Love him or hate him Sephiroth has become one of the most iconic villains in gaming. Debates have raged on for years between fans about whether or not he was even the true villain in Final Fantasy VII, or if it was Jenova.
Many critics have written off Sephiroth based purely on his looks alone, with statements along the lines of, "he's only popular because he looks cool." Truthfully, the same can be said for many memorable villains from Darth Vader in Star Wars to Han Gruber in Die Hard. Many great villains with distinct appearances, also have a profound screen presence. Sephiroth's ethos can be felt throughout the entire game, and —like any great villain— completely steals the show.
The official Ultimania Omega for Final Fantasy VII released by Square-Enix revealed that while it was Jenova's cells that gave him his power and the trigger for his descent into madness, it was ultimately Sephiroth's will that overtook Jenova's power. Sephiroth's father, Professor Hojo was also one of the most manipulative, cruel, and egotistical characters in the game. These potent traits were passed on to Sephiroth. Even before Nibelheim, Sephiroth was Sephiroth.
There are many good reasons why Sephiroth belongs in the upper echelons of great video game villains alongside the likes of Kefka in Final Fantasy VI, Luca Blight from Suikoden II, and even Ardyn from Final Fantasy XV. Here are the 15 most disturbing acts committed by Sephiroth that prove h is malevolence.
15 The Nibelheim Massacre
Nibelheim is Cloud and Tifa's birthplace and hometown. It is also where the Shinra mansion was located. The mansion's basement was where Professor Hojo conducted his experiments on human subjects, known as the Jenova Project. With the first subject being Hojo's colleague and pregnant lover, Lucrecia Crescent. He injected the cells of an alien lifeform known as Jenova — that was believed to be of an ancient race known as the Cetra.
The Cetra were a peaceful species of human who had control of the planet's Lifestream, and served as caretakers of the planet. It was Hojo's intention to create a human/Cetra hybrid, not realizing that Jenova was a shape-shifting entity that wiped out the Ancients. The professor wanted a human that could bend the power of the planet to his/her own will by manipulating the Lifestream.
It was during a mission to Nibelheim, accompanied by Cloud and Zack that he discovered the origins of his birth, and believing Jenova was both his true mother and an Ancient that was betrayed by the human race. Consequently, Sephiroth fell into madness and vowed to take vengeance on the human race for the sake of his "ancestors," he began with slaughtering the people of Nibelheim, and burning down the entire village of men women and children.
14 The Wutai War
The Wutai War ended several years before the events of Final Fantasy VII, and began as a dispute over Wutai's refusal to allow the Shinra Electric Company (also known as Shinra inc.) to build a Mako reactor on their lands. Shinra had become the Gaia's most dominant military superpower and megacorporation, by controlling the world's energy supply. It was Sephiroth's actions during the conflict that earned him the title as the greatest hero in SOLDIER (Shinra's elite military force).
While Sephiroth was just following orders, he unquestionably became the figurehead in Shinra's war against a completely outmatched Wutai. Consequently, due to his considerable strength and speed advantage over normal human beings, he must have slaughtered hundreds if not thousands of the otherwise peaceful warriors of Wutai to labeled as Shinra's greatest war hero.
As a result of his actions, he became a propaganda tool for Shinra leading to many young men who idolized Sephiroth, trying to join SOLDIER. Again, this is more Shinra's doing than his own but given his influence and his ego he still allowed this to happen.
13 Murdering Tifa's Father And Cloud's Mother
Cloud and Tifa are two characters that are lifelong friends that will remain bonded for life, that bond was further solidified with both their parents dying at the hands of Sephiroth. Tifa was raised by her father, and Cloud was raised by his mother, so when both characters parents died their friendship grew stronger, until Cloud left to try and become a member of SOLDIER.
Cloud's mother died amongst the villagers when the enraged Sephiroth set fire to the town. Furthermore, Tifa's father also died when he attempted to confront Sephiroth, when the former hero of SOLDIER cut him down in cold blood.
Tifa herself, nearly died when she tried to attack Sephiroth with his own weapon as a result of discovering her dying father. Sephiroth, showing no remorse for his actions, easily countered her attack and struck the clearly outmatched 15-year-old Tifa with his sword — only her martial arts training barely prevented him from mortally wounding her.
