Video Game / Final Fantasy VIII
aka: Final Fantasy 8

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/finalfantasyviii.png

"I'll be here..."
"Why...?"
"I'll be 'waiting' here..."
"For what?"
"I'll be waiting... for you, so... if you come here... you'll find me."
"I promise."

The eighth entry into the finger-flayingly popular Final Fantasy series. Originally released on PlayStation and home computer, and ported to the Play Station Network for the PlayStation 3, PSP, and Playstation Vita. The PC version later got a Steam re-release on December 5th 2013.

Squall Leonhart is a student at an Elaborate University High for mercenaries named Balamb Garden. The organisation that runs Balamb Garden, SeeD, takes in prepubescent orphans and trains them to become soldiers, requiring them to graduate before their twentieth birthday.

Squall is the epitome of a professional soldier: detached, efficient, and unflappable. He is also a sardonic Jerkass and introvert who shuns the friendship of others. During his first mission as a SeeD, he is sent to aid a resistance movement against the occupying Galbadian Army and meets his opposite: Rinoa Heartilly, an outgoing, positive girl naive to the realities of battle. The battle against the Galbadian Army heats to a boil with the emergence of a mysterious new figurehead known as Sorceress Edea, a conflict that soon escalates far beyond anything anyone was expecting.

Final Fantasy VIII deals with the conflict between childhood and adulthood. It examines the consequences of being forced to "grow up", and the nostalgia for an earlier and simpler past and the fear of an uncertain future that goes hand-in-hand with that. The main characters are teenage orphans trained as soldiers from a young age and taught to suppress their emotions and free will for the sake of the mission. Unfortunately, human emotion cannot be so easily repressed in minds so young, and the "save the world" story is merely a Framing Device for a sombre Coming-of-Age Story between the main characters. On a cosmetic note, this is where Final Fantasy started to eschew the Super-Deformed characters traditionally found on overworlds and battle screens, and the tone generally feels more serious than before.

VIII followed in its predecessor's footsteps for the most part, mixing swords and sorcery with a sci-fi vibe (sans Fantasy Gun Control). Instead of VII's Materia system or a Mana Meter, characters now equip (or "junction") Vancian Magic directly to their bodies instead of their armour. Any spell in the game can be junctioned to each character's stats using captive summoned creatures, which means that using magic leads to stat reduction. Monsters use Level Scaling to beef up relative to the party average, making it entirely worthless to level up to Lv.100 because every enemy will get stronger to invalidate your grinding. Modern Final Fantasy games continue to tinker with the "no armor" approach, most notably X and XIII.

Triple Triad, an in-depth Card Battle Game, is another feature of VIII with many in-game uses. Though optional, mastering Triple Triad allows you to transform rare cards into unbelievably game-breaking items and weapon components. The minigame received a real-life version. It was so popular that a (somewhat simpler) Spiritual Successor called Tetra Master was included in Final Fantasy IX and XI. Triple Triad was also added to Final Fantasy XIV by popular demand and it plays pretty much the same way, but without the item refinement and adding some new rules.

Starting with this game, Square took the localisation process a lot more seriously: the company hired translators (both for English and the other European languages) to work alongside the Japanese development team as the game was being created, which is now pretty much standard procedure for Final Fantasy translations.


This game provides examples of:

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    A-I 
  • Absolute Cleavage: Ultimecia.
  • Absurdly Powerful Student Council: The Balamb Garden disciplinary committee - although how much official power they actually have and how much of it is just Seifer bullying other cadets is never really clear.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The sewers of Deling City.
  • Academy of Adventure: Balamb Garden.
  • Action Girl: Selphie and Quistis. Rinoa tries, but is undermined by a series of Distressed Damsel moments until she eventually becomes the strongest of the three after becoming a sorceress.
  • Action Prologue/Fake Action Prologue: The opening scene in which Squall and Seifer are dueling could qualify as either one. To a new player, it may look like an epic fight between the hero and villain or an In Medias Res of an epic fight that will occur later, but then it turns out that it was a sparring match gone out of hand.
  • The Alcatraz: D-District Prison.
  • All in a Row: Earlier games only showed one character at a time. This was the first title to show the entire party walking around together.
    • Lampshaded during the missile base mission: a guard will compliment you for walking in a single file if you choose to act cool.
  • All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game": It is quite impossible to not know that Rinoa is a sorceress due to the sheer amount of references available everywhere. On a similar note, Edea being Ultimecia due to Late-Arrival Spoiler is another outcome, but this has notably shown how omnipresent Ultimecia really is throughout the game.
  • The Aloner: Squall in the end sequence.
  • Always Save the Girl: "Rinoa...... Even if you end up as the world's enemy, I'll... I'll be your knight."
  • Ambiguously Brown: Raijin.
  • Animal Motifs: Squall's omnipresent (winged) lion motif.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: As Quistis is needed to be talked to as an NPC within the Balamb Garden cockpit in order to rechallenge the match of Triple Triad against her, if she happens to be within your party when you go to the cockpit, she would automatically walk to the position she would normally be as an NPC and resume her functions.
  • Anti-Hero: Squall. He doesn't believe in good or evil and rarely if ever seems concerned with "right" or "wrong," instead staying involved in the game's plot because he is hired to do so and, later in the game, to protect Rinoa and because he is made to believe that it's his fate.
  • Anti Villains: Fujin and Raijin.
  • Arbitrary Gun Power: Irvine's gun, the damage of which is based on his Strength stat like any other physical attack.
    • Laguna's machine gun, in the same vein.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: By the end of the first disk there are six permanent party members, as well as a Guest Star Party Member who joins for a little while in Disc 3, but the player can never field more than three at a time.
  • The Archmage: Ultimecia.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Right before the Battle of the Gardens, Squall is given a choice of orders to issue to the students in Balamb Garden involving their battle strategy and defense, but there's also an order of what to do with the hot dogs.
  • Artificial Gravity: Esthar Lunar Base and the Ragnarok. The latter has a scene where it's turned off, causing Rinoa to float.
  • Artsy Moon: The moon is enormous and takes up quite a bit of the sky in most outdoor backgrounds, foreshadowing for the events of disc 3.
  • Ascended Fanboy: The Ultimania guide reveals that Seifer's dream of becoming a sorceress's knight 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.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: Cid steps down as Headmaster and promotes Squall to Commander of SeeD specifically in order to change Garden from a school to an active fighting force against the sorceress. The decision is undoubtedly helped along by the fact that Cid already knows, courtesy of Edea, that Squall is going to defeat Ultimecia in the future.
  • Ass in Ambassador: Edea's initial role. Galbadia plans on using her as an ambassador to create fear and ultimately Take Over the World.
  • Asshole Victim: Vinzer Deling at the parade in Deling City. Nobody felt sorry for him when Edea impaled him, even if she was worse than him. She cast Charm Person on the crowds, so they don't mind it one bit either.
  • Atlantis: The Centra civilization is Atlantis in all but name.
  • Author Appeal: Nomura admitted he flat out wanted to include a character in a skirt, heavily inspiring Selphie's design. In addition, Edea and Ultimecia were heavily designed to be a Shout-Out to Yoshitaka Amano's artstyle.
  • Badass: Every player character, especially if you know how to play the system.
    • Badass Adorable: Selphie.
    • Badass Army: The SeeDs. In one day, Squall duels his rival, kicks the crap out of a Guardian Force, destroys two horrible mutant abominations, storms a beach D-Day style, fights an amphibious/urban battle, and escapes from a nigh-unkillable spider robot (or kills it for extra credit), and no one considers this strange or unusual. For SeeD, this is just an example of a final exam for them, which qualifies them to be SeeD soldiers. No wonder they've got such a crazy reputation. Admittedly, Squall in particular is considered Badass by the Badass Army, even at that point in the story.
