3. Zidane (Final Fantasy IX)
After dealing with a long stretch of uptight anti-heroes, the refreshingly hyperactive Zidane was a welcome change of pace. Instead of silently brooding, he always seems to be up for a fight or ready to have a good time. Sure, his design (complete with monkey tail) is childish when compared to the likes of Squall or Tidus, but it's this childlike appearance that makes Zidane, and all of FFIX's world, so exciting to see. It does turn out that Zidane is some sort of doppelganger to the game's villain, but Zidane's soul-searching after learning this proves he has a heart and isn't bound to repeat the same evil mistakes his "brother" has. If you can embrace his bouncy, playful attitude, it's easy to view Zidane not as a step backwards, but rather as a breath of fresh air.
2. Cloud Strife (Final Fantasy VII)
The original emo bad boy, Cloud Strife set the tone for Final Fantasy heroes ever since. None have pulled off the same mix of tight-lipped badassery, big hair and psychosis, however. Equipped with a sword twice as big as he is, and someone else's memories, Cloud burst on the scene as a new kind of hero: wracked with pain, but still determined to get to the end of the quest. Motivated by a desire to reclaim his own identity and avenge the slain Aeris, he pushes ever forward with his obsession to quiet the confused rage of Sephiroth.