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Characters / Final Fantasy XIV Zenos yae Galvus

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Voiced by: Kosuke Toriumi (JP), Luke Allen Gale (EN), Saverio Maligno (FR), René Dawn-Claude (DE)
Race: Garlean
Discipline: Samurai, Reaper
"Man should fight for the joy of it. To live, to eat, to breed— lesser beasts snap and howl at one another for this. Only man has the wisdom and the clarity to embrace violence for its own sake."

Son of Emperor Varis, Legatus of the XIIth Legion and Viceroy of the occupied Ala Mhigo in the wake of Gaius van Baelsar's death. A cruel tyrant and a powerful warrior, Zenos cares little for politics or ruling; his only desire is to find someone that matches him in power, and fight them to the death.

Due to his extensive role in the story, expect unmarked spoilers.

  • 0% Approval Rating: Seems to deliberately cultivate this with his wanton cruelty. His subjects loathe him, his underlings fear him, and his own family despises him.
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  • Admiring the Abomination: He expresses open and enthusiastic admiration of Shinryu, particularly its unbridled rage and raw destructive power, right before fusing with the Primal.
  • All Swords Are the Same: Zenos was trained to wield arming swords and for the most part he continues to wield both gunblades and katanas in the same manner, only going into proper samurai posture for special attacks.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Zenos often expresses feelings of anhedonia, the inability to feel pleasure, which is often a symptom of severe clinical depression. Indeed as the Crown Prince, Zenos has access to every material pleasure the star has to offer, but he is only able to feel anything when his life is on the line against a formidable foe. After being defeated in a grandiose battle against the Warrior of Light, Zenos is overcome by experiencing genuine joy for the first time and marvels at how real the moment feels. To Zenos, existence was so dull and unfulfilling that he only felt truly alive when his life was on the line.
  • And Then What?: Deconstructed; Zenos is a super powerful, super intelligent prodigy who's been granted stewardship of two powerful Garlean provinces. The local resistances make little to no effort to fight back, and even if they try they are vastly overwhelmed by the empire's might. Combined with his sociopathic Blood Knight tendencies which make him find little enjoyment in anything but fighting, and Zenos is utterly bored with his lot, despite his vast power and wealth. So what does he do? Purposely restart a war with both Ala Mihgo and Doma in hopes it'll provide him a modicum of entertainment. Indeed, he finds it from the Warrior of Light, and after having a battle he believes can match no other, he kills himself.
    • Although it doesn't take, and he returns later hoping to have an even 'more' epic battle with the Warrior of Light, this time while aiding an Ascian who's bent on the world's destruction. Zenos is willing to let him do so as long as it lures the Warrior of Light into battle; after all, there's no need to worry about 'And Then What?' if there's no after to worry about.
  • Arch-Enemy: He's this to the Warrior of Light; not only is he the biggest and primary threat in Stormblood, he's also the first villain in the game to handle the Warrior of Light a proper Hopeless Boss Fight; his interest in the Warrior of Light also makes him much more personally involved with them, in contrast to other villains who saw the player character as a mere Spanner in the Works. When he comes back from the dead in the post-Stormblood quests, he spends all his time to one-up himself and fight the Warrior of Light in an even grander arena, cementing his role as the nemesis even after his expansion of origin.
  • Arc Villain: Of Stormblood. He makes a return as a major adversary in Endwalker as well.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: He is, despite his bloodthirsty disposition, an aggressively intellectual fighter. When first learning to fight, his tutor (a captured swordmaster secretly plotting to assassinate Varis) would regularly beat on him with an unfamiliar sword style. When studying from books came up short, he took to carefully breaking the style down, day-by-day, beating-by-beating. Within a month of analysis and self-practice, he had mastered the style -The Unyielding Blade- to the point of completely surpassing his tutor.
  • Bad Boss: He inspires fear in his underlings, and is willing to kill them for things which aren’t even their fault. He kills Grynewaht’s commanding officer after the magitek weapons Grynewaht was field-testing get destroyed by the Warrior of Light because apparently delegating tasks to a subordinate is the act of a weakling coward, and later kills the centurion who brought him news of the Doman revolt. He also carelessly slaughters his own troops when unleashing his power during his second showdown with the Warrior of Light.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Through the act of slaying his father and destroying the Garlean Empire's stores of Black Rose he's tied the loose ends on the Eorzean side of Emet-Selch's Rejoining plans, all while the Warrior of Light is busy dispersing the Flood of Light and slaying Emet-Selch on the First. Zenos may be doing it out of a truly demented desire to not have his "hunt" ruined but in a roundabout way he and the Warrior of Light both saved the Source from Emet-Selch.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game: He studied the reports that Gaius had written in regards to the Warrior of Light's Echo ability and was very intrigued by what he read. This inspired him to have his scientists create an artificial Echo for the Garleans to wield, which in turn granted him insurmountable strength and the ability to merge with a primal to control it from within.
