Over the years, Final Fantasy has given us a cast of characters that rivals The Simpsons. The cherished memories made with the likes of Aeris, Cecil, and Terra are all intertwined with the nightmares we’ve faced with Sephiroth, Ozma, and beasts like Yiazmat. And while some of the friends and foes we come across can end up practically being forces of nature (in the case of Terra, literally) in battle, some of them just don’t live up to their legends. In one way or another, they end up disappointing us and we either destroy them in a blaze of anticlimactic wonder or they wipe our team because they sucked so much.
Final Fantasy has always been a game about discovering new and interesting people, places, and monsters to battle, so when you end up meeting some new adversary or new ally, finding out they’re not what they claim to be is an exercise in frustration. Especially in the case of the enemies on this list, the lore surrounding some of them builds them up as so powerful that it seems impossible that your ragtag group of heroes could ever hope to defeat them. It makes for a perfect underdog moment when you emerge victoriously and vanquish the evil back to whence it came.
Today, I’m here to talk about twenty different times the Final Fantasy series let us down with executions that just couldn’t manage to live up to their amazing character design. Since this list ends up running the gamut of FF games from the beginning to now, there are going to be some spoilers, so please read on forewarned.
20 Fran - Final Fantasy XII
It’s really disappointing I had to put her on this list. Honestly, I loved her in Final Fantasy XII because she was the only female characters in the game I could stomach. Then again, the other two choices I had were Penelo and Ashe, so maybe that’s not the proper way to sing her praises.
Fran is this awesome Viera sharpshooter, with an archery skill second-to-none and they only person capable of matching wits with her partner, Balthier. The problem is when it comes to combat, her raw stats just can’t compete with her other teammates, and she ends up getting trounced far too easily when trying to go up against the tougher bosses in the game.
But hey, when you kicked her off your main team, at least you got to see her walk away...
19 Edge - Final Fantasy IV
Quick FYI: Edge’s real name is Edward Geraldine. Yeesh. I’d go by Edge, too.
Edge is a really solid all-around character when you first get him in Final Fantasy IV. He’s got ninja magicks that can take out an entire group of enemies when all you can do with Rydia is annoy a group of baddies a little. His Throw ability is also incredibly powerful, but it's reliant on items that you need to either find or buy. Of course, the best ones can only be found, which means they’re in very limited supply.
As the game goes on —and your other players get more powerful— Edge just ends up taking a sideline. Things like Kain, Cecil’s Excalibur, or Rydia's insane summons can unleash end-game.
18 Cyan - Final Fantasy VI
He’s everyone’s favorite lone samurai named after a color. He was there when Sabin performed a piledriver on a gigantic zombie train. He witnessed Kefka poison his wife, child, and the entire city of Doma. He’s a technophobe and a man who has seen far too much death and terror for one man, so he has taken it upon himself to help Terra, Locke, Sabin, and the others to end Kefka’s mad reign once and for all.
Unfortunately, if we left the world-saving up to Cyan, Kefka would die of old age before Cyan could do any damage. His SwordTech moves are amazing, but in combat, he’s so slow that it’s impossible to get more than one or two attacks before Terra or Sabin rip the enemy apart.
17 Asura - Final Fantasy IV
Eidolons are the powerful summons that aid you in Final Fantasy IV. As you play the game, you find out that they have their own world below ours, deep within the earth’s crust, below even the domain of the dwarves. Ruling over them are the incredibly powerful King Leviathan and Queen Asura. Leviathan is a giant sea monster who can summon tsunamis at a whim. As for Asura, she’s modeled after several Hindu goddesses, most notably Kali.
Where Kali would absolutely trash her enemies, Asura is a bit more of a helper. Unfortunately, her summoned ability is less help and more hindrance. When summoned, she casts one of three random spells: Curaga (on the whole party), Raise, or Protect (on the whole party). It’s completely situational, and something that you could have Rosa do without having to worry about which spell she’s going to cast.
