Aerith Gainsborough

Aerith Gainsborough is a playable character in Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VII Remake. She also appears as a major character in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, and Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII-.

Aerith is also a main character in Final Fantasy VII Remake Trace of Two Pasts, a novel written by scenario writer Kazushige Nojima set during the events of Final Fantasy VII Remake.

The last of the ancient race known as the Cetra, Aerith’s powers are highly sought after, and she is constantly hunted by the Shinra Electric Power Company. After meeting Cloud Strife in Midgar, the two quickly become close, with Aerith agreeing to join the mercenary in his quest to fight Shinra and stop Sephiroth.

In battle, Aerith is primarily a healer, using staves to restore HP and grant status enhancements to members of the party. Compassionate and carefree, Aerith has long been a fan-favorite character in both Final Fantasy VII and the franchise as a whole.

Table Of Contents

    Aerith Gainsborough
    22 (Final Fantasy VII / Remake)
    16-22 (Crisis Core)
    17 (Before Crisis)
    February 7, 1985
    5’4” (163cm)
    Blood Type
    Ultimate Weapon
    Princess Guard
    Ultimate Limit Break
    Great Gospel
    Tetsuya Nomura
    Voice Actors
    Maaya Sakamoto (Japanese/Final Fantasy VII Remake, Crisis Core, Advent Children, Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion, Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia)
    Chihiro Tanaka (Young Aerith, Final Fantasy VII Remake)
    Briana White (English/Final Fantasy VII Remake)
    Capri Oliver (Young Aerith, Final Fantasy VII Remake)
    Mandy Moore (Kingdom Hearts)
    Mena Suvari (Advent Children, Kingdom Hearts II)
    Andrea Bowen (Crisis Core, Kingdom Hearts III Re Mind, Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, Mobius, Final Fantasy Explorers)
    Theme Song
    Aerith’s Theme

    Appearance and Personality

    In Final Fantasy VII, Aerith wears a long pink dress to her shins with buttons and a red bolero jacket with brown boots. Her pink dress is likely due to Zack Fair, who recommended that she wear pink whenever they go on a date. 

    She has emerald green eyes and her long brown hair is plaited with a large pink ribbon. Inside the ribbon, she keeps the White Materia given to her by her mother as a child. Aerith wears metal bracers on both wrists, also sporting them on the ends of her jacket sleeves. 

    While her jacket is button-up in the original Final Fantasy VII, it is zip-up in Advent Children and all subsequent appearances of her character. Instead of metal bracers, Aerith wears leather belts in Advent Children. Instead of her original cord necklace, she wears a flower necklace in Remake featuring a pearl in the middle of a leather ribbon. She also wears gold, silver, and bronze bracelets instead of metal bracers.

    During the mission to infiltrate Don Corneo’s palace, Aerith wears a red spaghetti-strapped gown with frills and matching red heels while keeping her hair wavy with her signature pink ribbon. In Remake, this dress remains the same, though players can get one of three dress variants depending on their choices. The additional dresses include a knee-length pale-pink sundress with white heels and a darker pink dress with an asymmetrical skirt and pink gladiator-style heels.

    In Crisis Core, Aerith wears a white and blue dress with a red camisole underneath, along with white wedges with pink straps. In Before Crisis, she wears a pink, red, and white buttoned top tied around the neck with a frilly green and white skirt. When seen as a child, Aerith wore a blue denim jumper dress with a teal turtleneck underneath along with white socks and brown shoes. After being adopted, she wore an orange shirt with a yellow collar, brown shorts, and brown boots. While in the original game, she wore a yellow ribbon during this period, she is seen wearing her signature pink ribbon during flashbacks in Remake.

    Upbeat and positive, Aerith is also incredibly street-smart and confident in her own abilities. Regardless of the situation, she’s able to stay positive and hide her own weaknesses while cheering on her friends and choosing to see the best in people. She’s quick to make friends, bonding quickly with Tifa and showing a more flirty side with both Zack and Cloud. This affection helps Cloud to break out of his shell, and Aerith is shown to have some romantic feelings for him, even remarking that the blonde reminds her of Zack.

