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The Unfought

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You're just outside the lair of the Big Bad who has tormented you throughout the game. He's destroyed your home town, sent wave after wave of enemies to try and destroy you, and may even have called you a couple nasty names. This is the battle you've been waiting for. You enter the room and... he summons a giant three-headed dragon and runs away. Okay, no problem, you'll take it down, then deal with the Big Bad. You slay the dragon and... what? Why are the credits rolling? Why didn't you get an epic battle with your archnemesis? Unfortunately, that villain just isn't going to be fought.

The exact cause of why a major antagonist is not fought varies. He could, like above, just run away when you confront him. Perhaps he was the victim of a Bait and Switch Boss. In video game examples, he may have been fought in a cutscene, but killed without being fought in gameplay. Whatever the reason may be, this type of situation is a common source of frustration to the audience, especially if the victim was the Big Bad. In the cases where The Unfought is The Chessmaster or Mad Scientist, this can be somewhat justified, as they might not be capable of physical battle, preferring to work behind the scenes. But, if the character had already been established as a capable--even exceptional--fighter, this trope occurring can feel like a bit of a rip-off. And even if he is a weakling, you still want to kill him for all the Grinding he forced you through to get to him.

Mostly a video game trope. Though this can happen in other media, it is much harder to tell what counts as a "battle" in books or movies, while video games have a clear distinction between gameplay and FMVs. Contrast with Climax Boss, which these examples are hyped up to be. Not to be confused with Anticlimax Boss or Breather Boss, where the villain in question is fought, but ends up being a wuss (deliberately or not, respectively).

Naturally, the following examples all contain MAJOR SPOILERS.


