"Right and wrong are not what separate us and our enemies. It's our different standpoints, our perspectives that separate us."
A skilled soldier who acts as the main character. Though he is one of SeeD's most accomplished students, his cold and professional demeanor ostracizes him from everyone else. He has a rivalry with Seifer, and specialises in the notoriously awkward gunblade.
Above Good and Evil: See his quote. Much more of the Nietzschean variety than the watered-down and definitely villainous version that currently constitutes the actual trope (though to be fair, he says it while still a Jerk Ass Gun-For-Hire in training).
Badass: Pretty much every SeeD qualifies, but Squall stands out among SeeDs even as a trainee.
Because Destiny Says So: Cid uses this reasoning (vis-a-vis a Stable Time Loop) for appointing Squall commander of Garden, despite the fact that Squall was a cadet a very short time ago and there are far more experienced SeeDs in Garden.
Beneath the Mask: His "cold, unfriendly loner" persona is a mask he developed as a child in order to deal with the pain of losing his "sister" Ellone. If you look at his entire persona, it's very much like how a child would think a "tough adult" would act; beneath it, he is insecure and emotionally immature, and more caring than he likes to let on.
Broken Ace: Much of the student body of Balamb looks up to and admires Squall due to his incredible fighting skills and calm professionalism despite his lone wolf attitude. This tends to confound the emotionally stunted Squall who created his cold-hearted and powerful persona to be strong enough to not have to deal with other people.
Cannot Spit It Out: His feelings towards Rinoa. This is because for the majority of the game, he's simply not emotionally mature enough to understand his feelings towards her, or how to reciprocate.
Can't Stand Them, Can't Live Without Them: Squall spends the first two discs of the game grimly resisting Rinoa's efforts to get him to open up to her, but gradually giving way. When she falls into a coma at the end of disc two, however, he realizes how much he doesn't want to lose her, and she becomes his main priority.
Commanding Coolness: Invoked. When Cid hands leadership of SeeD over to Squall, the position doesn't come with a pre-established rank. His friends discuss it among themselves and rather arbitrarily dub him "Commander," presumably because "Headmaster" no longer accurately reflects the role and "Commander" sounds cooler.
Consummate Professional: The fact that he's paired with a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits highlights this even more. The rest of his squad is highly idealistic, while Squall is (or tries to be) more emotionally detached. One particular scene has the group worrying over Seifer's fate after the latter has fallen into the hands of the sorceress; when Rinoa asks him, he bluntly informs her that it's likely he's already been executed, and that she shouldn't get her hopes up for his survival.
A related scene shortly afterwards illustrates how Squall subverts this trope when he blows a gasket over the thought of being referred to in the past tense because everyone is talking about what Seifer was like, showing that he's not as "professionally" detached as he wants to be.
Cool Sword: His gunblade, be it Revolver or the upgrades of it.
BFS: Revolver doesn't quite cut it, but the later models, especially the Twin Lance and Punishment, are pretty hefty. Blasting Zone, his third Finishing Move, puts it into a whole new level.
Blade Spam (standard-type): Renzokuken, especially when ended with Lion Heart.
Grey and Gray Morality: In his own words, there are no true Good or Evil, just people with opposing viewpoints.
Handshake Refusal: A running gag early on in the game is that Squall refuses to shake anybody's hand, no matter what the circumstance is. This is significant because the first telltale sign that he subconsciously see Rinoa differently from other people is that he accepts her handshake during formal introductions.
Hidden Depths: It's pretty easy at first glance to write Squall off as an annoying emo whiner, but as some of the other tropes listed here will demonstrate, it isn't quite that simple.
Hidden Heart of Gold: He only seems to get effusive about his friends after they've survived (or he rescues them from) a life-or-death situation.
I Can't Dance: In the ballroom scene. Turns out to be a lie, at least once Rinoa gets him to loosen up a little; he later confirms that SeeD trainees are taught formal ballroom dancing as a potential cover skill.
