I understand why Sephiroth is the most iconic villain in the entire Final Fantasy franchise.

Samtemdo8

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Because boiling it down to the numbered games, Sephiroth definitely was a standout, when we first see him in game the first thing we saw him do was fight a Big Dragon with him and a Level 1 Baby version of Cloud. And it just took 1 attack to finish off the Dragon. Another scene was when Cloud and friends had to go through a marsh that is home to a massive Snake monster that challanged our heroes, but when we end up on the other side of the marsh, we bare witness to a Corpse of another Massive Snake Monster impaled on a fuckin tree



And at the very least his motivations are easy enough to grasp in context with the story of FF 7, he seeks to become a God by using the ultimate black magic spell, Meteor to crash into the Planet, which in this context is like cracking the Egg the yoke to seep out, in this case the Lifestream, so that he would absorb it all unto himself to become a God.

Now we see all this and compare this to other villains in the series before and after. Though mind you I have yet to play Final Fantasy 15 and fully understand its story.

1. Garland had this weird Time Loop nonsense, and suddenly he's this giant Demon called Chaos?
2. The Emperor was just your typical evil overlord type villain, nothing bad, but nothing special.
3. Xande suffered from the villain switcharoo, turns out its Cloud of Darkness.
4. Golbez was by far the most egregious of all the villain switcharoos, suddenly its Zemus, but then we fight the Evil essence of Zemus called Zeromus.
5. Exdeath was interesting, but I still get confused by the whole NeoExdeath thing, I think the villain was somewhat played for comedy?
6. Kefka is the only worthy rival to Sephiroth.
8. Ultimicia and her TIME KOMPRESSION was just too out there.
9. Kuja was ok, but sadly suffered from Villain Switcharoo right at the end.
10. I'd argue this game had way too many, but the central one is this monster force of nature called Sin, but I find him a completely different kind of antagonist then the likes of Sephiroth and Kefka and Kuja.
12. And we have Vayne Solidor, and sadly I feel had something going for him but we get too little screen time. I get the gist of it, but I feel we should have seen more.
 

CriticalGaming

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I think the one spot where Sephiroth suffers is that most of the activities he does throughout the game (like the snake skewer) are not really him but actually the Alien Jenova the whole time.

Sure it's played off like it's Sephiroth, and for the sake of him being the villain of FF7 it is him, even though he was never really the villain of the game. FF7 imo, is the only FF game to pull off the badguy switch where the guy you think is the big bad guy isn't and there is actually a god or some shit that's the real evil behind everything. And this is because the game not only never really tells you about it, but you also fight the alien mastermind BEFORE you fight Sephiroth which cements his place in people's minds as the big bad behind it all.

Additionally I think his fame also comes from simply having the flat out best character design of any other villain in the FF series full stop. Think about it, name one other bad guy in FF history that has such a memorable design, you can't because none of them do.

1 - 6. All are sprite based and it's hard to truly convey character design like that. The closest one is Kefka because a psycho clown makes sense but doesn't make him unique. Exdeth is a dude in armor, not remarkable in anyway, and so on.
8. I don't even remember what this ***** looked like, just some gothic lady really.
9. Kuja is a monkey boy, but I think he suffers from not being present enough in the overall game to be memorable.
10. Sin is a shapeless flying whale thing, and the true villain Yu Yevon is a floating like tick-thing?
12. Vayne Solider is just a guy, again not present in the game as a threat enough.
13. Bartandelous has the problem of every time you fight him he changes forms, so there is no way for the player to memorize his design and fear him.
15. I don't even remember this guy's name, but I do remember that again he is just kind of around and never actually a threat to you or your friends until the end of the game.

That leaves good old Sephiroth as the only real choice for the iconic FF baddie man.
 
