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Ensemble Darkhorse / Final Fantasy

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Final Fantasy, being the Long Runner it is with a new cast in every main game, naturally has a lot of this.

  • Final Fantasy II:
    • Minwu is easily the most popular of the Guest Star Party Members and even gets to be the lead character of Soul of Rebirth.
    • Both Josef and Ricard Highwind are also much beloved, being powerful Badass Normal allies who both make truly tear-jerking Heroic Sacrifices. Both of them also return in Soul of Rebirth.
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    • Dissidia Final Fantasy saw an explosion of popularity for the Emperor, who's now often seen as one of the best and most-underrated villains of the series. If being a Chessmaster and Magnificent Bastard who manages to outsmart the heroes on several occasions wasn't enough, it's taking over Hell after being killed by the heroes...and taking over Heaven at the same time!
  • Final Fantasy V:
    • Gilgamesh, who is a full-on Breakout Character. Originally just The Dragon to Exdeath and a bumbling, cowardly hammy one at that, he's made cameo appearances in almost every main game in the series, being worked into remakes of previous games and popping up from nowhere in the ones made after, in addition to taking a severe level in badass. He's so popular that Type-0 announced him to be in the game before it even came out, or before the playable cast was even fully revealed. Adding to his popularity is that where Gilgamesh goes, "Battle on the Big Bridge" is almost certain to follow.
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    • Similar to the case with The Emperor, Dissidia Final Fantasy turned Exdeath into a goofy Large Ham Fountain of Memes. Considering Final Fantasy V itself is one of the less popular entries within the scope of the series as a whole, Exdeath now stands out as a very memorable and beloved character despite being the villain of a less-popular game.
  • Final Fantasy VI has Loads and Loads of Characters. Among them is General Leo, who, despite appearing for a very short scene, was so much liked by players that there were rumors about ways to revive him.
  • In Final Fantasy VII Zack was very popular, so much so that despite having about a total of ten minutes of screentime in the original game, much of which was optional scenes, he got his own spin off Crisis Core. There are actually those who proudly declare "I loved Zack before Crisis Core!".
  • Final Fantasy VIII:
    • Laguna, Ward, and Kiros, all proved extremely popular thanks to the interesting story in their segments, interactions that were both funny and played out more like real people, so much so that a portion of the fanbase like their segments better than the main story. Given that it was originally planned that the be a much more even split between the past and present storylines, this is a massively longed for case of What Could Have Been.
    • Raijin and Fujin are Affably Evil and generally hilarious Punch-Clock Villains, and they stick with Seifer through thick and thin simply because they're his friends. Fujin even tries to talk Seifer out of his villainy with a heartwarming and tear-jerking speech.
  • A very odd example: Shantotto of Final Fantasy XI is an absurdly popular Tarutaru who is known for being quirky, haughty, Crazy Awesome and possibly a megalomaniac (which is explored in the mini-Expansion Pack "A Shantotto Ascension"). It's amazing when you consider that her initial role in the game was as a quest starter for one insignificant quest chain and another quest chain that was restricted to Black Mages. She's actually also popular with the developers of Dissidia Final Fantasy and, well...
  • Sazh's chocobo chick in Final Fantasy XIII. How can you not love a fluffy little bird that hangs out in a man's afro, takes down an armed soldier by itself, and blocks panty-shots?
  • Stepping off the main series, Final Fantasy Tactics deserves a few mentions:
    • "Thunder God" Cid Orlandeau is regarded as one of the best warriors in all of Ivalice, everyone speaks of him in-story as a total badass. What happens when you finally recruit him? He surprisingly lives up to the hype. He's a total Game-Breaker having access to all of the special sword skills of the other story characters use as well as being armed with one of the most powerful swords in the game. In the fanbase he's become the Chuck Norris of Ivalice.