Inner Monologue: Squall does more of this than he does actual talking. A source of humor with pretty much anyone who gets to know him.
Ironic Echo: Near the beginning of the game, he tells Quistis that he's not interested in listening to her and tells her to go talk to a wall. Half a game later, after Rinoa falls into a coma, Squall realises he loves her and begs her to talk to him. Frustrated by her silence, he notes it's like talking to a wall.
Jerkass Fašade: Squall is perfectly aware he comes off as cold, unfriendly and professional. He acts this way on purpose to keep from getting close to people because he doesn't want to have to experience the pain of losing them as he did with Ellone. In his (initial) opinion, being alone makes life easier for him as opposed to relying on others.
Kick the Dog: Sometimes, he goes a bit too far with his Jerkass Fašade; such as the infamous scene where Rinoa storms out of an argument calling him a "meanie".
Knight in Sour Armor: He's a pretty cynical guy, but for all that commits himself to the idealistic Rinoa.
Never Be Hurt Again: The reason for his cold, detached demeanor is because his fellow orphan and sister, Ellone, left him alone as a child and he developed abandonment issues. He feels that, eventually, all friends and family die or go away, and the only way to avoid the pain from that is to never let anyone in again.
The Reliable One: Squall may not be interested in making friends, but he follows orders and he always gets the job done. Despite his prickly and anti-social behavior, his considerable skills and his reliability on the job earn him a lot of respect from his peers at Garden.
Sour Outside, Sad Inside: He actively presents himself as surly and unsympathetic to keep others from getting close, while inwardly he's deeply insecure, longing for support from others but desperately afraid of the pain that would come from losing them.
Stepford Snarker: He explains his neuroses to Rinoa and finishes by saying "Don't tell anyone I said that." While she is in a coma.
The Stoic: It's interesting to note that the exact qualities that make him a good soldier (quiet, emotionless, obedient) make him a poor human being because he forced himself to become an adult as a child to cope with the loss of Ellone. Contrast this with Laguna, who is both a competent soldier and a complete dork because he matured at a natural pace.
Stoic Woobie: A great deal of the tension between Squall and his teammates throughout the game is he refuses to open up to them about and problems he may be suffering. It does lead to a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming when he finally does open up to Rinoa, of course she was unconscious at time.
Not So Stoic: His stoicism increasingly breaks down as his coping mechanisms are tested and proved wanting. Disc 3 provides the best example, but instances occur as early as disc 1, starting with the mini-meltdown he has over the way people talk about Seifer after Seifer's supposed death.
Stone Wall: Has the highest HP and vitality among the six main characters.
"Look into my eyes...You're-going-to-like-me...You're-going-to-like-me...Did it work?"
A member of the Timber resistance group "Forest Owls". Her outgoing and happy-go-lucky attitude contrasts sharply with Squall, as does her lack of actual battlefield experience. She strikes up a relationship with Squall and becomes determined to crack his shell. She wields a boomerang-esque weapon called a Blaster Edge.
Action Girl: Although she's less experienced story-wise, she does have a pretty good strength stat.
Cute Bookworm: She's delighted when she first sees Garden's library, and can always be found reading there when not in the active party.
Damsel in Distress: Justified as she lived a comfortable middle-class life, unlike the others. Rinoa requires rescuing four times over the course of the game (once per disc!) and is unplayable for a good amount of the third disc thanks to being variously comatose, possessed by Ultimecia, or imprisoned by Esthar. This makes her a Damsel Scrappy to many players, at least until she becomes a sorceress.
Everything's Better with Princesses: Rinoa is not a princess, but the resistance calls her that as a nickname, most likely because she's the daughter of the occupying state's military commander.
Magic Knight: Very strong with both magic and physical strength.
Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Subverted. She acts like it around Squall in Disc 1 - and gets told off for it. She shapes up in Disc 2 after nearly getting killed by Edea. Played more straight in the emotional aspects when her persistence to getting to know Squall and for him to open up and rely on her that initiates his Character Development.
The McCoy: She's highly critical of Squall's coldness towards his teammates.
Military Brat: She has the distant father, although not the uprooted lifestyle since he's a general rather than a grunt.
Motif: She is often associated with angels and shooting stars. She has a pair of stylized angelic wings printed on her clothes.
Muscles Are Meaningless: At level 100, the playable character with the highest unmodified strength stat in the game isn't Squall, Seifer, or Ward. It's Rinoa. This is most likely a case of Gameplay and Story Segregation; due to being unavailable for an extended period, Rinoa misses out on stat-boosting opportunities that the rest of the party is able to take advantage of, and thus has better-than-average natural stat growth in order to prevent a case of Can't Catch Up.
Mythology Gag: To the Ranger class and a Shoutout to Forest Ranger: She's a crossbow(-of sorts)-using fighter who fights with a dog and lives in a city built in the middle of a giant forest.
Nom de Mom: Her father's family name is Caraway. Rinoa goes by her mother Julia's surname, either as a form of protest against her father or just because being obviously related to a Galbadian general would hurt her credibility with the various factions of the Timber resistance.
Not What It Looks Like: Rinoa claims she doesn't want to ask Squall to see his ring (so Zell can make a replica of it) because people would get the wrong idea.
Official Couple: Her and Squall who are so official they are the trope picture.
Rebel Leader: She leads the Forest Owls, the only active resistance group in Timber.
Rebellious Princess: At least stylistically. She's not an actual princess, but the Forest Owls call her that.
Security Cling: Rinoa does this three times to Squall. First, after being rescued from the Iguions, she grabs onto him and doesn't want to let go. Later, while on the Ragnarok, after the intense sequence of events that's just occurred, she takes advantage of the gravity being turned off to float down into Squall's lap and puts her arms around him, telling him that it makes her feel safe. The third time is when she hugs him after he rescues her from the sorceress memorial.
Sixth Ranger: Played with. She's the only member of the gang who didn't hail from any Garden and by extension, the only person in the group who didn't grow up in Edea's orphanage.
Witch Species: After Edea gives Rinoa her powers at the end of Disc 2.
Woman in White: When she wears her white (or ivory) dress during the SeeD ceremony and during the FH event.
"Why don't you try to show a little more passion...? You know, like me!"
A fellow SeeD who works alongside Squall and Selphie. Though he appears to be a comic-relief hot-blooded goof at first, he is actually a highly competent soldier with a deep knowledge of world history and a lot of integrity. He uses no weapon in battle, preferring instead to use martial arts.
Anime Hair: Less extreme than Cloud's, though; it looks like a more plausible application of gel.
Bare-Fisted Monk: He's no monk, but he fits the part where he fights with nothing but hands and feet. He'd also fit the Monk class in the franchise.
Big Eater: The ending FMV implies this, and you can usually find him loitering in the canteen.
The Big Guy: Physical powerhouse edition, in spite of being the smallest male party member.
Butt Monkey: Almost any time something comically embarrassing happens to one of the playable characters, it's happening to Zell, from being repeatedly snubbed for handshakes to getting "volunteered" to dodge bullets by himself during the D-District Prison sequence.
Hidden Depths: While he acts like a typical Boisterous Bruiser and Dumb Muscle, he's actually quite smart. Landing on the Deep Sea Research Center has him explain what they were doing here, causing Squall to admit that he has to rethink his opinion of Zell.
Hot-Blooded: He's quick to judge and quick to act in most given situations and often loud about it.
Idiot Hero: He's said to be designed to resemble a typical shonen manga hero.
I Know Mortal Kombat: Learns his limit breaks from fighting magazines, which can easily be mistaken for a fan list of attacks from shonen manga and anime.
