A Magitek knight forged by the Empire and tempered in battle. None have ever truly known the woman beneath the general's guise...Game description
Celes Chere is a playable character in Final Fantasy VI. She was raised in the Gestahlian Empire and received a magic infusion to turn her into a Magitek Knight, and rose through the ranks to become a general. However, she becomes disillusioned with the Empire and turns traitor, joining the Returners and forming a friendship with Locke.
In the World of Ruin Celes becomes the game's viewpoint character for the first several dungeons and is the first character the player controls. She travels across the new world seeking information on what has become of her friends since the cataclysm and brings them together again to strike back at Kefka and free the world from his rule.
Celes has long blonde hair and blue eyes. Her outfit varies considerably between her concept arts and game sprites. In her artworks, Celes wears a rich gold-yellow vest with detached sleeves that run up to her biceps and pants of the same color. She wears white boots and a top under her vest that comes up to her collarbone—the top is colored black, blue, purple, or pink in different concept art, but in spin-offs is consistently a shade of blue-indigo. Her sleeves and pants are laced on her thigh and upper arm. In her game sprites, Celes wears a low-cut green leotard with a belt around her waist, armored shoulderpads connected to a white cape, and blue boots and wrist bangles. Spin-offs have used either of these two designs.
Celes is also strongly associated with the dress she wore when performing in the Opera "Maria and Draco", an elaborate white gown with blue details, puffed shoulders, and a flared floor-length skirt with a blue ribbon around her waist. In this outfit Celes wears her hair tied with a blue ribbon.
Celes's signature weapon is a curved sword with a blue handle with a tassel and a golden crossguard with a swirl shape, one side curving up and the other down. Some spin-offs give this sword a more ornate blade with details carved into the metal, based on a piece of concept art where beads and other accessories are wound over the blade. This sword has never been named and Final Fantasy Record Keeper simply calls it "Celes' Sword".
I'm a former general, not some opera floozy!Celes is indignant at the idea of performing.
Initially Celes is an independent and harsh woman. She refuses Locke's offer to escape with him, preferring to remain imprisoned to face her execution with pride. She fiercely rejects Edgar's suggestion that Locke is smitten with her, and when Terra asks her "is it possible for you to love other people", Celes thinks she is mocking her and walks away. Despite her defection from the Empire Celes continues to identify with her former rank and brings it up to assert her dignity and pride. As time goes on Celes opens up more to the other party members and refers to them as her friends and comrades, and she is the driving force in the World of Ruin that begins reuniting the scattered party.
Despite serving in the Empire Celes has a strong sense of morals and self-sacrifice. She volunteers to lead the expedition to the southern continent to infiltrate the Empire, and stays behind in the Magitek Research Facility to distract Kefka and give the others time to escape. When Emperor Gestahl offers her the chance to ruin the world with him and Kefka, Celes declares "Power only breeds war... It's something we'd all be better off without" and then turns on them.
Her friendship with Locke is implied to be mutually romantic, though the two never openly express such feelings. She is hurt when Locke believes Kefka's lie that she was faking betraying the Empire to infiltrate the Returners, and for a time after when they reunite she refuses to speak to him. In the World of Ruin when Celes attempts suicide in an optional story scene, she discovers a bird bandaged with Locke's bandana, restoring her hope that he is alive somewhere in the world and giving her the strength to continue.
Celes cares deeply for Terra, acting as a sort of surrogate sister to her. When the party invades Kefka's Tower she questions what will happen to Terra if the party destroys the Warring Triad, the source of magic in the world. During the ending Celes is increasingly concerned for Terra's well-being as her powers begin to fade, and she is the party member who awakens on the Falcon after Terra falls and hurriedly searches the deck for her. In the game's final scenes where Terra steps to the bow of the ship and lets loose her ponytail, Celes steps up behind her and watches as she does so.