    Despite her perceived rose-colored glasses, Aerith is also able to see the evil around her, namely Sephiroth and Shinra. With an abhorrence for violence, she finds herself grappling with the reality of what will be necessary to save the world. 

    Aerith loves nature and is often seen attempting to commune with flowers. Given her stressed life on the run from Shinra, she dreams of having the freedom to live her own life without restraints and to make her own decisions. Being raised in the slums of Midgar, she is accustomed to danger and doesn’t show any signs of distress when faced with enemies. 

    While she has grown to love Midgar and its people, Aerith dreams of traveling on a grand adventure and trying new things, mentioning her interest in one day riding on an airship. Both her guardian Elmyra and Cloud alike realize that once Aerith has made up her mind about something, it’s nearly impossible to talk her out of it, even if it’s wildly dangerous. 

    In Remake, Aerith shows more of an ability to see the future. Despite this, she chooses to remain firmly planted in the present, still believing that the future is a blank page that can be altered. She hates Sephiroth for choosing to defy destiny without caring about the consequences. Despite learning what Hojo did with her mother’s remains, Aerith remains calm and determined. 

    Weapons and Abilities

    In combat, Aerith is an incredibly powerful mage who wields a staff and casts both offensive and defensive spells. She can acquire very powerful equipment early in the game, including the Striking Staff which is available before the party leaves Midgar. She also has the opportunity to obtain her ultimate weapon, Princess Guard, before any other character.

    WeaponStatsMateria SlotsLocation
    Guard Stick12 Atk
    2 Mag
    1 UnlinkedStarter Weapon
    Mythril Rod16 Atk
    3 Mag
    2 LinkedWall Market: 370g
    Full Metal Staff22 Atk
    4 Mag
    2 Linked, 1 UnlinkedKalm, Junon (before Highwind): 800g
    Striking Staff32 Atk
    7 Mag
    2 Linked, 2 UnlinkedGongaga, Junon (before Highwind): 1,300g
    *Can steal from Eligor in the Train Graveyard, Harpy near the Gold Saucer on World Map
    Prism Staff40 Atk
    10 Mag
    4 LinkedCosmo Canyon: 2,600g
    Aurora Rod51 Atk
    14 Mag
    4 Linked, 1 UnlinkedWutai: 5,800g
    Wizard Staff28 Atk
    6 Mag
    3 UnlinkedJunon (after Highwind): 1,800g
    *Can find on Mt. Corel (drop down hole in track)
    Wizer Staff33 Atk
    7 Mag
    4 UnlinkedJunon (after Highwind): 2,500g
    *Dropped by Gi Nattak in Cave of the Gi
    Fairy Tale37 Atk
    8 Mag
    7 UnlinkedJunon (after Highwind): 2,500g
    *Dropped by Reno in Gongaga
    Umbrella58 Atk
    10 Mag
    N/AFound in the Gold Saucer (before Highwind) by scoring at least 5,000 points in Speed Square
    Princess Guard52 Atk
    22 Mag
    6 Linked, 1 UnlinkedFind in the Temple of the Ancients (Room IV in clock room)

    Aerith’s limit breaks are used to both heal and buff characters. Her ability to use these powers comes from communing with the planet itself and asking it to bless them.

    Limit Break NameHow to UnlockEffect
    Healing Wind (Level 1)Starter Limit BreakCures entire party for half of max HP.
    Seal Evil (Level 1)Use Healing Wind 8 timesCasts Stop and Silence on all targets if not immune.
    Breath of the Earth (Level 2)Kill 80 enemiesCures Sleep, Sadness, Poison, Fury, Confusion, Silence, Berserk, Paralysis, Darkness, Slow, Stop, Frog, Small, Snow-numb, and Petrify.
    Fury Brand (Level 2)Use Breath of the Earth 6 timesFills the two ally Limit Break bars to full.
    Planet Protector (Level 3)Kill 80 enemies after learning Breath of the EarthMakes all party members temporarily invincible.
    Pulse of Life (Level 3)Use Planet Protector 5 timesFully restores HP and MP and cures all negative status effects.
    Great Gospel (Level 4)Use the Great Gospel manual after learning Aerith's six other Limit BreaksFully restores the HP and MP of the party and makes the party temporarily invincible to all physical and magical attacks.

