To be a hero, you need to have dreams...Zack Fair
Zack Fair is a non-playable character in Final Fantasy VII and the main protagonist of its prequel, Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-. He also appears in Last Order -Final Fantasy VII-, Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII-, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children and Final Fantasy VII Remake.
In Final Fantasy VII, Zack only appears in flashback sequences that portray him as almost identical to Cloud Strife, but the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII expands upon his character. Zack is a 1st Class SOLDIER and Cloud's best friend during their time working for the Shinra Electric Power Company. He wields the iconic Buster Sword, which he would pass onto Cloud in the same manner Zack had inherited it from his mentor, Angeal Hewley.
- 1 Profile
- 2 Story
- 3 Gameplay
- 4 Other appearances
- 5 Non-Final Fantasy guest appearances
- 6 Behind the scenes
- 7 Merchandise
- 8 Gallery
- 9 Etymology
- 10 Notes
- 11 External links
- 12 References
Zack is tall, well-built, and has the iconic sky-blue "mako eyes" common to SOLDIER members. Zack's appearance changes during Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-. He starts with spiky black hair with several bangs framing his face and wears a dark blue SOLDIER uniform (even if most 2nd Class members wear red and magenta), gloves, boots, and is equipped with a standard SOLDIER sword.
After being promoted he wears a black 1st Class SOLDIER uniform, and gains the Buster Sword as well as an X-shaped scar on his cheek. His spiky hair grows out and becomes wilder with a single lock of hair hanging down in front of his face. He now has a silver stud earring in his left ear.
Eyes infused with Mako energy. A SOLDIER trademark. Color of the sky, right?Zack to Aerith on his eyes
Zack has a positive attitude and is always ready for work. His energetic personality and short attention span earned the nickname "Zack the Puppy" from Angeal. He is loyal to SOLDIER and dreams of becoming a hero. He is kind, friendly, sociable and easily befriends almost everyone. Angeal's words of valuing dreams and honor have had a great impact on Zack and he goes on to succeed Angeal as SOLDIER's spiritual leader. He is flirty with women and protective of his friends.
Zack's personality juxtaposes with Genesis's in their respective quests of "becoming a hero". Whereas Genesis believes himself entitled to the moniker and strives to achieve it by proving himself superior to others, Zack views becoming a hero as a personal achievement and the only person he strives to surpass is his own past self. Whereas Genesis looks into outside sources to affirm his role as the hero—LOVELESS and becoming stronger and more revered in the public eye than Sephiroth—Zack instead follows his internal moral compass.
Having been trained by Angeal, one of the three most powerful SOLDIER members, Zack is an exceptional combatant, accomplished in both swordsmanship and hand-to-hand combat. He is considered a cut above most Second Class SOLDIER members and secures a promotion to First Class. He is chosen to represent SOLDIER in the competition against the Security Department, and entrusted with crucial support missions with the other Shinra departments, acknowledged even by the arrogant and immoral Hojo as a worthy SOLDIER member to test his experiments on. A true testament to Zack's fighting prowess is how he fought all three of the most powerful SOLDIER members, defeating Angeal and Genesis, and being a challenge to Sephiroth despite ultimately losing.[note 1] In his last stand, Zack fights an army of Shinra infantrymen alone.
With Digital Mind Wave as his Limit Break, Zack can copy skills upon seeing others use them. While preferring melee combat, Zack is competent with magic, and is handy with a sniper rifle.
Outside the realm of battle, Zack is great at performing squats and has the potential to set a record for this within Shinra. Calling himself a "country boy", traversing a snowy mountainside will not slow him down compared to his more inexperienced companions. He has also displayed some handyman skill by building Aerith a flower cart and can operate a motorbike.
SOLDIER 2nd Class Zack, on the job!Zack Fair
Zack, assumed to have been born in the town of Gongaga, had childhood dreams of joining SOLDIER to become a First Class. At the age of thirteen he left for Midgar without notifying his parents and joined the Shinra military.
By October of 0000, Zack had reached SOLDIER Second Class under the tutelage of First Class Angeal Hewley. Angeal's words of wisdom and strong sense of honor have a profound effect on Zack, who wants to emulate his mentor. During his time in SOLDIER, Zack befriended Second Class SOLDIER Kunsel, who guides him in the ways of Shinra. Zack works under Director Lazard Deusericus in the 49th Floor of the Shinra Headquarters along with many other SOLDIER members.
