Cloud Strife is the main protagonist of Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VII Remake. He is also the main character of the 2006 CGI-animated film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. Additionally, Cloud boasts the most player-controlled appearances of any character in the Final Fantasy series, having made his way into dozens of spin-off titles.
A broadsword-wielding mercenary and former member of SOLDIER, an elite group of supersoldiers under the control of the twisted Shinra Electric Power Company, Cloud is first seen joining the resistance group AVALANCHE. While trying to keep Shinra from draining the planet of its life force, he also begins a search for his former superior Sephiroth, the main antagonist of Final Fantasy VII. Although quiet and reserved, Cloud slowly begins to open up as he learns more about his mysterious past.
Table Of Contents
14-21 (Before Crisis and Crisis Core)
23 (Advent Children)
24 (Dirge of Cerberus)
Appearance and Personality
Cloud Strife is a slender and toned young man with spiky blonde hair and bright blue eyes, the latter a lasting effect of his exposure to mako. As members of SOLDIER are known to have this eye color, many who meet Cloud assume him to be one of these elite fighters. His weapon of choice is a massive broadsword, with his starter weapon, the Buster Sword, being over five feet long.
In Final Fantasy VII, Cloud first appears in an outfit similar to that of a SOLDIER, with indigo pants, a sleeveless shirt, a belly, brown boots, and gauntlets with a pauldron over his left shoulder. He also wears a silver earring in his right ear, a fear-like armlet on his left forearm, and a SOLDIER band on his right wrist. It’s assumed that his outfit is missing the right pauldron to make it easier for him to draw his sword.
In Advent Children, Cloud wears what is called his ‘Cloudy Wolf’ attire, sporting a black robe, a sleeveless indigo shirt with a high collar, and black pants and boots. The outfit also includes swatches of loose black cloth covering his left leg and arm along with a new pauldron. Two straps around Cloud’s chest are held in place by a badge shaped like Fenrir the wolf. A pink ribbon is worn on his left arm throughout the film, though it’s largely hidden. The ribbon is to honor Aerith, and other members of the party also pay their respects in this way.
In Crisis Core, Cloud is seen wearing the blue uniform of a Shinra Electric Power Company infantryman, often using a helmet to conceal his identity. In his teens, he’s seen with a ponytail, a baggy white t-shirt, and dark jean shorts. In Kingdom Hearts, Cloud’s outfit is very similar to that of Vincent Valentine with a single black wing.
In the original Final Fantasy VII, Cloud crossdresses during his mission to infiltrate the Don’s mansion in a purple dress and blonde wig tied in a braid. In Final Fantasy VII Remake, Cloud can be seen in three unique dresses depending on the player’s choices.
Early in Final Fantasy VII, Cloud comes off as cocky, cold, and uninterested in anything except completing his mission. He claims to not care about the state of the planet and seems entirely unaffected by his part in the bombings on Shinra. While appearing entirely calm, Cloud is actually socially anxious, unsure of how to have a normal conversation. He often struggles to express himself. Throughout the game, various members of the party begin to see the real Cloud beneath his hardened exterior. Despite his sometimes harsh words, Cloud always remains loyal to his friends and seeks to be a hero.
Although many of Cloud’s traits remain consistent throughout the game, his attitude shifts numerous times throughout the entirety of Final Fantasy VII as he strives to find his true identity. Striving to become a hero since his childhood, he was largely inspired by tales of Sephiroth. In Crisis Core, Cloud is more open with his feelings, eager to prove himself, showing excitement when he’s eventually noticed by Zack.
In both the original game and Final Fantasy VII Remake, Cloud suffers a number of mental breakdowns when reminded of his past due to Hojo’s experimentation. He doubts that he is even a real person, eventually accepting that he is merely one of Sephiroth’s puppets. Eventually, Tifa manages to repair his mind, and Cloud accepts that he doesn’t need to be special to be a hero–he merely needs to have a cause to believe in. After this self-acceptance, he becomes more friendly toward those around him and finds more confidence.
