Cloud Strife (クラウド・ストライフ Kuraudo Sutoraifu) is a fictional character and the main protagonist of Square's (now Square Enix's) role-playing video game Final Fantasy VII and several of its sequels and spin-offs. His original design was created by Final Fantasy VII character designer Tetsuya Nomura. Cloud's appearance is marked by spikey blond hair, striking blue eyes, dark clothing and his Buster Sword (バスターソード Basutā Sōdo), which previously belonged to his friend Zack Fair. Cloud is voiced by Takahiro Sakurai in Japanese, and in English by Steve Burton.
In Final Fantasy VII, Cloud is introduced as a mercenary and former member of SOLDIER, 1st Class, an elite military unit operating under the Shinra Company. Presented at the game's start as apathetic to anything unrelated to his job, Cloud's blasé attitude towards the goals of AVALANCHE, a resistance group fighting against Shinra, and the threat posed to the planet causes conflict with the other characters, and his background produces misgivings as to Cloud's motivations and trustworthiness. Cloud, meanwhile, takes pride in his past, confident in his abilities as a "former member of SOLDIER." Despite appearing detached to members of AVALANCHE in the game's introductory sequence, Cloud does display moments of camaraderie, some depending on the player's choices. When confronted by his childhood friend and AVALANCHE member, Tifa, Cloud agrees to keep his boyhood promise to protect her, continuing his AVALANCHE membership despite never having become a famous hero. Following the player's departure from Midgar, Cloud is appointed group leader by the other members of the party, upsetting Barret, AVALANCHE's original leader.