    • Alica and Lavian, two generic Knight units that can join you at the beginning of Chapter 2 under the command Holy Knight Agrias Oaks. Aside from their set names they have nothing unique to them compared to and other female knight units and no lines of dialog. Despite this they are accepted as Canon members of the story by fans, often showing up prominently in fanfiction and fanart. Even the developer's seemed to think so as come time for the PSP remake the two were required for a late game romantic subplot as Mustadio tried to find out their former commanding officer's birthday.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV:
    • Hildibrand Helidor Maximillian Manderville was originally conceived as a minor comic relief character, being a Small Name, Big Ego Gentleman Detective character that completely contrasts against the rather grim main background story. However, he was so popular in the game's first incarnation that he was "resurrected" for the A Realm Reborn version of the game and given his own dedicated quest series.
    • A Realm Reborn also introduced Hildibrand's father, Godbert Manderville, a master goldsmith and powerful businessman, who likes to spend his time running around in his skivvies, performing acts of Memetic Badassery which put even Sabin's train suplexing to shame including slaying a hoard of zombies with nothing more than a goldsmith's hammer, briefly turning a Mechanical Lifeform into a real living being, and killing multiple yeti with a snowball (by accident).
    • And even he pales in comparison to his wife, Julyan Manderville, and her Frying Pan of Doom.
    • Sisipu, the only other NPC from 1.0 that everyone apparently remembers by name.
    • As of ARR, HAMON HOLYFIST is getting way up there too, as easily the most popular (and hilarious, and lovable) of the class guild-masters.
    • Even people who haven't played the game have heard of Good King Moggle Mog, thanks to his awesome battle music and its ridiculously silly lyrics.
    • Papashan, the Ul'danian rail-yard overseer and semi-but-not-really-retired Master Sultansworn is also fairly popular with both fans of Ul'dah and of Lalafells, due to his status as a Reasonable Authority Figure, the surrogate-fatherly way he helps and treats Lady Lilira (AKA Sultana Nanamo), and for being the baddest-assed lalafell Paladin in canon, and perhaps baddest lala period, who isn't a player. The only people who even come close are Papalymo and Krile.
    • Edda Pureheart started off as a simple Flat Character in an early story quest where the player sees a band of adventurers break up due to Edda's incompetent healing costing her the life of her fiance, who was also the party's tank. In patch 2.3, Edda returns while being completely insane and broken over the grief she endured since her fiance's death. Even after she falls to her death by slipping off a ledge, she briefly returns as a creepy ghost for one memorable scene. Many fans instantly liked Edda's return and hope that she comes back in a future update. Even Yoshida hoped to bring her back in some form. Later, Edda made a brief cameo in the anniversary event by an artist drawing her and her fiance monster looking happy together (in a very creepy way), and she became the final boss of the 50th floor of the Palace of the Dead. Clearing that floor and doing the subsequent quest finally allows the Warrior of Light to put her soul to rest.
    • Moenbryda gained quite a bit of popularity when she was introduced in patch 2.4. Fans instantly warmed up to her for having an outgoing personality to shake up the dynamic that the Scions have, being very book smart, and wielding a giant axe. Sadly, Moenbryda was killed off in patch 2.5 after performing a Heroic Sacrifice to help the player character kill one of the Ascians. While her death boosted her popularity further, many thought that she was discarded way too early, and that with only two patches and a couple cutscenes she had little room to develop as a character. The fact that she was the by-far strongest female non-player character of the Scions (especially compared to Minfilia) left many people wishing she stayed longer.
    • Lord Haurchefant quickly grew very popular with the fanbase. Not only is he one of the first Ishgardians who isn't completely hostile to you just for being an outsider, he nearly worships the ground you walk on and helps soften the city-state towards opening their gates to outsiders. And of course, in the wake of a horrific Wham Episode that left Alphinaud, Tataru, and potentially the PC in a Heroic BSoD, he offers you shelter and to turn away anyone hunting you, offering encouragement to help you cheer up and stating he fully intends to be by your side when you take retribution. Plus he brings you cocoa! And then he dies in your character's arms at the end of The Vault... Needless to say, many a tear was shed.
    • The Vath Deftarm grew quite popular with many players due to him trying to perform good deeds like the player character, learning lessons along the way, and actually makes an effort to stick by his noble goals so he can help everyone. The fact that he's an Adorkable bug person only helped to boost his popularity further.
