Final Fantasy: The 25 Best Moments in the Series

The Final Fantasy series has had no shortage of memorable moments. Here are our 25 favorite!

Final Fantasy XV finally made its long-awaited debut late last year, after a prolonged development cycle that took over ten years. The game, which was originally known as Final Fantasy Versus XIII, was first announced in 2006 before Square Enix went a bit silent on the project. The game finally resurfaced with a new title and release window in 2013.

For many, FFXV was a make or break moment for the future of the franchise. Was the series still relevant after so many years without a main title? Did it still hold the promise of the best the JRPG genre had to offer? Regardless of your opinions on FFXVand we quite liked it – there’s no doubt that the Final Fantasy series remains one of the most important pillars of gaming worldwide, and a lot of that is due to all the wonderful moments and memories that have come before. 

The Final Fantasy franchise has created a lot of memorable moments over the years. With a new expansion, “Episode Gladiolus,” coming out for Final Fantasy XV this month, we thought it’d be the perfect time to look back at some of our favorite memories from previous games. Here are Den of Geek’s top 25 Final Fantasy moments of all time:

25. The World Is Yours

Final Fantasy

With the exception of The Legend of Zelda and a few other titles, most video games during the 8-bit era were pretty limited in overall scope. Final Fantasy was one of the first titles to really provide a grand sense of adventure that a lot of other games of the day simply did not have. Yes, the random encounters on the world map were perhaps a little too frequent by today’s standards, but the ability to simply walk across a vast world, always wondering what the game would throw at you next felt really unique for the time.

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24. Yuna and Tidus Get It On 

Final Fantasy X

The most famous Tidus and Yuna scene of all-time is probably that infamous laughing scene that still has gamers cringing even today. But when they weren’t being hilariously awkward, Tidus and Yuna were building up one of the better love stories in Final Fantasy history. Watching the two love birds swim underwater while kissing to the tune of “Suteki da ne” is one of the more romantic scenes Square has ever given us. And thanks to FFX being the first game in the franchise that ran on PlayStation 2 hardware, it was, at the time, one of the most beautiful-looking FMVs we’d ever seen.

23. Unfreezing the World 

Final Fantasy III

For gamers in the United States, Final Fantasy III was not a reality until it finally received an English port in 2006 for the Nintendo DS. It was worth the wait, though, as the remake has much better graphics and an improved story when compared to the Japanese original. One of the biggest moments that really packed a punch thanks to the new graphics was watching the priestess Aria sacrifice herself to unfreeze the rest of the world map, finally opening up the game for larger exploration. Fun fact: Aria was the first Final Fantasy character to get personalized theme music and Square used it to great effect during her big moment.

22. Tidus, I Am Your Father 

Final Fantasy X

Any Star Wars fan likely saw this plot twist coming from a mile away, but after spending most of the game working out his Daddy issues, Tidus makes it to the end of his adventure only to encounter one of the harshest father-son reunions we’ve ever seen. Turns out Sir Jecht disappeared from Tidus’ life because he became Sin and the only way for him to be free is for his son to kill him.

21. A Whole New World

Final Fantasy VII

The first half dozen hours or so of Final Fantasy VII are pretty linear and even claustrophobic at times, set within the city of Midgar. But that just served to make the moment when players were finally given access to the world at large even more epic. “Oh yeah, this is a Final Fantasy game, I can go almost anywhere I want.” But this time, it was a 3D world that seemed to put even Final Fantasy VI‘s expansive world maps to shame.

20. I Want to Be Your Canary 

Final Fantasy IX

Final Fantasy IX was in many ways an ode to the past games in the series but it also brought its own charm to the table in spades. This was clear from the very beginning of the game, when the player was tasked with acting out a Shakespeare rip-off called “I Want to Be Your Canary.” Players acted out the lines while learning the ropes of the game in a battle tutorial, and it was clear from the start that Final Fantasy IX was not a title that was going to take itself too seriously. It was a breath of fresh air and a return to the franchise’s roots after the darker stories penned for VII and VIII.

19. It Was All Just a Dream 

Final Fantasy X

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Yeah, Final Fantasy X‘s plot was a little convoluted and confusing at times, so we’re not even gonna bother going into the fine details on this one, but essentially, main protagonist Tidus is revealed to be only a dream who is forced to fade away after he and his friends finally defeat Sin at the end of the game. Watching Tidus literally walk through Yuna like a scene out of Patrick Swayze’s Ghost was one of the more bittersweet endings Square has ever released.