Video Game Examples: Edit

  • The Final Fantasy series does this a lot. Emperor Gestahl in Final Fantasy VI and Queen Brahne in Final Fantasy IX are both the primary antagonists throughout half of their respective games, and get killed by the real villain without ever fighting the player. Queen Brahne is in such obviously bad health she'd probably be worse at fighting than you were at be beginning of the game. Gestahl, on the other hand, was a stupendously powerful wizard, as shown in his fight with the one who kills him, and knows spells you don't have at that point in the game, so he, at least, would have been a Worthy Opponent.
    • Also, Golbez from Final Fantasy IV, more or less. You do fight him once, but it's not satisfying, since he not only survives but also steals the MacGuffin under your nose. The "final" battle with him is interrupted before it even starts, by FuSoYa breaking Zemus's Mind Control on him.
    • In Final Fantasy VII, the Sapphire Weapon is killed by the Junon Cannon before the party can get to it.
      • Also, Tseng, leader of the Turks, never actually battles the party, it's always some combination of Rude, Reno, and Elena.
      • Diamond Weapon in the original Japanese version, but a fight against him was added when it was released internationally (and retroactively added to the Japanese re-releases)
    • Happened again in Final Fantasy XIII with Jihl , who was even featured in the trailer, but ended up appearing in a stupefying total of 4 scenes (if even that many). During the last of which she was blasted in the back by the REAL boss as she confronted the heroes. They are now fightable in DLC for XIII-2, however.
    • In Final Fantasy Tactics, during chapter one, a couple people are set up as disc one final bosses, but are never directly fought. Among these are Gustav (Who set up the Marquis's kidnapping, which Wiegraf detested) and Gragoroth, the Corpse Brigade member who kidnapped Teta[1].
  • Kamek never directly fights the player in either Yoshi's Island game, only showing up occasionally as an Invincible Minor Minion.
    • However, you do get to fight Kamek in Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time and Super Princess Peach, and the Magikoopa fought in Super Mario RPG is implied to be him. Still, the Yoshis never get a crack at him.
    • Finally averted in New Super Mario Bros Wii, where after 7 worlds of helping villains become more powerful (and before doing so in the final battle one castle later), Kamek finally fights you in a boss battle... straight after using magic to make the boss room filled with strange moving platforms and enemies!
  • Kind of a weird example, but in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, Ezio doesn't kill Rodrigo. Cesare does it himself. What's weird is that Ezio had already fought and spared Rodrigo twice and was intending to actually finish the job this time.
  • In Sonic Heroes, the player pursues Dr. Eggman to the flagship of his airborne fleet, only to find out it was actually Metal Sonic impersonating him after having gone rogue and launched an operation against the protagonists himself.
  • Isoc in Mega Man X 6 never fights you, instead being found dead and seeming to set up a plot element for the sequels, which never materialized.
  • In the first Mega Man Star Force, this happens to Geo after he doesn't bother to fight back against a Jammer. When he knocks him down, Harp Note promptly comes in saves him from the Jammer and his "EM Humans", but lets Geo kick the Jammer's ass himself.
    • Later on happens to Cepheus, the FM-King. Despite the fact that his power is great enough to merge the Wave and normal worlds together, you instead fight his superweapon Andromeda, after which he surrenders himself to Geo and Mega's mercy, only to proceed to become friends with them.
  • In Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, you never fight Roman or Raja. Especially noticeable since they're two out of three named villains in the game, and the third one is the only boss fight in the entire game.
    • Happens again in Uncharted 2 Flynn is already dying when you confront him the last time, which is more noticeable since Uncharted 2 actually does have multiple boss battles.
    • Once again happens in Uncharted 3. This time, Big Bad, Katherine Marlowe becomes this. Sort of justified due to being a Non-Action Big Bad. From the same game, Rameses also becomes this.
  • Parodied in No More Heroes, where Letz Shake, the 5th ranked assassin is killed right before the boss fight would start, causing Travis to complain about being cheated out of a fight. Happens again with the 1st ranked assassin.
    • Both subverted and played straight in the sequel. Travis never actually fights any of the 22nd through 11th ranked assassins...but he does get to fight Dr. Letz Shake in a proper battle.
      • Then later on, Henry kills the 6th and 5th ranked assassins for Travis as payback for Travis saving his life. He even lampshades this trope in an answering-machine message, telling Travis (and the player) not to complain about missing out on those boss fights, and offering polaroids "so you can imagine what it might have been like".
  • In the Nintendo Hard Magician Lord, the villain Az Atorse(or is it Gal Ageise, the game is never clear on the difference between the wizard and the evil god) is never actually fought. The seventh boss is said to be his avatar but after the creature is defeated and disappears, he shows up apparently unharmed by its destruction. Infact you never even see him die, though he does say "I'm Destined just to die".
  • Arpeggio from Sly 2: Band of Thieves falls victim to the killed by real villain category, surprisingly late in the game.
  • In Breath of Fire IV, Yuna, the dark mage/geneticist in charge of the Carronade (a hex cannon fueled by torture victims) and responsible for the creation of monstrous synthetic gods, flees at the only opportunity your characters have to fight him, protesting that he is "a scholar and a pacifist." He survives through the end of the game.
  • Be honest, now - how many people thought, "...oh crap, I have to fight that?!?" when The Adephagos showed up in the sky after Alexei accidentally summoned it in Tales of Vesperia? Some also actually would have preferred to fight The Adephagos instead of who the final boss really was, because an Eldritch Abomination Final Boss would have actually been a lot different for the Tales (series), which has mostly human or humanoid final bosses. And if they weren't, they didn't stay that way for long. (There are some exceptions though, Mathias in Tales of Innocence and arguably Lambda in Tales of Graces, and the raging Nerifes in Tales of Legendia if you count it as a final boss.)
    • In addition, how many of you were itching for a battle with Cumore before Yuri unceremoniously killed him?
  • General Scales in Star Fox Adventures. You confront him, and press A to start a cutscene in which Andross tells him to give you the Krazoa Spirit. He does, and promptly collapses. A case where the villain was the Big Bad.
  • Ganondorf is presented at a major villain in Super Smash Bros The Subspace Emissary, but the closest you ever come to fighting him is a cutscene where the heroes attack the Halberd with their various spaceships, after which Ganondorf is double-crossed by Tabuu. A little weird as this is a game where Ganondorf is a fully playable character.