    • Badass Biker: Galbadia's army includes motorcycle troops, using their mobility to race around the battlefield...
    • Badass Bystander: ... only for one of the bikers to get clotheslined by a Balamb Garden student swinging a sword.
    • Badass Driver: Squall hijacks a top-down car during the disc one finale and speeds up to square-off against his Rival Turned Evil and the (literal) Disc One Final Boss.
    • Badass In Charge: Squall once he becomes appointed as SeeD leader.
    • Badass Longcoat: Seifer and Irvine wear these.
    • Badass Normal: Laguna, Ward, and Kiros, under most circumstances.
    • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Selphie and Laguna.
    • Badass Teacher: Quistis, at least at first. She probably qualifies for Badass Bookworm as well, as becoming a SeeD by age 15 requires some hardcore studying.
    • Handicapped Badass: Ward after becoming mute.
    • Little Miss Badass: Selphie.
    • Retired Badass: Laguna, Kiros, and Ward.
  • Bad Mood as an Excuse: One gets the impression from the message programed into the robotic dummy of President Vinzer Deling that the real Deling makes use of this a lot, given how convincing the dummy is.
    Deling Dummy: I'm in a bad mood right now! If there is nothing in particular, I order you to leave immediately!
  • Bag of Holding
  • Bag of Sharing:
    • Laguna's party and the main party share access to the same collection of Guardian Forces, stocked magic, and items, and anything that Laguna and his friends acquire during the Mental Time Travel sequences stays in the main party's inventory when they wake up. Justified due to the main party being sent to Laguna's party via mental mind travel, inadvertently granting the latter party their own stuff in the process, though this does not explain the sharing of physical items.
    • Guardian Forces, stocked magic, and items are also freely shared during instances in which the main party splits up, including when Squall goes into space.
  • Batman Gambit: The heroes actually use this on Ultimecia, although Ultimecia had gotten them with one earlier. Possessing Rinoa and putting her into a coma so that she could go into space and free the most powerful sorceress in the world... nobody could see it coming.
  • Battle Theme Music
  • The Beastmaster: Rinoa.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Cid promotes Squall to Commander of SeeD based on Edea's foreknowledge of Squall's role in defeating Ultimecia. Squall in turn tells the other SeeDs at Balamb Garden that it is their destiny to fight the sorceress, and tells the past Edea that she will found SeeD for that purpose. The Stable Time Loop means that there's a lot of Because Destiny Says So running around the plot; Ultimecia, possessing Edea, also identifies Squall as "the legendary SeeD destined to face me".
  • Beehive Barrier:
    • Balamb Garden gets one during the scene where it becomes mobile. However, it doesn't actually act as a force field. It's just part of the sequence that occurs while the Garden begins moving.
    • The "Great Wall of Esthar" is a somewhat more standard example in that it is actually a wall, albeit one used more for camouflage purposes than physical defense.
  • Beneath the Mask: Squall, whose Jerkass Façade is a mask he developed as a child 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, and beneath it he's insecure and emotionally immature, as well as more caring than he likes to let on.
  • Beta Couple: In some degree, Selphie and Irvine.
  • Be the Ball: The Wendigo's main form of attack, amusingly enough, is to grab a party member, smash them into a ball, and use them as a weapon against the rest of the group.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Selphie. As revenge for launching missiles at her old Garden, she decides to blow up Galbadia's weapon base while on a mission with a smile. Even before that, her casual suggestions for dealing with various situations will inevitably gravitate towards the most violent options imaginable, to the shock of her teammates. In particular, on her very first mission, she suggests blowing up the President's train with a rocket launcher. While in D-District Prison, she suggests skinning a moomba to wear its fur as a disguise. Mechanics wise, she has not one but two One-Hit Kill spells in her Limit Break: "Rapture," which one-hit-KO's every non-boss enemy, and "The End," which can one-shot anything up to the Final Boss if you're lucky enough to roll it up.
  • BFG: The gun on the vessel that Quistis uses at Dollet.
  • BFS: They're not the Buster Sword, but the Gunblades are pretty large, particularly the Twin Lance, Punishment, and Lionheart models. There is also Odin's Zantetsuken.
  • BGM Override: For the opening FMVs of the Dollet Field Exam, "The Landing" plays and continues to play during random encounters for the first portion.
  • Big Bad: Ultimecia.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: The Siege of Dollet, the Battle of the Gardens, the Siege of Esthar. All of them use a BGM Override, as listed above.
  • Big Damn Gunship: The Ragnarok initially appears as just a spaceship, but is revealed to be this as well during the assault on Lunatic Pandora.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Half the game involves someone rescuing someone, usually Rinoa.
  • Big Friendly Dog: Rinoa's dog Angelo.
  • Big Red Devil: Diablos and Ifrit.
  • Bishounen: In a series chock-full of handsome leads, FFVIII takes the cake. With the possible exceptions of Cid and Rajin, each of the male lead are depicted with clean-shaven faces and feminine necklines.
  • Black Best Friend: Kiros to Laguna and Raijin to Seifer.
  • The Blade Always Lands Pointy End In: In the opening sequence, Squall's gunblade falls end over end and ends up impaled in the ground.
  • The Blank: A Freeze-Frame Bonus in the ending sequence shows Squall with no face.
  • Blocking Stops All Damage: The unique defend command negates all physical damage and half of the magical. Considering it's a GF ability, it can be considered partly magical, but seeing the Bonus Boss do no damage with its most powerful attack it's still pretty striking.
  • Blow You Away: Fujin. Also, the Pandemona GF (which is drawn from Fujin).
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Mentally, Seifer. Definitely Raijin and Zell.
  • Boss Battle
    • Advancing Boss of Doom: X-ATM092. Type A.
    • Bait-and-Switch Boss/Trick Boss: Biggs and Wedge on the Dollet Communications Tower. They're blown away (literally by wind) and replaced by the much stronger Elvoret.
    • Bonus Boss: Omega and Ultima Weapon. Also, the various GFs that you have to fight and defeat before obtaining.
    • Boss Banter: Several bosses talk to the party during the fight; Edea, Seifer, NORG, Fujin and Raijin, Biggs and Wedge, Fake President Deling.
      • In a subversion, Ultimecia starts to talk right before the fight is over.
    • Boss Bonanza: The game had a last dungeon full of semi-optional bosses who need to be defeated to unlock abilities for the final battles.
    • Boss Corridor: This precedes all but the first boss of the Lunatic Pandora, acts like this twice for Edea's Commencement Room (the first visit at the end of Disc 1 to save Rinoa from two Iguions and then again after Lunatic Pandora but before the multi-sorceress Time Compression fight at the start of Disc 4), and a bridge connects the last explorable area of Ultimecia's Castle, the Clock Tower, with her throne room, which is the final Point Of No Return and where the final boss fight of the game takes place.
    • Boss in Mook Clothing: T-Rexaur. Tonberry. Malboro. Elnoyle looks like the second boss in the game, but it's much, MUCH worse. Also, Ruby Dragon.
      • The game actually has two areas filled with nothing but bosses in mook's clothing called the Island Closest to Heaven and the Island Closest to Hell.
    • Contractual Boss Immunity: A rare subversion with Selphie's "The End" Limit Break, which, if pulled off successfully, can One-Hit Kill any boss in the game except the Final Boss (and then it's only because it's a four-stage fight; The End will still knock out one of the stages for you instantly). However, it's played straight with other attacks, such as Quistis's "Degenerator" Limit Break or the Level 5 death spell.
