- For fighter info, see Sephiroth (SSBU).
Sephiroth is the primary antagonist of Square Enix's Final Fantasy VII as well as all the spin-offs in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII series and Final Fantasy VII Remake. He is widely considered to be one of the most iconic villains in gaming history.
Though Sephiroth is a seemingly level-headed individual, it is nothing more than a front to cover up his insanity and murderous nature. Once a respected SOLDIER, Sephiroth begins to lose his mind after finding out the true nature of his birth. It is because of this, as well as his devotion to Jenova, that he possesses a messiah complex, believing himself to be "the chosen one" to lead the Planet. He also has a sadistic nature, reveling in mentally torturing his adversary Cloud Strife.
Prior to his madness, as depicted in the prequel Crisis Core, Sephiroth was shown to be actually a calm, collected, and professional man who took his role as SOLDIER First Class seriously. He was compassionate, especially towards his friends and comrades Angeal Hewley, Genesis Rhapsodos, and Zack Fair. He also rarely ever got frustrated and was always confident, but never sought personal glory.
Sephiroth has shown to be one of (if not the) strongest SOLDIER alive, due to his immense strength and excellent proficiency with his blade Masamune, which is twice as tall as he is. During his time as a SOLDIER, he amassed a large amount of victories in the battlefield, leading his fellow First Class comrades to comment on how his power outclasses theirs. His victories also inspired a lot of people, like Cloud, to join SOLDIER.
Final Fantasy VII
At the beginning of the game, Sephiroth is only known as a former member of SOLDIER, the military branch of the Shinra Electric Power Company, who was seen as a heroic veteran in the Shinra-Wutai war by many.
His proper introduction wouldn't occur until Cloud and the mercenary group AVALANCHE infiltrate Shinra Headquarters to rescue their friend Aerith Gainsborough. During the rescue, the party encounters the remains of an alien lifeform known as Jenova. It then suddenly shapeshifts into Sephiroth, breaks out of containment, murders President Shinra, and disappears. Cloud witnesses this and, upon seeing Sephiroth's sword Masamune still at the scene of the murder, surmises that his former SOLDIER comrade is still alive. He then journeys with his party to take out Sephiroth once and for all as payback for his destruction of Nibelheim, Cloud's home town. However, unbeknownst to him, the reality is that Cloud contains Jenova cells within him and are calling him towards Sephiroth to reunite with the main body, which is hibernating in the Northern Crater on the Planet's Core.
As the rest of the game progresses, Cloud is repeatedly taunted by visions of Sephiroth through flashing hallucinations, which the real Sephiroth is able to do by controlling the Jenova cells within him. He also sends multiple Jenova-like monsters to attack the party multiple times. Upon their proper reuniting in the Temple of the Ancients, Sephiroth reveals his ultimate plan; he will use Black Materia to summon a galactic destructive force known as Meteor to bring apocalyptic damage to the Planet. Once impact has been made, the Planet's Lifestream will flow in an attempt to heal the destruction, which gives Sephiroth the perfect opportunity to merge his body with it, as he believes he can control the Lifestream and in turn allowing him to control the whole Planet.
Cloud manages to gain the Black Materia first, but Sephiroth forces him to hand it over by manipulating the Jenova cells within him. In retaliation, Aerith begins a prayer with White Materia to summon Holy, the only power strong enough to counter Meteor. However, Jenova (once again in the image of Sephiroth) returns to fatally impale her from above, thus killing her. Cloud and the remaining members of AVALANCHE somberly continue on to track down his real body by following a trail of Jenova's remains.
Cloud and company manage to reach Jenova at the Northern Crater and successfully kill it and reacquire the Black Materia. Cloud and fellow teammate and close friend Tifa Lockhart continue on further to the Crater only to find themselves in Sephiroth's illusion of Nibelheim's destruction. Sephiroth then proceeds to torture Cloud in an attempt to believe he is nothing more than a failed clone of himself. Cloud, in his moment of existential crisis, hands the Black Materia over to Sephiroth, thus allowing him to begin summoning Meteor while sealing the crater, leaving him undetected from the Planet's Weapons and Shinra's forces. As this is happening, Cloud falls into a coma and AVALANCHE is captured by Rufus Shinra, the company's new President.