    • Similarly, Master Hand as the final boss of Classic Mode of all three games in the series, including Brawl. Master Hand was presented as the Big Bad of The Subspace Emissary until it's revealed that he's the literal puppet of Tabuu, who disposes of Master Hand before the players get there.
    • Ditto the Ancient Minister, who was hyped as the subgame's main villain in previews and promotional material. He heel-faced just before the heroes busted into what would've been his boss chamber.
  • Alex from Golden Sun. He's more of The Chessmaster type...
    • Though he is seen to be capable of fighting, as he effortlessly dispatches a group of mooks at the beginning of the second game.
  • An infamous example is Ephidel from Fire Emblem 7. Set up to be a Climax Boss, he instead suffers death by exploding dragon.
    • Breaking open the game's code reveals that he doesn't even have stats. (while several other non-combat NPCs do.)
  • Baten Kaitos: Geldoblame has yet to be fought in human form, unlike pretty much every other human villain in the series. And Melodia isn't fought at all.
  • Two Kingdom Hearts examples:
    • Zexion was never battled in the GBA version of Chain of Memories; that, and the fact his weapon was never revealed, led many people to believe that he would live on as a major antagonist in the next game. Sadly, his fight was retconned into the PS2 version.
    • The hyped-up duel between Roxas and Sora never happened in the original Kingdom Hearts II, but was added in the Final Mix.
    • A third example is Maleficent in Kingdom Hearts II. Her only encounters with Sora end with Enemy Mine situations, even though every other Disney villain from the first game is given a proper battle.
    • You don't get to fight the Wicked Queen in Birth By Sleep either. She's on her way to poison Snow White as Ventus is leaving and by the time Aqua arrives in the world she had already been chased off by the Dwarves as in the movie. Aqua instead randomly fights the Magic Mirror who even admits it has no business working for the Queen anymore. It's understandable though since the Queen has no fighting skills to speak of. Same can be said of Lady Tremaine, though you do fight her cat (and no, it doesn't have any special powers, it's just a regular cat with you being mouse-sized).
  • Frollo dies either before or after a Dream Eater boss, depending on whether you're playing as Sora or Riku. Either way, he remains unfought.
  • From Paper Mario:
    • In the first game, the "battle" against Kammy Koopa is simply a scripted battle with Peach; there is no way you can lose. She gets a proper battle in the sequel.
    • Nastasia from Super Paper Mario is the only member of the Quirky Miniboss Squad who isn't fought, though she was also the only one who had no real combat abilities.
  • The Prophet of Truth and the Gravemind from Halo. Somewhat justified in that it wouldn't fit with the tone of the game (the Prophet of Regret boss battle was universally loathed, and the Gravemind is a (possibly city-sized) Eldritch Abomination).
    • 343 Guilty Spark in the first game though you do fight him in Halo 3 and the Prophet of Mercy in the second game.
  • Alfonso from Skies of Arcadia is the first major villain you're introduced to, and he never fights you directly. That does fit with his personality, though.
    • The empress of Valua is the same way -- although the heroes (with the exception of Fina) never encounter her in person.
  • Edna from Wild Arms XF dies before you get a chance to kill her for all the terrible things she's done. It's quite aggravating you don't get to beat on her pompous, obese, whiny ass.
  • In The World Ends With You, it seems like the Composer is going to be the final boss. Well, technically he is...sort of...because Kitaniji grabs him and fuses with him to enhance his Noise form, which is the REAL final boss However, the player has no input when he challenges Neku to one final game after Kitaniji is finally defeated.
    • Also Sho Minamimoto returns with a badass newfound power and the game builds it up as if he's gonna be the next boss but then you find him crushed by his own trash heap.
      • However, it should be noted that while it's extremely difficult, you can have a full fight with him before the game is beaten - you get a brief battle with him that's on a (hidden) timer, and if you do enough damage to him before the time runs out, it launches into a full-on battle. Note that win or lose, the outcome's the same. Also, you can do the full fight with him as a Bonus Boss after beating the game.
  • Okay, not exactly the final boss, but you never get the chance to fight Varil in the final round of the tournament in Summon Night: Swordcraft Story.
  • In Fallout 3, President John Henry Eden is never actually fought in the game ...which has partially to do with the fact that he turns out to be a giant supercomputer. You can speech-challenge him though and lead him to self-destruct if your speech skills are good enough.
  • F.E.A.R.: Project Origin promises an incredible psychic battle between protagonist Michael Becket and Big Bad Alma. it doesn't happen. Instead you get a somewhat anticlimactic Battle in the Center of the Mind with your Evil Counterpart, while Alma rapes your comatose body.
  • The 2008 Alone in The Dark builds up to a climactic showdown between Edward Carnby and Lucifer... and just when it looks like the two are about to throw down, the game ends with a Gainax Ending.
  • In Tron 2.0, you never actually get a chance to fight apparent Big Bad Supervirus and self-proclaimed Master User Thorne. Instead he gets killed out of left field by the ICP Kernel about 3/4ths of the way through the game.
  • In Suikoden I, you never actually fight the game's real Big Bad, Lady Windy. Instead, the final battle is you beating some sense into The Emperor (who for some random reason turns into a 3-headed dragon for the fight). After you beat him, he realizes he's been a tool, grabs Windy, and jumps off the castle to his death dragging her with him.
  • Out of the many antagonists in the Xenosaga series, only two are never given boss battles. Sellers' case, at least, could be justified by the fact that he's just a scientist in a hoverchair who is incapable of combat. The other example? Wilhelm, the Big Bad who played some role in almost every malevolent action in the series. After being built up as The Antichrist, and therefore fully capable of taking on the heroes, he was instead taken out by his right-hand man. However, Sellers is the only antagonist whose fate was left unknown; if a sequel is ever made, it's possible that he may return for a proper battle.
    • Also, the White Testament is the only Testament who isn't fought. Though really, he wasn't looking for a fight, and the developers may have figured that a fourth battle with Albedo would have been redundant.
    • In addition, out of all of the enemy E.S. that appeared throughout the series, the only E.S. the player never gets to fight (the modified version of Simeon notwithstanding) is Judah, the red E.S. belonging to the Red Testament. However, considering that official sources list one of its abilities as being able to strike its targets through hyperspace, this may have inadvertently ended up being a blessing in disguise.