War with Genesis
Angeal wouldn't betray us! Never!Zack Fair to Sephiroth
In Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, Zack undergoes a digital training session in the Virtual Reality System with his mentor. Zack completes the mission, but while caught off-guard by the victory, he is easily defeated by a virtual Sephiroth. Angeal ends the training and saves him.
Despite the debacle Angeal recommends Zack be promoted to First Class and Zack is deployed to Wutai to prove his skill. He becomes ecstatic over Angeal having recommended him for promotion, and receives interesting news during the briefing: First Class SOLDIER Genesis Rhapsodos has deserted Shinra, taking an untold number of Second and Third Class soldiers with him.
Angeal and Zack arrive in Wutai and journey to Fort Tamblin. On the way, Angeal asks Zack if he knows about "dumbapples" and explains the origin of the Banora White apples and how he was poor growing up yet friends with the adopted son of the richest family in town: Genesis. They make their way to Fort Tamblin and Zack takes out the enemy forces single-handedly. After an encounter with a nine-year-old Yuffie Kisaragi, Zack enters a room and is attacked by two anti-SOLDIER monsters, which he defeats, but one of them launches a counterattack. He is saved by Angeal.
While heading back to meet with Lazard, several unknown soldiers attack the two. Angeal stays behind to deal with them while Zack escorts Lazard to safety. When he returns he discovers Angeal has gone missing. Zack battles Ifrit and nearly falls to its counterattack, but Sephiroth saves him by defeating it with a single blow. The unknown soldiers' bodies are copies of Genesis, the missing SOLDIER member. Sephiroth concludes that Angeal has left with his long-time friend, but Zack refuses to believe his mentor would desert Shinra.
Zack is tasked with searching for Genesis, and is joined by Tseng of the Turks, Shinra's intelligence agency. In Angeal and Genesis's hometown, Banora, Zack and Tseng find Genesis's adoptive parents' recently dug grave. Zack heads into the village and finds only one person, Angeal's mother, Gillian Hewley, who asks for Angeal's whereabouts, but Zack doesn't know. At the local apple juice factory he learns from Tseng that Sephiroth had deferred the mission to him due to his friendship with both Angeal and Genesis. Genesis appears, taunts Zack and injures Tseng. Angeal arrives and defends Zack, but soon pushes him away.
Tseng reveals Shinra planes are going to bomb Banora to cover up the incidents. Zack races to save Gillian, but finds her dead on the floor with Angeal standing over her. Thinking Angeal has killed her, Zack punches him and questions his honor. Genesis allows Angeal's escape, and sends Bahamut after Zack, which he defeats before questioning Genesis's motives. Sprouting a black wing, Genesis states he is a monster and flies off. Zack evacuates on a Shinra helicon and witnesses the bombing of Banora.
In April 0001, Zack is promoted to SOLDIER First Class. He is not as happy as he thought he would be attaining his dream. Genesis's army attacks Midgar and Zack fights them throughout the city. Along the way he saves Cissnei, a member of the Turks. Sephiroth and Zack head to the Sector 5 Reactor to find the rogue Dr. Hollander who is suspected of working with Genesis. They purposefully allow Angeal and Genesis to escape and find papers documenting Shinra's Project G, which they presume to stand for "Project Genesis", explaining his genetic abnormalities. Zack chases Hollander through the mako reactor until he runs into Angeal, who says that as a monster he only dreams of monstrous things: world domination and revenge. Sprouting wings, Angeal attacks Zack and knocks him back, but Zack refuses to fight his old friend and mentor. Angeal destroys the platform beneath Zack and sends him plummeting into the Midgar slums.
Zack falls through the roof of the Sector 5 slums church where he meets Aerith Gainsborough, whom he offers to pay back her help with a date. Zack is impressed with the flowers that grow in the church, as flowers are a luxury item in the usually barren Midgar, and suggests Aerith sell them. They go to a local market where a child steals Zack's wallet and he discovers the child's own wallet had been eaten by a monster. Zack recovers the kid's wallet and buys Aerith a pink ribbon she will always wear from then on. He also inadvertently ends up naming the future Seventh Heaven bar; when in the Sector 5 Slums Market Place, he talks to a man near a pile of wood who asks help in naming a new bar.