    Aerith becomes extremely powerful after returning to the lifestream, commanding the energy of the planet to push Meteor back and using Holy to destroy it. She is also able to protect Tifa’s mind in the lifestream, and in Advent Children, she assists Cloud as he battles Bahamut SIN.

    In Remake, Aerith is a ranged support character. Instead of using her stave to strike enemies, she utilizes her spellcasting abilities to send magical bursts at her foes from a distance. Her ranged Tempest ability can be charged up to deal extra damage. As in the original title, Aerith can also heal and boost other party members. She still has the highest magic attribute in the game, and although she has slow mobility and low HP, her skillset makes it easy for her to stay at a safe distance from enemies while still causing massive amounts of damage. Aerith is in the party from Chapter 8 until Chapter 12, later rejoining in Chapter 17.

    Character Design

    One of the first three main characters designed for Final Fantasy VII, Aerith was designed by Tetsuya Nomura, with input from director and scenario writer Yoshinori Kitase and franchise creator Hironobu Sakaguchi. Artist Yoshitaka Amano also created early concept art that would influence her character design.

    Aerith’s long dress was meant to give her contrast when compared to Tifa. In Remake, Nomura hoped to further visually separate the two characters, giving Aerith a more western beauty aesthetic while Tifa was made to have a more eastern-style look. Nomura also wanted Aerith’s trademark jacket to resemble a biker jacket in the updated game.

    Early Life

    Aerith was born in Icicle Inn on February 7, 1985 to Professor Gast Faremis and Ifalna. A half-human and half-Cetra hybrid, Aerith lost her father when she was barely three weeks old after Professor Hojo tracked Gast down and killed him. Ifalna and Aerith were then kidnapped and held in the Shinra Building, subjected to countless experiments at the hands of the evil corporation. This is shown in more detail in Final Fantasy VII Remake–in the short story Final Fantasy VII Remake: Picturing the Past, it’s explained that a man named Geddie Bach watched over Aerith and her mother as they were held in captivity.

    As a child, Aerith often drew her interpretation of the promised land, which Shinra believed to be fertile in wild mako energy. Ronnie, Aerith’s playmate, asked the girl to draw the hot springs town of Mideel, which tricked Geddie into seeking out the promised land in the wrong spot. Poisoning his friends with mako and assuming the identity of one of them, he ends up succumbing to mako poisoning himself.

    In 1992, Ifalna and Aerith managed to escape the Shinra Building. However, they only made it to the train platform in the Sector 5 slums before Ifalna collapsed, succumbing to the damage Hojo had done to her after years of experimentation. Elmyra Gainsborough was also at the platform, waiting for her husband to return from the Wutai War. Before her death, Ifalna asked Elmyra to keep Aerith safe. Elmyra took the girl home and raised Aerith as her adopted daughter in the Sector 5 slums, and while life was quiet for some time, Shinra eventually tracked Aerith down. The Turk Tseng attempted to persuade the girl to join Shinra willingly, but she refuses.

    In an effort to keep Aerith safe, Elmyra assigned her two bodyguards each time she left the house as a young child, also restricting her from watching TV or getting a job. At age 14, Aerith attempted to run away only to be found by Fuzz who took her to the Sector 5 slums church. Finding a flower patch there, she is inspired when Fuzz calls the location a “sacred place.”

    Aerith had no close friends during her youth, with many children finding her creepy. As the years passed, she found it easier to hear the planet. While she was aware of her Cetra heritage, she tried to hide it, and over time she lost many of the abilities she exhibited as a young child.

    During the fourth chapter of Crisis Core, a 16-year-old Aerith met Zack Fair after he fell into the church from Mako Reactor 5. Zack mistook Aerith for an angel, instantly asking the girl out on a date, but she refused. Zack is the one who influenced Aerith to sell flowers, commenting on their rarity in Midgar. He also bought Aerith her trademark pink hair ribbon. During their first meeting, Aerith expressed her fear of SOLDIER members for their love of violence, only apologizing when she discovers that Zack is one of them. After Aerith begins to flirt with him, Zack promised to see her again after he was called back to headquarters. The two kept in contact for the next two years, and after the death of Zack’s mentor Angeal, Zack visited Aerith again, who held him as he cried.