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SilentPony

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I always thought Sephy was only note worthy for killing what's her face, and after that singular shocking scene he was just kinda an another lame Anime villain. I always thought Kefka was the pre-eminent FF villain, and he got done dirty because he only killed General Leo, not like Terra or Celes, or that fucking little kid Relm
 

stroopwafel

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I love how they build him up in the original. First Cloud talks about him as this legendary warrior he looked up to. Then what happens at Shinra HQ when the gang is imprisoned. You leave Midgar and there is indeed the iconic scenery of the impaled midgar zolom. His design is great as critical mentions but his tune in particular sets the tone. Sephiroth's arrival on stage hit it's crescendo with the Kalm interlude. It's just amazing what they did with such limited technology.
 
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laggyteabag

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I've never played a Final Fantasy game.

I know him for two reasons. 1) Final Fantasy VII is generally considered to be the best one. 2) He kills Aerith

Honestly, I know bugger all about dragons, or snakes, or magic, or meteors, or his motivations, or anything.

So I can only assume that the reason why I don't know anything at all about the other villains, presumably because 1) The games aren't worth talking about. 2) The villain/s don't really do much.

The dude was lucky enough to be in the best game, and do the most evil thing.

Im honestly not too sure that there is much more to it.
 

09philj

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Final Fantasy 14 has a slew of interesting bad guys, but since it's a very long MMO not that many people will see the story through to it's conclusion, not that many people will be familiar with them, even FF fans.
 

CriticalGaming

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Final Fantasy 14 has a slew of interesting bad guys, but since it's a very long MMO not that many people will see the story through to it's conclusion, not that many people will be familiar with them, even FF fans.
As someone who played through the entire FF14, I found that story drags on incredibly (because MMO) and as a result it dilutes the villains too much for them to be memorable. I couldn't name a single villain in 14 and I just beat Shadowlands like two months ago.
 

Specter Von Baren

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I think an interesting strength of 10 is that Sin is a known quantity right from the start of the game. You know what the major terrible force of the game is right from the get go and see the destruction caused by it throughout the game. And while your journey is to deal with Sin, it's made clear that it is only temporary and that Sin will be back, it is a force of nature but unlike other more abstract villains, since you know about Sin from the start, it's not an asspull to have it as the final villain (Yes Yu Yevon is technically the "true" villain but Sin is just an extension of Yu Yevon).

While on a meta level we know that we'll end up dealing with Sin in some way at some point, story wise it's not hinted at until late in the game and I think that makes it so the menagerie of other villains the game has can be taken more seriously.

Note that I still agree that Sephiroth is truly the most iconic FF villain for the reasons you gave. I just think FF10 has an interesting element to its antagonists.
 

ObsidianJones

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Because boiling it down to the numbered games, Sephiroth definitely was a standout, when we first see him in game the first thing we saw him do was fight a Big Dragon with him and a Level 1 Baby version of Cloud. And it just took 1 attack to finish off the Dragon. Another scene was when Cloud and friends had to go through a marsh that is home to a massive Snake monster that challanged our heroes, but when we end up on the other side of the marsh, we bare witness to a Corpse of another Massive Snake Monster impaled on a fuckin tree



And at the very least his motivations are easy enough to grasp in context with the story of FF 7, he seeks to become a God by using the ultimate black magic spell, Meteor to crash into the Planet, which in this context is like cracking the Egg the yoke to seep out, in this case the Lifestream, so that he would absorb it all unto himself to become a God.

Now we see all this and compare this to other villains in the series before and after. Though mind you I have yet to play Final Fantasy 15 and fully understand its story.

1. Garland had this weird Time Loop nonsense, and suddenly he's this giant Demon called Chaos?
2. The Emperor was just your typical evil overlord type villain, nothing bad, but nothing special.
3. Xande suffered from the villain switcharoo, turns out its Cloud of Darkness.
4. Golbez was by far the most egregious of all the villain switcharoos, suddenly its Zemus, but then we fight the Evil essence of Zemus called Zeromus.
5. Exdeath was interesting, but I still get confused by the whole NeoExdeath thing, I think the villain was somewhat played for comedy?
6. Kefka is the only worthy rival to Sephiroth.
8. Ultimicia and her TIME KOMPRESSION was just too out there.
9. Kuja was ok, but sadly suffered from Villain Switcharoo right at the end.
10. I'd argue this game had way too many, but the central one is this monster force of nature called Sin, but I find him a completely different kind of antagonist then the likes of Sephiroth and Kefka and Kuja.
12. And we have Vayne Solidor, and sadly I feel had something going for him but we get too little screen time. I get the gist of it, but I feel we should have seen more.
You have such a deep and well thought out idea of why Sephiroth endures. It was thought provoking.