Weapons and Abilities
Cloud’s weapon of choice is a massive broadsword capable of dealing incredible damage. Although he fails to be accepted into SOLDIER, his swordsmanship remains impressive. The experiments Hojo conducted greatly enhanced Cloud’s strength, speed, and agility. He also incorporates Zack Fair’s legendary fighting techniques into his repertoire.
|2 Linked, 1 Unlinked
|Kalm, Junon (before Highwind): 1,000g
|2 Linked, 2 Unlinked
|Gongaga, Junon (before Highwind): 1,500g
|Cosmo Canyon: 2,800g
|Junon (after Highwind): 12,000
*Can also find on Gaea's Cliff
|4 Linked, 2 Unlinked
|Icicle Inn: 12,000g
|North Corel: 2,200g
*Can find in Junon if you get 100+ points during Rufus's send-off
|Junon (after Highwind): 3,800g
*Can find on Mt. Nibel in the first area
|4 Linked, 1 Unlinked
|Junon (after Highwind): 2,800g
*Can find in the Temple of the Ancients. Get knocked off by hands, win the battle, and open the chest
|Rocket Town: Speak to man outside of Item Shop
|Ancient Forest: In Final Room
|Sunken Gelnika: In treasure chest in first room
|Drops from Proud Clod (Midgar Sector 8)
|Drops from Ultimate Weapon
Cloud’s various Limit Breaks are his most noteworthy attacks and have appeared in a number of other Final Fantasy spin-off titles. These range from his Omnislash, consisting of a quick succession of power sword attacks, to Meteorain, in which Cloud summons a barrage of meteors to strike his opponents. Conversely, he is also very skilled with magic, with his in-game stats in both the original game and Remake placing him well ahead of most other characters in terms of his spellcasting ability.
|Limit Break Name
|How to Unlock
|Braver (Level 1)
|Starter Limit Break
|A downward slash dealing 3x normal damage.
|Cross-slash (Level 1)
|Use Braver 8 times
|A three-slice physical attack dealing 3 1⁄4x normal damage and inflicting paralylsis.
|Blade Beam (Level 2)
|Kill 120 enemies
|Sends a wave of energy at a single target dealing 3 1⁄2x normal damage. If only one target is on the field, Blade Beam is considered a magic attack, though its damage and accuracy are still calculated using physical stats.
|Climhazzard (Level 2)
|Use Blade Beam 7 times
|Strikes enemy with sword dealing 4 3⁄8x normal damage.
|Meteorain (Level 3)
|Kill 200 enemies after learning Blade Beam
|Six meteors fall, striking random targets for 1 5⁄8x damage each.
|Finishing Touch (Level 3)
|Use Meteorain 6 times
|Hits all enemies with a tornado, either causing death or dealing 3 1⁄8x normal damage against enemies immune to death.
|Omnislash (Level 4)
|Use the Omnislash manual after learning Cloud's six other Limit Breaks
|Hits random enemies 15 times dealing critical hits for 3⁄4x normal damage each hit.
Cloud was designed by Tetsuya Nomura, with both director and scenario writer Yoshinori Kitase and series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi providing some influence. In the original plan for Final Fantasy VII, Cloud would belong to an organization attempting to destroy mako reactors in New York City. A prototype of his character lists the name “Detective Joe.”
Both Kitase and scenario writer Kazushige Nojima came up with Cloud’s backstory and his relationship with Sephiroth, intending to make Cloud a more mysterious protagonist. Nojima created Zack, and Kitase was entirely unaware of his significance to Cloud’s backstory until playtesting began. He was impressed, noting that Cloud was a different kind of protagonist without the normal sense of righteousness that many heroes have.
While Nomura decided to make Cloud more downbeat in Advent Children, he went in a different direction in Remake, with the writers focusing more on Cloud’s young and awkward side. Nojima also altered Cloud’s personality depending on who he was communicating with: with Jessie, he acts annoyed and frustrated in reaction to her flirting, while he stands taller and acts cooler around Aerith. He acts the most like himself with Tifa.
