The crazy thing about Final Fantasy games is how things escalate, and how strong the main villains become. A lot of the Final Fantasy titles would often start off on a small scale, with the protagonists commonly beginning their journey against relatively grounded antagonists. You may begin the game small, but before you know it, you’ll be fighting literal deities and trying to save all of existence.
It is ridiculously over-the-top and incredibly anime-like; however, a lot of times that’s the charm of the franchise. It is one thing to save a princess from a giant turtle, yet it is an entirely different thing to save all of humankind from a being of pure nothingness. Villains would often begin as realistic adversaries during your quest, but by the end, they will have the power to try to end everything by destroying a crystal or something. That may sound silly to some of you; to me, it sounds awesome.
Since the bad guys in Final Fantasy are so incredibly powerful, the question is, who is the most powerful baddie in the franchise? Since pretty much every main bad guy in the Final Fantasy series is an all-powerful being capable of destroying all things, it is pretty difficult to determine which all-powerful being that's capable of destroying all things is the strongest. Despite that, I’ll try my best to rank the Final Fantasy villains from weakest to strongest.
30 Cid Aulstyne (Type-0)
While many antagonists in Final Fantasy games are gods that need to be stopped before they end everything, Type-0 just has an old man as the main villain. To be fair towards Cid Aulstyne from Type-0, he is the leader of the Milites Empire. He is cold and calculative; he is an adversary that uses his cunning military experience to outdo the protagonists. He would later pass away and get possessed by a deity. He becomes a monstrosity, just like any other good Final Fantasy villain.
29 Yu Yevon (Final Fantasy X)
Final Fantasy X has an epic story of traveling a strange land and rising against the establishment, while dealing with complex themes like faith. It ultimately comes to head in the final boss, where you face against Yu Yevon. Yevon is the main religion in the world of X and is based on the teachings of Yu Yevon. After spending countless hours of gameplay to reach the final fight, you find yourself incredibly disappointed to find out that Yu Yevon is just a bug. The final boss also cannot be lost, as your party members are auto-revived.
28 Seifer (Final Fantasy VIII)
Talk about a character that was all bark but no bite. Seifer is Squall’s rival in Final Fantasy VIII and was advertised as being a very major character in the game. He serves mostly as a bully, often antagonizing the group and claiming to be better. He is not a completely villainous dude, as he does have some honor. He is just gullible and is easily manipulated by the villains to work for them. He acts tough, yet he is always one of the easier bosses to fight. Each one of his battles is super easy, making Seifer come across as a wimp.
27 Gilgamesh (Final Fantasy V)
A giant with four arms should be a total beast in battle. Right? Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth. While multiple iterations of Gilgamesh have existed throughout the series, I am focusing on the original Gilgamesh that first appeared in Final Fantasy V. Gilgamesh, who is named after the legendary hero found in the oldest living story, is a big oaf. His boss fights aren’t necessarily easy; it is just that Gilgamesh is never treated as a real threat within the story. He is incompetent and was stupid enough to fall for a fake Excalibur.
26 Shuyin (Final Fantasy X-2)
Shuyin is the primary antagonist in the Final Fantasy X sequel, X-2. He is a great warrior who passed away many years ago and refused to go on to the next life. He became a wandering spirit and grew more and more resentful towards Spira. He eventually activates the Vegnagun, a machine with the capabilities to destroy the planet.
Shuyin himself isn’t that strong; however, he is a lot more competent than the previous entries on this list. He also has a giant world-ending machine, which gives him extra points.
25 Golbez (Final Fantasy IV)
Golbez from Final Fantasy IV had the making of a memorable villain. He was a tall, dark wizard who manipulated the events of the games from behind the scenes. He was imposing, and he even takes the life of one of the main characters. This guy was meant to be cool.
That is, until we discover his backstory, and realize he was brainwashed by the true villain of the game, Zemus. We also find out his real name is Theodor, which is just the dorkiest name ever. Nothing makes your main villain less intimidating than naming them Theodor.
