|“||To be a hero, you need to have dreams...||„|
|~ Zack Fair|
Zack Fair is a non-playable character in Final Fantasy VII and the main protagonist of its prequel, Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-. The second wielder of the Buster Sword before Cloud Strife, Zack received the Buster Sword from his mentor, Angeal Hewley. Zack is a 1st Class SOLDIER and is Cloud's best friend during their time working for the Shinra Electric Power Company.
Zack is tall, well-built, and has the iconic sky-blue "Mako eyes" many SOLDIER members have. Zack's appearance goes through a series of changes throughout Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-. He starts with spiky black hair and having several bangs framing the sides of his face. At first, he wears a dark blue SOLDIER uniform, gloves, boots, and is equipped with a standard SOLDIER sword, even if most 2nd Class members of SOLDIER wear red and magenta uniforms. Later, he is upgraded to a black 1st Class SOLDIER uniform. Later, Zack obtains the Buster Sword as well as an X-shaped scar on his lower left cheek and his spiky hair become longer and wilder with a lock of hair hanging down in front of his face. He has a silver earring in his left ear.
Zack has a positive attitude and is always ready for work. His energetic personality and low attention span earned the nickname "Zack the Puppy" from Angeal. He is loyal to SOLDIER and dreams of becoming a hero. He is sociable and easily befriends almost everyone. Angeal's words of valuing dreams and honor have had a great impact on Zack. He is flirty with women and protective of his friends.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
Zack was born in the town of Gongaga, where he lived until he left to join Shinra's elite militant force, SOLDIER. He eventually fell in love with Aeris Gainsborough after falling into the slums. While on the hunt for the rogue SOLDIER Genesis, Zack is promoted to SOLDIER 1st Class a short time before defeating his former mentor and original owner of the Buster Sword, Angeal, who passes the sword onto him while dying. Soon after, Zack went to Nibelheim to investigate the nearby Mako Reactor which had been malfunctioning. However, during the investigation, Sephiroth discovered the truth behind his origins and went on a rampage, destroying the Nibelheim village. Zack confronted Sephiroth in a duel only to be defeated. Following the battle, both he and Cloud were used by Hojo as test specimens. However, Zack managed to escape after four years and carried the incapacitated Cloud with him to freedom. The two were spotted riding the back of a truck headed to Midgar, with Zack putting Cloud in hiding as he fought the numerous Shinra Troops. After fighting several Shinra infantrymen and being shot multiple times, Zack dies with Cloud at his side. It is after this that Cloud takes Zack's words of him being his "living legacy" seriously, adopting Zack's personality traits, memories, even habitual gestures, as his own.
Final Fantasy VII
Zack's existence is initially unknown to Cloud due to the mako poisoning Cloud suffered from the experiments in Nibelheim. Throughout much of the adventure, Cloud's personality, actions, and even memories replicate Zack's without any knowledge that he exists. However, when Sephiroth confronts Cloud and tells him that not only is he not Zack, he is actually a failed clone of Sephiroth. When Cloud becomes incapacitated by another poisoning of mako, he goes through sequences in his mind where he becomes aware of Zack's existence, as well as his true history. Cloud learns that Zack saved him from the experiments in Nibelheim, and sacrificed his life in order to protect Cloud from the Shinra Military. Cloud accepts this revelation and moves forward to continue his quest to stop Sephiroth from summoning Meteor.
Advent Children: Final Fantasy VII
Cloud is shown visiting Zack's Buster Sword on a cliff outside of Midgar, the location where he was killed by the Shinra Military. At the end of the movie, Zack is shown standing at the doorway of the Sector 5 Slum's Church with Aerith, letting Cloud know that everything is good now.
Zack plays a slightly larger role in the extended cut of the film known as Advent Children Complete. During the final battle with Sephiroth, which has been revised from its original version, Zack appears just as it seems that Cloud is about to lose. He asks Cloud if he needs any help before assuring him that he can win, because "you've beaten him before. This should be cinch!" Over the course of the movie, Cloud is seen grieving as much for Zack as he had for Aerith in the 2006 release.