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Exdeath

While he has never been particularly popular as far as Final Fantasy villains go, Exdeath from Final Fantasy V earns his place in history as that series' first great villain. Earlier Final Fantasy villains tended to be come out of nowhere and only introduced themselves right before the heroes smashed them into the pavement, but Exdeath changes all of that, and later villains like Kefka and Sephiroth thrived by taking a few pages from his playbook.

Starting from the very first dungeon of the game, Exdeath personally shows up at almost every turn to taunt the heroes right before he does something that pushes the world one step closer to total destruction. In the meantime, he does everything a dark lord could hope to do. He possesses royalty, smashes apart the magic crystals that hold the world together, throws the heroes into the dungeon beneath his ridiculously oversized castle, commands his fan-favorite lieutenant to conquer the world in his name, unleashes hordes of ancient monsters, and even gains control of limitless power and uses it to destroy half the world while the heroes watch on helplessly. He is present at almost every major moment in the game, and works wonderfully as a villain simply by being competent and threatening.

Of course, Exdeath is a little lacking in personality, but that is understandable given that he is one of the few evil overlords who is capable of photosynthesis. He may take on the form of a man clad from head to toe in elaborate armor, but he is actually a tree that was transformed into a monster after being used to seal away countless evil spirits. It is an unusual story without a doubt, and it does a lot to keep him from being lost in the crowd of enigmatic, armor-clad evil overlords who wield powerful magic. — Nathan Schlothan

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