A Final Fantasy title is all about telling an incredible story. Sure, well thought-out and innovative JRPG mechanics that continuously push the genre's envelope are part and parcel to the experience, but without that signature brand of Final Fantasy storytelling magic, the franchise wouldn't be the industry cornerstone that it is today.
One of the most essentially important parts of a story is the ending. Some may find that debatable, and while the path our heroes take to reach their destination is certainly important, what good was the journey if the destination was entirely disappointing? Thankfully, Final Fantasy games tend to deliver in that regard, as the list below should help indicate.
10 Final Fantasy XIV
Not to be confused with its reboot, A Realm Reborn, this entry refers to the abominable and ungainly failure of what came before it. Which is probably a bit confusing, and understandably so.
But the reboot itself was actually brilliantly incorporated into Final Fantasy XIV's mythology, with a series of in-game events culminating in a final desperate battle in which players valiantly fended off endless hordes of powerful monsters. Final Fantasy XIV may have been a mistake, but it certainly went out in style and paved the way for something much greater.
9 Final Fantasy XV
Whether or not Final Fantasy XV's plot was "good" is a pretty divisive issue likely to spawn a solid bit of debate, but it's all wrapped up with a heartfelt and tragic ending that certainly tugs at more than a few heartstrings.
Two scenes, in particular, have a tendency to hit players right in the feelings; the last campfire, and the true final scene with Noctis and Luna sharing a kiss in the afterlife. Anyone that failed to find themselves moved by either of these bittersweet sequences might want to check with a doctor. Just to make sure that they do, indeed, possess a heart.
8 Final Fantasy IV
The Final Fantasy series polishes its ability to tell an epic tale with every subsequent installment, and nowhere is this more evident than with the first few entries. Compared to the original Final Fantasy's necessarily bare-bones approach, Final Fantasy IV is a massive leap forward in terms of storytelling.
The ending showcases this marvelously. After the epic showdown with Zeromus, Fusoya drops some heavy existential commentary and takes off for a nice, long nap with Golbez. But the multitude of epilogues that follow, which neatly tie up each individual party member's story arc with satisfying finality, are particularly cool.
7 Final Fantasy IX
Final Fantasy IX's ending is packed to the brim with great moments, which isn't surprising considering it's wrapping up such a great game. But there are a couple of points that really set it apart and let it shine.
Vivi's heartfelt bit of narration, replete with his signature brand of quirky innocence, is definitely a bittersweet tearjerker. What's more, Tantalus performing 'I Want To Be Your Canary' for Garnet and company is a great callback. However, what's absolutely perfect is Zidane revealing that he's playing the lead after removing his costume, much to Garnet's delight.
6 Final Fantasy X
Final Fantasy X took the series' gameplay in a few controversially different directions for the better or for the worse depending on what camp you've planted your tent in, but it undeniably tied things up in a beautifully tragic and visually spectacular manner.
Yuna performing her final sending is replete with incredible eye candy, but the realization that Tidus is being unwittingly sent as well is harsh, both for the player and for poor Yuna. But hey, at least he gets to high five his awful jerk of a dad. For whatever that's worth.
5 Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core
Most fans likely went into Crisis Core knowing that it would have to end with the events that set the stage for Final Fantasy VII proper, but that didn't make getting to play through and experience them first hand any less awesome.
After Zack's heroic last stand, players get to witness him passing his legacy onto Cloud in his dying moments, with all of the appropriately tragic fanfare. The after credits scene even sees Cloud hopping a train into Midgar just before where Final Fantasy VII picks up the story, closing with the words, "My name is Cloud, SOLDIER First Class."
4 Final Fantasy VI
Final Fantasy VI's ending is an absolute whopper, clocking in at more than twenty minutes' worth of epilogue and credits. It can be a little exhausting, especially after that agonizing duel with Kefka's ascended form. But given that there are fourteen playable characters to touch on, it's more than understandable.
With Kefka's death, all the magic begins to fade from the world, including Terra herself. However, she manages to become human, and thus able to live as she pleases. The world's in rough shape after Kefka's had his way with it, but the crew witnesses signs of people rebuilding, neatly capping off Final Fantasy VI's grim narrative with a seed of hope.
3 Final Fantasy VIII
Okay, so there might be just a wee bit to unpack here; between the time travel shenanigans, existential mayhem, and circular destiny fulfillment, it's easy to get a little lost over the course of Final Fantasy VIII's final moments.
But the crown jewel has to be the infamously bizarre-yet-compelling cutscene that takes place as Squall is brought back to the correct timeline. Familiar images from past scenes are distorted and jarringly cut in what can only be described as a DMT trip meeting an existential crisis. This is one ending that sticks with players for the rest of their lives.
2 Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy VII's inclusion on this list shouldn't surprise anyone. The epic conclusion to one of the most widely played and well-loved entries in the Final Fantasy franchise, and gaming as a whole, is naturally one for the ages.
From the multiple climactic encounters with Sephiroth, to the visual spectacle of the planet defending itself against the cataclysmic meteor, Final Fantasy VII puts a wrap on things in style. Getting to see Red XIII with a couple of his own puppies in tow is a cute bonus.
1 Final Fantasy Tactics
Final Fantasy Tactics' plot is truly a Shakespearean epic in terms of both scope and dramatic quality. Its bittersweet conclusion and epilogue go above and beyond upholding and reinforcing the undeniable quality of its writing.
Ramza, the tale's true hero and narrative focus, goes unrecognized and uncelebrated for his deeds, fading from memory after unraveling the church's conspiracy and defeating the Lucavi. Meanwhile, Machiavellian antihero Delita is confronted with the sum of his manipulative schemes and is left wondering whether or not his ends were worth sacrificing so much.