Clive’s alive at the end of Final Fantasy XVI | Explained

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  1. I genuinely enjoyed reading this. It’s very well written and explained very well. I personally want Clive to have lived however, the profound nature of his death would be cheapened somewhat, I would think. Sacrifice is so much in line with his character and seeing as he’s been a tragic hero the entire narrative it makes sense that he is for sure deceased. However, I’m wondering how the new journey stated at the end will occur if Clive is dead. Maybe Jill is pregnant? Maybe Clive isn’t dead? Maybe it’s just a completely new character that has some connection to Cid, Clive, Joshua, or Jill. We’ll know eventually but what I do know is that I immensely enjoyed this game.

    • I would like to point out that while Clive may have been a tragic hero but it was almost always presented Joshua as sickly and close to death while Clive had a life to look forward too.

      I do however love the author’s point that the style of gameplay changes how you view the ending, from bittersweet sacrifice if you did nothing while if you did everything it’s arguably a hopeful ending. If it was intentionally designed that way I would have even more respect for the creators, and I can honestly believe it too now.

    • Noah! Thank you. And, yeah, there’s that duality there of the heroic sacrifice for the greater good and how fitting that is but also Clive’s will being so strong and his connection to everyone he cares about being so strong that it helps him overcome the need to sacrifice. Which is kind of what Joshua was telling him for the last quarter of the game.

      If he is gone, then I’d imagine, as you said, it’s some character with a connection. A descendent of someone is the most obvious thing to do. I honestly kept waiting for some connection to Ivalice and that this was the same world that FF Tactics and XII take place. I don’t think that will be the case but I was waiting lol.

  2. It wouldn’t be the first time Clive took up somebody’s name as his alias. As a counter point to the Joshua counterpoint Clive may have just been trying to see if he could revive him or paying respects to his body, also while Clive may have been a tragic hero Joshua was always been portrayed as very sickly even close to death.

    I would also like to point out as somebody else did wolves don’t howl in mourning but to find their pack but whine and moan in sadness.

    Lastly the curse was only on his arm that still used a bit of magic before it tapered off this same arm was being used when casting Ultima’s power We didn’t see it on any other body part (well only face and ches visible) but he appeared to only check his hand, and the golden rule: no body/death show no proof of death it’s not an explicit ending like FF10

    Btw I heard that 25 years ago people argued in chatrooms about the ending of Fina Fantasy 7 wether humanity survived Holy or not, ending with the sequel movie showing they all survived

    • This would for sure be a great one to make a follow up movie too, tho the whole thing is already almost one tbh. I love this game, can’t wait for my NG+ play through

    • Hunter, hey! Yeah, that’s a great point. Taking up an alias is kind of something he does.

      That’s a good call about wolf habits. My only counter there would be: did the team making the game know that? I could see them just going with the howl because it’s dramatic and fits the tone, and not necessarily caring/knowing that the howl isn’t something done in mourning. Or they might know that and made that choice because of it. If I ever get a chance to interview them lol.

      Yeah, the golden rule holds pretty firmly here!

      I wasn’t on the chatrooms 25 years ago, but I did play a lot of FF7 when it came out. And, yeah, I absolutely remember people thinking humanity may not have survived. It didn’t help that a lot of people didn’t watch the after credits scene with Nanaki. YouTube wasn’t a thing either so it’s not like people could easily go watch it if they missed it. So the rumor came about because you had people who didn’t see the after credits scene so weren’t sure if the world survived, much less humanity. Then you had people who saw it but weren’t sure humanity survived because it only showed Nanaki and his kids and not humans and the broken down Midgar. I always thought humans survived but it was just showing that they no longer needed to live in a place like Midgar. That there was a return to living more in-line with the land.

  3. An amazing analogy Chris, it’s great to see soooo many people believe in this. As Vivian said “the more people believe in it, belief begets truth”. Also the last line of the game wrote “but when one journey ends…”
    That’s sth to hold on to as well.

    • Thank you! And, yeah, that last line is definitely something to hold on to.

  4. He fought Ultima alone . And was able to pen down the details in the book . Think about it .

    • The only caveat there is we don’t know what’s in the book. If we saw a page and it had exactly what happened, sure. But it could just be a dramatized second-hand account of what happened based on previous stories of Clive’s encounters with Ultima. I’m not saying it is that, just that because we don’t know what’s in the book I don’t want to assume.

  5. Loved reading this! Another option would be that both brothers survived and Clive dictated the story while Joshua wrote it. (Particularly since Joshua seems way more bookish than Clive ever did, regardless of what Harpocrates wished, haha! And Joshua wouldn’t be stuck on a sick-bed recovering from an arm amputation, so he’d have to keep Clive entertained somehow!)

    On my first playthrough I felt the symbolism really strongly pointed to Joshua surviving. Among “full-circle” themes, Clive’s absolute devotion to Joshua and wish to protect/save him is a really powerful one. How could he ever have a happily-ever-after if he ended up survived and Joshua died?! Haha. It would be way too cruel. The cruelest possible ending, above both live, both die, or only Joshua lives, in my opinion.

    (And since Clive survived falling from the sky-island, it doesn’t seem too far-fetched to me that he delivered Joshua through it!) Anyway, thanks for writing this, I enjoyed reading it!

    • Glad to hear you enjoyed it! Yeah, Clive surviving falling does give weight to Joshua’s ability to do the same. And there’s always the golden rule: if you don’t see the body, then…

  6. I have to chime in and glad I found this great entry. As distraught as I am with the ending, I replayed my save file twice and sat through my tears yet again to make sense of what all this chatter was about.

    I am convinced Clive didn’t die. He wasn’t seen dying. We saw him losing his power over spent aether from his left arm which he effectively gave up when he channeled Phoenix in that last blast to destroy the final mother crystal. Now… remember what Harpocrates said regarding the quill and the need for “Clive to pen his own story”…?

    Did you notice Clive ever being left handed? He wasn’t. He always wielded his sword with his right hand. He would have used a quill the same way.

    So, that’s one thing. Furthermore remember the horrible scenes near Martha’s rest where they stumble upon the chapel with the dying bearers? They suffered a long time in that state of gradual calcification. Years even.

    Clive isn’t dead. Neither is Joshua. The power of the Phoenix was renewed when it was passed to Clive as his brothers sacrifice and renewed again when Ultima was defeated and Clive literally absorbed all of his power. The fact Clive literally went over and healed every physical wound shows there is every chance and expectation that Joshua is alive as well.

    And then we ride the long credit scene where we have a chance to think and we get to the kids playing with a baby “Torgal”. Who wrote that book? Clive was happy to take on pseudonyms throughout the game so why wouldn’t he have done so with the writing of the book? Even if Clive DID die, then Joshua certainly lived because nobody else was there to witness what happened. If it was instead Clive that survived he penned the letter, with his good hand, in Joshua’s stead.

    All of this leads me to believe that either one of them or both of them are alive. I have platinum’d this game and my FF catalog goes back to 1994 when FFV was released. I have played every game since and honestly… this ending for FF16 almost made me not want to replay it.

    It was too real to world, too painful and somewhat pointless considering how much we’ve invested in a character where Clive gave on behalf of everyone else. To think that comparisons are made between Clive and Cloud are pointless. Clive Rosfield makes Cloud Strife look like a selfish, brooding, petulant asshole.

    I any case… I look forward to seeing what SE does with this because they have really upset a LOT of FF players with that ending and a few lazy bonus skins and sword choices aren’t going to cover these wounds.

  7. This is so beautifully written! Thank you for all the thought you put into this. I really appreciate your insight and I now feel more hope that – maybe – a happy ending took place.

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