5. Sin (FFX)
It’s hard to think about Final Fantasy X and not picture the hulking whale of Sin. From the opening cinematics to the conclusion of the game, Sin haunts protagonist Tidus’ every breath. Sin is the ultimate reason why Tidus was summoned to Spira, why his father, Jecht, vanished, and why Tidus exists at all (it’s a bit more complicated than that, but it’s the jist of things). The beast is terrifying enough as it is, but you eventually learn that Jecht, the previous Summoner’s bodyguard (Summoners are tasked with defeating Sin and sending it away for a set amount of years), decided to become Sin to protect Spira and Tidus. Thanks, Dad, for giving us a tearjerker to end one of the most memorable Final Fantasy experiences.
4. Kefka (FFVI, Dissidia)
Many will argue that Kefka belongs at the top of this list, but I disagree. Sure, Kefka may be one of the most – if not THE most – heinous villains in Final Fantasy lore. The things that Kefka does in Final Fantasy VI are vile and disturbing, but his intentions are what leave him at number 4: There really aren’t any outside of watching the world burn. And while that premise in itself is pretty interesting, it’s a concept that has also been done pretty well in more modern media. Kefka was definitely Final Fantasy’s crowning achievement to that point, and he’s an interesting character study (check out the book Final Fantasy and Philosophy if you’re interested, as there is an interesting segment dedicated to Kefka). Yes, Final Fantasy VI made it to the top of our Top 10 Final Fantasy games – in large part thanks to Kefka – but this is where he lands for me.
3. Zenos yae Galvus (FFXIV)
Next is the main villain from the first wave of Stormblood DLC in Final Fantasy XIV. Zenos yae Galvus is perhaps the most badass of Final Fantasy antagonists. He believes that men should hunt simply for the joy of it. He is quoted as saying, “Only man has the wisdom… to embrace violence for its own sake.” Where the remainder of the Empire warlords have come to Eorzea for conquest and the expansion of power, Zenos yae Galvus seeks out the mightiest of warriors to do battle. His dungeon battle is a wonderful event on its own, but when he merges to form the mighty dragon Shinryu, he becomes one of the biggest bastards in Final Fantasy history. Well done, Zenos. His armor and weaponry is pretty neat, too.
2. Sephiroth (FFVII, Dissidia)
The villain known for helping launch Final Fantasy into the great mainstream of video games, Sephiroth takes his spot at number two. As one of Professor Hojo and Gast’s Jenova experiment, Sephiroth lost his mind shortly after the war with Wutai (once he discovered that he was, essentially, a created entity). Due to his mixture of betrayal and insanity, Sephiroth vowed to destroy the world and rebuild it anew as its god. By using the black materia and summoning meteor, Sephiroth nearly completes his plan, but the real pull for me in regards to Sephiroth is his sheer cunning. Whereas most see Sephiroth as a brute powerhouse (and he is), I think most of us often overlook the brilliance in Sephiroth’s work. He utilizes the Jenova cells and vast Mako poisoning of those affected by the Shin-Ra Corporation pollution to do much of his bidding – protagonist Cloud included. In addition to his cunning, Sephiroth has a tendency to live on, as he exhibited in Advent Children and other FFVII canon.