Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth's ending explained

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth's ending explained
(Image credit: Square Enix)

The Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth ending delivers on its intent, by giving fans plenty to mull and speculate over while we wait for the trilogy's concluding game.

Before we continue, take this as your main spoiler warning that you'll want to finish Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth before reading on – or maybe you don't! That's also fine, as long as you know what you're getting into.

Square Enix has said on several occasions that the goal of the Final Fantasy 7 Remake trilogy isn't to rewrite history, but to provide a retelling that expands upon it and introduces an additional narrative that gives you plenty to ponder on the journey through it all.

So far, if you've played the original, then the main story beats are largely intact. It's what the future holds that prompts plenty of speculation. On that note, nothing put forward here is guaranteed to happen and you don't need to have all the answers yourself. Community speculation is part of the fun, so here's what we've put together about the Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth ending.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake recap

Final Fantasy 7 Remake

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Just look at how we got here. As we delved into with our previous Final Fantasy 7 Remake ending explainer, the RPG is largely faithful to the source material aside from tweaks to accommodate one-third of a game becoming a full-blown experience and the odd expansion or retcon of the lore. What left us with plenty to ponder was the introduction of arbiters of fate – known as Whispers – who attempted to ensure that history followed the correct path. They occasionally appeared during the story before being defeated at the end, giving follow-up Rebirth room to deviate from the plot. The following scene showing the once-dead character Zack Fair alive only fueled theories further that this would be a multiverse affair.

The point is that Final Fantasy 7 Remake unfolds largely how the Midgar section of the original does – we clash with Avalanche before a quest for Sephiroth takes us beyond the city. All the added elements only made the road to Rebirth less clear. 

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth charts a similar course. The multiverse narrative kicked off by Remake largely unfolds alongside the story, only really becoming entangled with it at the end. As such what we see is primarily a faithful retelling of the original Final Fantasy 7's middle act; we chase Sephiroth around The Planet, learn more of his intentions, and Aerith dies to put something in place that might aid us in thwarting his plans. 

Much like Remake, though, we've been left with plenty of food for thought over what comes next, so let's break down some of the bigger twists of the Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth ending and what it means.

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth ending - Aerith

Aerith is surrounded by fire lanterns in Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Much like in the original, Aerith dies in Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth. Here, though, there's more mystery around it. While the original is pretty clean-cut in communicating that Sephiroth kills Aerith and she's gone for good, Rebirth adds a 'but' to each step. 

Sephiroth still appears from the sky to strike the killing blow, though we see Cloud parry his blade this time. At first, it appears Square Enix is rewriting history but only for a moment – in the next shot we see Aerith dying. 

The boring explanation is that Square Enix might be recasting the scene in a way that doesn't spike the age rating skyward, though what comes after suggests not. Once Aerith dies in the original, she's very much gone and that's the end of it. But in Rebirth, that's not the case for everyone. While the last of the Cetra still appears before Cloud during and following a climactic multi-stage battle with Sephiroth, you can tell from the rest of the party's reaction that she's gone. There's a hint that Red 13 can sense her, though everyone else falls into mourning and doesn't acknowledge her presence.

So why can Cloud still see her? The surrounding events throw up a few possibilities. Square Enix could merely be trying to give the iconic character a huge send-off before she sits Part 3 out, but there are other ways you can read into it. After we finish with the Temple of the Ancients, Cloud and Aerith fall into the differing timelines we've seen up until this point. While Aerith dies in the prime timeline we follow, Cloud being exposed to other timelines in which she still lives could strengthen their link enough that she might appear before him, illusion or not. 

It's a theory not unlike Cloud's link to Sephiroth. Before the events of the original game and Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Cloud is injected with Jenova's cells, not unlike Sephiroth himself – making him somewhat of a clone. That and history are largely why the antagonist appears before the protagonist.

While Cloud's relationships with Aerith and Sephiroth differ largely, both can be seen to influence the brooding mercenary in how he acts and the lines of dialogue from both he openly quotes. Rebirth sees Cloud struggle with Sephiroth's influence, and Aerith might be here to provide the balance. 

Or, you could see Aerith appearing before Cloud as a representation of his guilt at failing to save her. Set after the game's events, Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children – yes, the movie Square Enix says we're linking up with – deals with Cloud trying to reconcile himself with that failure. Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth's ending might just be the first step on that journey.

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth ending - The Sky's the Limit

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth's protagonists all look out onto the open world

(Image credit: Square Enix)

What's likely to draw the most chatter is the sky and the impending doom it spells if we fail in Remake Part 3. One of the main ways we differentiate between Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth's main timeline and the others is the state of what's above. That, and the breed of Shinra mascot Stamp the Dog differs depending on what realm we're visiting – it's a beagle in the primary timeline, whereas in others we see a terrier, pug, and others.

The sky in Rebirth appears clear for the majority of our runtime, whereas in other realms we can see an aurora suggesting the sky is fragmented. The melancholy feeling is locked in within one realm where we see everyone at peace with the world ending. You can imagine the sinking feeling of returning home and seeing the sky there now fragmented too.

Looking at the signs, though, it was always so. One clue has drawn more emphasis recently, with one of Aerith's final lines in Remake being changed from, "I miss it, the steel sky," to "This sky... I don't like it." While Aerith's brush with the Whispers at the end of Remake appears to jumble her memories, we're often given hints prior that she knows what's to come. It's also worth pointing out that the primary timeline's sky only appears different to Cloud – whose view we primarily see the game from – once he's jumped through a few different timelines, still appearing bright and blue to the rest of our party.

As for what it means, it reflects the damage that's been done when we defeated those who held fate together and a reminder of the perils to come if we don't succeed in ensuring Remake 3 leads to an end akin to the original.

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth ending - The Inevitability of Fate

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth

(Image credit: Square Enix)

As we already touched upon, the aim of the Final Fantasy 7 Remake trilogy isn't to rewrite history. To that end, you already likely have an idea of what's to come in Part 3. That said, the seeds have been sown to give us some idea of how we get there.

The Final Fantasy 7 Remake project appears alike to many multiverse narratives in that fate is presented as inevitable. That's presented best through Zack and Aerith during our multi-dimensional adventure that forms part of Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth's ending. At various stages during that segment, we see Zack confronted with a squad of Shinra troopers, not unlike the scene that leads to his own death before the original Final Fantasy 7 begins – the irony isn't lost on him, as he draws attention to the fact himself with a quip. 

Aerith is no different. One alternative reality scene sees Cloud meet Aerith in a church, only to be pushed through a rift back to our timeline as Sephiroth arrives, himself remarking that Aerith can't escape her own fate and what's about to come.

Given everything, it says that Sephiroth has his own fate he can't escape. His plans are loftier in the Remake project, though still involve using the black materia to cast the spell Meteor down onto the planet. How he plans to avoid what's intended for him remains to be seen, though it's sure to make Part 3 anything but predictable. 

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Deputy News Editor

Iain joins the GamesRadar team as Deputy News Editor following stints at PCGamesN and PocketGamer.Biz, with some freelance for Kotaku UK, RockPaperShotgun, and VG24/7 thrown in for good measure. When not helping Ali run the news team, he can be found digging into communities for stories – the sillier the better. When he isn’t pillaging the depths of Final Fantasy 14 for a swanky new hat, you’ll find him amassing an army of Pokemon plushies.