Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth ending explained & does Aerith die?

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth ending explained & does Aerith die?
Images via Square Enix

Written by 

Harry Boulton

Published 

1st Mar 2024 14:43

Making sense of the ending in Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth is quite the task - but the question that's certainly on everyone's lips is whether everyone's favourite Ancient Aerith still dies at the end of the game.

The conclusion of Disc One in the original 1997 release has proven to be one of gaming's most iconic moments - and remains still a spoiler for the ages nearly 30 years later, but much of the game's narrative astutely plays on both our own knowledge, and perhaps even the character's awareness of her death, as I strongly praised in our glowing review.

Things aren't always as simple as you'd want them to be though, and Rebirth's desire to play with its own history causes the world to split into various fragments - so if you've just finished and want to make sense of things - or just want to find out what happens to Aerith, make sure to continue reading as I've got all of the answers and my own interpretations below.

SPOILER WARNING: Both Aerith's fate and the ending of Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth are heavily spoiled below. Proceed only if you've finished the game or can't wait to find out what happens, as I reveal all.

Does Aerith die?

While it is true that Aerith does still die at the hands of Sephiroth in the Forgotten Capital, she simultaneously also survives in another timeline that is created as Cloud alters fate.

It is a rather complicated ending that creates multiple new timelines and realities where Aerith's fate is changed. When Cloud breaks through the Whispers and blocks the impending strike of the Masamune, Aerith is 'saved' - but that is but one timeline and we quickly see that Aerith is actually killed shortly after.

From what I infer, Aerith is dead in the 'main' timeline where the rest of the party reside, but she remains 'alive' in another that perhaps only Cloud can access. In the final scene, Cloud and Aerith discuss her return and their 'reunion', so we can only hope that she is not gone forever.

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth ending explained

Understanding the ending to Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth does require knowledge of a number of past games in the FF7 stratosphere, but my wonderful colleague Jack has got you covered with a recap of the events of both Remake and Crisis Core.

Furthermore, Zack's involvement in the game from the very opening scene is crucial to deciphering the ending, so I'll be going over that in addition to all of the events that occur in Chapter 14.

Image of Zack and Aerith in Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth
Click to enlarge

As mentioned, the game opens where Remake ended, but instead of escaping to Kalm, we see our cast of characters injured and potentially dead after the Sector 7 plate collapse. Then Zack rolls up - who was previously very much dead at the end of Crisis Core, and he manages to save both Cloud and Aerith. Critically, we also see Aerith's White Materia as complete within this timeline.

Zack then takes both Aerith and Cloud back to Elmyra's house where they remain unconscious, and Marlene is also there. Within this timeline, the sky is also fractured and the plants are withering away, which signals that the end of the world is very near.

We find out that Biggs, much like Zack, has also escaped death - and it is revealed later on in the game that both are 'saved' by strange white Whispers. These same Whispers also appear to fight back against the standard grey versions when Tifa is within the heart of the WEAPON in Gongaga.

It is never explicitly revealed what or who these Whispers are, but I infer them to be an extension of both the Planet and Aerith herself. We understand the original grey Whispers to be the 'arbiters of fate' that have repeatedly stopped the timeline of this Remake trilogy from going in a different direction.

These are most likely manifestations of Sephiroth, keeping everyone on the right track so that he can obtain the Black Materia, kill Aerith - the last remaining Ancient - and call upon Meteor to destroy the world. White Materia, then, is the Planet and the Ancients fighting back against destiny to carve a new fate. Saving Zack and Biggs is a key part of this.

Image of Aerith holding the clear White Materia in Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth
Click to enlarge

Another critical moment within the game is in Costa del Sol when Aerith shows Red XIII a clear and empty ball of Materia that we can only presume to formerly hold the all-important White Materia. She questions why it is empty - and this plays a huge part in the closing moments of Rebirth.

Skipping forward to Chapter 13 and Temple of the Ancients, we see Sephiroth capture the Black Materia as it rolls away from the party. He claims that "This is the key… which grants access to the true counterpart hidden between worlds." Previously when Barret and Cloud are fighting over the Black Materia, Aerith claims that there's "no point in fighting over a fake", so from this I infer that the 'real' Black Materia is hidden in another world and the one in this timeline is simply just a means to unlock other realities.

Image of Sephiroth holding the Black Materia in Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth
Click to enlarge

All of this is centred around the notion of 'reunion' - the reunion of worlds, of people, of realities that allow Sephiroth to bring an end to the Planet and start anew. Cloud and Aerith are then sent tumbling into the depths and 'wake up' back in Elmyra's house where we have seen Zack previously.

Image of Cloud and Aerith being sent into the lifestream at the end of Chapter 13 in Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth
Click to enlarge

Aerith tells Cloud to think of this as 'her dream', and they go on a date, taking them to a number of different places and eventually back to the church. Aerith then gives Cloud her White Materia and claims that "This isn't about me though. It's about saving the world - and you." She then creates a portal into the lifestream and pushes Cloud into it, and as Cloud is falling we see Sephiroth emerge through the doors behind Aerith.