Born in Nibelheim to Claudia Strife, Cloud’s father died when he was still a young child. Although eager to befriend his next-door neighbor Tifa Lockhart, he finds himself completely barred from her friend group and ends up developing a superiority complex as a result. Thinking himself better and more mature, Cloud slowly became more introverted as time passed.
When Cloud was nine years old, Tifa’s mother died. Unable to come to terms with what had happened, she brings her friends to Mt. Nibel, telling them that she could meet her mother again by crossing over the peak. Cloud followed the group without being seen, and when Tifa lost her footing, he tried to grab her, only to fall as well. Tifa lapsed into a week-long coma while Cloud was completely uninjured. Brian Lockhart, Tifa’s father, forbids Cloud from ever approaching his daughter again, completely blaming him for what had occurred. Over time, Cloud begins to blame himself as well, becoming angrier as a result.
Desperate to become a stronger person and to catch Tifa’s attention, Cloud immediately developed a fascination with Sephiroth after learning of his exploits as a member of SOLDIER, the elite fighting force of Shinra. After deciding to join the group in winter, he called Tifa to the water tower in town, sharing his plans and hoping to impress her. Tifa responds with excitement, making Cloud promise to save her if she ever found herself in trouble.
The following spring, Cloud left Nibelheim for Midgar to join the Shinra Electric Power Company. Although dedicated to his new cause, he failed to make the cut as a member of SOLDIER, instead enlisting as a Shinra infantryman. Ashamed, he cuts all contact with the people in his hometown.
During his early days as a member of Shinra’s infantry, Cloud was ordered to protect Midgar resident Professor Raleigh from the insurgency organization AVALANCHE. Despite failing, it was clear that his sword skills were above average. This event was shown in the mobile game Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII-.
In the fifth chapter of Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, Cloud meets SOLDIER First Class Zack Fair as they embark on a mission to Modeoheim. Both having been raised in the country, they instantly form a bond. Upon infiltrating the Mako Excavation Facility, they meet Genesis Rhapsodos and Dr. Hollander, two former Shinra employees who had turned their back on the company. During the sixth chapter, Zack meets the now 16-year-old Cloud again while protecting Junon from an attack led by Genesis.
Later in the game, Cloud, Zack, and Sephiroth head to Nibelheim to investigate a damaged mako reactor on Mt. Nibel. Tifa acts as the group’s guide through the mountains, and during the venture, Cloud hides his identity, still ashamed of his failure to join SOLDIER. He does, however, visit his mother to tell her of his exploits with Zack by his side.
Upon reaching the reactor, Sephiroth discovers Hojo’s warped human experiments along with Jenova, who the man immediately believes is his mother. Cloud is knocked unconscious by Genesis and is brought back to town by Tifa. When he awakens, he’s even more depressed by his own weakness. For several days after, Sephiroth locks himself in the basement of Shinra Mansion, reading about his own dark past, the secrets surrounding the Cetra, and the fabled promised land. With a newfound hatred for humanity, Sephiroth destroys Nibelheim, and Cloud watches as his mother dies in the flames.
Returning to the reactor with the intent to take on Sephiroth, Cloud finds Tifa and Zack gravely wounded. Picking up Zack’s Buster Sword, Cloud impales Sephiroth and rushes to Tifa’s side. This isn’t enough to defeat the legendary SOLDIER, and Cloud soon found himself impaled on Masamune’s blade. With sheer willpower, he still manages to overpower Sephiroth, tossing him into the mako pit before falling unconscious.
Following Sephiroth’s rampage, dubbed the Nibelheim Incident, survivors became Professor Hojo’s test subjects. This included Cloud and Zack, who were injected with Jenova’s cells and exposed to mako in Hojo’s attempt to transform them into Sephiroth clones. While Zack was able to resist the experiment thanks to his previous SOLDIER training, Cloud quickly succumbs and develops severe mako poisoning. Both were dubbed failures and placed into cryogenic sleep in the Shinra Manor basement.