Zack and Aerith's date is cut short when he is recalled to the upper Midgar to defeat Genesis. En route Angeal appears and explains he and Zack must work together. Angeal flies him to the Shinra Building where Sephiroth explains Hollander is most likely after Professor Hojo who was given the position of heading Shinra's science department over Hollander. Zack, Genesis and Angeal arrive, and when Genesis flies out Angeal grabs Zack and flies him to face Bahamut Fury while Angeal deals with Genesis. After Zack defeats Bahamut Fury, Angeal and Genesis are nowhere to be seen.
During April, Zack is sent to the mountain town of Modeoheim with Tseng and several Shinra infantrymen, one of whom is Cloud Strife. Their helicopter is shot down by Genesis's troops and the team hikes across the snow. Zack and Cloud make headway, and when Zack comments that his companion can at least keep up after seeing how far behind Tseng and the other troops have fallen, they learn they are both "country boys" and become immediate friends. Cloud begins to look up to Zack as a hero and role model, not unlike Zack looking up to Angeal.
They discover a Mako Excavation Facility that Zack infiltrates while Tseng and the troops continue on to Modeoheim. Zack finds Genesis and Dr. Hollander arguing over Hollander not being able to cure Genesis's genetic degradation against his earlier promises. Zack confronts Genesis while Hollander squirms away. Zack triumphs over Genesis and watches the former SOLDIER fall into the depths of the reactor. Assuming him dead, Zack hurries after Hollander.
Within a ruined bathhouse Zack finds Hollander and Angeal. He learns Hollander used the late Gillian Hewley as a test subject for Project G, or "Project Gillian", and being Gillian's son, Angeal has gained the powers of Jenova as a result. Angeal did not kill his mother, but she killed herself, unable to live with her actions. Although Hollander refers to him as the perfect soldier, Angeal refuses the title, instead calling himself the "perfect monster". He fuses with several Angeal Copy monsters and becomes Angeal Penance.
Zack defeats Angeal Penance and his left cheek is scarred. Angeal is left barely alive. He hands the Buster Sword to Zack, telling him to remember his dreams and honor to be a true member of SOLDIER. Distraught over the death of his mentor and friend, Zack finds comfort in the arms of Aerith, strengthening their relationship. As one of the last First Class SOLDIER members, and with Genesis War considered over, Zack succeeds Angeal's role as the emotional heart of the organization. He meets another SOLDIER member named Luxiere who looks up to him as a role model, inspired by Zack's speech to the Shinra troops he commands.
In Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII-, on January 16, 0002, Zack is sent to deal with the insurgency known as Avalanche in Icicle Inn to destroy their base along with a Player Turk and his SOLDIER friends, Essai and Sebastian. If the Player Turk is female, Zack will hit on her. Essai and Sebastian are kidnapped by Avalanche and turned into Ravens, monstrous genetically enhanced humans created by Fuhito to be his personal guard. Zack attempts a rescue mission and brings the two back to their senses, but they die. When the Player Turk leaves, Zack kills a Raven named Kyneugh. After escaping the base, Zack makes a grave for Essai and Sebastian with both of their swords crossing.
In Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, by early summer, Zack is sent to Costa del Sol to rest with Cissnei watching him. His vacation is interrupted by an attack by Genesis Copies, the first salvo of a new round of conflict. With the help of a secret traitor within SOLDIER, Director Lazard himself, the copies break Dr. Hollander out of imprisonment in Junon. Zack is sent there with a good number of Turks and Shinra troops to quell the threat of Genesis's copies and the stolen machines of the Shinra Company. Hollander escapes with the Genesis Copies' help, but Sephiroth, who arrives late, forgives him, and permits Zack to return to Midgar to see Aerith.
Midgar has been under attack from hordes of monsters that have escaped (or perhaps set free, according to Kunsel) from Hojo's lab, but an Angeal copy has protected Aerith until Zack's arrival. Although never fully stated, it is believed this single copy is what is left of Angeal's will on the planet, and is perhaps being controlled by Angeal from within the Lifestream.
