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Aerith Gainsborough Bio and Info

Early Life

Aerith was born to the last true Cetra, Ifalna, and her researcher, Professor Gast Faremis. After recognizing his failures with the Jenova Project and becoming weighted by guilt, he would resign from his position as the head of Shin-Ra's Science Department, though he continued his investigation into the Cetra's history with Ifalna's voluntary cooperation at Icicle Lodge to the north. He met her there after relocating in an attempt to further his investigations, and during their interviews, they fell in love and began to live with one another. Within two years, Aerith was born to them.

When Aerith was only twenty days old, her family was attacked by Shin-Ra soldiers under the command of Professor Hojo—another Shin-Ra scientist, and Gast's former assistant—killing Gast and capturing Aerith and Ifalna so as to provide further research for Hojo. Seven years later, in Midgar, Ifalna was able to escape from the Shin-Ra headquarters with Aerith, the mother and daughter fleeing as far as the train station in the Sector 7 slums before a dying Ifalna entrusted Aerith to the care of Elmyra Gainsborough, a childless widow.

As time went on, Aerith's Cetra heritage would reveal itself in various ways, most notably the ability to hear the souls of the dead wandering the Planet. However, she was uncomfortable with these abilities and refused to acknowledge them or her ancestry. Throughout the rest of her childhood and young adult life, Aerith would be a constant target of the Shin-Ra, who were seeking to recover her. At the age of sixteen, Aerith dated her first boyfriend, Zack—a young man closely linked to Final Fantasy VII's protagonist, Cloud Strife—and also helps her adopted mother with their livelihood by growing and selling flowers, a profession which results in her meeting Cloud during Final Fantasy VII.

Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII

In Before Crisis, several years before the main events of Final Fantasy VII, Aerith becomes the target of AVALANCHE, who seek to prevent the Shin-Ra from being able to make use of the last Cetra. They also intend to learn the whereabouts of the Promised Land from her for their own purposes. It is then up to a member of the Turks to protect her.

Final Fantasy VII

Aerith, now a flower girl, tries her best to lead a normal life despite numerous kidnapping attempts by the Turks. She retreats routinely to a local derelict church which serves as an ideal hideaway for her from the insanity of the outside world. According to her, it is the only place where flowers are able to grow in Midgar.

Chronologically, the game's events begin for Aerith when she bumps into Cloud, who is fleeing from the scene of AVALANCHE successfully destroying a mako reactor. The two would later be reunited in Aerith's church, this time, under more tense circumstances. Faced with the possibility of being captured by Reno of the Turks, Aerith asks the mercenary to be her bodyguard for the cost of one date. She is eventually apprehended, but once again saved by Cloud and company. Aerith then joins them in the pursuit of the malevolent Sephiroth, as well as embarks on a journey of self-discovery. Although Aerith makes a point of putting on an image of innocence, she is in reality much less naive than she lets on. She takes the opportunity to showcase her coyer side around Cloud—with whom she is openly flirtatious—when possible, and generally remains optimistic throughout the journey

After a failed attempt to foil Sephiroth's stealing of a dangerous materia, Aerith ventures alone into the Forgotten City for an unknown purpose, incurring Sephiroth's wrath. Cloud and his companions give chase and eventually locate Aerith, praying at an altar. Sephiroth soon attempts to take possession of Cloud through his Jenova cells (as he has done before) and use him as a pawn to kill Aerith. Cloud resists the command with the help of his friends, whereupon Sephiroth reveals himself and slays Aerith with a single thrust of his sword. The materia given her by her mother, which she wore in her hair, falls from the altar into the water. Holding her body, Cloud rails against Sephiroth, who mocks him and states that he has no feelings and is merely "a puppet". Cloud and the rest of AVALANCHE are not given time to grieve just yet, as Sephiroth summons a new incarnation of Jenova, Jenova-Life, which they must defeat. Cloud then carries Aerith's body out into a lake in the ancient capital city of the Cetra, and releases her back to the Planet. Aerith's sacrifice becomes one of the pivotal moments of the game's plot, and is one of the most well-known moments in any Final Fantasy game. As later events showed, Aerith still aided the others despite her death.

