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Kefka poisoning Doma's river, against his commander's orders.

Kefka Palazzo: I will destroy everything... I will create a monument to non-existence!
Party Member: Life will go on! There will always be people, and dreams!
Kefka: No! I will hunt them down. I will destroy it all! Destroy! Destroy! Destroy!!
Party Member: We won't let you harm another living being!
Kefka: Hee-hee-hee! But what's the fun in destruction if there are no "precious" lives lost?

Here are the most head-explodingly evil characters in the Final Fantasy franchise.

Main Series and Associated Games
  • Final Fantasy II: Emperor Mateus, the primary villain, is the ruler of Palamecia. A tyrant defined by his arrogance and greed, Mateus unleashes the Legions of Hell to attack the innocent peoples of the world and aid him in his quest of total global domination, seeking to destroy all those who won't submit themselves to his iron-fisted rule. In order to remove the threat of the island of Deist and their Wyvern-riding warriors, the Dragoons, Mateus poisoned the Wyverns' water supply, wiped out the creatures, then exterminated the weakened Dragoons. He also enslaved the peoples of Salamand and Bafsk, the latter of which he forced to construct the Dreadnought, an air warship which he uses to rain death upon cities that oppose him. Following the Dreadnought's destruction, Mateus instead uses a massive Cyclone to completely obliterate the towns of Paloom, Altair, Gatrea and Poft, killing all within. Dying in the attempt to wipe out Fynn as well, Mateus's soul was split into a dark half and a light half. The dark half conquered hell, returned to the world of the living, murdered the last Dragoon, Ricard, and revealed his new intention to destroy the world with his newfound power. Meanwhile, Mateus's light half seized the throne of heaven, and, after briefly pretending to be a pure being to tempt the souls of four heroes who had died in the war against him, vows to grant them eternal suffering once they realize the light half of Mateus's soul is just as evil as his dark half.
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  • Final Fantasy IV: Zemus, the true Big Bad, was The Corrupter of, and the man behind, Golbez. Zemus was was the only Lunarian (of which the heroic Cecil and the brainwashed Golbez are each half-Lunarian) pushing to conquer earth, resulting in him being forced by his own people to fall into a millennium-long coma to allow humanity to evolve until the two could coexist peacefully together. Even in this state, he is still capable of manipulating Golbez to carry out his unsettlingly extreme dreams of an all-Lunarian utopia, which involves not only committing the atrocities throughout the entire game, but also using the artificial abomination Giant of Babil capable of dealing massive amounts of racially-based genocide on a global scale. Besides Golbez, Zemus also manipulates Kain during his fight with Cecil, who has turned into a paladin. It is also strongly implied that Zemus was responsible for the brainwashing of the four essences' incarnations, thus being responsible for the atrocities committed by the Elemental Archfiends. It is revealed that Zemus's hatred is so strong, that after his defeat, he turns into Zeromus, a being "fed by Zemus's unbridled hate…who knows naught but hate!"
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  • Final Fantasy VI: Kefka Palazzo's backstory establishes that he was the first Magitek knight created, but the imperfections of the process drove him insane. This shows through the various acts he performs throughout the game, including arson; poisoning Doma (made more impactful by showing how it affects the character of Cyan, whose wife and son die in the process); stabbing General Leo to death after the latter tries to stop him; killing the Espers at Thamasa (not caring about the deaths of the Magitek-armored minions accompanying him); and destroying the world halfway through the game. He seeks joy in destruction, and is prone to laughing like mad amidst the chaos. Kefka absorbs the magic from the Warring Triad, so when he is finally defeated all of the magic disappears from the world and all the espers go extinct. While he may look silly, some of his dialogue is darkly comical, and some translations give him a feigned charm and affability, his actions are portrayed in a horrific and often tragic light. He embodies despair, hatred and death.
  • Final Fantasy VII and associated games:
    • Professor Hojo may not be the primary antagonist, but is responsible for nearly everything bad happening in the game. Prior to the game proper, he injects Jenova cells into the womb of his wife, Lucrecia, in order to turn their son Sephiroth into a supe soldier. He later murders Aerith's father and experiments on both her and her mother, his research leading to the latter's death. Throughout the game he is implied to manipulate most, if not all, of Sephiroth's actions, because he thinks of Sephiroth as research he wants to see blossom. He attempts to mate Aerith with Red XIII to create a half-human hybrid; experiments on the survivors of the Nibelheim massacre; murders Vincent, experimenting on his corpse and turning him into a half-monster; and attempts to help his son destroy the world at the end of the game. Dirge of Cerberus reveals Hojo to have copied his mind into the body of an experimental super soldier and used him to order other experimental super soldiers to commit mass kidnappings and murders, with the ultimate goal of awakening Omega and fusing with it.
    • Before Crisis: In this prequel, Fuhito is a scientist for the original AVALANCHE. Fuhito, who idolized the aforementioned Hojo, found a way to copy part of Shinra's SOLDIER program, which he uses to create his own variants; this degrades the mind of the victim, and turns said victim into a monster. He takes two of the SOLDIERs Zack later remembers and turns them into abominations on par with Hojo's aberrations. He later finds an ancient Ultimate Summon that has been broken long, long ago. He builds on Hojo's having implanted a piece in an innocent girl, transforming her into a weapon to be AVALANCHE's spearhead against Shinra, while the piece starts sucking out her life to rebuild itself. He establishes a firm powerbase to release the Summon, which would burn the entirety of the world. In the end, he winds up taking it all and merging with it.
  • Final Fantasy XIV: Asahi sas Brutus is an ambassador from the Garlean Empire who reveals himself to be a sociopathic follower of Zenos yae Galvus. He tries to sabotage the peace between Doma's leaders by trying to provoke the Player Character, and it was revealed that he hired the mercenaries to fake his good nature. However, his worst act is when his parents adopted his cousin, Yotsuyu. When Yotsuyu got mistreated by Asahi's parents, Asahi then came out with the idea to sell Yotsuyu to an abusive drunkard for money and political connections, as well as selling her to a brothel. After Yotsuyu regained her memories, Asahi sent her parents on her, which resulted them being killed. When the prisoner exchange happens, Asahi then tries to invoke the primal Tsukuyomi into Yotsuyu and callously shoots her multiple times when she tries to die peacefully, mocking the player, while brutally beating Yotsuyu, that attacking him would result in a war.

