Living with the rest of Team NORA in New Bodhum (Snow off searching for a way to free Vanille and Fang), Serah's world is shattered when monsters attack the village. Noel saves her, handing her a weapon so she can fight.
The two then set off to investigate Lightning's fate — everyone believes she's dead, but Serah's memory shows the opposite. What is behind these strange events?
Tropes present only in XIII-2:
Ascended Extra: Downplayed, but present: she goes from supporting character in XIII to playable character and heroine in this game.
Badass: After being separated from Noel, Serah runs into Caius. Knowing she can't win, she fights anyway and all with just one monster. She loses but Caius compliments her for doing a much better job than Noel did!
Badass Adorable: Possesses fighting skills on-par with the original party members now, but she's no less cute while doing it.
Her victory pose is catching Mog and giving him a hug. Aaaaaaw.
The Heroine Dies: During the ending, she has a vision that ultimately kills her.
I Regret Nothing: Even when she discovers that changing the future will eventually kill her, Serah remains unwavering and continues on her journey. Later after her death she reappears to Lightning and says she had no regrets because she made a promise to keep going on until they were reunited.
Muscles Are Meaningless: As any real-world archer will tell you, it takes a decent amount of strength and stamina to pull a bowstring properly and effectively enough to use it as a weapon. Serah's arms don't look muscular in the slightest.
Fridge Brilliance: The "bow" is just Mog shapeshifted. It's likely Mog used some kind of magic to enable Serah to operate him as a bow effectively. Also, look at how the bow is constructed, it's not a traditional bow in the slightest.
Development Gag: Many suspect that he's derived from the original designs for Fang when she was a male. Noel also combines his weapons to form a spear akin to Fang's.
The Dulcinea Effect: He knew Serah for how long? In fairness, he was specifically tasked with finding Serah by Lightning. He may have protected her immediately after meeting, but it was part of his job at the time.
It's played with for Yeul. Although he already knew of his Yeul from the Dying World 700 AF, he was unaware of the existence (At first) of other Yeuls along the timeline. And yet as technically different Yeuls, Noel treats them all the same, even after her reincarnations are revealed. Best exemplified with Noel's protective reaction for the Yeul in Academia 400AF, even though he knew she wasn't his Yeul.
Failure Knight: The Dulcinea Effect he displays upon meeting Serah is explained when we find out the people he wanted to protect before, including his Yuel, all died and he was powerless to stop it. This is also the source of his antagonism towards Snow.
Genre Savvy: He sees right through Caius's attempts to provoke him in their final battle, when he claimed that he killed Lightning and that she would never wake again. Unfortunately, he wasn't entirely lying...
In XIII-2, Lightning has gone missing and is assumed dead by all but her sister Serah. The reality is that she has been whisked to the timeless plane of Valhalla, where she has ascended to become the protector to none other than the Goddess Etro.
Tropes present only in XIII-2:
Decoy Protagonist: Though she has a short DLC episode in the form of "Requiem of the Goddess" to explain her side of the story a bit more, this game is very much about Serah.
Demoted to Extra: She has a scene in the prologue and narrates in new areas but otherwise she has no screen time.
Feather Motif: Her costume and her gunblade summoning now involve copious amounts of feathers. Word of God confirms that this symbolizes a connection to the divine.
Gravity Master: One of the quick time events during the opening allows for Lightning to use the Graviga spell... which causes all of the surrounding sheets of metal and scrap to collapse in on Caius, crushing him. He doesn't die.
Heroic Vow: "I made my choice. I will fight...I will never give up" This entails fighting an unwinnable battle for countless 900 year loops in which she remembers each one; leading army after army into battle; protecting every single last human across all the timelines, in every point in history; and essentially chains her to a life of death, sorrow, and hardship on top of precluding her from ever being with those she loves and cares about... heroic indeed.
Hero of Another Story: The fragments hint at many adventures in Valhaha and that imply that she built the army seen in the prologue by fighting every single monster composing it.
No Sell: In the Requiem of the Goddess DLC, the Knight paradigm gives her the ability Immortality. Under its active protection, Lightning will block every attack that Caius/Chaos Bahamut can use and takes no damage.
Not Quite Human: The booklet states, “…she is something beyond human, almost a goddess herself.”
The Paladin: A knight charged with protection of the goddess Etro and her shrine.