  • In Conkers Bad Fur Day, the Panther King has a barely lawyer friendly Xenomorph burst out of his chest shortly after he meets Conker for the first time, killing him and leaving the Not-an-Alien-honest as the final boss.
  • Subverted in Jade Empire: Death's Hand is killed by Sagacious Zu in a cutscene. However, you're not as close to the end of the game as it seems, and he gets better.
  • Most of the top-level antagonists in Xenogears escape the direct wrath of your giant robot violence. The Gazel Ministry is wiped out by Krelian, and Krelian himself gets off scot-free, having achieved pretty much exactly what he wanted.
  • Dynamite Headdy has an unfought boss, but you don't even know anything about her or what she looks like beforehand... a world just ends without a boss (and a justification, which was the only storyline text that got carried over to the US version).
  • In Resident Evil 1, your team leader Albert Wesker is revealed to be the villain behind the game's events, but he's killed by the Tyrant he releases without you fighting him. Then in Resident Evil Code Veronica, he returns, with superpowers no less, and you again don't get to fight him, instead watching him beat up the playable characters in cutscenes. This tradition of Wesker being built up as a behind-the-scenes, cutscene-only Big Bad responsible for almost all of the trials faced by Resident Evil's heroes continues throughout following games such as Resident Evil 0, 4, and The Umbrella Chronicles, before finally being averted in Resident Evil 5 when you finally face off with Wesker and kill him.
    • His colleague, William Birkin also has this when never being confronted in human form in 0 and 2. Instead, he is confronted after becoming a monster due to injecting the G-Virus into himself.
    • Their boss, Ozwell E. Spencer, the Bigger Bad is not confronted by the protagonists. In fact, they never even encounter him. Alive, anyways.
  • The main antagonists of Silent Hill are rarely fought at all.
  • In The Dark Spire (a Nintendo DS dungeon crawler), you fight what appears to be the main boss and kill him. Then you learn there's much more to it, but the real boss you only fight in a cutscene. And you have to do a lot of stuff to unlock this ending, which makes it a real let down.
  • Even though Ocelot is a major villain in Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons of Liberty he is far too busy with his Gambit Roulette to fight you. You still get to battle him in the the other games in the series though.
    • Another Metal Gear example: Decoy Octopus is the only member of the FOXHOUND terrorist squad who doesn't have a boss encounter in Metal Gear Solid. Instead, you meet him in the first 30 minutes of gameplay, disguised as the DARPA Chief Donald Anderson...and even though you don't actually fight him, you still kill him by passing the FOXDIE virus to him.
    • Hot Coldman is all but confirmed early on in Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker to be the main villain, but you don't get to fight him. Or Zadornov, who's killed in a cutscene.
  • In Crash Bandicoot 3 Warped, Uka Uka is introduced as the man behind the man, an extremely powerful mask that was sealed away for thousands of years. You never really fight him; all he does is act as an obstacle during the final boss battle. This isn't so bad (a mask is kind of hard to make into a full boss), but it gets really annoying in Crash Bandicoot the Wrath of Cortex where there was a perfect opportunity to fight him. In that game, every boss is Crunch absorbing the powers of an elemental mask. There are four elemental masks, five bosses, you'd expect the final boss to be the recurring boss using Uka Uka's power, right? Nope. Instead, he just uses the other four masks at once, and Uka Uka does absolutely nothing during the fight except pull Cortex back to safety after you attack him. It took until Crash Twinsanity for a proper battle with Uka Uka but by that time, he's no longer the main villain.
  • In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Explorers of Time/Darkness, the leader of Team Skull, Skuntank, is never fought, while his flunkies Zubat and Koffing are fought at the end of the first dungeon. After trying to backstab Wigglytuff and suffering the off-screen beatdown that followed, Team Skull is just sort of forgotten, aside from one dungeon.
    • There are a few in the main series too. Giovanni, despite being hyped up as returning throughout all of ~Pokémon Gold and Silver~ never even appears though they fixed that in the remakes and Charon is never fought in Platinum despite temporarily taking over as Big Bad once Cyrus is beaten, to name a couple of examples.
    • Many fans were disappointed when they found out that during the post-game storyline, when you're given the task of hunting down the six sages of Team Plasma, you don't get the opportunity to engage them in battle. This is especially notable because, near the end of the normal storyline, they all try to gang up on you, 6 on 1, before the Gym Leaders come in to take them off your hands, but they never decide to get revenge on you. Instead, they all (but one) turn themselves in willingly.
    • Also, the Shadow Triad - those teleporting ninjas who guide you throughout the game.
  • The final boss of Magic & Magic V: Darkside of Xeen is never fought. As soon as you enter the final room where he waits for you, the ending plays. You get a climactic cutscene of a Sealed Good in a Can fighting him for you and defeating him with a Heroic Sacrifice. The battle itself was climactic, but the challenge was not. You never even get to see an in game character model of the Big Bad.
  • In the original Rayman, you never actually get to fight Mr. Dark. First he tortures you with some fire magic, then you fight his three mutants, then... the game just ends.
    • You do get to fight him in the incredibly obscure GBC Rayman game, though.
  • Gunstar Heroes. You never get to fight the evil emperor, because he gets nuked by the crystals he was trying to collect, which then open the Sealed Evil in a Can for the real boss fight.
  • Arnold Leach from Clive Barker's Jericho, while a Big Bad, is never fought (contrary to what some players may tell you). It is possible to shoot at him during a later level, but it has no effect on him.
  • In Beyond Good and Evil, General Kheck, the leader of the Alpha Sections, is never actually fought. While you do brush shoulders with him once or twice, your only actual combat encounter with him is actually with his ship. You fight his Tripod Terror from your ship, and it crashes and lands... but when you go inside, he's already dying, and all you get is an Almost-Dead Guy speech.
  • Dr. Loboto in Psychonauts. While he's presented as the primary antagonist for most of the game, you neither get to enter his mind nor confront him directly as a boss. Instead he gets a lowly Disney Villain Death. Presumably for the same reason other heroes do: Raz beating up on mental baddies is OK, but real people? No.
    • Also, The Milkman, who after being awakened simply ignores Raz and eventually burns down the asylum, completing his programming, then leaves Boyd's mind forever.