      • There's actually a notable example with Odin, who will randomly appear during non-boss battles and use a One-Hit Kill attack to destroy whoever you're fighting. When fighting Seifer for the fourth time, Odin will appear and use his One-Hit Kill attack, but Seifer blocks it and destroys Odin. However, this causes Gilgamesh to appear later in the battle and use his One-Hit Kill attack to defeat Seifer.
    • Cowardly Boss / Get Back Here Boss: Sacred in the Tomb of the Unknown King, who runs away after your first optional fight with him. The player then has another optional fight with him again along with his brother, Minotaur.
      • Jumbo Cactuar can run away while the player is fighting it, requiring the player to have to fight it all over again, which is not fun. It will do so if it's brought down to less than 2% of its hit points.
    • Cutscene Boss: X-ATM092. If the player doesn't destroy it by bringing all of its hit points to zero — which most don't due to either the time limit, the amount of Level Grinding required, or just the sheer repetition of having to fight it numerous times — then Quistis will destroy it in an FMV.
    • Damage-Sponge Boss / Marathon Boss: Omega Weapon, Ultima Weapon, Tonberry King, Jumbo Cactuar, Ultimecia's four forms.
    • Degraded Boss: Granaldo and its Raldo backup. Inverted with Elvoret being a boss, but Elnoyle being a palette-swapped copy monster who is about 10 times as powerful by comparison.
    • Dual Boss: The Iguions, the Oilboyles, Fujin and Raijin, Biggs and Wedge, Sacred and Minotaur, Vysage with Lefty and Righty.
    • Duel Boss: In the first boss fight against Seifer, Squall fights him alone.
    • Final Boss, New Dimension: The climactic battle against Ultimecia begins in her throne room, but grows increasingly chaotic as Time Compression proceeds; the last stage occurs in a nearly-featureless void.
    • King Mook: Tonberry King.
    • One-Winged Angel: Ultimecia goes through several of these. Also, the Fake President Deling has this when he transforms into Gerogero.
    • Puzzle Boss: The Propagators on the Ragnarok. Also, Odin. Before you fight him, you have to complete the Centra Ruins puzzle quickly enough to get to him and beat him.
    • Recurring Boss: Several. Biggs and Wedge have to be fought twice. Seifer has to be fought four times. Edea has to be fought twice. Raijin has to be fought three times. Fujin has to be fought twice. Sacred has two optional fights. BGH251F2 has to be fought twice.
    • Sequential Boss: Numerous.
      • The fight against Biggs and Wedge goes straight into the fight against Elvoret without the battle sequence ending.
      • The first fight against Seifer in Deling City goes straight into the first fight against Edea, but with a scene in between.
      • The first fight against Raijin in Balamb goes straight into the next boss fight against both Fujin and Raijin, but with a scene in between.
      • The third fight against Seifer goes straight into the second fight against Edea without the battle sequence ending.
      • All eight of the Propagators on the Ragnarok. They don't have to be fought one after the other, but they are all in the same area, and there's really nothing else to do since the player is stuck on the spaceship until the Propagators are cleared out.
      • The several fights against sorceresses while entering the time compressed world have to be fought one after the other without the battle sequence ending.
      • After defeating the necessary number of Tonberries, the Tonberry King appears right after the last one, without the battle sequence ending.
      • The boss fight against Vysage, Lefty, and Righty goes straight into the fight against Gargantuan without the battle sequence ending.
      • All four of Ultimecia's forms must be fought one after the other with no breaks or scenes in between.
    • Skippable Boss: All eight of the bosses in Ultimecia's Castle do not have to be fought. However, since you have to beat them to unlock your abilities before fighting Ultimecia, skipping them is not recommended.
    • Time-Limit Boss: Ifrit in the Fire Cavern, X-ATM092 in Dollet, BGH251F2 in the Galbadia Missile Base, Odin in the Centra Ruins.
    • Vehicular Assault: X-ATM092 in Dollet, BGH251F2 in the Galbadia Missile Base and later in Fisherman's Horizon.
    • Warmup Boss: Ifrit in the Fire Cavern.
    • Zero-Effort Boss: The first fight against Edea. If she reduces the party's hit points too low, the battle ends, and the game goes into the following cut scene. The player just won't get any AP, which they will if they defeat her.
      • Having Odin makes Seifer's last fight this. You can wait, see Odin be killed, wait, and see Gilgamesh beat Seifer without taking any action.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Irvine's shotguns actually do have consumable ammo, but it is only used for his Limit Break. His firing animation with his shotgun shows him quickly loading the barrels while entering the "ready" stance. Laguna's machine gun can be used indefinitely without the need to reload.
  • Boy Meets Girl: Squall meets Rinoa.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Seifer, although it is debatable as to how much of it was due to that and how much of it was his willingness to serve Edea (who in turn was possessed by the main villainess, Ultimecia). Certainly given some of the comments, he seems to fit this trope more towards the end when Ultimecia admits that she is using him.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Unique to the French version of the game, but characters say things like "This is a video game, not a fairy tale", "she's gonna hold me there for the whole game" (in a transparent thought panel), or "I won't say anything until the end of the game" (and here, it's Ward saying this out loud to Laguna) pretty often.
  • The Brute: Raijin.
  • Brick Joke: Interacting with the structure inside Centra Excavation Site during Laguna's second dream sequence in Disc 1 will unlock passageways to rare items while you infiltrate Lunatic Pandora in Disc 3.
  • Burn the Witch!: Rinoa on Disc 3. Adel left the people of Esthar very poorly disposed towards sorceresses in general, and they're eager to ensure that no other sorceress remain free to someday pose a threat to them.
  • Buttmonkey: Nida, the SeeD who passed the exam with Squall, Zell and Selphie. Squall can even forget who he is entirely.
  • Cap: Lampshaded with a middle-aged man who mentions that, for some reason, he's unable to count more than 256 cats.
  • Canine Companion: Angelo, to Rinoa.
  • Canis Latinicus: Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec. Looks more or less like Latin; actually a Significant Anagram.
  • Can't Drop the Hero: Except for several plot-specific instances in which the party splits up to accomplish separate objectives, such as the Disc 1 assassination mission and the Disc 2 missile base mission, Squall must remain in the active party at all times.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin' : It doesn't matter if you have just spent the last hour rescuing cadets and children from monsters unleashed by NORG's faculty and been appointed Commander. Use magic in the halls and your ass is going down a rank.
  • Cannot Spit It Out:
    • Irvine pretends to be a cool loner, then a nervous flake, in an awkward attempt to hide the fact that he remembers his childhood at the orphanage and recognizes all his old friends (and their "Matron", Edea), while none of them remember him. When they finally remember, he reveals that he didn't say anything because he was embarrassed about being so utterly forgotten.
    • The same goes for Squall's 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.
      • Rinoa addresses this when the team is at Trabia Garden. She tells Squall that he has to voice his feelings or she won't understand.
  • 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.
  • Catch Phrase: Selphie tries to get "Booyaka!" to catch on among the students. It doesn't work. Squall's may as well be "Whatever", especially in the English version which altered some of his dialogue to add this as much as possible.
  • Celebrity Resemblance/No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Tetsuya Nomura mentioned in an interview about The Bouncer that Squall was inspired by River Phoenix and "Nobody understood it". Though, many series fans have also noted a resemblance to idol singer Gackt. The fact that Gackt has cosplayed Squall and Tetsuya Nomura's obsession with him appeared in multiple games only makes the resemblance even easier to notice.
    • Most fans believe Cid bears a strong resemblance to Robin Williams.
  • The Chanteuse: Julia Heartilly, from the flashback sequences.
