I wasn’t going to release this post because there is one flaw in it, but it is a fun theory so stick with me. It is also important to note that I don’t speak Japanese so this is all based on the Original 1997 PAL release and translations.
Secondly, people out there genuinely believe the earth is flat and that 9/11 was an inside job so you’re going to have to indulge my ranting and raving on this article which conveniently ignores Advent Children, Crisis Core and Before Crisis, as they are a steaming pile of retcon to my theory.
I understand this may offend you, but events in Crisis Core actually support my theory but the retcon nature of the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII means I am choosing to ignore all aspects of it.
Cloud is Sephiroth or more specifically the real Sephiroth is dead and everything that is “Sephiroth” in the events of Final Fantasy VII is Cloud having a schizophrenic breakdown. Therefore, Cloud kills Aerith/Aeris, with the rest of the game being Cloud battling his demons and fixing his fuck ups.
Jenova is real, and serves as the “real” boss, and is responsible for the mass murdering at Shinra HQ, and it is Jenova whom summons meteor.
First mention of Sephiroth is when President Shinra catches you after blowing up Reactor 4. The text outright says that Sephiroth is dead.
First time Sephiroth “appears”
When you’re released from the Shinra Prison, it is assumed Sephiroth has murdered everyone. But why would Sephiroth release Cloud? Sephiroth doesn’t know who Cloud is. It is just as likely that somebody else has let Cloud out after Jenova kills everyone or that something accidentally releases Cloud and co in the ensuing chaos of a rampant Jenova.
Nanaki says that “No human could have done this“, reinforcing that Jenova is the most likely culprit.
Cloud is the one that says Sephiroth is responsible based on the sword. Palmer claims to have seen Sephiroth “with my own eyes“. When Palmer is questioned whether he really saw Sephiroth he responds with “Uh! Would I lie at a time like this!? I heard his voice, too!“.
Why would you question yourself for lying? Either way, you have to ask yourself Is Palmer a reliable witness? Or could he have ulterior motives, such as getting Rufus to run Shinra and framing Cloud/Avalanche? After all they try to blame Meteor on Avalanche too.
Rufus wants to catch Sephiroth, but makes no mention of seeing him.
Ok, So conclusive proof that Sephiroth existed. But my question alludes to whether Sephiroth is real in the “present” or if Sephiroth is a manifestation of Cloud’s schizophrenia.
The razing of Nibelheim is the logical place for Sephiroth to have died and is the last confirmed sighting of Sephiroth being “alive”. Additionally, if Sephiroth doesn’t die how come Shinra still have Jenova in Midgar?
The only logical conclusion is Sephiroth is dead.
A resident mentions they saw “some guy in a black cloak walked east towards the grassy field”. Bit vague, could be Sephiroth, could be a Turk.
A second resident says “there was a suspicious-looking man in a black cloak! He was carrying a mean-looking sword.” Again, could be Sephiroth or Turks.
The dead Midgar Zolem is pretty cool, but why would only Sephiroth have this power? Again could be Sephiroth but you only need to be about level 25 to kill a Zolem. The Turks could have handled that, and are just ahead of you. So the most likely option is the Turks killed the Zolem.
This is the group’s first encounter with Sephiroth. A ghostly figure appears through the floor, flies off, and unleashes Jenova.
Confirmed Sephiroth sighting? Maybe, maybe not. Jenova has weird ass magical powers, Sephiroth is doesn’t.
After you have won the Chocobo race you get a letter from the manager, Dio. In the letter he writes “I recently met Sephiroth. I’ll bet he’s pretty popular with boys your age“.
The use of the word “recently” is vague, but we can assume by the arbitrary nature of its inclusion that Dio is telling the truth that he has met Sephiroth at some point in his life, or somebody purporting to be Sephiroth. But why would a man presumed 5 years dead be popular with kids Cloud’s age, especially since I imagine Shinra would have waged a propaganda war on Sephiroth even though they cover up the Nibleheim incident. This part of the script doesn’t make sense and I choose to side with the interpretation that suits my argument.
Dio then offers up the advice that Sephiroth is heading towards Gongodo. So did Sephiroth stop off at Gold Saucer to bet on the ponies/visit the battle arena? Dunno.
First time in Nibelheim
Here you finally see the black caped clones, so this explains the sightings of weird looking people in Black Capes and what people think is Sephiroth.
Arriving at the Temple of the Ancients
You meet Tseng who has been wounded at the alter and he mentions that Rufus was wrong about Sephiroth’s intentions.
We discover here that Sephiroth splits into two and can act independently of each “self”, this starts to makes sense if we align Cloud and Sephiroth as the same person. This also explains why you were able to see Cloud and Sephiroth in the same room in the Nibelheim basement.
You finally reach the mural room, and find Sephiroth. Why doesn’t he kill you? Also, he flies all over the place and splits into two again. After Sephiroth finishes monologing Cloud starts to lose it.
This is where Cloud visibly starts to crack for the first time on screen and the fact that he is a
nutterbutter schizophrenic starts to come to the fore. Until this point people had questioned if Cloud’s account of the story was fully factual. But here we see Cloud has multiple personalities, and the ghostly disembodied movements match with Sephiroth’s appearances.