I was friends with a lot of geeks in High School... given that I was one. All the women swooned for the pretty boy. All the pale and scrawny boys saw how pale and scrawny Sephy was and how much he still "kicked ass".

For my esteem... Broody Heroes/Villains are boring.

I'm actually going to chalk this up to Wish Fulfillment.
 

meiam

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Sephiroth work because he's almost never shown (something which the remake completely misunderstand). It's like jaws, by showing the villain less they become scarier, you see a lot of him in the flashback but those are (you eventually find out) mostly wrong and he's not a villain at that point. Otherwise you only see the aftereffect of him passing by. And yes, it really help that he actually killed a character and not a character who was obviously supposed to die, but a fully fledged main character (I always liked that Aerith had level 4 limit break even though by the end of the first disc you'll probably only have achieved maybe level break 2 with most character, they could have skimped out on that aspect but didn't because it would have made it obvious she was going to die).

As for other games:

FF6: Kefka is the only one that really stand out because he's having so much fun and is the only villain to actually succeed in destroying the world.
FF9: Kuja wasn't that interesting, they try to do the whole "evil twin brother" at the end and that wasn't interesting. It's a shame because I think Zidane is one of the best FF lead, a good counter part would have helped. He still get props for having a good theme. Oh and there's the non sense final boss, the game would have been better if they just removed him (can't even remember his name).
FF10: The antagonist is more Seymour if you're looking for the equivalent to the villain in other game, but the game does something really interesting by having him become increasingly irrelevant over the course of the game. Crazy mad men makes for cool villain, but they don't really map onto anything interesting from a theme point of view beside "evil people be evil". So I like that he's sideline by the end of the game for Sins/Yu Yuvon which represent things more like natural disaster/death and oppressive society. I really like what they did with FF10 story, but I can't help but feel like this is the point where the traditional FF story model started being ignored and what followed is a string of disappointment.
FF12: Like everything in that game, it's just a giant failure, good idea don't make good end product without good execution.
FF13: What a crapshow.
FF15: It doesn't really have a main bad guys, which would have been just fine if the game had focused on the strong road trip aspect, but sadly halfway trough decide to try and pull off a regular FF adventure without bothering to properly set it up (like introducing a villain), so everything fall flat. Still can't believe where supposed to feel sad for a character getting killed that was only in the game for maybe 1 minute (imagine Aerith was introduced just before Sephiroth showed up).
 
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Specter Von Baren

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You have such a deep and well thought out idea of why Sephiroth endures. It was thought provoking.

I was friends with a lot of geeks in High School... given that I was one. All the women swooned for the pretty boy. All the pale and scrawny boys saw how pale and scrawny Sephy was and how much he still "kicked ass".

For my esteem... Broody Heroes/Villains are boring.

I'm actually going to chalk this up to Wish Fulfillment.
Sephiroth isn't really broody though. At least in the original, he has that story segment where we see him mentally break down from learning the truth of himself and the world but for the rest of the game he's just going about with cold blooded determination. (Dude is also ripped by the way)

Seymour from FFX is much more like what you're describing.
 

Dalisclock

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2. The Emperor was just your typical evil overlord type villain, nothing bad, but nothing special.

3. Xande suffered from the villain switcharoo, turns out its Cloud of Darkness.

5. Exdeath was interesting, but I still get confused by the whole NeoExdeath thing, I think the villain was somewhat played for comedy?