Ivalice Alliance

  • Final Fantasy Tactics:
    • Hashmal(um) is second only to Ultima/Altima in the Lucavi and is the demon possessing Folmarv Tengille. The mastermind of nearly every misfortune in the game, Hashmal manipulates the massive war that claims countless lives so he can manipulate the resurrection of Altima. Upon confronting Ramza, who had learned that the Ultimate Church was corrupt, Hashmal massacred all present, including his host's own son. Tricking others into being possessed by the Lucavi and broadening the monstrous conflict, Hashmal kidnaps Ramza's sister Alma to use her as the host of Altima, only caring about creating more death and destruction to revive Altima and unleash her upon the unsuspecting world.
    • Dycedarg Beoulve is a ruthless schemer obsessed with achieving more power for himself. The elder brother of the hero Ramza, Dycedarg slowly poisons their own father over the course of years to kill him and take control of the noble family. To gather even more power, Dycedarg helps plunge Ivalice into a brutal civil war against Duke Goltanna. Dycedarg proceeds to backstab and murder his partner before allying with the demonic Lucavi, even murdering his brother Zalbaag. Unlike most of the Lucavi, Dycedarg seems to be a willing host to his demon, and while he may claim to have good intentions, he is merely a hypocrite willing to resort to any means to obtain the power he craves.
  • Final Fantasy XII: Judge Bergan is a ruthless Judge Magister of the Archadian Empire. He supports Vayne Solidor's rise to Emperor because he admires his desire for power and the ruthless means he uses to achieve his ends. When his ally Judge Drace accuses Vayne of murdering his father to take the throne, Bergan gleefully strikes her down and is the only Judge who is unmoved by her execution. Later he and his fellow Judges travel to Mt. Bur-Omisace, a major religious site and home to many refugees, to retrieve Vayne's brother Larsa. While there, Bergan leads a slaughter of the innocents who live there and murders the religious leader known as the Gran Kiltias. Even though the men he served had good intentions, Bergan was simply interested in power.
  • Vagrant Story: Romeo Guildenstern is a power-hungry man cloaking his ambitions under false piety. Abusing the woman in love with him, Guildenstern slaps her hard enough to draw blood. Hiding his devotion to the forces of darkness by attacking one of their temples with his forces, Guildenstern, in his lust for power, throws aside his religious facade and sacrifices his abused lover in return for immense power. With his newfound strength, Guildenstern intends to take his rule worldwide and enact a cruel dictatorship in which he is worshipped above all else.

Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy

  • Final Fantasy XV: Ardyn Izunia, true name Ardyn Lucis Caelum, poses as a "man of no consequence", but is far older and far crueler 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 gutting 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. Awakening ten years later, Noct sees that Ardyn has made the world a twisted land where humanity faces annihilation, all for Noct's benefit so Ardyn can destroy him as the Chosen King at last. Despite his past of being rejected by the people he once saved, Ardyn's sadism, megalomania and utter acceptance of the monster he has become solidify him as a self-described true monster, and even after his defeat, he lurks in the afterlife for one last chance to destroy Noct and prevent him from saving the world, wishing nothing more than to damn the world out of spite.

Other Games

  • Dissidia: Final Fantasy: The villainous entity Shinryu turned Chaos into a force of destruction despite knowing this could destroy the very world he was entrusted to watch over, purely out of spite. Taking advantage of Cid's grief over his wife's death, Shinryu tricks him into giving him his soul in return for promising to make Chaos strong enough to destroy the nation responsible for the death of his beloved. Lying, Shinryu strips Cid of his physical body, turning him into an immortal spirit cursed to forever witness the great War, which Shinryu manipulates to go on for untold centuries while draining the constantly resurrected warriors of their memories to increase his own power. When the soldiers lose all strength for Shinryu to steal, he stops bringing them back to life, instead leaving their spirits to rot in the Void for eternity. When Cid breaks the eternal war and allows the heroes victory, Shinryu spitefully traps him in a world of nightmares. In the sequel, Shinryu returns to summon manifestations of himself in the hopes of destroying all of World B. A monstrous excuse for a deity, Shinryu is a spiteful sociopath who torments the very world he was meant to oversee.
  • Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time: Larkeicus is an immortal Clavat and a nasty piece of work. Originally, his goals were for the good of humanity, as he invented special crystal powered inventions to give the people of the world untold riches. Once the crystals began vanishing, though, the citizens blamed the collapse of the world on Larkeicus. They found a crystal in the forest and at first, Larkeicus wanted to investigate it, hoping to find more crystals. He instead had a change of heart and killed the villagers (including the children) in the village near the forest, which disgusted his apprentice Veriaulde the Yuke. Veriaulde tried to stop his master, but was knocked out. Sherlotta, the only survivor of the massacre, was a prime target of Larkeicus as she was given the ability to spawn crystals. Larkeicus decided to capture her and experiment on her and his apprentice so he could obtain immortality and be treated like a god again. Because of his master's experiments, Veriaulde transformed into a monster on contact with any crystals, which was a boon for Larkeicus, who wasn't concerned with the Yuke's well-being. Throughout the game, Larkeicus is shown to have free agency and is perfectly able to stop what he's doing, but is too engrossed in the scientific experiments he is conducting to really care about his apprentice or anyone else.
  • Bravely Default series: Many of Luxendarc's villains, including those from the Duchy of Eternia, are rounded and have sympathetic traits. Alas, this is not the case for the following:
    • Dr. Qada, the Salve-Maker, from the first game, is an obese psychopath who stands leagues over Eternia's normally-sympathetic ranks. Qada sacrifices thousands of innocents through the Toxic Mist, including those of Eternia's own swordbearers, while acting as a medic to both sides of Luxendarc's conflict to have a large supply of healthy bodies to experiment on. Qada's ambition extends to planning to wipe out the Council of Six with his equally-treacherous compatriots Fiore DeRosa and Erutus Profiteur to take over Eternia themselves, with Qada planning to unleash a fatal plague through Luxendarc. Reviled even by his own superior, Qada is completely unsure as to whether or not he should be remembered as a gloried hero for providing the cure to his own plague—or as the vile, disease-spreading sociopath who unleashed it in the first place.