Upon his recovery, Cloud and the newly-freed AVALANCHE return to infiltrate the Northern Crater, thanks to the unintentional help of Shinra's Mako Cannon during their unsuccessful attempt to destroy Meteor. Upon reaching Sephiroth, they find that his body has began to shapeshift into a god-like creature (known as Bizarro∙Sephiroth) to try and stop Holy. A climactic battle ensues between AVALANCHE and Sephiroth's powerful abilities and subsequent transformation into Safer∙Sephiroth. Though Cloud and his allies manage to defeat his physical form, his mental form pulls Cloud into a metaphysical duel within his subconscious. In the end, Cloud's mental defenses manage to defeat Sephiroth's machinations, finally destroying him, allowing Holy to be fully activated which then merges with the Lifestream, thus successfully destroying Meteor and saving the Planet.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
Set seven years before the events of Final Fantasy VII, Crisis Core begins with Sephiroth and the game's protagonist Zack Fair being tasked with finding their comrades and friends Angeal Hewley and Genesis Rhapsodos, both of which have gone missing during the Shinra-Wutai war. To their horror, they discover that Angeal and Genesis have become part of "Project G", an initiative created by scientist Dr. Hollander to create supersoldiers with Jenova cells. In the ensuing chaos, Sephiroth battles Genesis while Angeal throws Zack to Midgar's slums.
Soon after Zack makes his way back to SOLDIER headquarters, Zack is ordered to go to Modeoheim to find Angeal and Genesis. As Zack journeys on, Sephiroth stays behind to research more on Project G. At Modeoheim, Zack engages in a battle with Genesis, ending with his apparent suicide by throwing himself into a Mako reactor. Zack also encounters Angeal and Dr. Hollander. Tired of both the constant fighting as well as his growing degradation, Angeal fuses himself to his canine-looking clones and proceeds to mutate into a monster, forcing Zack to kill him.
In the months that follow, Sephiroth tells Zack he is considering retiring from SOLDIER, and that their next mission is possibly his last. It is then revealed that Genesis survived his fall and has been producing more clones, some of which are now showing up in Midgar. Sephiroth, Zack, and the then-newly recruited Cloud head to Nibelheim to investigate a monster outbreak near the town's reactor. On their way there, Sephiroth asks Cloud what it feels like to return to his home, since he's never had one before. When Zack asks about his family, Sephiroth tells the story of his mother named Jenova, who died during childbirth; this arises suspicion within Zack, who has since learned about the Jenova Project that created Genesis and Angeal.
At the site of the reactor, Sephiroth discovers several pods containing Mako-mutated monstrous creatures. Among the chambers is one labeled "JENOVA" containing a feminine-looking creature. The discovery horrifies and angers him after Zack suggests the creatures may have a connection to SOLDIER. It is here where Genesis reappears to him and reveals his true origins; in actuality, Sephiroth was also created in the Jenova Project by mad scientist Professor Hojo and his actual birth mother Lucrecia Crescent as Shinra was attempting to create the "perfect monster". While Lucrecia was still pregnant with Sephiroth, Hojo proceeded to inject her and the baby with Jenova cells. After he was born, Shirna scientists took him for further research, leaving Lucrecia distraught. Genesis requests Sephiroth hand over his cells to him so he can live, but Sephiroth rejects the offer.
Disturbed by this new revelation and his discoveries, Sephiroth spends the next week locked up in a former Shinra research mansion to study their findings. As his research grows, he believes that Jenova is a Cetra (which would be eventually revealed in the original Final Fantasy VII to not be the case), an ancient race of humans that had a strong bond with the Planet. As he himself has its cells, he believes that as its "son" makes him the last known survivor of the Cetra (which in actuality was Aerith), and that the human race betrayed them by leaving them to defend the Planet from a calamity on their own (which is revealed to be Jenova itself), and plots to exact revenge for his "ancestors".