16 Typhon - Final Fantasy VII
This summon from FFVII was named after an endgame boss in Final Fantasy VI (after the world goes all wonky). He’s essentially a giant evil ghost thing with two faces, which I guess makes him the Final Fantasy equivalent to CatDog?
Regardless, when he’s summoned, he deals three different types of elemental damage and flips gravity for some reason. It’s a great attack in concept, but the three elements are fire, lightning, and ice, the most common elements in the game. Therefore, it’s quite possible that the enemies attacked have a resistance to them, making the move much less effective. I mean, he flipped gravity. Can’t the attack just be that and we watch them fall into outer space?
Ah well. I guess when you’re a big pink Slimer lookalike with a face where your butt hole should be, you take what you can get.
15 Seifer - Final Fantasy VIII
Seifer is a constant nuisance and semi-antagonist to Squall throughout most of the Final Fantasy VIII and then ends up being a real heel at the end of Disc three. In the game, Seifer is an incredible swordsman and fighter, becoming second-in-command to an immensely powerful sorceress. But he’s a pushover in combat, only doing low-level magic attacks and slicing haphazardly with his gunblade, which he can’t even use correctly.The thing is, when it comes to looks and design, he’s one of my favorite characters in the game. But he just cannot get his act together. If he was a bit more of a playable character, he’d probably be amazing. But that would mean he’d get along with Squall, and I don’t think the world is ready for two brooding protagonists in one game.
14 Sazh - Final Fantasy XIII
Again, here’s another really awesomely designed character with two guns, an awesome outfit, and a frickin’ baby Chocobo living in his afro. It’s the cutest thing in Final Fantasy since the invention of the Moogle, and unfortunately, it’s on a character that’s going to need all that cute.
While I’ll leave his personal issues aside, Sazh is, unfortunately, an underpowered fighter with very weak stats, even for a support character. And if Gestalt mode wasn’t bad enough, his Eidolon ends up transforming into a race car for no apparent reason. It’s completely pointless, especially since his element is fire and he’s friends with a tiny little bird already. Why couldn’t his Gestalt transformation be into a majestic Phoenix he rides into battle? That’s even more in line with his role in combat - have it cast protective spells and raise dead allies. It makes more sense than peeling out into a Behemoth.
13 Gerogero - Final Fantasy VIII... And Others
Gerogero is an enemy that’s representative of an ongoing controversy in Final Fantasy. He’s an undead monstrosity, so in the world of Final Fantasy, that means he can be killed with restorative magic and items. Which means that the very simple, very inexpensive items that you use to keep yourself alive, like the almighty Phoenix Down, can kill them in one shot. I picked him because he’s an enemy that occurs relatively early in the game’s storyline, and if you don’t cheese him out in one shot, he’s actually pretty tough to take down.
Also, I have no idea how something so disgusting and grotesque ends up being able to perfectly imitate the president of a country, and why the Sorceress chose him instead of, you know, doing a casting call for a normal person. Wouldn’t that be a lot easier to do?
12 Kimahri - Final Fantasy X
Kimahri, or as I like to call him, Big Catty Kain, is what happens when Red XIII’s race stands up and dyes its fur blue. His abilities in game focus on jump attacks and stealing, which is always a good time. But as is the fate of a lot of good thief-like characters, he just ends up trading far too much to be able to run off with hauls of ill-gotten loot. His attack power suffers, and his magic is far too weak to be viable in the end game.
It’s a shame, too. I’d love to be able to run around with a giant fuzzy cat boy at my side, doing whatever I tell him to do. Oh, the possibilities...
I’m gonna stop here before this turns into a slashfic that I’m one-thousand-percent sure has been written hundreds of times before.
11 Gilgamesh - Final Fantasy VIII
Gilgamesh is from the Babylonian myths section of my Deities and Demigods D&D manual and has been a recurring character since FFV. He comes along in VIII as a replacement to a Guardian Force (GF) that you grow to love, taking everything that made it wonderful and turns it to trash.