  • Berserk Button: Anyone besides him killing the Warrior of Light. In 5.1, he assassinates his own father to prevent the use of Black Rose for the sole reason that it would've killed the Warrior of Light. In 5.4, he threatens to kill Fandaniel after the Ascian informs him that his meeting Warrior of Light left them a bit burnt. Notably, it's the first time Zenos displays anything other than sheer disinterest toward Fandaniel.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: When defeated at the end of Stormblood, Zenos is quite content with having found a worthy foe and the exhilaration that comes with it. Thus he regards the Warrior of Light as a friend and bids them farewell, brings his own katana to his throat, and commits suicide before Lyse can stop him. A potentially souring note to the freeing of Ala Mhigo because in the end not only did he get what he wanted, but by killing himself before Lyse could get to him, he robbed the Ala Mhigans of doling out justice.
  • Big Bad:
    • Compared to A Realm Reborn and Heavensward, which respectively had Gaius and Lahabrea, followed by Nidhogg and Thordan, competing as Big Bads, Zenos stands out as the sole main villain of Stormblood.
    • After being mostly downplayed in his role in Shadowbringers, Zenos returns as one of the main villains of Endwalker.
  • Bishounen: Despite the fact that his helmet gives his armored appearance that of an older man with a sinister visage, under the mask is a smooth-faced young man who doesn't look any older than someone in their mid-20s. And unlike his dad or dear old great-granddad, his hair hasn't yet gone white and is still obviously blond.
  • Blood Knight:
    • Zenos finds pleasure when locked in combat with a foe that can actually challenge him — which is becoming rarer and rarer, and actually helps kick off Stormblood's plot. Unlike most examples however, Zenos does not find joy in defeating such opponents but the challenge of overcoming an obstacle. Not only is he trying to incite rebellion in Ala Mhigo and Doma just so he can have someone to fight again, he begins to delight in the fact that the Warrior of Light can actually stand up to him, which hasn't happened in years. Lucia sums it up best near the end of the story.
      Lucia: Zenos has never cared a whit for politics. He lives for war and war alone. Kill him, or he will kill you.
    • His love of the hunt, his hunt for the Warrior of Light specifically, is so great that he assassinates his own father, as he doesn't want the WoL being killed by what he described as petty wars and cowardly weapons. He has no plans to take over rule of Garlemald after killing his father though, as his sole intent is to return to his hunt. He plans on making good use of the knowledge that the two Gods of the world are nothing more than primals by having himself and the Warrior of Light devour their powers so that they could have the greatest battle in the fabric of existence.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Not a single drop of blood comes from Zenos after slicing his own throat open.
  • Body Surf: After his death, his Resonant soul possessed the body of an elezen Resistance member. He would go on to possess a Garlean Centurion so he could safely return to Garlemald, where he eventually reclaimed his original body from Elidibus.
  • Broken Ace: Zenos was bred to the Garlean Empire's ultimate killing machine and is the single strongest soldier the empire has to offer. Not only that, Zenos was born with a genius-level intellect that allowed him to quickly master anything he put his mind to. Alongside being born as a member of the royal family and eventually becoming Crown Prince, Zenos was born on top of the world and had nothing to aspire to, nothing to work towards. The only time he truly felt challenged was when overcoming the attempt on his life by his sword tutor, an incident that affected Zenos so greatly that he seeks to recreate the rush he experience by finding more and more deadly opponents.
  • The Caligula: Without question THE most depraved member of the Garlean royal line seen by far, showing sadism and bloodthirstiness outclassing all the rest.
  • Came Back Strong: After his "death" and possessing a weaker body, Zenos's strength only continues to grow as he starts mastering his Resonant powers. By the time he arrives at the Imperial palace, he can enter bodies at will and has becomes so powerful that Elidibus opts to flee and abandon Zenos's body rather than face him. Once reunited with his original flesh, he displays the power to cast magical force fields, the standard Resonant precognition, along with the Ascian signature teleportation. He casually swats around Gaius and Estinien and remarks on how boring they are to fight.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: He was able to overpower the Warrior of Light with nothing but raw strength and his magitek katanas. Given the impressive victories the Warrior of Light already had in his belt, Zenos' strength is unnatural, even with an enhanced body. It is implied this may be due to his Ascian ancestry through his great-grandfather Solus.
  • Child Prodigy: He regularly surprised his tutors throughout childhood, easily overtaking them in whatever subjects they were made to teach him.
  • Coat Cape: He’s taken to wearing a white coat over his armor like a cape by Patch 5.2.
  • Collector of the Strange: Since his conquest of Doma, Zenos came to admire katanas and collects them as a hobby. Imperials often gift Zenos with rare and powerful katanas to enter his good graces. Yotsuyu offers him his most powerful sword, Ame-no-Habakiri, as a way to appease him after losing control of the Ruby Sea.
  • Composite Character: His design is effectively an amalgamation of the two most common types of main villains in Final Fantasy games: A tall, imposing Tin Tyrant that is also a long haired Bishounen.