    Aerith admitted to wanting to spend more time with Zack, also promising him to always wear pink when they went on dates together. Sadly, this was the last conversation they would ever have, as Zack is sent to Nibelheim with Sephiroth never to return.

    In Before Crisis, Aerith told a visiting Turk that she wished to leave Midgar and see the world, noting that the wind was calling her. Members of AVALANCHE appeared in a search for her, and the Turk helped Aerith to evade them. Shears, a member of AVALANCHE, defeated the Turk, taking Aerith to the church to meet Elfe, the leader of the eco-terrorist group. Elfe asked Aerith to help them defeat Shinra and help protect the fabled promised land, but Aerith heard a strange old voice coming from the woman, leading her to notice a Turk spying on them from the rafters. Aerith manages to escape during the following battle.

    In Final Fantasy VII

    Aerith first meets Cloud Strife as he flees the bombing of Mako Reactor 1 at the beginning of the game. Players have a choice of how to react to Aerith–they can either tell her to get to safety, buy one of her flowers for a single gil, or ignore her altogether. After falling into the church from Mako Reactor 5 later in the game, Cloud meets Aerith for a second time while laying in her flower bed. The two chat, and when Reno comes to kidnap Aerith, she asks Cloud to be her bodyguard, offering him a date as a means of payment for the request.

    Aerith takes Cloud back to Elmyra’s house, though the older woman asks him to leave to keep Aerith safe. While he attempts to do, Aerith catches up with him and asks to come along. While sitting on the playground in Sector 6, Aerith tells Cloud that he reminds her of Zack, another SOLDIER First Class. When the two spot Tifa on her way to Wall Market, they decide to follow, with Aerith being the one to convince Cloud to crossdress to meet with Don Corneo.

    Aerith, Cloud, and Tifa work together to infiltrate the Don’s mansion and interrogate the man himself, learning that Shinra’s plan was to drop the Sector 7 plate to crush AVALANCHE’s hideout. The three then rush to the Sector 7 slums to stop the plan from taking place, with Tifa begging Aerith to rescue Barret’s daughter Marlene. However, after she does so, Tseng captures Aerith and takes her back to Shinra Headquarters.

    Professor Hojo begins experimenting on Aerith in an effort to learn the location of the promised land. Knowing that it could take well over a century to complete his research, Hojo plans to breed Aerith with Red XIII to produce a long-living hybrid.

    Cloud, Barret, and Tifa storm the Shinra Building, rescuing Aerith and Red XIII from Hojo’s lab. While the group has little trouble defeating Hojo’s monsters, the Turks manage to capture them. In their prison cells, Aerith shares more about her Cetra heritage, noting that she probably couldn’t find the promised land even if she wanted to. When the group awakens the next day, their cells are open, the Shinra Building is abandoned, and President Shinra is found dead. The group manages to escape using vehicles commandeered by Tifa and Cloud, making their way out of Midgar.

    Believing Sephiroth to be the one behind the Shinra Building massacre, the group begins their quest to track him down. Afraid that he may be after the promised land and aware of his ties to the Cetra, Aerith joins the group. When the group meets the Turks in the Mythril Mines, Tseng tells Aerith that the Shinra would no longer be following her, as they were much more interested in Sephiroth. When the group finds Hojo vacationing in Costa del Sol, Aerith asks the man about her mother, though he refuses to respond in earnest. This causes the girl to return to the hotel, fearful about the possibility of being the last Cetra in the world.

    After reaching Gongaga, Aerith meets Zack’s parents. They reveal that they had not heard anything from their son in years, though he had previously mentioned a girlfriend, who they presume to be Aerith. She then tells Cloud that while Zack had been her first love, he had probably moved on and found someone else.

    Speaking to the village elders in Cosmo Canyon, Aerith learns more about her heritage and begins to understand her responsibility as the last Cetra. When the party tracks Sephiroth to the Temple of the Ancients, Aerith uses her powers to decipher the temple’s mysteries and locate the inner chamber. Finding Sephiroth, the man details his plans to use the Black Materia to call upon Meteor. Cloud’s mind is taken over by Sephiroth, and he is forced to relinquish the Black Materia.