Before Zack leaves on his next mission, he and Aerith build a wagon so she can sell flowers in Midgar. Zack accompanies her on her first day of business, but has to stop when he is called away for another mission. He entrusts Tseng with looking after Aerith before heading to Nibelheim, Cloud's hometown, with Sephiroth, Cloud, and two other Shinra troopers to inspect the emergence of monsters in the area and a possibly malfunctioning mako reactor. In a DMW scene, Zack tells Aerith that whenever they meet they should do something in particular. Zack's idea is for her to wear pink, but she finds the idea silly. However, after Zack leaves for Nibelheim Aerith takes up on wearing the color.
The Nibelheim Incident
Sephiroth! Have you completely lost your mind?!Zack to Sephiroth after he descends into madness
Zack, Sephiroth and Cloud enter Nibelheim on September 22nd, but Cloud hides his face out of fear of being spotted by his childhood friend, Tifa. When learning that Sephiroth doesn't have a hometown, Zack asks whether he had a family. Sephiroth's answer that Jenova was his mother piques Zack's curiosity and suspicion due to Genesis's earlier reference to her. Before the group climbs Mt. Nibel to reach the reactor, a villager snaps a picture of Sephiroth, Zack and Tifa (who is to be their guide) together.
The malfunctioning reactor is fixed, but within Zack and Sephiroth discover pods filled with makonoids, humans infused with massive amounts of mako and turned into monsters. When they find a chamber labeled "Jenova" Genesis appears and reveals Sephiroth's past as part of the Jenova Project. Sephiroth hides in the basement of the Shinra Manor reading files upon files of the project for seven sleepless days. When Zack tries to talk to him, he wants to be left alone. On October 1st, Zack tries to talk to Sephiroth again only to discover he has gone insane. Believing himself to be the last Cetra and blaming humans for his people's extinction, Sephiroth emerges from the mansion and burns the village to the ground, slaughtering most of the townsfolk. He leaves for the reactor on the mountain, leaving Zack horrified over the state of Nibelheim and furious at Sephiroth.
Zack makes haste to the reactor, but is too late to stop Tifa and her father from being cut down. When Zack approaches the wounded Tifa, she refuses help and proclaims to hate him as he is a SOLDIER. Zack battles Sephiroth outside Jenova's containment tube, realizing the man he once trusted is gone. Despite putting up a competent fight, he is forced out of the reactor's core, too injured to continue fighting. Cloud arrives, furious over the death of his mother and seeing Tifa gravely wounded. He impales Sephiroth with Zack's Buster Sword, but Sephiroth still survives. Zack, no longer capable of fighting, implores Cloud to deal the finishing blow to Sephiroth. Although Cloud hurls Sephiroth to the Lifestream below the reactor, he is left grievously injured, and Zack crawls to his friend to comfort him before falling unconscious.
Tifa is saved by her martial arts teacher Zangan while Cloud and Zack are taken by Shinra forces to be used in Professor Hojo's newest experiment: the Jenova Reunion Theory. Hojo predicts Jenova's parts, even on a cellular level, will strive to gather and become whole again. To test this theory Hojo exposes the survivors of the Nibelheim Incident, including Cloud and Zack, to mako, and injects them with Jenova cells.
No! Open your eyes, Genesis!Zack telling Genesis to face reality
Zack and Cloud are held captive in the Shinra Mansion and experimented on for four years. Hojo deems the two as failures, places them in cryogenic sleep and leaves them in their pods. On December 19th, 0006, Zack hallucinates Angeal appearing before him in the Shinra Mansion basement. As he flies off, Zack's will to be free allows him to break out and he and Cloud escape.
Due to Hojo's experiments both have become Sephiroth Clones (people susceptible to Sephiroth's will from within the Lifestream, not genetic clones of him). As a former SOLDIER member, Zack remains unaffected, but Cloud is left with severe mako poisoning and Zack is forced to take care of his catatonic friend while running from Shinra. Cissnei in Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, or whoever the player's Turk is in Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII-, is ordered to take the escapees in, but betrays orders and allows Zack and Cloud to pass.
Zack and Cloud hide out from Shinra while trying to reach Midgar until early autumn 0007. A Genesis Copy eats a lock of Zack's hair to cure its degradation due to Zack's body possessing S Cells (being a Sephiroth Clone), but it turns into a monster as Zack's S cells have mutated and adapted to Zack's body. Zack defeats the creature and heads home to Gongaga where he runs into Genesis, now with a degrading Genesis Copy who was once Hollander. Hollander and Genesis try to take Cloud for his pure Sephiroth Cells, as Zack is worthless thanks to his body being resilient to mako as a former member of SOLDIER. Lazard—in the form of a degrading Angeal—and Zack fight the two and Zack kills Hollander once and for all.