  • Contrasting Sequel Antagonist: The developers have described him as the opposite of Gaius in that he is someone who will earn no sympathy from the audience due to his ruthlessness and cruelty. Even his own father thinks of him as a monster.
  • Costume Evolution:
    • After the end of Stormblood all the way up to the Shadowbringers patch quests, he trades in his armor for lighter clothes and a white-and-gold Coat Cape.
    • Near the end of the Shadowbringers patch quests and in Endwalker his outfit changes again to a Red and Black and Evil All Over long robe that coincides him becoming a Reaper.
  • Coughing Up Blood: After Shinryu's destruction, Zenos crashes into the ground. As he tries to stand, he coughs up a mouthful of blood from the toll the fight and fall had on him.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: He artificially copies the godly blessing of the Warrior of Light and takes it a step further to subjugate Shinryu, the strongest primal seen so far. Surprisingly enough, he gains perfect control over the monstrosity. This spurs Zenos to take his chances with Zodiark himself, one of the ultimate primals along with Hydaelyn.
  • Demonic Possession: After his death and apparent return to the Empire, the Scions theorize that Zenos's corpse has been possessed by an Ascian to further their agenda. It's shown later on that Zenos himself pulled this on a unlucky resistance member while his own corpse is being used by Elidibus.
  • Discard and Draw: At the end of 5.4 after spending the whole cutscene examining it, he casually breaks Ame-no-Habakiri, stating that he needs to get a new weapon for his rematch against the Warrior of Light. He notably has trouble finding a new weapon to his liking but decides on one upon Fandaniel's urging which turns out to be a Sinister Scythe.
  • Dreaming of Times Gone By: The end of the MSQ in 5.2 shows he has a recurring dream of himself in a Coat Cape walking through the Final Days of Amaurot past the Ancients running for their lives. He isn't sure why he has them or what they mean, but it interests him enough to remember it in the following patch.
  • Elemental Weapon: He wields The Storm, a lightning-enchanted katana as well as The Swell, a wind-enchanted katana.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: Zenos is a very powerful swordsman who was able to crush the Doman rebellion unarmed; after becoming a Resonant, he freely wields magic through enchanted katanas. By 5.1, he has mastered his Echo abilities and is called by Krile as "an Ascian in all but name", capable of body surfing and teleportation.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Introduced doing a full-blown Slouch of Villainy on the throne of Ala Mhigo's palace. When a sergeant comes in to report the Alliance taking Baelsar's Wall and Shinryu and Omega's disappearances after their combat and the damage the latter caused, he suggests diverting some of his resources to help repairs. Zenos's response is to do absolutely nothing— not move, not speak— and this still leaves the sergeant so terrified that he apologizes for offending him and all but sprints out of the throne room. Cue Zenos's face under his helmet curling into a smirk, and commenting that the days to come are going to be very interesting.
    • His first proper scene in Stormblood establishes why his subordinates are so terrified of him. Upon being informed that the unit tasked with field-testing prototype magitek weapons was wiped out by an Eorzean ambush and that Grynewaht was the only survivor, he declares that the XIIth legion is no place for cowards or the weak… before cutting down Grynewaht’s commanding officer for the “cowardice” of deferring such an important task to a subordinate. He then expounds his bloodthirsty philosophy, likening himself to a hunter and the Ala Mhigans to his prey.
    • The first time the Warrior of Light encounters Zenos, Diabolos’s theme starts playing instead of the normal Imperial boss music, letting the player know just how dangerous he is and just how screwed they are.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • In contrast to his apathetic and casually murderous attitude towards his other officers, he consistently rewards Fordola's achievements. The soft spot he seems to have for her is mocked by some of the others, who infer that she's using sex to have her way with him; at the very least, she gets away with suffering defeat repeatedly – a lethal misstep in Zenos's court – simply because Zenos admires her attitude. He is also somewhat above the petty racism expressed by his underlings, and believes in using the right tool for the right job. Strength and power interest him more than anything, so if you prove to be interesting, he couldn't care less your birthplace, though he still holds some traditional views and is not above calling people savages.
    • In a more twisted example, Zenos kills his own father to prevent him using chemical weapons in war, as he didn't want to lose his "friend" and rival to such petty things.
  • Evil Counterpart: Is this towards the Warrior of Light. Both are One-Man Army level mortals with the Echo (one natural, one artificial) and both enjoy combat on a personal level, but while the Warrior of Light is someone who uses their martial prowess to protect people and forms true friendships and, despite being a Silent Hero, shows a surprisingly high amount of emotions and can enjoy things other than fighting, like becoming a crafter, Zenos is a Blood Knight who disregards morality if it will grant him a greater challenge, and fights on behalf of an Empire he cares very little about, is unable to properly empathize with people due to his loveless upbringing as a weapon by his own father, viewing his allies as hounds for a hunt, and has no real cause to fight for other than his own satisfaction.
  • Evil Overlord: The Griffin describes him as an especially cruel overlord of Ala Mhigo in comparison to Gaius.
