Final Fantasy 7 Remake Ending Explained

Final Fantasy 7 Remake features one of the most surprising, noteworthy, and confounding endings in recent gaming history. Here's our breakdown of what it all means.

Photo: Square Enix

This Final Fantasy 7 Remake article contains spoilers.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake has finally arrived after what could realistically be described as decades worth of anticipation. While some fans aren’t entirely happy with the ways this remake updates the original, the general consensus is that Final Fantasy 7 Remake is an ambitious, enjoyable, and worthwhile experience that manages to exceed expectations in surprising ways.

However, there is nothing more surprising about Final Fantasy 7 Remake than the game’s ending. The Final Fantasy 7 Remake ending is already generating heated discussions and debates amongst excited fans who are not only eager to discuss what they just saw but what it all means for the remake (and the franchise) moving forward.

We’ve decided to join that discussion by breaking down Final Fantasy 7 Remake’s ending as best as we can. Just know that this game’s ending is so ambiguous, ambitious, and, at times, downright confusing that we doubt anyone has all of the answers at this moment. While we will certainly be touching upon spoilers during this breakdown, we’re also incredibly eager to hear what you think about this remake’s ending and what your own theories are

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Where Does Final Fantasy 7 Remake End vs. The Original Game?

Final Fantasy 7 Cloud and Tifa

You may think it’d be easy to say where Final Fantasy 7 Remake ends in comparison to the original game, but as you’re about to discover, nothing about this game’s ending is simple. Having said that, there is a rough cut-off point that these titles share.

Basically, the remake ends with the extended sequence that sees our heroes rescue Aerith from the Shinra Electric Power Company. As Square Enix previously suggested, that means that the first part of the Final Fantasy 7 remake does indeed focus largely on the Midgar sections of the original game. We basically see our heroes get forced out of that city by the journey’s end.

However, there are a couple of things that happen around the time of the Shinra Electric Power Company sequence which do not happen in the original game. To say that those new scenes alter the trajectory, impact, and meaning of the original game’s cut-off point would be a tremendous understatement.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake’s Alternate Timeline

Final Fantasy 7 Cloud v Reno

We’re going to be touching upon this topic a lot moving forward, so let’s just get it out of the way now: Final Fantasy 7 Remake exists in what seems to an (at the very least) partially altered timeline.

See, many of the early parts of Final Fantasy 7 Remake play out relatively similarly to how you remember them happening in the original game. However, much like most remakes, there are new characters, moments, and storylines that present themselves in order to give those who passionately remember the original title some new content to enjoy. That’s pretty standard when it comes to remakes.

What is most certainly not standard are the times when the Final Fantasy 7 Remake acknowledges these changes from an in-game storytelling standpoint. In other words, there are times when characters in the game convey that they are aware that this is not how things originally happened.

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While instances such as those could have been nothing more than cute winks at long time fans meant to serve as elaborate in-jokes, the ending of Final Fantasy 7 Remake reveals (or at least strongly suggests) that those moments are so much more than that.

The Whispers: Villains or Allies?

Final Fantasy 7 The Whispers

There is no greater example of how Final Fantasy 7 Remake utilizes those aforementioned moments of self-awareness than through the presence of entities known as Whispers.

Whispers can be seen throughout Final Fantasy 7 Remake, and we get the impression early on that they somehow exist to keep the Final Fantasy 7 timeline “on-track” in comparison to the original game. For instance, they help resurrect Barret at some point after he is seemingly killed by Sephiroth. That event doesn’t happen in the original game, and the Whispers seem intent to keep it that way.

Their status as guardians of the previous timeline is seemingly confirmed later in the game when Red XIII refers to them as Arbiters of Fate and suggests that they are there as protectors of destiny. That would seem to suggest that they are good guys or, at the very least, neutral forces.

However, towards the end of the game, you are forced to do battle against the Whisper Harbinger and three of his companions. Said companions are equipped with weapons that resemble the items used by our three main characters, which indicates that they are either attempting to resemble those heroes or that they are, in fact, a version of those heroes from a different timeline.

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If that latter possibility is the case, then why are you fighting the Whispers? Wouldn’t protectors of destiny and potential manifestations of yourself be your allies?

To try to answer those questions, we need to look at what legendary Final Fantasy 7 villain Sephiroth is up to in this remake.

What is Sephiroth’s Plan?

Final Fantasy 7 Sephiroth

To help understand what Sephiroth is trying to accomplish in this remake (or at least seemingly trying to accomplish), you first need to understand what he was up to in the original game.