Zack realizes Genesis has been working from Banora the whole time, the "dumbapples" he always carries being the clue. Zack leaves Cloud under Lazard's protection and ventures into Banora Underground. He faces Genesis who wields the power of the Lifestream, which cures the latter's degradation. Challenged once again for the title of SOLDIER First Class, Zack defeats Genesis and takes him up to the surface.
Together with a catatonic Cloud, a beaten Genesis, a dead Lazard and the final surviving Angeal copy that had lived in Aerith's church, Zack eats a dumbapple to appease Genesis's dream of re-enacting the epic poem LOVELESS. As the final Angeal Copy dies from degradation, Zack finds the 89th and final letter from Aerith it had been carrying, and realizes he had been contained in the Shinra Mansion for four years. Desperate to return to her, Zack leaves a now pacified Genesis behind while he and Cloud set off to Midgar. They hitch a ride on the back of a pick-up truck toward Midgar, Zack planning for him and Cloud to become mercenaries together, and ponders if he could have stayed with Aerith if her mother allowed.
Zack's final stand
My honor... My dreams... They're yours now. You'll be... My living legacy.Zack to Cloud, moments before his death
At the end of September 0007, while Zack and Cloud approach Midgar, an army of Shinra troops awaits them. Despite Cissnei and Tseng's attempts to locate Zack first and save him, the Shinra army attacks. In the short animation Last Order, a Shinra sniper attempts to assassinate Cloud, but Zack notices and tells Cloud to get away, causing the sniper to miss, starting the battle.
In the Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- and Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete versions, Zack notices the ambush, hides Cloud behind a rock formation and calmly goes to face the soldiers waiting for him. After remarking on the price of his freedom, Zack charges, and although his combat prowess and the memories of his friends allow him to hold his ground for a time, the army wears him down until he collapses. In the original Final Fantasy VII Zack is ambushed by only two soldiers and one commander, and there is no exchange of words between Cloud and Zack, because Cloud wakes up to Zack already being dead.
In Crisis Core Zack is barely alive when Cloud comes to him. Having accepted his fate and content that he managed to protect Cloud, Zack bequeaths the Buster Sword to him like Angeal handed the Buster Sword to Zack years earlier, and tells Cloud to carry on his dreams and be his "living legacy". As Cloud wanders off towards Midgar, Zack looks up at the sky and sees Angeal descend. Taking Angeal's outstretched hand, Zack enters the Lifestream. Zack's voice tells Cloud to "say hi to Aerith" for him, and asks, "Hey, would you say I became a hero?"
The combined trauma caused by the Nibelheim Incident, his mako poisoning and witnessing Zack's death becomes too much for Cloud's mind to handle. He makes his way to Midgar, collapsing in the Sector 7 train station in the slums, and is found by Tifa, whom Zangan had brought to Midgar to recover from the wounds she had sustained during the Nibelheim Incident. Aided by the Jenova cells in his body, Cloud's mind warps and he adopts Zack's memories and persona, combining it with an idealized image of himself to create a new personality and history for himself.
After subconsciously creating this facade Cloud comes to believe he was successful in joining SOLDIER and that he fulfilled Zack's role in the mission to Nibelheim. He believes he has come to Midgar to seek work as a mercenary, just as Zack said he intended to do. Zack no longer exists in Cloud's mind; the altered memories place him in Zack's position. Realizing something is wrong with Cloud, Tifa convinces him to join her and Barret with the second incarnation of Avalanche to keep an eye on him.
Cloud battles to reclaim his memory and to accept his true identity rather than rely on his constructed "Zack" personality—a combination of Zack's persona, the stories Zack had told him, and what he presumes a First Class SOLDIER would act like. When Cloud's party visits Gongaga they learn it was Zack's hometown. Aerith, who has joined Cloud on his mission to pursue Sephiroth who seems to have returned from the dead, reveals Zack was her boyfriend, and that Cloud resembles him. Zack's parents still wait for his return, concerned they have not heard from him in years.