Celes's ability is Runic, which allows her to absorb the magical attacks of enemies to negate them and restore her MP. She is closely associated with ice and naturally learns Blizzard magic and its upgraded forms, and is also associated with holy light through the Holy spell. Spin-off appearances adopt Celes' Runic with a more general theme of redirecting, absorbing, and nullifying enemy attacks, and her abilities are often expanded into a Spellblade-like theme with Celes using her sword as a medium to channel magic through.
In Final Fantasy Record Keeper, Celes specializes in Spellblade and Knight abilities to attack with ice and holy skills. Her early Soul Breaks grant her Runic status, which negates certain magical attacks used against her and restores her ability charges. When using higher-tier Soul Breaks that give infinite ability charges while in effect, Celes' instead gives herself the "Magic Blink" status to avoid enemy spells, and she is able to grant this status to her allies as well. Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia gives Celes a theme of tanking magic damage, with abilities that force enemies to attack her, allow her to absorb magical BRV attacks to increase her BRV, and grant her HP Regen and BRV Regen. Final Fantasy Brave Exvius more simply focuses Celes on using ice magic to attack enemies and buffing and healing allies.
Celes was close with Cid growing up, who doted on her like a daughter. It is not known when Celes received her magic infusion and became a Magitek Knight, just that she was "very young", and Cid claims he forced her to undergo the procedure. Celes became a general of the Empire, and infamous for a "decimation" of Maranda. At some point in her service to the Empire she met Terra.
During the Empire's campaign in the north, Celes was branded a traitor—the exact reasons for her betrayal are not made explicit, but it is implied she discovered Kefka was planning to poison the people of Doma Castle and spoke against him. She was imprisoned in South Figaro and scheduled to be executed shortly before the Empire marched on Narshe. Locke was infiltrating the town to sabotage the Empire's advance and found Celes being held in a secret passage under the town. He freed her and convinced her to escape with him, and the two fled into the South Figaro Cave. An Imperial Magitek weapon, Tunnel Armor, attacked them in the cave, and Celes demonstrated her Runic blade to Locke by absorbing the machine's magic attacks. The Tunnel Armor was destroyed and the two continued to Narshe.
On the way, Celes explained she had overheard during her captivity that Kefka was planning to lead an attack on the town, and the two later relayed this to the assembled Returners. Cyan, another new ally of the Returners, recognized Celes and moved to attack her, but Locke defended her and Cyan backed down. With Kefka approaching the group headed into the cliffs above Narshe to defend a frozen esper that was Kefka's target. Cyan was still dubious of Celes who told him he could decide with his own eyes in the coming battle. The Battle for the Frozen Esper ended with the Returners defeating the Empire and Kefka retreating. In the aftermath, Terra approached the frozen esper and was transformed into a fiery esper-like being, and flew away.
The Returners found Terra in Zozo under the care of Ramuh, another esper. Terra was unable to control her powers due to her unstable emotional state, so Ramuh suggested the party infiltrate the Imperial capital Vector and free the espers being held in the Magitek Research Facility, as one of them could explain Terra's past to her and calm her. Celes volunteered to lead the mission since she knew the Empire well, and Locke insisted on accompanying her. The party headed to Jidoor to investigate leads on a means of reaching the southern continent, and met the Impresario who oversees the Opera House. The Impresario mistook Celes for someone named "Maria" and ran off in a panic, dropping a letter.
The party learned from the letter that Setzer, a wandering gambler, was planning to abduct Maria, the star of the opera. Setzer owned the world's only private airship, the Blackjack, and the party decided to make contact with him to convince him to take them to the southern continent. Celes happened to bear an uncanny resemblance to Maria, so Locke suggested to the Impresario they have Celes take her place in the opera and allow Setzer to kidnap her, then she can sneak the party onto the airship. Celes was indignant at the idea of performing in the opera, but accepted and began rehearsing. Meanwhile the octopus Ultros, angry at the party for snubbing him earlier, plotted to sabotage the opera and ruin their plan.
