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Magnificent Bastard / Final Fantasy

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"Hark! Ivalice hails her true Dynast-King, Vayne Solidor! He shall defy the will of the Gods, and see the reins of history back in the hands of Man! His time is nigh!"
Judge Bergan, on Vayne Solidier, Final Fantasy XII

An imaginative setting with a rich variety of characters, Final Fantasy has provided villains as brilliant and charming as they are devious:

Main Series and Associated Games:

  • Compilation of Final Fantasy VII: Consummate businessman Rufus Shinra spent his vice-presidency funding the activities of an early iteration of AVALANCHE to subvert his father in hopes of attaining the position for himself. When Sephiroth murders him and parts of the company in cold blood, a parade is held in the newly inaugurated President Rufus's honor to mark a new era. When the Weapons attack the world to protect the Lifestream, Rufus tries to get rid of them but is caught an explosion. Revealed to have survived, Rufus powers through restrictive circumstances to get his company back on top, including building the city of Edge with a Meteor monument to represent his rise to power and discovering the remains of Jenova to keep for himself. He later implicitly manipulates Cloud to battling Kadaj and the other Remnants of Sephiroth and derives great amusement in easily fooling Kadaj, having kept Jenova's head with him the whole time.
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  • Final Fantasy IX: Kuja is an Artificial Human created by the warlock Garland to spread war and destruction across the planet of Gaia with the goal of transforming Gaia into a copy of Terra, Garland's homeworld. Aware he is not trusted and will be disposed of once Garland can afford to be rid of him, Kuja pulls double-duty on his villainy, aiding Queen Brahne in taking over much of Gaia while discretely seeking Eidolons, the one power Kuja believes Garland fears. When Kuja learns of Trance, he shifts focus to acquiring the power for himself and does so. Trance Kuja is strong enough to kill Garland and pushes the playable characters to the brink of death, Kuja sparing them only to contemplate how to kill them to best show his "gratitude" for their help in achieving his Trance. If not for the maddening revelation he will die soon and the subsequent Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum it provoked, Kuja was set to declare himself the ruler of both worlds, and no one would have been able to stand against him. Along the way to this near-victory he manipulates hero and villain alike to pursue his goals, adjusts his plans on the fly to accommodate for setbacks, and never loses his sense of style and charisma.

Ivalice Alliance

  • Final Fantasy Tactics: Delita Hyral, who, in a game full of competing masterminds, finishes the story standing on top of the Gambit Pileup. Out-manoeuvring everyone else to become a king by marrying the reigning princess Ovelia, Delita uses the hero Ramza to actually do the hard work, playing off Ramza's accomplishments to claim his triumphs as Delita's own. Delita betrays those he feels he has to in order to rise to the top, ending by placing himself on the throne. While he soon realizes that he is utterly alone at the top, Delita manages to secure a place for himself on the throne despite his commoner birth in the ruthlessly classist land of Ivalice.
  • Final Fantasy XII: Vayne Carudas Solidor is the, calm, collected, brilliant, devious son of the Archadian Emperor. Vayne manages to march in to the land of Dalamasca to depose the king before giving a speech so powerful, even the people who despise him openly cheer. He follows this by organizing a feast to bait the resistance into attack, ready to kill or capture most of them in a trap. Vayne's ultimate goal is to defy the gods themselves, using the material Nethicite to empower himself as the Dynast King of Ivalice and free humanity from the divine Occuria's will, a goal for which no price is too great, even if he has to stain his hands in blood endlessly.
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  • Vagrant Story: Sydney Lostarrot is a charismatic cult leader secretly cursed with the Blood-Sin tattoo on his back. Kidnapping his younger brother Joshua, the Riskbreaker Ashley Riot is sent after Sydney and Sydney decides to play all the sides after him against one another, luring them into the dark city Lea Monde so he may test them to see who is worthy of inheriting the Blood-Sin to hold the Dark at bay. Believing that any rule or regime must respect human life, Sydney knows only one who has no desire for the Dark can hold its power, deciding to die and pass the power to Ashley, the only worthy successor.

