Final Fantasy is a series that is home to some of the most iconic characters in all of gaming. I myself have been having Final Fantasy fever with the recent release of the excellent Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, and thought it would be fun to rank the main protagonists from all of the games. Keep in mind that this list is purely my opinion. You may think that my #1 pick is horrible, while my last pic is the best in the series. I'd love to see your own rankings in the comments. Without further ado, let's get this list started.
#13 WARRIOR OF LIGHT – FINAL FANTASY
I think most will, at the very least, understand why the original Final Fantasy hero makes it here on the list. If we're talking characters, that being how in depth they are, how believable their motivations are, and/or their personality, the Warrior of Light is easily the weakest protagonist in the series.
I hold nothing against this character though as he was born in a different era; an era where developers didn't really think they could tell big, epic stories through games. So thank you, Warrior of Light, for starting one of the best franchises in gaming, but in terms of overall character, you just don't hold a candle to the other characters in the series.
#12 FIRION – FINAL FANTASY II
Final Fantasy II is usually known as one of the worst entries of the franchise. However, to it's credit, it was extremely ambitious in many aspects. One of these aspects was trying to make better, more complex characters. Firion is certainly a more complex character than his predecessor, but is still pretty weak overall. Awesome visual design aside, Firion (along with the various side characters in Final Fantasy II) is just not a fun character to follow.
It would be very interested in seeing some sort of remake of Final Fantasy II with updated graphics, mechanics, and storyline. Firion certainly has potential to be a fantastic character, but the limitations of gaming at the time of his inception, along with some overall lazy writing, Firion is one of the more forgettable characters in the franchise.
#11 VAAN – FINAL FANTASY XII
It is really eye opening to learn that Vaan was a last minute addition to Final Fantasy XII. To put it simply, Vaan is just a bland character and leading man. Maybe he would be more interesting if his supporting cast, such as Balthier and Ashe, weren't so much better in every single way. The only thing I really like about Vaan is his visual design, but that's not really saying much when pretty much every protagonist in Final Fantasy games have good visual designs.
I don't completely hate Vaan, but he is certainly a weak main character. I wish that Square Enix would have given more of a purpose and/or better connections with his fellow party members. But unfortunately we will never see Vaan as a strong character and we're stuck with this last minute decision. Oh well, at least Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age is still a great game, despite the lack of a strong lead.
#10 LUNETH – FINAL FANTASY III
Luneth is in a similar situation as Vaan in that he was conceptualized to be a strong lead for the American DS remake of Final Fantasy III. Unfortunately, it just didn't work. Theres nothing really remarkable to say about Luneth other than…he's the hero? The reason he ranks higher than Vaan is because at least he has some reason to be involve in the story and the developers at least tried to make him important.
#9 BARTZ KLAUSER – FINAL FANTASY V
I really hate to sound like a broken record, but Bartz Klauser suffers from the exact same problems as the last two characters I've talked about. The only real reason that he ranks above those two is because he's less annoying and his visual design is my favorite of the three. Honestly, Vaan, Luneth, and Bartz are pretty much interchangeable in this list as they suffer many of the same issues, and share many of the same strengths.
#8 LIGHTNING – FINAL FANTASY XIII
Lightning was pushed extremely heavily by Square Enix. To be honest, I never found her to be as bad as some others have, but she's nothing too spectacular either. Say what you will about Final Fantasy XIII as a whole (I personally enjoyed it for what it was), but you have to admit that it was refreshing to have a strong female lead in this entry.
That being said, she is a mixed bag overall. She has some really great lines and moments in the story, but that may just be because a lot of her supporting cast were iffy at best. That all being said, I will always appreciate Lightning for bringing Final Fantasy into the HD age of gaming, as well as being a pretty badass female lead.
#7 SQUALL LEONHART – FINAL FANTASY VIII
If we were talking purely visual designs of the protagonists, Squall would easily be somewhere in the top 3 for me. While Final Fantasy VIII is probably one of, if not my least favorite game in the franchise, Squall is without a doubt one of the strong points for me. At first, he is extremely off putting. He's whiny, emo, and trying pretty hard to be edgey. However, his character does get stronger as the game goes on.
His growing relationship with Rinoa helps his character grow quite a bit. I slowly came around to liking Squall through the game, even though the Junction and Draw systems of the game were making me want to pull my hair out. Still, Squall is one of the better characters in the series.
