Zack Fair

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Spoiler Warning: This article or section may contain spoilers. If this bothers you, proceed with caution.

Name: Zax (ザックス Zakkusu); Zack; Zack Fair
Occupation: SOLDIER (formerly), aspiring mercenary
Relationships: Cloud Strife (friend)
Aerith Gainsborough (girlfriend)
Sephiroth (enemy, former comrade)
Angeal Hewley (mentor, friend)
Genesis Rhapsodos (enemy)
Lazard Deusericus (former boss)
Cissnei (friend)
Kunsel (friend)
Yuffie Kisaragi (acquaintance)
Tifa Lockhart (acquaintance)
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII, Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, Kingdom Hearts
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Zack is a minor character in the 1997 Square video game Final Fantasy VII, a key character in its subsequent multimedia franchise, and the protagonist of its 2007 prequel Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-. He also appears in other media, including the Disney/Square Enix video game Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep (2010).


Final Fantasy VII (1997)

Zack was a SOLDIER and Aeris' first love. He possibly appears in the role of a Shinra grunt during Cloud's first retelling of the Nibelheim incident, and is later mentioned when the party visits his hometown of Gongaga. He makes a brief cameo in Cloud's true recollection of the Nibelheim incident.

Most of his story comes from a single posthumous flashback optionally triggered by revisiting the Shinra Manor. After the Nibelheim incident, he and Cloud Strife were imprisoned in the basement of the Shinra Manor and subjected to human experimentation for several years. Eventually, Zack managed to break out of his containment, acquire a sword, and release Cloud, who was catatonic with mako poisoning. Zack dragged Cloud out of Nibelheim, and the two made their way toward Midgar to reunite with Zack's girlfriend, Aeris. While hitchhiking, Zack told Cloud of his plan for them to become mercenaries for hire. On a cliffside just outside of Midgar, Zack was ambushed and unceremoniously killed by two Shin-Ra troops and their commander. Cloud finally recovered from his catatonic state, only to find his friend's corpse, whose sword he then took.

Thus, Cloud's career path, false memories, and affinity for bodyweight squats may have been adopted from Zack.

In the original Japanese version of the game, his name is Zax (ザックス Zakkusu), instead of Zack (ザック Zakku), which is given as his name in the game's English-language localization.

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (2005)

The rusted Buster Sword has been planted into the ground at the place of Zack's death as a memorial. Zack later appears alongside Aerith in a vision to give Cloud encouragement; his design has been altered from his appearance in the original game. In the ending of Advent Children Complete (2009), the Buster Sword has been moved to Aerith's church in Sector 5.

Last Order -Final Fantasy VII- (2005)

Last Order -Final Fantasy VII- reimagines the Nibelheim incident and Zack and Cloud's imprisonment with some notable changes. The canonicity of Last Order appears to be contradicted and disputed by both official materials and common fan consensus.

Unlike the vast majority of media, in which he had standard blue mako eyes, LO portrays Zack with violet eyes.

Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- (2007)

In this prequel to the original game, Zack Fair is introduced as a SOLDIER Second Class under the mentorship of SOLDIER First Class Angeal Hewley. He is soon promoted to First Class and eventually inherits the Buster Sword from Angeal. Over the course of the game, he completes missions on behalf of the Shinra Electric Power Company, and crosses paths with several VII characters, including fellow SOLDIER First Class Sephiroth, Shinra infantryman Cloud Strife, materia enthusiast Yuffie Kisaragi, Nibelheim local guide Tifa Lockhart, and Midgar slums resident Aerith Gainsborough.

While much of this game is more or less continuity-compliant with the original game, the circumstances of his death have been noticeably retconned. Zack is mortally wounded in a brutal battle against scores of Shinra forces. With his dying breaths, he entrusts both his legacy and the Buster Sword to a stricken Cloud.

Final Fantasy VII Remake (2020)

Zack appears in a single flashback cutscene at the very end of the first installment.

