Aerith Gainsborough, also known as Aeris Gainsborough or just simply called Aerith, is a main character in the game Final Fantasy VII.
Aerith's backstory is given in Final Fantasy VII. Aerith was born from one of the last remaining Cetra, Ifalna, and her father was Professor Gast Faremis in Icicle Inn on February 7, 1985. However, when she was barely twenty days old on the 27th, Professor Hojo tracked down Gast, killed him and captured Ifalna and Aerith. The two became subject to numerous experiments by Hojo and Shinra Electric Power Company. Seven years later in 1992, Ifalna and Aerith escaped, but Ifalna was greatly wounded and only made it as far as Midgar. Dying on the train tracks within the Slums, Ifalna gave the young Aerith to Elmyra Gainsborough just before she died.
Elmyra raised Aerith through the years, and eventually Shinra relocated her. Though Shinra continues to try to capture her, they never succeed. Tseng of the Turks, who considers her a friend and has a crush upon her, attempts to persuade her to join Shinra instead of kidnapping her. As Aerith grows, she continues to hear voices of the Planet speaking to her, and along with Tseng's visits is aware of her heritage as the last Cetra, although when she is younger she is reluctant to accept this.
Aerith lived with Elmyra in Sector 5 in the Midgar Slums for the rest of her life up until the beginning of Final Fantasy VII. Even though people claimed nothing could grow in the slums, because the Mako Reactors drained all the life out of Midgar's surrounding areas, she managed to grow her own flowers in the Sector 5 Church due to the presence of the Lifestream there. Aerith tended to the flowers on a regular basis, selling them about Midgar to help Elmyra make ends meet. So great was her connection to the church, that even after her death, when children play there, a spectre of Aerith can be seen there tending to the flowers, though this specter can also be seen before her death under the right circumstances, calling into question whether the appearance of the specter is intentional or merely a glitch.
Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-|Crisis Core/Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII-|Before Crisis
In 2000, a fifteen-year-old Aerith first meets Zack when he 'falls from the sky' into her church. When he awakens, Zack at first mistakes himself as being in heaven and Aerith as an angel, but Aerith quickly corrects him. As a repayment for saving him, Zack suggests a date, but Aerith brushes him off. All the same, she shows him around, and Zack buys Aerith her trademark pink hair ribbon.
The two go to the park afterwards. During this time, Aerith says that she is afraid of SOLDIER members, as they are not normal, and that they frighten her for being experiments who love to fight. Zack then says he is from SOLDIER and she apologizes. To break the awkward silence, Aerith says that his eyes are beautiful. Zack lets her have a closer look, and as they draw nearer, Aerith becomes aware of their close proximity and pushes him for teasing her. He then comments that his Mako eyes are like the sky. Aerith smiles and says that they're "not scary at all". After this, Tseng calls Zack back to the Shinra Headquarters, but he promises Aerith she will see him again. Aerith and Zack continue to speak frequently over his cellphone, and after Angeal Hewley's death, Zack returns to see her and she holds him as he cries.
She first shows up in Before Crisis Episode 6, selling flowers to Rude when he goes on his date with Chelsea, although she is not called by name. In Episode 11, on August 9, 2002, her role is the same as it would be later on in the series; as the last Cetra, she is caught between AVALANCHE and Shinra, both parties attempting to capture her. A Turk in the area tries to protect Aerith from the AVALANCHE forces and helps her flee. Aerith tells the Turk she had been out late because the wind was calling her, and she wants to go on a journey to see the planet but knows nothing of the outside world. Eventually, she is captured by Shears.
Aerith is taken to her church to meet Elfé, who gives her a proposition. Elfé tells Aerith that AVALANCHE wants to bring down Shinra and protect the Promised Land from them, and thus it is in her best interests to ally with them. Aerith notices an "old voice" coming from Elfé, and this inadvertently leads to the discovery of a Turk spying on them. They attack the Turk, but Aerith intervenes to delay them. Elfé is then stricken by a sudden weakness, and AVALANCHE retreats. Tseng arrives, and the Turk allows Aerith to flee while they distract him.
Sometime in September, Zack returns to meet Aerith one last time. He helps Aerith build a wagon to carry flowers around to sell to people. Aerith then asks Zack for "a few tiny wishes", and Zack has her write them down for him. The two later head out to the slums to sell flowers, although it doesn't go well. It is shortly after this that Zack is sent to Nibelheim.