  • Character Level
  • Character Tics: When he's nervous, Laguna's left leg cramps up and he starts to limp.
  • The Charmer: Irvine.
  • Charm Person: Visiting Deling City during the second disc and talking to the citizens will reveal that when they saw Edea speaking to them before she killed the president, they all felt incredibly loyal to her and are willing to do whatever she wanted them to. It's never addressed why her magic didn't work on the protagonists.
  • Cheerful Child: Ellone
  • Chekhov's Armoury: The Information menu, as well as numerous little things mentioned at the start of the game. Hints as to the Guardian Forces causing memory loss come as early as the terminals accessible at the very beginning of the game.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The Dollet satellite dish.
    • A little (not-so-)honorable mention was used by the Big Bad against the player: Squall's ring, named by the player partway through the game, is Ultimecia's inspiration for her sort-of dragon, Griever.
    • The fact that Zell uses his fists instead a conventional weapon for battles meant he was the only one able to defend himself against hostile opponents within D-District Prison after the other party members had their weapons taken away from them. He uses this opportunity to fetch the confiscated weaponry for the other party members.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The girl who appears at the beginning of the game in the infirmary and later appears again in the Training Center.
  • Child Soldiers: SeeD is made up almost entirely of them. The oldest member of the the party proper is Quistis, who's 18. The whole game is a savage Deconstruction of the concept, showing just how screwed-up soldiers of such a young age should be.
    • Seifer and Squall seem to suffer the most due to this in game, probably justified by the fact they've possibly been training to kill whoever they're paid to since the ages of 6 and 5, respectively.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Irvine.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Laguna Loire is an utterly bizarre human being.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Seifer does this to Squall in D-District Prison.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience:
    • Squall wears black, Seifer wears white.
    • The propagators on the Ragnarok appear in color-matched pairs, and if both of a given colored pair aren't killed one immediately after the other, the remaining one will revive the defeated one. It's eventually possible to simply wear them down and kill them normally — and is a good way to grind AP for a low-level game — but only after killing them thirty-six times.
    • Rinoa and Ultimecia have white and black wings respectively
  • Coming-of-Age Story: A theme of the story is how the main characters think they're mature and adult, but quickly prove otherwise; Squall and Rinoa mature visibly over the course of the story.
  • Commercial Break Cliffhanger: Done with disc changes throughout the game.
    • Disc 1-2: Just as our heroes think they've beaten Sorceress Edea the first time, she busts out her Limit Break, sending a massive icicle through Squall and sending him falling off the float...
    • Disc 2-3: Just as our heroes think they've beaten Sorceress Edea another time, she snaps out of it, reverting to Matron Edea Kramer... but Rinoa has inexplicably gone into a coma...
    • Disc 3-4: Just as our heroes think they've beaten Seifer for the last time, he kidnaps Rinoa and hands her to Adel on a silver platter.
  • Competence Zone: Completely torn to shreds. At first, the game seems to fall in line with most Eastern RPGs by setting the Competence Zone under the age of eighteen. Unfortunately, most of the non-global conflict is caused by the young average age of the main characters, as they are too emotionally immature to deal with the events of the story in a sensible, adult way.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: Squall, Selphie, and Zell are completely up-front about their willingness, as SeeDs, to follow their client's orders no matter how little chance they have of succeeding or how likely they are to get killed as a result. Rinoa is shocked and upset by this attitude, and Squall is in turn confused and frustrated by her reaction — he thinks they're simply being professional.
  • Conspicuously Public Assassination: Edea's killing of Vinzer Deling in front of a huge crowd, who continues to cheer as if nothing odd is going on. Justified, as she had cast a charm spell on the crowd.
  • Continuity Cameo: Gilgamesh's appearance is the first instance in the series of a character from another Final Fantasy game canonically appearing as the same person in a different one.
  • Converse with the Unconscious: Squall keeps trying to talk to Rinoa while she's in a coma. He even laments that "it's like talking to a wall". It doubles as an Ironic Echo, as earlier in the game he tells Quistis to talk to a wall if she wants someone to listen.
  • Cool Airship/Cool Starship: The Ragnarok.
  • Cool Boat: Balamb Garden's landing vessels and later, Balamb Garden itself.
  • Cool Big Sis: Ellone to the team when they were in the orphanage.
  • Cool Old Guy: Cid.
  • Cool Sword: Squall and Seifer use gunblade swords as their weapon of choice.
  • Cool Train: Trains are the primary way of getting around cross-country for most of the average citizens of the game world, and they're usually pretty neat, but Doomtrain takes the grand prize - not only for design (which is an obvious throwback to the Phantom Train in Final Fantasy VI), but for his summon sequence and the fact that he slaps the target with just about every status effect in the game, making him one of the most consistently useful Guardian Forces.
  • Cowardly Lion: Watts and Zone know how to avoid doing work. However, Watts is very good at gathering information very quickly, and Zone saves the day by giving Quistis his own train ticket out of Timber.
  • Crash-Into Hello: How Squall meets Selphie.
  • Crazy Cat Lady: A Crazy Cat Guy. There's a random NPC who asks Squall if he likes cats. If you reply that he doesn't, the guy gets mad and says he's not going to tell him his secret. But if you have Squall say that he does like cats, then he reveals that he keeps 256 cats in his house, to which Squall is not amused.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: Laguna's plan to defeat Ultimecia is to let her start Time Compression, then have Ellone abruptly "disconnect" her to half the process, while Squall and the party use The Power of Friendship to navigate their way through the time stream and make it to Ultimecia's Castle so they can kill her, and they'll return to the present when the timeline is set right. It works.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: Squall, when he's being tortured by Seifer in D-District Prison.
  • Crystal Spires and Togas: Esthar, pretty much literally.
  • Curse Cut Short: The S-word is cut short when Laguna falls off a cliff during the second dream sequence.
  • Curtains Match the Window: Ellone.
  • Cutscene Incompetence: Outside of battles, the characters are unable to do things during the story that they can easily do in battle, such as summoning GFs.
  • Dances and Balls/Dance of Romance: Squall and Rinoa at the SeeD graduation ball.
  • Dark Chick: Fujin.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Squall wears black. Also, Edea, who dresses in black even before and after she's possessed.
  • The Day the Music Lied: Someone's going to die the last time you summon Odin, but it won't be the boss.
  • Death from Above: The Lunar Cry.
    • Numerous GFs.
  • Deconstruction: Oh so much. For example, Squall is utterly broken when compared to a typical teenage-orphan Eastern RPG protagonist, precisely because he's a teenage-orphan Eastern RPG protagonist.
  • Desperation Attack: The game's Limit Breaks are also desperation attacks, triggered specifically by how dire a situation the character is in. Low HP is the main contributing factor, but having party members KOed or suffering under status effects also goes towards a hidden Crisis Level calculation which determines how likely a limit break is to trigger and, where relevant, how potent it will be. As a result, a common strategy (at least, before the Aura spell becomes available) was to keep one or more characters at minimal health and refresh the command menu until the Limit Break popped up.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The writing dips into this at times:
    Cid: You will be passing through a real battlefield. Obviously, the battles will be for real.
    (later)
    Squall: Thanks to you, I feel like I can take on anyone, even if they fight dirty like you.
    Seifer: You'll thank me when the time comes.
  • Deus ex Machina: The Ragnarok conveniently floats by as Squall and Rinoa are drifting in space. It's revealed later that it was used to launch Adel's tomb and thus was abandoned in the same area of space. However, its timing and placement is still incredibly convenient.
  • Developers' Foresight: After a certain point within the game, party members not in your team at the moment can be found wondering around Balamb Garden on their own. This includes Squall himself who normally can't be switched out due to his "Can't Drop the Hero" status (He can be found sleeping in his dorm). This is demonstrated exactly once during the entire game where it makes sense plotwise (due to it showing Squall being there beforehand).