The party later learns the reason for Aerith being in the Forgotten City: through her White Materia—handed down from Ifalna—Aerith was able to summon Holy, the only force capable of repelling the Ultimate Destructive Magic, Meteor, which Sephiroth sought to call forth. However, in order to learn of this spell—and, indeed, to use it—she needed to visit the City of the Ancients, to which she could feel herself being drawn. Though she successfully called forth Holy before her death, in order to initiate its effect Sephiroth would have to be defeated, for his powerful will was holding the spell back at the heart of the Planet. Inspired by the hope Aerith had left to them, Cloud and the others set out to initiate a final showdown with Sephiroth, and Cloud ultimately succeeds in killing him, banishing him back to the Lifestream.

However, Holy is freed too late to function as effectively as it should, for Meteor—already summoned by Sephiroth, and set on a crash-course with the Planet—has come too near the Planet's surface. While Holy clashes with Meteor, attempting to prevent its impact, the gravity of both Meteor and the Planet pulling on the spell in opposite directions weakens it, leaving it with too little room to take effect.[8] In a climactic FMV, the Planet's Lifestream spews forth from within the planet and bands together, acting as a battering ram to push Meteor back, giving Holy enough room to properly destroy it. This showing is followed by a vision of Aerith within the Lifestream's energy, an indication of her final efforts to save the planet, as are detailed in Maiden who Travels the Planet.

Maiden who Travels the Planet

Maiden who Travels the Planet is a novelization written by Benny Matsuyama, and appears in the Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Ω Guide. It is the story of Aerith during Final Fantasy VII once she has returned to the Lifestream after her death at the hands of Sephiroth.

The story revealed that a Cetra's strength of will and understanding of the Planet allows their consciousness to exist within the Lifestream without being diluted. Aerith begins a journey through the Lifestream, encountering people who have died over the course of the game, including Biggs, Wedge and Jessie of AVALANCHE, as well as Dyne, President Shin-Ra, Zack and Hojo.

Her true feelings for Cloud are also revealed during the course of the story, and it is confirmed that it was she who called the Lifestream into action to aid Holy in defeating Meteor. It is further revealed that the deceased members of AVALANCHE, as well as Dyne and Zack, assisted her in this final defense of the Planet.[9] It is important to note that this novelization, along with On the Way to a Smile, was an unofficial written work of Square and ideas shared by the writer might not be official ideas of Square, although this work has been accepted.

Final Fantasy VII Advent Children

Aerith's appearances in Advent Children run few and far between, but her actions profoundly affect the outcome of events once again.

Since Sephiroth's defeat, the party has had no time to rejoice. Though the planet has been saved by Aerith and the others' actions, a fatal illness known as "Geostigma" plagues many. Cloud, now infected with the disease as well, isolates himself from his friends. Though resolute, he is maddened by his failure to prevent the deaths of Zack and Aerith, believing himself unable to help anyone. Not wishing to be a burden on the family of sorts he has made with Tifa, Marlene, and Denzel—an orphan they've taken in—he secludes himself from them in Aerith's church.

Aerith makes several appearances throughout the course of the movie as Cloud's spiritual guide, urging him to move on in life and to forgive himself for the tragedies that were beyond his control and that she never blamed him for her death. During their spiritual reunion, Aerith speaks to Cloud in an open meadow laden with flowers, cheerfully poking fun at how he needlessly burdens himself with the past, but acknowledging his suffering and offering kind words of support.

One of Aerith's greatest boons to Cloud during the film comes when each member of the original game's party lends their respective strength to Cloud's final attack against Bahamut SHIN, an act symbolizing one of the film's primary themes of comraderie—summed up by Cloud's final line in the film: "I'm not alone." Aerith makes an appearance as the last of the party members to lend a helping hand, giving him one final reassuring boost of his friends' faith in him.