    When Aerith tries to stop this, Cloud attacks her before being knocked out. While Aerith leaves the group, she still speaks to Cloud in a dream, promising to handle Sephiroth. Following her clues, the group makes their way to the City of the Ancients.

    Aerith prays for Holy, the ultimate white magic, in a temple under the Forgotten City. Called to the location by the White Materia worn in her hair, the party finds her, but not all is well. As Cloud approaches her, he is once again taken over by Sephiroth, who tries to force his hand to kill Aerith. When he resists, Sephiroth descends from the ceiling, impaling her with his Masamune.

    Aerith collapses into Cloud’s arms, and the White Materia falls into the water below. After a battle with Jenova-LIFE, the party pays their respects to Aerith, and Cloud lays her to rest. While Aerith successfully summoned Holy, Sephiroth blocked its power, rendering it useless against Meteor.

    After Sephiroth is killed, Cloud is pulled into an out-of-body experience in the lifestream. As he sees Aerith, he tries to grasp her hand, but is unable to do so before returning to his body. He tells Tifa that he can meet Aerith again in the promised land.

    From her place within the lifestream, Aerith commands the lifestream itself to emerge from the planet and push Meteor back, saving the planet.

    In Final Fantasy VII Remake

    While Aerith’s story in Final Fantasy VII Remake is similar to that of the original game, there are a few deviations.

    Remake introduces the Whispers, also called arbiters of fate. These are beings born of the planet said to enforce the course of destiny. Cloud firsts meet Aerith as she is being attacked by these invisible beings–it’s only when Aerith touches Cloud’s hand that he becomes able to see them. After he draws his sword, Aerith flees as he is noticed by nearby security.

    After meeting Elmyra, Cloud sees a vision of Sephiroth. When he asks Aerith if she knew him, she replies that he was a war hero who died five years prior. However, she seems distraught when Cloud implies that Sephiroth may still be alive. Rude, a member of the Turks, appears soon after Cloud and Aerith offer their assistance at the nearby orphanage. Aerith asks Cloud to forgive Rude, claiming that he isn’t a bad person. After a brief fight, Rude is called away to another mission, and he asks Aerith to stay home. As hardheaded as ever, she refuses.

    Following the crossdressing mission into Don Corneo’s palace, Tifa, Aerith, and Cloud make their way through the train graveyard in an effort to stop Shinra before they can collapse the Sector 7 pillar. While the ghosts frighten Tifa and Cloud, Aerith is empathetic toward them, hoping to understand their plight. Eligor, a soul-capturing demon, is found to have taken several children. The being then attempts to torture Aerith by forcing her to relive her lonely childhood, though she is quickly saved by Cloud and Tifa.

    When reaching the undercity of Sector 7, the group is slowed down by the Whispers before finding the pillar already under attack. Aerith volunteers to find Barret’s daughter Marlene and keep her safe, telling Tifa to “follow her heart” before departing. She also tells Wedge to be more forceful and to never look back on the day with regrets.

    Finding Marlene in Seventh Heaven, Aerith hugs the little girl, who immediately stops crying. In response, Aerith only puts a finger to her lips and smiles.

    Aerith is captured and brought to Hojo’s lab, where she had been kept with her mother as a child. The scientist expresses his wish to breed Aerith with a SOLDIER Type S or G in case she is killed by his experimentation. Cloud, staying at Elmyra’s house, sees Aerith in a dream. She tells him that she is safe and not to worry about her. Cryptically, she also explains that Cloud is better off not falling in love with her, and that if he thought he had, it wouldn’t be “real.”

    After Aerith is rescued by Barret, Cloud, and Tifa, Red XIII is also released. Knowing that he is friendly, Aerith calms the beast by placing her hand on Red’s head, sharing her knowledge of the Whispers. As in the original Final Fantasy VII, Aerith then shares more about her Cetra heritage and Shinra’s plans. Claiming that there was a greater threat than Shinra, Aerith is suddenly swarmed by Whispers. She then notes that every time a Whisper touches her, she loses a part of herself.