Four years later, Zack awakens and helps Cloud to escape. This can be seen in an optional flashback in Final Fantasy VII and in the ninth chapter of Crisis Core.
While Cloud is completely broken and delirious during their escape, Zack shares details of his life and expresses the hope that the two of them can become mercenaries once they reach Midgar. This takes them an entire year, and upon reaching Midgar, the two are caught by Shinra forces. Zack is immediately shot, but the soldiers ignore Cloud, who is largely catatonic.
As Cloud regains a bit of awareness, he crawls to Zack, who entrusts Cloud with his Buster Sword. Zack tells Cloud that his legacy will live on inside him before succumbing to his injuries.
The compounding trauma of the Nibelheim Incident, his mako poisoning, and Zack’s death cause Cloud to believe Zack’s memories and fighting abilities are his own. His new sense of self was also largely influenced by Tifa’s memory of him and his own ideal image of himself as a successful SOLDIER. Going forward, Cloud believes that he was Sephiroth’s partner in SOLDIER and completely forgets that Zack ever existed.
Months later, Tifa finds a delirious Cloud at the train station in the Sector 7 slums. While he immediately recognizes her, his memories remain inconsistent and he suffers frequent mental breakdowns. Tifa recruits him as a mercenary in AVALANCHE while concealing any information about his past from the group. In truth, she also doubts her own memories.
In Final Fantasy VII
Players meet Cloud as he assists Biggs, Wedge, Barret, and Jessie on the attack on Mako Reactor 1. Though he remains committed to the task throughout, he constantly claims that he’s only in it for the money, causing Barret to angrily question his loyalty to the group. The mission is a success, though Cloud suffers a brief mental breakdown when approaching the reactor core.
After the mission, the group returns to Tifa’s bar, Seventh Heaven, in the Sector 7 slums. Used as Barret’s headquarters, Cloud attempts to leave after his loyalties are once again questioned, though Tifa quickly reminds him of the promise he made to her when they were children. She then convinces Barrett to hire him for at least one more mission, which leads the group to set out to destroy Mako Reactor 5. Tifa joins the group, and while they manage to plant the bomb, President Shinra appears to reveal that the group has walked straight into a trap.
In the aftermath of the explosion, Cloud falls into the Sector 5 slums church. This is where he meets Aerith Gainsborough, a flower seller whom he had run into after the first bombing. After a brief conversation, Cloud agrees to become her bodyguard in exchange for a date. Aerith is being pursued by Reno, a member of the Turks.
While Cloud stays at the home of Aerith’s guardian Elmyra Gainsborough, Elymra calls him dangerous, asking him to return to Sector 7 without letting Aerith know. Despite his best effort, Aerith comes with him anyway, and the two catch sight of Tifa being taken to Wall Market on a mission to get information from Don Corneo. It is Aerith’s idea that Cloud disguises himself as a woman to gain easy access to the Don’s mansion, and in doing so, the three learn that Shinra had tracked the AVALANCHE base to Sector 7 and planned to destroy it by dropping the Sector 7 plate hovering above the city.
Cloud, Tifa, and Aerith travel through the sewers and the Train Graveyard in a rush to warn the residents of Sector 7. Tifa begs Aerith to find Barret’s daughter, Marlene, and keep her safe while she and Cloud run up the main pillar to the plate. While Biggs, Jessie, and Wedge are defeated, Cloud and Tifa find Barret on top of the plate. Despite fighting as hard as they can, they fail. Sector 7 is destroyed and Aerith is captured.
Aerith was successful in finding Marlene, taking her to safety at Elmyra’s house. When Cloud, Barrett, and Tifa return, Elmyra shares with them the truth about Aerith’s past as a Cetra, a member of an ancient and highly advanced civilization.
Cloud leads an attack on the Shinra Building to save Aerith from Professor Hojo, finding Red XIII in the process. The group is captured, but when Cloud awakens, he finds the prison doors open and the guards killed along with President Shinra. As the new head of the company, Rufus Shinra, arrives, Cloud fights him to buy the others time to escape. Eventually, Cloud escapes on a motorcycle with Tifa and the others not far beyond as they flee Midgar.
