- "To live is to give life meaning, yet one must take others' lives to survive... Terra's souls will sleep until they forget such nonsense. They will begin a new life in a new dimension. It's a world in which life and death become one... That is the dimension in which we are meant to live, as beings that transcend life and death!"
(Garland, ガーランド?, lit. "Gārando") is an antagonist in Final Fantasy IX. He works behind the shadows and is first confronted in Terra's Pandemonium, although he is first seen earlier in the game piloting the airship Invincible over Alexandria during its destruction. Before Garland reveals his identity, he is known to the player as Old Man.
- "Life is connected, one to another... If you trace the root of all life, there exists one source. The same can be said for memory. All life constitutes an intelligence that holds memory beyond experience."
- —Garland's voice in Memoria
Garland is an android, who was created by the Terrans to accomplish their plans of "survival" five thousand years before the start of game. Terra had always assimilated other planets to survive and when their world, Terra, was dying, the Terrans were desperately seeking for a fresh, new-born planet to merge with. However, no such planet was found on time and the Terrans made the risky decision to choose the young planet of Gaia to fuse with. The Terrans entrusted Garland with their plans and slept.
Garland attempted to fuse Terra's crystal with Gaia's, but Gaia's crystal rejected the process and the Fusion failed with disastrous results, leaving Gaia's surface in ruin and shifting the world of Terra inside the world of Gaia. Garland transplanted the magical Iifa Tree from Terra on Gaia's surface to oversee the planet's recovery, but it would take thousands of years for Gaia to recover from the disaster.
According to the Final Fantasy IX Ultimania, Garland started creating Genomes around 3000 years prior to the game's events. The Genomes were to be vessels for the Terran souls to live once again once the Fusion would be complete. In order to control the cycle of souls in Gaia, Garland used the Iifa Tree to prevent the Gaian souls from returning to the planet, trapping them within Iifa's roots. Later, Garland constructed the Soul Divider at the Iifa Tree's base that allowed the souls of Terra to flow into Gaia instead. The rejected Gaian souls were expelled through the Iifa Tree's roots to the continent where civilization had taken root and the anguished souls manifested as mist, leading to the continent being known as the Mist Continent. The presence of mist had a hardening effect on the people who had to live among it and, though the people of Mist Continent chose to migrate to higher ground to escape the mist, its presence still brought forth many wars and conflicts, all according to Garland's plan, who wanted to speed up the rate Gaian souls would attempt to return to the planet.
However, after the advent of airships that could fly on mist, the wars that had plagued the Mist Continent suddenly came to a stop and the planet's soul cycle returned to normal. Garland's plan was to construct a Genome with a mind of its own whom he could send to Gaia to incite war and destruction. He named this Genome Kuja and sent him to hasten the Iifa Tree's soul dividing process by killing more Gaians. However, Kuja's role as the Angel of Death was not meant to last due to Garland initially viewing him a failure and Garland had created another Genome, Zidane, to eventually replace him. Kuja, jealous of Zidane, but unaware of his own mortality, kidnapped Zidane and abandoned him in Gaia. Garland, furious at Kuja, banished him from returning to Terra.
The summoners' tribe living in the town of Madain Sari on Gaia had mastered the art of summoning eidolons. Garland, fearing their power, ordered Kuja to destroy the summoners' village. Garland also created another Genome, Mikoto, to replace Zidane, whom he thought was lost. However, when Kuja began his plans to control the eidolons, beginning with Bahamut and Alexander, Garland could no longer tolerate Kuja's rebellion and so traveled to Gaia to stop his subject's schemes. Garland wrested control of the Invincible from Kuja and destroyed both Alexander and the town of Alexandria, leaving Kuja to formulate a new plan involving the power of Trance.
When Zidane arrived in Terra, Garland revealed everything about the purpose of their existence. Zidane refused to accept his destiny as an Angel of Death, so Garland imprisoned him within Pandemonium. However, Zidane's friends managed to convince him that he had control of his own life and together, they confronted Garland on the highest ledge of his fortress. Garland was weakened and as Zidane pressed him for more answers, Kuja arrived exultantly on the Invincible, touting his new soul-driven powers. Rendering the party unconscious with a blast of Ultima, Kuja turned to Garland, intending to gain total control of Terra and Gaia. Garland wearily informed Kuja that his powers would come to nothing and, in a fit of anger, Kuja kicked the old man off Pandemonium's apex down to his death.
However, Garland retains his presence as a formless, omniscient voice and revealed Kuja's mortality, pushing the Genome over the edge. In Memoria, Garland assisted Zidane, the only one who could hear him, with advice about the origins and nature of Gaia, Terra and the crystal: that which is the source of all life. In the void of space just before the entrance to the crystal's inner sanctums, Garland's presence faded away, asking Zidane to protect the crystal. In his last words, Garland expressed no regrets for being created as a savior to a world which would perish by his creation's own hands.
- Main article: Garland (Final Fantasy IX Boss)
The party fights Garland as a boss in Pandemonium.
- Garland is a reference to the antagonist from the original Final Fantasy. The use of the Four Fiends is one of the similarities between the two characters.
- Kuja kicking Garland off the edge of Pandemonium bears a resemblance to an event in Final Fantasy VI where Kefka ejects Gestahl over the edge of the Floating Continent in much the same manner, including the presence of the player party as witnesses, as well as the fact that both Kefka and Kuja are betraying what could best be called their creators and mentors.
- A subtle allusion to Garland is present in Dissidia, when Kuja briefly clashes with Garland in a cutscene. Both Kuja's and Zidane's opening battle quotes to Garland have a level of animosity not explained by the events of Dissidia.
- Garland's role and appearance is similar to another character, Fusoya. Both are caretakers for their sleeping species and are old white bearded men with great magical prowess. They both reside on red Planets/Moons and they also serve very similar roles to the two sibling main characters Cecil Harvey/Golbez and Zidane Tribal/Kuja. He also shares similarities to Zemus as he intends to propagate a planet with his own kind.
- Concept art shows that he was originally going to bear more of a resemblance to Garland from the original Final Fantasy.