Fabula Nova Crystallis series

  • Final Fantasy XIII trilogy:
    • Original game: Galenth Dysley masquerades as the head of Cocoon's Sanctum government and an old, helpless Puppet King of the fal'Cie, but in reality he is Barthandelus, ruler of the Cocoon fal'Cie. Surveiling the heroes from afar to help and hinder them in equal measure, Dysley attempts to groom the group to become Ragnarok and destroy Cocoon, fulfilling his goal to exterminate humanity. At the head of the government and the most powerful fal'Cie in Cocoon, Dysley is constantly on-top of the situation and always has back-up plans ready to deploy when things don't go his way, forcing the party to dance to his tune if they want to keep up with him. Dysley's plans only failed due to a literal act of god when the Goddess Etro intervened — otherwise he got exactly what he wanted, tricking the party into killing him and killing the fal'Cie Orphan, which would have destroyed Cocoon if not for the efforts of Etro, Fang, and Vanille. Dysley demonstrates why humanity both worships and fears the fal'Cie — an arrogant, cruel, manipulative Evil Overlord who sees humans as tools to be used and then discarded when he has no further need of them.
    • Final Fantasy XIII-2: Caius Ballard is a Guardian tasked with protecting the seeress and became Paddra legend because of his might. Moved by his honor and tenacity, the goddess Etro awarded the former l'Cie with the Heart of Chaos to make him an immortal warrior to continue his duty forever. Once Caius realizes the curse of immortality, he concocts a plan to destroy of all time, by opening the Door to Souls, so Yeul and indirectly everyone else can no longer experience the pain of mortality. To that end, he tries to kill Etro directly in Valhalla, but when that fails, he sets to collapse Hope's New Coccoon to cause mass destruction, even manipulating a scared Alyssa to put Serah and Noel—his biggest opposition—on a dangeorus detour. When that fails as well, Caius has Noel, his Guardian successor he personally groomed, stab the Heart of Chaos. In the end, Caius becomes one of the few series antagonists to completely win.
  • Final Fantasy XV: Ardyn Izunia, true name Ardyn Lucis Caelum, poses as a "man of no consequence", but is far older and far more devious than he initially seems. As the Chancellor of the Niflheim Empire, Ardyn arranges for the invasion and destruction of Lucis's capital city Insomnia, and later reveals his true colors by fatally stabbing the game's heroine Luna upon her summoning of Leviathan, resulting in greater damage and the deaths of nearly everyone in Altissia. With Luna's death, an affliction known as the Starscourge is allowed to run rampant, turning many into monstrous Daemons as the nights grow longer. Fixated on his chosen nemesis, Prince Noctis, Ardyn tricks him into almost murdering his best friend Prompto by making Noct see Prompto as Ardyn. Turning on Niflheim, Ardyn lets Daemons run rampant throughout the city, annihilating it and turning many of the people into Daemons themselves, leaving them in hideous pain. In addition, Ardyn reveals he is the one who taught Niflheim how to convert people to living weapons to begin with, kills Luna's brother Ravus when he finally had a change of heart and decided to help Noct and tricks Noct into being absorbed by the Crystal that is the source of power for the line of Lucis so Noct may arise as the Chosen King and Ardyn may destroy him. Having once been rejected by the land he served and saved, Ardyn showcases his devious charm in every scene he appears in, manipulating almost every event in the game, rarely ever at loss for a smile and a witty remark as one of the most memorable and charming villains in the Final Fantasy canon.

Other Spin-offs:

  • Dissidia Final Fantasy: The Emperor is one of the veterans of Chaos' forces in the cycles of war, but schemes to overthrow the God of Discord. Recognizing potential in the personal relationships between Tidus, Yuna, and Jecht, the Emperor manipulates the three into conflict so he can seize Jecht as his own and have him revived as a Warrior of Chaos in the next cycle of war. His intent in this is to seize the power the goddess Cosmos infused in Jecht, granting the Emperor a Dark Crystal in parallel to the Crystals the Warriors of Cosmos acquire, that has let them survive the death of Cosmos when they would have vanished from the world otherwise. With the power of the Dark Crystal, he intends to allow the heroes to kill Chaos before they vanish from the world, then the Warriors of Chaos will also vanish, leaving the Emperor alive to rule the world alone and unopposed. Considering himself the only being fit to rule existence, the Emperor would betray the Gods of Harmony and Discord alike and let his own allies die to realize his ambitions of ultimate power.
  • Bravely Default: Konoe Kikyo, the Ninja, is a quirky, shy, and utterly relentless Eternian assassin tasked with taking out the leaders of the Shieldbearers. Disposing of and disguising herself as the Goodman family housekeeper Nastassja, Kikyo forges invitations to a banquet in Agnès Oblige's name and sends them to Commander Daniel Goodman and Officers Steiner and Neuer. Once they're all gathered, Kikyo locks them inside the house, feigns her own death to prevent suspicion, discretely murders both Steiner and Neuer while pinning the blame on Daniel's wife Eleanor, and nearly manages to kill Daniel as well when he separates himself from the party, only stopped at the last second by Agnès' crew. Despite this merciless cunning, Kikyo is shown to be rather pleasant when off-duty, values her fellow Eternians as friends, and ultimately turns a new leaf come Bravely Second.

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