There's really no end to the amount of Final Fantasy top ten lists I can make, is there? This time, I'll be honoring the women of Final Fantasy and counting down the best female characters of all time. Now, before we start, I've got to make one thing clear: this is not a list based on appearances. I'm not making a ridiculous "sexiest girls in gaming" list.
Character design does factor into the placements, but the main thing I'll be looking into is their actual character. Are they well-written female personas? Are they appealing and likable in terms of personality? These are the questions I'll be asking as we run down the list. And of course, this is a list of my top 10 Final Fantasy girls, so if you have a different opinion, just share it in the comments below!
Now then, number ten...
10. Agrias Oaks
I seem to have a thing for strong female characters, so you're going to see a lot of them on this list. Agrias is the first in that series of strong women. She takes a strict no-nonsense attitude when on the job, and she's powerful to boot. I can't tell you how much I loved hitting multiple enemies with Stasis Sword. I don't know if it was her awesome design or her Holy Sword skills, but I couldn't help but stick with Agrias throughout my Tactics adventure.
9. Aerith Gainsborough
Aerith is one of the most popular FF girls, but to me she doesn't get anything higher than the 9 spot. Her main draw is definitely her positive attitude. She's gentle, bright, and reckless all at once. She's just the kind of fun person you'd want to spend your day with. But me? I couldn't help but get annoyed at times. I think the biggest thing that did it for me was the fact that you couldn't use her for very long. My favorite characters tend to grow on me as I play as them, but Aerith leaves the party rather early in the game. Perhaps if she stayed a permanent character, I would have a better impression of her. Still, she deserves a nod for her iconic role in gaming culture.
Strong girl number twooo. Beatrix isn't quite like the others, however, considering she's a powerful villain throughout most of FFIX. Her qualities include a great deal of elegance, poise, and a considerable amount of badassery that most of the other girls on this list don't have. Seriously, you fight her numerous times in the game and she just waits a little bit before unleashing a Climhazzard hell-storm that wipes out your entire party. I liked that her character developed as the story went on, and her romantic encounters with Steiner definitely showed a more human (and feminine) side of her. For me, that alone made her character so much more appealing.
We immediately move on to strong girl number three. Let me just start by saying that I like Lightning primarily for her design. I love the way her scarf/cape flows in-game, her gunblade weapon is cool, and I'm a sucker for pink hair (strangely). Her overall look just flows very well and is very appealing. That being said, I'll admit that her personality can seem a bit flat at times. I immediately liked her tomboyish, stoic attitude, but her lack of character development really hurt her potential as XIII's main character. I did like her interactions with Hope; it showed a softer side to her, and she would have been infinitely more appealing if they continued with that. Too bad they chose to focus on Vanille's shrieking face instead.
6. Ashe Dalmasca
Here's strong girl number four. I've talked about how I didn't much care for the cast of FFXII, but looking back, I think I was mostly discontent with the game's "sort-of" protagonist Vaan. Balthier was obviously great, and Baasch had a really interesting character arc. But my favorite character out of the bunch was definitely Ashe, who seemed to fit the label of "main character" a lot better. She's incredibly young and the entire world seems to want her dead, but she pushes through with a sword-swinging resolution that would put most grown men to shame. I loved that confidence and strength, and I'm fond of her design as well, so putting Ashe on this list was a no-brainer.
5. Garnet Til Alexandros XVII
Garnet's development from a naive princess to the stouthearted warrior we see her as near the end of the game was undoubtedly a large part of the charm that made FFIX's story so endearing. She pulled me in from the very beginning, when it turned out that we didn't need to kidnap her, as she was already trying to get kidnapped by us. She was pretty much the anti-damsel in this regard, and I loved that about her. Obviously, it takes awhile for her to shake her naivete, but it was the steady progress that made playing through her story so worthwhile. That, and getting to tear ass with Bahamut...
4. Tifa Lockhart
Tifa definitely gets points for her design and for being the first Final Fantasy girl I ever played as, but she's so much more than just a nice pair of...eyes. She's cheerful, optimistic, and constantly looking out for others. She practically makes it her job to make sure everybody in Avalanche is in high spirits. That's gotta be demanding work when Cloud is moping around all the time and Barret is slamming tables and swearing for no reason. You'll never find her complaining about it, either, as she's plenty capable of running on walls and bashing in heads with her bare hands. She's a perfect mix of kickass and motherly, which is why I'd have to go ahead and call her the top 'strong girl' on this list.
Yuna seems like she would be very good wife material. She's incredibly sincere, caring, loyal to all of her companions, and selfless to a level that most people couldn't even compare to. Her qualities give her a sort of magnetism that leads crowds of people to admire her like a queen. I guess that comes with being a summoner, which (spoiler alert) is basically a job that ends in self-sacrifice. When I found out about this plot-twist near the end of FFX, I quickly saw Yuna in a new light. Any person that has the strength and will to take on such a huge responsibility before turning 18 is definitely worth admiring. FFX-2 may have messed up her character a bit, but let's remember Yuna as she was in the original game. You know, before she became a boy-obsessed pop idol.
The entire cast of FFIV faces tragedy at some point during the story, but none of the characters pull through with quite as much style and indomitability as Rydia. She's a mere 7 year old girl when she loses her mother and her entire village to a fire bomb attack. This obviously devastates her at first, but she's able to gather herself quickly enough to scold a grown man for weeping over his deceased lover just moments later (the balls on this girl). Then, during a later portion of the game, she is thrown off a boat and swallowed by Leviathan. We assume that she's been lost forever, but this merely sets her up for a moment of badassery where she comes back as a fully grown woman to save our asses from certain death. I won't be explaining how that happens; the allure of Rydia's resilience is best experienced through your own playthrough of FFIV after all.
1. Terra Branford
To me, Terra has always been the best female character in the Final Fantasy series. She's powerful, fun to play as, and her story is incredibly endearing as she essentially takes the lead role in FFVI. Her story is one of alienation and loneliness. She's the only one of her kind (half human, half Esper) and she's torn between two worlds that fear and despise each other. A badly written female character would have laid back and let a hero come to her rescue, but FFVI's amazing story is all about Terra's struggle towards finding purpose in a world that would either have her exploited or dead.
She falters towards the end of story when the world is torn asunder by Kefka's wrath, but she drags her own defeated body through the mud and finds purpose in the love she has for a group of orphaned children. See? No cliche romance here. Just an incredibly enthralling battle that has Terra defeat Kefka, save all her allies, and finally gain freedom. She represents the pinnacle of female characterization in Final Fantasy and she's my absolute favorite character to play as on this list, so there's really no doubt in my mind that Terra earns her spot here as Final Fantasy's number one heroine.