- Any character with the surname "Highwind".
- Minwu of Final Fantasy II, particularly in Japan, 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.
- 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 has 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.
- Final Fantasy VI has Loads and Loads of Characters, so plenty of them became darkhorses.
- 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!".
- In 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.
- Vivi of Final Fantasy IX has proven one of the most popular characters in the entire series. To wit: the Final Fantasy Wikia has held two "Best Character" tournaments; Vivi has won both. Despite not being the main character, his woobie moments about his soon-to-be death despite being only nine years old are offset by not choosing to whine or complain, but choosing to forge forward instead. That and blasting Black Waltz No. 3 out of the sky all by himself has contributed to him being a badass.
- 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.
- 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.
- Chocobos and Moogles, but generally Chocobos are prefered (as they can restore all MP, and allow you bypass monster you don't feel like fighting).
- Amongst Summons, Ifrit and Shiva are this, despite being more or less useless against enemies that are effected by their element.
- As of late, Flans. Especially the XIII-2's incarnation of miniflans.
Ensemble Darkhorse / Final Fantasy