During the show Locke went to see Celes in her dressing room and was flustered by her beauty in her opera dress. Celes asked why he stuck up for her earlier, and Locke alluded to his deceased lover Rachel whom Celes reminded him of. Celes went on-stage and performed "Aria di Mezzo Carattere", stunning Locke. She continued with the opera by attending a ball hosted by Prince Ralse, which was interrupted by forces led by Maria's lover Draco. As Celes watched Draco and Ralse duel for her hand, Locke and the other party members discovered Ultros's plan to drop a massive weight above the stage and crush Celes. They raced to the rafters to confront him and both groups fell onto the stage, knocking out Draco and Ralse. The party engaged Ultros, and in the chaos Setzer arrived and made off with Celes.
Setzer threw Celes into the guest room of the Blackjack and left. Celes dropped a rope down and Locke and the party climbed on-board. When Setzer returned he was confronted by the group, and realized Celes was not Maria. They asked Setzer for help and he decided he preferred Celes to Maria, and so offered a deal to aid the party if Celes agreed to marry him. Celes accepted over Locke's protests but added a stipulation—they would settle the wager with a coin toss. If it was heads, Setzer would help them regardless, but if it was tails, she'd marry him. Setzer agreed, not knowing that Celes had taken a two-headed coin from Edgar. Setzer realized the trick but laughed at falling for it and agreed to the terms anyway.
When the group reached Vector, a Returner sympathizer helped the group sneak into the Magitek Research Facility. They reached the lab containing the bulk of the captive espers and deactivated the machinery, but the espers had been drained off too much magic and died, turning into magicite that gravitated to the party. Cid arrived and approached Celes, asking about rumors she had infiltrated the Returners as a spy. Locke was surprised at this and Kefka entered the room, claiming it was true. He demanded Celes bring the magicite to him, and Celes asked Locke if he trusted her. Kefka had Imperial soldiers attack the group, knocking Celes aside. Celes vowed she would be the one to protect Locke this time, and teleported Kefka and his men away, along with herself. Locke and the others left the labs with Cid and escaped the facility.
The Returners used the power and information gained from the magicite to attempt to open the sealed gate to the Esper World and enlist their aid in attacking the Empire, but the espers devastated Vector beyond what the party envisioned. With the city in flames Emperor Gestahl called a truce and asked the Returners to allow Terra to accompany an expedition to find the espers and negotiate with them, that would be headed by General Leo. They agreed and Locke also volunteered to accompany Terra. In Albrook, Leo introduced the two to two others that would be coming with them: the mercenary assassin Shadow, and Celes, who had apparently rejoined the Empire and reclaimed her rank. Locke and Terra were surprised to see her, but she said nothing and ran when they approached her.
The group stayed the night in the inn before leaving, and in the middle of the night Locke awoke and went outside to find Celes staring at the water. Locke tried to talk to her, but she turned away, and when he admitted he had doubted her she left. During the expedition as they prepared to make land at Thamasa, Celes finally tried to speak to Locke, but he turned from her and left.
With help from the Thamasan residents Strago and Relm, Terra and Locke found the espers and brought them to Thamasa to negotiate with General Leo. With the war seemingly ending, Celes wanted to return to Vector. Locke approached her, but Celes rebuffed him, and Relm mocked the romantic tension between them, causing everyone but them to laugh. At that moment Kefka arrived and revealed the entire plot had been a ruse to lure the espers out. Kefka and an escort of Imperials subdued the Returners and Leo's forces, and Kefka killed the espers and Leo. The party buried Leo and pondered the fate of their other allies, and they arrived shortly in the Blackjack, having learned of Gestahl's intentions before he could act against them.
Kefka and Gestahl entered the esper world and raised the Floating Continent, at its summit the Warring Triad, the gods of magic. The party stormed the continent and confronted the two, and Celes arrived and tried to reason with Gestahl. Gestahl used the power of the Triad to paralyze the party and offered Celes the chance to rejoin him and rule the world with him and Kefka. Kefka handed her a sword and ordered her to kill her comrades as a show of loyalty. Celes took the weapon and approached the party, but then spun around and stabbed Kefka. Kefka flew into a rage and seized the power of the Triad for himself, killing Gestahl.