  • The Evil Prince: Son of Emperor Varis, and thus crown prince of Garlemald as his title "yae" denotes.
  • Evil Sounds Raspy: Since returning to Garlemald, Zenos's voice has become much lower and raspier, likely from slitting his own throat and damaging his vocal cords.
  • Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon: A bloodthirsty tyrant who kills his own officers at the drop of a hat, but quite young and pretty underneath the helmet.
  • Fair-Play Villain: Again, in his own warped, twisted sense of honor, Zenos will do his best to match a strong opponent with equal strength. He is also completely disgusted by his father's use of biological weapons as a means of winning the war.
  • Flash Step: Aside from his Menacing Stroll, Zenos is able to seemingly teleport during his boss battle at the end of the Ala Mhigo dungeon.
  • Four Is Death: He is fought four times throughout Stormblood. The first two fights end in the Warrior of Light's defeat, the third fight has Zenos simply walk away, and the fourth battle is where he finally meets his end.
  • Four-Star Badass: Legatus of the XIIth Garlean legion and, according to the Griffin, makes the Black Wolf look like a friendly puppy.
  • Friendless Background: Zenos was raised with no companionship or love, being far too highborn and talented to have anyone to relate to. Once finally faced with someone who could match his skills along with a similar stance in life, it is easy to see why Zenos has developed an obsession with the Warrior of Light.
  • Friendly Enemy: Develops into this toward the Warrior of Light in his own twisted way. He sees the Warrior of Light as a fellow Blood Knight willing to master their own power to defeat and crush their prey. There is even an option where the player can agree with his point of view. He even says that the Warrior of Light is his first friend during his last words. Further solidified upon his return to his own body, where he kills his own father to prevent the Black Rose from killing the Warrior of Light, and plots to have them both absorb the powers of Hydaelyn and Zodiark to have the greatest battle in his twisted mind.
  • Frontline General: He even looks down on people who delegate duties instead of going into battle personally. His accomplishments include putting down the Doman rebellion near singlehandedly, personally leading the charge into the resistance base at the start of Stormblood, and even challenging the Warrior of Light to single combat and winning the first time, establishing himself as far greater than any earlier opponent they have faced.
  • A God Am I: He declares both himself and the Warrior of Light to be greater than the gods just before fusing with Shinryu. Sure enough he plans on making Hydaelyn and Zodiark submit to his and the Warrior of Light as part of their greatest clash by the end of Shadowbringers.
    “We tower above the gods! You by your gift, I by my might! And before the Resonant, the gods shall be made to kneel!”
  • Going Native:
    • Zenos adopted the katana as his weapon of choice, after brutally crushing the Doman rebellion. His fondness for them leads to one of the few ways one can curry favor with him without playing into his games; Gift him with a particularly rare and well-made katana, and he'll be genuinely pleased. He likes the weapon that much.
    • His armor has what appears to be a kimono wrapped around the midsection, likely signifying his discipline as a Samurai.
  • Graceful Loser: He takes his final defeat in Endwalker in stride, accepting his death and sincerely thanking the Warrior of Light for being the one spark of joy in his otherwise "baneful" life.
  • Grand Theft Me: Happens to him at the end of Stormblood. He later does this to the Warrior of Light as well in Endwalker courtesy of Fandaniel. He would have killed Alisaie and G'raha under the guise of their own friend if not for the Warrior of Light's timely arrival.
  • Gun Blade: Unlike most Garlean Legati, Zenos himself does not wield a gunblade in favor of eastern katanas, but even his katanas have firearm motifs, being stored in a holster resembling a revolver barrel and having handles that resemble pistol grips. Also extends to his new scythe, which is fitted with a gun barrel at the base of the blade.
  • He's Back!: After cutting his own throat and spending the next few patches possessing the body of a random elezen resistance fighter, Zenos reclaims his true body in dramatic fashion and usurps the empire all in the course of one evening, all for the pleasure of reuniting with his one true friend.
  • Hijacking Cthulhu:
    • The big twist in Stormblood is Zenos researching and reverse-engineering the Echo with the intention of controlling Primals rather than just being immune to being enthralled by them — and he doesn't choose just any normal Primal, but Shinryu. It works.
    • Learning the truth behind Zodiark and Hydaelyn prompts him to set his sights on them next at the end of Shadowbringers.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight:
    • Zenos leads an assault early in Stormblood to sack the resistance in their base. Everyone is crushed by his power, even the Warrior of Light.
    • It happens again midway through the story when Yugiri and the Warrior of Light attempt to assassinate him during his hurried visit to Doma.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: He considers all opponents as prey for his "hunt", and routinely tries to find someone who can actually challenge him, while collecting battle trophies from the fallen.
  • Identical Grandson: Well, not quite identical, but Zenos's facial features are similar to his great-grandfather Solus's in his youth, and they also share a rather deranged love for theatrics. However, their personalities could not be any more different, with Solus's madness being a mask for his inner sorrow and failure while Zenos's insanity is his true face.