9. Kuja was ok, but sadly suffered from Villain Switcharoo right at the end.
2. The Emperor was evil,and then the resistance kills him, but it turns out that just made things worse because he went to Hell and took over it so now he has demon powers. Also part of his Soul went to Heaven and took over it too(In the Soul of Rebirth version). Which is still pretty meh but makes it a little more interesting.

3. Xande was salty because he got mortality as a gift while his buddies got the cool gifts. The Cloud of Darkness something something final boss(Does she have any lore?)

5. Exdeath was basically the Curse Rotten Greatwood of Dark Souls 3 scaled up to final boss level. And then gets a super version for reasons. It's more interesting in concept then execution, really.

9. I liked the fact Kuja was basically sent there to cause chaos and death to weaken the planet for the parasite planet to try to take over(IIRC), and then he has a BSOD breakdown at the end when he finds out his life is on a timer. Being Zidanes twin makes it kinda interesting as well but then they do the Necron reveal and since there's zero context, it's just there.

But yeah, Sephiroth works because of how the story is set up and that cloud actually has a personal connection to him.
 
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Specter Von Baren

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Sephiroth work because he's almost never shown (something which the remake completely misunderstand). It's like jaws, by showing the villain less they become scarier, you see a lot of him in the flashback but those are (you eventually find out) mostly wrong and he's not a villain at that point. Otherwise you only see the aftereffect of him passing by. And yes, it really help that he actually killed a character and not a character who was obviously supposed to die, but a fully fledged main character (I always liked that Aerith had level 4 limit break even though by the end of the first disc you'll probably only have achieved maybe level break 2 with most character, they could have skimped out on that aspect but didn't because it would have made it obvious she was going to die).
I love how Legend of Dragoon handled that. Once "you know who" dies but their power gets inherited by someone else you see that the story has laid down a threat, "Just because a character has stats, levels, and abilities, doesnt mean they can't die." Since the Dragoon powers can be transfered to a new person, there's no guarantee that anyone will make it to the end of the story. And it also made it so even a character who was presented as a kind of joke antagonist can become a main character.
 

The Rogue Wolf

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6. Kefka is the only worthy rival to Sephiroth.
Kefka gets bonus points for a couple of reasons:

A) He was a monster that the Emperor made. It was getting turned into the first Magitek knight that drove Kefka insane; if the Empire had had some sort of magic-based FDA-like agency, things could have turned out far differently.

B) Kefka effectively won. He got the destruction he craved, and humanity was on its last legs before the ragtag rebel forces managed to get their crap together. Even after being defeated, the damage he did was likely to take decades to repair.

I'll admit to not being a huge fan of Sephiroth because his personality (as we know it from the game itself) is pretty flat. He seems to regard victory and defeat with the same bland nihilism, and his relationship with Cloud is less "I am your enemy" and more "I'm bored and feel like screwing with you today". I know that this makes sense regarding his origin and purpose, but it doesn't make him more enjoyable to watch or combat.
 

CriticalGaming

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B) Kefka effectively won. He got the destruction he craved, and humanity was on its last legs before the ragtag rebel forces managed to get their crap together. Even after being defeated, the damage he did was likely to take decades to repair.
By that token do we also get to say that Sephiroth won? He successfully summoned meteor, killed the last living Ancient, and brought about the destruction of much of the world before finally being stopped by Cloud and the party?

At the same time does Arden from 15 count as winning? Because he brings about the world of demons before Noctis and his homies break into the city and defeat him?

I guess it boils down to the line we draw where the bad guy wins, because in the end they are always defeated regardless of the tragedy they cause in the meantime.
 

meiam

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By that token do we also get to say that Sephiroth won? He successfully summoned meteor, killed the last living Ancient, and brought about the destruction of much of the world before finally being stopped by Cloud and the party?

At the same time does Arden from 15 count as winning? Because he brings about the world of demons before Noctis and his homies break into the city and defeat him?

I guess it boils down to the line we draw where the bad guy wins, because in the end they are always defeated regardless of the tragedy they cause in the meantime.
The destruction was Kefka goals, Sephiroth just wanted to use the meteor to concentrate the mana.