Former First Class SOLDIER. After defecting from Shinra, Cloud began work as a mercenary for hire in Midgar. With his trusty broadsword in hand, he always gets the job done.

Final Fantasy VII Remake loading screen

Cloud Strife is the main protagonist in Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VII Remake, and Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. He also appears in the spin-off games of the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII as a supporting character, including Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII- and Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-.

An arrogant and proud swordsman at first, Cloud introduces himself to Avalanche as a former member of an elite warrior unit called SOLDIER who has turned mercenary, and uninterested in anything beyond his hired task at hand. Beneath his hardened outer persona is a softer, more caring individual who simply struggles to open up, but is striving to be a hero. Cloud later discovers more about his past and, with the help of his friends, learns there is more to being a hero than possessing physical strength and fame. He develops compassion for the planet and the people he fights to protect from the Shinra Electric Power Company and his nemesis, Sephiroth.

Cloud Strife wields large broadswords in battle, including the iconic Buster Sword, and is a versatile melee combatant. In Final Fantasy VII, he has access to the most powerful weapons in the game, as well as the strongest Limit abilities (all of which involve his sword), though they take the longest to learn. In Final Fantasy VII Remake, Cloud's strength is in his raw damage output and his versatility, able to switch back-and-forth between the agile Operator Mode and the more defensive Punisher Mode that allows him to counterattack. In both titles, Cloud has the best all-around stats.

History[edit | edit source]

Before Final Fantasy VII[edit | edit source]

Early life[edit | edit source]

Young Cloud and Tifa in Nibelheim in Final Fantasy VII Remake.

Cloud was born August 11, 1986[1][3][4] in the mountain village of Nibelheim to Claudia Strife; his father died when Cloud was very young.[9] Cloud lived next door to a girl a year younger than him, Tifa Lockhart, and was excluded from her friendship group. Bitter as a result, Cloud developed a superiority complex, believing her friends were stupid, and that he was more mature and different from them. He did not harbor any dislike for Tifa, but suspected she disliked him.[10]

Tifa's mother died when Cloud was nine.[4] Not wanting to accept it, Tifa insisted she could meet her by crossing Mt. Nibel, taking her friends along. Unbeknownst to them, Cloud followed her, and when she took a misstep, he tried to catch her but they both fell. Though he was unharmed, Tifa was severely injured and in a coma for seven days. Her father, Brian Lockhart, blamed Cloud and forbade him from approaching her. He too blamed himself for failing to save her, harboring guilt in the form of increasing anger at himself, leading him to start fights for little to no reason.[10]

Cloud resolved to better himself, and upon learning of Sephiroth and his exploits, set out to join SOLDIER and become a hero, hoping Tifa would notice him.[10] In December 0000, he called Tifa out to the water tower to tell her about his departure, hoping to impress her. Tifa encouraged Cloud that he could make the newspapers and asked him to promise to save her should she ever find herself in trouble.[11][12] The following spring of 0001,[4] Cloud left for Midgar to join the Shinra Electric Power Company.

Shinra militant[edit | edit source]

Cloud failed to make it into SOLDIER, enlisting as a mere Shinra infantryman instead. Out of embarrassment and shame, he lost contact with everyone from Nibelheim.[10] As told in Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII-, on June 28th, 0001, Cloud was among those ordered to protect Professor Rayleigh in Midgar from the insurgency organization Avalanche. Though he is unsuccessful, their lives were saved by the Player Turk. During the incident Cloud displayed impressive sword skills for a regular infantryman.[13]

In autumn of that year, Cloud met Zack Fair, a First Class SOLDIER, on their way to Modeoheim. The two bonded upon learning they were both "backwater experts". When he and Zack infiltrated the Mako Excavation Facility, they encountered Genesis Rhapsodos and Dr. Hollander, former Shinra employees who since turned against the company. When Hollander attempted to escape, Cloud briefly captured him, though Hollander broke free. Cloud gave pursuit, but both he and Tseng—the leader of the Turks—were taken down by the rogue SOLDIER 1st Class, Angeal Hewley.[14]

At the age of sixteen, Zack and Cloud met again on September 0002 while protecting the city of Junon from Genesis's attack. On September 22nd of that year, Cloud returned to Nibelheim along with Zack and Sephiroth to investigate a damaged mako reactor on Mt. Nibel, and with Tifa as their guide through the mountains. Cloud hid his identity from the townspeople, ashamed of his failure to join SOLDIER, though he did visit his mother who asked about his new life with Shinra.[14]

Cloud defeats Sephirothin Crisis Core.

When the expedition reached the reactor, Sephiroth discovered Professor Hojo's experiments with humans mutated into monsters dubbed makonoids, and Jenova, whom Sephiroth mistakenly believed to be his mother. Genesis knocked Cloud out and Tifa helped him back into town, though still did not discover his identity.[14] When Cloud regained consciousness, he was depressed over his lack of strength. Sephiroth locked himself in the Shinra Manor's basement for several sleepless days, immersing in Professor Gast Faremis's writings, and discovered his dark past, as well the secrets regarding the Cetra and the promised land. On October 1st, Sephiroth destroyed the village on a rampage, fueled by his newfound hatred for humanity.[14][9][10]

Cloud witnessed his mother's death in the ensuing fire, and rushed back to the reactor to confront Sephiroth, finding both a gravely wounded Tifa and a barely conscious Zack. Cloud picked up Zack's Buster Sword, caught Sephiroth offguard in the reactor core, and impaled him before attending to Tifa. When a wounded Sephiroth emerged from the reactor core, Cloud attacked him, intent on avenging the deaths of his mother and all the townspeople Sephiroth had killed. Though impaled on Sephiroth's Masamune, Cloud summoned the strength to overpower him with sheer willpower. Using the katana as a lever, Cloud lifted Sephiroth up and hurled him into the mako pit below before collapsing.[14][10]

Experiments and fleeing Shinra[edit | edit source]

Cloud and Zack, as well as other survivors in the town (with the exception of Tifa who was rescued by Zangan before Shinra arrived), became Professor Hojo's test subjects. Injecting them with Jenova's cells and exposing them to mako, Hojo attempted to test his Jenova Reunion Theory on them, turning them into Sephiroth Clones, people whose wills can be over-ridden by Sephiroth's. Since Zack had gone through a similar process in SOLDIER, his body resisted the experiments, while Cloud succumbed and developed a severe case of mako poisoning. Hojo labeled the two failures, placed them in a cryogenic sleeping state, and left them in their pods in the Shinra Manor basement.[14]

Cloud after his and Zack's final conversation.

Four years later (December 19th, 0006) Zack broke out of his confinement and helped a vegetative Cloud escape, giving him a SOLDIER uniform to wear as his old clothes were soaked with mako. Due to the experiments, Cloud was mentally broken, weak and delirious, but during their journey following the escape from Nibelheim, Zack told the unresponsive Cloud about his life and his plans for both of them to become mercenaries in Midgar. Though Cloud was unable to participate in the events, he was present when Zack defeated Genesis.[14]

After almost a year of running, the pair arrived outside Midgar in September 0007. The Shinra forces caught up and Zack fought to defend both Cloud and himself against overwhelming numbers. Zack was gunned down, but the Shinra forces ignored the catatonic Cloud. Cloud regained some awareness and crawled over to Zack, who entrusted the Buster Sword to him, telling his legacy will live on inside Cloud, before dying. Buster Sword in hand, Cloud trudged off towards Midgar.[14]

Cloud with the Buster Sword at the end of Crisis Core.

As a result of the trauma caused by the Nibelheim Incident, his mako poisoning (and subsequent infusion of Jenova cells), and Zack's death, Cloud impressed Zack's memories and fighting abilities into his own. This, along with Tifa's memory of him and his own ideal image of himself as a SOLDIER, created a new set of memories with an accompanying persona. As such, Cloud was led to believe he had joined SOLDIER and was Sephiroth's partner in place of Zack, and in his own memories, he took Zack's place; in his distorted memories, Zack never existed.[9][10]

In late 0006, Tifa found Cloud mumbling deliriously at the Sector 7 slums train station. Though he became lucid upon recognizing her, his inconsistent memories and mental breakdowns concerned her. Tifa recruited him as a mercenary to her group, an Avalanche cell led by Barret Wallace, while concealing information about his past due to doubting her own memories, wishing to find the truth herself.[10]

Original continuity[edit | edit source]

Mercenary days and Avalanche[edit | edit source]

In "No. 1 Reactor Bombing", Cloud helped the group, comprising Barret, Biggs, Wedge, and Jessie Rasberry, attack Mako Reactor 1 on December 9th, 0006. Throughout the mission, Cloud claimed to be working only for money, angering Barret and leading him to question his loyalties. Despite having a brief mental breakdown at the reactor core, Cloud planted the bomb and the mission was successful.[15] After the mission, in "At the Hideout in the Slums", Cloud returned to Tifa's bar, Seventh Heaven, in the Sector 7 slums, which was being used as Barret's headquarters. Following a dispute with Barret, who suspected Cloud remained loyal to Shinra, Cloud attempted to walk out. Tifa reminded him of the promise he made to her after deciding to join SOLDIER, and convinced Barret to hire him for another mission.[11]

Barret led another mission to destroy Mako Reactor 5, this time with Tifa joining them, in "To the No. 5 Reactor". Though they reached the core and planted the bomb, President Shinra confronted the group after revealing they were caught in a trap. Cloud was separated from the others and fell into the Sector 5 slums church, commencing "The Woman at the Church". Cloud formally met Aerith Gainsborough, a flower merchant whom he had ran into in Sector 8 after the first bombing. Cloud agreed to become her bodyguard in exchange for a date after Reno, a Turk, attempted to capture her.