It's All My Fault: He has a moment of this after he inadvertently said that Seifer belongs to the Garden right in front of the Galbadian President (who was being threatened by Seifer on live TV at the time). It turns out not to matter, mostly because Edea was planning to go to war against Garden all along anyway.
Maybe Ever After: The ending cutscene has him eating his favorite food with the Pigtailed Librarian who has a crush on him.
Mr. Fixit: Subtly implied in the game that he has a love of machinery, and bringing him to the Bonus Dungeon makes it easier to complete it.
Depends on your interpretation of easy. If you completed the puzzle as it was supposed to be done, the player can move through the next section with Enc-None. If you use Zell for it, you can bypass the guessing game, but you have to fight some tough battles on your way down there. Battles which Enc-None doesn't work in.
Noodle Incident: Quistis related that there was an incident where Zell crashed his Cool Board into the girls' restroom. Zell quickly cuts Quistis off before she can tell the rest of the story.
Ramming Always Works: His strongest limit break has him dash with a punch towards, and then beyond the enemy to run one lap around the world before finally punching. The enemies will be damaged by the sonic boom, or something...
Shout-Out: Possibly to Marty McFly. He's dressed in a red jacket, is very Hot-Blooded compared to the rest of the cast, and for no particular reason two easy-to-ignore/miss cutscenes involve him riding a hoverboard. Then there's the whole thing involving his relations with Dr. Odine and the timed mission in Esthar...
Say what you will about Zell, but he's certainly no Chicken-Wuss.
His facial tattoo is apparently based off of something the developers saw on MTV.
Simple Yet Awesome: The "Armageddon Fist" technique involves ignoring all the flashier moves in Zell's Limit Break to focus on alternating the two most basic instead. A lot less fancy to look at, but backed with a decent strength junction it will destroy things.
Trademark Favorite Food: A kind of bread in the original Japanese; hot dogs in the English translation. Unfortunately for him it seems that they're everybody'sTrademark Favorite Food and the cafeteria is always sold out whenever he tries to get one. (This makes for a minor Dub-Induced Plot Hole in the ending FMV, where Zell is seen stuffing his face with, and choking on, said flavored bread. However, they can still be seen as bread with hotdogs stuffed in them.)
Tykebomb: Ironically, he's emotionally healthier than the rest of the cast since he grew up with a loving adopted family and wasn't forced into becoming a SeeD.
A transfer student to Balamb Garden who ends up working alongside Squall and Zell. She is surprisingly perky and upbeat for a soldier, but behind her smiling face lies a psychotic, destructive streak that surfaces during times of stress. She is one of the more observant and practical members of the party. Also, she likes trains.
"You know, the boys often choke on this test when I come with them."
Squall's instructor at Balamb Garden. Beautiful and intelligent, she is adored by the student base to the point where she has a fan club. However, behind her perfect appearance lies an insecure human who struggles to control her own emotions, and who has unrequited feelings for Squall.
Child Soldiers: She entered SeeD training at the age of ten after her adoption "didn't work out".
Cool Big Sis: Subverted. She's initially set up and subconsciously acts as one of these, but as the game progresses, we see her making several irrational and immature decisions, the same as the rest of the cast.
Cool Teacher: She tries to be this. Although she does have a fanclub, her efforts bounce off of Squall and Seifer.
Quickly Demoted Woman: Starts as a teacher and mentor to Squall and is the most senior SeeD in the party, but she subsequently follows his leadership after being demoted and the debacle at the Timber TV station.
Skirt over Slacks: Nomura thought that she should be the skirted team member, but put her in slacks after he gave that role to Selphie.
Ship Sinking: Has an interest in Squall, but gives up as the story continues. Justified as she lost interest after remembering that she grew up with him and thought of him as her little brother, which is a product of the Westermarck effect.
The Smart Girl: Her friendship with fellow instructor Xu, being a SeeD from age fifteen, plus she's the Card King.
"Thanks for the support, but I never miss my target."
