The five most murderous Final Fantasy villains

Kefka (Final Fantasy VI)

This walking loony bin doesn't have any fancy plots - Kefka just wants to destroy the world. Unlike most other Final Fantasy villains, his methods are painfully overt. It's clear from the first 10 minutes you're going to have to take him down, and even though you (and eventually his villainous Empire friends) try to topple him, Kefka succeeds in claiming ultimate power. He then razes the world, for real, realigning continents and torching what little survives. No joke, he actually does convert an entire world into a charred, depressing relic. The scale of destruction even prompts one of the game’s major characters to commit suicide – though she fails even in that.

Above: This used to be an idyllic green and blue world, now reduced to dust and patches of dying vegetation 

An honorable clan of knights refuses to lie down and surrender, so Kefka poisons the water supply and kills the entire town. He uses parts of the broken world to construct his own patchwork lair. There's no respite from a madman who controls the planet, and it takes a herculean effort from the team to even muster up the courage to face him again.

Above: Kefka using his newfound power to piss all over the globe

If only there were a bit more meat to his goals, Kefka could have been the ultimate villain in the series. He’s a bit like the Joker, dressing in a comedic costume, laughing maniacally at all those who fall at his feet and causing chaos just for chaos’s sake. Granted, he’s one-dimensional and lacks any nuance that other (and technically better) baddies enjoy, but in Kefka’s case, his utter lack of any other qualities is what makes him stand out. Perhaps he was sane before he got involved with the Empire and its Magitek soldier program, but now he’s a lost cause. Kefka just wants to kill, and relishes the chance to do so.

Sephiroth (Final Fantasy VII

Yeah yeah, it’s an obvious, popular choice, but even the hardiest of haters has to acknowledge Sephiroth's devious accomplishments. Upon discovering his own twisted, gene-manipulated history, he slaughters an entire village, burns it to the ground and smiles about it as he calmly walks away.

Above: Sephiroth returns to and destroys Nibelheim in arguably the most famous scene in all of RPGs, recreated here in Advent Children 

Later, he coldly slices down the beautiful and sweet Aerith, sending millions of pre-pubescent fanboys into teary eyed fits of unrequited love (SPOILER!). At this point in the game you’ve already witnessed many displays of ruthlessness, but this straight-up murder of a primary character does indeed carry a massive weight even today. Aerith is practically about to save the world, then, mere seconds later, dead at the hands of a villain who maintains eye contact as he withdraws his sword. Creepy, man.

Above: If you’ve somehow never seen this, here you go

After usurping what's left of a powerful alien entity called Jenova (which he incorrectly believes to be his mother), Sephiroth succeeds in unleashing massive monsters from the guts of the planet, turning them loose in a wild rampage that wrecks several major cities. All this while he’s attempting to crash a giant meteor into the world so it will reveal its regenerative Lifestream, which he plans to absorb and take over, becoming a god in complete control of the globe. That’s a lot to process.

Sephiroth, unlike most villains in Final Fantasy, begins and ends the game as your main adversary. He's never dumped at the last second for some pinch hitting omni-boss or revealed to be under the spell of some higher being. He's also not a one trick pony like Kefka - Sephiroth may be vicious, but his back story and motives are much richer than the mischievous stylings of VI's jester. Seph’s even got a bit of Golbez’s tragic past, in that all his misdeeds aren’t 100% his fault.

Above: PSP’s Crisis Core fleshes out his background – he wasn’t always a murderous crackpot 

And that's the bottom line. Hate him or not, Sephiroth hits all the major points of excellent villainy and still walks away as a potential victor, even when his final form is all but gone. His inextricable link to the game’s main character, Cloud, makes the story and unfolding drama all the better.

Think we’re full of it? Agree with Sephiroth’s spot but think ExDeath was the most badass tree ever and should be on the list? You’d be wrong of course, but we still want to know what you think.

Mar 3, 2010

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  • Spenfen - August 1, 2014 8:58 p.m.