Meeting at an inn in Kalm, Cloud tells the others about what happened on the day that Nibelheim was attacked. His story is, of course, through the eyes of Zack.
On the following day, the group begins the search for Sephiroth, hearing from a group of Turks that he was headed for Junon. In his sleep, a voice tells Cloud to ask Tifa about the time he returned to Nibelheim. When he does so, Tifa avoids the question.
Arriving in Costa del Sol as hideaways on a cargo ship, the group finds themselves traveling through North Corel and the Gold Saucer, where Cait Sith joins the party. Forced to stay in Red XIII’s hometown of Cosmo Canyon after their buggy breaks down, they learn more about the lifestream and the importance of mako energy from the Elder Bugenhagen.
Upon reaching Nibelheim, the party finds that it has been entirely rebuilt and inhabited entirely by imposter villagers hired by Shinra. These people claim to have no memory of either Cloud or Tifa, nor do they remember the Nibelheim Incident. Cloud is incredibly upset by this and wonders if his story is true at all.
Sephiroth appears in the basement of Shinra Manor and tells Cloud that he should attend a “reunion,” though the meaning of this is not immediately clear. After crossing Mt. Nibell, the group arrives in Rocket Town, escaping from enemy forces on Cid Highwind’s plane, though it is later shot down.
Traveling to the Temple of the Ancients, Cloud finds Sephiroth, who reveals his plan to call down Meteor to critically wound the planet. Doing so would cause the lifestream to well up as a means to heal it, but Sephiroth would absorb it entirely, becoming God. Cloud discovers that the temple itself is the Black Materia needed to summon Meteor, and while the group attempts to keep Sephiroth from obtaining it, the Jenova cells inside Cloud allow Sephiroth to take control of him. Cloud then hands over the materia and attacks Aerith before he can be subdued by his friends.
Aerith appears to Cloud in a dream, telling him to let her handle Sephiroth. After waking up, Tifa and Barret tell Cloud that Aerith had left on her own, but assure him that they will be there to help if he suffers another mental breakdown. Knowing that Aerith had gone to the City of the Ancients, Cloud leads the group to her, where she is seen praying on an altar. As Cloud approaches her with his Buster Sword, attempting to attack her, Sephiroth descends from above, impaling her with his Masamune blade.
Cloud refuses to carry the Black Materia after what had happened. Sephiroth appears as the group arrives at the North Crater, showing Cloud a brief vision of what had truly happened at Nibelheim, revealing Zack’s existence. Professor Hojo reveals his Jenova Reunion Theory as the reason why Cloud was so obsessed with finding Sephiroth–the Jenova cells that still remained in his body were driving him to the “reunion.”
The massive shock of Cloud’s false past shattered his mind, and he immediately believes that he was created by Hojo entirely. Cloud does not even believe that his name or his memories of Tifa as a child were true, and were instead a glimpse of someone else’s life.
Sephiroth tricks the party into handing over the Black Materia, and Cloud apologizes to Tifa for not living up to the “real” Cloud before falling into the lifestream.
A week later, Cloud surfaces in Mideel with extreme mako poisoning. Paralyzed and incoherent, Tifa finds him and cares for him as the rest of the party leaves to fight Shinra. Ultimate Weapon, released by the planet to help protect it, attacks Mideel, causing both Cloud and Tifa to fall into the lifestream and into Cloud’s subconscious mind. This helps them to understand each other’s true feelings, even as they struggle to uncover Cloud’s true memories. Tifa helps to repair the man’s mind as they each compare memories to discover the truth.
Restored to his true self, Cloud takes command of the Highwind and finally accepts who he truly is. The party eventually stops Diamond Weapon and defeats Hojo before heading to the North Crater to stop Sephiroth.
