1. Sephiroth (FFVII)
Let’s be honest, most of us knew this was coming. It almost went without saying. And because of that, it seemed necessary to examine the justification behind this silver-haired beauty taking the top spot as Final Fantasy’s greatest villain. It’s often simply taken as read, not even thought about, that Sephiroth should take the top spot. Rarely does anyone stop and consider why any more. So, let’s consider.
First, let’s get the obvious out of the way: he wants to basically destroy the planet. Woah, okay, original plan there buddy, what’s next, a maniacal laugh? Well, yes. It’s very easy to write off “destroying the planet” as an end goal because it’s so generic, but look closer at Sephiroth’s motivations and you’ll recall this all essentially stems from some serious mummy issues. There is something truly disturbing in the religious conviction Sephiroth possesses and the blind faith he puts in his “mother”, Jenova. Certainly, he wants to become a God himself, but this again all comes from a desire to be closer to mummy dearest.
Despite actually being the product of ugly-bumping between Hojo and Lucrecia with only Jenova cells being injected into him while still inside his true mother’s womb, Sephiroth nonetheless harbours delusions about his birth, his dynasty and his destiny. The flashback scene in Nibelheim reveals in great detail the extent to which Sephiroth’s sanity unfurled upon discovering the truth of his strength and why it is he possess such prowess in combat. His burning the town of Nibelheim and near-killing of Tifa are the first of the numerous crimes he commits in the pursuit of Godhood.
In the Temple of the Ancients, unfurling his plan in almost laborious detail, Sephiroth explains how by summoning Meteor he will injure the planet, and by being at the centre of that injury, absorb the Lifestream’s power for himself, thereby achieving his goal of becoming a God. While there’s no knowing whether or not this plan would work (Jenova cells or no, a huge rock from outer space landing on you is going to mess you up), Sephiroth so fervently believes that it will, he’s prepared to sacrifice everyone and everything else in the world to do it. All so he can be closer to his mother. Touching.
His biggest crime, though, has become one of the defining moments of Final Fantasy’s history. Sticking his masamune sword all the world through and back out of Aeris’ body was just about the most heart-wrenching thing one video game character has done to a player, let alone to poor Cloud. There is some debate on the subject of whether or not Cloud loved Aeris, but let’s say for sake of argument that he did (because he obviously did) – Sephiroth not only burned our hero’s hometown, killing everyone he knew bar Tifa, deceived Cloud into beleieving he was an experiment, he also murdered the love of his life right before his eyes, giving the smallest of smiles while doing it. One of the very few main playable characters to be killed off in the franchise’s history (and the only one in the PSOne’s generation), Aeris was a personal favourite of many, and while it was a highly emotional moment, you have to give kudos to Square for having the balls to go through with such a bold plot development.
Ironically, people tend to get far more upset about the death of Aeris, one single character, than they do the threat of Sephiroth killing off the entire planet. Without this act, though, it’s unlikely Sephiroth would have secured his place as the most celebrated villain in Final Fantasy history.
Well, that’s it folks. Disagree with our rankings? Did we miss somebody? Sound off in the comments below!
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This article was first posted on November 9, 2012