I, Garland, will knock you all down!!Garland
Garland is the first named character introduced in the original Final Fantasy, and the first antagonist of the franchise. Other Final Fantasy titles often allude to Garland and/or his alter-ego, Chaos, and other characters named Garland have appeared, often with a design or backstory that parallels the original Garland in some manner.
In Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin, a retelling of the story of Final Fantasy, the main protagonist is named Jack Garland. According to Tetsuya Nomura, Jack is the same person as Garland and the game will explore how and why he became Chaos.
Garland's design varies across different releases of Final Fantasy. His basic design is that of a warrior wearing plate mail with a cape, which varies in color but is usually a shade of blue or purple, and a horned helmet, with two large horns curving out from the sides and two smaller vertical horns on the top. All versions past the NES version give his cape a gold trim, and he has glowing eyes visible within the shadows of his helmet's visor, which are variably yellow or red. Manual artwork for the Game Boy Advance port shows Garland with a pink cape and wielding a curved sword, but no version of Final Fantasy has ever depicted Garland wielding a weapon in-game. Other media, such as FMVs for the PlayStation Origins port, broadly keep to this design of Garland as an armored knight with a horned helmet and prominently blue armor and cape.
The in-game manual for Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy implies that Garland's "Cloudsea Djinn" outfit is what he looks like under his armor. Otherwise his appearance under his armor has never been seen, save for a piece of Nintendo Power artwork where Garland's helmet is open, but he is facing away from the reader and has no distinct facial features.
Garland's appearance in Dissidia Final Fantasy was designed by Tetsuya Nomura. Garland wears a suit of silver and gray armor with gold ornamentation, including gold settings containing blue orbs or gemstones on his waist, elbows, and the back of his hands. His cape is a shade between blue and purple, with gold trim and a gold clasp, and he wields a massive sword identified in other titles as a claymore. Garland's Dissidia design has become the basis for his appearance in most other titles. Dissidia Final Fantasy NT updated his design with additional chest and shoulder plates, additional gold detailing on his armor, a new helmet, and a new sword, Rebellion, based on his original claymore with decorative gold plating along its length.
Garland is an arrogant and proud knight, insulting the Warriors of Light for daring to challenge him and triumphantly declaring his name and that he will defeat them. He flaunts his success in creating a time loop to them at the end of their quest, declaring that he will be reborn while his enemies die in the endless cycle he has created. Garland's character profile listed on Theatrhythm Final Fantasy All-Star Carnival's official website states he kidnapped Princess Sarah because she did not reciprocate his love for her, a motivation also given in the 20th Anniversary Ultimania. No version of Final Fantasy explicitly mentions Garland being infatuated with Sarah, though in the NES localization of Final Fantasy and in the original Japanese script, he does say "no one touches my Princess" to the Warriors of Light. Later localizations of Final Fantasy instead have Garland state that his goal is to ransom Sarah to the King in exchange for giving him control over Cornelia.
The citizens of Cornelia mourn the loss of Garland, espousing that he was once a good man that was corrupted by his power and lost himself. In the Japanese script, it is left ambiguous why he turned to evil, with the cause being attributed to an unspecified event. 
Dissidia Final Fantasy greatly expands on Garland's personality. He is aware that he is fated to create a time loop where he will transform into the demon Chaos, and he is also aware of the cycles of war between the gods where fallen warriors are revived to continue the war forever. Garland thus believes he is destined to always be trapped in a cycle of some manner, doomed to forever repeat the same actions. For this reason he resigns himself to his fate and embraces his destiny of battle. Garland relishes combat and takes great pleasure in duels with opponents who can give him a challenge, as even if they defeat him, he knows he will be revived to fight again. He encourages others to immerse themselves in the conflict and take joy in it as he does, and grows furious when someone attempts to escape the cycles or believes they can be ended. He shows no pity or hesitation against any opponent and declares he will not hold back, even when facing women and children like Terra and the Onion Knight.