  • Improbable Weapon User:
    • Well, maybe not his katanas, which are relatively mundane, but his standard battle loadout is to have three of them in a gigantic revolver holster on his left hip. How the hell he can walk without listing to one side is a mystery for the ages. One scene in Stormblood shows that when he's sitting on his throne, the holster is set up like a golf bag with a built-in kickstand next to the throne. After he is truly resurrected after taking his body back from Elidiubus he discards it with the rest of his Stormblood attire. As a result he now only carries Ame-no-Habakiri with him.
    • His new weapon turns out to be a scythe, which is considered a bit of this in-game as well. Fandaniel is slightly surprised by Zenos's choice, even calling it archaic in some localizations. He is the first character in the game to take up the Reaper job, and his scythe is ridiculously oversized and seemingly outfitted with Garlean magitek.
  • I Need You Stronger: By the time Zenos defeats the Warrior of Light a second time, he simply tells them to become stronger. His blood knight tendencies have clearly caused him to take an interest in them.
  • Insane Equals Violent: Zenos is a sociopath who when younger had difficulty perceiving those around him as people and impassionately excelled at everything he did. However when he first suffered a defeat in combat it inspired Zenos to find joy and comfort courting death in combat and since then his only motivation has been to do battle.
  • Irony: Zenos's whole plan in 4.0 was to die in one last glorious battle against a worthy foe and become immortalized as a new legend. However, his Resonant experiments unwittingly turned him into an immortal being, rendering him literally incapable of dying. Zenos is initially perplexed at his own survival and is at a genuine loss for what to do next. He even briefly considers turning over a new leaf, but eschews it in favor of sticking with his old plan, intending on repeating the fight once more on a far grander scale.
  • The Juggernaut: Zenos has a reputation as an unstoppable force in battle and has the bloodlust to match, wading through front lines and casually swatting even powerful foes like the Scions around like flies.
  • Karma Houdini: Played With. Zenos seems to die at the end of the story, but he dies fulfilled, happy, and on his own terms. Lyse is specifically disgusted that Zenos died without suffering any real punishment for his crimes. Then it turns out he unwittingly survived, which at first annoys him since it didn't grant the epic death he wanted... until he realizes he can now fight the Warrior of Light again.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Zenos wields several katana sheathed in what appears to be a large gun barrel as his personal weapon of choice, and given his prestige is likely a Master Swordsman like his fellow legate. He had it made as he had developed a very strong fondness for the katana during the suppression of the uprising in Doma. In the post-5.0 story patches, he's grown sick of the weapon and deliberately breaks it, testing out new weapon types before settling on a Sinister Scythe for Endwalker.
  • Kubrick Stare:
    • He has quite a sinister one as he taunts the Warrior of Light on how they have yet to fully master the Echo while he proceeds to explain how his own artificial Echo will allow him to control primals.
    • Gives another rather chilling one right to the player in The Stinger for Patch 4.2, which revealed that he yet lives.
  • Lack of Empathy: Zenos is almost entirely incapable of an emotional connection due to his incredible natural talents and loveless upbringing. However, once he finally meets someone he considers as an equal, he immediately projects all of his woes onto him, believing himself and the Warrior of Light to be peerless beings destined to fight one another. All others, Zenos treats with complete disinterest at best. He even snaps his favorite sword, the Ame-no-Habakiri, on a whim, as Zenos decides he is due an upgrade for the rematch.
  • Large and in Charge: Like his father, Zenos absolutely towers over any other hyuran, including his fellow Garleans. He's significantly taller than male Roegadyn or Au Ra, even. The short story "Through His Eyes" states that his grandfather reached unprecedented height among Garleans, a trait Zenos obviously inherited, and it is implied that this is due to their Ascian heritage via Solus/Emet-Selch.
  • Leitmotif: "Meteor", though originally Nael van Darnus's theme, plays in most cutscenes featuring Zenos.
  • Levitating Lotus Position: Zenos prepares his heaviest attack while meditating in midair, protected by a magitek barrier.
  • Limit Break: Storm, Swell, Sword. After meditating and channeling power from his three swords, Zenos rushes to each one to attack with them, ending with a leaping overhead swing that fills the area with destructive might.
  • Lonely at the Top: All of Zenos's talents have completely isolated him, having no friends whatsoever before seeing an equal in the Warrior of Light. All his men do nothing but suck up to him, terrified at the repurcussions of displeasing him. This can be best seen whenever he starts rambling about "the hunt" to his men, who, while uncomprehending, simply play along out of fear of displeasing him. Zenos is noticeably pleased at Fordola's initiative and honesty, despite her being non-Garlean.
  • Master Swordsman: In addition to his inhuman strength as a Super Soldier, Zenos is an incredibly skilled swordsman, utilizing his own variations on Doman and Hingan samurai techniques as well as techniques from the "Unyielding Sword" school from Corvos in Ilsabard.
  • Meditation Power Up: To charge Storm, Swell, Sword he will meditate behind a barrier for his Aether Transfer.