An expert SeeD sniper who joins the Balamb Garden party on an assignment. He likes to style himself as a cool, unflappable gunman and complete ladies' man. However, this is just a fašade so he can cope with the suffocating pressures of his job. His true personality is much more shy and dorky.
Gentle Giant: Despite what he would like others to believe, he's the kind of guy who wouldn't hurt a butterfly that landed on him.
The Heart: He has a bit of a rocky start, but from the visit to Fisherman's Horizon onward Irvine makes the most active and consistent efforts to keep the party pulled together and emotionally centered.
Obfuscating Stupidity: He comes across as an idiot to Squall but when it comes to other people he's the most insightful member of the party. He may or may not have been feigning nervousness when he has the opportunity to assassinate Edea because he's the only party member to remember that she raised them. He was definitely keeping silent about most of the party growing up together.
Sixth Ranger: He attended Galbadia Garden, which is more militaristic than Balamb or Trabia, and is the last permanent member to join.
"I speak with passion, from the heart! That's what matters most."
A Galbadian soldier who dreams of becoming a world-renowned journalist. His dorky and excitable demeanour obscures his extensive combat experience and natural courage. He uses a machine gun in battle and is the main character in the flashback sequences that Squall's party experiences throughout the game.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Laguna is a powerful combatant, a charismatic leader, and a general Nice Guy with a strong sense of right. However he's a klutz who has trouble approaching Julia, constantly mixes words up and confuses what he's trying to say, and generally acts more than a little goofy.
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Literally referred to as a moron when we first saw him, but goes on to become president of Esthar, the most technically advanced nation in the game, and sealed away Adel to earn that title. That's without you helping him with junctions, by the way.
Deuteragonist: His importance in the game's storyline (as seen in the flashbacks, he's heavily involved in and responsible for many of the game's plot points), his presence in Dissidia Duodecim, and the manual outright describing the game as being the story of both him and Squall plant him in this category.
Tall, Dark and Handsome: Again, two out of three; Laguna is average height at about 5'9". Although the Final Fantasy VIII Ultimania has amended his height to 181cm (just over 5'11"), so he fits all three now.
Unlucky Everydude: The guy can't catch a break. Separated from his crush by a high-ranking rival, badly wounded, separated from his friends, mistrusted by the townspeople he's trying to protect...
A Galbadian soldier and the third member of Laguna's unit. His intimidating appearance on the battlefield contrasts sharply with his caring demeanour outside of it. He is rendered mute after suffering a serious injury to his throat during battle.
Mighty Glacier: Level for level, Ward's base Speed stat is the lowest out of any of the playable characters, maxing out at level 100 at a rating most of the other characters have reached at level 50. His Strength, on the other hand, is consistently higher than that of any other character save Rinoa.
Kill the Ones You Love: He's fully prepared to send his and Edea's kids to kill her, because he knows he's not capable of it himself, but it all works out in the end. And, depending on your perception of the Timey-Wimey Ball, he might have known it would anyway.
Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Well, not that ugly. He looks like an average, middle-aged man, but Edea looks like a supermodel.
"You cannot change the past, but seeing it once more is enough."
A mysterious girl who shares a connection with Squall, Laguna and SeeD. She is hunted by various factions during the game, most notably by Sorceress Edea. She possesses a supernatural ability that allows her to send a person's consciousness into the past, and is the source of the mysterious flashbacks that Squall's party has been experiencing.
Chekhov's Gunman: First appearance is her visiting Squall in the infirmary after his duel with Seifer in the opening FMV. She also later appears in the Training Center where she's rescued by Squall and Quistis, and she calls Quistis by her childhood nickname.
Randomly Gifted: Her powers which are considered to be separate from (though compatible with) the magic used by Sorceresses and are never given an in depth explanation other than she was born with them.
"I've always gotta be doing somethin' big! I don't wanna stop. I'm gonna keep running! I've come this far...I'm gonna make it to the end, to the goal!"