Garland is not without compassion. He offers words of solace towards Kuja after witnessing how the other Warriors of Chaos manipulate his memory and emotions, and openly disapproves of the actions of the Warriors of Chaos that could endanger their allies. He forms a friendship with Chaos, becoming the god's confidante and closest ally. At the end of the 13th cycle, when the other Warriors of Chaos have abandoned the god to pursue their own ambitions, only Garland remains loyal, guarding a gateway that leads to Chaos' domain. According to his museum profile, Garland's loyalty is due to him pitying Chaos, as a fellow prisoner of the cycles of war. In Dissidia NT Garland tells the Warrior of Light that Spiritus is not the true enemy, and takes him and his allies to Spiritus to resolve the war peacefully. On such occasions, Garland demonstrates that he retains shades of the nobility and honor that once made him a respected knight.
Characters in Final Fantasy regard Garland as the finest knight of Cornelia, and when they sent soldiers to attempt to rescue Sarah from him, all of them failed, as none could defeat Garland. In battle, as the first boss of the game, Garland is only able to use physical attacks.
Dissidia Final Fantasy and its related titles expand Garland's skillset considerably. Garland's fighting style focuses around a massive sword that can change form between a greatsword, a lance, an axe, twin swords, and a flail. The sword's size and weight makes it difficult for even Garland to wield, thus he drags it behind him and uses its momentum to help swing it. Garland's attacks use the versatility of his weapon to deliver strings of blows in its different forms, such as charging forward with its lance form to impale his opponent and then quickly shifting to its axe form to slam them into the ground. He also invokes the power of the Four Fiends to infuse his sword with elemental magic. Both Dissidia and Dissidia NT characterize Garland as a close-range fighter that is slow to move and attack, but has terrific power.
Garland's fighting style in other spin-offs varies, but is often either reflective of his Dissidia incarnation, or he is able to use quad-elemental attacks in reference to the Four Fiends. In Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia, Garland can grant himself the "Soul of Conflict" status that delays his target's turn when he attacks, and his Limited and Burst skills each grant a temporary status that boosts the party's damage, the boost increasing as they take turns. In Final Fantasy Record Keeper, Garland is a darkness and heavy physical specialist, with Soul Breaks and Legend Materia that grant him follow-up attacks and heal Garland when he deals damage. World of Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy Brave Exvius focus Garland in dark-elemental damage with some proficiency in earth, fire, water and wind, the elements of the Four Fiends.
In Dissidia, Garland's EX Burst is Soul of Chaos, named for four bonus dungeons added to the Dawn of Souls version of Final Fantasy. Spin-off titles have established Soul of Chaos as Garland's Limit Break or equivalent mechanic, and usually depict it as Garland infusing himself or his sword with energy and dealing multiple physical blows using the different forms of his sword.
Garland was the best knight of the kingdom of Cornelia who gained respect through his power and skill. He became corrupted by power and abducted Princess Sarah, fleeing to the Chaos Shrine. He demanded the King of Cornelia hand control of the kingdom to him in exchange for Sarah's life. The Warriors of Light travel to the Shrine where they defeat Garland and rescue Sarah. Afterwards, the warriors travel the world to fight the Four Fiends of Chaos that had drained the Crystals of their power. The power of the Crystals the Fiends had drained was funneled into a Dark Crystal in the Chaos Shrine, opening a portal to the past.
With the Crystals restored, the Warriors of Light are told the Fiends were sent from two thousand years in the past, and their master is in that time. Using the Dark Crystal the Warriors travel to the past and defeat the Fiends again, and find Garland alive. Garland tells the Warriors of Light that the power of the Four Fiends in the present sent him to the past when he was on the brink of death after his defeat, and Garland then sent the Four Fiends in the past to the present. By doing this, Garland has created a time loop that will allow him to live forever.
Garland absorbs the Fiends' power and transforms into Chaos to do battle with the heroes. He is defeated and the time loop is broken, restoring the land. The epilogue states that a restored Garland will await the Warriors of Light as they travel back to the present, though it is unclear if he has reformed into the honorable knight he once was.