  • Me's a Crowd: One of his powers in his boss battle is to generate phantom clones.
  • Menacing Stroll: In most of his appearances, Zenos just very calmly walks through the middle of things like battlefields as though he was simply taking a walk through a park, never moving at anything more than a very casual pace. Even in his Hopeless Boss Fight, he never breaks his slow stride outside of the occasional Flash Step.
  • Myopic Conqueror: He's an extreme Blood Knight and the crown prince of the Garlean Empire, who was assigned as the viceroy of Ala Mhigo and Othard after successfully conquering the regions (almost singlehandedly). However, Zenos is utterly uninterested in ruling and assigns another acting viceroy, Yotsuyu goe Brutus, in his stead. He chooses her for the position because of the utter hatred of her own people that drives her to cruelly oppress them and break their will. He hopes that this treatment will lead the Domans to start another rebellion so that he can find a Worthy Opponent to put down yet again. If not, then the Domans can simply wallow in their misery while he sets his sights elsewhere. He later even assassinates his father...not because he had any interest in the throne, but because his father's biological superweapon was too powerful and too boring, and would have spoiled the fun of Zenos's "hunt" of the Warrior of Light.
  • Mythology Gag: As the legatus of the XIIth legion, he references Vayne Solidar, the viceroy of a conquered nation and Imperial Prince. And eventually merges with a divine dragon during his final boss fight. Aditionally other plot developments in both Stormblood and Shadowbringers position him as similar to Kuja from FF IX. Like Kuja, Zenos talks quite dramatically and speaks in metaphors and titles when adressing people, and both are emotionally stunted due to the way they were raised, Kuja being an artifical Genome who was created in adulthood while Zenos was emotionally stunted due to being raised as a weapon despite being the Garlean crown prince. Both are ultimately enforcers of greater ranked villains and despite being raised as tools, are ultimately selfish, assert their individuality, and have their own agendas seperate of their masters. Both deliver hopeless boss fights to the heroes despite them being accomplished at this stage, both gain an artificial enhancement through sacrificing souls, the resonant for Zenos, and gaining the ability to Trance for Kuja. Lastly both foil the plans of the greater villain for their own selfish reasons, Garland for Kuja, and Emet-Selch and Varis for Zenos.
  • Named Weapons: His three katanas are named the Storm, the Swell, and Ame-no-Habakiri.
  • Never Gets Drunk: Humorously implied in Yotsuyu's Tales from the Storm. She's sent to spy on him, so she tries to loosen his lips with wine... only for him to continually down cups without showing the slightest sign of inebriation, to her incredulous annoyance.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: He near-singlehandedly ends the Empire as a political threat by killing his own father and then explicitly refusing to succeed him, effectively plunging the Empire into anarchy and civil war. Two things: firstly, he doesn't care, as he only did so to ensure his "hunt" with the Warrior of Light is not interrupted; secondly, since he basically lets Fandaniel take the reigns of the broken Empire, and the latter is an Omnicidal Maniac, while he DOES stop the Garlean Empire as a political threat, he's paved the way for them to serve as an existental one instead.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In their final confrontation he mocks the Warrior of Light for indirectly allowing Zenos to capture and take control of Shinryu.
  • Not Quite Dead: He actually survives slitting his own throat, though he's thrown into a different body for a while due to the effects of his artificial Echo. The end of 5.0 sees him reclaim his body.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: He claims that he and the Warrior of Light are the same since both want to taste the blood of their enemies in battle and kill in order to become stronger. How true this is depends on what the player wants the Warrior of Light to be.
  • Not So Stoic: In the early parts of Stormblood he comes off as a Soft-Spoken Sadist, rarely raising his voice and constantly sporting an expression of stoic indifference. But as the story unfolds and the Warrior of Light gradually proves themselves to be a Worthy Opponent, Zenos grows more animated and hammy. By the time you confront him in the Royal Menagerie, he’s shouting at the top of his lungs and Chewing the Scenery as he prepares to fuse with Shinryu.
  • Numerological Motif: Legatus of the XIIth Legion, he is the son of the Imperial occupiers Emperor hand-picked to rule over a conquered city-state with an iron fist thus representing Final Fantasy XII. Like Vayne he is artificially infused with a man-made version of a Godly gift, and uses it to wield a dragon's power in the final battle.
  • Offered the Crown: After Gaius's death, the Emperor grants control of Ala Mhigo, which Gaius controlled after he personally conquered it for Garlemald, to Zenos.
  • Only Friend: You become this to him, in his own twisted way. He sees in you a kindred spirit and a most Worthy Opponent. Right before the fight with Shinryu, he asks you to either accept him or you can refuse. If you accept, he seems almost giddy that you are not able to see him as being the same.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: In The Stinger to 5.4, while he's not furious, he's quite miffed that Fandaniel's Lunar Bahamut even so much as singed the Warrior of Light, threatening to kill the Ascian for disrupting his hunt.
  • One-Winged Angel: Fuses with Shinryu during the final battle of Stormblood.