Basically, Sephiroth was once a war hero who decided he wanted to become a god. Unfortunately, he has determined that the only way to achieve such power is to essentially end the world and absorb the energy that this cataclysmic event results in. The full explanation of what he intends to do is a little more complicated than that, but for right now, you just need to know that Sephiroth is willing to watch it all burn if he is able to achieve his desired powers.

While the few early glimpses of Sephiroth that we get in this remake suggest that is still his basic plan, it also appears that Sephiroth is one of the few characters in this remake who is aware that the events of the original game. In fact, he seems intent on changing the events of the original game considering that they end with him being defeated.

This is where the Whispers come back into play. See, it’s Sephiroth who convinces our party that they need to challenge the Whispers in order to prevent something bad from happening. Considering that the motivations of the Whispers are ambiguous at best at this point, it seems that our heroes are willing to accept the possibility that they are at least somewhat responsible for some of the conflicts that drove the early parts of the original game.

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The simplest interpretation of what happens here is that Sephiroth is aware that he will be defeated in this initial timeline and is trying to get our heroes to defeat the Whispers in order to break the timeline and give himself a chance to succeed with his original plan.

Still, none of that explains why Sephiroth is aware of the events of the original game. It’s also not entirely clear whether or not the Whispers were there solely in the interest of protecting the original timeline or if they may have had ulterior motives which may have eventually negatively impacted the fate of our heroes. We certainly know that there are some things that happen in the first game that Cloud and the gang may have desired to prevent if they had the ability and knowledge to do so.

That idea brings us to what is arguably the most intriguing story revelation of Final Fantasy 7 Remake.

Who is Zack and Why is He Alive?

Final Fantasy 7 Zack

Ok, you’re really going to have to stick with us on this one because, against all odds, this plot point is stranger than everything we’ve seen until now.

In the original Final Fantasy 7, we see the story of a soldier named Zack Fair who once served alongside Cloud and Sephiroth. Around the same time that Sephiroth learned about his true nature and set off to end the world, Zack and Cloud were knocked unconscious and kidnapped by a professor who began to experiment on them. Quite a lot happens at this point which affects the larger lore of Final Fantasy 7, but for now, you just need to know that Zack and Cloud are able to escape. Because Cloud is still recovering from a poison, Zack must essentially drag him to Midgar where the two hope to start over. That plan is rapidly derailed when Zack is surrounded by Shinra soldiers and shot dead. Cloud then takes Zack’s sword and sets off on his own Midgard adventures.

However, at the end of Final Fantasy 7 Remake, we witness a sequence that suggests that Zack survived his encounter with the Shinra soldiers and proceeds to carry Cloud into Midgar as previously planned. Aerith is even able to view this moment and refers to it as “Destiny’s crossroads.”

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To be clear, it’s never been suggested before this point that Zack survived his encounter with the Shinra soldiers. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, a PSP spin-off starring Zack, even recreates his murder. What we’re saying is that there’s almost no version of these events which suggests that Zack was alive during the events of Final Fantasy 7.

It’s obvious enough to argue that Zack is now alive because Cloud and his crew fought the Whispers and disrupted the previous timeline. That much is basically confirmed by a few details during the ending sequence involving Zack. For instance, we see Whispers floating around Midgar and we briefly get a peak of a cartoon logo featured throughout Final Fantasy 7 which is now slightly different than before. All of that points to classic alternate timeline shenanigans.

Even if we accept that is what’s happening, we’re still left with questions that need answering.

If Zack is alive in this new timeline that has been created, does that mean he is retroactively alive? In other words, is Zack alive somewhere in Midgar after our heroes escape the Shinra Electric Power Company? If so, then where is he? Why wouldn’t he be with Cloud at that point in the adventure? For that matter, why would the events of this new ending specifically result in Zack being alive in the first place?

All of that brings us to the final point of this discussion…

Final Fantasy 7 Remake: What Comes Next?

Final Fantasy 7 Still

The ending of Final Fantasy 7 Remake is basically Square Enix’s way of telling us that they plan on making some major changes to the original game and that even hardcore fans shouldn’t know what to anticipate.

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In terms of story structure, though, it’s still entirely possible that our protagonists will still head towards the town of Kalm just as we saw in the original game. Interestingly, it is there that we see several vital flashback sequences that cover the points we talked about above. Whether or not those flashbacks will be impacted by the alterations to the main timeline will be fascinating to see.

By and large, though, it’s basically impossible to predict where Final Fantasy 7 Remake goes from here in terms of plot or gameplay content. That makes the prospect of this remake more exciting than ever, but it also means that previous theories concerning how the original game will be divided into this multi-part release structure must now be thrown out of the window.

Do you have thoughts and theories about the Final Fantasy 7 Remake? Did we miss something in our breakdown that you think fans have to know about? Let us know in the comments below.