Exdeath, also known as X-Death or Exodes is the main antagonist of Final Fantasy V. He is a warlock who seeks the power of the crystals, and eventually, the power of the Void, first wielded by Enuo centuries ago. Exdeath is a being of pure evil, wishing nothing more than to return the world to nothingness. Exdeath aligns with Gilgamesh, the leader of his army, and eventually with the demons of the Rift, making a deal with them after restoring the Interdimensional Rift.
Exdeath was born out of a tree from the Great Forest of Moore which had been used to seal evil spirits. The concentration of the spirits in the tree transformed it into Exdeath. Exdeath was kept at bay for hundreds of years before being sealed by the Dawn Warriors, all the while plotting to be free of his seal. Once free, he again sought the power of the Void, fighting the Light Warriors to obtain the power and return the world to nothing.
Before Final Fantasy V
On one half of the world, Galuf's world, many evil spirits were sealed in a tree in the sentient Great Forest of Moore. Five hundred years prior to the events of Final Fantasy V, the concentration of the evil spirits in this tree transformed it into a dark creature with a life of its own: Exdeath. Sage Ghido was able to maintain the seal for 470 years.[note 1]
Eventually, Ghido could no longer maintain Exdeath's seal, and it was broken. Exdeath wreaked havoc on Galuf's world,[note 2] but the Dawn Warriors—Galuf Halm Baldesion, Dorgann Klauser, Kelger Vlondett, and Xezat Matias Surgate—rose and fought him. The Dawn Warriors chased Exdeath back to Bartz's world, the other half of Planet R, and sealed him in a cave in the forest on the eastern continent. The warriors held him back but were unable to destroy him, forcing them to use the power of the crystals of Bartz's world to seal him there. When Dorgann promised to watch over the seal and remain in that world, the four warriors united their hearts and sealed him in the cave.
Final Fantasy V
Exdeath sought the power of the Void, his goal to merge the worlds so that the Interdimensional Rift would reappear and he could claim the Void sealed within. He would need to destroy the crystals of each world, first destroying the crystals of Bartz's world to break himself free, and then destroy the crystals of Galuf's world to merge the two worlds.
From his seal, Exdeath took control of some of the denizens of Bartz's world to shatter the crystals, which were already weakened by the use of Cid Previa's crystal amplification devices, which he had developed to bring the crystals closer to the power they had 1,000 years ago.[note 3] After the wind crystal was shattered,[note 4] Exdeath then controlled Garula to shatter the water crystal in Walse Tower, Queen Karnak to shatter the fire crystal of Karnak, and eventually, King Alexander Highwind Tycoon to shatter the earth crystal in the Ronka Ruins. However, the shattering of the wind crystal also allowed the crystals to choose four champions—Bartz Klauser, Galuf, Lenna Charlotte Tycoon, and Faris Scherwiz—as their Light Warriors, who encountered Exdeath at the ruins. Krile Mayer Baldesion, Galuf's granddaughter, freed King Tycoon from Exdeath's spell, but not before the crystal shattered and Exdeath awoke. King Tycoon sacrificed himself so the Light Warriors and Krile could escape, and Exdeath then returned to Galuf's world.
Back in Galuf's world, Exdeath returned to Castle Exdeath and resumed his reign of terror with Gilgamesh as his lieutenant. Galuf and Krile followed and led a siege across the Big Bridge, unaware that Exdeath had already finished a barrier around Castle Exdeath. When the other three Light Warriors crossed worlds, Exdeath abducted them and projected their image in the sky as a warning for Galuf to halt the advance. Galuf went on alone and rescued the hostages from the castle, with Gilgamesh trying to slow their advance. Exdeath reactivated the barrier, sealing himself inside the castle, and flinging the Light Warriors halfway across the world to Gloceana.
Exdeath sunk Ghido's cave with an earthquake to make an example of his enemies. Later, Exdeath traveled to the Guardian Tree in the Great Forest of Moore, where the four crystals of Galuf's world were located. The Light Warriors ventured into the forest and were fooled by Exdeath into destroying the seals around the four crystals, allowing Exdeath to take their power and use it against the four warriors, trapping them. Krile arrived to try and save them, but Exdeath trapped her in his ring of fire. This enraged Galuf, who broke free of the crystal holding him back and fought Exdeath alone; Exdeath taunted Galuf by telling him that no amount of hatred could defeat him, to which Galuf replied that he was not fighting with anger nor hatred. Baffled by Galuf's ability to withstand a huge amount of punishment, Exdeath fled with the remaining crystals. Galuf passed away shortly, with Krile inheriting his powers as a successor Light Warrior.