  • Parental Neglect: Between military campaigns and just general disinterest, Varis was largely absent throughout Zenos' childhood. They could go months at a time without seeing, let alone talking to one another.
  • Patricide: After he gets his real body back from Elidibus, he's just as quick to turn his blade on his own father.
  • Post-Final Boss: Of Endwalker. After working together with the Warrior of Light to defeat the Endsinger and end the Sound, he challenges them to one final duel.
  • Rapunzel Hair: He has long blond hair flowing out from under his helmet.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: When he actives his Resonant abilities to merge with Shinryu
  • Rebel Prince: Of the rare Villainous Father, Even More Villainous Son variety. Considers the Empire's crusade against Eikons to be borne of fear and ignorance, and instead desires to hijack primals via an Artificial Echo.
  • Redemption Rejection: Voices this opinion in 4.3, when it's revealed that he has possessed a member of the Ala Mhigo Resistance. He flat out refuses to use his second chance to redeem himself and make any sort of amends, intending to continue his "hunt" against his rival, the Warrior of Light.
  • Sanity Slippage: By the time of The Stinger of Shadowbringers, he has clearly lost whatever sanity he once had upon reclaiming his body, becoming so obsessed with his "hunt" for the Warrior of Light that he is more than willing to cut down his own father and plunge the Empire into anarchy just to ensure no one comes between them and him. Even moreso in 5.55 as he doesn't even care what Fandaniel is doing to cause The End of the World as We Know It so long as he gets the hunt he wants with his "friend."
  • Shadow Archetype: He's this to the Warrior of Light. Both of them are unparalleled prodigies in the art of war renowned for their obscene strength capable of routing armies on their own. They are also portrayed as Blood Knights who enjoy the rush of putting their lives on the line and serve as the strongest fighter on their respective sides of the conflict. But the Warrior is also able to find joy in companionship and is revered by the people of Eorzea for their constant acts of heroism, while Zenos has been isolated his entire life by his talents and loveless upbringing, only finding happiness in "the hunt" and eschewing everything else. Zenos is essentially what the Warrior would be had they been born without their passion and empathy.
  • Signature Move: As a Recurring Boss, he has a full library of attacks, but two are of particular significance:
    • Concentrativity is a massive Sphere of Destruction that he uses to end his fights whenever he gets bored. Against enemies who can withstand it, though, it becomes his standard unavoidable roomwide AOE.
    • Storm, Swell, Sword is his true ultimate move, drawing on the power of all three of his magical katanas for a devastating combination attack.
  • Sinister Scythe: His weapon of choice as he takes center stage again in Endwalker for his final confrontation with the Warrior of Light.
  • Slouch of Villainy: Is sitting like this in the Endwalker trailer as the world goes nuts around him.
  • The Social Darwinist: All Garlean leadership is this, but Zenos takes it to such extremes that his own family balks at him. Oddly enough though, this isn't born out of the same racism that the Garlean's are known for, but based on power and strength, as he finds the Warrior of Light to be his Only Friend.
  • The Sociopath: Most conversations with Zenos are near-completely one-sided, as he rarely deigns to respond and seems to regard nearly everything with indifference. This is not so much stoicism but an inability to emote; very few things actually interest Zenos, and his line of thought is so far removed from conventional thinking that it makes him extremely difficult to read or predict. For instance, when learning of Shinryu from a soldier's report, the soldier takes Zenos's silence for fury and immediately apologizes when in actuality Zenos was pleased at the events unfolding. Similarly, when Fandaniel reports to him in regards to his preparations, Zenos spends the whole time staring at his favorite sword, seemingly in admiration, only to destroy it at conversation's end, declaring that he is in need of a new weapon.
  • Spanner in the Works: No one is aware he survived the events of Stormblood, and since the Warrior of Light is not going to be on Hydaelyn for a long time for him to hunt, Zenos instead sets his sights on reclaiming his position of crown prince from Elidibus, who is possessing his original body. He ends up routing Elidibus and killing his father, sounding the death knell not only for Black Rose but the Empire as we know it. Elidibus even comments that Zenos' surprising intervention has caused decades worth of plans and schemes to completely collapse to the point that he's more or less resorting to shooting blindly in the dark and watching where everything goes.
    • Rather amusingly, even a mere copy of his personality designed for the Diamond Weapon's Oversoul system proves too much for the VIIth to control, making their test runs go haywire. Perhaps wisely, Valens orders it to be reprogrammed into obedience, as a rabid beast is too unpredictable and inefficient for a living weapon, no matter its combat prowess.
  • Super Soldier: Zenos was an "invaulable test subject" that has gone under unspecified modifications that make him much more powerful then ordinary Garleans.
  • Stepford Smiler: His neutral expression can be best described as a constant slight but smug smile, regardless of what emotion he actually feels at that moment, making him dangerously unpredictable. In the rare moments he feels genuine excitement or joy, he goes full on Slasher Smile.
  • Straw Nihilist: Gleefully goes on about how nothing on this star matters, only the cycle of the strong killing the weak.