After Sephiroth’s ultimate form was defeated, his mind was absorbed into the lifestream. Cloud chooses to mentally follow him, defeating his enemy through sheer will. He is only able to return to his body with the help of Aerith.
In Final Fantasy VII Remake
While much of Final Fantasy VII Remake maintains the same overall story as the original game, there were some changes and additions made throughout the game.
During the opening bombing mission, President Shinra is seen watching AVALANCHE’s every move as they detonate the bomb on Mako Reactor 1. This shows that despite their best efforts, the bomb does minimal damage. Following this, Cloud is seen splitting up with the others as he encounters an apparition of Sephiroth, who taunts Cloud by reminding him of the Nibelheim Incident.
Cloud then runs into Aerith, seeing her being attacked by the Whispers, which are invisible. In Remake, these are also called arbiters of fate, and are beings born of the planet said to enforce the course of destiny. They tend to appear in large groups whenever events stray too far from fate’s intended path.
Aerith thanks Cloud for scaring the Whispers away, to which he appears confused. When they return, Aerith touches Cloud’s hand which also allows him to perceive the mysterious beings. Running from Aerith after being attacked by Shinra soldiers, Cloud reaches the train and the Sector 7 slums, meeting with Tifa. He hands her a flower Aerith had given him earlier, surprising her.
Cloud hallucinates Sephiroth more often in Remake, and this happens again after he returns to Sector 7. When Tifa asks Cloud what happened after he left Nibelheim, he looks visibly uncomfortable and refuses to answer.
In the “Mad Dash” chapter, Cloud helps Jessie to get to upper Sector 7 to get a new blasting agent for her next bomb. The two encounter a new character named Roche, a Third Class SOLDIER, who seems to enjoy fighting Cloud.
The following day, Whispers attack the Sector 7 slums. Jessie is injured as Cloud and Tifa attempt to fight them off, prompting Barret to agree to hire Cloud for the mission to attack Reactor 5. During the group’s infiltration, Cloud remembers Tifa’s despair at the Nibel Reactor years prior, though he doesn’t mention it aloud. After planting the bomb, Shinra executive Heidegger reveals that cameras had filmed the group’s every move, and this footage had been shown on TV. He also elaborates on his plan to smear AVALANCHE as a proxy group funded by Wutai.
When Cloud falls over the railing and lands in Aerith’s church, he meets her properly before Reno arrives to kidnap her. As in the original game, Cloud defeats Reno, and the two venture back to Aerith’s home, and Aerith catches Cloud as he tries to leave without alerting her. As Aerith reminisces about her first love, a SOLDIER, Cloud’s vision goes blurry and his ears ring as Aerith says the man’s name.
During the mission to meet Don Corneo, Cloud disguises himself in a dress, though there are three available dresses depending on the player’s choices. Cloud also takes to the stage at the Honeybee Inn, dancing to Aerith’s clear excitement.
The death of Jessie and Wedge is seen more vividly in Remake as Cloud, Tifa, and Aerith arrive at the sector 7 slums as a skirmish breaks out between Shinra and AVALANCHE. The Whispers appear to slow the group down, and despite their best efforts, the plate falls as Tseng reveals that Aerith has been taken captive.
Cloud encounters another vision of Sephiroth as he returns to Aerith’s house to seek out Marlene. The figure mocks Cloud’s failure to save Sector 7. As in the original, Empyra shares Aerith’s heritage as a Cetra.
Much of the gameplay following this is similar to the original title, though Wedge is found in the underground laboratory and brought to Elmyra, who agrees to house the group and nurse Wedge back to health.
When the group infiltrates the Shinra Building, they are unaware that Mayor Domino had allowed them safe passage with the hopes that they were going to assassinate President Shinra. Cloud and the party meet Hojo, who takes them to his lab where Aerith and Red XIII are being held. Hojo then tells Cloud that he had never made it into SOLDIER before the Whispers carry him away, causing Cloud to have a mental breakdown and pass out in the elevator down to Jenova’s chamber.