24 Genesis Rhapsodos (Crisis Core)
Genesis Rhapsodos is the main villain from the Final Fantasy VII spin-off, Crisis Core. He is a person that was bred to be the ultimate warrior for Shinra, not unlike Sephiroth. If you thought that would give him bonus points, think again. Genesis is mostly just a dude with angel wings who is obsessed about his favorite poem. There is a boss fight where he transforms into some sort of monster called the Genesis Avatar. That monster version was defeated by Zack, and he was turned back into his normal, kind of annoying self.
23 Xande (Final Fantasy III)
Man, Xande got really messed with within the Final Fantasy franchise. Xande from Final Fantasy III is a sorcerer who, after gaining the gift of mortality, is driven mad. He would try to drain the crystals to create an imbalance between light and dark and freeze time to escape perishing. Xande is the main villain of III, and most of the game is focused on stopping him. Yet somehow, in all the spin-off games, they treat the Cloud of Darkness, the last-minute final boss of III, as the main antagonist. It doesn’t make sense, and Xande was left forgotten.
22 Ardyn Izunia (Final Fantasy XV)
Similar to the previous villains mentioned on this list, Ardyn from Final Fantasy XV is a cool character, but he is ultimately just a guy. He is immortal and has the powers of past kings. He is still a regular dude compared to the more exaggerated antagonists in the series. He has a cool design and speaks in a manner that is fascinating, yet his motives and backstory are pretty confusing. Did I mention he is immortal?
The final boss battle with him is actually pretty easy, and he never transforms into a more godlike form like other Final Fantasy baddies.
21 Gabranth And The Other Arcadian Judges (Final Fantasy XII)
The Arcadian Judges in Final Fantasy XII serve as the ultimate keepers of justice within the series. Despite them supposedly being on the side of law and order, they are unfortunately under the tyrannical rule of the Arcadian Empire.
They are hard as heck as bosses within the game. Though, if we're being honest with ourselves, they don’t nearly have the god-levels of strength compared to other enemies. Most of them are relatively normal people, some of which are even pretty old. They are just super challenging bosses, with sweet looking armor.
20 Vayne Carudas Solidor (Final Fantasy XII)
I actually had a hard time trying to place Vayne on this list. The big bad of Final Fantasy XII, Vayne is mostly just a dude. He is a dude who can apparently beat the ever-living stuffing out of you with just his fists; nonetheless, he is still just a dude.
At the very end, he transforms into… whatever that is in the picture above. While I don’t think he becomes god-level when he turns into a metal dragon thing, I think I can safely say he is stronger than most of the normal dudes on this list.
19 Spiritus (Dissidia NT)
In Dissidia NT, the Final Fantasy fighting game, Spiritus sort of serves as the main villain. When compared to the previous villain in the spin-off series, Spiritus comes off short. Whereas Chao had the benefit of being voiced by Keith David, who was able to deliver his lines in an almost Shakespearean manner, Spiritus is more like your disinterested teen cousin during Thanksgiving. He’s not even the final boss, and he doesn’t really do much. He is still kind of (maybe?) a god, so he is most likely stronger than most of the non-deity villains in the franchise.
18 Shinra Corporation (Final Fantasy VII)
Individually, the many components that make up the Shinra Corporation aren’t nearly as powerful as some of the villains in the Final Fantasy franchise. However, combined, Shinra’s influence is probably greater than some of the deities you are forced to challenge. An all-encompassing super corporation, Shinra serves as one of two main antagonists within the world of Final Fantasy VII. While Shinra isn’t made up of gods that are capable of zapping us out of existence, they represent a more realistic and even scarier antagonist. Shinra showcases the dangers of what may happen if one company has too much power.
17 Zemus (Final Fantasy IV)
Zemus is the true antagonist of Final Fantasy IV. An alien from the moon, Zemus resented humans on Earth and wanted to eradicate them all. He controls Theodor, a half-alien, and gives him the much cooler name of Golbez. He has Golbez activate the Giant of Babil, and use it to try to destroy Earth.