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Odin again.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Squall gets into a space suit and leaves the Escape Pod to escue Rinoa, who's floating out in space. Even though he succeeds, they're both stuck out in the middle of space, low on oxygen, and with no way to get back to the Planet. Fortunately, Deus ex Machina saves the day.
  • Diesel Punk: Though a bit brighter than Final Fantasy VII.
  • Disc One Final Boss: Edea. She's also the Disc Two Final Boss.
  • Disc One Nuke: Players can forge Squall's Infinity+1 Sword as early as Disc 1. It requires a lot of patience, as well as the knowledge of how to get the items needed, but forging it that early means you can kiss the difficulty goodbye.
    • Before you head out to Timber, you can play Triple Triad to collect Abyss Worm cards, which refine into Windmills at a 1:1 ratio. Windmills, in turn, refine into 20 Tornado spells each. Tornado is one of the best spells in the game for junctioning to Strength and Magic, comparable to the end-game Holy, Meteor, Flare, Pain, etc. With 100 Tornadoes junctioned to Strength, Squall will deal over 1000 damage per attack.
    • If Tornadoes alone are not enough, Gayla cards can be refined into Mystery Fluids on a 1-to-1 basis, and each Mystery Fluid can be refined into 10 Meltdowns. In addition to junctioning nicely to Vitality, thereby increasing a character's resistance to physical damage, Meltdown can be cast on an enemy in order to reduce its Vitality to zero, making it literally defenseless against physical damage. Forget the Lionheart - with the Tornado/Meltdown combination, Squall can solo some of the early bosses with his starter weapon.
    • Curaga is a high-level spell, junctions well to HP (like all healing/reviving magic), and can be refined from tents at a ratio of 10 spells from a single item. Each tent costs 1000 gil, so it's a bit pricey for the early game, but with a high-enough SeeD rank you'll be earning 10,000 gil or more per paycheck. Also, 100 Curagas junctioned to HP will give your characters 2200 HP above and beyond their unmodified stats, at a time when enemies will be lucky to hit triple-digit damage. Finally, while the Lionheart must wait until later on disc one, Curaga, like Tornado and Meltdown, is available before Squall even leaves on his first mission.
  • Do Not Touch the Funnel Cloud: The Pandemona GF.
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom: Doomtrain, natch.
  • Door of Doom: This is the entrance to Ultimecia's tower at the end of the game, with stone skulls and torches around it. Going through this start a lecture by her, which goes immediately into the final battle of the game.
  • The Dragon: Seifer, first to Edea and then to Ultimecia. Also, Edea is at first, briefly, the Dragon to Vinzer Deling.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Edea. After killing Vinzer Deling, she takes over as leader of Galbadia.
  • Dream Sequence: Squall has several of these showing him as a child talking about his missing "Sis".
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Done in the Galdbadia Missile Base mission. Also, Watts is seen in Timber dressed as a Galbadian soldier.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: One can be seen briefly in a hallway in Galbadia Garden making students do push ups, one of whom is Zell if he's not in your party.
  • Dub-Induced Plot Hole: A minor example — in the beginning of the game, Zell continually tries (and fails) to get his Trademark Favorite Food from the Balamb Garden cafeteria. What his favorite food actually is, however, depends on what translation of the game you're playing (in English, it's hot dogs; in French, it's bretzels, which are similar to hot dogs; etc). Much later, during the Dance Party Ending, Zell is seen stuffing his face with a pile of what looks like dinner rolls. This is actually the punchline to a Brick Joke — in the original Japanese script, Zell's favorite food is a particular kind of bread. He finally got his hands on some!
    • It still sort of works in the English version, as the dinner rolls look like hot dog rolls which would, presumably, contain hot dogs therein.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: You're not too important to run people's errands like finding pieces of a vase or gathering rocks to make a statue. Squall lampshades this during the Timber Mission when the Forest Owls ask him to go wake up Rinoa.
    Squall: Were we hired to run errands? Well?
    Zone: A-Are you angry?
    Selphie: You tell 'em, Squall. They can't treat us that way.
  • The Dulcinea Effect: Inverted. Irvine appears to be invoking this on the train to Deling City, when he's telling Selphie they're destined to be together when they just met a few minutes earlier at Galbadia Garden. However, the orphanage flashback reveals that he has known her a lot longer.
  • Dummied Out: Originally, Selphie was supposed to have two more Limit Break spells which apparently were never programmed in. The spells were Percent which cuts all enemies' current HP by 93.75% and Catastrophe which is more powerful than the ultimate spell, Apocalypse. They both can be accessed with a Gameshark.
    • Another example is an entire mini-game mode for the Pocket Station, which never made it out of Japan. Said mode is still referenced in the English release and manual, probably because the decision not to release the hardware hadn't been made yet. It is possible to play with an imported Pocket Station from Japan. The mini-game could be used to get many useful items, guardian forces, and of course, 100% Completion. However, the PC version had this mini-game as a separate program.
  • Dungeon Crawling
  • Dungeon Town: Probably the most prominent example of this trope in a video game, you engage in combat in every town in the game except for the Hidden Elf Village where the Shumi reside. You fight in Arcadia. You fight in what will become your Global Airship (both of them). You are even forced to kick ass in the "completely safe" Crystal Spires and Togas Utopia once the skies turn red and demonic forces are literally poured on top of the town.
  • Dynamic Entry: In the D-District Prison, Squall saves Zell by leaping a half a dozen stories onto a prison guard about to shoot him.
  • Easing Into the Adventure: Before taking the Fire Cavern Exam and the Dollet Field Exam, Squall is shown in class, and the player has the option of giving Selphie a tour and/or wandering around Garden on their own for a while. The plot doesn't really get rolling until the party deploys on their first mission the following day.
  • Eaten Alive: Guardian Force Eden has the Devour ability, which gives you the ability to do this to monsters. It is the only ability in the entire game which is censored.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Edea.
  • An Economy Is You: Every shop sells things that the party needs or can upgrade their weaponry. Bookstores sell magazines with weapon upgrade schematics and techniques for Zell and Rinoa's Limit Breaks, and even the pet stores in Timber and Esthar sell Guardian Force items.
  • Egopolis: Deling City.
  • Electric Torture: Used on Squall when the team is captured and being held in D-District Prison.
  • Encounter Repellant: Diablos' Enc-Half and Enc-None abilities that reduce or stop random battles respectively.
  • Enthusiasm vs. Stoicism: Epitomized in Rinoa and Squall and a source of conflict between them.
  • Equipment Spoiler: A Weapons Monthly issue describing Rinoa and Irvine's weapons can be found before either of them is introduced (Rinoa does appear, but you don't learn who she is at that point).
    • You could also buy ammo for Irvine's gun before you met him. Rather annoying, considering that Squall's weapon was a Gun Blade, which contrary to what one would assume, didn't use any ammo at all.
  • Escape Sequence/Indy Escape: Dollet, with Squall, Zell, and Selphie running away from X-ATM092, and in D-District Prison, with Squall running away from the shifting panels on the bridge.
  • Escape Pod: On the Lunar Base.
  • Everyone Can See It: Squall and Rinoa. By halfway through the game, even Squall can see that everyone can see it, but it takes him a little longer to really reach an epiphany himself.
  • Everyone Is Related: Most of the cast comes from the same orphanage, which makes sense, considering the Gardens were founded by the owners of said orphanage, Cid and Edea. Even Rinoa, the character with the least number of connections to the rest of the party, is still tied to them because she used to date Seifer before the game began.