  • In Shadow Complex, Lucius spends the entire climax standing in his observation tower while the player fights the final boss. He gets shot in the head in a cutscene.
  • In Devil May Cry 4, you never get to fight Credo in human form, despite his Informed Ability of being a master swordsman. He activates Devil Trigger before throwing down with Nero.
    • Still, in spite of that fact, the battle you do get to have with him is probably one of the best and most epic in the game (second only to Dante himself). It's a shame that you can't relive it during the Boss Rush at the end.
    • How about Trish? When she's reveal to be working for Mundus, only Nightmare is fought, not her.
  • In Iron Tager's Story path of Blaz Blue, he runs into Ragna after beating Hakumen but they trade only words instead of blows.
  • This scenario plays out at the end of the Resistance campaign in Operation Flashpoint. Having been defeated, the enemy Big Bad, Soviet Colonel Guba, gets off scot free and flees in a helicopter, but not before cornering and blowing up the protagonist. And that's the "good" ending! (If the player fails to destroy the bombers, every population center gets bombed into oblivion instead.)
  • In Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, Vladimir Makarov is originally set up as the Big Bad and a Complete Monster. Then Magnificent Bastard General Shepherd steals the limelight. The closest you get is firing on him in No Russian, which fails the mission. It is implied however that with his enemies closing in on him, he won't last long.
    • Hell, he only shows up in a grand total of two missions in the game. And only one of those in person. The other you just hear his voice.
  • In Mass Effect 2, you fight Harbinger on multiple occasions as he possesses Collectors. However, you never fight his actual body, which resembles a cross between a Collector and a Husk Praetorian. This is because the Collector General is not his true body either. He's actually a Reaper, and the Collector General is just another shell he discards when it's no longer convenient.
    • The same holds true for Mass Effect 3. You spend the entire game building up a fleet to battle the Reaper forces led by Harbinger at Earth and you don't even fight him. He doesn't even have any lines! He only appears at the Conduit-like beam that leads to the Citadel and blasts Hammer as they bolt for the beam.
  • In the first and second House of the Dead games, the final bosses are artificial monsters created by the Mad Scientist of the episode. The maestri themselves are not up to a fight, either having been slain by their "masterpiece" immediately after its commission or doing themselves in after it's destroyed.
    • Although, in Curien's case, you will get to fight him at the end of the third game, after resurrected and transformed into the artificial life-form "Wheel of Fortune".
  • Ironically, Captain Qwark only falls into this trope in the second of the Ratchet and Clank games, in which he is the main villain. In the first he's The Dragon and in the third he's barely a comic relief villain.
  • The eponymous Hisoutensoku of the expansion to the second Touhou Project fighter Scarlet Weather Rhapsody is never encountered or fought by the three interested in its shadow. Instead, Cirno fights Alice and a giant Shanghai doll, Sanae fights Suwako who was responsible for the event, and Meiling hallucinates about a big freaking catfish.
  • God of War 3 has several: Hera is killed easily in a cinema, Helios is weakened to the point where all you need is a mini-game to kill him, Hephaestus and Gaia are technically killed completely by Kratos, but in mini-games instead of full battles.
  • Terranigma features a Mad Scientist called Beruga who is set up as the Big Bad for quite a while. But when you track him down and are about to fight him he just ends up killing himself by accident.
  • Thanks to its rushed development cycle, Turel is the only one of Kain's vampire lieutenants that Raziel does not fight in Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver - in fact, the entire third act of the game was unceremoniously Dummied Out to set up a sequel. Fortunately, future games in the series got a chance to rectify this: Raziel fights and defeats Turel's human form in Soul Reaver 2, as well as his vampire form in Defiance, where Turel has travelled back in time and is worshipped as a pagan god in the underground catacombs of Avernus Cathedral.
  • Fable II's Reaver will shoot Lucien if you allow him to talk too long.
  • Officer Tenpenny in Grand Theft Auto San Andreas is the meanest, most Manipulative Bastard son of a bitch in the game, but you never get to actually fight him. After a city-wide car chase, he ends up losing control of his truck and driving right off a bridge through a concrete barrier, just in front of CJ's home. CJ is convinced by Sweet not to drive a bullet in the man's head "just to make sure", and lets Tenpenny die of his own internal injuries.
  • Meibisi in Rise of the Kasai is never fought in his human form; despite being invincible because he removed his heart and put it in a crystal, and having been a part of the same organization as the heroes which would have involved being a highly trained warrior in his own right, he goes straight into One-Winged Angel mode during his bossfight, becoming the mindless avatar of his god, Kri.
  • MB, aka Melissa Bergman in Metroid: Other M. Kinda justified, though, in that a straight fight between her and Samus would've been over in seconds, given how easily a bunch of random GF Troopers were able to kill her.
  • Earthworm Jim 2's first boss fight ends almost as soon as it begins, when Jim eats the boss.
  • In the arcade game Hard Head 2, you never fight the cyclops monster that steals your girlfriend. After killing the final boss, the monster just returns the girl to you and leaves.
  • The arcade version of The Combatribes, a beat-'em-up by Technos, has the three main characters chasing after a generic looking man-in-suit crime boss throughout the final two stages. When the player finally confronts the boss at the end, he gets murdered by his own female bodyguard, who confronts the player as the final boss instead.
  • In the beat-'em-up version of The Punisher by Capcom, Bruno Costa (the Mafia gang boss responsible for the death of Frank Castle's family), sends out various cronies to take care of Frank Castle and Nick Fury as he makes his get-away. When the player finally confronts him in the end of the second stage, Costa gets killed by an android sent out by the Kingpin to eliminate him.
  • Hiruko the fortune teller in the NES version of Double Dragon III is never fought after she betrays the heroes. This is not the case in the arcade version, where she has a brief battle with the player before fighting the final boss.
  • In Grandia III, Grau is never fought. One of Xorn's roots turns him into glass and shatters him.
  • The Legend of Zelda Spirit Tracks has Chancellor Cole... sort of. While you never direcly fight him, the first fight with Malladus has him constantly interfering, and the final boss is Malladus possesing Cole's body, which goes One-Winged Angel.
  • Okamiden. Daidarabotchi. Big. Threatening. Never even moves, let alone fights.