His plans almost succeeded, until those meddling kids came in and put a stop to him. Zemus is then reborn as Zeromus, a being of pure hate. While Zemus is an old geezer, Zeromus is a tuff cookie.
16 Seymour (Final Fantasy X)
Final Fantasy X acts as if Seymour is the main antagonist, even though he is more of an annoying boss than anything really. A Maester within the church of Yevon, Seymour is a respected figure in the world of Spira. Obviously, we learn he is a conniving worm who wants to destroy Spira in order to save it (somehow?).
You fight him many times throughout the game, and they are all some of the most challenging battles in the game. Seymour fortunately never reaches the level of a deity, so I can’t rank him among those with the power of gods.
15 Ultima (Tactics)
Ultima from Final Fantasy Tactics is a demon and leader of a demonic cult. After Ultima’s passing, their organization spends years trying to revive them. The cult is able to revive Ultima within the body of a human female name Alma.
While Ultima is treated as some sort of Messiah within the context of Tactics, in the end, they are simply a very powerful demon. They are most likely stronger than a lot of more grounded antagonists within the series, and their influence beyond the grave makes them more frightening.
14 The Creator (The After Years)
It is weird for an antagonist to be called The Creator, yet not be a deity of some sort. The Creator is actually an alien, who watches over the world of Final Fantasy IV. It eventually deems the inhabitants of the planet as evolutionary failures and sets out to destroy them. This is what leads into The After Years, a sequel to IV.
The Creator is a really powerful extraterrestrial; however, that doesn’t mean he is a deity. He tries to destroy life through machines and science, rather than the supernatural.
13 Barthandelus (Final Fantasy XIII)
I’m going to level with you my dear readers, I don’t really understand a lot about Final Fantasy XIII. I don’t get the lore or several key plot points.
I guess the main bad guy would have to be Galenth Dysley, another religious leader that is common within the franchise. Except he isn’t any normal, old geezer; he is actually secretly an immortal creature. Dysley can turn himself into a mechanical thing called Barthandelus. Barthandelus later merges with a god or something called Orphan, and he tries to end the world with Ragnarok.
12 Chaos (Final Fantasy I)
The first villain in the entire Final Fantasy series, Garland was once an honorable knight from the Cornelia Kingdom. He later betrays the kingdom by taking the princess hostage. He was defeated by the Warriors of Light.
He was teleported into the future and discovered a way to achieve immortality by simply continuing a time loop. He then absorbs the power from the Four Fiends of Chaos and transforms into Chaos. They never state Garland has become a god, though it could be argued that he has received powers equivalent to that of a deity.
11 The Emperor (Final Fantasy II)
Talk about having ambition: the Emperor from Final Fantasy II should be everyone’s role model in achieving your goals. For the most part, the Emperor is just a generic villainous monarch who wanted to take over the world simply for the LOLs. Then the main party slays him, and he somehow not only takes over one afterlife, but TWO different versions of the afterlife. Not only did he become the ruler of the underworld, but he also somehow became the king of heaven as well. He may be one of the easier final bosses; however, you can’t deny the man has ambition.
10 Exdeath (Final Fantasy V)
When you think of Final Fantasy villains, you generally think of deities, super aliens, immortals, pretty anime men, or even old blokes with too much time on their hands.
Final Fantasy V has a different villain. Its main bad guy is a tree: yep, a tree. A tree that contains villainous souls, however a tree nonetheless. This villainous tree is named Exdeath, and he is the most boring villain in the series. He is more of a villainous entity than anything else, and he absorbs the powers of the void to become this super powerful being.
9 Sephiroth (Final Fantasy VII)
Sephiroth was a tricky person to list on this ranking. He is arguably the most iconic villain in the entire franchise. His goal in Final Fantasy VII is to summon Meteor to destroy the planet, absorb the Lifestream after all that destruction, and become a god. He gets really close to achieving his goal, but he never becomes a god. Cloud and the others stop him before he can accomplish his dream. So he never became a deity, though he is still undeniably powerful. I guess I can rank him between the non-deity villains, and the more godlike foes.