Other Appearances

  • Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII- (2004)
  • The Maiden Who Travels the Planet (星を巡る乙女 Hoshi o Meguru Otome) (2005)

A younger, alternate continuity version of Zack appears in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep (2010) at Olympus Colosseum as an aspiring hero.


Reception and Popularity

Zack has been phenomenally popular within the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII community, and within the broader Final Fantasy community. While he only had a major appearance in a single, optional, posthumous flashback in the original Final Fantasy VII, and has never been a playable character within a mainline numbered Final Fantasy title, Zack is an extremely popular character.

In a 2010 Famitsu poll, fans voted Zack as the 37th most popular video game character of all time.[1] In a 2012 poll of the official Final Fantasy forums, Zack was voted the most popular male character in the entire Final Fantasy franchise.[2] In a 2019 poll conducted by Anime! Anime!, Zack was voted the 16th most popular character voiced by Suzumura Kenichi.[3] In a 2020 NHK poll, Zack was voted the tenth most popular character in the entire Final Fantasy franchise, out of 200 major and minor characters.[4][5]

In a July 2020 Famitsu poll, "----" was voted the tenth most popular character in the first installment of the Final Fantasy VII Remake, with 113 votes.[6][7][8] Zack makes a surprise appearance in a single flashback cutscene at the very end of the first installment of Final Fantasy VII Remake, without any explanation as to who he is, and thus his significance may have been a mystery for newcomers to the VII franchise. He was not listed as an option in the poll, so voters had to select "Other" and manually write in his name. His name was also censored from the results due to being a spoiler. Considering all these limiting factors, he placed well within the poll, beating out more prominent characters such as Biggs.

As of 5 December 2019, Zack was the third most-featured character among all FFVII works published on Archive of Our Own.[9]

However, reaction toward Zack Fair hasn't been wholly positive. Some have felt that his expanded role and characterization in the Compilation—chiefly Crisis Core—are at odds with the themes and characterizations that were established in the original 1997 game.

Notable Fanon and Tropes

Within the original game, Zack only had a substantive appearance in a single, easily missed, posthumous flashback. Many fans had not triggered this scene in their playthroughs, so the community may not have had widespread knowledge of—nor interest in—his existence until some years after the release of the game.[10][11]

In the early days of the internet, video game communities were rife with rumors and urban legends. In the FFVII community, it was rumored that Zack could be found alive as an NPC or a recruitable party member by performing certain actions.[12] In perhaps the best-known version of this rumor, the sick man living in the pipe in the Sector 5 slums was Zack, and Aeris would be able to heal him if the player sufficiently leveled her.[13][14] Another variation involved gathering items such as the Masamune Blade, the Super Sweeper, and the useless 1/35 Soldier in order to revive him.[15][16]

A minority of Western fans have chosen to refer to him as Zax, his name in Japanese media, with the rationale that it's more in line with the creators' original intent. However, most Anglophonic fans refer to him as Zack, and this preference may have grown with time due to all localized media having consistently given his name as such. The Zack/Zax schism has not reached the polarity seen with other fan disputes over Final Fantasy localizations, such as Aeris/Aerith and "Tee-dus"/"Tie-dus".

Because Zack was essentially a one-scene wonder with limited characterization, portrayals varied in fan works. Pre-canon fics focusing on SOLDIER revolved around Sephiroth and Zack—as they were the only known SOLDIERs at the time—plus Cloud, who aspired to join their ranks; Zack was often portrayed as Sephiroth's second-in-command.[17] Some portrayed Zack as a "jerk",[18] perhaps due in part to his employment with Shin-Ra, and perhaps also to make another character appear as a comparatively superior love interest for Aeris when shipping her with that character.[17]

As Zack's surname, Fair, was not given in canon until the 2007 release of Crisis Core, fic writers would often create one for him; "Zack Donovan" was particularly common.[10][19] In fan fiction, Zack has sometimes been referred to as Zachary, although there is no canonical indication that Zack/Zax is a truncation of a longer given name.

