|“||Right and wrong are not what separate us and our enemies. It's our different standpoints, our perspectives that separate us.||„|
|~ Squall Leonhart|
|“||Rinoa... Even if you end up as the world's enemy, I'll... I'll be your knight...||„|
|~ Squall's thoughts on Rinoa's situation.|
Squall Leonhart is the primary protagonist of Final Fantasy VIII. A young and aloof SeeD mercenary for much of the game, others view Squall as a cold and focused person. The game's events cause Squall to question the way he has chosen to live his life, and he matures into a heroic and caring swordsman. Squall's weapon, the gunblade, is one of the most iconic weapons of the Final Fantasy series. He is a gunblade specialist and is one of the few people to have mastered the notoriously difficult weapon, along with Seifer.
In the English version of the game, he is voiced by Doug Erholtz, while in the Japanese version, he is voiced by Hideo Ishikawa. In the English version of the first Kingdom Hearts game, he was voiced by David Boreanaz, but Erholtz reprised his role for Kingdom Hearts II.
A tall teenager with unruly brown hair, Squall is most often seen wearing a distinctive black leather bomber jacket with fur trim on the collar and a v-neck white shirt underneath. He wears black pants along with three interconnecting belts and black boots and gloves. He has a silver chain necklace with a Griever pendant and a matching ring. The only time he isn't wearing this particular outfit is when he's wearing his SeeD uniform, which he only does if he is required to, and in flashbacks to his orphanage days, in which he wears an orange shirt with several horizontal stripes and dark pants. Squall's gunblade of choice is the Revolver, of which he owns a customized version with the Griever symbol imprinted on both sides. In a duel with his rival, Seifer, they both end up giving each other mirroring scars.
Squall starts the game as an introverted, brooding, cold and taciturn teenager who pushes away those who would otherwise be considered his friends. Though withdrawn, Squall does not shrink from what he considers his duty. As much as he resents assuming leadership, he is the first to ensure that what is necessary gets done. Squall's clear mind and sense of responsibility lead others to trust and follow him. Even though everyone agrees on how difficult Squall can be, staff and students admire him, and he is eventually appointed commander of Balamb Garden, much to his dismay. Squall also becomes the "de facto" leader of the party, though at first he dislikes his comrades looking to him for orders and advice.
During the game, Squall frequently narrates his thoughts and feelings in silent voice-overs. It is during these narrations he reveals he deliberately acts the way he does to push others away for fear of getting close to them. Near the end of the game, Squall tells Rinoa Heartilly he cannot remember his parents, and his sister was taken away when he was young, making him afraid of losing the feelings of comfort loved ones provide. In various other narrations, Squall reveals he does not believe in relying on others, as friends and family are inevitably lost and in the end he will be alone.
During the course of the game Squall comes to rethink his choices in life, falling in love with Rinoa and accepting the support and friendship of his comrades, warming up to others and becoming more social. This more open version of Squall is more or less how he is characterized in the Kingdom Hearts series. Dissidia somewhat mirrors Squall's evolution from a cold loner to the man he is in Final Fantasy VIII's ending. Squall fights alone, but still finds himself worrying about fellow heroes Bartz and Zidane, and eventually accompanies them and helps them on their quests once he has completed his own.
- His voice actor in the Japanese version of the game, Hideo Ishikawa, also voiced Itachi Uchiha in the Japanese version of Naruto Shippuden.