    • In Okami, Waka is fought very early (in fact, he's the first actual boss in the game), and shortly after the first dungeon, less than one quarter into the game. After teasing you and hinting that he's The Rival, Amaterasu, Issun, random characters and Waka himself build him up during the game as a shadowy, mysterious character with a secret agenda. Having fought him so early, and since he has an amazing battle theme, remix of the regular boss one, you expect to have a last battle with him in a very climatic moment in the game. Then, when the end is close, he traps you inside a legendary warship from ancient times... and then he reveals himself to have been Good All Along and proceeds to attempt to kill the Big Bad. Then he goes away with Amaterasu as if they had been friends from the very first minute.
  • In Odin Sphere you never fight Big Bad King Valentine. You just deal with the mess he creates.
  • The Dark Queen appears but remains unfought in the Game Boy and arcade Battletoads games, both of which have Robo-Manus as the Final Boss.
  • Papa Muerte in Total Overdose is a legendary and feared underworld figure who all of Tommy's investigations have pointed to, and eventually Muerte is connected to killing Ram and Tommy's father. He's behind every mobster Ram fights, works for, or works for and then fights. A Big Bad appears out of nowhere in the last two chapters, but all that's seen of Papa Muerte is the back of his head in some distant narrative shot.
  • In Strange Journey, Mastema becomes this if you're on the Neutral ending. Normally, alignment-specific characters in this franchise are fought if you oppose them; not so with this guy, even though he's angry with you for not choosing to side with the forces of Law.
    • On the Chaos Path, Mem Aleph, the Big Bad, is your ally and thus not the Final Boss as per usual.
  • Alice: Madness Returns has the first boss, a steam-powered Humongous Mecha piloted by the Dormouse and March Hare. Just after pre-battle cutscene is over, Mad Hatter unceremoniously whacks it out of existence with a giant teapot.
  • In Borderlands, Commandant Steele and the Crimson Lance are the main antagonists for most of the game, however, upon reaching the Vault you don't get to fight Steele because she is impaled by an Eldritch Abomination named The Destroyer, that is, quite in fact, a Giant Space Flea From Nowhere. However, she returns in Claptrap's Robot Revolution, having been rebuilt as "Steele-Trap" and as an actual boss.
  • Skint in The Reconstruction. You come extremely close to battling him (there's even a Fight Woosh!), but Dehl calls off the battle and solves things diplomatically. The next time you see him, he's Half the Man He Used To Be and requests a Mercy Kill in an Alas, Poor Villain scene.
  • In Transformers: War for Cybertron, Optimus Prime is never fought during the Decepticon Campaign (the major boss fight is against Omega Supreme) and Megatron is never fought directly during the Autobot Campaign (the end boss fight being against Trypticon)
  • Most of the people responsible for what happens in New York in Prototype. Peter Randall and Colonel Ian Taggart, the general of Blackwatch and leader of the Military, is killed in a cutscene by Alex, and McMullen, head of Gentex and company that developed the virus kills himself when Alex confronts him.
  • Home Front has Colonel Jeong, the only enemy that isn't an anonymous masked clone. He arrests you in the opening sequence and is narrowly avoided later on in the game, but after his second appearance he is never mentioned again.
  • The sorceress in Orcs Must Die is never confronted directly, although there is some verbal sparring.
  • Many villains in the Batman: Arkham Asylum Series never get a proper boss fight, either being taken out in a cutscene ( Harley, Scarecrow, Hugo Strange), are defeated with a single stealth attack or thrown Batarang ( Zsasz, Riddler, Deadshot), or both ( Croc).
    • This does make some sense, as of the bosses listed only Harley Quinn and Croc are primarily physical combatants. And the latter is very much in the category of enemies where Batman's Crazy Preparedness consists of never letting himself get within arm's reach.
  • Runescape has a few, which include, but are not limited to:
    • Lucien, percieved for several years to be the game's Big Bad until a new quest was released in which he is killed easily by an even more powerful enemy.
    • There's also Bilrach, who is revealed to have died sometime before his great work was even added to the game, with the entire game community being informed of this by a one-time-only event on every server. However, the meaning of this was unknown until a relatively recent update.
    • You don't really fight Iban as such, rather, players must simply run into his room and throw a Voodoo Doll of him into the Well of Voyage, killing him. He is trying to blast you with magic during this procedure, but the room is very small and it's quite possible to succeed without him hitting you once.
  • In Bastion, there is Zulf. Made somewhat humorous by the fact that immediately after you figure out there won't be such a fight, Rucks starts talking about how The Kid must be having a final showdown right about now.
  • Dragon Age II has Sister Petrice, who is killed by a Qunari archer in front of you - though she admits early on to being a non-action person, so this is perhaps unsurprising.
  • Viridi from Kid Icarus Uprising. She sends her forces at Pit like the other gods, insults and tries to put him down like the other gods and is a clear antagonist but though a combination of an army of Giant Space Fleas from Nowhere and losing the war against another god she and Pit eventually become allies. Even in the chapter that puts Pit up against hypothetical enemies like Magnus she doesn't get a boss fight. Quite strange for a character with such huge importance in the story.
  • Lan-Di, the antagonist of the Shenmue series, is never fought by the player even once. The fact that Sega abandoned the series after sales failed to meet their expectations meant that Ryo Hazuki will never get to avenge his father's death anytime.
  • Motaro, in Mortal Kombat 9, is unceremoniously killed by Raiden just off-screen early in the third part.
  • Danek emperor Jeal in Vay. Though you do eventually come face-to-face with him once most of the Orbs are collected, his second-in-command, Prince Sadoul, kills him right in front of the party's eyes.
  • The varsity squad in the Mario Tennis Game Boy Color game. You get to play against Mark when he's in a Doubles match, and Emily in a Singles. But never Kevin.
  • You never get to fight Elise in Shining the Holy Ark despite the fact she bathes in the blood of children to retain her beauty. You only get to fight her sister and the half-vandal Panzer. Perhaps it was she was a powerful Vandal and to retain the fear of vandals for the sequel Shining Force III.
    • You also never get to fight Galm.
  • Speaking of Shining Force III you never get to fight a great number of bosses, at least outside Japan. Due to the fact the game was split into three different games and only the first one was globally released there are great scores of bad guys, monsters and machines that are introduced and never seen by the main characters; yet alone fought.