Kefka knocked Celes aside and moved the Triad out of alignment, causing their power to run amok. Shadow arrived and started to push the Triad back into position, and the party freed themselves from their bindings. A surge of magic forced them and Celes back and they had no choice but to flee. The party escaped the Floating Continent with Shadow on the Blackjack, but it was too late: the disruption of the Triad's formation wreaked destruction across the planet. The Blackjack was torn apart in the outpouring of magic and the party was scattered.
Celes woke up in a cabin being cared for by Cid. Cid told her they were on a small island and it had been a full year since the cataclysm. Others who had lived on the island had leapt off the northern cliffs in despair, and they were the only two left. The two decided to live out their lives and Celes suggested she refer to Cid as "grandfather", which he laughed at. Cid began to cough and explained he took ill a few days ago, and Celes usherded him to bed and promised to take care of him, venturing to the beach to catch fish to feed him.
Depending on the player's actions, Cid either recovered or perished. If he perished, Celes was distraught and leapt off the northern cliffs to attempt suicide. She washed up on shore and was awakened by a seagull with a wing bandaged by a bandana, giving Celes the hope Locke was alive. She returned to the house and discovered a letter from Cid directing her to a hidden basement where he had been building a raft to escape the island. If Cid was saved, he showed Celes the raft himself. Either way, Celes used the raft to sail to the mainland.
The raft landed near Albrook and Celes gathered information on the current state of the world. She went north to Tzen just as the town was attacked by Kefka's "Light of Judgment", causing a house to start to collapse, only supported by Sabin, Edgar's brother. Sabin held the house up while Celes rescued the son of the owner trapped inside, and Sabin leapt away as Celes emerged and the house collapsed. Sabin joined Celes and the two traveled east to Mobliz. The village's adults had been killed by Kefka's Light of Judgment and Terra was taking care of the orphaned children. Celes and Sabin asked her to come with them but she refused, as she had grown attached to the children and was defending them from Humbaba, a demon that prowled the region.
Celes and Sabin went to Nikeah and met a group of bandits called the Crimson Robbers who were planning to raid Figaro Castle; the castle had been lost in the cataclysm when its burrowing mechanisms malfunctioned and only they knew how to find it. The leader of the bandits was a man named "Gerad" with a suspicious resemblance to Edgar. Celes called out to him and Gerad claimed he had no idea what she was talking about, but his flirtatious mannerisms heightened Celes's suspicions. She and Sabin snuck aboard the ship the robbers were using to travel to South Figaro and pursued them into the South Figaro Cave, where they used a new tunnel dug by sandworms to enter the dungeon of Figaro Castle.
In the engine room Gerad and the robbers found the castle's engines entangled by tentacles preventing them from working. Gerad sent his men ahead to loot the treasure room while he fought the tentacles, and Celes called to him again. Edgar gave up the charade and told Celes to lend him a hand, and the three defeated the monsters. Edgar explained he wanted to help save Figaro but had no idea where to look, so when he heard the bandits had escaped from the castle he posed as their new boss and had them lead him inside. The three hid as the bandits emerged and left, presuming "Gerad" was eaten by the monster. With the engines repaired the castle arose from the desert and traveled to Kohlingen.
At Kohlingen the group found Setzer in the bar, depressed over the state of the world and the loss of his airship, claiming to have given up on his dreams of freedom. Celes convinced him to chase a new dream—a better world—and Setzer was motivated to help. He took the group to Darill's Tomb and raised an airship formerly owned by his friend Darill, the Falcon. With the Falcon, the group could enter Kefka's Tower from the air, but first they resolve to find their friends. A carrier pigeon flew by and Celes felt an urge to follow it. They followed it to Maranda, where a girl named Lola had been receiving letters from a man the group believed to be Cyan, giving them their first lead on another ally to find.