Cloud stayed at the house of her guardian, Elmyra Gainsborough, who believed he was dangerous and asked him to go back to Sector 7 without telling Aerith. However, Aerith came with him regardless. On the way, the two spotted Tifa being taken to Wall Market on her mission to extract information out of Don Corneo, commencing "To Corneo Hall". On Aerith's advice, Cloud disguised himself as a woman so the two could enter the Don's mansion, and the three interrogated him. Corneo revealed Shinra had tracked Avalanche's base to Sector 7 and planned to destroy it by dropping the Sector 7 plate, before ejecting the three to the sewers through a trap door.

Cloud riding the Hardy-Daytona during an FMV sequence.

In "Prevent the Fall of the Plate", Cloud traversed the sewers and the Train Graveyard with Tifa and Aerith to reach Sector 7. Tifa requested Aerith find Barret's daughter, Marlene Wallace, and keep her safe, while she and Cloud ran up the pillar. Biggs, Wedge, and Jessie were defeated, but Cloud an Tifa met up with Barret atop the plate. Even after battling the Turks they were unsuccessful in saving the pillar, as the Turks destroyed Sector 7 and captured Aerith.

In "Aeris's Secret", Cloud, Barret, and Tifa returned to Elmyra's house where Marlene was staying and Elmyra told them of Aerith's past as a Cetra. In "Storming the Shinra Building", Cloud led an attack on the Shinra Building to rescue Aerith from Professor Hojo, where he met Red XIII and saw Jenova's headless remains in the lab. The group was captured and imprisoned, commencing "The Nightmare Beginning Anew", when Cloud awoke to find the prison doors open and the guards dead. Cloud, Aerith, Barret, Tifa, and Red XIII followed a trail of blood to find President Shinra killed. Rufus Shinra, the new head of the company, arrived shortly after, and Cloud battled him to buy the others time to escape, with Tifa staying behind to help. Cloud escaped Midgar on a Hardy-Daytona motorcycle, with Tifa riding a Shinra Hauler SA-37 pick-up to help them flee Midgar.

Pursuit of Sephiroth[edit | edit source]

The group met in an inn in Kalm, where Cloud told his version of what happened on the day Nibelheim was burned, with himself in Zack's place. Tifa remained mostly silent, and Barret struggled to believe the account.[9] The next day, the group set out to track down Sephiroth, first through the Mythril Mine where they learned from the Turks that Sephiroth was headed for Junon. Cloud and the group sneaked into the city, where he saved a girl named Priscilla from a monster, and they were allowed to stay over. In his sleep, a voice told Cloud to ask Tifa about the time he returned to Nibelheim, but Tifa dodged the question when he did.[16] After a welcoming for Rufus's honor, Cloud and the party stowed away on a cargo ship bound for Costa del Sol.

The pursuit of Sephiroth led them through North Corel and the Gold Saucer, where after resolving an incident, the manager Dio gave Cloud and his friends a buggy to assist them in their travels, and Cait Sith joined their cause. The buggy broke down, forcing the group to stay at Red XIII's hometown, Cosmo Canyon, where the Elder Bugenhagen revealed critical information about the planet and the lifestream, and how Shinra's drilling for mako affects them.[17] When the group reached Nibelheim, they found the town rebuilt and inhabited by imposter villagers hired by Shinra[18] who claimed to have no recollection of either Cloud or Tifa, or the town ever having been burned down, greatly distressing Cloud and casting doubt on his story.[19]

Sephiroth appeared in the basement of the Shinra Manor, and alluded to a "reunion" Cloud should attend.[19] Cloud and the group crossed Mt. Nibel and visited Rocket Town where they escaped on Cid Highwind's plane, only to have it shot down by Shinra soldiers. Adding Cid to their roster of allies, the group returned to Gold Saucer and claimed the Keystone from Dio. Cloud and the group stayed the night when the trolley to the park broke down, during which Cloud went out with a party member. Cait Sith, who turned out to be a Shinra spy, stole the Keystone and turned it over to Tseng of the Turks, but blackmailed the others to let him stay with them.[20]

Traveling to the Temple of the Ancients, the party found Tseng gravely wounded after a struggle with Sephiroth. In the heart of the temple, Cloud found Sephiroth, who revealed his plan to perform the Ultimate Black Magic, calling down Meteor to deal a critical wound to the planet to absorb the lifestream that would well up to heal it, becoming god. Sephiroth left as Cloud discovered the temple itself is the Black Materia needed to summon Meteor. Cait Sith sacrificed his body (though he had a backup available) to get the Black Materia, but Sephiroth returned. The Jenova cells inside Cloud from Hojo's previous experiments on him gave Sephiroth control over him, causing Cloud to hand over the Black Materia, then attack Aerith, before his friends knocked him out.[21]

While unconscious, Aerith appeared to Cloud in a dream, telling him to let her handle Sephiroth. When Cloud regained consciousness, Barret and Tifa told him Aerith had left, and assured they would be there to help him should he have another breakdown. Cloud resolved to find Aerith and guided them as he knew where she had gone, first through the Sleeping Forest to the Forgotten City. He found her praying on an altar in the center of the city's underground complex. Cloud approached her with the Buster Sword and attempted to attack her, until his friends yelled at him to stop. Sephiroth descended from above the altar and killed Aerith, impaling her with his Masamune. Cloud mourned her passing with the party and rested her body in the lake, despairing at how Sephiroth could control his actions.[22]

Meteorfall[edit | edit source]

Cloud in an FMV.

Arriving at the North Crater, the party regained the Black Materia and Cloud gave it to a party member as he did not trust himself. Sephiroth appeared and showed Cloud a partial vision of what really happened at Nibelheim, revealing Zack's presence in his stead, but not Cloud's true part in the events. Shinra arrived and Professor Hojo revealed his Jenova Reunion Theory that involved Cloud, and how his drive to hunt for Sephiroth was fueled by the Jenova cells in his body summoning him to the "reunion". The shock of Cloud's fabricated past shattered his mind, as he came to believe he was created by Hojo and that even his name and memories of being Tifa's childhood friend belonged to someone else. Sephiroth used an illusion to convince the party to give the Black Materia back to Cloud, who promptly handed it to Sephiroth's true body that was stored in the crater. Cloud apologized to Tifa for not living up to the "real" Cloud, and the crater shook, Cloud falling into the lifestream.[23]

Surfacing at Mideel a week later, Cloud had been subjected to intense mako poisoning within the lifestream, leaving him paralyzed and incoherent, in a state similar to when Zack rescued him from Shinra Manor a year before. Tifa found him and stayed to care for him while the rest of the party fought Shinra.[24] Ultimate Weapon, one of the Weapons released by the planet to protect it, later attacked Mideel, causing Tifa and Cloud to fall into the lifestream and into Cloud's Subconscious. Amid trying to ascertain Cloud's true memories, they became aware of the thoughts and feelings each was holding.[25] Tifa helped repair Cloud's psyche by comparing their memories to find which were true, allowing him to piece his true self together. Restored to his true self, Cloud resumed command of the Highwind and the party, no longer plagued by an inner voice, and finally accepting the truth about who he is.[10]

Shinra's attempt to destroy the Meteor with Huge Materia failed, but Cloud's party was trapped in the Shinra No. 26 rocket when it took off. While in the escape pod on their way back to the planet, the party marveled how small the planet was in the vastness of space, reaffirming their conviction to protect it. With Bugenhagen's guidance they discovered Aerith had summoned the ultimate white magic spell, Holy, before Sephiroth killed her. Holy could stop Meteor, but Sephiroth was holding it back.[26]

Diamond Weapon attacked Midgar while Hojo tried to relaunch the Sister Ray to give Sephiroth a boost of energy. Cloud and the party stopped Diamond Weapon and defeated Hojo. Preparing to go to the North Crater to stop Sephiroth, Cloud asked everyone to leave and find a reason to fight. Tifa remained as she had nothing left outside of the party and her quest, and she and Cloud spent a night under the stars.[27]

Cloud led a descent through the Northern Cave to the depths of the planet to confront Sephiroth. After Sephiroth's new god-like form was defeated, his mind was sent back into the lifestream. Cloud, sensing Sephiroth was not dead, followed him mentally into the lifestream and defeated Sephiroth in a final duel of wills. He returned to his body with help from Aerith. Cloud and the party escaped the crater on the Highwind moments before Holy emerged to destroy Meteor. The Meteor's proximity caused Holy to hold back its full power, but Aerith commanded the lifestream to push Meteor back so Holy may destroy it and save the planet.[28]

Post-crisis[edit | edit source]

Cloud in On the Way to a Smile -Episode: Denzel- Final Fantasy VII.