    As the group escapes Midgar, they meet Sephiroth at the end of the unfinished expressway. Although initially lost and confused, Aerith tells the group that they should enter Sephiroth’s portal and defeat the Whispers, though doing so could change fate and lead to “boundless, terrifying freedom.”

    In Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children

    Aerith appears to cloud in a vision during his ride towards the Forgotten City to save the children of Edge from Kadaj, asking him why he had come. When Cloud asks for forgiveness, Aerith wonders who he wants forgiveness from. She later explains that she never blamed Cloud for what had happened.

    During Cloud’s battle with Bahamut SIN, he sees another vision of Aerith. As she takes his hand, Cloud is imbued with powerful energy, which he uses to defeat the monster.

    After Sephiroth is defeated, Aerith calls down a healing rain, curing most people with Geostigma.

    Cloud awakens in the Sector 5 slums church in Aerith’s flowers and a pool of her healing water. Using the water to cure the nearby children suffering from the illness, he sees Aerith and Zack in the doorway of the church waving goodbye.

    Appearances in Other Final Fantasy Titles

    While Final Fantasy VII‘s protagonist Cloud Strife holds the title for the most player-controlled appearances of any character in the Final Fantasy franchise, Aerith appears in quite a few titles herself.

    Aerith has appeared as a playable character or summon in the following Final Fantasy titles:

    • Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia
    • Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy
    • Theatrhythm Final Fantasy
    • Pictlogica Final Fantasy
    • Final Fantasy Airborne Brigade
    • Final Fantasy All the Bravest
    • Final Fantasy Record Keeper
    • Final Fantasy Brave Exvius
    • War of the Visions: Final Fantasy Brave Exvius
    • Final Fantasy Explorers
    • Final Fantasy World Wide Words

    While Aerith doesn’t appear in Dirge of Cerberus, posters of her can be seen hanging on some walls in the game and she is mentioned in the game’s manual. She is also alluded to in Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy Dimensions.

    In Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, Aerith’s outfit is available as a costume for the main character Lightning.

    She appears in the following games in card form:

    • Mobius Final Fantasy
    • Final Fantasy Trading Card Game
    • Triple Triad

    Appearances in Other Media

    Aerith has appeared as a guest in the following non-Final Fantasy titles:

    • Kingdom Hearts
    • Itadaki Street
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Mii Fighter Outfit for Swordfighter)

    In Patch 7.0 of World of Warcraft, an NPC flower seller in Dalaran was named Aerith Primrose. The character wore an outfit similar to Aerith’s design in Final Fantasy VII. In LittleBigPlanet 2, an Aerith costume was made available along with other costumes from Final Fantasy VII, including those of Sephiroth, Cloud, Vincent, and Tifa. Her outfit also appeared in a Final Fantasy collaboration event for Gunslinger Stratos 2 in 2014. An Aerith costume can also be purchased in the PlayStation 2 title Star Ocean: Till the End of Time.

    Miscellaneous Trivia

    • In Japan, Aerith’s name is localized as Aeris due to differences between the ‘th’ sound between English and Japanese.
    • Aerith’s name was meant to sound similar to ‘Earth’ due to her connection to the planet. Her last name comes from the French singer Serge Gainsbourg and can be translated to “a clever person from the city.”
    • Aerith’s name could also allude to the Hebrew name Irit, a reference to the asphodel flower or Tiferet, an allusion to Jewish mysticism. Tiferet represents the sixth Sefira in the Tree of Life and symbolizes beauty, love, and self-sacrifice.
    • In 2020, Aerith was voted as the third-most-popular Final Fantasy character in NHK’s All Final Fantasy Big Vote, coming in behind Cloud and Yuna from Final Fantasy X.
    • In an interview, actor Robert Pattinson said he was in love with both Aerith and Tifa during his playthrough, claiming that the love triangle in Final Fantasy VII is “how every guy figures out what love is.”
    • Aerith’s death was planned as part of the plot before the final story was complete, as Nomura and Kitase decided that a main character would need to die for the theme of the game to be properly conveyed.
    • Sephiroth and Aerith were originally planned to be siblings. After this was scrapped, Sephiroth was planned to be Aerith’s former lover, with her first love being changed to Zack late in development.