacre, badly injuring Barret in the process and leading him to hate Shinra.
Fat Idiot: He's so pathetic that he's left alive by the end of the game; not even worth killing. He's the only Shinra executive to survive, other than Reeve, who turned good, and Rufus, who got caught in a massive explosion and was thought to have died.
Hot Blooded: He's extremely hyper, to the point where his idle combat pose looks like he's tap dancing.
Shout Out: You know how he narrowly managed to avoid being chopped to bits by the Tiny Bronco after the party's fight against him? Well, aside from the aftermath, that was taken word for word from the demise of that German Mechanic that Indiana Jones was fighting in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Jenova descended on Gaia 2,000 years before the events of FFVII. She single-handedly devastated the Cetra, and nearly destroyed the planet, before being sealed in a geological stratum in the Northern Crater. Unearthed by Shinra scientist Gast Faremis, she indirectly played a huge role in Shinra's rise to power.
Bigger Bad: Jenova's not completely in charge of Sephiroth or his actions, and due to the nature of her being cannot be directly confronted. In fact, whether she's even alive is up for debate. But the facts remain that if she hadn't come down to earth two thousand years ago, almost none of the events of the game would have happened.
Cool Mask: Is sometimes show wearing a steel mask over her face.
Wearing might be too charitable—the Shinra Corporation put a strangely elaborate female bust/doll/death mask directly in front of Jenova's tank in the Nibelheim Reactor, for reasons never explained, which is torn away by Sephiroth. Jenova never wears it, since that form's never shown engaging in any sort of movement.
Dead All Along: Died well before the events of the game. May have been resurrected by Sephiroth. It's hard to tell.
Expy: JENOVA is basically Lavos shaped vaguely like a woman, and eating the world from the outside in rather than the other way around. Amusingly, this would make Sephiroth analogous to Queen Zeal. Unlike Zeal, however, Sephiroth isn't controlled by JENOVA (not completely, at least). It actually becomes the other way around: Sephiroth overtakes JENOVA's will. On the other hand, some of his monologues as well as Dissidia 012's museum bio (Final Fantasy VII section) of Sephiroth stating that he returned as an agent to carry out her will would imply that Sephiroth was indeed controlled by JENOVA to a certain extent.
Evil Matriarch: In a way. Kadaj, Yazoo, Loz, and Sephiroth all address her as "Mother" anyway.
From a Single Cell: Jenova is consciously aware of all of her cells, enabling her to regenerate into Sephiroth; thus, a "Reunion".
Fusion Dance: With Sephiroth, to the point that he's taken her originaly instinctive destructive goals Up to Eleven and infused them with his own conscious intelligence.
Humanoid Abomination: Resembles a deathly pale woman with eyes and veins in places where they should not be. Sometimes wears a steel mask to hide this.
Obliviously Evil: It's been suggested that Jenova, while wicked and cruel, was originally just a creature that instinctively sought to destroy. Her fusion with Sephiroth combined her instincts with his powerful will and intelligence.
Kadaj, Loz, and Yazoo are physical manifestations of Sephiroth's will. Each of them represents a different aspect of Sephiroth's personality, but they share a fanatical obsession with Jenova.Kadaj
And Then What?: As Cloud notes, Kadaj isn't really sure what to do when he finally gets his hands on Jenova.
Cool Sword: Souba, his double-bladed sabre, which can take a hit from the Fusion Sword and not break.
Dark Messiah: Kadaj pulls this off in the scene where he brainwashes the kids, channeling "cult leader" for all he's worth, while ranting about how the world has tried to reject all of them (them being victims of Jenova). Even his obsesssion with reuniting with Jenova has vaguely religious overtones.
Adult Fear: They kidnapped and brainwashed a legion of children. And if that wasn't bad enough, they then put the lot of them in harm's way and clearly didn't see them as anything more than pawns. For any good parent, this is the stuff of nightmares.
Older Hero Vs Younger Villain: The younger villains to Cloud's older hero. Even ignoring the fact that they've been alive for two years at the most, they still come off as considerably younger than Cloud.
Not Quite Dead: Three times in fact. Veld assumes Felicia dead when their hometown is attacked, but she's retrieved and used as an experiment by Hojo. He decides she's a failure and orders her disposed of, but Fuhito takes her to safety. And then at the end of Before Crisis, she's assumed dead due to the Zirconiade Materia finally taking its toll, but she and Veld are taken care of in secret and eventually go into hiding together.
