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There is Not a Love Triangle in Final Fantasy VII

I understand if the title of this article has already raised some eyebrows, but please allow me to explain. I want to address the misconception that Final Fantasy VII contains a love triangle.

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To clarify, I’m not suggesting that there’s no love triangle because one girl is a “better match.”
I maintain that there was never a true possibility for another girl to be a romantic contender for Cloud Strife. I firmly believe there’s a singular and canonical romance in Final Fantasy VII. Let’s get into the details. Fair warning: I’m going to spoil a 25-year-old game going forward.

To be blunt, Aerith is never a genuine romantic option for Cloud. That means Tifa is the only love interest in the game. I know this might upset some fans, but hear me out. The connection between Aerith and Cloud ties back to Zack, not romantic feelings between themselves. Cloud is viewing Aerith through muddied memories of Zack, while Aerith sees a guy who is acting just like her dead boyfriend.

Cloud lacks the perspective to understand that the feelings and memories he has aren’t his own. Consequently, he can’t make sense of the strange emotions he likely feels when he’s around or sees Aerith. These are complicated emotions, and Cloud doesn’t understand them at all. Tragically, Aerith dies before he’s able to fully put it all together.

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Aerith, however, seems to be piecing together the inconsistencies in their relationship. It’s as if she’s connecting the dots, recognizing the uncanny similarities between Cloud and Zack. These coincidences are too numerous to ignore. Much of her feelings towards Cloud, apart from being drawn to him over Zack, are rooted in concern. But don’t just take my word for it; let’s consider Aerith’s own words.

During Aerith’s Gold Saucer date, she essentially says this to Cloud. She goes as far as to admit she doesn’t truly know Cloud at all but is intrigued by the idea of meeting the real him. All of this goes over Cloud’s head, but it suggests that Aerith is, on some level, aware of the Zack situation.

This is also a masterful piece of writing and misdirection. If you’re unaware of the Zack twist, which you wouldn’t be on your first playthrough, you might interpret her words as a sign that she’s ready to move on. Part of the reason why so many people see Final Fantasy VII as a love triangle is because, quite simply, the creators wanted you to think it was. Many players grew attached to Aerith, witnessed this scene, and were then further shocked by her death not long after.

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Now, let’s examine the same scene with Tifa as the date. She discusses the difficulty of being childhood friends and hints at something she wants to tell Cloud but struggles to express. Once again, Cloud is oblivious to her intentions. It’s evident here that Tifa, at the very least, harbors feelings for Cloud. The setup suggests that Tifa is the one outside the triangle, with the canon choice being Aerith and Cloud. However, I believe that just as much as Aerith was saying, “I don’t know who you are,” Tifa was saying, “Where is the real you?”

Later, it’s Tifa who helps him overcome his grief and rediscover his true memories. When Tifa and Cloud fall into the Lifestream, they both admit to hearing the other calling out to them. Moreover, Cloud’s genuine memories predominantly feature Tifa in some capacity. This sequence is perhaps my favorite in all of Final Fantasy and possibly my favorite in any video game. I believe it’s evident from this point onward where Cloud’s true feelings lie. The real Cloud.

The final scene I want to discuss is the iconic moment outside the airship at the end of disc 2. Cloud and Tifa are left alone as the rest of the party spends potentially their last day alive elsewhere. However, for Tifa and Cloud, there’s nowhere else to go. So, naturally, they spend the evening together. If you did go on a date with Tifa in Golden Saucer, Cloud tells Tifa there’s something he wanted to talk to her about. However, now he’s the one having trouble finding the words. This is when Tifa tells him, “Words aren’t the only way to tell someone how you feel.”

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Now, I believe there is some room for interpretation regarding what happens next. Regardless, Cloud and Tifa spend the entire evening together, and upon waking up, they both choose to remain just a little longer with each other before returning to the airship. It’s a beautiful moment where Cloud is finally able, I believe, to not only feel love but also accept love. I think this is the moment where they’re both on the same page; nothing is unrequited, and nothing is hidden. Even if they can’t stop Meteor, they have each other at that moment. As Tifa says, “This day will never come again, so let me have this moment.”

And with that, I believe the romantic arc of Final Fantasy VII concludes without a love triangle in sight. Are they together at the end of the game? Not definitively. Advent Children suggests that their relationship may be complex. However, this isn’t the type of love story that requires a neat resolution. The crux of the arc was Cloud and Tifa reconciling their emotions. Cloud and Tifa are the sole love interests in Final Fantasy VII.

So, with all that being said, I do believe Aerith is an incredible character, and her death is undeniably one of the most significant moments in the history of video games. I think she is invaluable to the game, to the party when she’s a part of it, and to the planet within the game. However, I regret to say that she is not the focal point of any love triangle in Final Fantasy VII. Instead, let’s hope that somewhere in the Lifestream, she found Zack once again.

Final Fantasy VII is available on PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC.

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Cory Dinkel
Cory Dinkel is a freelance writer for Siliconera since 2023. An award-winning digital journalist, he has worked for local and national news outlets for nearly a decade. His favorite genre is the JRPG and he will not be taking questions during his "There is Not a Love Triangle in Final Fantasy VII" speech.