So let me backtrack. The GF is called Odin, named after the Norse god of having one eye. You can’t summon him in battle, but it doesn’t matter because Odin summons himself. When he does, he kills whatever you’re fighting before you can even get a hit in. You win without doing anything.
RIGHT?!? How awesome is that?
Well, you get Gilgamesh when he KILLS ODIN and takes his place. But when he comes around, instead of killing everything at once, he chooses between an array of attacks. One kills everything, and three do not.
HOW IS THIS AN IMPROVEMENT?
10 Cid - Final Fantasy IV
Cid, like so many names in the Final Fantasy games, has taken on several different incarnations throughout the years. From a chain-smoking potty mouth would-be astronaut in VII to headmaster of a school for mercenaries in VIII, even a dressed-down scientist in XII.
In Final Fantasy IV, he was a chubby dwarf king with goggles and an Ewok face. The thing is, the story hypes him to where players are excited to get this guy as a teammate: he’s this tough and intelligent king of the dwarves, a storied blacksmith that’s second-to-none, and can create massive flying contraptions with ease.
Then you get him and not only is he hands down the goofiest-looking bastard in the game, but he’s terrible in a fight. He’s slow as molasses and hits like a truck, but can’t seem to make it connect. Even Edge could take him in a fight, and he’s on this list!
9 Bahamut ZERO - Final Fantasy VII
Bahamut is another example of recurring Final Fantasy characters, but he’s always a badass dragon. In IV he’s an Eidolon so powerful he doesn’t even live with the rest of them and just hangs out on the moon, and in VII he appears as three different summon materias: Bahamut, Neo Bahamut, and Bahamut ZERO. ZERO is the second-most powerful summon in the game, but he shouldn’t be.
The whole reason you’re trying to stop Sephiroth in FFVII is that he wants to destroy the world by ramming a giant meteor into it. What does Bahamut ZERO do? He lets loose his nuclear-powered dragon breath, leaving a gigantic mushroom cloud, disintegrating anything it touches. And how much damage does that do? The answer is not “all of it,” and that’s wrong. How can something like this be second to a move where thirteen Knights just beat on an enemy with swords?
8 Golbez - Final Fantasy IV
Golbez spends the majority of Final Fantasy IV being a sinister sorcerer out to conquer/destroy the world. But once you finally engage him in combat, he’s a pushover, and that’s before Tellah one-shots him with Meteo. Even then, he still doesn’t give up and flies to the moon. There, you end up smacking him around some more until he finally gives up and joins you to help defeat his puppet master, Zemus. Even then, he’s no real help as you end up trashing Zemus and then Zeromus into oblivion.
Golbez’s ease of defeat is symptomatic of a bigger problem in some Final Fantasy games. You perform all of these grand displays of power in combat, yet when it comes to the actual storyline of the game, people who are so much weaker than your party end up being able to beat them to keep the story moving along.
7 Umaro - Final Fantasy VI
Final Fantasy VI probably has the most diverse cast of characters introduced thus far, and Umaro, everyone’s favorite dabbing yeti, is one of the oddest ducks in it. Picked up after the world goes kablooey in a cave possessing a powerful summon, he’s an abominable snowman with fewer lines than a red shirt in Star Trek. While he’s incredibly powerful, there’s no actual way to control him, since he’s always in berserk mode. And since controlling your characters are kind of all you do in a Final Fantasy fight, it’s a bit important.
It’s a shame, too. The guy can blast through enemies if he’s got the right equipment, but the time investment to overcome Umaro’s shortcomings is far too great. There’s even a video on YouTube of a guy taking out the entire Kefka fight using only Umaro, which is quite the feat.
6 Edea - Final Fantasy VIII
Final Fantasy VIII is a game filled with sorceresses. The first one you’re up against is Edea, the sorceress possessed by Ultimecia, another sorceress from the future that wants to compress time into a singularity. She’s an amazing force of nature and power, wielding power and influence just as easily as she does destructive ice magicks. Hell, if you believe the fan theories, Edea actually killed Squall at the end of Disc 1 and the rest is just a fever dream recollection as Squall bleeds out under a parade float.