    • Not only that, but Laguna was in love with Rinoa's mother before he disappeared to Winhill and before she married General Caraway, adding a further connection between them.
    • In the film sequence, Laguna plays a sorceress's knight and uses his gunblade the way Seifer does as an adult. Seifer saw the film as a kid and copied Laguna's fighting style, while the film itself inspired his dream to be a sorceress knight.
  • Everything Is An I Pod In The Future: The entire city of Esthar looks like the first and second generation iMac, complete with transparent blue plastic.
  • 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 military commander of the occupying state and because she acts like she thinks she's one in the early parts of the game.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: Zell's final Limit Break causes the enemy to spin.
  • Evil Sorceress: Ultimecia and Adel, plus Edea while she's possessed.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: Lunatic Pandora.
  • Evolving Attack: GF compatibility. Using GFs raises their compatibility with the character using them and causes them to arrive faster when you summon them.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The aptly named 'Mean Guy' in Galbadia Prison. Also, Selphie's 'The End' Limit Break.
  • Experience Points
  • Extreme Omnivore: Anyone who uses the Devour skill. Edible objects include dragons, aliens, and mechas, and even things that will cause damage, petrification, death, or a game over if eaten are not safe. Devour can't be used on people, though. Even extreme omnivores have standards.
  • Eye Beams: The first skill of Quistis's Limit Break is called "Laser Eye", which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Through the hilarity of stock animations, she can upgrade to Machine Gun Eyes with the "Gatling Gun" skill.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Fujin.
  • The Faceless: The Balamb Garden staff, whose faces are always covered by their headgear.
  • Facepalm: Squall does this, often.
  • Facial Markings: Ultimecia. Also, Zell's tattoo.
  • Fake Video Camera View: During the ending sequence.
  • Fastball Special: Both the Granaldo boss and the GF Brothers make use of this when attacking.
  • A Father to His Men: Cid.
  • Femme Fatalons: Edea. Also, Ultimecia.
  • Fetch Quest: The vase quest in Winhill and the rock gathering quest in Shumi Village.
  • Fighting with Chucks: Selphie uses nunchucks as her weapon of choice.
  • Finishing Move: Upgrading Squall's gunblade adds additional Finishing Moves to his Limit Break. Zell gets a few as well if you can get your hands on fighting magazines for him to read.
    • On the enemies' side, there's the Esthar "Death Corps"' Soul Crush and the Forbidden's Iai Blow.
  • Fire/Water Juxtaposition: Squall gets a water Family Theme Naming going with his father Laguna, while Seifer has a fire affinity in his set of Limit Breaks, Fire Cross.
  • Flashback
    • Flash Back Echo: Squall's flashback to himself talking about his missing "Sis", which explains his mentality in the present.
    • Pensieve Flashback: The present day version of the team members who were there are shown in the past during the orphanage revelation.
  • Shout-Out:
    • A shout-out occurs in music form: the final boss music, "The Extreme", contains a call-back to the original Final Fantasy battle music.
    • On the music example, the beginning of the final dungeon theme is very similar to the third segment of Dancing Mad from Final Fantasy VI.
    • Another notable music example occurs in the opening measures of the recurring sorceress battle theme, where it plays the iconic theme of Final Fantasy VII.
    • Interestingly enough, this game pays large homage to the oft-overlooked Final Fantasy III. A major character in the backstory is the Sorcerer Hyne, a reference to Sorcerer Hein from Final Fantasy III. The basic layout of the overworld in this game roughly maps onto that of Final Fantasy III's overworld also.
    • Doomtrain isn't terribly different from the Ghost Train/Phantom Train, either. And by that, it has a freakin' ghost face and looks undead enough.
    • Lunatic Pandora likewise has sequences very similar to music from the Moon in Final Fantasy IV. Appropriate, considering that it was designed to call down monsters from the moon. Likewise, when the monsters are ready to drop, the moon grows red. This same feature is shared by the corrupted moon of IV.
    • The blue Galbadian uniforms resemble the SOLDIER uniform from Final Fantasy VII.
    • Zell's final weapon is quite appropriately named for a Fighting Game, Ehrgeiz.
    • "Leonhart" was previously the name of a major character in Final Fantasy II (shortened to "Leon" in localizations due to character space limits).
    • The arrival at the Lunar Base is a shout-out to the "Blue Danube" scene of 2001: A Space Odyssey, using the similar waltz BGM "Dance with the Balamb Fish" instead. The station itself has some similarities (centrifugal force to generate gravity, camera angles,...) with Discovery One.
    • Headmaster Cid's main dilemma is having to kill his wife Edea if the situation calls for it. Their surname is Kramer.
  • Shout-Out Theme Naming: Biggs and Wedge. The theme is continued with Nidanote  and later supporting character Pietnote , and in the original Japanese, Headmaster Martine of Galbadia Garden is named Dodonna.
  • Sidequest: And Irrelevant Sidequest.
  • Significant Anagram: "Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec" is an anagram of "Love" and "Succession of Witches."
  • "Silly Me" Gesture: She doesn't hit herself on the head, but Selphie's introductory FMV includes the wink and tongue-stickout parts of this after she trips her way down a hill.
  • Simple Staff: Raijin uses a staff as his weapon of choice.
  • Single-Stroke Battle: If you have Odin, he randomly appears at the beginning of a battle and ends it quickly, except against Seifer. In addition, after Odin is killed, his replacement, Gilgamesh, will randomly appear during any part of a battle and attack with a weapon. If it's the Zantetsuken (Odin's recovered sword), then this happens as well.
  • Sinister Geometry: Lunatic Pandora's outer casing.
  • Slow Clap: Initiated by Seifer after Squall, Zell, and Selphie graduate as SeeD.
  • Slow-Motion Fall: Squall gets two of these. First, in the FMV at Dollet, with him jumping to reach the landing vessel before X-ATM092 fires at him. The second occurs after the first boss fight with Edea when she impales him, and he falls off the parade float.
  • Small Girl, Big Gun: The cutscene with Quistis at Dollet taking down X-ATM092. Although not petite, she's still pretty trim and the gun she's using is freaking huge.
  • Sole Entertainment Option: It doesn't really have a city that specializes in the Card Game of the Week, but each city has its own rules. Regardless of this fact, practically everyone plays. Not only that, but people carry all of their cards around with them as they aimlessly walk around.
  • Solemn Ending Theme: "Eyes On Me".
  • So Long, and Thanks for All the Gear: The game manages to avoid this for the most part - the "Junction Switch" mechanic allows the player to quickly switch the entire Guardian Force junction setup from one character to another, and the sheer number of Guardian Forces available in the later stages of the game make it possible to outfit all six party members with decent junctions if the player is so inclined. The game also usually goes out of its way to remind the player to check the party's junctions after any involuntary lineup changes - for good reason, since neglecting to do so can result in an unprepared party getting tossed into battle with no abilities junctioned, "naked" and unable to do anything other than attack.
  • So Much for Stealth: Escaping from D-District Prison. Can also happen in the Galbadia Missile Base, depending on your actions.
  • Sorry I'm Late: Irvine and Rinoa join Squall during the battle sequence in the first fight against Edea.
  • Space Base / Space Station: Esthar's lunar base.
  • The Speechless: Ward from Disc 2 onward.
  • Spider Tank: X-ATM092.
  • Spotting the Thread: In the Galbadia Missile Base, if you manage to get through it without getting caught, Selphie gives herself away when she salutes the wrong way.
  • Sprite/Polygon Mix: The vast majority of the backgrounds are pre-rendered bitmaps, though several times, the game will transition into an FMV sequence and the background will change into a fully-rendered sequence while the player still has limited interaction with the game. Rather groundbreaking at the time.