Once you exit the Temple, Cloud has another psychotic break and gives the Black Materia to Sephiroth.
The Sleeping Forest Dream
Cloud and Aerith are flying in this dream, is it possible that whenever somebody flies it is a dream? Most likely not, but if Sephiroth could really fly which has been shown a number of times he would have gone straight from Midgar to the Temple, and cut out 75% of his sightings in the game up to this point.
Sephiroth then appears and says “WE must stop that girl soon”. Sounds ominous. It is all getting a little Fight Clubby, but the text is alluding to Cloud and Sephiroth being one in the same.
When you finally track down Aerith, Cloud has another one of his mental breaks and attempts to kill Aerith.
Sephiroth then magically appears out of the sky and kills her. Now, the other two characters who are with you do not react to this. They are NOT present in the cutscenes or the dialogue. They must be off having a tea party or something. But nobody witnesses Aerith’s death and they rely on Cloud’s shonkey recollections.
On top of this, Sephiroth starts a sentence that Jenova finishes when they refer to Cloud as a puppet. It is at this point that your party members see that Aerith is dead. But they assume it was Sephiroth and you fight Jenova, not Sephiroth.
On top of the Mountain
You finally track Sephiroth down at the top of the Gaea/Gaia Cliff inside the Whirlwind Maze and this is where the Sephiroth theory takes its curveball. Here Sephiroth says “You’re right. This is the end of this body’s usefullness”.
When it is revealed that Cloud is not who he says he was Cloud then has his breakdown, and Sephiroth disguises himself as Tifa. He has a story convenient set of powers at this point.
Professor Hojo tells you that Sephiroth died “five years ago“, and that Jenova “moved itself from Midgar“. The keyword being “itself.
So who has been masquerading as Sephiroth? Cloud.
Who killed everyone at Shines HQ? Jenova.
Confirming my earlier theories if we choose to believe Hojo. Unlike Palmer who wants to aide Rufus in domination Hojo WANTS the world to get fucked up. He actually has no reason to lie.
Back in Junon
After Tifa wakes up and Barret fills her in on the last 7 days, Rufus enters the room and declares that Cloud “is Sephiroth’s alter-ego”. Or perhaps,and more likely from what we have learnt so far, Sephiroth is Cloud’s alter-ego.
Finding Cloud in Mideel
While Cloud is catatonic nothing Sephiroth related is mentioned. Bit of a coincidence really.
Piecing Cloud’s mind back together
When you flash back to Tifa and Cloud’s childhood we find that the first time Cloud heard of Sephiroth was not long after him and Tifa getting hurt.
In this flashback it shows Cloud full on stabbing Sephiroth, even with Sephiroth’s supposed power he would bleed out from this. So as President Shinra and Hojo had said all along “Sephiroth died 5 years ago“.
Returning to the Forgotten Capital
When you flash back to Aerith praying at the alter the curscene conveniently leaves out any of the people in attendance including Sephiroth.
Meeting Hojo in Midgar
Professor Hojo still thinks you’re the Sephiroth clone, we have established that Cloud is not and Cloud did really grow up with Tifa as the flashback confirms this.
We find out Hojo is Sephiroth’s father, though you could have discovered this by doing Vincent’s side-quest. Having Vincent during the Hojo encounter doesn’t add any further dialogue/story.
Inside the planet
It is about 20 hours since we last saw Sephiroth and is it really him? It is hard to tell really, you fight Jenova, a Jenova-like Sephiroth in way of Bizarro Sephiroth, then a magical one-winged angel appears. Sephiroth doesn’t have wings, Jenova has wings.
The final Final FINAL fight, then takes places with just Cloud and a humanoid Sephiroth in a dark tunnel shaped room. This feels almost exactly like a PS1 era representation of inside somebodies mind. It also explains why you can’t lose and you have a ready made Omnislash even if you never learnt it because this happens INSIDE Cloud’s head. Cloud has finally beaten his demons and the game ends after various cutscenes.
So what do we know, where is the proof?
Sephiroth is dead. We know this from Professor Hojo, President Shinra, and Rufus, as well as Cloud’s flashback showing Cloud full on stabbing Sephiroth.
Jenova kills everyone in Shinra HQ. This is confirmed by Professor Hojo, and also the fact Cloud and co are accidentally let out. Again, Sephiroth doesn’t know these guys for shit his experience of Cloud was a faceless gimp in a blue uniform.
Rufus suspected Sephiroth had an alter-ego.
Cloud can have out of body experiences as demonstrated in the Temple of Ancients, the Forgotten Capital, and the final final Sephiroth fight.
So there you go. Sephiroth is Cloud, or Cloud is Sephiroth. Half Life 3 confirmed.
The one chink in my theory
There is one chink in the theory, and it is a big one.
The first time you are in Nibleheim there is an optional encounter with Sephiroth in the basement. This is the only time your party see him in a form that isn’t ghostly or displaying super natural powers. If I truly wanted to run down the conspiracy rabbit hole I would try to explain this away. So this one optional scene can torpedo my theory. Sorry for wasting 30 minutes of your life.