The afterlife refers to the concept of continued existence after the death of one's body. Various concepts of afterlife as well as literal realms of afterlife appear in the Final Fantasy series. One's existence in an afterlife in the series can be physical or transcendental, and many concepts seen as nebulous in the real world gain a corporeal existence in Final Fantasy, such as life essence or souls appearing as physical matter that mortals can apprehend and interact with. The worlds' life energy is often represented by crystals.
Afterlife is in contrast to oblivion after death. Barring one's entrance to the afterlife is a recurring story element in the series, sometimes as a result of the souls being a form of corporeal matter in the world, and people either knowingly or unwittingly using said matter for purposes unintended by nature. One's continued existence often takes place in a spiritual realm that may or may not have geographical continuity with the mortal world. Other worlds have a cycle of reincarnation, most notably the Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy games. The planes of afterlife can be part of the natural order of things, or be determined by deities.
Kluya is a Lunarian from the Red Moon who became interested in the Earth, and settled there. He fell in love with a human named Cecilia and fathered two children, brought with him the Lunar Whale space ship, and taught mankind technology and magic. Kluya was killed by a rival faction of villagers who disagreed with his teachings, but his spirit continues have an effect on the mortal realm. A mysterious light appears when Kluya's son, Cecil Harvey, undergoes the trials of Mount Ordeals to become a Paladin, calling him "my son".
Some time after Cecil and his friends save the world, Kain Highwind trains on Mt. Ordeals and hears Kluya's voice calling to him. Kain battles and loses to his mirror self, and the mirrored chamber is shattered as Dark Kain escapes to the outside world. In Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, when Golbez and Fusoya pray for the Lunar Whale to come to the Red Moon, Kluya prays with them. Later, Kain again confronts his dark side and this time defeats him. Kluya transforms Kain into a Holy Dragoon in recognition of his trials.
Kluya's ultimate fate is unknown—when Porom enters the mirrored chamber at Mount Ordeals, Kluya paradoxically tells her "I... am about to fade... But my spirit...will never be extinguished".
Another example of the dead apprehending the living is when Anna's spirit appears to Edward Chris von Muir. She was his lover who had taken the arrows meant for Edward. After Rosa Joanna Farrell recovers from Desert Fever, Edward goes to play his harp near the oasis in Kaipo, but ends up fighting a sahagin. Anna's ghost appears and tells Edward to believe in himself and be strong. She disappears after Edward defeats the sahagin, telling him to give his love for her to the world.
In Final Fantasy IV: The After Years Anna's spirit appears with her father Tellah's in Kaipo. Tellah tells Edward that Anna wants him to find happiness. After the heroes again save the world, Anna and Tellah's spirits are seen by Edward, who thanks them.
After Galuf Halm Baldesion passes away his spirit uses the power of the Guardian Tree to speak to his granddaughter Krile Mayer Baldesion, telling her to fight in his stead. He assures her that he will always be in her heart and grants her his strength and abilities, and Krile succeeds Galuf as a Warrior of Light.
Galuf's spirit keeps assisting the party by contacting Krile. When the party faces Neo Exdeath Galuf and the other Warriors of Dawn, along with King Tycoon, aid the Light Warriors escape the Interdimensional Rift. If anybody falls in the final battle, Galuf restores them to the world of the living when the Light Warriors later visit the Guardian Tree.
Exdeath's existence is that of a collection of evil spirits that have become sentient and gained a corporeal body. After the malicious warlock-king Enuo was defeated and the Void was sealed away, humans turned to an alternative solution to purge their land of corruption and terror. The Great Forest of Moore provided a solitary prison for these malevolent souls, and they were sealed within a tree. The various souls made the tree self-aware, and it assumed a humanoid form, a being as evil as the many souls that had spawned him. The exact nature of these spirits is unknown, however.
Sabin, Cyan and Shadow accidentally board the Phantom Train and work their way to the front to stop it so they can get off. They find the train inhabited by ghosts. When they attempt to stop the engine, they discover it is sentient. The engine attacks them, but is defeated, and so allows them to get off at the next stop. When they disembark, Cyan is anguished as he witnesses his deceased wife and son board the train along with the other victims of the destruction of Doma Castle.
The Lifestream is an ethereal substance that streams beneath the surface of the planet of Gaia. It contains Gaia's essence and the memories, emotions, and knowledge of all who have lived on it. Portions of the Lifestream are believed to be used to create new life on the planet, and the energy of a person returns to the planet when they die. Lifestream acts as an afterlife for the conscious spirits of the planet's inhabitants. Certain souls remain sentient after having returned to the planet, and gain control of the Lifestream, becoming able to affect the physical plane from within it, and even able to communicate with those still living. Those who die and hold a resilient will and attachment to the living world in a place of negative disposition can return as ghosts and evil spirits.