  • Stupid Evil: He initially seems like this, tormenting his own subjects seemingly for his own amusement, but ultimately defied. Zenos is actually a remarkably intelligent man with a keen understanding of human psychology. He is purposely trying to incite rebellion over the territory he is charged with overseeing to foster an opponent worthy enough of facing. Nearly all the events of Stormblood progress as according to his plans, and he even succeeds in attaining the opponent he so desperately wanted. As during the events of Shadowbringers he's pragmatic enough to go straight to Garlemald to reclaim his body from Eldibus instead of fighting the Warrior Of Light or even following her/him.
  • Sword Beam: Several of his attacks are variations on this concept. Lightless Spark is a horizontal slash which creates a crescent-shaped Sword Beam that strikes everything within a large cone-shaped area-of-effect. Concentrativity (and its more powerful version, Vein Splitter) is a Sword Plant that channels energy into the ground, creating an explosion that hits the whole party. And finally, Art Of The Sword is a single slash that fires off four linear Sword Beams at once, one aimed at each member of the party.
  • Throne Room Throwdown: His boss fight in the Ala Mhigo dungeon takes place in the throne room of the Royal Palace.
  • Turns Red: In-universe, no less. When he pulls out his strongest, most obviously magical katana, his armor glows bright red to match.
  • Victory Is Boring: Despite the fact that he can and has crush the rebellion easily, he finds it incredibly boring at how easily he can win. With no one suitable to challenge him, Zenos is quite bored while he rules over Doma and Ala Mhigo. He scoffs at the Warrior of Light when he defeats them the first time, but after beating them the second time, he quickly grows interested at how strong they have become since their last fight and encourages them to grow even stronger for their next encounter. Clashing with the Warrior of Light is the only thing that brings Zenos out of his boredom since he finally has an opponent that can stand up to him.
  • Villain Takes an Interest: Zenos becomes obsessed with the Warrior of Light over the course of Stormblood, seeing them as the worthy opponent he's always wanted. By the end of Shadowbringers he can't go even one scene without an increasingly manic desire to fight them again. When he finally reclaims his body from Elidibus his first action is to kill his father for daring to even think of using Black Rose to wipe out the Eorzean Alliance as doing so would rob Zenos of his chance to fight the Warrior of Light again.
  • What Is This Feeling?: Prior to Stormblood, Zenos is bored with all of the "poor sport" before him, only going through the motions of his duties as legatus while yearning for a fight that can truly thrill him. By the time of the final siege of Ala Mhigo, he goes from being a Soft-Spoken Sadist to Chewing the Scenery, giving a grand speech about his admiration for the destruction Shinryu is capable of. He even accuses the Warrior of driving it into his arms on purpose to prepare for a grand battle unlike any other. When the Warrior glares at him, Zenos apologizes in an oddly sincere way, admitting that he's simply not used to feeling so excited.
    Zenos: Have I said too much? Forgive me, this...sensation is wholly unfamiliar to me.
  • While Rome Burns: In the Endwalker trailer, he's shown sitting down and calmly staring at what's highly implied to be Garlemald turned into a towering inferno of flames.
  • Worthy Opponent: Comes to see the Warrior of Light as this, and craves it something fierce.
  • Would Hit a Girl:
    • Zenos shows zero reservation in harming women, from nearly killing Y'shtola to grabbing a fistful of Yotsuyu's hair and threatening to kill her if she fails him.
    • If the Warrior of Light is female, his duels with her are just as brutal as the male version.
  • Western Samurai: It's only since the subjugation of Doma that he has come to wield a katana, assimilating with Garlean magitek.
  • World's Strongest Man: He's a nigh-unstoppable juggernaut when he first appears, swatting aside even the Warrior of Light's at Rhalgr's Reach. Entire regiments of the finest soldiers in Doma fail to pose any threat to him as he blows them all away with a casual swing of his sword. Only after the Warrior spends the entirety of the story level grinding do they manage to overcome him with the help of their adventurer allies. Even then, the Warrior's victory over Zenos is razor-thin.
  • Wrecked Weapon: After his first confrontation with the Warrior of Light, his nameless katana snaps in half. It's unknown whether it broke due to the Warrior of Light breaking it, or if it simply couldn't handle Zenos's raw power.
    • In The Stinger of 5.4, he steps on his sword, snapping it in half as he realizes he needs something much stronger for his prey.
  • Yandere: Much of his dialogue towards The Warrior Of Light blurs the line between violent and sexual, and it's easy to interpret his obsession as being partly based on attraction. Later on he gets violently protective of his 'only friend', killing his father and threatening to kill Fandaniel for harming or trying to harm them.
  • Your Soul is Mine!: At the end of Shadowbringers, Zenos becomes a Reaper, a Job that grows stronger by absorbing the aether of a slain victim's soul. While waiting for the Warrior of Light to eventually come for him in Garlemald, Zenos has gone on a murder spree to consume as many souls as he can and grow stronger in time for the rematch.


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