8 Kuja (Final Fantasy IX)
Another tricky one to place on this list, Kuja from Final Fantasy IX is a mischievous wizard who tricks the kingdoms of the world to go to war with each other. Kuja is portrayed to be more cunning than powerful, though towards the end of the game he absorbs the souls of those who lost their lives and grows exceptionally stronger.
In his new trance form, he was able to annihilate an entire planet! We’ve seen villains cause mass destruction before, but rarely have we seen a villain destroy a whole planet. That puts Kuja deservedly high on my ranking.
7 Caius Ballad (Final Fantasy XIII-2)
Caius Ballad, the main antagonist from Final Fantasy XIII-2, could have been seen as a hero through a different perspective. His motives are not unlike the previous protagonists in the franchise. He is a being that defies the gods of his world as he felt it was unjust how often Yeul, the woman he is charged to protect, perishes and is reincarnated. His aspirations endanger the multiple timelines of the universe and put him at odds with Lightning. He may not be a god himself, but he was able to grow in power and legitimately become a threat to gods.
6 Ultimecia (Final Fantasy VIII)
Ultimecia is an all-mighty sorceress from the future and is the true main antagonist of Final Fantasy VIII. Her goal is to compress time and space at the end of everything and become a god. In the last phase of the final battle with her, she is able to absorb time and space; she becomes some new being. She loses against some teenagers, though, which is admittedly a strike against her. Still, her final boss fight is one of the best in the franchise, which is enough reason alone to add her this high on this list.
5 Kefka (Final Fantasy VI)
The clown who would be a god, Kefka initially began Final Fantasy VI as an entertaining, yet non-threatening antagonist. His eccentricities made him more funny than scary. He increasingly becomes more despicable as the game goes on. He poisons an entire kingdom and slays a major side character. He eventually transforms into the mad god when he takes the power from the Warring Triad, aka the gods of magic.
He was able to successfully do what many lead villains fail to accomplish, and with his new powers, he turns the world into ashes. Kefka was able to change the entire overworld by himself.
4 Necron (Final Fantasy IX)
The concept of passing away has always frightened people, so imagine if the concept of passing was given a physical form. That is essentially what Necron is. After Kuja fails to end all life at the end of Final Fantasy IX, Necron suddenly shows up and reveals its plans to bring everything back to the darkness.
Necron isn’t a thing or a person; it is something beyond our comprehension. It is one thing to fight against men with the power of gods. It is an entirely different thing to fight something that is meant to represent the end itself.
3 The Cloud Of Darkness (Final Fantasy III)
The Cloud of Darkness from Final Fantasy III is essentially the same thing as Necron. The main difference is that Cloud of Darkness has the form of a woman, whereas Necron has the appearance of Doctor Manhattan from Watchmen.
The Cloud of Darkness also represents the nothingness of passing, and it desires to drag everything back into the nothingness. The Cloud of Darkness is more of an entity that we cannot comprehend, whose reasoning goes beyond mortal understanding. Unlike Necron, the Cloud of Darkness was able to defeat the protagonists, albeit only temporarily.
2 Chaos (Dissidia)
I generally assume Chaos from Final Fantasy Dissidia to be a god, which actually may not strictly be true. Chaos may have actually been a sentient Manikin, which are crystal-like warriors. He was used as a tool of war until he grew so strong that he was able to tear open a portal to another dimension. He then makes a deal with Shinryu to go to war with Cosmos, a being similar to himself, in order to find way back home. It takes the might of the protagonists of the first ten Final Fantasy games to stop Chaos.
1 Li-Grim (Tactics Advance)
What villain in the Final Fantasy franchise is more powerful than gods and entities that represent the end? After mulling over this for a while, I realize that the only that thing stronger than any of those things is a child’s imagination.
Li-Grim is an entity that grants wishes. It granted the wishes of the protagonists of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, and created a fantasy world where their greatest desires come true. We have a lot of villains destroy stuff; however, Li-Grim is the only villain with the power to create, having invented an entire world.