Near the end of the film, it is discovered that water mixed with the Lifestream flows beneath the flowerbed in Aerith's church—thus explaining how flowers were able to bloom in a place as desolate as Midgar—this revelation coming after an explosion caused by Kadaj leaves a large hole in the soil. It is here that a cure for Geostigma is discovered: the very water that had been beneath the church. The film's developers also acknowledge that the water is a symbolic representation of Great Gospel, Aerith's final Limit Break from the original game.

Kingdom Hearts

Due to the allowances provided by Kingdom Hearts being an alternate universe independent of the continuity of both Final Fantasy and Disney, Aerith also makes a notable appearance in this series. She is member of a group — which includes Cid Highwind and Yuffie Kisaragi, also of Final Fantasy VII, as well as Squall Leonhart/Leon of Final Fantasy VIII — dedicated to defeating the Heartless. Her attire is mostly unchanged from its Final Fantasy VII design, the only changes being the absence of her red jacket, the ribbon in her hair being red as opposed to pink, her gold bangles being replaced with silver bracelets on her left wrist and the presence of a purple belt.

Early in Kingdom Hearts, Aerith makes her first appearance while encountering Donald Duck and Goofy in an allyway of Traverse Town, and afterwards escorts them to the Traverse Town hotel. It is there that she suggests recovering the scattered pages of Ansem's Report in order to find a way to destroy the Heartless. During the course of the game Leon, Yuffie, Cid and herself often give advice to the band of heroes, and she later presents them with the remaining missing pages of Ansem's Report. After Sora locks the keyhole of Hollow Bastion, Aerith returns — along with her comrades and, later, Cloud — to her home.

In the Kingdom Hearts manga, she first appears to Sora, Donald and Goofy when the trio search for Leon. Aerith is seen serving sweet beverages, such as barley tea and soda with milk, drinks that Leon dislikes due to their sweet flavors.

After making a brief appearance in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories as a perceptive figment of Sora's memories, Aerith returns in Kingdom Hearts II, wearing a modified version of the dress she donned in Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII. She now wears a pink skirt instead of the green from Before Crisis, one which has more white frills. Aerith, Leon and Yuffie are now responsible for restoring the town of Hollow Bastion to its former splendor, and it is from Aerith that Sora learns the true name of Hollow Bastion: the Radiant Garden. Despite her delicate appearance, she is quick to let others know that she is capable of defending herself. Along with fellow Final Fantasy VII characters Cloud, Cid, Yuffie, and Tifa (who did not appear in the original Kingdom Hearts), Aerith helps in the fight against the Heartless by healing others. In the end, Aerith was last to be shown in the credits, looking over Radiant Garden, and possibly waiting for Cloud to come back from fighting Sephiroth.

Final Fantasy Tactics

Aerith also somehow manages to make her presence known in Final Fantasy Tactics (as "Aeris"). During the course of the game, Aeris shows up offering to sell the characters a flower for one gil.

Later, after Cloud Strife is pulled through time and wanders around the streets of Zarghidas, he encounters Aeris, who offers him a flower for one gil, similar to his first encounter with her in Final Fantasy VII. Cloud doesn't respond, but instead stares at her, taken aback by her resemblance to the Aerith he knew. Aeris asks Cloud if she reminds him of someone, but he denies this and walks away.

A moment later, a group of criminals appear from the shadows and begin harassing Aeris for the 30,000 gil that she and her mother owes them. After pleading with them to give her a week to come up with the money, the criminals examine her and suggest that she sell her body instead of flowers.

Cloud, angered by what's taking place, tells the men to leave her alone and instructs Aeris to run away. Aeris does as she's told, leaving Cloud to fight off the group with assistance from the player's party. The flower girl is identified as being Aerith, through both name, occupation, basic personality and appearance, yet she's out of place for the Aerith of Final Fantasy VII and displays no recognition of Cloud. No explanation has been given for her presence in this game.