  • Stable Time Loop: Ultimecia's meddling in time and space ended up sending Squall and herself back in time to his childhood. This sets in motion Edea's possession by Ultimecia and subsequent reign of terror, but also allows Squall to give his old matron the idea for creating SeeD, thus ensuring the creation of the organization that set Squall and his comrades on the path to ultimately fight and defeat Ultimecia. Of course, this also means that while Squall technically hasn't stopped her reign of terror in the future, her defeat is already a Foregone Conclusion.
  • Stand Your Ground: Balamb Garden during the first half of the Battle of the Gardens before taking the offensive.
  • The Starscream: Edea. She kills Vinzer Deling and then takes his place as leader of Galbadia.
  • Start X to Stop X: The master plan to prevent Ultimecia from compressing time; Let her compress time and jump her ass while she does that. See Batman Gambit above.
  • Starter Villains: Biggs and Wedge.
  • Stepford Smiler: Even after all that happens, the only times we see Selphie show sadness are during the Missile Base sequence after she realizes they can't escape and the resulting damage at Trabia Garden. And she's cheering people up at Trabia a moment later. Oh, and the Garden Festival.
  • The Stoic: Squall. 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 any 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 the 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.
  • Storming the Castle: Occurs a few times.
    • Dollet while under attack by Galbadia.
    • Galbadia Garden.
    • Lunatic Pandora.
  • Stripperific: Ultimecia's outfit.
  • Sugar and Ice Personality: Squall.
  • Summon Magic: Guardian Forces.
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: The sorceress Edea possesses these, as does the sorceress Ultimecia. This is likely not a coincidence, considering the connections between the two characters.
  • Super Soldier: The SeeDs are trained as such, and for good reason: they are intended to fight and defeat sorceresses. Their status as such is played straight, with small numbers of SeeD soldiers being deployed and garnering a mixture of both fear and respect for their capabilities.
  • Supervillain Lair: Ultimecia's Castle.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Squall behaves this way through the first disc or so. How much of it is justified is subject to debate.
    • His team acts like this towards the Resistance, which is not unreasonable.
  • Sword Fight: Squall and Seifer's duel at the beginning of the game. This fight includes;
  • Take Over the World: Vinzer Deling's plan for Galbadia, for which purpose he makes the sorceress his ambassador in order to intimidate other nations. The sorceress, however, has other plans.
    • Xu lampshades this at one point, asking, "What does the sorceress really want? It can't be something as simple as world domination."
  • Take Your Time: Happens at least three times.
    • The first time is as Squall and his party are arriving back at Balamb Garden after you complete the Missile Base mission with the other team. Missiles bearing down upon Balamb Garden? No problem! Head on over to Balamb Village! Play some cards! No worries.
    • The second time is during the Battle of the Gardens, when Rinoa falls off the side of Balamb Garden and is dangling from a rock over a tremendous fall. You must hurry there and rescue her! However, there's no timer counting down... so, sure enough, you can take your time. No matter what you do, you'll always arrive in time to grab her hand and save her from falling. In all, she ends up holding on for a solid thirty minutes, while the two Gardens keep crashing into each other.
    • The three time is on the Esthar Lunar Base, which is about to be swallowed by the Lunar Cry, but you can take as long as you want getting to the Escape Pod. To gain a particular card in the game's card game sidequest, you are required to play a secondary character, an opportunity that comes only in this instance. The game does some Lampshade Hanging on this by having the character state, "You wanna to play cards now!?"
  • Talking in Your Sleep: At one point, Squall wakes up in his dorm room to find Rinoa standing over him, who reveals that he was talking in his sleep, and that "she isn't even going to tell him what he was saying". However, just before, he was shown having a Dream Sequence flashback to himself as a child. Also, earlier, during the Winhill flashaback, Raine is listing off Laguna's annoying traits and mentions that he also talks in his sleep.
  • Tall, Dark and Handsome: Laguna and Squall get two out of three; at 175cm, and 172cm respectively, they are shorter than any other male playable character in the game except for Zell.
  • Teacher/Student Romance:
    • Hot for teacher variation: Many of Quistis's male students (and apparently quite a few female ones, if the Trepies are any indication) are pining for one. She lampshades this in the Fire Cavern Test when she mentions to Squall how the boys often choke on the test when she comes with them.
    • Hot for student variation: Quistis for Squall, though in her defense, they're only a year apart in age and apparently grew up together, though neither of them remembers it anymore. Squall comments on the awkwardness of it fairly early in the game, and Quistis eventually says that her crush on him was actually misdirected sisterly affection, although how honest she's being about that is subject to interpretation.
  • Technicolor Death: Following series tradition, the Final Boss goes out like this.
  • Technology Porn: Throughout the game, but in paticular, the scene of the Dollet Satellite Dish being reactivated. It even has its own theme music!
  • Tech Points: Ability Points.
  • Temporal Paradox: Specifically, an Ontological Paradox - present Squall gives past Edea the idea for SeeD. Since FFVIII's model of time travel seems to involve a single, immutable sequence of events, there was never an alternate timeline in which Edea came up with SeeD on her own.
  • Theme Naming:
  • They Have the Scent: You have to track down Raijin in Balamb in Disc 2 by entering the kitchen where his attempt to cook some fish he just caught went a bit awry, after which the scent all over you will trigger a guard dog to find him.
  • There Are No Therapists: Some characters would need one. Possibly justifed by the Schizo Tech setting, as psychology might not have been invented yet.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Most of the GFs.
  • Those Two Guys: Zone and Watts. Biggs and Wedge. Also Raijin and Fujin, although the latter pair is much more dangerous.
  • Three Amigos: Seifer, Fujin, and Raijin. Also, Laguna, Kiros, and Ward.
  • Time Bomb: The Galbadia Missile Base's self destruct sequence.
  • Time Master: Ellone. Also, Ultimecia.
  • Title Drop: The Japanese version of Edea's speech in Galbadia plays out a little differently from the English translation, and includes a line referencing the series.
    Edea: You and me. Together, we'll bring about this final fantasy.
  • Token Minority:
    • Kiros, the only non-white playable character.
    • Raijin, the only non-white human enemy, boss, and supporting NPC.
  • Tomorrowland: Esthar. There is an enormous technological difference between their continent-spanning Crystal Spires and Togas city and the rest of the world, which is mostly just past the 20th century in terms of technology. The main reason for this is that the majority of population of the destroyed Centra civilization emigrated to Esthar, carrying most of their advanced technology there with them, while only a small portion of the refugees made it to the western continent, forming the small nation of Dollet. A combination of massive population size, having a head start is tech, and isolationism meant that Esthar developed advanced technology far beyond the rest of the world.
  • Too Awesome to Use: Played straight and averted all at once. Playing the game normally, you'll hang onto your best items and will never use them except for the final battle, and any spells you've junctioned to your stats will never be cast unless you don't mind your stats dropping from it. If you take the time to abuse the hell out of the card and item refinement, you can have 100 of the best items and spells in the game without having the need to grind for them by other means.
  • Took a Shortcut: To get Rinoa's card from General Caraway, you have to play him in Triple Triad and lose your Ifrit card to him in a game to get him to use Rinoa's card, and then play him again and beat him. Immediately after the game screen fades out, if you talk to Caraway, he says he lost the Ifrit card to Martine in Fisherman's Horizon.
  • Too Many Belts: Squall has one belt around his waist, two hanging around his hips, and three on his right leg.
  • Torture Always Works: Subverted. Squall is subjected to Electric Torture in the D-District Prison, but since he doesn't have the information he's being tortured for in the first place, all that this accomplishes is to either provoke him into lying or just make him want to die.