The Shinra Electric Power Company devised a way to refine the Lifestream into an electricity supplier, erecting Mako Reactors around the world to extract the energy from under the planet's crust. Shinra calls this energy source "Mako". Refining Lifestream into energy destroys the very life essence of the world, and thus the world is facing an ecological disaster.
The Promised Land is a quasi-mythical location believed to hold infinite amounts of Mako deposits and is part of the Cetra legend. The Cetra were a race who traveled the planet, healing and cultivating it, and at the end of their journey would find the Promised Land, a land of supreme happiness. It appears the Cetra's Promised Land isn't a physical location, but what the Cetra called the act of returning to the planet at the life's end: joining the Lifestream and becoming one with the planet.
In a scene both humorous and macabre, the player can find ghosts of the patrons of the Sector 7 slums' Beginner's Hall at the Beginner's Hall in Upper Junon. They say they couldn't return to the planet before fully understanding Cloud's teachings. Another ghostly encounter is at the Sector 5 Church.
Existence of an afterlife is not spoken of much, but the party can feel the presence of a ghost in the Winhill pub, and the woman who lives there claims that "spirits lurk within its walls." In Tomb of the Unknown King, the party will meet the king's ghost who talks about journeying to the "next world".
The souls of living beings and their physical bodies exist as separate entities, thus allowing one's soul to persist after the demise of one's body, and even for the souls to be given a new body. The reverse can also happen with the creation of "soulless" beings. The souls are the true power everyone holds inside, as souls can enter Trance, empowering the person to supernatural level. Crystals reside at the centers of planets and are the source of all life; all life is born from them, and souls return to them upon death. As the memories of living beings accumulate inside the crystals, the planets grow. The crystal gives birth to new life on the planet, thus establishing a cycle of reincarnation. There is thus no specific plane of afterlife, but one's memories persist after their physical body dies.
The inhabitants of the ancient planet of Terra pursue immorality, and their souls rest in stasis while their avatar in the world, Garland, puts forth the plan to make the young planet of Gaia into a new Terra, with the Terran souls being given new bodies. Garland constructs soulless Genomes at Bran Bal for this purpose.
Garland tampered with the soul cycle and placed a soul divider around the crystal that stops the Gaian souls from returning to it, and replaces them with Terran souls, so that Gaia would in time turn into a new Terra. The discarded souls manifest as Mist, a malevolent energy that breeds monsters. Queen Brahne sets up a factory that uses the Mist to create black mages, living dolls that are considered soulless.
Zidane Tribal, a Genome who unlike most of his brethren was created with a soul, embarks on a journey to save Gaia with the friends he makes along the way. Though the black mages and most of the Genomes are considered "soulless", it is implied that the nature of souls is more complex than Garland perhaps understands. Though Vivi Ornitier is a black mage, he is sentient and can enter Trance. His lifespan is fixed, but during his final soliloquy it is implied his memories have returned to the planet, which would mean he has a soul like any other being. Garland also tries to remove Zidane's soul to make him into a soulless vessel, but fails. The Genomes at Bran Bal claim their lives will forever be incomplete if they are not given a soul, and claim to have no ambitions of their own. Yet, after they move to Gaia, Mikoto implies that the Genomes have potential to be more than just soulless vessels. After Kuja kills Garland, he remains as an omnipresent voice that will guide the party through Memoria, but cannot follow them to the Crystal World.
The Farplane is an underworld in the inside of Spira. The Farplane is a gathering place for the dead whose spirits enter the Farplane either after they have been sent by one like a summoner or a sender, or have accepted their death. Those not sent to the Farplane remain as the unsent or fiends, both types able to send themselves by fulfilling a purpose they have failed to do in life.
The Farplane has geographical continuity with the rest of Spira, and can be visited by the living through an entrance at Guadosalam. Farplane is abundant in pyreflies that react to the visitors' memories to conjure an image of only a dead person. The exact nature of the Farplane was not completely understood by the inhabitants of Spira.
It is implied that those of the Kiltia faith believe in an afterlife, as in Prince Rasler's funeral the priest who reads the funeral rites asks for the Great Father to guide Rasler's body's return to the earth, and to guide his spirit's return to "the Mother of All" where he shall find peace.
Prince Rasler's widow, Princess Ashe, begins to see visions of his ghost during her quest to reclaim her kingdom. She believes he is guiding her from beyond the grave. At the top of the Pharos however, she realizes the apparition is but a fake created by the Occuria to manipulate her, and accepts that Rasler is gone forever.
The Occuria consider themselves the gods of Ivalice, although it is implied they originate from Ivalice themselves. The Occuria have transcended to live in an otherworldly dimension that appears as a celestial plane when Ashe visits them. The Occuria cannot die, but appear to have a diminished ability to directly interact with the mortal plane, as even Venat, who has descended to Ivalice, possesses others to achieve its goals. The Occuria call themselves The Undying.