Pet the Dog: For Mog. Mog is known as the weakest being of all the void and has lost every fight he has ever been in. After he ended up in Valhalla... he didn't fair much better as Odin goes as far as to refuse to follow the most basic understanding in Valhalla (i.e. the weak serve the stong) since Mog was so weak and leaves him behind. When Lightning beats him in a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors... rather than leaving him behind as Mog expects, she takes him in and takes care of him.
And by her own decision. In one of the fragments you can find, it says she knew she couldn't avoid this fate, so she acknowledged her defeat and crystallized, with one wish in her heart. It was revealed in an interview that her wish is to protect Serah's will. Referring to protecting the future since her crystallization is the only thing keeping the world from completely being lost.
It's now Up to Eleven as there is now the "Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Saga" (aka what Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy XIII-2, and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII are being pegged as) and an entire event was planned during the 25th anniversary of Final Fantasy to announce the third of those, also known as "...the next Lightning game...".
In XIII-2, Snow has put his marriage to Serah on hold while he looks for the missing Lightning at his fiance's request. He soon disappears altogether, having been whisked into the vortex of time.
Tropes present only in XIII-2:
'80s Hair: That is likely what it looks like without the hat.
Then in one of the Paradox Endings, he bursts into the Academy HQ with the Time Police just in time to arrest The Mole and stop Serah and Noel from falling into a trap, then whisks Serah away on his time-travelling motorbike to fight Caius up and down the timeline.
As the pilot for Blitz Squadron, Sazh and Dajh were sucked into a temporal distortion. The "Heads or Tails" XIII-2 downloadable content shows that after spending some time in the casino at Serendipity, a place that is beyond time, they then enter a time gate and wind up even further in the future, and he aids Serah, Noel, and Hope as an airship pilot.Tropes present only in XIII-2:
Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer: In-universe example. The temporal distoration drops him in Serendipity. He knows he's still alive and has things to do but wants to score 'one more jackpot' before leaving.
In XIII-2, the 24-year old Hope is the director of the Academy, a scientific organisation born from the new provisional government of Cocoon. Together with his fellows, he is working on building a future for humanity based on human technology.
Tropes present only in XIII-2:
Bishōnen: Now that's he's grown up, he definitely qualifies.
Broken Bird: Hope tells Serah that everyone he cared about, has left him for most of his life.
Call Back: A very subtle and easily-missed example. In XIII, in an optional cutscene, Hope tells Vanille that her smile makes him happy. In XIII-2, during one of his Live-Triggers, one of the options is that he misses Vanille's smile.
Emperor Scientist: As the Director of Academy Hope is the undisputed leader of humanity. His rise to power makes more sense when you learn that his father Bartholomew and Rygdea were the ones who set up the provisional government and Academy after the fall of Sanctum.
Regent for Life: A benign version, Even after spending time in suspended animation Hope can still come back in the future and he is still unquestioned in authority. However, Hope limits himself to an adviser role, generally staying out of the way of much of the Academy's business in 4XXAF since he understands that others in the future see him as a relic from the past.
Improbable Age: At 24 he is the head of Academy as well as Academia the new capital of the world making him humanity's de facto leader. The game Hand Waves this ahead of time in NPC dialog as the Academy caring more about abilities than age.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Hope's team builds Augusta Tower in order to create a manmade fal'Cie...which promptly kills him, his team, and proceeds to wipe out humanity hundreds of years in the future. Though it wasn't entirely his fault, as the fal'Cie traveled back in time to achieve this due to the appearance of a paradox.
Stepford Smiler: Implied when Serah and Noel meet with him at the Yaschas Massif, considering next to everyone he was close friends with has disappeared from his life. Even more obvious in Academia at 4XX AF where he travels into the future on a one way trip, remarking that there was no-one left for him in his own time after his father's death and so there was nothing holding him to that time and that the only people who know who he really is are Serah and Noel.
"Time for some moogle magic. Kupo"
Voiced by Sumire Morohoshi in Japanese and Ariel Winter in English.
A mysterious little creature, he makes himself useful by transforming into a weapon for Serah. No one knows much about this strange animal who calls himself her guardian. People were led to believe that moogles don't exist, and those who meet him for the first time assume he is merely a stuffed animal. Although shy at first, once he opens up, he is quite the chatterbox, teaching Serah and Noel all about the world and its history.