  • Torture Technician: Seifer fills this role while the team is being held in D-District Prison.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Zell and hotdogs.
    • In the original Japanese, it's a particular kind of bread (a common trope in high school anime). In the French version, it's pretzels.
  • Train Job: Squall, Selphie, and Zell's first mission as SeeDs is to assist the Timber resistance with one of these to kidnap Galbadian President Vinzer Deling. It's done in a way that's definitely cool but would be impossible to pull off in reality, with the team using switch tracks to swap out a dummy train car with the President's car.
  • Trauma Inn: A night at the inn cures everything.
  • Treacherous Advisor: Edea to Vinzer Deling.
  • Trench Coat Warfare: Seifer
  • Troubled, but Cute: Squall.
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: Done in The Black Mages' version of "The Man with the Machine Gun".
  • True Blue Femininity: Rinoa, Ellone, Fujin and the GF Shiva. Also as kids during the orphanage flashback, Quistis was wearing a navy blue shirt and Selphie wore a denim jumper.
  • True Companions: The party, especially after they learn that most of them grew up together in the same orphanage.
  • Two-Teacher School: Aside from Quistis and a minor NPC named Mr. Aki, none of Balamb Garden's instructors ever actually make appearances. This may be justified by the fact that Squall graduates within the first stages of the game and no longer attends classes.
  • Tykebomb: The SeeDs begin their training at a very young age and are brought up to be the best and most highly skilled soldiers. And as the end of the game reveals, Squall getting lost after Time Compression ended up with him turning himself into one, as well as the other orphans he lived with.
  • Unbroken Vigil: Squall to Rinoa, after Rinoa falls into her coma. He takes the vigil on the move when he decides to take Rinoa to Esthar in search of Ellone.
  • Uncommon Time: The main combat music is in 5/4. The boss battle theme is mostly in Common Time, but throws in a bar of 5/4 and a bar of 6/4 to change things up.
  • Underwater Base: The Deep Sea Research Facility.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: Other than the obvious Triple Triad turning it into a card game, there is also a pseudo-Fighting Game sequence near the end of Disc 2.
  • Unfamiliar Ceiling: After the opening FMV, the game starts with Squall in the Garden's infirmary.
  • Uniformity Exception: The characters Laguna Loire, Ward Zabak and Kiros Seagill initially serve in the Galbadian army (which is the game's go-to source of mooks). They wear the uniforms, but without the helmets, making their faces visible.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: Quistis, though in a subversion, she doesn't remember being Squall's friend, and when she does, she realizes her feelings for him weren't supposed to be romantic at all, leaving her embarrassed.
  • The Unreveal: Laguna never comes out and says "Squall, I am your father," and in fact nobody ever mentions anything about it except for one oblique reference by Kiros. It's still heavily implied, especially in one of the conversations Squall can have with him in which Laguna mentions that they have a lot to talk about when it's all over.
  • Urban Fantasy: One of the foremost examples in the series, complete with cars, modernized cities, and even space flight and the internet.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Somewhat averted. Standard Status Effects are still not worth casting, but the junctioning system removes the necessity of casting them: just assign them to your gunblade and hit the road!
    • There's also a Useless Useful Summon: Siren, who casts Silence on any enemies on the field susceptible to it — and little else, making summoning her barely more worthwhile than casting Silence yourself. Doomtrain, who hits every enemy on the field with every status effect in the game, is much more useful; if nothing else, the defense-nullifying Vit-0 effect usually works even on bosses.
  • Vancian Magic: There's no Mana in this game: Magic spells are quantified by individual uses, either by using Draw on monsters or certain Draw points, or by refining items into more spells using GFs.
  • Vapor Wear: Ultimecia.
  • Verbal Tic: Raijin says "ya know?" at the end of each sentence, while Fujin says one worded sentences in all caps. In the case of Fujin, her verbal tic was to speak using only one kanji in the original Japanese version. However, before the last fight with Seifer, the two drop their verbal tics and plead with him to stop what he's doing to show their dedication for him.
    • NORG, who says made up words like Fushururu or Bujururu before everything.
  • Vibroweapon: Gunblades, according to Ultimania; the bullets channel a 'wave of power' through the blade instead of firing a projectile when the trigger is pulled.
  • Villain Exit Stage Left: Seifer, repeatedly.
  • Visible Silence: Squall, frequently, and Ward as well after losing his voice trying to escape Esthar.
  • Wallet of Holding
  • Wall of Weapons: Zell has one in his room in Balamb.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You: If your three active party members die, it's game over because of Lazy Backup.
  • We Have Ways of Making You Talk: Electric torture used on Squall in D-District Prison when he refuses to tell Seifer the true purpose of SeeD. Seifer also warns Squall that if he doesn't talk, then the others will.
  • Welcome to Corneria
  • Weird Moon: It's covered with monsters.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • The Galbadian occupation of Timber is never officially resolved; although the city is apparently free of Galbadian soldiers if you return there later in the game, nothing is ever stated about what happened there after the party left in Disc 1.
    • It's never made clear how much damage the flood of lunar monsters in Disc 3 does to the country of Esthar. The Esthar military are still fighting them by the time the party embarks on the endgame.
    • After the Battle of the Gardens, Galbadia Garden disappears and isn't seen again.
    • Precisely what happens to the Lunatic Pandora is never answered. Squall's team manages to take control of the Pandora's control room, but what is done with it after time compression is not made clear.
  • Wham Shot: When trying to focus on a subject to allow him to escape the end of time, Squall picks Rinoa, and we see every encounter cutscene the two have shared. Squall's reliance on the Guardian Forces has led him to forget Rinoa's face, blurred out in all the cutscenes and stranding him.
  • What Is Evil?: Ambiguity between good and evil is a prominent theme in the game. The fight against the primary antagonist is almost purely pragmatic, only loosely tied to any personal motivation against the antagonist proper. Arguably, the antagonist even has a defensible position (one of the heroes even considers this, albeit briefly).
  • What Is This Feeling?: Squall has the love version of this a few times with Rinoa.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: After Squall rescues Rinoa from the freaking void of space, only to let her be taken into Esthar custody for becoming the next sorceress, Quistis tears him a new one.
  • Whip It Good: Quistis Trepe uses a whip as her weapon of choice.
  • Woman in Black: Edea.
  • Woman in White:
    • In Rinoa's first in-game appearance, she's wearing a white party dress.
    • Downplayed example: Raine wears a white sweater.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Raijin, during the three boss fights with him, will not attack your female characters. He even says "I don't hit girls, ya know" if he KOs all the male members of your party and only females are left. (Sadly, it is not possible to take advantage of this by fighting him with an all-female party since you Can't Drop the Hero, and during the first two fights, Zell is a Required Party Member.)
  • You Are in Command Now: Cid summarily hands command of Balamb Garden and SeeD as a whole over to Squall in Disc 2 - to Squall's intense dismay. He proves quite good at it, but doesn't enjoy it.
  • You ALL Look Familiar
  • You ALL Share My Story: The Pensieve Flashback to the orphanage.
  • You Already Changed The Past: The simplest explanation for how the various forms of time travel in the game work, and why Ellone concludes the past cannot be changed.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: This signals the end of Vinzer Deling, once Edea is in a position to take over.
  • Your Mom: The player can receive one of these during the Mr. Monkey sidequest, which involves finding a monkey near Dollet and throwing rocks at him. After completing it, the monkey calls you names and tells you that your mum wears combat boots.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: The Timber resistance against the Galbadian occupation, even though the Galbadians never explicitly refer to the resistance as terrorists.

"ELLONE! WHERE?"
"Ya know?"

Alternative Title(s): Final Fantasy 8