In On the Way to a Smile "Episode: Tifa", Cloud and Tifa built a new life together in the Edge, a new city built on Midgar's outskirts. Cloud set up a delivery business, the Strife Delivery Service, while Tifa set up a new 7th Heaven bar. One day while visiting Aerith's old church an orphan boy, Denzel, whose family was killed when the Sector 7 plate fell, found Cloud's cellphone on his motorcycle. After Denzel attempted to call his home in Sector 7 and received an error message, he called 7th Heaven which he found in Cloud's recent call log. Tifa picked up and asked Denzel why he had Cloud's cellphone, and Denzel began to cry, collapsing from the Geostigma virus. Cloud took him home to live with him, Barret's daughter Marlene, and Tifa.[29]

Although Cloud's new life with a family was happy at first, he later became insular. He admitted to Tifa his problems arose from being unable to "reclaim lost lives", referring to his perceived guilt in the deaths of Aerith and Zack. Cloud left after contracting Geostigma himself, secretly moving out into the Sector 5 slums church.[29][4]

In Final Fantasy VII The Kids Are Alright: A Turks Side Story, needing fuel for his truck, Evan called the Strife Delivery Service from the phone in Dr. Drake's office and talked briefly with Denzel to arrange a meeting with Cloud. While waiting, Dr. Drake discussed a book he was reading, which detailed the experiments conducted on Jenova by the Shinra Science Department. When Cloud arrived, he informed Evan that there were three sources for fuel: the remnants of the Shinra Company, the World Regenesis Organization, and Don Corneo. Evan planned to travel to Nibelheim to find a missing SOLDIER, and Cloud told him to ask about the village at 7th Heaven.

Geostigma crisis[edit | edit source]

Cloud in Advent Children.

By 0009, the events of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Cloud had left to look for a cure for Geostigma, having avoided calling his friends due to depression and guilt. Cloud received a call from Tifa that Reno had a job for him, and on the way, fought of a mysterious trio of young men, the remnants of Sephiroth. In Healen Lodge, Cloud met with Reno, and found Rufus Shinra alive and suffering from Geostigma. Rufus offered Cloud to join them to fight the remnants, led by Kadaj, though Cloud rejected the offer after Reno brought up the idea of rebuilding Shinra.

Cloud arrived at Aerith's church to find Tifa unconscious on the flowerbed, Marlene kidnapped, and Cloud's stash of materia stolen following an attack by Loz, one of the remnants. Cloud passed out from a Geostigma attack, and both he and Tifa were discovered by the Turks, Reno and Rude, who brought them to 7th Heaven to recover. The remnants had kidnapped children with Geostigma, wishing to use them to reach Jenova's remains they believed Shinra was hiding somewhere in Edge. Cloud was unwilling to fight, feeling unfit, though after scolding and subsequent encouragement from Tifa, Reno, and Rude, Cloud set out to the Forgotten City.

On the way, an apparition of Aerith visited him. Cloud wished to be forgiven, though Aerith never blamed him. Upon seeing Denzel and the other children under Kadaj's control, Cloud attempted to fight them, but was outmatched, and was rescued by former teammate, Vincent Valentine, who explained the true nature of Geostigma—a plague caused by Jenova's cells in the lifestream. Marlene tearfully ran into Cloud's arms, but refused to leave with Vincent after Cloud asked him to take her home. Instead, Cloud resolved to take Marlene back himself, and confront Kadaj.

Cloud begins "Omnislash Version 5".

Back in Edge, Kadaj summoned Bahamut SIN to attack the city. Cloud defeated the dragon with the help of his his old allies. He took on Loz and Yazoo while chasing Kadaj through the Midgar Expressway, and sliced their weapons (and Loz's bike) in half. Cloud confronted Kadaj, as the subsequent battle took them back to Aerith's church where the lifestream-infused water sprouting from the destroyed flowerbed cured Cloud of Geostigma. Cloud defeated Kadaj who absorbed Jenova's remains that he had obtained from Rufus, and Sephiroth was reborn.

Sephiroth revealed his plan to take over the planet as a vessel using the negative energy of those who died of the Geostigma. Cloud battled him at the ruins of the Shinra Building. Though initially overpowered, he was inspired by the thoughts of his friends, living and dead, and made use of his Omnislash Version 5 technique to defeat Sephiroth, who dissipated, leaving a dying Kadaj behind. Loz and Yazoo returned and set off a kamikaze explosion, apparently killing all of then, though Aerith intervened to save Cloud who awoke in the lifestream-infused pool inside Aerith's church. He helped Denzel into it to cure him and saw an apparition of Aerith and Zack in the doorway.

The newly polished Buster Sword was moved to Aerith's church from the hill Zack died on that now had a grove of yellow flowers. Denzel asked if the place was a grave, to which Cloud responded it was not, but rather the place where a hero began his journey.

Deepground conflict[edit | edit source]

Cloud in Dirge of Cerberus.

In 0010, during the events of Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII-, Cloud did not appear during the attack on Edge (assumed to have spirited away Denzel and Marlene). He assisted the World Regenesis Organization and Vincent against the threat of Omega and Deepground and led the ground assault on Midgar, facing Rosso the Crimson. Cloud and the others aided Vincent in defeating Omega.

Remake continuity[edit | edit source]

In "The Destruction of Mako Reactor 1", Cloud helped Barret, Biggs, Wedge, and Jessie Rasberry plant a bomb by escorting them in and battling Shinra's security forces. Biggs, Wedge, and Jessie were enthusiastic about his involvement, though Cloud disappointed them in claiming it was a "onetime gig" and that he had no intention of joining Avalanche's cause.[30] Cloud remained indifferent over the plight of the planet angering Barret. Though Cloud had been hired to do all the fighting, Barret joined against ranged targets, and because he did not trust Cloud.[31] Unbeknownst to them, Shinra watched their every move via security cameras and the bomb they detonated did minimal damage; instead, Shinra set up a chain reaction in the mako storage. Cloud and the others successfully fled the exploding reactor.

Aerith offers Cloud a flower.

Cloud and the group went through a chaotic Sector 8 on their way back, with civilian casualties and destruction caused by the explosion of Reactor 1, thus commencing "Fateful Encounters". The group split up to regroup at the train station, though Cloud was separated after an encounter with an apparition of Sephiroth. Sephiroth taunted Cloud, reminding him of the destruction of Nibelheim that he had caused, and told him to run away for the sake of the planet.[32]

After the illusion ended, Cloud ran into Aerith Gainsborough, seeing her attacked by the invisible Whispers. Aerith offered him a flower and thanked him for "scaring those things away", confusing Cloud. He warned that he was involved in dangerous things, but she seemed unfazed. The Whispers returned and Aerith grabbed Cloud's hand, allowing him to see the mysterious beings. Aerith ran away when Cloud was attacked by Shinra Public Security Division soldiers.[33] Cloud fought his way through Shinra to reach the train.

Cloud returned to the Sector 7 slums, commencing "Home Sweet Slum", and met with Tifa. Cloud gave her the flower, much to her surprise, and she showed him to a room she had secured for him at Stargazer Heights.[34] Cloud's room was next to Tifa, but also an ill man named Marco who kept Cloud up; upon investigating, Cloud saw another vision of Sephiroth and pulled his sword on Marco, before Tifa intervened and asked him to check up on Marco later.[35] The next day, Tifa gave Cloud a tour of the slums while collecting money to pay Cloud's fee, and urged him to make a name for himself as a mercenary by helping out the locals. Cloud and Tifa completed many requests before returning to Tifa's apartment to relax. She asked Cloud about what happened after he left Nibelheim, but Cloud gave ambiguous answers and was uncomfortable, prompting her to change the subject and they decide to celebrate in fancy dress soon.[36]

Cloud drinking with Tifa after touring the town.

While out in the slums, Cloud and Tifa saw Shinra arrest a local named Johnny, and pursued the matter to stop him from talking about Avalanche to Shinra. After rescuing Johnny, Cloud pulled a sword on him, terrifying Tifa as she pleaded for him to spare Johnny.[37] Shortly after, Barret called for a meeting, excluding Cloud. Afterward, Tifa told Cloud that she felt trapped, as she disagreed morally with the bombings but firmly believed Shinra should be opposed. Cloud advised her to stand down if it felt wrong. Because Barret did not want to hire Cloud for the next mission,[38] Cloud left, and was confronted by hoodlums asking after Barret, but refused to disclose any information and fought them off.[39] Later, Jessie appeared by his apartment to hire him for a personal mission.