12 Betraying Angeal And Zack
Angeal Hewley is a first class SOLDIER, and the original owner of the Buster Sword before passing it down to his protege and friend Zack. He was also subject to similar genetic experiments as Sephiroth. The difference between Angeal and Sephiroth was that Angeal's mother was injected with Jenova's cells into her bloodstream while pregnant. Sephiroth, however, was exposed by having the cells injected directly into him while he was still a fetus.
Angeal along with his childhood friend Genesis Rhapsodos (also the subject of the similar experiments) were the closest Sephiroth had to brothers. Zack was also very close to Angeal, and looked up to Angeal like an older brother, as well as having a great deal of admiration for Sephiroth.
So it was particularly telling when Sephiroth had no issues with turning on Zack, finally cutting all ties with his old friendships and connections to his comrades-in-arms by attempting to kill Zack too.
11 Seph The Impaler
Sephiroth has always been described as having something of an ego. Even before events in Nibelheim acted as a trigger for his madness, he showed signs of being cold, egotistical, and overconfident to the point of narcissism, due to his incredible abilities.
In the first confrontation between Cloud and Sephiroth, the then sixteen-year-old Cloud managed to stab Sephiroth from behind. This may have been a consequence of Sephiroth's over-confidence that the young and lowly-Shinra infantryman Cloud managed to wound him in the way he did.
Even wounded, Sephiroth impaled the young Cloud on the Masamune, and cruelly held him there, almost as if he was admiring his own "work." Unfortunately, for Sephiroth he would regret underestimating Cloud once again.
10 Massacre At Shinra Tower
Cloud and the rest of the party get captured after rescuing Aerith from Professor Hojo's laboratory. The group set out to rescue Aerith after she was captured by Hojo as part of a possible cross breeding experiment with Red XIII.
After rescuing both Aerith and Red XIII, the group is captured by President Shinra's guards. Eventually, after some time passes the party are released from captivity to discover the slaughter of the Shinra staff and the guards.
After following the trail of blood back to President Shinra's office, they discover that Sephiroth —not content with just massacring innocent employees— has murdered The President of Shinra. Of course, Sephiroth used his favorite method of torture, and impaled the company head on his desk.
9 Impaling The Midgar Zolom
Sephiroth's fascination with impaling living creatures continues, only this time it was the Midgar Zolom, at the end of a pike. This gigantic snake could be encountered in the marshlands leading to the Mythril Mine.
The snake was discovered by Cloud and his party during their pursuit of Sephiroth, while the "display" was originally perceived as a warning, we now know that because of the 'Jenova Reunion' Cloud was meant to follow Sephiroth.
Sephiroth impaling the giant serpent on a tree could have been another way to amuse himself, and show off his strength even when he's not in his original body — it also displays the character's high level of cruelty.
8 Ship Massacre
Cloud and his friends travel from Junon to the Costa del Sol, via the cargo ship to pursue Rufus Shinra after he was officially made the new president of Shinra. During the trip, Sephiroth had managed to infiltrate the ship in the form of Jenova-BIRTH.
After the infiltration, Sephiroth had murdered most of the ship's crew just to taunt Cloud. Sephiroth's intention was to keep goading Cloud into chasing him. The massacre of the innocent shipmates, definitely seems to suggest that Sephiroth thinks nothing of human life.
7 Killed Aerith
For many players of Final Fantasy VII, this is probably Sephiroth's worst act because he killed a character that people had affection for and became attached to, in the context of the story.
Sephiroth killed Aerith as she was attempting to connect to the Lifestream by praying for Holy with the white materia. Again, the villain used his favorite method of murder: impalement. Sephiroth appeared above Aerith, plunging his sword into her body. But, it wasn't just this act that made Sephiroth's actions disturbing, it was the way he tried to get Cloud to kill her himself using mind control in the same way he did to the "clones."
Sephiroth was not just content with taking away someone else who Cloud cared about in addition to his own mother, but he tried to force him to kill Aerith himself — revealing that there are no lengths that Sephiroth won't go just to break someone's will.
6 Sacrificing The Clones
The "Sephiroth Clones" were the remaining surviving residents of Nibelheim that were injected with the Jenova's cells to satisfy Professor Hojo's "Jenova Reunion Theory."
The theory suggested that Jenova would recall her scattered remains and cells in order to try and regenerate her body. Sephiroth was able to manipulate these cells using the power of Jenova turning all the clones into his puppets.