The Light Warriors infiltrated Castle Exdeath. They encountered Gilgamesh, who had come in search of the strongest of swords in a treasure chest, but after Gilgamesh failed to defeat the warriors, Exdeath banished him for incompetence. Next, the warriors confronted Exdeath himself, who had taken the crystals. Exdeath mocked them for fighting him despite not understanding his plans, and though they seemingly defeated him, the crystals shattered, and they blacked out as the worlds merged.
Exdeath followed the Light Warriors to Ghido's cave, disguised as a splinter in Krile.[note 5] After Ghido explained to the others the history of Planet R being split, Exdeath revealed himself to explain that, with the Interdimensional Rift reappearing as a result of the worlds merging, he could claim the power of the Void within and return the world to a state of nothingness. Exdeath used the power of the Void he had to engulf Castle Tycoon, and then attempted to destroy the Light Warriors, but Ghido held him off, and he left. Shortly after, Exdeath appeared to the others at the Guardian Tree, taunting them as Melusine controlled Lenna against them and he engulfed the Library of the Ancients, soon following with erasing Walse, Istory, Moogle Village, and Lix.
Exdeath took command of the the demons who had been sealed within the Interdimensional Rift, and ordered them to halt the Light Warriors from obtaining the tablets used to unlock the twelve legendary weapons that had once been used to defeat Enuo. The Light Warriors eventually confronted Exdeath within the Rift, but he had achieved the full power of the Void and returned to his true form: a monstrous tree. Exdeath used the Void to engulf the Light Warriors, but the spirits of King Tycoon and the Dawn Warriors restrained its power and they battled Exdeath. The Void engulfed Exdeath and transformed him into Neo Exdeath, who declared a desire to erase all existence, including himself, for eternity. The Light Warriors defeated Neo Exdeath and the world was restored with new crystals being born in place of the tablets.
Exdeath wears a sky blue suit of armor with a horned helmet, spiked shoulders and a long blue cloak. His helmet is topped with a two-ended plume and has a thin visor that would normally be used for sight. His armor is decorated with jewels, gold linings and beads, and though he is a warlock, Exdeath carries a sword he can use in battle as proficiently as his magic. The only part of his body not covered by the armor are his hands, which are ash gray with black pointy nails. His appearance under the suit of armor is revealed in Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy by purchasing the second alternate costume for Exdeath .
His physical attributes are difficult to ascertain in Final Fantasy V; while his battle sprite towers over the Light Warriors , this is typical of boss battle presentation and may not accurately depict his height. In Dissidia, Exdeath is one of the tallest villains.
In his tree form, Exdeath's torso and head are visible, but are a darker shade of blue. Below the torso he shows his true form as a tree, the bark forming a demonic face on the tree's side. Neo Exdeath is a gray-skinned demon with red horns and muscular limbs and the various demons that composed his previous form manifesting from the waist down.
Soon...very soon! The power of the Void will completely be mine, and the entire earth will kneel before me! Mwa-hahahahahaha!!!
The personification of many evil spirits sealed within a sentient tree, Exdeath is a being of pure evil. He is selfish, maniacal, callous, cocky, and hateful. He causes immense destruction with no remorse,[note 2] and casts aside even his loyal lieutenant Gilgamesh for failure. Exdeath views the Light Warriors as beneath him, describing them as "peons" for their weakness compared to his might, and "simple-minded fools" who he believes can never comprehend his motives. His weakness is his inability to understand positive emotion: in his battle with Galuf at the Forest of Moore, confidently mocks Galuf, boasting that no amount of hatred could defeat him, unable to comprehend that Galuf is fighting out of love for his friends and granddaughter, not to destroy Exdeath, but to try and keep them alive.