In "Mad Dash", Cloud helped Jessie travel to upper Sector 7 to procure a new blasting agent for her next bomb, Jessie still being under belief she had accidentally made the previous bomb more devastating than intended. Cloud fought a Third Class SOLDIER, Roche, who enjoyed battling Cloud. Cloud recalled the promise he had made to Tifa at the water tower in Nibelheim years ago, where she had asked him to help her should she ever be "trapped or in trouble"; Cloud realized she had indirectly been asking for him to fulfill this promise when she had told him earlier she felt trapped with Avalanche.[12] After returning to the slums, Jessie asked Cloud out on a date, promising to make him pizza if he came over the following night.[40]

The next morning, Whispers attacked the Sector 7 slums, and Cloud and Tifa attempted to fight them off, but Jessie was injured. This prompted Barret to hire Cloud for the mission to attack Mako Reactor 5, which Cloud agreed in exchange for a raise.[41] In "Dogged Pursuit", Cloud, Barret, and Tifa boarded the train to Sector 4, though an ID scan forced them to abandon the train mid route. The trio made their way through the Corkscrew Tunnel to the underside of the Sector 4 plate, commencing "Light the Way", in which they operated machinery to make their way through the plate to reach the reactor.

In "A Trap Is Sprung", Cloud infiltrated the reactor with Barret and Tifa. The path to plant the remote bomb was smooth sailing, but Cloud briefly flashed back to seeing Tifa despair at the Nibel Reactor years earlier, but did not bring it up with her.[42] Shortly after planting the bomb, Shinra executive Heidegger revealed cameras were broadcasting them on live TV, and that they were to be publicly executed by one of his robots, the Airbuster. Cloud and the others sabotaged the deployment of the mech and worked together to escape before being confronted by a hologram of President Shinra outside the reactor. The president took notice of Cloud's mako eyes, concluding he must be a SOLDIER, and therefore his property, before telling the others he planned to smear Avalanche as a proxy group funded by Wutai. Tifa reacted in disgust and remarked "I'm sick of this", which caused Cloud to recall the flashback he had earlier, and remark internally that it was when he had failed her. Cloud and the others destroyed Airbuster, though Cloud was separated from the group; Barret admitted he was wrong about him, before Cloud fell from the railings.[43]

Clashing with Reno.

Cloud landed in the Sector 5 slums church, commencing "Budding Bodyguard", where he met Aerith again, who this time formally introduced herself. The Turk Reno arrived to kidnap her, and Aerith asked Cloud to be her bodyguard, offering one date in exchange.[44] Cloud defeated Reno and attempted to kill him, before the Whispers guided their escape from the church. The two journeyed to Aerith's home, where she lived with Elmyra Gainsborough, and Cloud helped Aerith by doing odd jobs for the locals and saving her from Rude, another Turk who was after Aerith. They met another delirious man in a dark cloak whom Cloud momentarily hallucinated as Sephiroth. That night, Elmyra allowed Cloud to stay, but asked him to leave Aerith, fearing he was dangerous as an ex-SOLDIER.

In "The Town That Never Sleeps", while leaving to the Sector 7 slums, Aerith waited for Cloud, anticipating he was going to leave without her.[45] She gave him a tour through the Sector 6 slums while guiding him to Sector 7, and took him through the Collapsed Expressway. Cloud reminded Aerith of her first love, who was in the same rank in SOLDIER as him, but Cloud's vision went blurry and his ears rang as she said his name.[46] Just as they were about to leave, Cloud saw Tifa on a chocobo cart headed to Wall Market, and caught up with her. Tifa was relieved to see Cloud and told him she planned to see Don Corneo, encouraging Cloud to return to the others. Cloud obliged at first, confident in Tifa's ability to take care of herself in a pinch, but Aerith warned him that Corneo was incredibly dangerous and Tifa would need his help, convincing him to look for her.[47]

Chocobo Sam had arranged for Tifa to be Corneo's next "bride" in tonight's audition, warning Cloud and Aerith would likely not see her again.[47] They learned from Leslie Kyle that the Don only accepted entrants endorsed by the influential slum dwellers who run Wall Market, known as the "trio", one of which was Sam who was uninterested in helping them. The two won an endorsement for Aerith from Madam M by winning the Corneo Cup tournament at the Corneo Colosseum, Madam M promising to give Aerith an outfit in exchange for the prize money.[48] Cloud attracted the attention of Andrea Rhodea with his battle prowess, who wished to meet him in person;[49] Cloud performed at Rhodea's Honeybee Inn, and Rhodea gave Cloud a makeover to disguise him as a woman much to Cloud's discomfort but to others' admiration.[50]

Cloud and Aerith met up with Tifa, agreeing that if all three were candidates to Corneo's audition, he had to choose one of them, guaranteeing they could interrogate him. Corneo chose Cloud based on Cloud's disgust of him. While Cloud was taken to Corneo's bedroom, Aerith and Tifa defeated Corneo's lackeys and rushed the room, bringing their weapons and clothes. Corneo revealed that Shinra planned on abandoning Midgar anyway, and would bring the Sector 7 plate down on the slums to crash Barret's group and blame it on Avalanche.[51] He dropped them to the sewers, commencing "Rough Waters", where they fought Corneo's pet Abzu and several monsters with Tifa navigating the route to Sector 7. They ended up in the Train Graveyard, commencing "Haunted", where they made their way through the haunted junkyard to return to the slums.

Cloud, Tifa, and Barret escaping the destruction of Sector 7.

In "Fight for Survival", Cloud, Tifa, and Aerith arrived at the Sector 7 slums just as a skirmish broke out at the pillar between Shinra and Avalanche. Though slowed down by the Whispers, they reached the pillar's gate as Wedge fell, surviving with the grappling gun catching his fall. Cloud asked Tifa and Aerith to stay with Wedge while he raced up the pillar himself. Along the way, he ran into Biggs on the verge of death, who asked Cloud to visit the kids at the Leaf House orphanage, and told Cloud he had "so much in common" with them, before wishing him luck.[52] Cloud was pinned down by helicopter fire from Reno before Tifa arrived. They ran into a badly injured Jessie who considered herself lucky that Cloud could hear her last words, believing she deserved this fate as she had blood on her hands, lamenting she was not able to have Cloud over for pizza as she had promised, before passing out.[53] Cloud and Tifa joined up with Barret and fought Reno and Rude to save the pillar, but were unable to stop the plate separation procedure, as Tseng revealed he had taken Aerith captive. The three barely made it to safety using a zip wire.

In "A Broken World", Barret mourned the loss of the sector and of his friends. As Cloud believed Aerith had saved Barret's daughter, Marlene, Barret and the others agreed to return to Aerith's house. On the way, Cloud encountered yet another apparition of Sephiroth, mocking his failure to save Sector 7. At Aerith's house, Barret reunited with Marlene, and Elmyra told them about Aerith's heritage as a Cetra. Cloud wished to search for her, though Elmyra strongly objected for the sake of Aerith's safety, feeling Shinra may not harm her. Tifa agreed and Barret urged they look through the Sector 7 ruins again.[54] The trio found Wedge in an underground laboratory where Cloud was separated from the others, reuniting with them at the last minute after following Barret's trail of bullet holes.[55] They glimpsed several test subjects in pods before the Whispers took them away.

Cloud comforting Tifa is one of three possible scenes at the end of Chapter 14.

In "In Search of Hope", the group returned to Elmyra, who agreed to house them and nurse Wedge to health. Having seen the underground lab, Cloud tried to convince Elmyra again to let them look for Aerith, but she needed time to think it over. That night, Cloud met either Barret, Tifa, or an apparition of Aerith in the gardens. The following morning, Cloud, Tifa, and Barret were united in agreeing to try to rescue Aerith from the Shinra Building, with Elmyra this time reluctantly agreeing.[56] As the city was locked down due to Avalanche's bombings, they opted to return to Corneo for information on how to reach topside.[57]

Cloud, Tifa, and Barret completed various odd jobs around the slums before meeting Leslie Kyle in Wall Market, the only occupant of the Don's palace. Kyle promised to help them reach the Shinra Building in exchange for a favor: helping him exact revenge on Corneo in his sewer hideout. Though they were unsuccessful in stopping Corneo, Kyle was reasonably satisfied with their help escorting him, and gave the group grappling hooks to reach the top of the plate. Barret thought Cloud being a mercenary suited him, and that he had learned Cloud was good deep down, which Tifa agreed.[58] In "The Day Midgar Stood Still", Cloud and the group used their grappling hooks to navigate the ruined Sector 7 plate and reach the Shinra Building, evading Shinra forces along the way.

In "The Belly of the Beast", at Cloud's suggestion, the group infiltrated the Shinra Building through the parking garage,[59] before making their way through the building as tourists. Unbeknownst to them, Mayor Domino was securing their safety with the hopes they were going to assassinate President Shinra.[60] Cloud almost compromised the mission when a Public Security Division soldier recognized him, prompting them to leave in a hurry to eavesdrop on Shinra's executive meeting.[61] The group followed Hojo out to his lab where Aerith was being held, and rescued her and Red XIII, a talking canine being whom Hojo was also keeping in captivity. Hojo told Cloud he had never made SOLDIER, before the Whispers carried him away.[62] Cloud broke down on his way toward an elevator down to Jenova's chamber, and passed out.