The clones, as a result, lost their minds and became sick either with immediate or eventual effect. In Final Fantasy VII, the clones were seen as fanatics that followed Sephiroth around and hunted for the Black Materia in the North Crater instead of migrating to the body of Jenova.
Sephiroth has a complete lack of empathy for any of the human beings he's controlling. The clones sacrifice themselves for his ambitions, even physically killing some of them himself before attacking Cloud and his friends before transforming into the form of Jenova-DEATH.
5 The Cause Of Cloud's Mental Breakdown
Nearly everything Sephiroth did, from the massacre at the ship to murdering Aerith, was a way to break Cloud's will and mind. Cloud was the only "Sephiroth Clone," that showed any kind of resistance to the mind control.
Eventually, Cloud did break when Sephiroth revealed that Cloud was living a lie that was caused by the fragmentation of his mind, a result of when the Jenova cells inside his body absorbed parts of Zack's memories after his death. Sephiroth also convinced Cloud that even all his memories of Tifa were fake and belonged to someone else — the "real Cloud."
The shock of this fabricated revelation, finally allowed Sephiroth a way into Cloud's weakened mental state, allowing Sephiroth to use mind-control via the cells in Cloud's body, as he handed over the Black Materia to Sephiroth's real body in the Mako cocoon.
4 Summoning Meteor
Sephiroth's early signs of narcissism truly manifested into something apocalyptic, with him summoning the ultimate destructive force known as Meteor with the Black Materia handed to him by Cloud.
Every evil act, every murder, and sacrifice by Sephiroth in Final Fantasy VII would lead this ultimate plan of destruction. This act would raise him from being a cruel mass murderer to a genocidal maniac.
Summoning Meteor was made with the intention of destroying the world. The increase in deaths would have meant that more disembodied energy would have gathered at the planet's wound — it was Sephiroth's intention of absorbing the planet's energy and becoming a "god," and succeeding where Jenova failed.
3 Kingdom Hearts And Dissidia
Even after death, Sephiroth would continue taunting and manipulating Cloud in other games appearances too. In Kingdom Hearts, he remained a part of Cloud's psyche, and his will and strength were strong enough to become the physical embodiment of the darkness that remained inside of him.
Continuing his manipulation of Cloud in another universe, Sephiroth continues his vendetta against Cloud in trying to prove that without him pulling the strings, Cloud's life is meaningless.
Sephiroth rose above the other antagonists in Dissidia by planning to take full control the power of Cosmos and Chaos and once again use the powers to become a kind of "god."
The Geostigma was a plague-like disease seen in Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children, that inflicted the people of Midgar, including Cloud himself. The disease was initially caused by the Jenova Cells inside Sephiroth infecting the Lifestream after his death, and creating a negative-Lifestream.
As a repercussion of becoming infected with the disease, the afflicted develop Jenova cells in their body, causing their immune systems to become overtaxed in trying to fight the disease, eventually leading to death.
In Advent Children, Sephiroth reveals that he caused the Geostigma in an attempt to finish what he started with meteor. The increase of people dying from the disease would result in the Lifestream becoming completely flooded with the new manifestation Jenova Cells — giving Sephiroth complete control over it.
Sephiroth's ultimate plan went beyond just one planet, he wanted to use what was left of the planet as a vessel to travel the universe infecting other planets, much in the same way that Jenova did before him.
1 Manipulation of Kadaj and his brothers
Kadaj was the secondary antagonist of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, and one of the three physical manifestations of Sephiroth's spirit. Kadaj was said to have represented Sephiroth's cruelty, Yazoo represented his allure, and Loz represented Sephiroth's strength — almost like an "unholy Trinity."
The three silver haired men were born with an incomplete knowledge of the Jenova, and despite appearances were born as adults and still very young. As a result of their youth, they were driven by a child-like yearning for their mother and Sephiroth's desire to be restored using their bodies as mere vessels, goading the three in a similar manner to Cloud.
It was during Kadaj's death scene where Aerith washed away Sephiroth's influence and corruption, that we got the see the real child-like version of Kadaj. Through witnessing Kadaj reach out for what he thought was his mother, it is revealed, that the three silver-haired men weren't really men at all but children used as pawns so Sephiroth can once again regain his physical form.