    • Airy, also from the first game and fittingly titled "the Evil One", is the Piercer of Boundaries and chief servant to the evil god Ouroboros. Posing as a helpful fairy ally to the Warriors of Light in their mission to reactivate Luxendarc's corrupted crystals, Airy is in truth behind the opening of the Great Chasm and the wide swath of destruction it caused throughout Luxendarc, traveling from world to world and manipulating the heroes into purifying the elemental crystals and thus linking those worlds to Ouroboros. Airy takes sadistic delight in manipulating the heroes like puppets and butchers them after she is done with them, having repeated the process with tens of thousands of worlds over a course of millions of years. Once she's ousted as Ouroboros's servant, Airy, in the false ending, quickly slaughters the party while taunting them about how she's manipulated them. Forced to rest in the Dark Aurora after being cheated of purifying the last crystal, Airy, once confronted by the revived heroes, decides to torture the warriors of light for five thousand years to bide her time, and pretends to have been possessed purely so she can shatter an already despondent Agnes's will further by revealing she is exactly the remorseless demon she appears to be. A deceitful monster under her seemingly innocent, childish exterior, Airy's singular wish was to allow her master access to the Celestial Realm in order to destroy all reality.
    • Ouroboros himself, the God of Destruction in the first game, plots to wreak havoc on the Celestial Realm, and is responsible for every catastrophic event in the game's plot. Unseen until the game's true ending, Ouroboros pulls the strings behind his servant Airy and oversees her link the tens of thousands of worlds that comprise reality in a bid to break the boundaries between them, utterly destroy all of them, and bring chaos to the Celestial Realm to recreate reality in his own twisted image. Ouroboros devours his pleading servant once he finally tires of her, dismissively compares her to cattle, and, in the final battle, obliterates world after world for the sheer purpose of breaking the heroes' spirits, nothing less than utterly gleeful once they beg him to stop. Ouroboros, motivated solely by boredom and a lust for chaos, strife, hatred, and suffering—things he considers exciting—goes down as the greatest evil in the story.
    • Bravely Second: End Layer: Lord Providence is the ruler of the Celestial Realm and the source of all the game's misfortune, with all of Anne's evil tracing back to him. After his takeover of the Celestial Realm, Providence nourishes himself off the utter despair of a woman named Vega, feeding off her depression over being separated from her lover Altair in the Celestial Realm while perverting her good memories to twist them into the monstrous Ba'al. Providence's plan to keep Vega as a food source for him forever is to allow the Ba'al to ravage Luxendarc before he plunges the world into despair and annihilates it, all for the purpose of permanently breaking Vega's lingering hope. After the death of Anne, Providence personally confronts the heroes and tries to obliterate Luxendarc himself, merrily noting that Luxendarc's destruction would be "pointlessly absurd"—a sentiment he considers amusing. With the worst master plan in the series, Providence manages to beat out even Ouroboros in sheer, unmitigated sadism
  • Octopath Traveler: Of the many villains inhabiting the eight tales of Bravely Default's Spiritual Successor, these are the worst:
    • Lyblac, daughter of the thirteenth god Galdera, is the architect of every single misfortune in the game in her bid to open up the Gate of Finis and hand the world over to Galdera for the subsequent annihilation of all humanity. For a full century, Lyblac deceives and manipulates everyone around her, causing the fall of both Matthias and Yvon to lives of evil and murder for the purposes of her plans while implicitly having Geoffrey Lockhart murdered by the Obsidians to cover up the Gate of Finis. Lyblac, dealing with the corrupt sellsword Werner, also set in motion the events that led to the fall of Hornburg, destroying an kingdom full of lives to take control of the Gate. Finally, Lyblac attempts to use those of the Crossford lineage in her attempt to have him bear Galdera's essence, slowly reducing Graham of them to a tortured monster as the consequence for escaping her and simply opting to use his son Kit as her next choice for the vessel. Lyblac is described as a lethal poison by her own uneasy allies, a witch truly worthy of the epitaph "Daughter of the Dark God."