Clashing with Sephiroth in the Shinra Building.

Cloud awoke in Aerith's room within Hojo's lab, commencing "Deliverance from Chaos". Aerith told the group about her history as an Ancient and Shinra's plan to use her to locate the promised land to build Neo Midgar.[63] Domino and Wedge contacted them to inform that Avalanche HQ were attacking the building and that they could escape via helipad. In front of Jenova's containment tank a cloaked man appeared, whom everyone saw as Sephiroth. Cloud charged at him, but was sent plummeting the depths of Hojo's secret research lab, the Drum, and was separated from the others. Hojo followed their progress and made them defeat his creations and complete puzzles in order to escape.

After escaping from Hojo's lab, the group followed a trail of fluid left by the remains of Jenova that has gone missing from the tank. They found President Shinra whom Sephiroth killed before transforming into Jenova Dreamweaver, whom the group defeated. Cloud saw Sephiroth outside carrying Jenova's body, though this was just another robed man who fell off the building with Jenova. The Turks gunned down Avalanche's helicopter as Rufus Shinra, the late president's son, arrived to take the reins of the company. Cloud stayed to duel Rufus and buy the others time, but nearly fell to his death after the duel. Tifa caught him, herself staying behind to watch after him, scolding him for playing the hero.[64]

The two stole Shinra vehicles, Cloud riding the Hardy-Daytona while Tifa drove a pick-up truck with the others on board, to escape via the Midgar Expressway, commencing "Destiny's Crossroads". At the end of the expressway, the group saw Sephiroth waiting for them, as he cut a path to "another future" and asked Cloud to follow. Aerith stopped Cloud and explained that Sephiroth was a greater threat to the planet than Shinra. After some hesitation, she agreed they should follow him in, but warned they would be changing fate. Cloud and the others entered a portal and fought colossal Whispers across a surreal terrain of flying debris, before facing Sephiroth himself.[65]

Cloud chased Sephiroth further, who pulled Cloud to what he called the "edge of creation". Sephiroth said the world would become a part of it, unless Cloud joined with him so the two could defeat destiny together. Cloud refused, and Sephiroth disarmed him and said Cloud had "seven seconds till the end", asking what Cloud would do with that time. Cloud reunited with the party back in the normal world, and they prepared to pursue Sephiroth.[65]

Zack brings a delirious Cloud to Midgar.

The Whispers' defeat altered the timeline. Zack survived his "last stand" and was last seen taking Cloud to Midgar, but his present fate and how much Cloud remembers of him remain unknown.

Characteristics[edit | edit source]

Appearance[edit | edit source]

Original art by Tetsuya Nomura (top) and render of attire for Advent Children (bottom).

Cloud is a young man with a lean and toned build, and spiky blond hair. Cloud has blue eyes, which glow due to him having being exposed to mako. Because "mako eyes" are iconic to members of SOLDIER, Cloud is often assumed to be one. Cloud carries a large broadsword as his weapon of choice, with his three trademark weapons being the Buster Sword (a massive sword over five feet long), a set of Fusion Swords (six individual interconnecting swords that form one similar to the Buster Sword), and the Hardedge (another large broadsword with a different shape). He also has a silver earring in his left ear.

Cloud's typical outfit is a variation standard uniform for a SOLDIER, seen first in Final Fantasy VII and most commonly throughout his appearances (with slight variations). This uniform comprises indigo pants with a sleeveless shirt and a belt. Cloud also wears brown boots, gauntlets with a pauldron over his left shoulder and a SOLDIER band in his right wrist. Unlike the default uniform, his is customized to exclude the right shoulder pauldron, likely to make it easier to draw his sword from behind him, while his left pauldron remains, albeit with protruding screws and bolts due to makeshift repairs. He also wears a junky gear-like armlet on his left forearm.

Render for Crisis Core.

Cloud's second-most notable outfit is his Advent Children, or the "Cloudy Wolf", attire. This is a black robe with with a high collar sleeveless indigo shirt, black pants and boots, and black cloth covering his left leg and arm. The costume also includes a new pauldron, and Cloud's chest is covered by two straps, held in place by a badge representing Fenrir, a wolf that has come to be associated with him. Like the rest of the party, he wears a pink ribbon around his left arm, in honor of Aerith, though it stays hidden for most of the movie.

Outside of this, Cloud has worn a few other outfits. In his mid-teens, Cloud had a ponytail and wore a white loose t-shirt with a blue trim, dark blue jean shorts, and shoes. As a Shinra infantryman, seen in Crisis Core, Cloud wears the blue uniform of a Shinra Electric Power Company infantryman with several belts and straps and a green-gray piece of cloth around the collar, and uses his his helmet to conceal his identity at times. When crossdressing during "To Corneo Hall" in Final Fantasy VII, Cloud wears a purple dress and braided blonde wig; in Final Fantasy VII Remake, the equivalent "The Town That Never Sleeps" chapter sees Cloud wear one of three dresses based on player choices. Cloud also wears an outfit very similar to Vincent Valentine in Kingdom Hearts.


Personality[edit | edit source]

Barret: Used to think you were a little shit with a big attitude and a bigger inferiority complex. Quite possibly the worst person I have ever met. But that was before I figured you out. All this? It ain't you.
Tifa: Deep down, you're a pretty nice guy. Didn't see it when we were kids, but...
Cloud: Don't know about any of that, but kindness is no use on the battlefield. If anything, it's a liability.

Final Fantasy VII Remake § "Over the Wall"

Cloud dismissing Barret's viewpoint.

On the surface, Cloud Strife presents himself as a hardened warrior, cocky and headstrong, coldhearted and disinterested in anything beyond completing the hired job at hand. He tells others, often dismissively and with snark, that he has no interest in larger causes, such as the plight of the planet,[15][31] and appears unshaken by the devastation the bombings he helped carry out cause.[66] He is cool-headed, and mostly carries himself as an expert and professional.[note 3] Beneath the surface, Cloud is socially awkward, being well-intentioned but unsure how to carry himself in conversations, having difficulties to express himself. Many who are close to him begin to see through the cracks in his hardened persona, recognizing he is softer deep down.[note 4] Through it all, Cloud is steadfastly loyal to his friends, harboring guilt if he feels he has let them down, and strives to be a hero. He is willing to go through any lengths, from fighting off powerful enemies alone, to crossdressing despite the discomfort to don a disguise, to keep them safe. This, too, does not fool some of his friends, who in turn look out for him when they believe he is out of his depth.[note 5]

Though most traits core to Cloud — battle-hardened attitude, awkwardness, loyalty to his friends, and striving for heroism — do not change, Cloud's surface-level presentation and warmth shifts drastically throughout his life, based on his own yearning for a true identity. Many of these traits began to form as a child (depicted in Final Fantasy VII flashbacks), as seclusion from the others children and guilt at being unable to help Tifa at Mt. Nibel motivated him to better himself and become a hero, inspired by Sephiroth.[note 6] While serving in Shinra's military (as depicted in Crisis Core), Cloud had a shy but happy-go-lucky attitude, eager to prove himself, and often got excited when Zack, who became a mentor to him, noticed him.

Following Hojo's Sephiroth Clone experiments which led to his sense of self being completely shattered, Cloud as a mercenary (depicted in Final Fantasy VII and Remake) developed an arrogant personality, where he presented disinterest in a broader cause beyond collecting a paycheck (though interest in a common good occasionally slipped through[15][66] and he harbored vengeance toward Shinra[34]). Around this time, he also suffered many mental breakdowns upon being reminded about his past, up to the point of doubting he was even a real person, submitting to being a puppet for Sephiroth.[23] After Tifa repaired his mind, Cloud was finally a fully-formed person, accepting who he was, resolving to being a hero not out of being special, but having a cause to believe in. He became warmer and more open-minded towards others, as well as a more confident leader, though the awkwardness would still shine through at times.[76]

Cloud being protected by his friends, some of whom see he is over his head.

Due both to Cloud's awkwardness and his tough presentation, Cloud struggles in forming interpersonal relationships. This is particularly evident with Barret; though Biggs, Wedge, and Jessie take more kindly to Cloud, Barret initially dislikes his attitude[58] and questions his loyalties, leading the two to be rude to one another.[15][31] After Barret sees through Cloud and gains respect for him, he begins to be able to open up with him and connect with him emotionally.[56][20] Cloud was also not close with Tifa when the two grew up, although he felt an obligation to protect her.[10] The two became closer and more reliant on one another after losing their home and reconnecting following the Nibelheim Incident. Cloud tried to atone for his perceived failure to protect her at Nibelheim, and Tifa in turn protected him as the last reminder she has of her home, looking out for him when she felt he is out of his depth.[note 5] Cloud opened up more easily around Aerith, who was more flirtatious and playful with him from the start,[77] though he would often respond stiffly and awkwardly to her advances.[77][78] He still showed his softer side around her, more willing than others would to entertain her antics when she communicated with her flowers.[79] Cloud is very protective of her and wishes to keep her out of trouble, though this grates on her.[77][80] By contrast, Cloud trusts Tifa more to handle herself, confident in her combat ability, though he is still concerned for her well-being.[81] Cloud has implied romantic feelings for both Tifa and Aerith, indirectly calling the former "beautiful"[38] and being unhappy the latter would not allow him to fall in love with her,[56] though the depth of Cloud's feelings are left to player interpretation.

