"I don't think I have what it takes to make a good action game. I think I'm better at telling a story."—Hironobu Sakaguchi, before the creation of Final Fantasy I
(For the first game in the series, see Final Fantasy I.)
The pride and joy of Square Enix (formerly Squaresoft), Final Fantasy is a hand-lathingly popular Role-Playing Game series, currently on its fifteenth iteration alongside multiple sequels, spinoffs, remakes and films.
The series is highly regarded for its outstanding production values and gameplay, and for being a pioneer in the Eastern RPG genre. Many of the conventions of Eastern RPGs that didn't originate in the Dragon Quest line originated with the Final Fantasy series, which in turn was influenced by Ultima and other Western computer role playing games. Even to this day, each new Final Fantasy game attempts to evolve the genre with new gameplay innovations or approaches, and although this can be divisive to the fanbase, credit is generally given to their attempts to at least try something different in the heavily-stagnant and conservative Eastern RPG genre.
While the series was fairly obscure on Western shores for a long time, its popularity exploded with the release of Final Fantasy VII, which exposed most people to the Eastern RPG genre for the first time and is widely regarded as one of the best Role Playing Games of all time. Since then, Final Fantasy has been the premier Eastern RPG franchise in the west, held to such a regard that the English localizations are now developed concurrently with the original production.
Tracking the early parts of the Final Fantasy series can be confusing, as only three of the first six games made it to North America, where the numbers were changed so that the US releases were consecutive numbers. Final Fantasy IV was released in America as Final Fantasy II, while Final Fantasy VI was released as Final Fantasy III. The confusion doesn't end there, as four games were given the name "Final Fantasy" to increase sales in North America: the first three games of the Makai Toushi SaGa series (released as Final Fantasy Legend (1-3)) and the first installment in the World of Mana series (released as Final Fantasy Adventure). Final Fantasy VII broke this trend and was released as "VII" everywhere, and from that point on, every release would bear the original numbering.
While the series stuck firmly to a policy of one-game-per-number for a long time, in more recent times the franchise has opened up to the idea of sequels and compilations. Final Fantasy X was the first to get a direct sequel, and Final Fantasy XII was the first to have a compilation of games set in the same universe, known as the Ivalice Alliance.
The Final Fantasy series consists of:
Sequels & Spin-Offs
Games that are directly connected to the Main Series, either as sequels or Spin-Offs.
- Final Fantasy XI: Rise of the Zilart
- Final Fantasy XI: Chains of Promathia
- Final Fantasy XI: Treasures of Aht Urhgan
- Final Fantasy XI: Wings of the Goddess 
- Final Fantasy XI: A Crystalline Prophecy - Ode of Life Bestowing
- Final Fantasy XI: A Moogle Kupo d'Etat - Evil in Small Doses
- Final Fantasy XI: A Shantotto Ascension - The Legend Torn, Her Empire Born
- Final Fantasy XI: Vision of Abyssea
- Final Fantasy XI: Scars of Abyssea
- Final Fantasy XI: Heroes of Abyssea
- Ivalice Alliance
- Compilation of Final Fantasy VII
A multimedia project comprised of a number of prequels and sequels to Final Fantasy VII.
- Dissidia Final Fantasy
- Dissidia 012 [duodecim]: Final Fantasy
- Theatrhythm Final Fantasy and its sequel Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call
- Final Fantasy IV: The After Years
- Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy
- Final Fantasy XVI Expansions and Add-Ons
- Final Fantasy: All the Bravest
- Final Fantasy World
- Final Fantasy Brave Exvius
- War of the Visions: Final Fantasy Brave Exvius
Games that are not directly connected to the settings or characters of the Main Series, but are still considered Final Fantasy titles.
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles
- Final Fantasy Adventure
Would later go on to become the first installment in its own series, the World of Mana.
Dolled Up Installments
A series of Lighter and Softer spinoffs starring the series mascot Chocobo.
- Chocobo's Mysterious Dungeon
- Chocobo Racing
- Chocobo's Dungeon 2
- Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales
- Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon
- Chocobo Racing 3D (cancelled)
Misc. Animated Installments
- Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals
A four episode OVA set 200 years after the events of Final Fantasy V, starring the descendants of the heroes.
- Absurdly High Level Cap: A general rule-of-thumb is that every game can be completed at around the 50's to 70's while the cap is at 99. Bonus Bosses, on the other hand, require you to get to this cap. Exceptions to this are Final Fantasy II and Final Fantasy XIII, which don't use the traditional leveling system. Final Fantasy X, despite not using a common leveling system, is a straight example since it has the Sphere Grid, which is ridiculously large.