One of Balamb Garden's top students, and Squall's rival. Though he is just as competent as Squall, he lacks the detachment necessary for a soldier and frequently disobeys orders when his temperament flares up. Though he is outgoing and honest, his single-minded pursuit of his dreams leads to him failing the SeeD examination, and further disasters.
Ascended Fanboy: The Ultimania guide reveals that he was influenced by seeing the movie in which Laguna played a knight, and that he based his gunblade stance on the one Laguna used during the film.
Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: He's the only other gunblade user in Garden and has a pretty big ego in Dollet.
Brainwashed and Crazy: There is extensive fan debate as to how willingly Seifer served Edea as her Knight but certainly in the final battle with him he falls into this trope and is being used by Ultimecia. He even admits that he doesn't care, just wanting to impress Squall and prove he was right.
Evil Counterpart: To Squall. Their designs also make this very obvious—Squall is brunet, Seifer is blond; Squall wears black, Seifer wears white; Squall has more feminine features, Seifer has a very strong jaw; and they have opposite scars.
Good Scars, Evil Scars: A subtle variation; the scar that Seifer acquires in the opening FMV would be a hero scar on its own, but it's a mirror-image inverse of Squall's, making it more of a villain scar in context.
Karma Houdini: He never pulls any sort of act of redemption, and yet he never has to face any real consequences for his actions. In the ending cinematic, he is seen fishing with Raijin and Fujin, while Balamb Garden flies by. To be fair, he was very clearly used and manipulated by the sorceress, possibly even to the point of mind control.
Ki Attacks: The manual says that the fire magic used in Seifer's Limit Break is produced by chi and not Para-Magic.
Moveset Clone: He has the same progression of Limit Breaks as Squall does, and the same "trigger" attack, but it requires different timing.
Never Speak Ill of the Dead: When the party thinks he is dead, they remember him in a fonder light—much to the frustration of Squall who isn't willing to sugarcoat that Seifer was a bully and a Jerk Ass.
Out of Focus: After disc 2, his importance to the plot diminishes severely.
Pet the Dog: He has a few Pet the Dog moments when it comes to Rinoa...but his many Kick the Dog moments tend to overshadow it...and we never see those moments since they occur before the game.
There's also one non-Rinoa moment: When Squall, Zell and Selphie graduated as SeeDs while he's clearly annoyed that he didn't graduate (and got scolded on top of that), Seifer took the time to gather all that doesn't graduate, and then give Squall and Zell a genuine, warm applause. Considering his attitude, it comes off as this. But then he proceeds to kick a lot of dogs later.
Psychopathic Manchild: A type C case, In contrast to Squall, who is more emotionally withdrawn, Seifer is more emotionally stunted; incredibly impulsive, violent and a bully that jumps at the chance to serve by Edea to fulfill his childhood dream and ending up getting Brainwashed and Crazy as a result.
Wrong Genre Savvy: He grew up a fan of films about sorceresses and heroic knights who defended them. The sorceress takes advantage of his desire to live up to that dream to manipulate him, and in the earlier stages of his service to her he takes great relish in declaring himself the heroic knight to Squall's "evil mercenary".
"You must fight to the end! Even though it may bring tragedy to others!"
A vain and power-hungry Sorceress who uses her brainwashing magic to seize control of Galbadia. SeeD is assigned the task of assassinating her. She is the wife of Cid Kramer, and has become possessed by the malevolent Sorceress Ultimecia.
Driven to Villainy: Edea (or rather, Ultimecia, is driven to avenge the Sorceresses who were persecuted long ago. In the Japanese translation, "Sorceress" is rendered as 'witch', which makes her motives clearer.
Meet the New Boss: Edea's character arc is similar to Golbez, the main villain during two-thirds of Final Fantasy IV. Both characters climb to power by remaining in the shadows, share a personal connection with the main heroes, and undergo a Face Turn by the third act. Edea is also fought multiple times, much like Golbez was.