#6 ZIDANE TRIBAL – FINAL FANTASY IX
This may be a little controversial to put Zidane outside of the top 5, but I feel this is a good spot for him. He's a fun character to follow throughout Final Fantasy IX's story and events. You never get bored viewing his antics. But my one big problem with him is that I never felt that he was as integrated into the story as much as I wanted him to be. Yes, he grows to care about what is happening and clearly will do whatever it takes, but I just couldn't grow as attached to him as I would have liked to.
Zidane is still a fantastic character and has one of the most lovable designs in the entire series. He makes Final Fantasy IX an even better game than it already is, but he just doesn't quite reach the hight that the remaining 5 protagonists do in their respective titles.
#5 NOTCIS LUCIS CAELUM – FINAL FANTASY XV
I like to say that Noctis is like Squall but better. When you think about it, Noctis starts off similar to Squall: he's kind of a punk and tries to be somewhat edgey. But there are several elements that make Noctis such a great character. For starters, he goes through a lot of growth throughout his journey with his friends;so much so that he becomes such a strong protagonist towards the end of the game. The banter and relationship he has with Gladiolus, Prompto, and Ignis adds so much detail to his character.
Couple all of those things with his more modern visual design and excellent character arc, Noctis has proven himself to be among the best protagonists that Final Fantasy has seen. Its characters like Noctis that give Final Fantasy fans good feelings for the future of the series. Unless you hated Final Fantasy XV, then you're probably just mad to see Noctis here. Oh well.
#4 Tera bradford – Final Fantasy vi
It's hard to pick just one character to represent the entirety of Final Fantasy VI, but the most common character that people pick as the stand out would be Tera Bradford. She is one of the few people who can wield magic left in the world, but has been captured and forced to fight for The Empire. After breaking free thanks to an Esper, Tera and her new friends begin a journey to stop The Empire and the evil Kefka from destroying the world.
I will admit, Tera isn't my favorite character in Final Fantasy VI, but I still do enjoy her. She takes some long absences from the story at times, but she is always a character that you'll find interesting as the mystery of just who she is and what power she yields makes her one of the best protagonists in the series.
#3 Tidus – Final Fantasy x
This will probably make a lot of people mad. How could I rate Tidus, one of the most hated characters in all of Final Fantasy at number 3; and above characters like Zidane and Tera? Well to start off, yes, I do recognize how annoying Tidus can be at times, especially in the early hours of Final Fantasy X. But Tidus is one of the best written characters in all of Final Fantasy. To me, Tidus goes through the most growth in the entire series. He goes from a whiny, immature brat into a man who will do anything for the woman he loves.
The only thing really keeping Tidus back for me would be his lackluster voice actor. There are times when the actor pulls off a great scene, such as when Tidus learns what the pilgrimage and getting the Aeons really mean, but most of the time the voice-work is really iffy. That all being said, Final Fantasy X is my favorite game in the series and Tidus is one of the many reasons for that.
#2 Cloud Strife – Final Fantasy Vii
No, I didn't just put Cloud at #2 just to be different or piss people off…okay maybe a little, but also because I feel he deserve to be here. He's an excellent character, as well as the most iconic character in the entire Final Fantasy franchise. While a lot of aspects of Final Fantasy VII are ridiculous, Cloud's personal struggle and search for his true identity are extremely relatable to teens and young adults even today.
Cloud's visual design is amazing as well. Nothing is more iconic than his classic purple attire in the game, or his all black outfit in Advent Children. That's not even mentioning the badass Buster Sword that we all wanted back in the day. Hopefully the Final Fantasy VII remake does justice to one of the most iconic characters in gaming. But, there's still one Final Fantasy protagonist that I find better than Cloud Strife himself.
#1 Cecil Harvey – Final Fantasy iv
We've come to Cecil Harvey, my personal favorite protagonist in all of Final Fantasy. Similar to the likes of Cloud and Tidus, Cecil goes through immense growth as a character throughout his adventure in Final Fantasy IV. Beginning as a dark knight, Cecil begins to hate himself more and more after following unjust orders. His story is that of personal redemption and becoming the person that he wants to be.
Cecil's story is extremely relatable. We have all wanted to be better people at some point in out lives. While we probably have not done the horrible things that Cecil did in his past, we all relate to his plight and eel immense sympathy for him. Final Fantasy IV may not be my favorite game in the series, but it without a doubt has my favorite protagonist in the entire series.
That's our list of our favorite Final Fantasy protagonists. How would you rank the heroes of the games? Let us know in the comments!