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5 Final Fantasy side characters, ranked based on narrative impact

Side characters come in a variety of forms, but which have the biggest impact on the story? (Image via Square Enix)
Side characters come in a variety of forms, but which have the biggest impact on the story? (Image via Square Enix)
Jason Parker

Final Fantasy has so many amazing characters in its rich history. Many of the protagonists, antagonists, and side characters typically contribute something to the overall games' narratives. Some characters are more important than others, though, and a roleplaying game is only as good as the story that it tells.

Some characters' tragedies help add to the power of a narrative, and other times it's the mistakes they make that make a tale more interesting. But when it comes to this franchise, which characters bring the most to their games' narratives?


The criteria for ranking Final Fantasy's side characters

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When it comes to side characters in Final Fantasy, the primary criteria is simply being a character in the game. They do not have to be a character that joins the party, permanently or temporarily. As long as they are not the primary protagonist and influence the overall narrative of the story, they could have made the list.

There were so many characters that almost made it, though. Algus from Final Fantasy Tactics’ actions towards Delita and his sister almost brought him to the top 5. Various iterations of Cid, in particular Final Fantasy IX and Final Fantasy XII, almost made their way here as well.

5 most impactful Final Fantasy side characters

  • Seifer Almasy (FFVIII)
  • Seymour Guado (FFX)
  • Kain Highwind (FFIV)
  • Cid Del Norte Marguez (FFVI)
  • Barret Wallace (FFVII)

5) Seifer Almasy (FFVIII)

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Seifer Almasy, a student at Balamb Garden, he’s the mirror image of Squall Leonhart, Final Fantasy VIII’s main character in a variety of ways. He’s also a primary antagonist for much of the game. However, Seifer is not an especially evil man. He is generally rude and a bully, but his goal of being a knight was one he’d do anything to achieve.

He's believed dead after holding the President of Galbadia hostage, but winds up joining Galbadia. Seifer Almasy can be seen as responsible for Galbadia’s push towards aggression, as well as siding with the Sorceress. He helps push the world towards conflict, leading Balamb Garden to doing battle with Galbadia in the Garden Clash later in the game.

Seifer’s a tragic character, and serves as the main character’s foil, despite not being the final encounter. He ultimately grows as a character, not being completely evil.


4) Seymour Guardo (FFX)

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The secondary antagonist of Final Fantasy X, Seymour Guado goes from a mysterious character that, in his own way, helps the party to reveal his true intentions. Virtually everyone in the party has a reason to dislike Seymour, and he is responsible for atrocities that will shape not only the narrative but the future of Spira.

In the early portions of the game, Seymour, High Priest of Macalania Temple and Maester in the church of Yevon aids the party when attacked by fiends, and also lends his power to the party as a playable character, during Operation Mi’hen. This good-natured behavior shifts and he blackmails Yuna. He wishes for Yuna to marry him so that they can work together and defeat Sin.

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It was never truly his intention to defeat Sin, however. He wanted to gain Yuna’s powers in order to become the next Sin, the final Sin. He’s quick to murder anyone who gets in his way, even if it’s an entire race of people. During the battle at Gagazet, Seymour reveals that he single-handedly murdered most of the Ronso, Kimahri’s race.

He manipulates the members of the Yevon church, suggesting Wakka simply overlook the use of machina at Operation Mi’hen, and tries to steal Yuna away. A man of the church, his viewpoint of the world stems from being bullied and harassed as a child as a half-Guado.

He openly admits when he commits a crime, because he’s convinced nobody will be able to stop him. His actions also lead to the Guado people being ostracized in Final Fantasy X-2, due to their support of the Maester.


3) Kain Highwind (FFIV)

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Cecil Harvey’s best friend in Final Fantasy IV also winds up being a secondary antagonist, thanks to the manipulations of Golbez and Zemus. A member of Baron’s Dragoon forces, he’s a calm, but snarky man. However, his love for Cecil’s love interest, Rosa Farrell, is what opens his heart to being controlled by Golbez.