Aerith's name is phonetically identic to the english name Iris. Iris is also the name of a flower, which fits with Aerith's job as flower girl. In Greek mythology Iris is the name of the messenger of the gods, the old cultures, the ancients. In Final Fantasy VII the cetra are also called "Ancients."


Aerith is often referred to as "Aeris," due to translation issues. The problem may have originated due to the fact that the foreign sounds "s" (as a stand-alone consonant) and "th" are both represented in Japanese syllabary by "su" (ス), or it may have been a deliberate aesthetic change on Sony's part. However, as of English translation of Kingdom Hearts, the spelling "Aeris" is only used in games comprising the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII.

"Aerith"—and, consequently, "Aeris"—is a Japanese transliteration of the English word "Earth" (confirmed by the Final Fantasy VII: Kaitai Shinsho guide[10]). In katakana (the Japanese syllabary used for words that are not of Japanese origin), the name is written as "Earisu". Syllables in the Japanese language are normally open, that is, they normally end in a vowel ("n" being the only consonant allowed in syllable codas; thus, the "i" after "r") and the Japanese language has no "th" sound, instead using "su". It became "Aeris" as a result of writing it in romaji (Latin characters representing Japanese sounds) to represent how it sounds when spoken in Japanese ("Air-rees").


Aerith is a friendly, upbeat and cheerful young woman, and often seems a rather simplistic character. Throughout the game, however, she reveals the deeper aspects of her personality (and its temperament), displaying her complexities. She is constantly mindful of the fate of the Planet, and concerns herself with issues dealing with her heritage as the sole survivor of the Cetra.

Despite her feelings of loneliness as the last of her race, Aerith puts on a positive and optimistic front. Though she is physically weak, she displays emotional strength, especially in carrying the responsibility of saving the Planet. Despite the dangers she has faced her whole life not only as an object of Shin-Ra's greed, but also from the dangers of growing up in the slums, she gives hope, support and encouragement to her friends. She also shows her bravery and strength when she decides to handle Sephiroth on her own.

Elmyra tells Cloud of Aerith’s stubborn determination and habit of stating what’s on her mind, and, indeed, once her mind is made up, it is hard to change it. She also tends to be a bit frank, but always tries to add joy to life and displays a stark understanding of others. This was exemplified in Advent Children, when she told Cloud that he should seek forgiveness from himself instead of her.

Aerith often puts on a naïve persona, but in reality, is a wise and understanding person who knows what’s going on with the Planet and its people—healing people and giving them encouragement and hope even after her death.


A persistent rumor maintains that Aerith either could be resurrected in some versions of the game or that she was meant to be resurrected but the feature either could not be implemented or was dropped at a relatively late stage of development. The production staff, however, have stated that this is not the case. By their admission, Aerith's death was always intended to be a permanent and tragic event, a response to the dramatic clichés of heroic sacrifice and resurrection.

Even after years of extensive research, no in-game method of resurrecting Aerith has been discovered. Nor is there an alternate version of the ending, which would be required in the event of Aerith returning to life. Various cheat programs can put Aerith back into the party, but there are very few specific lines or weapons for her afterwards, and this may cause the game to freeze at various points. Nevertheless, rumors of Aerith's resurrection are among the more widely known rumors in the history of video games. One of the earliest and most notorious of these rumors was produced by Ben Lansing, who unsuccessfully tried to retract it later after his "authoritative" article had snowballed into a large debate.

Another source of debate is the "spirit" of Aerith. If the player backtracks to the church in the Midgar slums, a "spirit" of Aerith can be seen in the church tending to the flowers or standing in the aisle, and will vanish if approached. This can be seen any time from the addition of Aerith to the party onwards, including immediately after she and Cloud escape from Reno and after her capture by the Turks. Whether this is an easter egg created by the developers or a glitch in the game remains subject of much debate. However, it would seem that it is an easter egg by the developers, as an actual glitch in that part of the game will allow the player to run up to Aerith, and if one talks to the children there, they will say something completely different from when Aerith's "ghost" is gone. Interestingly, a similar scene appears in the Advent Children movie.

