Tifa Lockheart is one of the three female protagonists that first appeared in Squaresoft's Final Fantasy VII. A bartender, she is also a skilled martial artist and a major character in the game's storyline, having grown up in the same town as the main protagonist Cloud Strife. She has also appeared in numerous other games and productions set within the universe of Final Fantasy VII.
Tifa was born in the small town of Nibelheim, and she lived right next door to Cloud Strife. They were not close friends during that time, but they knew each other. Cloud had always admired her from a distance, and Tifa had always admired Cloud as well, though she is reluctant to admit it. Back then Tifa would hang out with a group of boys while Cloud was a loner keeping an eye on Tifa.
Tifa's mother died when she was eight years old; however, she believed her mother's spirit may have found its way through the mountains, so she decided to follow it through a trail near Mt. Nibel. Her three best friends, however, were too frightened to follow her up the mountain, and left her alone. She kept going, unaware that Cloud had secretly followed her. Suddenly, Tifa slipped from a rope bridge leading into Mt. Nibel and Cloud rushed in to save her, but was too late - both of them fell hard into the gorge below. After the incident, Cloud only suffered minor injuries, but Tifa fell in a coma for about a week. Tifa's father blamed Cloud for the accident, and their relationship became distant. It was after this that Cloud became cold and withdrawn and started carrying a chip on his shoulder. Though, Cloud still cared for Tifa but wished he was more strong to protect her.
When Cloud was fourteen years old, he asked Tifa to meet him at the center of town where the well is. He told her about his plans to leave Nibelheim and enlist in the SOLDIER program in the autumn. He decided to become strong so that he could always protect Tifa, because he failed to do so during the accident, and so he could impress her. She was surprised at Cloud's announcement, but also disappointed that he was leaving. Knowing that she couldn't change his mind, Tifa made Cloud promise that if she were ever in danger, he would come to rescue her being her hero. After Cloud's departure, Tifa started dedicating herself to the martial arts and was quite adept by the time Cloud and her reunited (even if she herself didn't recognize him). From here on Tifa became an independent woman who didn't need much saving.
One year later, she acted as a tour guide in Nibelheim for SOLDIER personnel hoping to see Cloud. They were sent to investigate an old mako reactor near Mt. Nibel. These SOLDIER personnel were Sephiroth and Zack Fair, along with two MPs. One of these MPs though, was none other than Cloud, although Tifa was unaware of this. As it turned out, Cloud could not bring himself to tell Tifa he failed in joining SOLDIER. After the investigation, the group returned to the town of Nibelheim, and Sephiroth went into the basement of the abandoned Shinra mansion. In there, he discovered research notes left by Professor Hojo. This discovery led to Sephiroth's madness discovering that his mother is Jenova and that night, he set fire upon the town of Nibelheim, brutally murdering its townspeople. After the fire, Tifa follows Sephiroth to the Mt. Nibel mako reactor, and witnesses her father being murdered. In a blinding rage, she attempts to kill Sephiroth with his own sword, but Sephiroth overwhelms her, critically injuring and almost killing her leaving left a scar on her chest. As Cloud arrived in the reactor, he found Zack and Tifa gravely injured. Cloud defeats Sephiroth, despite being critically wounded himself particularly in the stomach area where Sephiroth stabbed him at. Shinra personnel arrive at the scene and Cloud and Zack are taken to Professor Hojo for study, while Tifa was taken to safety. Tifa's martial arts master Zangan did his best to try and heal her, but the best he could do was keep her alive. As a result, TIfa remembers little, if anything, of the Nibelheim incident.
Tifa was carried all the way to MIdgar to seek immediate medical attention, where a doctor cared for her wounds. When she finally recuperates from her wounds, Tifa opens up a bar, calling it " 7th Heaven", located in Sector 7 inside Midgar. Shortly, she met Barret Wallace, and is revealed to be the leader of a resistance group known as AVALANCHE. She decides to join him so that she can take revenge on Shinra after the Nibelheim incident.
When Cloud is hired by AVALANCHE as a mercenary, Tifa is glad to be reunited with him after the two being apart for 8 years. But Cloud has forgotten quite a bit about his past and he does not come off as very open to Tifa due to the study Professor Hojo did on him. The missions go well, as they are able to destroy a Shinra nuclear plant. While on a mission to infiltrate Don Corneo's house, most of AVALANCHE is killed when part of the slums is destroyed and fall on them. When they finally reach Shinra's main headquarters, they are captured. Sephiroth apparently appears and kills almost every person in the building, indirectly freeing the remaining members of AVALANCHE as well.