- An Adventurer Is You: A number of recurring "jobs" with similar outfits, even in different settings
- An Aesop: about peace, environmentalism, The Power of Friendship, or all three at once.
- Added Alliterative Appeal: The reason the series is called "Final" Fantasy, according to Word of God.
- Altum Videtur: The series has always loved putting in gratuitous Latin in places, but in recent years game titles have been subject to this as well (Dissidia, Dissidia Duodecim and Fabula Nova Crystallis, among others). An increased usage of Latin in later games may or may not have been due to Final Fantasy VII's Final Boss theme being a Crowning Music of Awesome.
- Anyone Can Die (by Heroic Sacrifice): A dark Mythology Gag: earlier games had the fourth character who joins the main cast as a Guest given a special slot, since three is the maximum the party can handle in battle. Guests are normally removed by Heroic Sacrifice. Later games have been getting progressively darker, sometimes doing away with Heroic Sacrifice. Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy XII are examples of dramatic usage of Anyone Can Die. Final Fantasy VII...you know where we're going with this, right?
- Artifact Title/Not-so-Meaningful Name: Final Fantasy I was going to be series' creator Hironobu Sakaguchi's final game for Square if it didn't sell well, who proclaimed that his "final game" for Square would be a "fantasy RPG". The fact that it is now more than twenty years and forty-seven sequels/spin-offs later provides a slight hint as to whether or not the word "final" still, in fact, applies, although Sakaguchi is no longer involved in the series after Final Fantasy X.
- Artist Appeal:
- Yoshitaka Amano has a fondness for traditional Japanese watercolors. He also loves willowy males with frizzy white hair, pale skin (But that's a trend in Japanese art anyways), purple eyeliner, and blue-purple lipstick. He also loves to put spiked armour, catsuits, and capes whenever he can get away with it. His monsters also look like Eldritch Abominations that you would expect to see in art depicting the Fair Folk.
- Tetsuya Nomura draws most of his characters more 'traditionally' male, but most likely they'll all be teenagers or young adults. Unless he intentionally makes them look middle-age; like Sazh, Cid Highwind, and Barret. Nomura also has a thing for zippers, belts, and highly detailed clothing to fit the more "Urban Fantasy" setting of the post-VII games. His monsters also look like Eldritch Abominations, but not the kind detailed in old fae-inspired art, like a blend of organic and synthetic features, coming off as Ugly Cute. Oh yeah, he also loves black coats with hoods - the longer the coat the better.
- Akihiko Yoshida has a thing for bondage gear, tight pants on men (the tighter the better), caucasian males to fit the more European feel of the games he works on (Specifically, Ivalice Alliance), tight pants on men, and more brown-blonde hair on humans. Oh yeah, and tight pants.
- All of them have a thing for feathers, too.
- Attack Backfire: In Final Fantasy II, attacking enemies with the wrong spell (eg Ice monsters with Ice magic, Undead with Drain and Osmose or Blob Monster with Poison) will actually heal the monster. In case of Drain or the Blood Swords results will be ugly.
- In fact, all Final Fantasy games after the first one have a system of elemental absorb.
- BFS: Swords that in real life would be very difficult if not impossible to wield "properly".
- Big Red Devil: The recurring summons Diabolos and Ifrit tend to be this.
- Bishounen: In the hero department, they've been present since the first game. As for villains, Emperor Mateus from the second game paved the way for some of the most infamous and infamously beautiful villains of all time.
- Black Mage: Trope Namer
- Boss in Mook Clothing: Tonberries are the most universal to the series, although individual games have their own specific ones.
- Braggart Boss: A ridiculously over-the-top boss named "Gilgamesh", who may or may not be the same person in every appearance.
- Call a Rabbit a Smeerp: Flightless ostrich-like birds known as "chocobos" used as mounts and are Expys of the Horseclaws from Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.
- Cute Is Evil: Tonberries and Cactuars. Oi vey.
- A Day in the Limelight: Many characters, although Alexander seems to get the most throughout the series. To date:
- An FMV appearance in the PSX remake of Final Fantasy VI, attacking Kefka;
- An FMV appearance in Final Fantasy IX, in which he gallantly defends Alexandria Castle (and Princess Garnet) from Bahamut's attack;
- An appearance as a Humongous Mecha in Final Fantasy XIII, being Hope's summon; and finally
- Being the Big Bad and final boss of Bahamut Lagoon, although he's entirely different from his other incarnations and takes the form of a serpentine 4-headed dragon.