    • Lucia, the Big Bad of Cyrus Albright's path, is an ambitious scholar who seeks and values ultimate knowledge of the world, even over the lives of humanity. Allying with the aforementioned Lyblac in corrupting Headmaster Yvon into evil, Lucia then commissions the amoral sorcerer Gideon to perform dozens of horrifying blood experiments on innocents, resulting in their agonizing deaths, to perfect a working blood crystal. After orchestrating Yvon's death, Lucia reveals her plans to harness immortality and then spend years amassing all knowledge that humans are unaware of—-such as cures to illnesses or things that would help humanity progress-—then horde and keep them all for herself, just for the pride of being the smartest entity on the planet.
    • Werner, the Big Bad of Olberic Eisenberg's path, was once a mere sellsword with lofty ambitions before he was given a chance to realize his dreams by Lyblac, at the cost of the entire kingdom of Hornburg—a price Werner considered worth paying. Werner wins his trust with the local people of Hornburg by arranging bandit attacks on border villages and beating them back with his own warriors, the Black Brotherhood, before integrating within Hornburg's own royalty and arranging the assassination of the king and his personal guard. The fallout destroys countless innocent lives and annihilates the entire kingdom, while Werner walked away from the ashes a rich man. When Olberic, one of Hornburg's last soldiers, finally tracks him down, Werner's set himself up as the despotic ruler of Riverford, regularly having innocent people burned alive on trumped-up charges or solely as a means to curb rebellion. When Werner tracks down the resistance, Werner proceeds to have them all massacred while murdering his own men when they refuse to fight the much-stronger Olberic, even pridefully gutting himself in front of Olberic at the end rather than admit his guilt in destroying thousands for self-gain.
    • Helgenish, from the first chapter of Primrose Azelhart's path, is bar none the most repulsive Starter Villain in the game. A depraved, obese tavern-keeper who employs several exotic dancers to entertain his guests, Helgenish brutalizes and demeans the women under his care while beating any who try and fight back to near-death, leaving them in the gutter to die. Helgenish favors Primrose herself, raping and abusing her to assert his control of her, and when Primrose defies his orders with the help of her only friend Yusufa, Helgenish has Yusufa brutally tortured. When Primrose comes back, Helgenish murders Yusufa right in front of Primrose's eyes, hysterically mocking her tearful last words and noting "if she'd shown that kind of potential earlier, maybe I would have kept her on longer!"
    • Rufus, the left hand of the Crow Men, is one of the leaders of the Obsidians, involved in the murder of Primrose's father while maintaining the Obsidians' various connections in the present. When Primrose tracks Rufus down, he's maintaining the Obsidian Parlor, a whorehouse specializing in unwilling prostitutes Rufus hands out to the whims of powerful and depraved men for a profit while keeping a personal harem himself. Rufus is seen giving a woman to serve the incestuous desires of a priest in his service as just one example of the many lives he's ruined to the services of the Obsidian Parlor, while mocking Primrose even to his last breath.
    • Simeon the "Puppet Master" is the head of the Crow Men, the master of the Obsidians, and the bane of Primrose's existence. As master of his "Wings", Simeon has a hand in all forms of mass murder, assassinations, and human trafficking, all while eliminating anyone who could stand up to his organization's rule, notably murdering Primrose's father with his own hands. A complete psychopath who gets the most joy out of life by hurting and tormenting others, Simeon takes sick glee in befriending Primrose and developing a romance with her, only to stab her, make her watch a play of Simon's own production showcasing the tragedies and traumas of her life that ends with her and Simeon in a "happily ever after", then make a final attempt on her life, never ceasing his vicious mockery and proclamations of his desire to see her die screaming in despair.

Other Media

  • Legend of the Crystals: Ra Devil is a malevolent cyborg who seeks to become Deathgyunos, the God of Oblivion. He stole Cid Previa's brain from his grave before murdering Cid's young grandson Mid. He then kept the brain alive and in torment to forcibly extract the knowledge of the elemental crystals that stabilize the world. Returning to Planet R two hundreds years later, Ra Devil steals the crystals, dooming the world to destruction. Setting sight on the Wind Crystal, he launches raids on Rouge Island and later the city of Tycoon. He then abducts the heroine Linaly, whose body hosts the the Wind Crystal and uses her as a battery to drain the energy of the universe and complete his transformation. After the heroes interrupts the process, Ra Devil fights them back and sadistically electrocutes Prettz and Rouge in front of their friends.