His research completed, Sephiroth emerges from the mansion and proceeds to destroy Nibelheim, setting the town ablaze and killing many of its residents, including the father of Tifa. Zack, Cloud, and Tifa arrive to confront him but are all defeated, though Cloud manages to stab him from behind with Zack's Buster Sword. In the midst of the chaos, Sephiroth beheads Jenova and retaliates by stabbing Cloud with Masamune, but Cloud manages to eject him into a pool of Mako beneath the reactor. Though it appears that Cloud successfully killed him, it is revealed in the OVA tie-in Last Order that he willingly jumped in, taking Jenova's head with him.
In the aftermath, Shinra declares Sephiroth killed in action and rebuilds Nibelheim to cover up the incident. In the time between Crisis Core's ending and the beginning of Final Fantasy VII, Sephiroth is left to wander the Lifestream, eventually leading him to the Northern Crater and his body entering hibernation as it becomes encased in Mako.
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
Two years after the events of Final Fantasy VII, Cloud, now living with his survivor's guilt from failing to prevent Aerith's death, is contacted by Rufus Shinra to stop three new adversaries. These are revealed to be the physical manifestations of Sephiroth's surviving spirit, calling themselves Kadaj, Loz, and Yazoo, and are attempting to resurrect him using Jenova's remains, unaware that Sephiroth plans to recreate his body with them.
The three have been gathering the town's children, planning to "reunite" them with Jenova under the guise of a promise to cure them of a mysterious disease known as Geostigma. However, their recruitment efforts are foiled by Cloud and his allies. Kadaj then confronts Rufus, revealing that he is in possession of Jenova's last remains. He attempts to destroy them, but Kadaj manages to save them and flees with Loz and Yazoo. However, the latter two are seemingly killed in an explosion triggered by Shinra agents, with Cloud in pursuit of Kadaj.
The two engage in a battle, with Cloud at first gaining the upper hand; however, Kadaj fuses with Jenova's remains and transforms into Sephiroth. During their battle, he tells Cloud he plans on using the life essence of those that suffer from Geostigma to exact total control over the Planet. Though Sephiroth inflicts several wounds on Cloud, he is defeated and leaves behind the mortally wounded Kadaj.
In the end, Aerith's spirit calls a healing rain, curing everyone of Geostigma. Kadaj dies in Cloud's arms, while Yazoo and Loz return, shooting Cloud and attempting to engulf all of them in an explosion before fading as well. Cloud, however, survives and awakens in Aerith's church, healed from his injuries.
Final Fantasy VII Remake
The events of Remake greatly change the original's storyline, essentially creating an alternate continuity. In this version of the game, Sephiroth's visions appear much earlier, though he still taunts Cloud throughout and even tells him to join him in his cause. He first appears during Chapter 2, where Cloud is escaping Midgar after AVALANCHE's attack on one of Shinra's Reactors. Moments before Cloud meets Aerith, Sephiroth taunts him with an image of the town on fire, meant to mimic the Nibelheim Incident. An image of him also appears and leads Cloud to an alleyway; Cloud tries to attack him, only to find him disappeared and realizing it was merely a hallucination.
Throughout the slums of Sector 6 and 7, Cloud and his allies encounter several zombie-looking people wandering about. In actuality, these are Sephiroth-clones and appear as Sephiroth only in Cloud's eyes. After Sector 7's destruction, he encourages Cloud to gain strength from the event, all while mocking him for his failure to stop the Turks from dropping the plate.
Sephiroth later reappears through one of his clones inside Shinra Headquarters during AVALANCHE's rescue of Aerith and proceeds to kill President Shinra and severely wound Cloud's ally, Barret Wallace (though he is healed by mysterious supernatural entities known as the Whispers). Though Cloud and his party defeat the first clone, another one arrives to take Jenova's body and swiftly leaves before anyone can catch him.
