''Oh, Cedric, whyíd you go into that maze?
Havenít you ever seen a Hollywood movie before?
In which a minor character gets slain
To benefit the survival of the big star?
Itís such a cliche...''
—The Whomping Willows, "Cedric Had It Coming" - talking about the former trope namer.
You canít just kill somebody to kill somebody. It has to sting for the audience, and it has to sting for the other characters.
We knew even in the early concept stage that one character would have to die. But we only had three to choose from. I mean, Cloud's the main character, so you can't really kill him. And Barret... well, that's maybe too obvious. But we had to pick between Aerith and Barret. We debated this for a long time, but in the end decided to sacrifice Aerith... In the previous FF games, it became almost a signature theme for one character to sacrifice him or herself, and often it was a similar character type from game to game, kind of a brave, last-man-standing, Barret-type character. So everyone expected that. And I think that death should be something sudden and unexpected, and Aerith's death seemed more natural and realistic. Now, when I reflect on Final Fantasy VII, the fact that fans were so offended by her sudden death probably means that we were successful with her character. If fans had simply accepted her death, that would have meant she wasn't an effective character.