Exdeath's motives are not entirely clear. After Queen Karnak was freed from Exdeath's possession, she suggested his spirit desired to "envelop everything in darkness". When proclaiming that his reason for merging the worlds was to obtain the power of the Void, he simply declares a desire for its matchless power. Later on, he simply proclaims "the entire earth will kneel before me" upon obtaining its complete power. This would suggest Exdeath seeks power for its own sake, as he never elaborates on what he wishes to do with this power aside from destroying those who oppose him. Given that he is the personification of evil spirits, it is possible he simply wishes for power and to inflict cruelty with no clear end goal. When he becomes Neo Exdeath after being engulfed by the Void, he expresses a desire to return "all that is"—memories, dimensions, existence—including himself, to nothing; however, it is unclear that Exdeath originally shared this goal.
Exdeath's appearance in Dissidia Final Fantasy gives a new angle to his motives and personality. His confidence and bravado are shown to come not only from his immense power, but his assurance that, whether or not he succeeds, everything will come to an end and return to the Void. He is not proactive but simply wandering and agreeing to assist other Warriors of Chaos with their schemes. Upon his final defeat in Shade Impulse, Exdeath is more accepting of his defeat than most of the other Warriors of Chaos. Because he strives not only for the elimination of existence, but also for his own eventual demise, he finds pleasure in the feeling of dying. After assuring the Warriors of Cosmos that all will eventually return to the Void, he spends his final moments standing tall and laughing.
Exdeath is an extraordinarily powerful warlock. Even before possessing the power of the Void, Exdeath can destroy large areas of land with artificial disasters, such as when he sinks Ghido's cave with an earthquake and then burns the entire Great Forest of Moore. The Dawn Warriors found themselves unable to destroy him, and were forced to seal him as he would not stay down. Within this seal, Exdeath still possessed the power to control others, including King Tycoon, to destroy at least three of the crystals in Bartz's world.[note 4]
Exdeath's power further soars upon seizing control of the Void, reaching the heights of Enuo. Flexing this power, Exdeath effortlessly engulfed six major settlements around the world within the Void. Exdeath could ultimately be fought using the same twelve legendary weapons once used to defeat Enuo. However, much like Enuo, Exdeath became engulfed by the very power he wielded, as the Void transformed him into Neo Exdeath, granting him more power but at the cost of his sanity.
In combat, Exdeath, being the incarnation of countless evil beings sealed inside the tree he once was, is a skilled spellcaster. Though he rarely ever uses it, he is decent in close combat with his sword. In Dissidia, he can telepathically control his sword, allowing him to engage in "melee" combat even from a distance.
Exdeath is fought three times: twice in his knight form, and once in his true form as a tree. Afterwards, Neo Exdeath is fought. Exdeath is the first final boss in the series that requires the player to fight another boss immediately before the final battle. Since Exdeath, all subsequent villains in the series have followed this trend.
Exdeath's theme is "The Evil Lord X-Death", which begins with a theme similar to the one from the famous murder scene of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho and further in, an evil laugh is heard. The theme plays during cutscenes where Exdeath appears. Throughout the theme, measures can be heard from the Final Fantasy IV theme, "Ring of Bomb" compounded by dramatic strings that culminates the suspense.
The theme "The Decisive Battle" is also connected to Exdeath, playing in the battles against him. It shares similar tunes with "The Evil Lord Exdeath". This theme also appears in the Dissidia Final Fantasy, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy games and Final Fantasy XIV.
Exdeath has appeared in the following games throughout the Final Fantasy series:
- Final Fantasy XIV as a boss.
- Final Fantasy Dimensions II as a summon.
- Dissidia Final Fantasy (2008) as a playable character.
- Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy as a playable character.
- Dissidia Final Fantasy NT as a playable character.
- Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia as a playable character and enemy boss.
- Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call as an enemy boss.
- Theatrhythm Final Fantasy All-Star Carnival as a playable character.
- Pictlogica Final Fantasy as a playable character and an enemy boss.
- Final Fantasy Airborne Brigade as a Legend.
- Final Fantasy Artniks as a card.
- Final Fantasy All the Bravest as an enemy boss.
- Final Fantasy Record Keeper as a playable character and an enemy boss.
- Final Fantasy Brave Exvius as a summonable vision.
- Final Fantasy Trading Card Game as a series of cards.
Non-Final Fantasy guest appearances
Exdeath has made key guest appearances in the following non-Final Fantasy games:
- Yo-kai Watch: Wibble Wobble as a playable character.