Zack was allegedly assigned as a soulbonds to a certain resident of the so-called FFVII House in the early 2000s; said resident went on to launch A Public Warning: FF7 Fandom.

After the release of Crisis Core, Zack Fair has been frequently compared to, or referred to as, a "puppy" in fan works. He is usually portrayed as happy-go-lucky, physically affectionate, and unfalteringly heroic, especially for his friends and loved ones. Some fans have labeled him as an example of the "himbo" archetype, after the term became popularized circa 2019.

Much like his girlfriend, Aerith Gainsborough, Zack is a popular subject of fix fics. It is possible that his Compilation-boosted popularity encouraged the fandom to move away from the once-fashionable Aeris Resurrection Fics (ARFs), toward the now-ubiquitous Peggy Sue time travel fics[11] that often avert his death along with hers. Other forms of canon-divergent AUs fixes are also very common. Zack Fair Lives is an Additional Tag with over 135 works on Archive of Our Own.

Zack may otherwise be depicted reuniting in the Lifestream with Aerith and/or Cloud.

Because Zack has not been confirmed as dead in the Remake, some fans have expressed hope that he will instead survive, just as Biggs and most inhabitants of Sector Seven have.

Some fans, many associated with a group known as Operation Reunion, have complained that they prefer Crisis Core voice actor Rick Gomez's performance of Zack over the performance of Remake voice actor Caleb Pierce.


In a sample of 230 FFVII stories published between 13 October 2013[20] and 2 May 2019 on FanFiction.Net, Zack was most often listed in the site's pairing filter with Cloud (40%), followed closely by Aerith (37%), then Sephiroth (7%), Tifa (6%), Angeal (5%), Reno (2%), and Cissnei (1%).[21] As of October 2020, Zack/Cloud and Zack/Aerith are also his two most popular ships on Archive of Our Own, though the volume of Zack/Cloud leads by a much wider margin.

Notable Ships

Example Fan Works

Fan Fiction

"This Day" FFN FFN archive by Alyssa2Fandom: Final Fantasy VIIDate: 1 September 2001Length: 1 733 words, 1 chapterStatus: CompleteGenre: Angst
Nominated for The Genesis Awards Best Angst Category 2010.
Eidolon FFN FFN archive by Silver PardFandom: Compilation of Final Fantasy VIIDate: 1 November 2007–24 May 2008Length: 43 550 words, 9 chaptersStatus: CompleteGenre: Drama
Summary: "The afterlife is not fun and games." Nominated for The Genesis Awards Best Completed Chapter Fic and Drama Categories.
Thorns FFN, AO3 FFN archive by VatharaFandom: Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-Date: 7 November 2007Length: 45 428 words, 1 chapterStatus: CompleteGenre: Fantasy, Adventure
"The Talk" FFN FFN archive by Zeff N CompanyFandom: Kingdom HeartsDate: 13 December 2008Length: 1 182 words, 1 chapterStatus: CompleteGenre: Humor
Summary: "A ficlet for pyjamaTerra: As Zack prepares to leave for his training camp, he takes a moment to teach young Squall the important things in life. '...Oh, and so long as you have your pants, underwear is optional. Remember that.'"
"The Wheels of Shinra's Economy" FFN by SinnatiousFandom: Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-Date: 20 April 2009Length: 2 107 words, 1 chapterStatus: CompleteGenre: Humor
Oneshot. Nominated for The Genesis Awards Best Miscellaneous Fic Category 2012 Season.
"Misconduct" FFN, AO3 FFN archive by NekotsukiFandom: Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-Date: 2 July 2009–8 February 2019Length: 24 595 words, 6 chaptersStatus: IncompleteGenre: Drama, Adventure
Canon divergence. Nominated for The Genesis Awards Best Drama Category 2010.