    Necropost, but, Seriously guys, it's not a list of the BEST villains. It's a list of the most MURDEROUS villains. While I agree that Sephiroth is the better villain, I think it's pretty clear to see that Kefka is significantly more murderous. Everything Sephiroth does pales in comparison to the pure evil and killing machine-ishness that is Kefka. Sure, Sephy kills Aerith. Big whoop. Kefka kills almost everyone in the world. Need a main character to die? Fine, Kefka kills Shadow if you don't go completely against gamer logic. Sephiroth smiles after burning down a village? Kefka burns down about ten villages, dancing and laughing for joy as he does it. Even though he's shallow and one-dimensional, he's way more murderous than Sephiroth will ever be.
  • thelegendaryX - February 6, 2014 6:12 p.m.

    Anyone else skim through this just to make sure Kefka was on the list?
  • Spore - June 17, 2013 9:27 p.m.

    i'm sorry, but kuja should at least have been number 2 on this list. he's accomplished what no other ff villain has (to my knowledge)- killed the ENTIRE party. boom. dead. then he goes one step further and revives them so they can save the world. what did vayne do? politics? yeah, kuja did that too, if you'll remember he manipulated alexandria into attacking, and destroying, all three other nations on the mist continent. sephiroph burned down a village? kinda anticlimatic when you look at the fact that kuja blew up a planet, and caused the destruction of three countries. kuja is the ultimate badass
  • evoxpisces - June 17, 2013 1:57 p.m.

    #1 Should have been Sin/Jecht. I'm sorry but whale or not, everyone feared Sin and Sin was eternal. You kill him now but then he comes back. He is the endless cycle of evil incarnate. Kefka is also an amazing villain. Of course he is the textbook definition of Chaotic Evil but he accomplishes what he wanted to do. How many other villains can say that? Vayne however should not be anywhere near this list. I love FFXII and it's one of my favorites in the series but Vayne was unintimidating and easily forgettable. Sephiroth as we know if overrated and is quite the poser. He should've been replaced with Kuja, a much better (although more girly) villain. And Golbez is one of my favorites because I love FFIV. Also Golbez is a fantastic (if a bit traditional) villain.
  • chevleclair - January 23, 2013 7:28 a.m.

    if we're going strictly off the main title line, I will have no choice but to agree with you. Delita from FFT could probably replace Sin, but your top choice is bar none the best you could make. Sephiroth turns our badass hero into a snivelling wimp.
  • SilvanNosty - May 5, 2011 4:48 p.m.

    I'm fairly certain Kefka has murdered more people than Sephiroth. He defaced the Planet, turned entire continents into barren wastelands, and killed anyone who looked at him for too long. Sephiroth burned Nibelheim down (not even killing the entire population) and put his ridiculously over-sized Masamune through Aeris. That's pretty much it. He didn't release the Weapons. He didn't make Weapons. Hell, for all we know, Sephiroth didn't even know the Weapons existed. They weren't released by Sephiroth at all. Whoever wrote that should go back and replay FF7. And where the hell is Kuja? The lack of him makes this article really, really pointless.
  • LeoRoyale - December 24, 2010 1:07 a.m.

    This is a joke? Goblez helps you in the end and Sin isn't the last boss even, he's being controlled.. And Kefka was, like Celes whom you dissed prior, a magitek child that got his brain fried.. You call him a one trick pony but since he was a kid he's been trained that way. Not to mention his awesome lines and the fact he became a God and changed the face of the planet with his power. Sephiroth did what? what? MOMMY!
  • Piisuke - September 5, 2010 3:37 p.m.