Although Exdeath himself does not appear, he is mentioned in the Japanese version of Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars as one of the incorrect answers in Dr. Topper's quiz questions, specifically "What's the first monster you see in the Pipe Vault?" (In the localized versions, this was changed to "Chompweed").
Behind the scenes
In the earlier drafts of the game's story, Exdeath Ghido's apprentice, a tree spirit originally. Instead of seeking to open the Rift to obtain the power of the Void, Exdeath's goal in destroying the crystals was to open the path to another dimension to resurrect Enuo, whom was sealed there by legendary warriors a thousand years ago. During the finale Enuo would be revived and Exdeath would transform into a branch to enter his body, becoming Neo Exdeath.
Exdeath is voiced by Gerald C. Rivers in the English versions of the Dissidia Final Fantasy series, who is best known for voicing M. Bison in the Street Fighter series. In Japanese, Exdeath was voiced by Tarō Ishida for the Dissidia titles on PSP. Following Ishida's passing in 2013, Naomi Kusumi took over the role, starting with Dissidia Final Fantasy NT.
Exdeath's Japanese name (エクスデス, Ekusudesu?) sounds similar to "exodus" (エクソダス, ekusodasu?), which could be a reference to the refuge of the evil spirits that corrupted Exdeath's original body. Exdeath's name is localized as "Exodes" in Legend of the Crystals.
In Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, Exdeath was translated to "Exodus". The Esper Exodus resembles Exdeath's knightly form with tree-like qualities, while the Totema pays homage to his tree form.
- Exdeath was created 500 years prior to Final Fantasy V, and released 30 years before Final Fantasy V, meaning Ghido sealed him for 470 years.
- There are few details about Exdeath's war upon his release. A scholar in Surgate simply describes a book chronicling the damage he dealt during the Dawn Warriors' time as a "horrible atrocities" and a "nightmare", without going into details. Details such as when Castle Exdeath was created, or any alliance he may have had with Gilgamesh at the time, are unknown.
- The crystal amplification devices expedited the damage to the crystals, but it is unclear how much they accelerated Exdeath's return. Cid mentioned increasing the crystals' power output with his machines caused them to shatter, but Queen Karnak, possessed by Exdeath, said that the machines were not the only thing destroying the crystals and that Exdeath's attempts to resurrect himself were doing the same. Ghido later said that he did not blame the denizens of Bartz's world for Exdeath's return, believing that Exdeath's seal breaking was an inevitability.
- As the party finds the wind crystal already shattered in the Wind Shrine, it is unknown if Exdeath possessed anyone to shatter it. Similarly, it is unclear if the shattering at the Wind Shrine was connected to Exdeath's return thereafter.
- Krile first notices the splinter in the Antlion's cave, but is unclear how long Exdeath was disguised as a splinter.
- Final Fantasy V (PlayStation)
- Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals
- Final Fantasy V Advance script § "Ghido's Cave 2"
- Final Fantasy V Advance script § "Ghido's Cave"
- Final Fantasy V Advance script § "Surgate Castle optional dialogue"
- Final Fantasy V Advance script § "Quelb"
- Final Fantasy V Advance script § "Karnak Castle"
- Final Fantasy V Advance script § "Fire-Powered Ship"
- Final Fantasy V Advance script § "Walse Tower"
- Final Fantasy V Advance script § "Ronka Ruins"
- Final Fantasy V Advance script § "Regole"
- Final Fantasy V Advance script § "Castle Exdeath"
- Final Fantasy V Advance script § "Castle of Bal (after Drakenvale)"
- Final Fantasy V Advance script § "Great Forest of Moore"
- Final Fantasy V Advance script § "Castle Exdeath (after Moore)"
- Final Fantasy V Advance script § "Cave"
- Final Fantasy V Advance script § "Sealed Castle"
- Final Fantasy V Advance script § "Interdimensional Rift"
- Final Fantasy V Advance script § "Final scene"
- Final Fantasy V Advance script § "Guardian Tree (after Pyramid of Moore)"
- Final Fantasy V Advance script § "Library of the Ancients 2"
- Final Fantasy Ultimania Archive Volume 1, p.253
- Final Fantasy V Perfect Conquest, Characters' Additional Data