Older than They Look: Edea was already a grown woman thirteen years prior to the events of the game, and probably isn't more than five years younger than Laguna, but even in the game's present day she doesn't look much older than Squall and his teammates. Her sorceress powers may have something to do with this.
"Hey, jus' like Fujin said, ya know!? We're with Seifer. Always have, always will."
Seifer's partners-in-crime. Raijin often slurs his speech and ends his sentences with "y'know", while Fujin speaks in monotone. Along with Seifer, they make up the self-proclaimed Balamb Garden Disciplinary Committee.
An evil Sorceress who once used her powers to rule Esthar with an iron fist. She was overthrown by a resistance movement led by Laguna, and sealed into a technological tomb which was then launched into space.
Brawn Hilda: Some people may not even realize she's a she.
Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Don't be confused. That is indeed a Sorceress. She just happens to be a 15ft tall, masculine-looking, purple woman with an overtly muscular frame. Yet nobody ever comments on her appearance. This, combined with the appearance of other sorceresses such as Ultimecia, has led to the Fanon theory that the Sorceress Power causes unknown physical side-effects on each woman which varies from subject to subject.
Ultimecia is an evil, all-powerful Sorceress from the future. She seeks to cast the almighty Time Compression magic, which would combine the worlds of the past, present and future into a single point and enable her to rule over all of time itself. While the party doesn't confront her in person until the end of the game, she acts as the antagonist by sending her consciousness into the past to possess other Sorceresses to act through.
All There in the Manual: The aptly-named Ultimania guidebook greatly elaborates on her character and explains her history and motivations, such as her Start of Darkness. In the game itself, you only meet her once to fight her.
Jossed: The popular fan theory that Ultimecia is Rinoa from a Bad Future was shot down by the official strategy guide. Her powers might be Rinoa's, since sorceresses have to pass down their powers to others, but she herself clearly isn't Rinoa.
Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: A popular theory states two tiers of this. First, Ultimecia's Start of Darkness was brought about when she was persecuted for the crimes she was going to commit, which became common knowledge thanks to the Time Travel antics of her future self (as depicted in the game). Second, Ultimecia's motivation was to use Time Compression to control time and thwart her destined defeat at the hands of the "legendary SeeD". But not only do her efforts to cast Time Compression paint a big bullseye on her chest for SeeD, but her use of the Time Compression spell allows Squall's party to travel to the future and defeat her directly.
Spell My Name with an S: Some localizations call her Artemisia, which is pronounced the same way than Ultimecia in Japanese and also creates an interesting link with the moon, one of the recurring motives of the game.
Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: What little information the game provides as to her motives implies that, due to being a Sorceress, she was persecuted all her life because of the terrible actions of evil sorceresses in the past. Not only that, but thanks to history, she knows she is destined to die at the hands of a bunch of teenage mercenaries and all her plans are based on a desperate desire to escape her fate. Sadly, her actions in the past to achieve this goal caused the start of the persecution of Sorceresses in her own time.
Big Shadow, Little Creature: during the second encounter, Sacred tells the party that he's calling on his big brother to aid him, and a for a second the entire screen was engulfed by a huge silhouette, which then shrinks to reveal Minotaur.
An optional, unjunctionable Guardian Force encountered in the Centra Ruins. After you obtain him, he can sometimes show up right at the beginning of a fight to One-Hit Kill your enemies before anybody has a chance to do anything. If you obtained him before completing Disc 3, he will show up at the start of the fight with Seifer, and get cut clean in half. Fortunately, Gilgamesh replaces him.
Call Back: His entire appearance is one huge one to Final Fantasy V: Gilgamesh refers to the Dimensional Interval (i.e. the Interdimensional Rift that houses the Void he was banished to) and in the Japanese version, he nearly name drops Bartz, The Hero of V and his Worthy Opponent.