Being the first boss, Garland has only physical attacks and the battle is straightforward. The player's physical attackers, if any, should attack each round, with their healer using their spells only when needed and their offensive mage attacking each round with whatever spells they have.
Garland has appeared in the following media throughout the Final Fantasy series:
- Final Fantasy Dimensions II as a summon.
- Dissidia Final Fantasy (2008) as a playable character and an enemy.
- Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy as a playable character and an enemy.
- Dissidia Final Fantasy NT as a playable character and an enemy.
- Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia as a playable character and an enemy.
- Theatrhythm Final Fantasy All-Star Carnival as a playable character.
- Pictlogica Final Fantasy as a playable character and an enemy.
- Final Fantasy Airborne Brigade as a Legend and an enemy.
- Final Fantasy Artniks as a series of cards.
- Final Fantasy Record Keeper as a playable character and a boss.
- Final Fantasy Brave Exvius as a summonable vision.
- Final Fantasy Trading Card Game as a series of cards.
- World of Final Fantasy Maxima as a superboss and playable character.
Non-Final Fantasy guest appearances
Garland has made key guest appearances in the following non-Final Fantasy games:
- Yo-kai Watch: Wibble Wobble as a playable character.
A costume of Garland in his Dissidia Final Fantasy attire appears in Kingdom Hearts Mobile.
Garland is a primary antagonist, where he is actually a good person trying to be evil, and even serves the Light Warriors refreshments when they 'attack' his lair. As the leader of the Dark Warriors, Garland is the longest-running enemy the Light Warriors have faced, although the few evil deeds he attempts usually do not pan out. As most of the character sprites in the webcomic are based on the graphics of Final Fantasy I-III, the sprite used for Garland is edited from a Magic Knight, even using the original graphics of that same class to represent Garland before receiving his "evil" makeover.
Behind the scenes
Garland's declaration in the original NES release of Final Fantasy, "I, Garland, will knock you all down!", became a meme due to the silliness of the line. The line likely came about due to Nintendo of America's censorship policies at the time, which often forbade games from making explicit references to death, forcing the usage of euphemisms. When Final Fantasy was re-translated for the PlayStation Origins port, the line was removed, but the updated translation in the Game Boy Advance port restored it. The PlayStation Portable Anniversary release and the Pixel Remaster version retain the majority of the Game Boy Advance script, including the line. Dissidia Final Fantasy NT includes the line as a voice chat option for Garland when in lobbies.
Tetsuya Nomura has said that Garland was a difficult character to design for Dissidia; unlike the other Dissidia characters, Garland had no original concept art for Nomura to draw upon, only game sprites. He described it as being more like creating a new character rather than re-designing an existing character, but the final result still had to be recognizable to players as the Garland they knew from Final Fantasy.
Garland is voiced by Christopher Sabat, who first voiced him in Dissidia. Sabat has voiced Garland in all subsequent speaking appearances, and also voices Garland in Stranger of Paradise.
Final Fantasy. The name may also stem from a garland being something that forms a loop, alluding to the time loop in which the first Garland in Final Fantasy becomes involved.A garland is a wreath of flowers worn on the head, usually given to great military heroes in ancient Greece and Rome, not unlike the medals of today are. They were also sometimes left on the graves of fallen soldiers. In reference to Garland, the name may be symbolic, as he was a great hero who had "fallen" (corrupted by evil), possible a reference to the original Garland being killed in the first dungeon the player completes in
- Princess Sarah Will Have a Larger Role in Final Fantasy Origin (Accessed: UnknownError: See this for how to archive.) at Siliconera
- Character Pages (Accessed: UnknownError: See this for how to archive.) at Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: All-Star Carnival Square Enix official site
- NPC: Garland was once the greatest knight in the kingdom. But power consumed him, and he lost sight of who he really was.
- NPC: Garland was once a good knight, but... If only such a thing had not...