Anima is the part of a person's soul that allows them to feel emotion. It could be seen as the essence of a person, as without anima one becomes a husk of their former self. The aegyls' stolen anima gives birth to Yarhi in the floating continent of Lemures, who live in an illusory world. This shadowy existence is not a true afterlife, however, but more like a prison.
The aegyl god that wants to destroy Ivalice, Feolthanos, tricked Mydia by promising to resurrect her dead love, Velis. In reality he used her anima to create an illusion with Velis's form, and Mydia was possessed by Feolthanos's will and became the Judge of Wings. The party meets this Velis in the World of Illusion, the realm of the Yarhi. Before he transforms into the Yarhi Odin, Velis explains the relationship between anima and Yarhi: summoning Yarhi requires the summoner to surrender a piece of their anima, and surrendered anima that is tainted with evil becomes a beast. The illusion of Velis wants the party to destroy him so that Mydia can regain some of her stolen anima.
The unseen realm is a the realm of afterlife in Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy series. It forms one half of the universe, where nothing has form, and is the natural location and source of chaos. Valhalla acts as a stepping stone between it and the visible realm, the land of the living where humans and the fal'Cie exist. The unseen realm is the place where the souls of the dead, both humans and deities, reside. The exact nature and appearance of the unseen realm is not defined as nothing has physical form there. In Valhalla, time does not exist, and it therefore has no past, nor any future. The entire span of time can be seen from Valhalla, letting its few residents gain insight to every era and every different timeline. It is said that when the seeress of the Farseers gazes into the future, Valhalla is at the heart of the vision.
The souls exist in a cycle of reincarnation, and do not simply stay in the unseen realm indefinitely. When a human dies their soul passes through the gate to the afterlife said to be operated by the goddess Etro, into the chaos of the unseen realm where it awaits its turn in the reincarnation process. When a human is alive the soul is "stored" within their heart. Souls that fail to "make it" to the other side get trapped in the chaos. In Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII they can emerge from Chaos infusions as soul seeds. Some have tried to tamper with the seeds, but the results have been disastrous. The souls trapped in the chaos still remain their individuality as long as the living remember them. This works both ways; were the souls in the chaos destroyed, the living would forget the dead ever existed. Existence in the chaos is said to perpetual anguish.
During the events of Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, the chaos of the unseen realm breaks into the visible realm, destroying the border between the two. Eventually, within the centuries, this realm is destroyed as well, with its remains sucked into a newly created unseen realm.
In Final Fantasy XIII: Reminiscence -tracer of memories-, Aoede glimpses the new unseen realm during her near-death experience, mentioning a sea of dark water where the souls fade. Caius Ballad and the various incarnations of seeress Paddra Nsu-Yeul now reside in the unseen realm to oversee world balance, and shepherd the souls to be either reincarnated, or lie at rest if the soul wishes not to be reborn.
Final Fantasy XV started development as Final Fantasy Versus XIII and part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis subseries. The kingdom of Lucis worshiped the Grim Reaper and the goddess of death, Etro. Those who had had a near-death experience were said to have gained supernatural powers from the Kingdom of the Dead.
In the final game, the living monarch of Lucis gains power from the afterlife by wielding the combined powers of their ancestors with the Ring of the Lucii. The spirits of the dead pass to another realm, but the kings of Lucis stay linked to the mortal realm via the ring. The afterlife realm may be linked to the Crystal.
When Lunafreya Nox Fleuret dies, she speaks to Noctis Lucis Caelum in a dream world. The field of sylleblossoms the dream takes place in disintegrates and Luna sinks into a blue abyss with black mist rising from the bottom. Luna promises to always look over Noctis. When on the train through imperial territory, Noctis hallucinates her presence that disappears when he reaches out to her, possibly indicating Luna is supporting him from the beyond.
When Noctis finds the Crystal, he is absorbed inside it. He meets the astral Bahamut who tells him the Crystal holds the "soul of the star" and tells him of his destiny as the True King. Noctis learns he, as the culmination of the Lucian kings' bloodline, can save Eos from Starscourge—a malady that engulfs the world in darkness and turns humans into daemons—by defeating Ardyn Izunia. Ardyn is Noctis's immortal ancestor who once fought Starscourge, but as he saved people his own soul became corrupted. The magical Crystal the kings of Lucis are sworn to protect chose another king in Ardyn's stead, and the afterlife rejects him due to his corrupted soul. He thus continues a shadowy existence for millennia, unable to die.