In the novella Hoshi o Meguru Otome, Aerith encounters Zack after her death at the hands of Sephiroth. Aerith contemplates about Cloud's persona, but summons Zack instead—as he is the one Cloud thought himself to be. Zack is among those who aid her destroy Meteor. They reminisce about their relationship, and Zack retains his flirtatious demeanor, telling Aerith to give him a call whenever she feels lonely.
You already beat him once, didn't you? This should be a cinch!Zack to Cloud about Sephiroth (Advent Children Complete)
Zack shows up several times in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children: Flashbacks show scenes of his and Cloud's friendship when Cloud visits the Buster Sword memorial outside Midgar, and Zack briefly appears when Cloud thinks of what he cherishes most during his battle with a resurrected Sephiroth. After Cloud gets caught in Loz and Yazoo's suicide attack, he hears Zack's and Aerith's voices before being sent back to Midgar. Cloud spots Zack with Aerith in the church in the slums, returning to the Lifestream, letting Cloud know they are all right, and that Cloud is not alone.
A large gray wolf, the Fenrir, appears in many of the same places Cloud does, but at different times, only meeting him once at the end. One interpretation is that the wolf represents Cloud's loneliness and guilt for failing his friends, among them Zack. Another is that the wolf is an incarnation of Zack's spirit, keeping an eye on Cloud during his dire moments (not unlike the canine Angeal Copy in Crisis Core). The wolf disappears when Cloud forgives himself for his failures, including the deaths of Zack and Aerith, and afterward Zack and Aerith appear to Cloud to show that even though his guilt has faded, his memory and appreciation of his friends has not.
Zack appears twice more in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete: As Cloud sees Tifa in danger during his fight against Bahamut SIN and Denzel facing Shadow Creepers, images of Aerith's death and Zack's final stand flash in his eyes, and during the final battle, Zack appears behind Cloud just as Sephiroth seems to have him beaten. With the Buster Sword in hand, Zack reminds Cloud not to forget his SOLDIER honor, before correcting himself because Cloud never actually was in SOLDIER. Zack reminds it is the heart that counts and encourages Cloud to defeat Sephiroth, telling him he has already proven to be the stronger one and that he is Zack's living legacy.
Yellow flowers now bloom on the spot outside Midgar where Zack died. Denzel asks Cloud if it is someone's grave and Cloud says it's not, but a place where a hero began his journey, presumably referring to both Zack and himself. A restored Buster Sword has been relocated to Aerith's church to rest among the flowers.
Zack's "final stand" is shown in Final Fantasy VII Remake during the party's battle with Sephiroth and the Whispers, which were observing what was to be Zack's final moments. The Whispers' defeat seems to have altered Zack's fate, with Zack still alive despite his injuries, having defeated Shinra's infantrymen. He was knocked down by a burst of light from Midgar, but recovered and took a weakened Cloud to the city before leaving him behind. As shown in Episode INTERmission, after an unknown period of time, Zack visits the Sector 5 church hoping to see Aerith, only to find her absent and the church full of refugees from the topside of Midgar. Whether this is still in the same continuity as the rest of the remake, is ambiguous, as there are inconsistencies between the two.[note 2]
In Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII- Zack appears as a boss and fights the Player Turk in chapter 19. Zack does not attack but only runs away.
In Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, Zack is the main (and only) playable character. He uses abilities via Materia and has mastered the art of Materia Fusion. He has access to many accessories for various effects. His Limit Break is Digital Mind Wave, capable of performing attacks used by the people he meets and the summons he has defeated. His weapon is not an equippable gear, rather depending on where the player is in the story.
In Costa del Sol, Zack fights with a parasol in allusion to Final Fantasy VII, where Aeris can obtain an umbrella for a weapon. Zack's normal victory pose is a combination of Cloud's and Squall Leonhart's, involving swinging his sword twice, then spinning it and returning it to its holder on his back. Zack's default Limit Break (Chain Slash) resembles Cloud's later Limit Break, Cross-slash. The slashes Zack performs in Chain Slash correspond to the stroke order of the Japanese kanji that appears in Cloud's Cross-slash Limit Break.
If the player performs the correct actions in Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- by finding and talking to Cissnei during the time Junon is under attack, Zack learns he has a fan club like many other 1st Class SOLDIERs. Known simply as the "Zack Fair Fanclub", the player's actions determine its popularity by the end of the game.
