5 best mainline Final Fantasy protagonists ranked in overall power

Across the Final Fantasy franchise, the protagonists have wildly varied in power. All of them are heroic in their own way, and ultimately triumph, but what about the best of the best?

Based on the overall power in the game, instead of what their backstory offers, several of these characters could lay claim to being the most powerful protagonists in the entire franchise.

This list will only feature protagonists from the mainline entries in the franchise, and any additional growth they receive elsewhere will not be counted.

The criteria used to determine the strongest Final Fantasy protagonists

There are some caveats to this list, as far as what games are and are not allowed to be considered. There are a few bits of criteria to make clear before going forward with the list, which is why these Final Fantasy heroes were picked.

Criteria for the strongest Final Fantasy heroes

  • Mainline entries only: no sequels, remakes, or side games.
  • No MMOs: Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIV are not fully-fleshed heroes.
  • Power rating/ranking only based on in-game mechanics/possibilities.

This means that Lightning, while decently powerful in Final Fantasy XIII, does not make this list. By the end of Lightning Returns, she’s incredibly strong, and secondary/tertiary games will not be considered.

A few honorable mentions include: Lightning, Noctis Lucis Caelum, and Zidane Tribal almost made the top 5.

Top 5 Final Fantasy heroes

  • Ramza Beoulve (FFT
  • Firion (FFII)
  • Terra Branford (FFVI)
  • Tidus (FFX)
  • Cloud (FFVII)

5) Ramza Beoulve (Final Fantasy Tactics)

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Ramza can do it all, and he can do it well (Image via Square Enix)

Ramza Beoulve of FFT is a genuinely unique character when it comes to the series. In Final Fantasy Tactics, male and female characters have their own particular stat growth. Ramza received superior physical growth (male stats) and superior magical growth (female stats). He is also the only character in the game that can unlock the Ultima spell.

On top of that, he can have two character classes (Main, Sub), a passive ability, a counter ability and an inherent ability. It’s so easy to make an overwhelming monster out of Ramza.

Give him Monk/Squire with Ninja’s Dual Swords, and he’s ready to murder anything in the game. Giving him Square grants access to Shout, giving him +10 Bravery, +1 Speed, +1 PA, and +1 MA, and it stacks as well. It’s very easy to get him swinging for maximum damage on both hits.

4) Firion (Final Fantasy II)

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Firion was a major upgrade from the Warriors of Light, but he’s still not quite the best (Image via Square Enix)

While Firion doesn’t have any special ability to make him unique, the broken stat growth system of Final Fantasy II makes him stand out when it comes to power. By maxing out agility, Firion is essentially untouchable for the rest of the game. While he’s not an especially well-fleshed out or an interesting character, he can be whatever players want him to be thanks to the open-ended growth system.

Characters don’t need to select a class, they unlock the spells and wear the gear they want, and their stats grow depending on what they do. It’s incredibly simple to make Firion into a White Mage (healing power), a powerful Warrior, and also be untouchable in combat.

3) Terra Branford (Final Fantasy VI)

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Terra, half-human, half-Esper can do some incredible things (Image via Square Enix)

While technically the game does not have a proper main character, Terra is used in the brunt of the promotion of the game and is the first character that players control. With that in mind, Terra Branford is the main character. A bulk of the story is about her growth, and despite all the characters being fleshed out, Terra Branford gets the most in terms of development.

Why is she so powerful? The Magicite system means she gets the stats she wants, whether she is a melee or magic character. The combat system offers a few ways to be unbearably powerful.

She can equip an Economizer+Gem Box to have 1MP cost on all spells and dual cast. Combine this with the Quick spell to cast Ultima four times a round for 4 total MP and likely do maximum damage on all of them.

Conversely, she can go Strength instead, dual wield Atma Weapons with maximum HP, and then use Genji Glove+Offering. Then, she will strike eight times a round for maximum damage (as long as her HP is at max), or use Scimitar/whatever other powerful weapon players want.

Then, with Quick, she does it twice. It’s incredibly simple to obliterate Kefka using just her. This is all before she turns into a full-blooded Esper, and enhances her stats further! Don’t sleep on Terra Branford.

2) Tidus (Final Fantasy X)

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With patience, Tidus can do everything, and he can overwhelm virtually any boss with damage (Image via Square Enix)

The top two were so incredibly hard to pick, to be honest. Tidus is overwhelmingly powerful, but it takes such a long time to really get there. With his Ultimate Weapon, the Caladbolg, he breaks the damage limit and so much more. So, he doesn’t need fancy summons or spells to absolutely smash foes.

Tidus can abuse a variety of AP-gaining systems to easily level up and fill the entire Sphere Grid up, gaining all of the powers of every character in the game. Of course, any Final Fantasy X character can do this, but Tidus is the hero. His damage will be high, and it will be terrifying.

He can slap Haste on himself and start smashing people with AoE Magic or Quick Attack, whatever he prefers. The downside is how frustrating it is to get his Ultimate Weapon. At least players can craft damage limit-breaking weapons. Tidus falls short on ultimate abilities too. His Limit skills are nothing compared to Omnislash.

1) Cloud Strife (Final Fantasy VII)

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What can’t Cloud do? Be himself! (Image via Square Enix)

This is based solely on the PlayStation 1’s version of Final Fantasy VII, based on our initial criteria. The remake is not finished anyway, so it wouldn’t make sense to include it. There are simply too many powerful combos Cloud Strife can take advantage of.

He can Final Attack-Phoenix to resurrect party members, he can quad-cast most of the bigger summons, and can also AoE melee with other Materia combos.

That’s what makes Cloud Strife so powerful. The Materia system is absolutely, positively broken. He also has access to one of the most powerful summons of all time, in Knights of the Round. 13 hits for tons of damage? Bosses will crumble under the might of Cloud.

He’s not the best magic user in the game, but his Knights of the Round at Level 99 will still be terrifying. All of his Limit Break attacks are incredibly, but especially Omnislash, which is 15 hits.

There are many powerful heroes in this franchise, and they all have their own positives to make them worthy of mention. These are the absolute best when it comes to pure damage and combat output in the mainline entries to the franchise, but others’ mileage may vary. Like all lists, some fans may disagree and see other characters as better.

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