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Why are you always bustin' my chops?

Neil Fleming

Neil Fleming is a protagonist in Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. He provides most of the comic relief in the story and is voiced by Steve Buscemi.



Neil has a dark brown hair and gray eyes. He wears Deep Eyes attire: a full on protective gear when outside the barrier cities, or a blue t-shirt with the Deep Eyes logo when not working on a mission outside.


He can work under pressure, which his somewhat high-pitched voice belies. He deals with the stresses of his job through quickwitted remarks. He is close with Jane; while she picks on him and argues with him a lot, she is also loyal and concerned for his welfare.


Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow. (Skip section)

Born in New York City in 2038, Neil was the youngest son of a military officer. From an early age, Neil showed interest in mechanics, often taking apart household appliances and putting them back together. At the age of 18, he enrolled in the Houston Military Academy where he studied engineering and received training in the Air Force. Highly recommended for his mechanical ability, Neil was recruited to the Deep Eyes squadron at the age of 25.

Neil relaxes as the Deep Eyes team is extracted from New York.

Two years later, working within Gray Edwards's Deep Eyes squad, Neil is called as part of his squad to retrieve Doctor Aki Ross from an unauthorized venture in the New York wasteland. Keeping his identity from her until well into the extraction, Doctor Ross and Gray argue as soon as Aki finds out who he is and the bickering continues through the city's contamination detector, as Jane and the rest of the squad patiently endure them.

When Aki announces her contained Phantom infection to the committee, Gray discovers the reason she left him and seeks her out, finding her embarking on a scan of the city for the seventh spirit. The two are given the chance to rekindle their relationship through the mischievous actions of Neil and Ryan Whittaker.

Neil flies the Copperhead to the Tucson Wasteland

General Hein temporarily assigns the Deep Eye squad to accompany Aki on her remaining voyages and orders them to report any suspicious behavior immediately and inserts some of his own men into the squad. Aki's search for the seventh spirit leads her, Gray's team, and Major Elliot's support, to the Tucson wasteland and the remnants of the Phantom Cleansing Mission. Deducing that the spirit was the living energy inside a dead soldier's OVO pack, Aki retrieves it. The Phantoms in the area reacts to the Phantom infection inside her and chase after her.

Aki falls into a coma as the Phantom infection overcomes her, forcing Gray to carry her the remaining way to the evacuation ship as Jane blasts their way through the Phantoms, with Neil flying the Copperhead drop ship. During the escape, Major Elliot's men attempt to take control, however, Gray's team resists, resulting in the former group members' deaths.

Returning to the New York Barrier city Gray, Aki and the Deep Eyes are arrested on grounds of suspicions of collaborating with the Phantoms. The incarceration is short-lived as soon after, due to General Hein's attempts to stage a Phantom invasion, the Barrier City's power grid goes off-line. The group escapes from the prison ward to discover the Barrier City overridden by Phantoms. Acquiring transport they make their way to the hangars where the Black Boa is detained, with Jane operating the heavy turret on the car.

Jane and Neil die side-by-side

When the Deep Eyes, Aki and Dr. Sid arrive in the hangar, Neil is tasked with manually disengaging the lock on the ship, with Jane covering him with her rifle. Jane fends off a multitude of Phantoms, but despite finishing his task, Neil is killed by a Phantom sneak attack. Jane, too, is overcome, falling next to Neil. Their sacrifices result in the Black Boa escaping successfully with Gray, Aki, and Sid onboard.

Spoilers end here.

Other appearances[]

Thriller Easter egg[]

Neil confronts Hein in a "Thriller" parody

Neil makes an appearance (along with the rest of the film's virtual cast) in a hidden Easter egg parody of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" music video created for the DVD release of the film.

The parody is set shortly after Douglas Hein inadvertantly causes the destruction of the New York Barrier City's barrier control room. As he runs away he runs into Aki, Gray, Ryan, Jane, Neil, Dr. Sid, Major Elliot, and three alive Phantoms who proceed to, as a group, perform the dance number to "Thriller" with Aki as the lead.