18. Sin Attacks Zanarkand

Final Fantasy X

Hello, welcome to the PlayStation 2. That was essentially the message received by anyone who watched this cinematic from Final Fantasy X‘s opening moments. Sin’s initial attack on Zanarkand featured some ridiculous looking graphics for the era and had a hard rock song to boot, a first for the franchise.

17. Balamb vs. Galbadia 

Final Fantasy VIII

And you thought your school’s biggest rivalry was intense. In Final Fantasy VIII, rival academies Balamb and Galbadia decided that this time it was personal and went into all-out war. What followed was one of the most impressive pre-rendered videos of the original PlayStation era.

16. Galuf’s Last Stand 

Final Fantasy V

That moment when you find out that the weird old guy that you’ve been taking for granted the entire game is actually the king and is responsible for saving the entire world, twice. Whoops. Sorry, old man. You know Galuf was a badass because he’s the only character that we can think of in series history that was somehow able to continue fighting after his health hit 0. If Grandpa’s going down, he’s going down swinging.

15. Vivi Learns About His Past

Final Fantasy IX

Vivi’s unique character design and personality made him an instant fan favorite during the early goings of Final Fantasy IX. The character’s backstory, however, was kept intentionally mysterious until much later on in the game. Vivi eventually finds out that he is one of many black mages who were artificially created as a weapon of war. That’s a big blow, but it was made even worse after Vivi was captured by his former brethren, only to watch them all sacrifice themselves to save him and the rest of the party. The event serves as a major piece of character development, and eventually leads Vivi to continue on with Zidane and friends so he can try and figure out his own purpose in life.

14. Alexander vs. Bahamut 

Final Fantasy IX

When you think of the biggest, baddest summons in Final Fantasy history, Alexander and Bahamut immediately come to mind. One is a force of light, the other of darkness. So when Final Fantasy IX decided to pit two of the most legendary creatures ever to appear in a Final Fantasy against each other, it was pretty clear that an entertaining show was about to unfold. This is arguably the most epic pre-rendered sequence of the PlayStation era and it ended with Alexander coming out on top, although at the expense of his life. Still, when’s the last time you saw Bahamut lose at anything?

13. Vanille and Fang Sacrifice Themselves 

Final Fantasy XIII

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Final Fantasy XIII had its ups and downs and was far too linear for most fans’ tastes, but it still had a few truly epic moments worthy of the Final Fantasy name. Perhaps the most emotional moment occurred at the end of the game, when it was revealed that Vanille and Fang, two ladies who had been by your side for most of the game, decided to sacrifice themselves in order to save millions of lives. Making the moment more impactful was the fact that both women could still be seen after they perished, only now in crystal form.

12. Cyan’s Family Rides the Ghost Train 

Final Fantasy VI

Final Fantasy VI‘s Ghost Train is one of the more memorable sequences (and bosses) in franchise history, but the real emotional punch came after the train was successfully brought to a halt. That’s when Cyan, who previously lost his family in the war, suddenly sees his wife and son show up at the train station for a one way trip to the afterlife. Cyan can only watch as his loved ones move on, leaving him behind in a world that’s coming apart at the seams.

11. A Thousand Words 

Final Fantasy X-2

Final Fantasy X-2 was the first direct sequel in franchise history but maintains a somewhat controversial place in the hearts of most fans due to its Charlie’s Angels and/or”Let’s Play Dress Up” routine. That said, the sequence when the song “A Thousand Words” plays still brings that traditional Final Fantasy emotion. Shuyin and Lenne didn’t really strike as strong a chord with fans as Tidus and Yuna, but their story of two star-crossed lovers who could sadly never be together still made an impact.

10. The Sending

Final Fantasy X

Never before has such a sad scene been so gosh darn beautiful. The Sending is what the people of Spira call the funeral ceremony where a summoner performs a ritualistic dance to help guide their fallen loved ones to the Farplane. Sendings are unfortunately a little too common during the time of Final Fantasy X due to the destruction left in Sin’s wake. Early on in the game, players got to see Yuna come into her own, performing her first real Sending as the haunting sounds of the Fayth echoed in the background.

9. Warriors Transformed 

Final Fantasy

“This is the chamber of Bahamut, the Dragon King. Mind your tongue.” Bahamut’s always been a fan favorite and his first appearance was befitting of his longtime reputation as a badass. With just a touch of magic, the original Final Fantasy adventurers were transformed from essentially children or teenagers into mighty warriors. It’s one of the first big “Wow” moments in franchise history.