Non-Video Game Examples: Edit

Anime Edit

Fan Fiction Edit

  • In Clash of the Elements: The inner guardians of the Terra Cave, Frozen Palace, and Ignitor Cave count for this trope. Though their powers are given to the people who merge the Elemental Stones with themselves. This also counts as an example of The Unseen.

Film Edit

  • In The Fifth Element, the hero and Zorg never fight or even communicate directly in any way (even though at one point they are mere meters apart). He does encounter the Action Girl, but at this point she's outgunned and has to retreat.
  • The main character in Jarhead is a sniper who never gets an order to fire a single shot. At the movie's climax he is finally ordered to target an enemy officer, and has him in his sights... when Command decides to just bomb the place instead.
  • In The Final Countdown, a strike group of U.S. Navy fighters from the carrier Nimitz are within sight of stopping the Japanese task force from attacking Pearl Harbor, but are ordered to abort the mission at the last moment.
  • Happens in Street Fighter. Blanka is barely fought, Cammy only takes down a mook or two and Dhalsim never does anything violent. Subverted with Ryu/Vega: It definitely builds up to it, and just as it's about to happen, Guile knocks down the wall with a tank and arrests everybody. Then, near the end of the film, Ryu+Ken/Sagat+Vega, complete with a hadouken reference.