Disproportionate Reward: He swore fealty to Lightning because he lost to her... In a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors. While this seems dispropotionate, you learn the full story in fragments. Theey explain that ever since Mog fell into Valhalla, he's been going with the 'weak obey the strong' rule there. He's been rejected and abandoned multiple times by many powerful opponents, who didn't want such a weak creature. When he ran into Lightning, and lost his game, he expected to be abandoned again... but she told him to come with her. It was this kindness that made him swear fealty to Lightning.
One of the young Academy researchers. Bright and cheerful , she is a popular figure within the institute and the leader in Paradox studies. She is also a smart and canny scientist, and she has become Hope’s trusted assistant.
Buried Alive: She had a recurring nightmare that she died in the Purge this way. It's implied this is how she died in the unaltered timeline.
Bitch in Sheep's Clothing : She's so friendly when ever talking with Serah and Noel. Her introductory scene is her helping them with guard trouble. Yet she's planning to stuff them into a Lotus-Eater Machine the whole time.
Lured Into a Trap: How she betrays Serah and Noel; a Time Gate with a booby trapped artefact.
The Mole: You wonder just how long she's been working against Serah and Noel. She was the one who proposed the Proto fal'Cie Project, and it's implied by Hope that the rebellion of its AI was no mere accident.
Ret Gone: Her primary motivation, as she believes that her original fate was to die in the Purge, and that if Noel and Serah fix the timeline then she will disappear. She may be justified in this: she is conspicuously absent in the 500AF Academia timeline when Hope is prominent and if you speak to the Academy scientists in 4XX AF Academia they've forgotten all but her name.
Traitor Shot: She is given one that Mog witnesses once Serah and Noel unknowningly enter a sabotaged time gate.
"Lose yourself in battle, and rejoice!"
Voiced by Hiroshi Shirokuma in Japanese and Liam O'Brien in English.
A mysterious figure, said to be a rival to Lightning and shown to be an antagonist to Noel and Serah.
Big Bad: Described by the producers as the most powerful Big Bad in the history of the series. Considering he's immortal, knows everything that will happen in the past, present and future, controls an army of monster Mooks, wields the most powerful spells and Summon Magic in the series, finally transforms into three godlike Bahumuts which you have to fight simultaneously, and lastly succeeds in his Evil Plan to wipe out Time itself... they're right.
Blessed with Suck: He can't die. He's lived for all of recorded history, at the very least. Every 10-15 years, he gets to see the girl he loves and has sworn to protect die, and he can't do anything about it.
Blood Knight: Seems to be enjoying his occasional battlestoo much. See the above quote.
Death Seeker: Not so much because he wants to die but because he feels that his death will save Yeul. When Noel proves incapable of killing him, he moves on to Plan B; forcing Noel's dagger through his heart.
Despair Event Horizon: He crosses it and comes out the other side with an Evil Plan — if Yeul keeps dying because of seeing the future and changes to the timeline, he'll just destroy time to stop it.
Divide by Zero: When he dies, chaos is unleashed, which causes the world to reset to Valhalla.
Dub Text: The Japanese version heavily implies that Caius loves Yeul romantically while the English language version has their relationship as being more ambiguous. In fact, some scenes - such as his final confrontation with Noel on the beach in Valhalla - have Liam O'Brien play him as a something of a Papa Wolf defending the daughter he never had. This change was almost certainly made to mitigate the squicky implications that come with the adult Caius being in love with a young teenaged girl.
Evil Plan: He has three of them, all with the same goal of opening the Door of Souls (AKA Etro's Gate) to cause a Time Crash. The first is to do the direct thing and slay Etro in Valhalla, which fails because he can't overcome Lightning. His second plan is to crash Hope's new Cocoon into the old one thereby murdering the entire human race in one fell swoop much like Barthandelus's plan in the original, however Serah and Noel are able to overcome him and he is forced to flee to Valhalla. His final plan is to have Noel destroy the Heart of Chaos. This is the plan that works.
Evil Weapon: Less evil, more the result of some interesting design decisions, but the end result is the same. That massive, sinister-looking sword of his is the control mechanism for Bahamut Eidolith, the source of his immortality and, consequently, his insanity.
Expy: Speaking of his weapon, every gaming outlet on the planet has compared the sword to the Soul Edge at some point because of its nature as a BFS, the fact that it has an Evil Eye, gives off some sinisterdark powers, has a semi-organic appearance to it. Really, the only difference is that his sword isn't sentient.