Cloud is greatly haunted by Sephiroth, a man he once idolized who became his bitter enemy. After the Nibelheim Incident, Cloud envisioned Sephiroth mocking him and urging him to make the wrong decision. This led up to Cloud giving in and believing he was little more than a puppet for Sephiroth,[23] though after Tifa repaired his mind, Cloud resolved to rid himself and the world of Sephiroth. Following Sephiroth's defeat, Cloud, as depicted in Advent Children, became a surrogate father to Denzel and Marlene, but had become detached. His guilt at his own perceived failures to save Aerith and Zack, and trauma following his plight against Sephiroth, led him to feel helpless, becoming somber and brooding as he isolated himself from his new family, in contrast to his younger self before where it had fueled him to strive to do better. However, with encouragement from the friends and family he had tried to let go, he came to forgive himself and moved on.[82]

Abilities[edit | edit source]

Cloud's strength is in his swordsmanship.

Cloud's greatest strength is in his swordsmanship. Though Cloud fell short of the standards of candidates admitted into SOLDIER, his swordsmanship nonetheless impressed one of the Turks.[83] As a result of mako experimentation by Hojo, Cloud was greatly enhanced as a supersoldier, with superhuman strength, speed, and agility. This, coupled with him incorporating Zack Fair's fighting abilities into his own, made him capable of easily handling other SOLDIER members and Turks.

In time, Cloud developed skills on his own, independently from Zack. Cloud has many swordsmanship techniques, seen most prominently in his limit breaks. The most potent and noteworthy of these is Omnislash (and Omnislash Version 5 with his Fusion Swords), in which Cloud performs a quick succession of powerful strikes from his sword. Cloud's abilities also allow him to use magic from his sword, seen in the form of firing a blast from his sword with Blade Beam, summoning meteors with Meteorain, or a tornado with Finishing Touch. Beyond this, Cloud is potent with using spells, being well-versed in how to use materia; in both Final Fantasy VII and Remake, his in-game stats put him ahead of most party members in spellcasting.

Cloud is proficient with a motorbike

Cloud can ride a motorcycle, and demonstrates particular feats of skill with it, able to use his sword while riding and battle nearby drivers. He can also ride a chocobo or a snowboard, and Zack notes he is adept at scaling a snowy mountain. Cloud has also shown himself adaptable in a variety of situations, reviving a drowned girl with CPR in Junon, or dancing at the Honeybee Inn.

Cloud's interpersonal skills are initially very poor. When he matures and becomes fully formed, he becomes a confident party leader, motivating the party with speeches before their big battle with Sephiroth.

Gameplay[edit | edit source]

Final Fantasy VII[edit | edit source]

Cloud's battle render in Final Fantasy VII.

Cloud is the main playable party member, who serves as the party leader throughout the majority of the game. He wields large broadswords in battle, with the most powerful Limit Breaks. Cloud has the most balanced stats and is the most powerful character, making him effective both at physical damage and at casting Magic. His ultimate weapon is the Ultima Weapon, which deals more damage based on how full his HP is. A party of Cid and Cloud offers the fastest Materia growth out of every other combination, assuming Cid is equipped with the Javelin and Cloud is equipped with the Apocalypse. Javelin has 5 double slots for an overall growth of 10 while Apocalypse has 3 triple growth for an overall growth of 9.

As the party leader, Cloud participates in all minigames, and is present in field gameplay and on the world map. Due to his position as leader, he cannot be removed from the party. There is also a hidden gameplay attribute that determines which party member will date him in Gold Saucer.

At the start of Final Fantasy VII, if one opens the menu and checks Cloud's status, the amount of experience needed to level up to Level 7 is 35 EXP. However, upon winning the first battle, that amount decreases to only 6 EXP. Cloud leveling up to LV7 in the first battle is one of the many allusions to the game's title. This allusion was kept for Final Fantasy VII Remake as well.

Final Fantasy VII Remake[edit | edit source]

Battle render.

Cloud is once again the main playable character and leads the party in all but a few quests. His broadswords give him strong area-of-effect melee damage, and he can switch between two fighting styles using Triangle. Operator Mode balances attack and defense and gives him a good movement speed, while Punisher Mode is geared towards offense, and gives him the ability to counterattack, under the penalty of greatly reducing his movement speed and preventing him from blocking enemy attacks. Cloud's learned abilities are geared towards dealing raw damage to a target, able to burst them down.

Punisher Mode.

Cloud's main strength is his versatility, having very balanced attributes. He has the highest Strength Strength attribute, the second-highest Magic Magic attribute and MP pool, the second-highest HP, and the rest of his attributes are above average. This allows him to fulfill any role that the party needs depending on his materia setup and equipped weapons.

As the most frequent party leader, Cloud partakes in most of the minigames, and all of the Odd Job sidequests. He leads the party throughout most of the story, with a few exceptions in which another character takes over. Player choices can allow him to wear one of three dresses in Chapter 9, "The Town That Never Sleeps".

Non-playable entries[edit | edit source]

BCCloudSprite1.png

Cloud is fought as a boss in the Training Mode of Before Crisis.

Though Cloud is not playable himself in Crisis Core, Zack gets Cloud's portrait to the Digital Mind Wave. When Cloud's portraits line up during modulating phase, Zack performs Meteor Shots, his versions of Cloud's Meteorain Limit Break. Cloud is added to Zack's DMW after Zack meets him partway through chapter 6.


Musical themes[edit | edit source]

"Main Theme of Final Fantasy VII"
Music

Though it is not his official theme, in Final Fantasy VII Cloud's theme is often considered to be the "Main Theme of Final Fantasy VII". It plays on the world map in Final Fantasy VII before the party acquires the Highwind, but notably kicks in when Cloud's true memories of the Nibelheim Incident are revealed. Another example is in Final Fantasy VII Remake where the main theme notes briefly play when Cloud makes his entry on the Hardy-Daytona.

His theme is called "Cloud Smiles" in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. It is played in the ending when Cloud awakens in Aerith's church.

"FINAL FANTASY VII Symphony in Three Movements" is a symphony arranged and orchestrated by Jonne Valtonen for the Final Symphony concert series. The second movement deals with the themes of love, loss and uncertainty as Cloud is undecided in his feelings towards Aerith and Tifa. The movement begins with "Words Drowned by Fireworks", a scene in which Cloud goes on a date that ends abruptly. The music moves forward representing the themes of Tifa, Cloud and Aerith—the three themes that are always present, each one featured up front as a main theme at certain phase of the movement.[84]

Other appearances[edit | edit source]

Guest appearances[edit | edit source]

Cloud in Dissidia Final Fantasy NT.

Cloud has the most player-controlled appearances of any character in the Final Fantasy series, and the second-most appearances altogether, behind Gilgamesh. He has appeared in the following games:

Cloud is normally depicted in either the Warrior, Spellblade, or a unique job class. Cloud's gameplay in other appearances most frequently revolves around using his powerful limit breaks from the original game. As such, he is typically geared to an offensive role with abilities that deal high raw damage or inflict negative status effects. This most notable exception is in Dissidia Final Fantasy NT, in which Cloud is used more for a defensive role as a Vanguard-type character.

Cloud's most notable guest appearance is in the Dissidia Final Fantasy series, with him first appearing in the original 2008 title. Cloud's Final Fantasy Tactics appearance is also notable, as he is the only guest character from a title not set in Ivalice to appear. Cloud also led two spinoffs based on Final Fantasy VII minigames—Snowboarding and G-Bike—as well as a technical demo based on Final Fantasy VII.

Non-Final Fantasy guest appearances[edit | edit source]

Cloud in Super Smash Bros..

Cloud has made key guest appearances in the following non-Final Fantasy games:

Cloud's most significant guest appearance is in Super Smash Bros., in which he is a playable character. Cloud first appeared in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U as a playable DLC character, before returning as an unlockable character in the base game of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Cloud is also significant presence in the Kingdom Hearts appearance, where he is a boss battle in the main story of the first title, and appears frequently in Kingdom Hearts II while also being an optional battle.

Cloud also makes guest appearances in notable webseries. Cloud appears in ScrewAttack's DEATH BATTLE series against Link in a battle against Link, as well as in the the spinoff rapid-battle series DBX, where he squares off against Guts from the manga and animé series Berserk. Cloud makes two guest appearances in Monty Oum's Dead Fantasy series in this Advent Children attire. He also has a brief cameo in two 8-Bit Theater strips as a potential light warrior.

Mentions and cameos[edit | edit source]

Lightning's Cloud garb.

Cloud is alluded to throughout the Final Fantasy series. Most notably, Cloud's outfit is a a garb for Lightning in Final Fantasy XIII, as well as an outfit for players in Final Fantasy XIV. Outside of Final Fantasy, a costume of Cloud was made available in LittleBigPlanet 2, along with Sephiroth, Vincent, Aerith, and Tifa.