Zack has appeared in the following games throughout the Final Fantasy series:
- Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia as a playable character.
- Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call as a playable character.
- Pictlogica Final Fantasy as a playable character.
- Final Fantasy Airborne Brigade as a summonable Legend.
- Final Fantasy Artniks as a series of cards.
- Final Fantasy Record Keeper as a playable character.
- Final Fantasy World Wide Words.
- Mobius Final Fantasy as an ability card.
- World of Final Fantasy: Meli-Melo as a summon.
- Final Fantasy Trading Card Game as a series of cards.
- Triple Triad as a card.
Non-Final Fantasy guest appearances
Though he does not appear in Dissidia Final Fantasy, nor is he called by name, Zack is referenced several times. During a discussion with other warriors of Cosmos, Cloud states the Buster Sword is not heavy and that "it's ... a memento", a paraphrase of Zack's comment about the blade. One of Cloud's pre-battle lines ("If I win, are my sins forgiven?"), said when he fights himself, refers to the guilt Cloud feels over the deaths of Zack and Aerith. Another of his battle lines is "I'll live your life for you", alluding to being Zack's living legacy, and if using Firion against him, he will say "You look like... a friend of mine".
Behind the scenes
Final Fantasy VII
Zack's role in the plot of Final Fantasy VII was already there before he was created. From the start it was decided Cloud's cocky personality would be false, but later it was decided to create a character whom Cloud based himself on. Before Zack, Aerith was to see her first love in Cloud, though who that person would be was not yet decided, and some early ideas even placed that person as Sephiroth. Later, Zack was placed to serve both as Aerith's first love and to solve the mysteries surrounding Cloud. Since he was added so late in development, Zack was one of the last characters drawn by Tetsuya Nomura.
Scenario writer Kazushige Nojima came up with Zack, and at the beginning there was not much foreshadowing to his existence; Nojima later asked the staff in charge of the event scenes to add foreshadowing to Cloud's true persona and to Zack. The game's directors only had a vague image of Cloud's identity, mainly that it was intended to be mysterious, but the actual unfolding of events was left in Kazushige Nojima's hands. Nojima made not only the scenario, but the event scenes as well, and the team ended up doing the test play with no idea how it was going to end, and that's how they first found out the true course of events. Zack was a character Nojima brought in while building up the mystery, so the others had no clue he would be such a pivotal character.
In Final Fantasy VII: International the player can view specific background items in full screen. In Zack's parents' house in Gongaga, one can click on his parents' desk and find a letter he wrote them some years ago, that roughly translates into:
- Dear Dad and Mom,
- How are you guys?
- Sorry for leaving town so suddenly.
- I just really wanted to become a SOLDIER.
- I bet you're worried now that I've told you...
- But now I'm fulfilling my lifelong dream, and I'll do my best in SOLDIER.
- P.S. I have a girlfriend.
Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-
One of the primary reasons Zack was chosen as the protagonist in Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- was his predetermined fate.. Yoshinori Kitase has stated that Zack's story had "been cooking for 10 years" as conceptual artwork and back story already existed for him, despite Zack being only a minor character in Final Fantasy VII. Crisis Core was initially meant to have more scenes involving Zack and Cloud's escape to Midgar to expand their connection, but it could not be included due to UMD limitations, and the staff chose to instead focus in Zack's work as a soldier.
When the developers first made the ending scenes for Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- they did not have much blood on Zack and Cloud due to working within ratings restrictions. Director Hajime Tabata though that without the blood the emotions would not be the same and thus the team slowly put more blood on Zack until Tabata was pleased with the scene. Zack is Hajime Tabata's favorite Final Fantasy character.
During his spare time in Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Zack is found doing squats, and is the current "champion of squats" in SOLDIER. This alludes to a minigame in Final Fantasy VII where Cloud must out-perform a gym member in Wall Market in doing squats, but a young Cloud is also seen performing this maneuver during flashbacks on his time in SOLDIER. In later scenes it is revealed the person Cloud based his memories on was, in fact, Zack, who was the one doing squats in the truck on their way to the Nibelheim mission.
Zack was voiced by Nozomu Sasaki in Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring. Since then, he has been voiced by Kenichi Suzumura who is married to Aerith's Japanese voice actress, Maaya Sakamoto. Characters voiced by both won the male and female character popularity polls, respectively. 