Awakening in Aerith’s room inside Hojo’s lab, Aerith shares her history as an Ancient along with Shinra’s plan to use her to find the promised land and build Neo Midgar. The party is then tasked with solving a number of puzzles and defeating enemies to escape from Hojo’s lab. Following a trail of fluid left behind by the escaped Jenova, they find President Shinra dead. Rufus Shinra arrives and Cloud fights him, nearly falling to his death. Tifa catches him and scolds him for always playing the hero. The two escape via the Midgar Expressway, though Sephiroth is waiting for them.
Sephiroth cuts a path to “another future,” asking Cloud to follow him. The party does so and must fight a massive group of Whispers across a strange terrain of flying debris before finally taking on Sephiroth himself.
When the Whispers are defeated, the timeline is altered, and Zack is seen taking Cloud back to Midgar. It’s unclear how much Cloud remembers of his former mentor.
Gameplay in Final Fantasy VII and Remake
Cloud is the main playable party member and the party leader throughout the majority of Final Fantasy VII. He is notable for being the most powerful character, having the most balanced stats. His most powerful weapon, the Ultima Weapon, deals more damage depending on the party’s HP.
In Final Fantasy VII Remake, Cloud is also the main playable character and the party leader for most quests. He can choose between Operator Mode, balancing his attack and defense while keeping his speed high, or Punisher Mode, leaning more heavily towards offense by sacrificing maneuverability and defense. His stats are still well balanced, with Cloud having the highest strength and the second-highest Magic and HP.
Post-Final Fantasy VII
Following Sephiroth’s defeat, Cloud and Tifa moved to the Edge, a new city built on the outskirts of Midgar. This is detailed in the short story collection On the Way to a Smile. Cloud begins the Strife Delivery Service, and Tifa establishes a new 7th Heaven bar.
While visiting Aerith’s old church, a young boy named Denzel finds Cloud’s cell phone. The boy was orphaned after his family was killed by the collapse of the Sector 7 plate. Unable to reach his home, he calls 7th Heaven, the number popping up in Cloud’s recent calls. When Tifa answers and asks who is calling, Denzel starts to cry, succumbing to the Geostigma virus. Cloud brings the boy home to stay.
At some point, Cloud becomes less happy with his new life, admitting to Tifa that he still felt guilt over the lives lost during the events of Final Fantasy VII. After contracting Geostigma himself, he leaves, moving to the church in Sector 5 without telling anyone.
Geostigma, also known as The Sephiroth Gene or Jenova’s Memetic Legacy, is a disease shown most prevalently in Advent Children. This plague was caused by the lifestream’s emergence as Meteor began to fall. As parts of the lifestream had already been infected by Jenova, people who came into contact with it contracted Geostigma.
Those infected with the sickness contract the Sephiroth gene, and the immune system seeks to destroy it. This always ends in failure, and the immune system overcompensates, causing weakness and open sores on the body that leak black ooze. Some people with Geostigma also suffer from hallucinations and seizures. Regardless of the severity of the symptoms, Geostigma is not curable and eventually leads to death.
In Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
Cloud leaves, seeking a cure for Geostigma. During his quest, he ignores all calls from his friends due to his own feelings of guilt and depression. After learning that Reno has a job for him, Cloud suddenly comes into contact with three hostile young men shown to be the remnants of Sephiroth.
During the meeting with Reno, Cloud finds Rufus Shinra alive and infected with Geostigma. While initially open to accepting Rufus’s offer to help fight the three remnants, Cloud rejects it after Reno mentions rebuilding Shinra.
After arriving at Aerith’s church, Cloud finds Tifa unconscious. Marlene has been kidnapped by the three men and Cloud’s material has been stolen. After collapsing due to a Geostigma attack, Cloud and Tifa are discovered by Reno and Rude, who take them to 7th Heaven to rest and recover.
It’s revealed that the remnants–Kadaj, Yazoo, and Loz–were kidnapping children infected with Geostigma in order to use them to reach Jenova’s remains. While still dealing with attacks of self-loathing, Cloud’s friends convince him to set out toward the Forgotten City to stop the remnants from fulfilling their plan.