Cloud has been alluded to throughout pop culture. He was referenced in several TV shows, including Robot Chicken, Adventure Time, and Steven Universe.

Cloud Strife is the central topic of two Square Enix promotional books, CLOUD Vol 1 and CLOUD message.

Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]

Concept and design[edit | edit source]

Early sketches by Tetsuya Nomura.

There wasn't really much controversy or criticism about having him as the hero from within Square, but he is definitely a mysterious character. That's one of the game's main themes, the fact that the protagonist has all these secrets to unravel. He isn't a straightforward hero like Superman; rather, he has lots of mysteries, self-doubts, and a real dark side. Mr. Nomura was also very good at designing a character like that.

Yoshinori Kitase, Electronic Gaming Monthly, October 2005[85]

Cloud was one of the first three main characters designed for Final Fantasy VII.[86] He was designed by Tetsuya Nomura, with influence from director and scenario writer Yoshinori Kitase, as well as Hironobu Sakaguchi.[85] A prototype of Cloud's character named "Detective Joe" appeared in Sakaguchi's first plot treatment for Final Fantasy VII, as a character belonging to an organization attempting to destroy New York City's "Mako Reactors".[87] Yoshitaka Amano created conceptual artwork as promotional artwork. The image of Cloud and Sephiroth was based on Miyamoto Musashi and Sasaki Kojirō,[88] famous Japanese warriors whose duel became legendary and the swordsmen have appeared in many forms in pop culture in Japan.

Cloud's design underwent several changes. His original character design called for slicked-back, black hair with no spikes, as a contrast to the long, flowing silver hair of Sephiroth, and also because Nomura thought it would be better not to use too many polygons.[88] However, to make Cloud stand out more and emphasize his role in the game as the lead protagonist, Nomura altered Cloud's design to give him spiky blond hair instead.[89] Aspects of Cloud's original design were later used in designing Angeal Hewley for Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-.

1996 demo

Early models of Cloud in beta (top) and the 1996 demo (bottom).

Pre-release material reveals what is possibly an early character model for Cloud. In the 1996 demo version Cloud's menu portrait is the young Cloud portrait seen during the Kalm flashback to the Nibelheim Incident in the final game, and his character model is different and shorter than his finalized model. This "Demo Cloud" makes appearances in other pre-release shots published in magazines before the game was out. Cloud's battle model also had an earlier build, wielding a different version of the Buster Sword that had only one slot as opposed to two seen in the final game.

For Advent Children, Nomura wished to make Cloud's design distinct from the other characters.[90] Thirty designs were made for his face, and his hair was altered to appear more realistic than the original game and show the passage of two years.[91] His face was changed further from a more realism style seen in completing the pilot film to the final look.[92] Cloud's costume was designed to be simple, with the concept of "clothes designed for action". The staf began with the idea of a black robe, before parring it down to a long apron shifted to one side.[91] Cloud's Fusion Swords were based on a joke that, because his sword in the original game was enormous, he should use sheer numbers in the sequel.[93]

For Remake, Cloud's initial redesign for Final Fantasy VII Remake, seen in the E3 2015 reveal trailer departed more dramatically from the original's. It was later altered to more closely resemble Nomura's original design, reflecting him as a more youthful and "dorky" character as seen in the original game.[94] Nomura had also planned to tweak Cloud's original design by giving him a long sleeved shirt and "taming" his hair a little, but shelved it without showing anyone as it started to look less like Cloud.[95]

Final Fantasy VII
Remake and other games

Character development[edit | edit source]

Remake key art

Key art of Cloud for the original release (top) and Final Fantasy VII Remake (bottom).

Kitase, and scenario writer Kazushige Nojima, developed Cloud's backstory and his relationship to Sephiroth. Their vague image of Cloud was as a mysterious character, with the unfolding of events left in Nojima's hands. Event planner Motomu Toriyama had created the "Cloud showing off" pose, made to be be used in the scene where Cloud first appears. The animation impressed Nojima and gave him the idea of Cloud having developed a false persona. This led Nojima to create Zack Fair, a SOLDIER whom Cloud had aspired to be like, to expand on the mystery of Cloud's backstory, which Kitase was unaware of the significance of until playtesting. Kitase was impressed by the idea, feeling that Cloud offered a fresh take on a protagonist due to being neither single-minded nor righteous.[96]

In early scripts of Final Fantasy VII, Sephiroth would have had more control over Cloud, and would have fooled Cloud into thinking Sephiroth created him. Cloud would still eventually discover the truth that Shinra's experiments and his own insecurities had made him susceptible to Sephiroth's manipulation.[97]

For Advent Children, Nomura gave Cloud a less positive personality for Cloud, feeling that the more upbeat image of Cloud did not stick in the minds of the fans. The script was written to explain why Cloud returned to a state of mind Nomura felt was more consistent with fans' view of him.[98]

In contrast, for Remake, the writers instead focused more on Cloud's youthful and "dorky" side as opposed to the always-serious one seen outside of the original game.[94] Nojima wished to present Cloud's awkwardness, and show how Cloud had the mind of a 16-year-old, missing five years of his life, attempted to emulate the behavior of the rest of the group who are in their 20s. In Tifa's Resolution scene, Nojima showcased this with Cloud trying to emulate the way Barret comforted Tifa after the Sector 7 plate fall, but messing it up. Nojima also had Cloud's behavior change depending on who he is talking to: with Aerith, he stands taller and tries to act cool, leading him to overthink things and act strange; with Jessie, he acts annoyed when she comes onto him too strong; with Tifa, he acts more like himself.[95]


Voice[edit | edit source]

Cloud has been voiced by Takahiro Sakurai in Japanese for all of his appearances (except for Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring). Cloud shares his Compilation of Final Fantasy VII voice actor with Kurasame Susaya from Final Fantasy Type-0. In his Super Smash Bros. series appearances, Sakurai acts as the sole voice for Cloud, regardless of the region the game is in.

Cloud's English voice actor in all of his appearances before Final Fantasy VII Remake is Steve Burton. Cody Christian voices Cloud in Remake.

Reception[edit | edit source]

Cloud is one of the most popular and iconic character in gaming, frequently ranking as among the most popular Final Fantasy characters. Among Japanese fans, Cloud was voted second-best character in gaming among men and third-best among women in an Oricon poll,[99] and voted first place in the All Final Fantasy Big Vote in 2020 for Final Fantasy characters.[100] Cloud has enjoyed similar popularity among Western fans, voted as the fifth-best video game character of all time by readers of the Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition in 2011,[101] and as the best Final Fantasy character in a poll conducted by IGN in 2014.[102] Cloud has also ranked highly in lists among critics: in 2005, Electronic Gaming Monthly placed Cloud seventh in their list of top video game characters of all time,[103] and in 2010, Empire placed him thirteenth in their own list.[104] Writing for IGN in 2008, Dave Smith observed a decline in Cloud's popularity as a result of overexposure following Compilation releases, but predicted Cloud would remain an icon for years to come.[105]

A major source of praise for Cloud was his complexity as a character, particularly when Final Fantasy VII first released. Ron Dulin, writing for GameSpot in 1998, called Cloud "easily the most interesting and complex character ever presented in a game".[106] This opinion endured, with Rachael Hutchinson in her 2019 book Japanese Culture Through Videogames also describing Cloud as a complex fictional character due to his identity issues, comparing him with Terra Branford from Final Fantasy VI as well as characters from other series including Solid Snake from the Metal Gear series.[107]

Cloud's identity issues have been a notable point of discussion. In 2012, writing in the book Dungeons, Dragons, and Digital Denizens: The Digital Role-Playing Game, Katie Whitlock identifies Cloud as having involuntary memory as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),[108] and in her 2017 book Mental Illness in Popular Culture, Sharon Packer identifies Cloud as having dissociative identity disorder (DID).[109] Writing for PCGamesN in 2020, Jack Ridsdale described Cloud as a deconstruction of the hero archetype and of toxic masculinity, praised the unique character arc of Cloud, and his portrayal (and other male characters in Final Fantasy VII) as someone able to demonstrate vulnerability, sensitivity, and compassion, in addition to being well-formed and multifaceted.[110]

Cloud has also been noted for having an iconic design that has become identifiable as an icon for Japanese games and the Final Fantasy series. In 2008, writing for IGN, Dave Smith stated that Cloud's spiky blond hair and Buster Sword had become instantly identifiable among gamers worldwide.[105] In 2010, Empire described Cloud as "the epitome of JRPG design" and an "enduring axiom" of character design, making him "the definitive FF poster child".[104] Super Smash Bros. creator and director Masahiro Sakurai pointed to Cloud's high recognizability among the gaming community (in contrast to Bartz Klauser and Terra, who led Final Fantasy games first released on Nintendo consoles) and the frequent fan requests as his reasoning for adding Cloud to the cast, stating he wished to make Cloud easy to play as in anticipation of a large variety of players using him.[111]

Merchandise[edit | edit source]

Cloud has appeared in numerous action figures, cold cast statues and other merchandise.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Etymology[edit | edit source]

In meteorology, a cloud is an aerosol comprising a visible mass of minute liquid droplets, frozen crystals, or particles suspended in the atmosphere above the surface of a planetary body.