Feather Motif: He shares this with Lightning (his are, of course, black, to contrast with her white).
Gravity Master: Outside of summoning comets, his favorite spell is Gravity, he spams it in every fight.
Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: Serah and Noel have to win the 'boss fight' but storywise he will always survive and trash them later because he has Auto-Raise from the Heart of Chaos.
Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: With Yeul. To a lesser extent with Serah and Lightning, considering that Lightning is between 5'7" and 5'10" herself and she barely reaches his shoulder when they're standing back to back.
Lightning disgustedly remarks, during the Final Boss Preview upon the opening of the game in Valhalla, that Caius is going easy on her and Noel, and that he's only testing them. She's right.
This comes more into play with Serah and Noel since he uses almost none of the mind-boggling powers that he used to fight Lightning against them. In fact, whereas Lightning could give as good as she got... both Serah and Noel were shown to be 100% helpless when fighting him. Caius even condescendingly touches Serah's face when using time voodoo to show how helpless she is... before subsequently impaling her through the back.
He trains Noel as a student, and then repeatedly tries to get Noel to kill him and accept his power.
Morphic Resonance: Look closely at Jet Bahamut. On the left side of its head are a pair of white feathery things and something that looks like a string of beads, mirroring Caius' hair feathers and beads in his human form.
Noel calls him out for his actions in-universe; since he's gone from fighting for Etro to battling against her because of Yeul's constant deaths.
In a more meta-example of an inversion, it appears that Caius is just your typical Final FantasyOmnicidal Maniac during the prologue sequence but, as time goes by, it's later revealed that he's an Anti-Villain with a sympathetic motive and a morally grey end for his means.
Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Caius's Jet Bahamut form has four regular arms, in addition to the standard draconic wings from the shoulder.
Multiple Choice Past: His surname. Either it's a shortening of "Caius of the Ballads" or it's a name he took from a fallen man out of respect, both are used in canon. Although, considering the Timey-Wimey Ball in play in this game, it's entirely possible that both are true.
Not So Stoic: He's shown crying once, and goes batshit crazy during the final battle.
Only Known by Their Nickname: Sorta. His real first name is Caius, but Ballad is not his real last name. He took on the name after defeating a warrior who nearly killed him as a show of respect. Alternately, he was originally known by the epithet of "Caius of the Ballads", meaning that his great deeds were the subject of many songs, which then became Caius Ballad. The canon disagrees with itself on this.
Poisonous Friend: Most Yeuls would rather just live peacefully with the time they have. He... disagrees. Mostly because 'the time they have' is ten to fifteen years, and then they get reincarnated and do it all over again.
Purple Is Powerful: From his armor to his sword to the to his aura; it's all purple and all deadly.
Recurring Boss: You must fight either him or one of his transformations no less than eight times in the main storyline alone—if you're after 100% Completion, you'll have to fight him an additional three times.
Scaled Up: Can transform into "Chaos Bahamut" to fight the heroes. In the final battle, he transforms into Jet Bahamut and summons Amber and Garnet Bahamut. You have to fight them at the same time.
Slouch of Villainy: Does so—on Etro's throne, no less!—in both occasions where he breaks the fourth wall to talk to the players: the secret ending and the scene when the opening cinematics are replayed.
Sticks to the Back: His sword has no sheath, possibly because he couldn't find one big enough.
Sword Beam: One of the peskier attacks he uses when you fight him.
Thanatos Gambit: He carries Etro's heart in his body, as shown in the normal ending. This means that in her weakened state, his life is tied to Etro's — kill him, and she dies, leaving the chaos of Valhalla to overflow into the real world... which would allow him to create the timeless world he wanted. His plan to destroy Cocoon, if it failed to open the Door of Souls, was supposed get Noel angry enough to murder him.
Time Master: He can jump back and forth through time and, because of Yeul, he knows every prophecy.
Utopia Justifies the Means: His guiding philosophy. The problem is that there's plenty of room for debate on whether what he's creating will truly be a utopia (the Lotus-Eater Machine element is creepy), and he refuses to listen to any of it.