    It is obvious that Sephiroth was chose and also sad that he was chosen. Considering Sephiroth's claim to fame was the burning of a relativity small village and stabbing a girl in the back, it is disappointing to see him as the "top villain" in Final Fantasy. Taking into account that Kefka destroyed an entire world, something which Sephiroth failed to do and was constantly in your face, something which Sephiroth also failed to do, I am surprised Sephiroth was placed higher and simply looks like a case for "fanboyism." As a matter of fact, a great villain that didn't make the list, Kuja from Final Fantasy IX, whom also destroyed an entire world, which, as stated before, is something Sephiroth failed to do. Kuja was also constantly in your face, tormenting your party and ridiculing you. No, instead we got the villain from FF XII who was so boring that I have already forgotten his name, even though I just read it. I accept the whole "everyone has a different opinion" thing, but it doesn't mean I have to agree with it. Sephiroth is an overrated villain who gets credited for much of the work in Final Fantasy VII he didn't even do, for example killing Aerith. It is well documented that Cloud threw Sephiroth in the Lifestream and by Cloud's words alone at the end of the game, it is well documented that you'd been chasing Jenova throughout the game. Of course Square realised that Sephiroth rules the streets in America and thus released a fancy book contradicting everything in the game's storylines and making up excuses and unexplainable reasons for some of the events in Final Fantasy VII, just so that Sephiroth looks better. Although Sephiroth looks cool, his actions, or lack thereof doesn't make him the coolest villain by a longshot. Kefka and Kuja alone are already better villains by actually accomplishing something, namely destroying a world, or in Kuja's case; an entire planet. Sin also succeeded in his cause for several years until he was finally laid to rest. Sephiroth? A small village and a girl in the back... the latter which was not even Sephiroth himself. As I said, this article reeks of fanboyism and considering some other articles regarding Final Fantasy and especially VII, even admitted to be huge fans of the 7th installment... It is a well written article... but in the end, it was disappointing.
  • CARNAGEragnarok - March 7, 2010 3:15 a.m.

    sephiroth sholda been a little higher, cuz he has a very deep story and is like the most BAMF villain ever, no remorse and merciless, essence of pure evil
  • Skykid - March 6, 2010 4:41 p.m.

    I stand corrected,SOME of them are smarter. reCATCHA: Lance fearsome. Ironic
  • Skykid - March 6, 2010 4:39 p.m.

    WOW, These villans are smarter than the ones that I tend to kick their collective asses every single time. Some are more devious and murdering than Makarov in MW2.
  • GameManiac - March 6, 2010 2:32 a.m.

    I actually felt sort of sorry for Golbez... AFTER I knocked him down on his metal-armored ass!
  • MetalGearFlaccid - March 6, 2010 1:07 a.m.

    @Zeipher I read it, don't you worry about that. I'm not one of THOSE kind of commenters. And yet, I still hold my opinion that Kefka's more evil and murderous than Sephiroth will ever be. I have tested my theory in Dissidia, and 7 out of 10 times, Kefka beats Sephiroth. I was more trollbaiting than anything, so I let my previous comment stand proud.
  • Embolado - March 5, 2010 5:19 a.m.

    Watching the video of Arieths death reminded me the battle that takes place right after with a jonova body part and that same music playing until you beat it. I always felt that the music during the battle didnt belong.
  • Relayer71 - March 5, 2010 3:06 a.m.

    Sephiroth wins it... wow, didn't see THAT one coming.
  • Thantos410 - March 5, 2010 2:14 a.m.

    Woot, Crisis Core gets a mention! I'm for the movement that Sephiroth isn't a maniacal bastard, just a confused person who wants to take over the world with his dead mother.
  • toastedmilk - March 4, 2010 9:45 p.m.

    your last two entries are so true. ff7 haters piss me off and i'm constantly forced to defend sephiroth over kefka. as awesome as he is, kefka is essentially just a one dimensional psychopath, as you point out. ff6 has better heroes though
  • Felixthecat - March 4, 2010 4:30 p.m.

    As someone who has only played Final Fantasy 7 (Roman numerals FTL), I can clearly say that my most hated villian is the big retard known as Sephiroth. Don't judge, but I just think he's a dumbass and I hate his design, I like my villians to have good design. That said, I very much want FF13, but money is an issue...
  • Xplosive59 - March 4, 2010 4:12 p.m.

    kefka ftw! other than that if you were including Tactics (not the advance ones)the brothers in that would surly be number one
  • philipshaw - March 4, 2010 2:08 p.m.

    It had to be sephiroth, even his music makes him sound bad ass