Final Fantasy Main Characters With The Most Tragic Fates

Without darkness, there can be no light. Without sorrow, there can be no joy. In the decades of storytelling involving dreaming crystals, world-shattering conflicts, and time-defying love affairs, Final Fantasy has brought fans to soaring highs as well as to the deepest depths of despair and wounded hope.


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Many of the characters from this legendary series have not just become memorable to fans from every corner of the world; whether depicted in primitive pixels or lovingly rendered with fully realized figures, faces, and features, these characters, and their stories have pushed the conversation about video games as art, or at the very least, effective vehicles for emotional storytelling. Big story spoilers ahead.

6 Yuna

Final Fantasy 10: A Sacrifice For A Momentary Calm

Tidus and Yuna from Final Fantasy 10 surrounded by blue light

  • Spent her life believing that her life should be used as a sacrifice
  • Depending on certain interpretations of canon, her sacrifices were for nothing

While other characters in the Final Fantasy series have had terrible and saddening things happen to them, Yuna’s story embodies tragedy from birth to her journey to defeat Sin. Believing that she must follow in her father’s footsteps, and ever willing to sacrifice for her adopted family and for the world, she is willing to give up her life if it means giving the population of Spira peace, if only for a moment. Seeing her pilgrimage and unraveling the truth about her ultimate objective (and its cost) through Tidus’ eyes in Final Fantasy 10 is heartbreaking.

While she ultimately strays from the path and finds another way, her inspiration is torn away from her at the last moment. A happy ending does eventually come much later, that is unless a certain radio play commissioned by the original developers is to be considered canon, which sees Tidus die (again) and Sin return to the world. However, a great number of fans choose to believe that it is not and go with the conclusion offered at the end of Final Fantasy X-2.

5 Tellah

Final Fantasy 4: So Close, Yet So Far

Tellah from Final Fantasy 4

Final Fantasy 4

July 19, 1991



  • Unable to protect his loved ones because of a fading memory
  • When his moment of revenge came, he failed and gave his life for a hateful last chance at vengeance

Witnessing a parent outlive their child or children is one of the hardest things to see, but to experience it firsthand must be unimaginable. For Tellah, the world-renowned sage in Final Fantasy 4, this loss is his burden to bear. He swears to use all his considerable power over magic to avenge his dead daughter, but tragically, despite being the few able to set things right (at least in his mind), his old age has caused him to forget how to cast most of the more complicated and forbidden spells.


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This is reflected mechanically in-game: Tellah has the “meteo” spell in his magic list, the only thing strong enough to allow him to defeat his daughter’s killer and avenge her passing, but he never has quite enough mana to cast it. Throughout the story, the old sage tries to recall the spell (and the player tries to help him by raising his MP through level-ups), coming frustratingly close but never quite close enough. When he finally casts the spell, he does so out of hatred, which consumes his life force and fails to kill his nemesis, but only wounds him. In his dying breath, Tellah realizes that giving in to hate is a mistake.

4 Clive Rosfield

Final Fantasy 16: Chained, Marked, Betrayed, With A Guilty Heart

final fantasy 16 clive fire

  • Cast out and sent into slavery at the hands of his own mother
  • Born to be the new body of an evil god

Sent into slavery by his own treacherous mother and made to believe all his life that he had failed to save his brother whom he had sworn to protect, Clive Rosfield endures all the bile and discrimination heaped onto every magic user, known as the bearers, from the outside, while struggling against his personal demons from within.

There’s a case to be made that anyone living in the terrible world of Valisthea (created purely to be heartlessly harvested for its long-dormant creators) would lead a tragic life, but Clive Rosfield (and other bearers) have a particularly good claim to having the lowest of the lowest lives. Thrown from deception to deception with fire and rage in his guts, Clive is helplessly driven around by forces beyond his control until the very end of Final Fantasy 16, when he heroically sacrifices himself so that another world without the terror of magical slavery or crystal masters can be born.

3 Golbez / Theodor

Final Fantasy 4: The After Years – Used By And Blamed For The True Force Of Evil

Golbez Final Fantasy 4

Final Fantasy 4: The After Years

June 1, 2009

Square Enix , Matrix Software

  • Mind-controlled into committing atrocities
  • Unforgiven by the entire population of the world

Golbez spends most of his time in the first Final Fantasy 4 antagonizing the party and bringing ruin to all around him. In The After Years, when he becomes a regular party member, it is revealed that all his evildoing was the result of mind control from a far more sinister entity (a Lunarian named Zemus) and that Golbez was in fact an innocent (albeit one with great magical potential) before being puppeteered into performing heinous acts against his will.

Despite this, he still feels a great deal of guilt for his actions. As a result of watching the slaughter and enslavement of innocents from a first-person perspective, and because the entire population of the planet despises and fears because of his immense power as a black mage, Golbez opts to lock himself into self-imposed exile to the moon where he plans to torture himself with his bloody past for all eternity.

2 Aerith Gainsborough

Final Fantasy 7: The Orphaned Soul Of Nature Cut Down

Final Fantasy 7 Aerith Gainsborough Comparison

  • Torn from her family and subjected to cruel experiments
  • The last of her kind and cut down in her prime

Aerith’s sudden and infamous murder in the original Final Fantasy 7 created shockwaves throughout the video game community back in 1997. The last of her kind, Aerith was kidnapped from her family at a young age by an evil corporation and mad scientist and experimented on in a brutal fashion until she was rescued. Always one step behind the company that wishes to extract from her the secret location of a Promised Land, she is hounded at every corner.


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Even without her merciful execution (at least in the original timeline), Aerith endures an enormous amount of suffering, both from feeling the pain of the planet and at the hands of those who put profit and power even above the survival of their environment. Despite all this, she remains the cheery optimist among the party, always willing to extend compassion to those who need it, making her untimely demise that more tearjerking.

1 Vivi

Final Fantasy 9 – No Mere Instrument Of Murder

Vivi casting a spell during an encounter

  • Born to be a tool of war, wishes only to see the world with his friends
  • Has only a year at most to live after the conclusion of the story

Although Vivi bears a resemblance to the classic black mage in other Final Fantasy games, Vivi was simply born to serve one purpose: destruction. He was created as a living weapon for the kingdom of Alexandria. After fighting off his mass-produced brothers out of necessity, he and the party encounter a village of peaceful black mages who relay the truth about their manufactured nature.

The black mages were built with a limited lifespan, meaning that, although Vivi is a prototype, the time he has left in the world is left up in the air. Despite knowing his tragic fate, and against his own growing fears and moments of deep depression, Vivi continues to strive to do good in the world for the sake of his friends. By the end of Final Fantasy 9, his fate is unknown, but it’s unlikely that he got to see much more of the world he loved so much.

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