Eventually the growing party explored the Phoenix Cave, where Emperor Gestahl was rumored to have hidden a "legendary treasure". They found Locke there who had already found the legendary treasure—the phoenix magicite. Celes deduced he intended to use it to revive Rachel and the party took Locke to Kohlingen. The Phoenix revived Rachel for only a moment, but long enough to absolve Locke of his guilt in failing to save her and give him her blessing to be with Celes. When Locke emerged from the basement Celes approached him, and Locke said he felt at ease and rejoined the party to fight Kefka.
The party entered Kefka's Tower and destroyed him, and with the source of magic in the world gone the tower began to collapse and the party's magicites began to vanish. Terra transformed into her esper form and the group rushed back to the Falcon. Along the way Celes dropped the bandana she had kept from the solitary island and rushed to get it, but the floor collapsed under her, a parallel to when Rachel had fallen. Locke dove and caught her, refusing to let go, and pulled her to safety. At another point, Edgar and Setzer were trapped when a path collapsed. A series of paired switches had to be pressed in unison to free them, so the mime Gogo mimicked Celes's movements perfectly and together they saved the two.
The group reached the Falcon and took off with Terra flying ahead of them. Celes noticed Terra's strength was fading, and when she fell from the sky he had Setzer dove to catch her. The party momentarily passed out from the high-speed descent, and when Celes awoke she found the collapsed Terra; she stood and thanked Setzer for the save. As the party flied around witnessing the world rebuilding, Terra stepped to the bow of the ship and let her ponytail go to savor her freedom, Celes watching a few steps behind her.
Celes is a Rune Knight with balanced stats and a wide range of equipment, making her useful in both physical damage roles and magical damage roles. Her ability is Runic, which allows her to absorb magical attacks to restore her MP. She is one of two characters to naturally learn magic as she levels up. Her Desperation Attack is Spinning Edge, which deals magical damage to one enemy.
Celes is the only character, other than Terra, introduced without her theme music; instead, the track "Under Martial Law" is playing. It is not until after her performance in the opera that Celes's theme makes an appearance.
The original version of "Celes" is included on the fourth disc of the Final Fantasy Vinyls collector's edition set, and appears as a song in Theatrhythm Final Fantasy All-Star Carnival. The original SNES version of "Celes's Theme" is obtainable as a battle music from a Theatrhythm Final Fantasy event (2018/01) in the arcade version of Dissidia Final Fantasy NT.
Celes has made appearances in the following games in the Final Fantasy series:
- Final Fantasy Tactics S as a playable character.
- Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia as a playable character.
- Theatrhythm Final Fantasy as a playable character.
- Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call as a playable character.
- Theatrhythm Final Fantasy All-Star Carnival as a playable character.
- Pictlogica Final Fantasy as a playable character.
- Final Fantasy Airborne Brigade as a summonable Legend.
- Final Fantasy Artniks as a series of cards.
- Final Fantasy All the Bravest as a playable character.
- Final Fantasy Record Keeper as a playable character.
- Final Fantasy Brave Exvius as a summonable vision.
- World of Final Fantasy as a summonable Champion.
- Final Fantasy Trading Card Game as a series of cards.
- Triple Triad as a card.
Behind the scenes
After it was decided Final Fantasy VI would feature an ensemble cast with no clear main protagonist, everyone in the development team was encouraged to provide ideas for characters and their episodes. Celes's character and story were colored by influence from Yoshinori Kitase.
Celes was originally meant to be a "conflicted spy" archetype—a spy working for the antagonists, but swayed by the benevolence of the people she was supposed to be spying on and how nice Locke was to her. She was to be psychologically unstable, like Kefka, due to a similar magic infusion process. Although the "conflicted spy" idea was not used in Final Fantasy VI itself, the archetype was later used for Cait Sith in Final Fantasy VII.