A man dedicated to duty, his heart was torn by the love he felt for Rosa, even though he understood it was unrequited. This leads to Kain disappearing after the destruction of the village of Mist. He is away from the party until the siege of Fabul, where Kain’s betrayal becomes clear. He arrives in the crystal room and defeats Cecil, but hesitates when he sees Rosa.

Kain Highwind stays among Golbez’s forces until Tellah’s casting of Meteo breaks the mind-control and everything is fine again. Perhaps not though. Kain is the one that reveals the existence of the Dark Crystals, leading the party to the underworld to try and collect them before Golbez.

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Final Fantasy IV’s theme of betrayal, love, and loss triggers again after Kain gets mind-controlled yet again by Golbez after the party acquires the final Dark Crystal. This will be overcome again, and Kain is determined to stand side-by-side with Cecil and company to battle Zemus.

Kain winds up betraying the party a few times. His heart opens up to evil thanks to his jealousy and sadness, making him a prime target for Golbez. This leads to several of the pivotal moments of the game, and major reveals. In his own way, he leads the party to go to the moon and find the ultimate evil.


2) Cid Del Norte Marguez (FFVI)

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While never a party member in Final Fantasy VI, Cid Del Norte Marguez is one of the most important characters to the entire story. Before the events of the game, he’s responsible for making Gestahlian Empire into a global superpower. He created Magitek technology, and through this, gave Celes and Kefka their magical powers.

He’s not especially devoted to the empire though, just to his research, and Celes, who he treats as a surrogate/adopted daughter. Cid was not aware that the technology he created killed Espers, and once he learned about it, he tried to get Gestahl to stop his campaign. Without this, the peace talks would have never taken place.

However, it was all just a ruse on the Emperor’s behalf, and Emperor Gestahl and Kefka unleashed the power of the Goddess Statues.

What makes him so important to the story is what happens next. On a deserted island, Celes awoke after nearly a year in a coma, with Cid taking care of her.

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Treating each other like family, Celes fished for Cid to try and keep his waning strength up. Without Cid, Celes would have never woken up, and then would have no desire to round up the party again. Celes became the primary protagonist, and through Cid’s support, set out to stop Kefka.


1) Barret Wallace (FFVIII)

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Cloud Strife may be the primary protagonist of Final Fantasy VII, but he is a far less interesting and impactful character to the overall story, especially when compared to Barret Wallace. He is a member of AVALANCHE, an organization focused on saving the planet from the Shinra Electric Power Company.

Though Barret is passionate about saving the planet, a great deal of it stems from Shinra’s destruction of Corel. He did come to terms with it once he reunited and battled his old friend Dyne. Barret’s desire to do what’s right ultimately leads to more problems than benefits, such as blowing up the Shinra reactors.

If Barret had not moved to stop Shinra, the corporation would not have dropped the plate on Sector 7. That whole plan was designed to discredit AVALANCHE, and those people would not have suffered otherwise.

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Tifa believed that it was probably AVALANCHE’s fault that the plate was dropped in the Final Fantasy VII's remake. When Barret made it clear that it was Shinra’s doing, they pulled the trigger. There were other ways to try and solve the eco-terrorist threat. His appearance in the remake was a better, more fleshed-out version of Barret.

In the remake, Barret Wallace wants to make the world a better place for his daughter Marlene and everyone else. Barret agreeing to recruit Cloud as a mercenary led to events that would get him tangled up in a battle for the life of the planet.

While quick to take drastic, decisive action in the name of the planet, Barret is a person who has a deep connection to the planet, thanks to the “Planetary Life” study at Cosmo Canyon. He knows the damage the company is doing to the planet, and his desire to save everyone is critical to the story of Final Fantasy VII.

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Barret Wallace was the reason for the story in the first place. His push to fight Shinra ultimately led to the conflict against not only Shinra but Sephiroth as well.


There are so many interesting characters in the Final Fantasy universe, but these have perhaps influenced their stories in the biggest way. As with all of these lists, they reflect the views of the writer and will vary from player to player.


Edited by Abu Amjad Khan

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