The Saddest Character Backstories In Final Fantasy 16

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Highlights

  • The characters in Final Fantasy 16 have sad and tragic backstories that shape their motivations and actions throughout the game.
  • Barnabas, the king of Waloed, has a sad backstory of losing his mother and allies himself with Ultima for revenge against humanity.
  • Clive, the main character, experiences the most heartbreaking moments, including the death of his brother Joshua and being enslaved by his mother, leading him on a path of revenge and tragedy.

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The Final Fantasy series is marked by tragedy. The theme pervades the storylines and character backgrounds. Long-time fans will remember Aerith’s death in Final Fantasy 7 and the moment when Vivi discovered he was manufactured in a Black Mage factory and only had one year left to live in Final Fantasy 9. These gut-wrenching scenes often advance the plot and motivate the surviving characters, but before the main story even begins, many of the characters have already faced adversity and can recount tales of their harrowing past.

Related: Most Heartbreaking Moments In Final Fantasy, Ranked

Compared to the other entries, Final Fantasy 16 adopts a darker tone, which is reflected in character backstories. Across the six realms of Valisthea, the characters come from a range of backgrounds and stations in life. Whether they are the crown prince or a soldier, each character is a victim of fate—or the video game narrative. Some characters have sadder backstories than others by the time you meet them in the present day.

Warning: This list includes early-game spoilers.

6 Barnabas

Barnabas Points His Sword In Final Fantasy 16

Barnabas Tharmr, the king of Waloed, is one of the villains in FF16. Like all great villains, Barnabas has a sad backstory. Yet unlike other rulers, he was not born into nobility but rather drew on his powers as the Dominant of Odin to conquer parts of the Ash continent and gain control of his kingdom’s land.

According to lore, his mother worshiped the deity Ultima, and she was killed for her religion. Barnabas’s grief shaped him and contributed to his misanthropy. He has allied himself with Ultima and likewise seeks the destruction of humanity, due to the loss of his mother.

5 Cid

Cid hangs on the edge of a wooden bridge in Final Fantasy 16

Cidolfus “Cid” Telamon comes from a vagabond background. His backstory hardens his character in some ways, but it also instills him with the drive to irreversibly change Valisthea.

While he is known to have arrived from beyond Valisthean shores, little is known about his past before that point. By the time Cid and Clive cross paths, Cid has abandoned his post in the Royal Waloeder Army to pursue a greater mission.

Related: Final Fantasy 16: Party Members, Ranked

Cid saw how the many realms took advantage of Dominants like himself and Bearers, enslaved people who possess magical powers. He assembled a band of rebels in the hopes of ending the Blight, a spreading force that lays waste to the earth, and freeing the Bearers.

Cid himself is also dying from the Crystal’s Curse, which slowly kills people who overuse magic.

4 Benedikta

Benedikta the Dominant of Garuda in winged form during second phase of battle against Clive in Final Fantasy 16

Benedikta Harman’s history is somewhat of a mystery. You are given a few clues about her previous relationships: she had a romance with Barnabas as seen in a flashback, and the game heavily implies that she and Cid were lovers, though they had a falling-out after he deserted the Waloeder Army.

As a commander for the Kingdom of Waloed and the Dominant of Garuda, Benedikta acts tough and is gifted with both a sword and her wind-based abilities. Based on her cold exterior, she like many of the other characters relinquished her youth and innocence sooner than deemed fair in order to survive.

In her final moments, before she loses control and becomes subsumed by Garuda, Benedikta remembers how Cid had helped her escape when she was enslaved by the Iron Kingdom. Her past is representative of that of other Dominants, as well as Bearers, who had been enslaved or even killed because of their powers.

3 Joshua

Young Joshua against a backdrop of fire in Clive’s memory in Final Fantasy 16

Joshua Rosfield, the second son of the Archduke of Rosaria, carried the burden of protecting his people from a young age. While most had expected his older brother Clive to become the next Phoenix, Joshua instead inherited the Phoenix’s powers.

Joshua was reluctant to bear this responsibility and hardly acted stuffy and superior like a typical noble.

Related: Final Fantasy: Every Version of Phoenix, Ranked

In a flashback sequence from Clive’s point of view, Joshua watches his nation fall and loses his father in one fell swoop. As the Holy Empire of Sanbreque invades Rosaria, Joshua firsthand witnesses his father’s murder.

Joshua then transforms into the Phoenix and attacks in a rage without differentiating royal subjects from foreign enemies.

2 Jill

Adult Jill speaks with Clive when they are reunited in Final Fantasy 16

Jill Warrick’s story begins in the Northern Territories. When the Territories collapsed, she was brought to Rosaria and primed to protect her new homeland.

Despite being a hostage, Jill grew up alongside Clive and Joshua, and the three of them raised the pup Torgal together. Although Jill embraced her life in Rosaria, her happiness was bittersweet because she had been taken from her home.

After twelve-year-old Jill had found camaraderie with Clive and Joshua, she got separated from them. When Rosaria fell, the Iron Kingdom enlisted her in the army for her abilities as the Dominant of Shiva.

The Kingdom threatened to kill her countrywomen if she refused to fight on the Kingdom’s behalf. Given this impossible choice, Jill served the Iron Crusade for 13 years, claiming to have killed hundreds in battle, before Cid and Clive rescue her.

1 Clive

Clive’s expression when he learns of Rodney’s death in Final Fantasy 16

Clive’s character arc gets the most attention, so it is only natural that his story would include the most heartbreaking moments. You first become acquainted with Clive as a teenager on the day that the Grand Duchy of Rosaria fell and Clive’s father the Archduke died.

Through a flashback sequence, Clive sees his brother Joshua die at the hands of the Eikon Ifrit. In the aftermath, his mother Anabella, who has betrayed her late husband and Rosaria, enslaves Clive and makes him fight for the Sanbreque Army.

As the Shield of Rosaria, Clive experiences failure, loss, and betrayal. He spends the next 13 years killing with the sole purpose to avenge Joshua’s death.

Eventually, he must confront what really happened at Phoenix Gate, and the truth leaves him feeling aimless. His backstory is the saddest because it causes him to grieve, question his own identity, and set out on a path that will inevitably end in tragedy.

Next: Final Fantasy 16: All Eikons, Ranked

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