The Crystal appears to be linked to the realm of the afterlife. After Noctis is pulled inside it, he meets Bahamut in a void bathed in light. After he dies and meets Ardyn's spirit in the "beyond", he is also in a glimmering void, but whether the two are one and the same is unknown. In past Final Fantasy games people's souls have returned to the planet's crystal, but the nature of the afterlife in Final Fantasy XV is ambiguous. It is possible that this is the realm where the astrals reside, considering Noctis meets Bahamut here, and the astrals are shown to have a transient existence in Eos, able to vanish and reappear elsewhere, able to appear different forms, and able to return in a new body even if their corporeal body is killed.
To fulfill the prophecy, Noctis kills Ardyn as a mortal, and then summons the past kings of Lucis whose spirits in turn kill him. Noctis's spirit joins the past kings, and he finds Ardyn in a void where they destroy him for good. After Noctis dies, the Lucis Caelum dynasty ends and the Ring of the Lucii disintegrates. The kings' lineage no longer has a connection to the mortal realm. Luna and Noctis appear on the throne of Lucis amid glimmering soul crystals and sylleblossom petals while being apprehended by King Regis's voice. While it could be taken to represent the afterlife, the Final Fantasy XV Ultimania posits it is deliberately ambiguous for players to make their own interpretation.
Images of Noctis's friends and his father appear alongside him when he faces Ardyn in the void. Whether this means Gladiolus, Ignis and Prompto have also passed to the afterlife, or whether they appear because they are connected to Noctis due to the "bonding of the souls" that lets them wield some of Noctis's powers and still support him from the mortal realm, is unknown. The last time Noctis sees his friends in person is at the steps outside the Citadel where he tells them to walk tall and take care of the rest.
As part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis series games, human souls entering the afterlife via a gate operated by Etro is part of the lore, although the normal cycle appears disrupted in Final Fantasy Type-0. The souls of Orience are stuck in an endless spiral until the deities that use them will find Agito. Orience is governed by four Crystals who erase the memories of the dead from the living, but where the souls end up in is unclear. Class Zero are able to harvest phantoma from the dead, which is said to be the life essence of living beings.
Crystals brand l'Cie to be their avatars in the world. When the l'Cie has fulfilled his or her purpose, they enter crystal stasis, which traps their soul to the mortal plane. Living can still remember sublimated l'Cie, suggesting that they are not dead, but merely in stasis, although mortals have various theories as to how the Crystals' memory erasure actually works. Arecia Al-Rashia, Class Zero's adoptive mother, can revive her cadets when they die.
The spiral is orchestrated by Arecia and Gala, divine servants to the gods Pulse and Lindzei. Arecia lives in the mortal plane as the archsorceress of the Dominion of Rubrum. She created Class Zero to use their powerful souls to force Etro's gate to open, as per the gods' plan to reach the unseen realm. This becomes known in the legends of Orience as Agito. Gala meanwhile sends his Rursan Reavers to slaughter everyone when Tempus Finis begins to release the souls of all Oriencians. After both fail to reveal the gate, Arecia resets the world and prepares for the next experiment. The two continue for 600,104,972 spirals until Arecia is convinced to end the experiment. Whether either Arecia's or Gala's method would actually work to reveal the gate is unknown, as the spiral revolves over 600 million times without result.
Tempus Finis is the time when Orience faces destruction. Etro's gate is the barrier between the mortal world and the unseen realm, and is said to be found only by the deceased on their way to the other side. Pandæmonium is the land of judgment that appears during Tempus Finis where the Rursan Arbiter is to judge whether any of the souls sent to undertake his trials is the Agito. It is possible that those who die during Tempus Finis have their souls, or some essence of their souls, trapped in Pandæmonium forever, as voices of Class Zero's past can be heard in many of its hallways, confused, scared, and crying out for help. Though Class Zero has faced Tempus Finish many times before, they always died and failed to become Agito.
In the final spiral, the cadets again head for Pandæmonium as Cid Aulstyne becomes the Rursan Arbiter. The cadets fail Cid's final trial and are stricken down, but yet continue and pass through the fiery depiction of Etro's gate at the top of the sanctuary. They find Cid amid a pool of red liquid in a void-like dimension. This could allude to passing through the gate to the afterlife, but also could be be allegorical rather than literal. The cadets engage Cid in his Rursan Arbiter form but are killed. Machina and Rem's crystal revives the cadets by transferring their power to the rest of Class Zero, and they kill Cid and thus stall Tempus Finis, but afterward perish themselves, mysteriously finding themselves back home for their final moments.
Arecia listens to the cadets' souls and learns they don't want to be revived. Although not directly stated, it is possible the cadets want to pass through Etro's gate and find their way to the afterlife as is the natural order of things. Arecia restores Machina and Rem to life from their crystal stasis and decides to allow the two and the rest of Orience to remember the dead. Arecia abandons her search for Etro's gate and leaves Orience, and the spiral ends.