But when you actually get her as a playable character on Disc Three, she’s awful. She has a weak version of her ice attacks, and while junctioning GFs might make her better, she’s still got a subpar limit break and weak initial stats.
5 Zodiark - Final Fantasy XII
In Final Fantasy XII there are summons called Espers, and you have to fight them in battle to claim them as combat allies, then acquire the proper license to summon them. Zodiark is by far the most powerful Esper available. His move, Final Eclipse, deals massive non-elemental damage to your party when he uses it against you, but by the time you’re able to get him on your team, you’re so powerful that even his power isn’t going to make you any better. Essentially, you get a fancy piece of tat that completes your Esper collection and doesn’t do much else.
Thanks to FFXII’s Gambit system, you can program your characters to basically fight their own battles, and another massive attack isn’t really going to change much when one character can combo attack for quad-nine damage up to 12 times.
4 Adel - Final Fantasy VIII
Remember when I said there’s a ton of sorceresses in FFVIII? Well, here’s another one. She’s a big bad from the before times, back before Squall and the rest of the cast were even in diapers. She ruled the world from the Cetra empire under an iron fist, and thanks to the efforts of Laguna Loire and his friends, she was sealed away and thrown into space, never to be released.
During the main story, Adel is resurrected and possessed by Ultimecia when she’s released from her imprisonment. She then kidnaps Rinoa and junctions herself to her, draining her life force each turn when you fight her in combat to empower her destructive magicks. With all of that power, your party still ends up ripping her apart in one round without even touching Rinoa.
3 Omega Mk. II - Final Fantasy V
This game’s main attribute is being forgettable in terms of story, but vital in introducing the Jobs system to North America, which would be revisited time and time again with several games in the series. The Game Boy Advance re-release included two new super-challenging boss battles. One of them lives up to the hype, and then there’s Omega Mk. II.
The successor to Omega, he boasts a status-change property that changes his elemental weakness whenever he’s hit with an elemental attack, and he counterattacks the most powerful move in the game by kicking the character using it out of battle. However, as long as you keep using Libra to see what his move is and then using not the most powerful move in the game to exploit it, he goes down pretty easily. Hey, at least Neo-Shinryu is a beast.
2 Omega Weapon - Final Fantasy VIII
Omega Weapon is the first monster in the series to have over a million HP, and several of its party-destroying attacks are thankfully never seen anywhere else.
But with Zell’s limit break, Duel, you can cheese the hell out of this fight. Duel gives players a timer, in which to put in commands to attack. But there’s an exploit that most people don’t know about.
It’s been dubbed Armageddon Fist by players, but when I discovered it for myself, I just called it “OH MY GOD KEEP THIS UP, SO IT DOESN’T SLAUGHTER ME.” Rather than building up to a big ending move, using the little attacks that only take fractions of a second to put in can build up to around 720,000 damage in one shot! And when faced with numbers like that, Omega Weapon just drops like the H.R.-Giger-inspired teddy bear it is.
1 Emerald Weapon - Final Fantasy VII
Even people who have never played a Final Fantasy game know who Emerald Weapon is because their friends that do play have wasted hours of their lives complaining to them about it. He lives in the bottom of the sea, so unless you have the Underwater materia, you’ve got 20 minutes to take him out, and he can one-shot your entire party with Aire Tam storm.
HOW CAN I BEAT HIM?
First, go get the damn Underwater materia. Then, make sure that you equip only eight materia on your team, because Aire Tam storm deals 1,111 damage for each materia equipped on each character. Then, make sure you have enough healing items stored up so you don’t run out of juice. From there, it’s a cut-and-dry boss battle. Just whittle him down ‘til he’s dead. Heh. Some guardian of the planet.