    • Fray the Dark Knight job trainer, for pretty much being the most memorable job trainer ever and for providing an insight into the Warrior of Light outside how the player themselves define them and for his Big Damn Heroes moment at the level 70 Dark Knight job quest. It's not uncommon to hear about people who leveled the Dark Knight job just for him.
    • The Warriors of Darkness became pretty popular despite only really being relevant for the first patch post Dragonsong War. Despite being a group of Psycho Rangers that look exactly like the Warriors of Light from the trailers (with the leader looking exactly like the WoL who is supposed to be the player character), they become very sympathetic once you learn their past, namely that they were Warriors of Light in their world. However, they were so successful at their job that they completely eliminated the Darkness. And because of this, Light became too powerful and completely annihilated the world, leaving absolutely nothing remaining unlike the world that became the Void due to being overwhelmed by Darkness. They work with the Ascians to reverse this, because even if the world is Rejoined, everyone's souls within the Aether will still exist, unlike the situation with the Light. On top of this, the Warrior of Darkness had great voice work done by Joe Dempsie, who fans of Game of Thrones would recognize as the bastard smith Gendry.
    • Ishgard as a whole became surprisingly popular. Despite starting the story as haughty isolationists with a trigger-happy inquisition, they became the first city-state in the Eorzean alliance to truly start to overcome their flaws and become better (while the other three city-states have generally maintained the status-quo, despite Nanamo's slow efforts with Ul'Dah). The Warrior of Light also becomes a national beloved hero, so it's citizens are always honored to work with you post-Heavensward. And most of the heroic Ishardians are all pretty beloved. Their popularity is such, that when the WoL thinks about the places and people that are important to them during one part of Shadowbringers, Ishgard is one of the places we see, with none of the other city-states receiving that honor.
    • Arenvald started out as a nearly generic member of the Scions since A Realm Reborn that aspired to do great deeds like the Warrior of Light. By the time of Stormblood, he changes his clothes for a full suit of armor, assists in the liberation of Ala Mhigo, suggests that he and the Warrior of Light go raid a sunken dungeon for the heck of it (plus the treasures hidden within), and directly assists with fighting Lakshmi in Ala Mhigo and protects the innocents. Arenvald gained quite a following with many fans wanting to see him develop further.
    • Dulia-Chai in Shadowbringers quickly became a fan favorite among fans for being a Big Beautiful Woman without drawing attention to it and being a very nice and caring person in a city whose population couldn't give a rat's ass about anyone but themselves. The fact that she treats Alphinaud like a child of her own also cemented her rising popularity.
    • A more meta example but writer Natsuko Ishikawa is popular amongst the fans for writing many of the arcs that are considered the best in the game, most notably The Binding Coil of Bahamut series and the aforementioned Dark Knight job questline, and is responsible for introducing and developing many Ensemble Darkhorses such as Haurchefant and Alisaie (back when she could be considered one). It's telling that she was promoted to a main writer in Stormblood where she was responsible for the Othard side of the story, which is considered the better half of the story, particularly the Azim Steppe arc. Her popularity soared further when she handled the main scenario for Shadowbringers, which many players agree is one of the best stories of the game; of the franchise even. To the point of her getting a standing ovation!
    • The Great Serpent of Ronka, a little worm that serves as the center piece for one of the side quest chains in Shadowbringers. While it's dubious that it is truly divine, the priest that believes it to be true is so earnest about it, players couldn't help but play along. Helps that the serpent is strangely cute in its own unique way and is rewarded as a minion at the end of the questline. The devs caught on to its popularity, as the serpent returned in full force in patch 5.2, with the Qitari Beast Tribe offering both hat and helmet wearing variations of it as minions along with a mount.
    Tremble, child of man, for a creature of purest divinity wiggleth before thee.
  • This trope isn't limited to characters, some monsters and summons have gained a sizable following as well.
    • Tonberries are generally well-loved for looking adorable for such little killers, not to mention often giving decent rewards for (managing to) defeat them.
    • As of late, Flans. Especially the XIII-2's incarnation of miniflans.

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