I can only presume that Aerith dies within this isolated timeline, but in giving the White Materia - which casts Holy and counteracts the Black Materia's Meteor - to Cloud, Aerith keeps the hope of saving the world alive and stops Sephiroth's attempts to gain full control over destiny.

Image of Aerith in the church in Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth
Click to enlarge

It is then within the lifestream that Sephiroth somewhat explains the nature of things. He details that in breaching the boundaries of fate - which occurred at the end of Remake - new realities are born. The Planet houses a 'multitude of worlds' outside of the one that we know, but not all are destined to endure. In essence, Sephiroth aims to use Meteor to unite the different worlds within the Planet, but in doing this they will all be destroyed.

Cloud then ends up in the Sleeping Forest, and meets up with Aerith once again. She states that Sephiroth has to be stopped by a Cetra, and takes the White Materia from Cloud, giving him the clear White Materia in return. He then becomes engulfed by the white Whispers, and wakes up once again in the Sleeping Forest - but this time in the 'main' timeline with the rest of the party.

Image of the Forgotten Capital in Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth
Click to enlarge

We then reach the Forgotten Capital where Aerith resides, and Cloud manages to break through the barrier of grey Whispers and break into the Planet's Sanctuary. He sees Aerith praying in the centre, and Sephiroth's blade coming down onto her like in the original game.

He manages to break free from the Whispers' restraint and clash his sword against Sephiroth's Masamune. Critically the sparks we see from this clash are the same rainbow light we see within the lifestream, as in its prismatic nature we see one light or reality enter and several new worlds splinter off.

Image of Cloud looking up at Sephiroth in Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth
Click to enlarge

Cloud manages to send the Masamune flying and save Aerith, but mere moments later we see a green flash and blood running across the ground, revealing that Aerith has indeed died. Her White Materia then goes flying into the water, and Aerith, in Cloud's arms, appears to be alive again, speaking to Cloud and touching his face.

We then see a number of flashes and realities appear to switch, with Aerith both alive and dead across both. Sephiroth then claims that "it begins, the confluence of worlds" - alluding towards the split nature of reality where loss is at the heart. He concludes that Cloud will "never see the truth with such clouded eyes" - but what is the truth indeed?

You'll then fight the final boss which evolves between Jenova Lifeclinger, Sephiroth, and then Sephiroth Reborn. Across the course of the fight you'll reunite with both Zack and Aerith, but be separated from Zack as he is once again sent into a separate reality by Sephiroth.

The fight ends with Cloud and Aerith together, as she fades seemingly back into the lifestream and Zack himself slipping into the lifestream too just before Meteor hits the world.

Returning to the Planet's Sanctuary, the party surrounds Aerith lying dead on the floor, but then Cloud - alone and engulfed by white Whispers - tells Aerith to wake up, which she does.

In subsequent scenes only Cloud can see Aerith - although there is a moment in the final scene where Red XIII appears to feel her presence - indicating that she is probably not just a projection of Cloud's own delusions.

While it is very much unresolved and largely left up to interpretation at this point, what I take from this is that in falling into the lifestream as Sephiroth unlocked the convergence between worlds at the end of Chapter 13, both Aerith and Cloud exist simultaneously across all realities.

Aerith is indeed killed by Sephiroth in the Forgotten Capital - and likely perishes to him in the church too - but remains alive in one timeline or at least in the lifestream itself. Cloud is able to see and converge with Aerith as he too exists beyond the constraints of one world, and the same is true for both Zack and Sephiroth.

Before the Tiny Bronco takes off in the final scene Cloud asks Aerith if she'll 'be OK getting back', and she replies that wherever she is is 'like a second home'. This certainly seems to indicate that she is somewhere, and we'll hopefully see their reunion in the third part.

As for the Black and White Materia, the final scene sees Cloud pull out the clear White Materia that Aerith gave to him, but putting it back into his pocket seems to turn it into the Black Materia. This could very well be the 'true' Black Materia that was hidden 'between worlds', as Sephiroth states in Chapter 13. As the White Materia exists in this current timeline - albeit lost in the water of the Forgotten Capital -  it perhaps creates space for the true Black Materia to take form.

Much is left up in the air before we see how everything unfolds in the third and final chapter of the Remake trilogy though, but that is how I interpret the ending of Rebirth and the fate and current status of Aerith in the timeline.

If you've finished the game and want to go back for the Platinum Trophy then make sure you get the 7th Infantry trophy with our guide, alongside all of the different romance options for the Ferris Wheel date, and all of the Card Carnival solutions too. For everything else and all the tips you'll need though, there's no better place than our dedicated Final Fantasy homepage.

Harry is a Guides Writer at GGRecon, having completed a Masters of Research degree in Film Studies. Previously a freelance writer for PCGamesN, The Loadout, and Red Bull Gaming, he loves playing a wide variety of games from the Souls series to JRPGs, Counter-Strike, and EA FC. When not playing or writing about games and hardware, you're likely to find him watching football or listening to Madonna and Kate Bush.

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