- And all this time, he hasn't said a single word.
- Interestingly enough, the Giant of Bab-il from Final Fantasy IV looks very similar to him as well. Not only does this give a possible origin on Alexander but this Giant also has a limelight moment by starting the destruction of the Blue Planet, among other things.
- Deconstructor Fleet: Started (sparingly) with general fantasy tropes as early as Final Fantasy I, and later moved on to more specific RPG tropes that had sprung up in the years following.
- Deceased Parents Are the Best: Look back at all the Final Fantasy protagonists. There's a pretty good chance that one or both their parents are either dead, have disappeared or die by the end of the story.
- The Driver: Cid. Always.
- Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors
- The Engineer: Most of Cid's incarnations are this.
- Face Heel Turn: A meta example with the Cids. For the first eleven games and the spin-offs that came out at the same time the Cids were aligned with your party, or at least weren't evil. Beginning with Final Fantasy XII and continued in XIII and Type-0, the Cids have begun to act as antagonists, and the Cid of Type-0 is actually the Big Bad.
- Five-Man Band: The classes in I and III, and the characters in IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XII, XIII, Tactics, Tactics Advance, and Tactics A2.
- Fixed Damage Attack: The most notable of which is Cactuar's 1000 Needles, the former Trope Namer.
- Fire, Ice, Lightning: There are many recurring types of elemental attacks, but these three are by far the most prominent in the overwhelming majority of Final Fantasy games. FFX puts Water on an equal footing with these three.
- Four Is Death: You can expect any game, character, event, place, etc. with an even remote connection to the dreaded number to be a Deconstruction of It Got Worse. Expect the game to have massive controversy and Urban Legend of Zelda centered around that game, etc. Examples: Final Fantasy IV? Deconstruction with a focus on death. Final Fantasy VII? A main character dies due to being the fourth party member met. Final Fantasy XIII-2? The fourth game announced in the Fabula Nova Crystallis mythology.
- Fragile Speedster: Thiefs and Ninjas.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Likely will be Cid.
- Gainax Ending: The series does this quite a bit. Usually, when this is done, it usually leaves the player in question whether certain characters are alive or dead.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: No, you can't use Phoenix Down to revive those killed in cutscenes. In most games, though, characters with 0 HP are actually unconscious rather than dead.
- Genki Girl: Starting from FFV (Porom in FFIV was extremely collected so she avoided this completely), the series started employing this trope. We have Krile in FFV, Relm in FFVI, Yuffie in FFVII, Selphie in FFVIII, Eiko in FFIX, Rikku in FFX, Penelo in FFXII, and Vanille in FFXIII.
- Glass Cannon: Black Mage
- Global Airship: that becomes available at some point during the game.
- God Is Evil: If there is a being in a Final Fantasy game explicitly referred to as a god, you'll be fighting it before the credits roll.
- Gold Makes Everything Shiny: Weapons and armor made of gold show up in some of the games.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Several main characters, Terra of Final Fantasy VI and Cecil of Final Fantasy IV being the most iconic examples.
- Healing Potion: A specific set of findable potion (also available for purchase at conveniently located shops) that operate by being thrown at the character they're supposed to heal.
- Healing Spring: Appearing in every game from III to IX.
- Hello, Insert Name Here: Freely name-able party members (and sometimes summon monsters), resulting in this in every game until it was mostly dropped in the tenth; you could name the protagonist of ten, but none of the other characters. It was fully discarded in the twelfth installment.
- This concept is played with in the DS remake of IV. In the remakes up to then you could rename the characters, but come the DS release the cutscenes, which had voice acting, would make this confusing. Thus you can't change the names of your party members, causing Namingway, the character who performed this function in past versions of the game, freak out when he tries to rename you and can't, inspiring him to embark on a journey to find a new purpose in life since his old one is now gone.
- Heroes Prefer Swords: Not in every game, but most.
- Holy Hand Grenade: Holy and the Alexander summon.
- Horned Humanoid: The Ifrit summons.
- HP to One: A favourite tactic used by almost all the Final Bosses in the series.
- Humanoid Abomination: Pretty much all of the Big Bads count as one in at least one stage of their life cycle.
