Thanks to CivilizedPsycho for the inspiration!
Let’s take Squall’s dead for example. According to the theory:
At the end of disc one, Squall and Friends face Edea on a parade float in Deling City. After the fight, when Edea seems defeated, she conjures an enormous ice shard and propels it through Squall’s chest. Squall stumbles back and falls off the platform. He sees Rinoa above, reaching to him as he falls. Squall closes his eyes and dies.
This always upset me because it’s done through FMV, not in a regular battle, and FF (or any JRPG really) has taught us that FMV injuries are far more grievous than in normal gameplay. (see FFVII)
But, Edea uses Ice Strike as her limit break in a regular battle.
Also, Sephiroth uses his move “Hell’s Gate” in Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy.
So then, plot damage and battle damage are one in the same.
Aerith must have died because her HP was low after traveling to the Forgotten Capital.
So why don’t our heroes use a Phoenix Down on fallen characters in the FMVs?
But none of the deaths are as inconsistent as Galuf’s. Galuf manages to stand up and fight Exdeath, even though he completely depletes HP. So then, he should be dead at the least. But he somehow breaks free of Exdeath’s magic ring of fire. In the process, he saves his granddaughter Krile, Bartz, Lenna, and Faris. And throughout all of this, Exdeath cannot beat him and flees.
Bartz tries to heal Galuf, much like we can do with Palom and Porom. It’s an in-game cutscene where he casts Curaga, Raise, and even throws a Phoenix Down and an Elixir on him. Let Galuf dies anyways.
Someone heals Squall’s wounds, but they don’t seem to be mortally damaging. Cloud doesn’t even attempt to heal Aerith.
So then, which is it? How should we think about death in Final Fantasy?