Omnicidal Maniac: Believes that the Planet is too weakened thanks to Shinra's actions and wants to kill all human life so their energy will return to the Lifestream and the Planet can heal without their interference.
"My soul, corrupted by vengeance, hath endured torment to find the end of the journey, in my own salvation and your eternal slumber."
Voiced by: Gackt (Japanese), Robin Atkin-Downes/Oliver Quinn (English)
A former SOLDIER 1st Class who deserted from the Shinra Corporation. He had a friendly rivalry with Angeal and Sephiroth as well as some other similarities to them, and his main hobby is reciting quotes from LOVELESS. A lot.
Expy: Of Sephiroth. Besides the obvious similarities in appearance as seen in the accompanying image, Genesis is also a 1st Class SOLDIER and a spawn of the Jenova Project, he eventually sprouts a black wing over his shoulder, he was seemingly killed via Disney Villain Death in a Mako Reactor but turned out to be Not Quite Dead... you get the picture.
Invoked Trope: Partially. Genesis idolized Sephiroth as a child and wanted to be a hero just like him. Emulating Sephiroth's appearance and giving it his own personal flair was likely a conscious decision.
In Dirge of Cerberus, they didn't even bother with the ink suit.
Karma Houdini: He instigated a war, killed his own parents, basically wiped out his hometown's population, subjected an immense amount of innocent people into becoming his clones, and helped make Sephiroth go nuts, and he ended up getting away with it, even getting his degeneration removed.
Lampshade Hanging: Sephiroth notes that he enjoys beating LOVELESS into his and Angeal's head.
Meaningful Name: "Genesis" of course parallels Sephiroth's name, but it also means "birth" or "origin". Combined with the origin of his last name, he is "the original epic poem", referring both to his obsession with LOVELESS, and the idea that in-universe he was the original rebel SOLDIER and commited acts that Sephiroth would later repeat.
The Paragon Always Rebels: While not as revered or powerful as Sephiroth, Genesis was still one of Shinra's greatest warriors before he turns on them, and when he defects he takes a large number of other SOLDIER members with him.
Playing with Fire: Throws a definite preference for fire spells like Flash and Energy.
Remember the New Guy: Played with. No other version of the Nibelheim Incident has any mention or appearance by Genesis. However, the way he appears there in Crisis Core allows him to be there without actually retconning the event — he appears when Zack and Sephiroth enter the reactor, and the only version of that specific scene that has been shown across the series is the one where Cloud is in Zack's place, so Genesis's absence could be given a Hand Wave as one of many inconsistencies in Cloud's memories.
"The pure will be "spared" for the cause, while the tainted will be hunted down and exterminated. They shall be slashed, strangled, and slaughtered. Beaten, stabbed, and crushed. Garroted and impaled. Shot and executed without mercy. The time has come to cleanse this world."
Meaningful Name: "Weiss" means "white" in German, and his subtitle, Immaculate, refers to the Roman Catholic belief of the Immaculate Conception where someone is born completely without the stain of original sin.
Pure Is Not Good: He was originally created to not be made of tainted lifestream, which is why Hojo possessed him and planned to use him to fuse with Omega. Even when he regained control of himself, he was still not a nice guy.
Freudian Excuse: It is heavily implied that the very reason why she even takes enjoyment in doing her assignments in similar ways to a psychopath is because she was raised that way by Shinra.
Happy Rain: In a twisted way. Rosso, while standing in the rain in Edge, muses that it was the first time she had ever felt rain on her skin. She seemed happy, but she's a Tsviet, so happy could just as easily mean "on the brink of murder."
Yet another Tsviet. Was ordered to be terminated by Weiss and consequently left the Tsviets.
Brainwashed and Crazy: It is heavily implied that Shinra kidnapped her and subjected her to experiments that both brainwashed her to the extent that she could no longer remember her sister, and that she was also made effectively incapable of aging beyond a ten year old body.
Medium Awareness: In the game's online mode, she tells the player character that her special attack uses "a lot of MP".
Morality Pet: To Vincent. Vincent himself could be her morality pet as well.
The Stoic: For the most of the time. Only at the near ending does she begin to show off her more emotional sides.
This Thing You Call Love: After she had spent ten years with Deepground, it ain't no wonder that she hasn't learnt what love is. So when Shalua sacrifices herself for her and Vincent tries to be her friend, she first reacts with coldness and surprise, and then with curiosity. She eventually learns what love is by the end.
Abusive Parents: Dirge of Cerberus makes it completely clear that she fully consented to injecting JENOVA cells into her unborn child. To be fair, however, she did at least regret the action afterwards.