- “But I will be reborn once more. So even as you die, again and again, I shall return. Born again in this endless cycle I have created!”
Chaos (カオス, Kaosu?) is the antagonist and the final boss of the original Final Fantasy. He is an incarnation of Garland occurring 2,000 years prior to the majority of the plot of Final Fantasy. The Warriors of Light travel to the past and discover Garland there. He transforms into Chaos and attacks, but is ultimately defeated.
2,000 years later, he becomes a rogue knight and kidnaps the princess of Cornelia with the intention of exchanging her life for the kingdom. However, his plot is foiled by the Warriors of Light, who seemingly kill him while rescuing the princess in the ruined Chaos Shrine. Before he dies, the Four Elemental Fiends of the past summon him 2,000 years back in time. When he reaches the past, he sends them the present to cause mass destruction. These actions create a time-loop that allow Garland to live forever and become Chaos at some point.
The Warriors of Light return to the ruined Chaos Shrine to use the restored Crystals to travel two thousand years into the past, where they meet Garland who remembers them, transforming through the powers of the Fiends to become Chaos and exact his revenge. He is defeated by the Warriors of Light, breaking the time loop that sustained him, thus ending his threat. As the Warriors return to their time, it is stated during the game's ending that Garland waits for them, confirming that he still exists as he had before the time loop.
- Main article: Chaos (Boss)
Chaos is always fought as the last boss of the game. While in the NES version he just used the standard battle theme, later editions would give him his own music, as well as increasing the difficulty of the fight.
- Main article: Chaos (Final Fantasy)/Dissidia
Chaos makes an appearance in Dissidia Final Fantasy as the God of Discord and the main antagonist. He summons villains from other universes in order to defeat Cosmos, who has summoned heroes to fight Chaos's forces, in a cycle of war that seemingly has no end. Elements of his original back story, specifically those pertaining to his relation to Garland, are retained, though he is not aware of them. Garland, who actually represents Final Fantasy in the crossover game, is aware of the time travel events and informs Chaos of them shortly before both fell to Cosmos's warriors.
Chaos's history is revealed extensively through the Cosmos Reports and Chaos Reports, which are expanded on by more Reports in Dissidia 012. Chaos is a manikin created by Onrac researchers and Cid of the Lufaine to be used as a weapon of war against other nations. Raised by Cid and his wife until he matured, Chaos was taken away by the Onrac military at a later time, and a manikin of his mother, Cosmos, is used to coerce him into obeying. When Cid and his wife attempt to rescue Chaos, his mother is shot, and in his hatred Chaos opens a portal to the Interdimensional Rift, which draws him, Cid and Cosmos into World B, where the events of Dissidia and Dissidia 012 take place.
In this new world, the three are met by Garland, and eventually Cid makes a deal with Shinryu that Chaos and Cosmos will war to perfect Chaos's power, at which point they will return home to seek revenge on Onrac. However, Chaos's memories fade over time, and by the time of Dissidia 012 his memories of his past with Cid and Cosmos are gone, the only fragments left coming to him in dreams.
Dissidia and Dissidia 012 give conflicting explanations for Chaos and his relation to Garland, particularly since the backstory for Chaos revealed in the Reports conflicts heavily with the story of Chaos's creation in Final Fantasy. In one such Report, Garland thinks that he is destined to become Chaos, but in the same report refers to the Dissidia incarnation as a monster and thinks "I shall give a name to this beast one day". Thus the Dissidia Chaos and the Final Fantasy Chaos do not appear to be the same being.
In a cutscene in both games Garland tells Chaos that before Cid called him to World B to take part in the cycles, Chaos sent him back in time 2000 years to become Chaos himself. As the cutscenes of the original Dissidia were unchanged for Dissidia 012, it may be that this cutscene's revelations were retconned by the Reports and are no longer canon, or that Garland's memories are distorted as is stated to happen with other characters, but the truth is uncertain.
Chaos is returning as the God of Discord in this prequel to Dissidia Final Fantasy along with all his previous warriors from the game. A bestial form of Chaos, Feral Chaos, is also introduced as a playable character. This incarnation of Chaos is the result of Chaos when he goes insane and berserk after winning too many times against Cosmos in a dark nightmare world Cid is imprisoned in by Shinryu. When five warriors mysteriously manifest in this nightmare world, they destroy Feral Chaos, shattering the nightmare world and freeing Cid. As he dies, Feral Chaos regains his senses, and thanks the five warriors for freeing his father.
- “Chaos's true name is Garland, the same who was defeated by the Warriors of Light. Retreating in time, he sends copies of himself into the future to change his fate. Destroy Chaos to free the world.”
- —Chaos's CollectaCard
Chaos appears as the "final boss" in Theatrhythm Final Fantasy. He is fought after accumulating 10,000 Rhythmia. The song for this Battle Music Stage (BMS) is an arranged version of the Chaos Shrine Theme, which can also be heard in the menus for the Chaos Shrine section of the game.
Chaos appears in Final Fantasy Airborne Brigade.
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Chaos appears as a card in the Final Fantasy Trading Card Game. He is depicted in his Dissidia Final Fantasy, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy and Yoshitaka Amano artworks.
- Chaos is often remembered for his noteworthy death animation, which showed him being disintegrated after he is defeated, a somewhat innovative phenomenon in games for the NES. This style of death was repeated for final bosses of future games in the series, including Neo Exdeath in Final Fantasy V, Kefka in Final Fantasy VI, and Safer∙Sephiroth in Final Fantasy VII. However, this pattern was discontinued in Final Fantasy VIII where Ultimecia was shown convulsing in a circular fashion and then vanishing in a form resembling static interference. It was revived as the death scene for Yu Yevon and the Weapon-type fiends in Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2.
- Chaos's demonic appearance may have been based on Gustave Doré's illustrations of Satan (Devil or Lucifer) from John Milton's Paradise Lost.
- The "copies" his CollectaCard mentions are likely the Four Fiends, since they were beings produced by Garland's hatred; it may be a mistranslation as well, since in Japan the Fiends are known as "Chaoses", which could lead to a misunderstanding by the translation team.