Zack is voiced by Rick Gomez in English for most of his appearances. He is voiced by Caleb Pierce for Final Fantasy VII Remake.
Various official merchandise featuring Zack have been released over the years. Zack also appears as part of the artwork on a special edition PlayStation Portable console, has had a Potion energy drink can with his picture, and appeared in the cover of the Final Fantasy VII 10th Anniversary Ultimania and Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Complete Guide-.
"Zack" is a shortened form of the name "Zachary". Zachary" is a name of Hebrew origin that means "remembrance of the Lord" or "Jehovah hath remembered". Whether his name is meant to be connected to Jenova's (a portmanteau of Jehovah and Nova) is unknown."
Zack's last name was revealed in Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- to be "Fair". According to Tetsuya Nomura, it is derived from "fair weather", and is intended to contrast with "Cloud Strife".
"Zax" is the name used in the Japanese PlayStation edition of Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring in 1998. His First Edition and Special Edition cards in the Final Fantasy Art Museum use the name "Zack's", as does his Final Fantasy Trading Arts vol.1 figure.
The character names were made universally consistent for Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, and so his name has recently been romanized as "Zack" in official Japanese media and material. In Last Order -Final Fantasy VII- his name is written as "Zack" in the credits and atop a case file within the OVA, however, that same case file also writes his name "Zax" in its body.
In Final Fantasy VII, the game code calls the two infantrymen during Cloud's telling of the Nibelheim Incident, "Zax" and "Zako"; "Zax" is what Zack is called in Japanese and "Zako" is a vulgar Japanese word that refers to someone as worthless cannon fodder. "Zako" would be the infantryman who goes missing after the bridge falls, meaning "Zax" is actually Cloud, a play on their role reversal in Cloud's faulty telling of the events.
- Hojo wonders in the description of Experiment No. 108 whether Sephiroth gave his all fighting Zack, and that the data he acquired from their battle showed a significant amount of strength that meant Sephiroth accepted Zack as a worthy SOLDIER.
- Stamp has a wholly different design from the hound in the game in the scene where Zack survives his "final stand".
- Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Japanese, Chapter 6:
- Final Fantasy VII 10th Anniversary Ultimania, p.082
- Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- English, Chapter 6:
Receptionist: Good day, Zack! SOLDIER 1st Class! So you were born in Gongaga, you're 6' 3", you're an only child, and you like to do squats... Hmmm, interesting... What? Oh, it's nothing. Ahahahaha!}}
- Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, Shinra Electric Company missions
- Final Fantasy VII script:
Zack: What're you gonna do once we get to Midgar? I know what I'm gonna do. I got a place I can crash for a while... No wait, the mother lives there too. Guess that's out.
- FFVII 10th Anniversary Discussion: p. 8 to 13 of the FFVII 10th Anniversary Ultimania translations (Accessed: August 21, 2018) at The Lifestream
- Weekly Famitsu Issue no. 1224 Yoshinori Kitase Interview translations (Accessed: August 21, 2018) at The Lifestream
- Is FF7 an Unfinished Game?? (Accessed: August 21, 2018) at Super FF7
- Crisis Core Preview - We discuss the FF7 prequel's inner workings with director Tabata (dead) (Accessed: August 09, 2016) at 1UP.com
- Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII UK Interview (Accessed: August 21, 2018) at IGN
- The 3rd Birthday has Skippable Event Scenes (Plus, director Hajime Tabata touches upon the development of Crisis Core Final Fantasy VII) (Accessed: August 21, 2018) at Andriasang
- Unser Interview mit Hajime Tabata (Accessed: August 21, 2018) at JPGAMES.DE
- Hajime Tabata AMA (Accessed: August 21, 2018) at r/IAmA on Reddit
- Tabata Teases That Final Fantasy XV Will Reflect Gaming's Move Online (Accessed: April 24, 2018) at Game Informer
- Japan ranks their favorite female characters from the Final Fantasy series (Accessed: August 21, 2018) at Nova Crystallis
- Japan ranks their favorite male characters from the Final Fantasy series (Accessed: August 21, 2018) at Nova Crystallis
- Final Fantasy VII: The Unused Text - Part 5 (Accessed: August 21, 2018) at The Lifestream