Villainous Breakdown: Frequently, courtesy of the many deaths of Yeul - in fact, his despair and apathy is often the only thing keeping Serah and Noel alive. He gets a particularly big one in the ending, when Noel points out just whyYeul keeps choosing to reincarnate, despite knowing she'll just die again: to be with Caius. He is openly devastated at the realisation but it changes nothing in the end, as he continues with his goal of destroying Etro regardless.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: One of the very rare Final Fantasy villains who actually has a sympathetic end to their evil means and doesn't just want to kill everybody for kicks. He's prepared to kill millions of people and/or the Goddess Etro in order that the countless billions of Yeuls (and everyone else, though that's very much a secondary concern) might live forever. The good news is that given what happens to him, the dead might not stay dead once reality collapses. The bad news is that eternal life isn't quite what it's cracked up to be.
Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: He watched his surrogate daughter die over and over again in the prime of her life because of a god-given superpower that he could do nothing about. It's hard not to feel sympathy for him even as he's working to destroy the timeline.
Worthy Opponent: Considers Lightning to be this and says so in the prologue. "The goddess chose well.."
"I saw death. If I were to live, it would bring contradiction to... to the timeline."
Voiced by Mariya Ise in Japanese and Amber Hood in English.
A young girl seen in the company of Caius. She seems more friendly towards Noel and Serah than he is. If her name is any indication, she was the author of some of the Analects from the first game. States that Serah is like her, as the latter's psychic dreams would indicate.
Legacy Character: Through reincarnation. Ironically, there is a "real" Yeul. It's the Yeul that ends up in Valhalla after dying. She chooses to become her own Legacy Character in order to be with Caius again — and because living in Valhalla is not actually "living".
Really As Old As Humanity: Fragments After, a compilation of tying up loose ends within XIII-2, states that the original Yeul was the blood of Etro after the latter spilled to get the attention of Bhunivelze. Simply put, Yeul was the first human.
Seer: Her prophecies were mentioned in many, many datacores in Final Fantasy XIII. One of them flat out spells out the plot for XIII-2.
Cloud Cuckoolander: Aside from her odd costume, she never seems to grasp the seriousness of the current situation, almost always staying peppy and cheerful even when a giant, rampaging robot is on the loose. In Academia 400 AF, however, she is openly distraught by the events going on around her, which makes the situation all the more jarring. She also notes in Academia 500AF how determined Noel and Serah look, as if they were getting ready for a big battle ahead. This is effectively her way of queuing the player of the memo "You are in the Final Dungeon, prepare yourself."
No Hero Discount: She claim she has "every day low prices" and informs you that there's no haggling. However, there are fragment skills that lower the price and raise the sell price.
Shapeshifting: It's implied in-game that she literally is the Sexier Alter Ego of Dajh's Chocobo chick. This is later confirmed in Sazh's DLC. As it turns out, Chocolina got caught up in the distortion with Sazh and Dajh and wished to help others like Sazh always helped her, so Etro gave her a human body and the ability to be everywhere at once.
Took a Shortcut: She's always ahead of you, all set up and ready to do business, whether it's across the map or across timelines.
She's set up shop in Oerba 200AF despite the dimensional flux.
She's even set up shop in Fake New Bohdum, a dream world, of all places!
The Goddess of Death who is said to be the creator of the human race, and one of the remaining fal'Cie. Etro does not actually appear within the game, but plays a very prominent role in the back story.
Despair Event Horizon: Being powerless compared to Pulse and Lindzei as well as thinking of Mwynn caused her to cross it in the myth.
Deus ex Machina: Specifically, her Deus Ex Machina actions at the end of Final Fantasy XIII break the laws of reality, which causes a Time Crash and unleashes Chaos into the world, which Etro must attempt to seal at the cost of her life.
Divine Intervention: She often takes pity on humanity in their struggles. Final Fantasy XIII-2 confirms that the ending of Final Fantasy XIII, in which the party members were de-crystallized and had their l'Cie brands removed, was the direct result of her intervention. This intervention came with a high price...
Enigmatic Empowering Entity: She has gifted Lightning with godlike power, as well as granting Yeul and Serah with her eyes allowing them to see the future and Caius with her heart; granting him immortality.
God Is Good: Her mercy is frequently commented on and Yeul says that, unlike the Fal'cie, she grants super powers without turning people into slaves. The Cast from Hit Points aspect is not her fault.
God Is Inept: She tries to help but has a hard time doing anything without breaking reality.