8. Many Deaths

Final Fantasy IV

Final Fantasy is a franchise known for not being shy about killing off important characters, but perhaps no game in series history made this more clear than Final Fantasy IV. The entire adventure is filled with characters sacrificing themselves for the greater good, whether it was Cid jumping off the airship, Palom and Porium turning to stone, or Yang blowing himself up. Because it’s a video game though, Square at least had enough of a heart to bring many of the dead characters back by the end of the story. Still, this title should have come with a disclaimer from the start: “Will punch you right in the feels, repeatedly.”

7. Celes Attempts Suicide 

Final Fantasy VI

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After Kefka made the world go boom, Celes wakes up in Final Fantasy VI‘s World of Ruin to find that she is all alone, save for Cid, her new “Granddad,” who has been nursing her back to health for the past year. Just when you think it can’t possibly get any worse, it does exactly that. Celes is charged with feeding Cid some fish in hopes of helping him overcome his own illness, only to find out that the fish she fed him were bad and now Cid is dead, too. Lol? At any rate, Celes is overcome with grief, and, thinking she’s all alone in the world, literally throws herself off a cliff, hoping to end it all. For a game and a franchise that was still predominantly played at the time by boys and girls under the age of 18, this was a pretty heavy moment to digest.

6. The Spoony Bard 

Final Fantasy IV

We’ve largely avoided mentioning any of the Final Fantasy franchise’s numerous bugs and exploits as “memorable moments” to this point, but one exception just has to be made. The Japanese to English translations back in the early days always led to some interesting conversations, and none more so than the one between Tellah and Edward Chris von Muir in Final Fantasy IV. “You spoony bard!” was meant as an in-game insult from one character to another, but has since gone on to have a life of its own, with references made to it in plenty of other video games over the years.

5. Till the World Ends 

Final Fantasy VI

Gamers spent the first 10 to 15 hours of Final Fantasy VI capturing Espers and chasing down bad guy Kefka. But just when the party finally catches up with him, he goes and literally destroys the entire world. In other words, he did the exact thing that every RPG villain ever always threatens to do but never actually pulls off. When players regained control, the entire world map they had grown accustomed to was literally ripped asunder, forcing players to set out in an entirely new world for the remaining 20+ hours of the game.

4. The Opera House 

Final Fantasy VI

Oh, I’m sorry, were you not paying attention while playing this game? Ok, cool, have fun re-running the same sequence five times until you finally get it right. The Opera House sequence is often regarded as one of the reasons why Final Fantasy‘s music is as popular as it is, but it was the gameplay itself, the requirement to actually remember certain lines and sing them during the “performance” that made this moment feel especially innovative for its time.

3. One Winged Angel 

Final Fantasy VII

This moment hardly needs an introduction, as it’s arguably backed by the most popular Final Fantasy song of all-time. But just in case there’s still someone out there who has never played Final Fantasy VII, “One Winged Angel” is the song that plays during the final battle with Sephiroth at the end of the game. Most gamers likely already had the blood pumping by this point, but just in case they needed some inspiration, Square provided them with a rousing, chanting chorus as they headed into battle.

2. Ovelia Stabs Delita 

Final Fantasy Tactics

When you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die. Sorry. But that’s pretty much Delita Heiral’s philosophy for most of Final Fantasy Tactics. And it almost works to perfection, with Delita backstabbing and double crossing everyone until he finally manages to become King with his Queen Ovelia at his side. But then, at the very end of the game, just when you think it’s a Disney-certified Happily Ever After, Ovelia stabs her King. Apparently, she didn’t like being used as a pawn during Delita’s political maneuverings. Ovelia is then stabbed in return, but it’s left wide open as to what the fate of the characters, and even the world of Ivalice as a whole, ultimately is. Definitely one of the most ambiguous and controversial but also beloved endings to a Final Fantasy game ever.

1. Farewell to Aeris

Final Fantasy VII

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This was for many the moment that redefined what Final Fantasy was capable of. Sure, there had been lots of other deaths during the franchise’s first six 2D titles, but actually seeing one happen in video form, watching that sword come down from the sky, watching that ball bounce down to the water below, all in 3D, it really did change everything. The saddest moment though, comes after the boss fight, when Cloud commits Aeris to the water below.

Jason Gallagher is a freelance contributor.