As the most well known Final Fantasy theory, Squall’s Dead has become somewhat of an internet phenomenon.
The website, created by Rahul Choudhury & Diedra Rater and based on an idea by duckroll, in 2010, outlines the theory, which supposes:
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. The entire remaining game time, from the beginning of disc two to the second half of the ending movie, is a dream.
From there on, they conclude Squall was having a near death experience (i.e. “your life flashes before your eyes”) after his battle with Edea. When we regain control of Squall, we’re moving through what he believes is happening to him.
The first piece of evidence comes from Squall’s monologue in the first quarter of Final Fantasy VIII:
Squall: (Think what you want. …Reality isn’t so kind. Everything doesn’t work out the way you want it to. That’s why…) “As long as you don’t get your hopes up, you can take anything… You feel less pain. Anyway, whatever wish you have is none of my business.”
Supposedly, the authors believe this is evidence of foreshadowing death, specifically Squall’s death. Later on, after Squall the point in which the authors theorize Squall to die, he awakens with this thought:
Squall: (…Where am I? I…challenged Edea… My wound… ……? No wound…? How…? The Galbadian soldiers… …We were surrounded. He was there… Seifer, leering down at me.) “Damn you, Seifer!”
Where did Squall’s fatal wound go?
Afterwards, the authors note the game takes stranger narrative twists in the plot. Supposedly these changes were absent in the game up to that point. Stranger characters and enemies were introduced after Squall and his friends escape from the D-District prison, such as Moombas:
a possible final stage in the evolving life cycle of a Shumi in Final Fantasy VIII. They are generally used as slaves or laborers and as such are treated poorly by their human masters; however, they are held highly as an ideal by the Shumi in Shumi Village.
Balamb Garden’s proprietor and the one running the Garden’s finances. The Garden Faculty and his supporters refer to him as the Garden Master. He is a Shumi from the Shumi Village.
The authors once again make note that the word “fate” is a common theme in Final Fantasy VIII. Squall and Rinoa’s romantic subplot was also a sort of wish fulfillment Squall got to experience before he died.
The authors believe the ending scene is Squall’s dream, where he assesses his life. They include scenes of Squall’s empty face and Rinoa’s chilling image of her walking towards him.
The authors hint that their theory of Final Fantasy VIII’s plot is very similar to the movie Vanilla Sky (circa 2001). Vanilla Sky is an English-adaptation of the Spanish film Open Your Eyes (circa 1997). Did these movies inspire Kitase?
Besides being non-canon, we have a few objections to the theory:
• First, Squall shouldn’t die from his wounds if we’re able to cast Cure or Life on him. This would essentially make way for all of the unbelievable stuff to happen later on in the game.
• Second, Final Fantasy games introduce a lot of nonsensical elements in later games. Moombas and Shumis are no exception…
• Third, fate’s a theme of all the Final Fantasy games. It seems more prominent in Final Fantasy VIII due to time travel. Nothing indicates that fate means death, though.
• Fourth, Rinoa shows some appreciation for Squall before Disc 2.
• And fifth, Squall literally fading away, rather than just his consciousness. But if it were his dream, why do we see Rinoa at the end after all the events happened?
TA lot remains unexplained. I think the script caused a lot of these issues. Interestingly, many theories can arise from unexplained elements in the story.
If this theory were true, this would also be a large narrative leap in the series.
But in 2017, Kitase officially debunked this theory, among many others, in an interview with Jason Schreier of Kotaku:
“No, that is not true,” Kitase said, laughing. “I think he was actually stabbed around the shoulder area, so he was not dead. But that is a very interesting idea, so if we ever do make a remake of Final Fantasy VIII, I might go along with that story in mind.”
But fans still like that the writers included pretty trippy plot elements in the narrative. What if Kitase actually wrote Final Fantasy VIII as a near-death experience for the main character? It would have added an extra layer of depth to the narration and how we think about video games.
Kitase denied this was the main idea behind Final Fantasy VIII. Still, he’s open to the possibility of “going along with that story in mind”. Maybe he’d adapt elements hinting at the theory, but not confirming it.