Sephiroth later reappears in front of Cloud and AVALANCHE and explains that he plans to "protect" the Planet. The Whispers then arrive to create a cloud of darkness, to which Sephiroth cuts through to create a portal for them to enter. A battle against the Whispers ensues and, after defeating them, shifts into a surreal area where Sephiroth challenges them for a climactic confrontation.
Though seemingly defeated, the Whispers return to attack AVALANCHE, but leave Cloud in pursuit of Sephiroth. The two then find themselves in a metaphysical dimension that Sephiroth says will merge with the Planet and engage in a duel. Though Sephiroth defeats Cloud, he spares him and remarks that he cannot let himself or Cloud end, and leaves him on the outskirts of Midgar. With Sephiroth far from defeated, Cloud and his allies journey on to stop him, with Aerith believing that their future and destinies are now uncertain.
Due to his popularity, Sephiroth has followed Cloud into several other Square Enix properties, beginning with the console port of the 3D fighting game Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring. He has also been a recruitable ally in mobile spinoffs such as Record Keeper, Brave Exvius, and Dissidia Opera Omnia.
The franchise-wide crossover Dissidia Final Fantasy series features Sephiroth as the villain representative for Final Fantasy VII, placing him as a warrior of Chaos, although he is less concerned with the war between Cosmos and Chaos than he is tormenting Cloud. One side story has him question if he is real or a manikin (magically-created replica of a Warrior) and test his hypothesis by committing suicide. By Dissidia NT, he is forced to ally with Cloud (as are other heroes and villains) in order to combat the demon dragon Shinryu.
He also appears in select installments of the party game series Itadaki Street, usually alongside Cloud as well as other Final Fantasy villains such as Golbez (from IV) and Kefka Palazzo (from VI).
Sephiroth also has made appearances in the Square-Disney crossover series Kingdom Hearts, usually as an optional superboss that protagonist Sora could take on, with later games adding him to the story as Cloud's recurring nemesis.
Sephiroth was announced to be joining Ultimate as the third fighter in Fighters Pass Volume 2 during The 2020 Game Awards held on December 10, 2020.
Sephiroth wields his long sword Masamune, giving him an extensive range, and is capable of casting his usual spells, including Shadow Flare and Scintilla. He can also unfurl his lone wing to provide him with a stat boost if he is at a high percentage.
He was released on December 22, 2020, alongside the stage Northern Cave, 9 music tracks, and a Final Fantasy VII-themed Spirit Board as a part of Challenger Pack 8. However, those who had purchased Fighters Pass Volume 2 were able to partake in a 5-day event titled Sephiroth Challenge, where if they managed to beat him, would acquire him and the Northern Cave stage much earlier.
- Much like Cloud and The Luminary, Sephiroth is not voiced by his original voice actor, George Newbern, nor his voice actor in Remake, Tyler Hoechlin, in the English dub of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. This is likely due to union-related issues on Square Enix's part.
- This makes Sephiroth the fourth character to speak in Japanese in all regions, following Cloud, Marth, and Roy (pre-Ultimate in the case of the latter two).
- This also makes Sephiroth the fourth character to be played by the Japanese actor despite having a long-established English actor, following Mewtwo, Cloud, and The Luminary.
- Sephiroth is the first major antagonist to be DLC, as well as the first villain to come from a third-party universe.
- Prior to joining Ultimate, Sephiroth was mentioned in the description for the Omnislash trophy in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, which describes his final battle with Cloud.
- Sephiroth is one of two characters to have completely unique victory screens, following Joker. All of his victory screens take place within the flames of the infamous "Nibelheim Incident" cutscene.
- Much like Cloud and all of the Pokémon characters, Sephiroth makes many references to media outside of video games, specifically the film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. This is most obvious with his reveal trailer, which recreates several shots and takes lines from the movie. He also has a chance of saying "I will never be a memory", a line of dialogue he says in the film, in any of his victory screens if Cloud is present.