In the game's final sequences, it is revealed that Aerith has been doing well selling flowers in Midgar, and during the five years of his disappearance she has written Zack 89 letters though he never receives 88 of them. In the ending scenes of Crisis Core, Aerith is seen tending the flowers, then turning and looking towards the sky and clasping her hands. It is at this time, outside Midgar, that Zack is gunned down by Shinra forces. Although Final Fantasy VII makes it clear that Aerith is unaware of Zack's fate, it has been interpreted by some that Crisis Core's last scenes have retconned this to her sensing his demise and is simply denying this fact during the original game.
Final Fantasy VII
Aeris is first seen in the opening FMV, where she is seen observing a leaking pipe with Mako overflowing it. She continues to sell flowers on the street for one gil after Zack's death, when she meets Cloud Strife on December 9, 2007, who bears a striking resemblance to Zack. Cloud warns her to get to safety after the destruction of the Sector 1 Mako Reactor, but Aeris doesn't heed his words. Later on, Cloud falls into her church on a failed attack on the Sector 5 Reactor, and wakes up on the flower bed. Reno of the Turks comes to apprehend Aeris shortly after, and Aeris asks him to become her bodyguard, he tells her it will cost her and she offers him a date as payment. He agrees and then turns to talk to Reno before helping Aeris to escape. Cloud takes her home, but sneaks out during the night to return to Sector 7 alone. Aeris heads him off and Cloud agrees to bring her along to Sector 7.
Taking a break in the playground, Aeris mentions Zack to Cloud, although not by name. Then they see Tifa Lockhart on a chocobo cart, and assume she has been kidnapped by Don Corneo. Through an idea of Aeris, she and a cross dressed Cloud infiltrate the Don's mansion and try to rescue Tifa, who reveals she did not need rescuing in the first place, and was trying to get information on ShinRa from the Don. Don Corneo told them that ShinRa has learned where AVALANCHE's base of operations is, and is planning to drop the plate covering the sector to destroy the entire area. The party's attempts to stop ShinRa fail, and Aeris is captured while taking Barret Wallace's daughter Marlene to safety. Cloud, Tifa and Barret attempt to rescue her from Shinra Headquarters, but are eventually captured themselves. After this time, Aeris' heritage and Shinra's interest in her are fully revealed through a variety of sources and events. Traveling with Cloud and his friends as they pursue the renegade Sephiroth, Aeris becomes increasingly close to them, and following a visit to Cosmo Canyon, fully comes to terms with her powers and duties as the last Cetra.
Eventually, the party tracks Sephiroth to the Temple of the Ancients, and Aeris accompanies them, using her innate powers to help decipher the temple's mysteries and enter the inner chamber. Here, Sephiroth reveals his plan to use the Black Materia to call Meteor, the ultimate black magic. The temple itself becomes the Black Materia, but Sephiroth manipulates Cloud into giving it to him. When Aeris attempts to stop Cloud, he attacks her and passes out. While he is unconscious, Aeris contacts Cloud in a dream, and tells him that she can stop Sephiroth. When Cloud awakens, he is told Aeris is gone and follows the clues she has given him in the dream to find her.
The party arrives at the Forgotten Capital, where Aeris is praying. Sephiroth takes control over Cloud again, and instructs him to kill Aeris. Cloud manages to stop himself, but then Sephiroth falls from the ceiling, and impales Aeris through the back, killing her almost instantly. Enraged, Cloud turns on Sephiroth, who flees and leaves Jenova∙LIFE to fight them. After Jenova is dispatched, and the party pays their respect to Aeris, Cloud carries her to the pool of water in the center of the city and lays her body to rest beneath the water.
Later in the game, it is revealed that Aeris was using her White Materia to communicate with the planet and call forth Holy, the ultimate white magic that can defend against Meteor. The party learns that Aeris had succeeded in calling it just prior to her demise, but that Sephiroth is blocking its power from working. After Sephiroth is defeated at the end of the game, Holy is able to begin to move, and after being pushed to a safe distance away from the planet by the Lifestream under Aeris' control, Holy is able to destroy Meteor with its full power, ending the threat to the Planet in later January 2008.
Appearances in Games
All-Star Heroes: The Series
Aerith appears as an NPC character.
She only appears in chapter 36 "This is NOT my Final Fantasy" where she appeared alongside Sephiroth, shocking Cloud who found her safe and sound after how the one-winged angel killed her in front of his eyes, which suggests that the events of Project X Zone 3 took place after Final Fantasy VII; Cloud will be paralyzed by Sephiroth to kill him in 15 turns, Aerith unsuccessfully tried to stop him from killing Cloud because she wants him to not have her same fate.
When the player rescues Cloud, he promises Aerith that he will keep the world safe for her, Aerith thanks Cloud for that before bidding him farewell, she finally vanishes back to the afterlife knowing that the world's future is at Cloud's hands.
She is later mentioned by Cloud in chapter 42 when the party faces Sephiroth for the last time.