- An Ice Suit: Shiva.
- Iconic Logo: One that usually reveals some aspect of the overarching plot in a subtle way, usually through illustrating plot events or even by the color of the logo itself.
- Level Map Display: Used in various forms in all the games.
- Killer Rabbit: Tonberries
- Kill It with Fire: Fire, Fira, Firaga, Flare (sometimes), and the Ifrit summon being the most common.
- Kill It with Ice: Blizzard, Blizzara, Blizzaga, the Shiva summon.
- Kill It with Water: Water spells only occasionally show up, and even then only comes in one level (no -ra or -ga variants). The mid-to-late-game summon Leviathan makes up for this shortcoming.
- The trend was broken in Final Fantasy X, which had three levels of water spells and no water-elemental summons.
- La Résistance: The Wild Rose Rebellion, the Returners, AVALANCHE, the Forest Owls, The Resistance and NORA, just to name a few.
- Lost Technology: That the schizo tech is frequently based on.
- Low-Level Run: It is quite common to see players on YouTube perform these runs. Several games have the option of doing so to the end.
- Final Fantasy VIII, since the monsters level up with you, can be played to completion at single-digit levels. It's actually regarded as being much easier than a high-level run.
- Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy XIII have the NSG (No Sphere Grid) and NCU (No Crystarium Usage), respectively. The idea behind both cases is to use the equipment as effectively as possible.
- Meat Shield: Knight
- Metal Slime: Cactaurs
- Mind Screw: Initially limited by technology, but most games (FF1 included) had it in some capacity.
- Monster Modesty: The Seeq often wear just loincloths instead of pants and when they wear shirts they cover very little. Somewhat odd when compared to other races such as the Moogle, Bangaa, Garif, and Nu Mou who are fully or mostly clothed.
- Mythology Gags; roundabout references to previous games in the series, some being as subtle as special move names applied in different contexts, some as elaborate as characters being composites of those from other installments (such as Snow being modeled off of Seifer and Zell.)
- Nevermind the giant swords and magical holocausts, it's the kitchen knives you should be afraid of. You get to wield their devastating might once and only once in the fourth installment. Otherwise, avoid so much as being poked by one. This gag was mostly lost thanks to the weapon being translated as a spoon.
- Nice Hat: Mages have hats that correspond to their school of magic.
- Black Mages have conical straw hats resting upon their heads that covers their faces in shadows.
- White Mages have white hoods with red fringes.
- Red Mages have red hats with one large white feather.
- Time Mages have pointy red hats, usually emblazoned with stars.
- Green Mages (although they haven't appeared in many titles) have green berets.
- More Teeth Than the Osmond Family: Malboros
- Non-Elemental: Most weapons and enemies but spells being non-elemental are for the strongest spells like Flare (sometimes) and Ultima.
- Not the Intended Use: Quite a few examples throughout the series. One common one is hitting yourself to cure Sleep or Confuse, as opposed to waiting for your opponent to hit you.
- Numbered Sequel: Main series is numbered for your convenience.
- Oculothorax: The Ahrimans monsters often are winged eyeballs.
- One Curse Limit: While Revive Kills Zombie, being afflicted with the status ailment Zombie grants immunity to Poison and Petrify.
- One-Winged Angel: Most games have at least one boss who does this. The Trope Namer is from Final Fantasy VII.
- Our Dragons Are Different: Plenty of dragons, including Bahamut as a summon monster, usually the most powerful or second-most powerful summon of the game, especially since he deals non-elemental damage.
- Outside Context Villain: The Cloud of Darkness (III), the Lunarians (IV), Exdeath (V), Jenova (VII) and the Terrans (IX).
- Path of Greatest Resistance: If you get stuck, pick a direction and if the enemies are challenging again, you're going in the right direction again.
- Averted horribly II: in most other Final Fantasies, the sequence in which you visit towns is mainly enforced by geographical features the player cannot overcome until the right transportation is found. In II, you know you strayed from the sequence because the next random encounter killed your party in seconds.
- Pause Abuse: Many games with the "Active Time Battle" system (4 thru 9, and X-2) have an option to pause the ATB clock when a player accesses an in-battle submenu (magic, items, etc.), but any in-progress attack animations will continue to execute. As a result, the player can gain a slight speed advantage by opening the menu whenever a party member executes an action, to prevent enemy turns from coming up while the attack animation takes place.
- Pillar of Light: The usual appearance of the Holy spell.