At Kalm, Cloud tells the party a story of who Sephiroth is and how Cloud himself got into SOLDIER. Tifa knows parts of the story don't fit, but she is too confused to bother saying anything.
When the team finally returns to Nibelheim, the entire village has been rebuilt, with the people being replaced by Shinra actors (meant to cover up the Shinra incident), who wear black cloaks and apparently do not remember either Tifa or Cloud living in Nibelheim. The people in black cloaks happen to be apart of a cult that worships Sephiroth and Jenova.
During the Northern Crater Sephiroth arrives showing what truly happened at Nibelheim showing flashbacks. Tifa begs Sephiroth to stop as this could mess Cloud up emotionally but Sephiroth keeps getting deeper in the accident. He tells Cloud that he is nothing more than a puppet that was being used as a tool. Then Sephiroth takes control of Cloud handing him over the Black Materia that can summon the meteor which can destroy the world. As the crater collapses Tifa and Barret escape on the Shinra airship being kidnapped to Junon while the other AVALANCHE members escape another way.
Tifa wakes up being in a gas chamber that could kill her with the poisonous gas under a time limit she manages to escape by the Sapphire Weapon attacking Junon blasting a hole through the chamber. Tifa escapes using the Highwind and heads to Mideel where Cloud is staying at a hospital due to Mako poisoning. The Ultimate Weapon and Lifestream swallows Mideel causing Tifa to enter Cloud's Subconcious zone where he opens up to her about the past including the Nibelheim accident and his feelings towards her. After she discovers the truth the Ultimate Weapon and Lifestream allows the two to go back to Mideel where they have to defeat a Diamond Weapon that's destroying the island. Afterwards, before the final battle everyone decides to check up on family except for Cloud and Tifa who stay in the Highwind together. Originally during this Square Enix wanted to include a scene where Cloud casually walks out of the Chocobo room then shortly afterwards an awkward looking Tifa walks out being nervous hinting that they slept together. However Enix decided this scene was too graphic for the young audience so instead they included a scene where during sunrise the two are cuddled up sleeping together outside of the Highwind. This leads up to the final battle and eventually to the events in Advent Children.
In the film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Tifa has returned to her bar Seventh Heaven, moved to Edge where her and Cloud live together in an apartment taking care of the children Marlene and Denzel. She serves as Cloud's emotional support and does her best to keep him optimistic. While she runs the bartending job and Strife's deliver service. After discovering that Cloud is suffering from Geostigma, she fights the Sephiroth clone, Loz, in a church. She puts up a great fight, but is eventually overwhelmed by his inhuman speed and defeated. Cloud finds her knocked out lying on the flowerbed in the church. This scene shows Cloud worrying over Tifa fearing that she might be dead. The Geostigma knocks Cloud out leading to a scene with the two knocked out side by side lying together on the flowerbed.
She later appears to help Cloud and the party take on Bahamut Sin, she helps Cloud leap into the air to tear the summoned beast asunder.
Though Final Fantasy VII does not feature character classes, Tifa's ability fall under the traditional notion of the Final Fantasy Monk class. She is very strong, fast and uses claws and gloves for weapons. She has two special weapons. The Godhand has 255% accuracy, so Tifa will never miss. The Premium heart (Tifa's ultimate weapon) grows stronger the more Tifa's Limit Break gauge fills up.
Like Cait Sith's limit break, her limit break relies on slots to determine the outcome of the attack.
Compilation of Final Fantasy VII
In addition to Final Fantasy VII and the film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Tifa also appears in several other productions in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, such as Crisis Core, which revisits the events surrounding Sephiroth's destruction of Nibelheim, and Dirge of Cerberus, which is set after the events of Advent Children. Tifa is also the protagonist of one of the stories in On the Way to a Smile; a novella released around the same time as Advent Children and packaged with some editions of the film, and she also makes an appearance in the cell phone game Before Crisis.
Tifa appears in the fighting game Ehrgeiz along with Cloud and Sephiroth, as well as in some editions of Square Enix's Itadaki Street video board game franchise; notably, Itadaki Street Special and Itadaki Street Portable. She also appears in Dissidia 012 as a playable fighter, and as an NPC in Kingdom Hearts II, in which she is searching for Cloud.
- Final Fantasy VII 10th Anniversary Ultimania, a book containing the input from the designers and staff, reveals that Tifa is a shortened version of Tiffany. However the name is spelled Tee-fa. The name Tiffany comes from Greek word for "Manifestation of god". Her last name comes from Tifa locking her feelings for Cloud away.
- Tifa was not originally planned to be a playable character in the early stages of Final Fantasy VII. Her role was only developed when it was decided that one of the three main characters (whom at the time were Cloud, Barret, and Aerith) would die permanently as part of the story.