The names "Cloud" and "Strife" are English words referring to weather and difficulty respectively. Tetsuya Nomura has stated Cloud's name contrasts with Zack Fair's and the idea of "fair weather", in that Zack led a peaceful and happy life while Cloud's has been full of turmoil.

The kana in his name can be also read as "Claude Strauss", which is a real-world German name, but were intentionally read as Cloud to fit the theme of his character arc.

In the French translation of Final Fantasy VII, Cloud's name is rendered as "Clad" to be more faithful to French pronunciation ("Cloud" in French would be pronounced as "clood", rhyming with "mood"). His name is rendered as "Cloud Strife" in all other Compilation of Final Fantasy VII entries.

External links[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

Annotations[edit | edit source]

  1. Also listed as August 19, 1986[5]
  2. Due to poor conversions from centimeters to feet in early English materials, Cloud's height has been listed as 5'7" in various manuals and websites[7]. His height is actually 5.7ft, or 5ft8in. The Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII- Signature Series Guide guide featured the correction conversion.[6]
  3. Cloud is especially cool-headed next to Barret, more often intervening to stop fights rather than start them. Cloud stops Barret from arguing with passengers on the train to Sector 4,[67] and during the raid on the Shinra Building, vetoes his head-on assault plan.[68] Additionally, Cloud brings his expertise to help Barret, instructing him when fighting the Scorpion Sentinel,[15][69] and teaching him to use materia.[70]
  4. Wedge points out early on that Cloud is "a big softie" deep down,[71] and Jessie, in flirting with Cloud, teases to get him to smile.[72] Both Barret and Tifa express the same observation later on, Tifa admitting she could not see it when they were younger,[58] while Aerith appears to see through him from her first meeting with him, offering a flower to him and not viewing him as dangerous.[15][33]
  5. 5.0 5.1 While Cloud is protective of Tifa, blaming himself and feeling guilty for failing to protect her at Mt. Nibel as a child or during the Nibelheim Incident,[10][73] Tifa is equally, if not more, protective of him when seeing he is over his head. When Cloud stays behind to fight Rufus Shinra alone and hold off the party, Tifa also stays behind to keep him safe;[74] in Final Fantasy VII Remake, this allows her to catch him from falling to his death, as she scolds him for trying to play the hero.[64] Similarly, in the sewers, when Cloud urges Tifa and Aerith to run off without him, Tifa briefly stays behind to protect Cloud until he urges her again to leave.[75] In the end, it is Tifa who restores Cloud's mind and allows him to discover his true identity, and the two then realize they were there for one another all along without realizing it.[10]
  6. Cloud developed a superiority complex following seclusion from his peers and the subsequent jealousy. He was later shaken by guilt after he could not prevent Tifa's fall from Mt. Nibel, becoming increasingly angry at his own weakness; these things, coupled with an idolization for Sephiroth, inspired him to join SOLDIER to prove himself, forming his motivation for becoming a hero.[10]

Citations[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Final Fantasy VII Remake Ultimania, p. 010
  2. 2.0 2.1 Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII- Official Complete Guide p.020
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Omega, p. 014, (Scan)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Final Fantasy VII 10th Anniversary Ultimania Revised Edition, p. 32
  5. 5.0 5.1 Final Fantasy VII, game manual (PlayStation, PAL), p. 03
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII- Signature Series Guide, p. 007
  7. Characters: Cloud Strife (dead) (Accessed: October 27, 2014) at Final Fantasy VII PC (dead)
  8. MOBIUS FINAL FANTASY PAX West 2017 Recap (Accessed: September 10, 2017) at Square Enix Members blog
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Final Fantasy VII script § "The Tragedy of Five Years Ago"
  10. 10.00 10.01 10.02 10.03 10.04 10.05 10.06 10.07 10.08 10.09 10.10 10.11 10.12 Final Fantasy VII script § "Searching for the You of That Day"
  11. 11.0 11.1 Final Fantasy VII script § "At the Hideout in the Slums"
  12. 12.0 12.1 Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Sector 7-6 Annex Infiltration"
  13. Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII-
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 14.7 Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 Final Fantasy VII script § "No. 1 Reactor Bombing"
  16. Final Fantasy VII script § "The Stowaway Strategy"
  17. Final Fantasy VII script § "In the Land of the Study of Planet Life"
  18. Final Fantasy VII script § "Nibelheim optional dialogue"
  19. 19.0 19.1 Final Fantasy VII script § "Unnatural Hometown"
  20. 20.0 20.1 Final Fantasy VII script § "Secret Date"
  21. Final Fantasy VII script § "Within the Temple of the Ancients"
  22. Final Fantasy VII script § "Parting with Aeris"
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 Final Fantasy VII script § "That Which Waits in the Northernmost Reaches"
  24. Final Fantasy VII script § "A Shocking Reunion"
  25. Final Fantasy VII 10th Anniversary Ultimania Revised Edition, p. 44-49, Tifa Lockhart Character Profile
  26. Final Fantasy VII script § "What Aeris Left Behind"
  27. Final Fantasy VII script § "Mako Cannon Rampage"
  28. Final Fantasy VII script § "The Planet's Judgment"
  29. 29.0 29.1 Final Fantasy VII: On the Way to a Smile, "Episode: Tifa"
  30. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Enter the Reactor Grounds"
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Breach Security"
  32. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Follow Him"
  33. 33.0 33.1 Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Taking a Detour"
  34. 34.0 34.1 Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Return to Base"
  35. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Noisy Neighbors"
  36. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Alone at Last"
  37. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Shinra Reacts"
  38. 38.0 38.1 Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Talking Strategy"
  39. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Ominous Shadows"
  40. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Remaining Payment"
  41. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Sudden Attack"
  42. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Reach Mako Storage 2"
  43. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Storming the Gates (continued)"
  44. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Second Chance Meeting"
  45. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Tour Guide"
  46. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Saying Goodbye"
  47. 47.0 47.1 Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Chasing Tifa"
  48. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Madam M's Desire"
  49. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Rescue Tifa"
  50. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Aerith's Plan"
  51. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Showdown with Corneo"
  52. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Link Up with Avalanche"
  53. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "To the Top"
  54. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Words of Hope"
  55. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Finding Wedge"
  56. 56.0 56.1 56.2 Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Resolve"
  57. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Intel Gathering"
  58. 58.0 58.1 58.2 Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Over the Wall"
  59. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Infiltration"
  60. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "A Helping Hand"
  61. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Reconnaissance"
  62. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Operation: Save Aerith"
  63. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "A Way Out"
  64. 64.0 64.1 Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "The Showdown"
  65. 65.0 65.1 Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "The Turning Point"
  66. 66.0 66.1 Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Last Train"
  67. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "All Aboard for Sector 4"
  68. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Infiltration"
  69. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Set the Charge"
  70. Final Fantasy VII script § "To the No. 5 Reactor"
  71. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "To Wedge's Place"
  72. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Rendezvous at the Empty Lot"
  73. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Storming the Gates (continued)"
  74. Final Fantasy VII script § "The Nightmare Beginning Anew"
  75. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "To the Surface (continued)"
  76. Final Fantasy VII script § "The Planet's Judgment"
  77. 77.0 77.1 77.2 Final Fantasy VII script § "The Woman at the Church"
  78. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Working Together Again"
  79. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "The Language of Flowers"
  80. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Head for the Station"
  81. Final Fantasy VII Remake script § "Chasing Tifa"
  82. Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
  83. Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII-
  84. Final Symphony (Accessed: August 13, 2018) at Game Concerts
  85. 85.0 85.1 Electronic Gaming Monthly 2005
  86. Final Fantasy VII 10th Anniversary Ultimania Revised Edition, p. 8-13
  87. Leone 2017
  88. 88.0 88.1 Famitsu May 2012
  89. Knight 2003
  90. Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children -Reunion Files-, p. 7
  91. 91.0 91.1 Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children -Reunion Files-, p. 16
  92. Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children -Reunion Files-, p. 75
  93. Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children -Reunion Files-, p. 68
  94. 94.0 94.1 SATO 2018
  95. 95.0 95.1 Final Fantasy VII Remake Ultimania, p. 744
  96. Final Fantasy VII 10th Anniversary Ultimania Revised Edition, p. 8-13
  97. Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Omega, p. 528-529
  98. Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children -Reunion Files-, p. 6
  99. Ashcraft 2009
  100. NHK 2020
  101. Gamasutra 2011
  102. Nix 2014
  103. EGM Staff 2005
  104. 104.0 104.1 Empire 2010
  105. 105.0 105.1 Smith 2008
  106. Dulin 1998
  107. Hutchinson 2019
  108. Whitlock 2012, p. 160
  109. Packer 2017 p. 231
  110. Risdale
  111. Source Gaming 2016

References[edit | edit source]

Video games
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Bibliography
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