Celes was Yoshinori Kitase's favorite Final Fantasy VI character from a developer's point of view. Kitase has stated that Celes did not have as much of a role at first, but this changed later in development. The player starts the World of Ruin storyline with Celes because it "made sense in the overall flow of the story" and because the developers were concerned that starting it with Terra would place too much importance on her story. The developers did not initially intend to create a "world of ruin". Rather, the plan was for the party to save the world and defeat Kefka just as the world was about to be destroyed. However, because the game was coming along more smoothly than expected, the developers could free up time to implement another version of the world after its "end". Yoshinori Kitase had an emotional attachment to Celes ever since he started event planning for the second chapter where they would try to make her the main character.
Kitase has later commented him having taken a liking to Celes ended up making her a more important character in the game than originally envisioned:
I ended up so involved with each personality while scripting the scenarios that there were points where, looking back at the game today, it's clear that I somewhat lost this balance. For example, as the scenes featuring Celes and Kefka progress, these characters (while not directly playable in the game) became far greater and more influential than originally intended when development began.Yoshinori Kitase in an interview with Edge magazine in 2013
The scene where Celes is being tortured by the Empire was removed for the Game Boy Advance release of Final Fantasy VI. This is because the original Final Fantasy VI was created before the Japanese ratings board, CERO, existed. Violence is rated strictly in Japan, and Square wanted a CERO A rating for the Game Boy Advance version, which would have been impossible if a game depicts violence against a restrained human.
In 1994, Square released pencil toppers and key chains featuring the cast from Final Fantasy VI in their super-deformed forms, Celes included. The pencil toppers and key chains were available in vending machines. At least two different versions of the Celes key chain exist: one in her in-game sprite outfit and one dressed as Maria.
The Final Fantasy Cold Cast Collection is a limited edition collectible series featuring cold cast statues that display notable scenes from Final Fantasy series. Only 3,000 Celes and opera house cold casts were made, each coming with a card and card stand that had the statue's limited number and description. The series has been out of production since 1999.
Celes is possibly derived from Latin caeles, which means "celestial" or "heavenly". It could be related to Celeste, a female given name in Italian, French and Spanish that also means "celestial" or "heavenly" (or, additionally, "sky-blue" in Spanish and Italian). This would provide a contrast to the English name of her foil protagonist Terra, terra being the Latin word for "land" or "earth". However, Terra was chosen for Tina's localization name by Ted Woolsey, meaning Celes's name wasn't originally meant to parallel Terra's. An alternative theory is that her name is Ceres, after the Roman goddess of fertility.
Both of these etymologies are problematic because Celes's Japanese name is セリス (Serisu?), and Japanese tends to adapt Classical Latin c as a [/k/] sound in all positions; for instance, the usual Japanese name for Ceres is ケレース (Kerēsu?) or ケレス (Keresu?). But Japanese セリス (Serisu?) has also been used to adapt other names like Celice, Celis and Cerise, none of which are from Classical Latin. Celes was the romanization prescribed for the name upon the original release of Final Fantasy VI in Japan.
The French Chère is the feminine form of cher, meaning "dear", "precious", "treasured" or "expensive".
- Final Fantasy VI Settei Shiryō-hen, p.36
- Final Fantasy Ultimania Archive Volume 1, p.272
- The Making Of: Final Fantasy VI (dead) (Accessed: February 21, 2015) at Edge Online
- V Jump issue (in Japanese) (dead) (Accessed: September 25, 2009) at Infoseek
- Final Fantasy VI – 1994 Developer Interview (Accessed: December 09, 2018) at shmuplations
- Final Fantasy: Kitase's Inside Story (dead) (Accessed: October 13, 2012) at 1Up
- 25 Years Since The Release Of Final Fantasy VI – Looking Back At The Passion (Accessed: April 09, 2019) at One Million Power
- Inside Gaming - Interview with Former Square Enix Translator Tom Slattery (Accessed: December 09, 2018) at RPGamer Archive
- Bob Rork Woolsey Interview (Accessed: June 25, 2020) at Chrono Compendium