In a vision, Aerith tells Cloud that she doesn’t blame him for what happened. During a fight against the brainwashed children, Cloud is overwhelmed but saved by his former teammate Vincent Valentine.
After Kadaj summons Bahamut SIN to attack Edge, Cloud defeats the dragon with the help of his allies. After Kadaj is defeated, he absorbs Jenova’s remains that he obtained from Rufus Shinra, and Sephiroth is reborn. The villain reveals his intent to take over the planet by using himself as a vessel for the negative energy harbored by those who died from the Geostigma virus. Cloud then fights him at the ruins of the Shinra Building.
While Cloud is first overpowered, he uses the love he feels for his friends and those he has lost to defeat Sephiroth using his Omnislash Version 5 Limit Break. Once defeated, he leaves a dying Kadaj behind, who is quickly killed as the remnants destroy themselves in an explosion. The spirit of Aerith intervenes, saving Cloud after he awakens in a lifestream-infused pool inside of her church. Cloud then sees the spirits of Aerith and Zack in the doorway.
Appearances in Other Final Fantasy Titles
Unsurprisingly, Cloud has appeared in a number of other Final Fantasy titles. He has the most player-controlled appearances of any character in the franchise and the second-most appearances overall, just behind Final Fantasy V’s Gilgamesh.
Cloud Strife appears as a playable character or summon in the following Final Fantasy titles:
- Dissidia Final Fantasy (2008)
- Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy
- Dissidia Final Fantasy NT
- Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia
- Final Fantasy Tactics
- Theatrhythm Final Fantasy
- Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call
- Theatrhythm Final Fantasy All-Star Carnival
- Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Final Bar Line
- Pictlogica Final Fantasy
- Final Fantasy VII: Snowboarding
- Final Fantasy VII: G-Bike
- Final Fantasy All the Bravest
- Final Fantasy Record Keeper
- Final Fantasy Airborne Brigade
- Final Fantasy Explorers
- Final Fantasy World Wide Words
- Final Fantasy Brave Exvius
- War of the Visions: Final Fantasy Brave Exvius
- Chocobo Racing
- World of Final Fantasy
Cloud appears in the following games in card form:
- Final Fantasy XIV
- Final Fantasy Artniks
- Triple Triad
- Final Fantasy Trading Card Game
Cloud’s outfit is wearable in the following games:
- Final Fantasy XIV
- Mobius Final Fantasy
While not appearing in Final Fantasy XIII, Cloud’s outfit can be worn by Lightning.
Appearances in Other Media
Cloud has also made a number of appearances in non-Final Fantasy titles, including:
- Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring
- Itadaki Street
- Puzzle & Dragons
- Bravely Default: Praying Brage
- Kingdom Hearts
- Kingdom Hearts II
- Monster Strike
- Super Smash Bros.
- Yo-kai Watch: Wibble Wobble
In Patch 7.0 of World of Warcraft, Cloud was added as an NPC found standing beside the flower girl in New Dalaran.
In LittleBigPlanet 2, a Cloud costume was made available along with other costumes from Final Fantasy VII, including those of Sephiroth, Aerith, Vincent, and Tifa.
- Cloud’s name was meant to contrast with Zack’s. Tetsuya Nomura has explained that Cloud Strife alludes to bad weather and the difficulty of his life, while Zack’s alludes to ‘fair weather,’ symbolizing his easy and peaceful life.
- In the original character design, Cloud had slicked-back, black hair. This would make him look like the opposite of Sephiroth with his long silver hair, but the bigger reason was to cut down on polygons.
- In Final Fantasy VII, Cloud doesn’t have a theme song. Many consider his theme to be the Main Theme of Final Fantasy VII, the track which plays on the world map screen before the party acquires the Highwind.
- The popular image of Cloud and Sephiroth was based on the famous Japanese warriors Miyamoto Musashi and Sasaki Kojiro, whose duel has become legendary.