- Power Crystal: frequently represent the force of "light" or "life". They are sometimes sentient, but almost always drive the plot.
- Ragnarok Proofing; You can't swing a sword in Final Fantasy games without hitting a fully functional relic of a lost civilization.
- Random Effect Spell: Numerous throughout the series.
- Recurring Element: Cid, people named Highwind, moogles, chocobos, summons such as Ifrit and Bahamut, monsters such as Bomb and Cactuar, Ultima and Omega Weapons, Gilgamesh, and crystals.
- The Red Mage: Trope Namer
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: Moogles, who are fond of saying "kupo".
- Saving the World: What you will end up doing in several Final Fantasy games. Sometimes with the rest of the universe.
- Sequel Escalation: Throughout the series, some sort of hit point inflation seems to be taking place. In Final Fantasy I, the final boss has 2000 HP in the original version. By Final Fantasy IV there are a few spells that will generally do 9999 points of damage. In some of the later games, a single attack will do that much. By Final Fantasy XIII early enemies have hundreds of thousands, and each form of the final boss has over 5 million. Final Fantasy XII's optional super boss (well, the most powerful of several) has FIFTY MILLION and is so far still unmatched in the HP department. Make sure you've used the bathroom and gotten a snack before you start one of these battles.
- Shock and Awe: Thunder, Thundara (not the planet), Thundaga, and a summon, usually Ramuh, but not always.
- Sidequest: Loads of them.
- Skill Slot System: Many of the Final Fantasy games have this in some form or another, whether it's a skill tree, like what Final Fantasy X has, or Final Fantasy 5's leveling system.
- Smash Mook: Particularly the Behemoths.
- Solemn Ending Theme
- Sphere of Destruction: The trademark design of the Ultima spell.
- Spinning Out of Here: Several of the earlier games show teleportation this way.
- Stock Weapon Names, such as Excalibur, Masamune, and the series' own Ultima weapon.
- Summon Magic: Creatures that a particular class of character can invoke, and which represent most of the combat power for that character.
- Tech Points: Called "AP", and often relates to a quirky new experience and character advancement system in each game.
- Thematic Series: One of the most notable game examples. None of the numbered titles in the series are related to any of the others except by series-wide hallmarks, like the ATB battle system, Chocobos, and the names of spells. Only four of them have sequels taking place in the same continuity as the original game. There are occasionally hints that one world is related to another, like Final Fantasy X-2 hinting that it's related to Final Fantasy VII.
- Theme Naming: A recent trend in Final Fantasy games, mainly ones
with characters designed by Nomurawritten by Nojima, is having the protagonists' names related to weather or the sky.
- The Three Faces of Eve: All main series games since Final Fantasy IV have had exactly three female playable characters. With the exception of Final Fantasy XIII where two of the female characters fit into the second classification, each of the females in each game fits roughly into one of three categories:
- A Mysterious Waif/Rebellious Princess: Rosa, Lenna, Terra, Aerith, Rinoa, Garnet, Yuna, Ashe, Vanille
- An Action Girl/Black Magician Girl: Rydia, Faris, Celes, Tifa, Quistis, Freya, Lulu, Fran, Fang and Lightning
- A Bratty Half-Pint/Genki Girl: Porom, Krile, Relm, Yuffie, Selphie, Eiko, Rikku, Penelo, Vanille (who's pulling double duty)
- Those Two Guys: Biggs and Wedge, who appear in various guises in almost all of the games from VI onward (and who were retconned into IV by The After Years), and die horribly about half the time.
- Vancian Magic: A magic system with a common set of spell names across the series, with several frequently reused classes of spell-casters, and quirky variations for magic advancement and availability unique to each game.
- The very first game played this trope to type, since it was cribbing rather heavily from D&D. All spells had a spell levels, and mages had limited uses of spells per level which they could not regain until the party rested.
- The Verse: Each numbered sequel produces a new one (see Non-Linear Sequel, above); the only established universe to get a large number of games set in it is Ivalice (FFXII and various Tactics games), and even then the links between various games is a little confusing.
- Games getting sequels has increased in recent years including Final Fantasy X-2, Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, Final Fantasy XIII-2, and The Compilation of Final Fantasy VII.
- White Mage: The Trope Namer.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: You see that list of games up there? Every single one of them has at least one character with hair of an unnatural shade, be it blue, green, purple, pink, inhuman shades of red, or--the series' favorite--silvery-white.