Some players argue that, if Aerith is returned to the party using cheats, the character will have unique lines. While this is partially true, the game errors resulting from adding her to the party manifest when any character is added who does not belong, and most of the lines are generic responses. She also has greatly spurred stat gaining when leveled (i.e 6 magic points every level she goes up when brought back). In addition, if Square intended the player to resurrect Aerith, they would have included some new content for the character after the resurrection. There are, as of yet, no cutscenes or dialogue found to support her resurrection.

Romantic issues

The subject of Aerith's love life is in great debate among those who play Final Fantasy VII.

Prior to the events at Nibelheim, Aerith was apparently romantically involved with Zack, although she claims it wasn't serious, and comments that he probably just found somebody else. At this point, it has been at least five years since she heard from him. Zack, for his part, only mentions Aerith in passing, never actually saying her name; he merely comments that he has "a place" he can go in Midgar.

During the course of the game, it is mentioned that one of the Turks, Tseng, was interested in Aerith. When the playable party enters Gongaga for the first time, Reno and Rude are seen talking about who they like. While Rude admits that he likes Tifa, Reno mentions that Tseng likes "that Ancient," meaning Aerith. After Aerith and Cloud meet during the game, she appears to be very flirtatious with him. Among the fandom, it is often said that she was only attracted to Cloud because of Zack, as she directly mentions that it bothered her how much they were alike and that she thought she was seeing Zack's personality in Cloud.

In Benny Matsuyama's novel Maiden Who Travels The Planet, it has been revealed that she loved Cloud more than Zack and thought that she loved him for who he truly was, as said early in the novella:

"At first, she thought he somehow had some similarities to her first love. Even so, his looks, voice and personality weren't similar, and he also made her think of him as a mysterious person... But it soon didn't matter. She loved him much more than her first love."

Later in the work, it is revealed that most of what she saw in Cloud had actually been emulated from Zack:

"But she couldn't figure out the truth. Her thoughts just went in circles. Aerith delved into her memories again. Memories that showed Cloud's individuality. The way he walked. She remembered all his actions one by one...

Most of those thoughts merged into the Sea of Mako and awakened a character. The character recognized the image she recalled and "he" woke up."

Aerith doesn't learn who Cloud really is until some time later when Tifa helps Cloud reconstruct his memories. It is then that she knows him for who he truly is. Further, despite not having known the real him before, she continues to love him once he's regained his memories and she's come to know him for who he really is.

"She was happy. She was happy that she now knew the real Cloud and was able to watch over him, even though it was just for a short while."

Aerith's Theme

A musical theme, or leitmotif, associated with Aerith is played several times throughout the game. It is first heard during the flashback scenes with Aerith's mother at her house, and is repeated as she is struck down by Sephiroth. The piece Flowers Blooming in the Church is based on this theme. This piece is extremely popular among Final Fantasy fans, and has inspired an orchestral version, a piano version, and a vocal version performed by the artist Rikki, who also performed Suteki Da Ne for Final Fantasy X. It is composed by famed Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu.

A piano arrangement of the theme appears twice in Advent Children, and the track Water also echoes shades of the theme. The opening phrase of Aerith's theme appears just prior to the climax of the track Divinity II which, shortly after—arguably in reference to her—includes as its final line the Latin phrase "Sola Dea fatum novit," or "Only the goddess knows fate." Aerith's Theme is also featured during the end credits of the movie.

Interestingly enough, Aerith's theme contains a similar leitmotif to Final Fantasy VI's (formerly III in North America) theme for Celes, another heroine whose love story is central to the game's plot. They are hardly similar in terms of their playability, where Aerith's primary role is that of a White Mage archetype and Celes plays similarly to a Mystic Knight. However different these characters are from one another, their character themes are some of the most often used in their respective games.