Fan Art

“you think he became the hero he wanted to be?” Tumblr (source deleted), Twitter by cybersun_xFandom: Kingdom HeartsDate: 8 January 2019
Anon asks: "A request of a reunion you'd like to see happen in kh3?" cybersun_x responds with a digital illustration of Terra, Aqua, and Ven gazing at the rusted Buster Sword, which has been planted in the ground. A white feather lies nearby. The caption implies that one of the trio asks, “You think he became the hero he wanted to be?”


unknown Tumblr by unknown ?
Photography by mizuseraryu



Archives, Communities and Sites

Character Shrines



  1. ^ Gifford, Kevin. Snake Beats Mario, Is Coolest Video Game Character Ever published to 1UP on 10 February 2010. (Archived 11 August 2014).
  2. ^ Van Duine, Erren. "Japan ranks their favorite male characters from the Final Fantasy series", Archived version published to Nova Crystallis on 17 December 2012.
  3. ^ Katsunori, Takahashi. "To celebrate Kenichi Suzumura’s birthday! Favorite character performed by Kenishiro Suzumura is? 3th place is Ryutaros from「Den-O」, 2nd place is Masato..." published to Anime! Anime! on 18 September 2019. (Accessed October 2020.)
  4. ^ FF Ranking, Archived version, NHK, Q1 2020. (Accessed October 2020.)
  5. ^ TheMomAbides. I translated the NHK Final Fantasy poll character rankings., posted to r/FinalFantasy in Q1 2020. (Accessed October 2020.)
  6. ^ リメイク』アンケート結果発表や開発スタッフインタビューなど、プレイ後に語りたい聞きたい大特集! published in Famitsu in July 2020. (Accessed August 2020.)
  7. ^ MKillerby. Character popularity ranking from Japanese fan poll in new issue of Famitsu, posted to r/FinalFantasy in July 2020. (Accessed August 2020.)
  8. ^ GameFAQs. Official Famitsu character poll is out, Cloud and Tifa is tied for #1, posted to GameFAQs in July 2020. (Accessed August 2020.)
  9. ^ phantomstatistician. 10 Most Popular Characters in Final Fantasy VII FanFiction (AO3) 2005-Present, posted to Tumblr on 5 December 2019. (Accessed October 2020.)
  10. ^ a b lana, fury-brand. kids have it so easy these days posted to Tumblr on 15 August 2013. (Accessed October 2020.)
  11. ^ a b ardwynna. anyone care to give me a history lesson on how ff7 fandom was like back in the day? posted to Tumblr on 6 December 2016. (Accessed October 2020.)
  12. ^ Sephirothalpha et al. Final Fantasy Myths posted to Final Fantasy Forums on 5 October 2007. (Accessed October 2020.)
  13. ^ Gaming Urban Legends Wiki. Finding Zack Fair. (Accessed October 2020.)
  14. ^ C.Jin. 5 Unsolved Mysteries in FFVII posted to cjinsblog on 21 February 2013. (Accessed October 2020.)
  15. ^ Prefer_Not_To_Say. FFVII Rumors, Secrets and Cheats! commented on 11 February 2018 in r/FinalFantasy. (Accessed October 2020.)
  16. ^ Final Fantasy Freaks. FFVII Rumors and Myths. (Accessed October 2020.)
  17. ^ a b chofitia, rsasai, jukeboxhound, et al. anyone care to give me a history lesson on how ff7 fandom was like back in the day? posted to Tumblr on 8 December 2016. (Accessed September 2020.)
  18. ^ ardwynna, jukeboxhound, et al. anyone care to give me a history lesson on how ff7 fandom was like back in the day? posted to Tumblr circa December 2016. (Accessed September 2020.)
  19. ^ ekala, jukeboxhound, et al. anyone care to give me a history lesson on how ff7 fandom was like back in the day? posted to Tumblr on 8 December 2016. (Accessed September 2020.)
  20. ^ FictionPress. posted to Twitter on 13 October 2013. (Accessed October 2020.)
  21. ^ phantomstatistician. Zack's FanFiction Shipping Chart 2013-Present, posted to Tumblr on 2 May 2019. (Accessed October 2020.)