Literature Edit

  • In Iain Banks' The Algebraist the hero and the big bad are never even in the same star system for entirety of the book.
  • In The Dresden Files book Changes, the Eebs (Esmerelda and Esteban) are two ancient vampire hitmen built up through about 3/4 of the book. Finally, when it comes down to a Combat by Champion between Harry and Susan vs. the vampires' side, they fight...the Eebs' pet monster, and a random mook who gets pounded into dust in the first few seconds of the fight. And when those lose, the Eebs are killed by goblins. Given that they knew this would happen, they might have taken it a bit more seriously.
  • In the main action of Lord of the Rings (both the books and the Peter Jackson movie trilogy), Sauron himself never appears on any literal battlefield, although his Dragon the Witch-King of Angmar does. Justified by Denethor, who tells Pippin (who fears the imminent arrival of Sauron) that all great lords use others as their weapons, if they are wise. Sauron was also subject to multiple humiliating defeats whenever he fought personally, which is probably how he learned this wisdom. Ultimately, he is destroyed by action from a distance although never directly confronted.
    • Indeed, the character who comes closest to directly encountering Sauron is Pippin, who suffers a brief Mind Rape through Sauron's Palantir.
    • In the movie trilogy, he was planned to appear in the Battle of the Black Gate, but dropped for not fitting with the tone of the films or Tolkien's vision. He was replaced with the armoured troll Aragorn fights instead.
    • It is important to note that Sauron did have a physical form in the book - only in the movies was he a mere flaming eye. Several characters make mention of it, and Tolkien also confirms it in his letters beyond all doubt, saying that "the form that he took was that of a man of more than human stature, but not gigantic."
  • In the climax of first Harry Potter book, one of the challenges to get to the Philosopher's / Sorcerer's Stone was supposed to be defeating a troll. However, the troll had already been knocked out before the heroes got there, so they just walked past it. They had already fought a troll earlier in the book, though.
  • In Mistborn, Lord Tevidian is High Priest of the Corrupt Church, one of the chief lieutenants of the Lord Ruler, and the father of heroine Vin. He is, in other words, exactly the kind of character you'd expect a dramatic confrontation against, but when he does show up it's only for his political rivals to frame him for treason, at which point the Lord Ruler gives them permission to kill him off messily. He never even speaks to his daughter, much less has any sort of confrontation with her.
  • In His Dark Materials, the Authority (A.K.A. God) is set up as the ultimate source of the problems of society and the plot. But late in the series, it becomes apparent that his Dragon, Metatron, is really calling the shots, while the Authority is the victim of a carriage crash and a stiff breeze.
  • The Council of Thirteen are the ultimate heads of the Yeerk Empire in Literature/Animorphs, but they're a mostly off-page Bigger Bad, with Visser Three (and to a lesser extent, Visser One) being the actual main enemies the Animorphs have to contend with. The Thirteen themselves only appear in one book, where they're more concerned with investigating potential treason on the Vissers' parts than actually confronting the protagonists.

Live Action TV Edit

  • The Power Rangers never fight Rita in the first two series, with her eventually getting kicked out by a stronger villain, and giving up on conquering/destroying the Earth.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Anointed One was killed by Spike due to the actor aging out of the character (The Annoying Anointed One was a kid vampire). Buffy never fought him and he never had any real plot importance.
  • Narutaki, technically speaking the main enemy of Kamen Rider Decade [2], never directly fights Decade or any of the KR allies he has made. Even in the Final Chapter movie, where Narutaki basically reforms The Remnant of Decade's old Dai-Shocker army into Super Shocker, with the help of a brainwashed Dr. Shinigami. Basically, as its top officer, Narutaki turns into what is presumably his true persona, Colonel Zol. Even in that guise, Narutaki remains in the sidelines, only ordering his troops around instead of fighting Decade.
    • And then apparently getting killed when the Neo-Organism Doras is released. Which he still manages to blame on Decade.
  • This happens many times on Merlin, most notably between Arthur and Cenred, the antagonistic king of a neighbouring kingdom. After being set up as a Worthy Opponent throughout the course of series three, Cenred is killed off by one of his own allies in a case of You Have Outlived Your Usefulness. They do have a brief scuffle in a Deleted Scene, but it still feels a bit of a waste.
    • Arthur never gets to confront his uncle Agravaine after he realizes that he was in cahoots with Morgana. Instead Merlin dispatches him in a tunnel, and it's unclear whether Arthur is even told whether he's alive or dead.

Notes

  1. he commits suicide by explosion after being shot by Argath at Ft. Zeakden
  2. as the one responsible for most of Decade's troubles

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