->'''Vegeta''': ''[on seeing boss]'' Oh please, this guy ain't so bad.
->''[enormous boss crushes first boss]''
->'''Vegeta''': Oh.
-->-- ''WebVideo/TwoSaiyansPlay: VideoGame/CastleCrashers''

You've blasted your way through the enemy's lair, demolished the {{mooks}}, and solved the puzzles. Now it's time to face the boss of the stage, right beyond those big conspicuously ornate doors. Your loins are girded for the fight as you barge in. Sure enough, you see a new enemy -- it's a BossBattle. There seems to be a fight ahead.

Then a giant blade comes out of nowhere, slicing the enemy clean from head to toe. Your vision slowly runs up the blade to the face of the ''real'' boss of the stage, almost three times the size of the "boss" he just bisected... and he's looking back at you.

A Bait-And-Switch Boss is those times when the apparent boss for the stage gets replaced by the real boss, who then steps up to the plate to challenge you. The primary version has the boss destroy the 'bait' boss before he even attacks, but some games may have you fight the lesser boss for a bit before the real boss takes his place.

The real boss could be a GiantSpaceFleaFromNowhere. It could also be TheManBehindTheMan, but it isn't a requirement that the real boss is in any way the real leader or in greater authority, aside from his [[AuthorityEqualsAsskicking presumed rank.]] If the new boss is a familiar face, then the story just got HijackedByGanon.

If you actually have to finish the first boss off yourself, then go against another, it's a TrickBoss.

Compare TheWorfEffect.

[[noreallife]]
----
!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]
* In ''Anime/{{Gantz}}'', the first target is the Onion Alien, a scrawny, panicky little man who can do little more than say "Onions are enough for me". The hunters corner him, taunt him and then blow his head up...at which point a much larger, ''much'' brawnier alien walks up. He bears a slight resemblance to the Onion Alien (one hunter suggests he's the first one's dad), and he's ''really'' pissed off. This one slaughters all but four of the hunters before the survivors kill him.
** This actually seems to happen almost habitually in all their hunts. That is, Gantz gives them one or a few targets, and then more keep showing up. Think of the Buddha statues battle, for example.
* In the manga ''Manga/TheLawOfUeki [[OddlyNamedSequel Plus]]'', when the main characters start their siege on the BigBad. Plus, four generals are introduced as his guards. They are immediately dispatched by the main group on the next page, being run over by a ''T-rex''. It's just as awesome as it sounds.
* In ''VideoGame/PokemonRedAndBlue'', the eighth and final Gym Leader is Giovanni, the BigBad of Team Rocket. In the ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'' anime, Giovanni leaves his duty at the ''exact'' same moment that Ash was at the Gym's doorstep, ready to challenge him. [[spoiler:Although Gary unintentionally had a hand in this, as he wanted to challenge Giovanni just to beat Ash to the punch, when he really doesn't need to do so anyway. If it weren't for Gary's interference, Ash would have actually fought Giovanni.]] Instead, Ash has to face off against Jessie and James, who Giovanni temporarily left in charge.
* In ''{{Gamaran}}'' at the beginning of the second part of the tournament, it seems that Gama's gonna fight the [[EpicFlail Kanasemanji School leader]] [[BaldOfEvil Muraku Matsumoto]], but then he decides to step back and let Gama fight with Saizou Fujibayashi, leader of the Tamagakushi Ninja School.
* One of the best examples in Anime is the original ''DragonBall'''s Red Ribbon Army arc. For the past 30 or so episodes the ultimate antagonist has been built up as Commander Red. Then when Goku begins raiding the Army HQ, Red reveals that he's been gathering the dragonballs for the sole purpose of making himself taller rather than world conquest. Disgusted that their leader wasted everyone's lives and resources over such a meager pursuit, 2nd-in-command Adviser Black shoots Red dead just minutes before Goku arrives, leaving the final showdown to occur between the two of them instead.
* ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica'' has a rather interesting example in that [[spoiler: the ''title character'' is-or rather, can be-the boss. Sure, she's literally the only person capable of beating the extremely powerful witch Walpurgisnacht, but doing so causes her to become an even more powerful witch capable of planetary annihilation. She's done it in at least two alternate timelines, and preventing it for good is Homura's goal in life.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In ''ComicBook/TheMightyThor'', Thor spent some time fighting one of the three-thousand-foot-tall Celestials, Arishem the Judge, who threatened a planet Thor was on. Just after he finally got Arishem's attention, Exitar the Exterminator, the even larger Celestial whose job it was to actually wipe out the dominant species on the planet (Arishem, per his name, only judged whether they should be wiped out), showed up.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* Chapter 10 of ''[[FanFic/SonicGenerationsFriendshipIsTimeless Sonic Generations: Friendship is Timeless]]'' makes you think that Franchise/{{Sonic|the Hedgehog}} will be battling [[TheRival Shadow]] like [[VideoGame/SonicGenerations in the original game]], [[GiantSpaceFleaFromNowhere but then]] [[WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic Queen Chrysalis]] [[GiantSpaceFleaFromNowhere and her army of changelings show up...]]
** Shadow having a question mark next to his name in the chapter title is kind of a hint to this.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Literature]]
* In the ''Literature/EighthDoctorAdventures'' book ''Alien Bodies'', a devastating superweapon from the relative future of the Whoniverse is put up in an AuctionOfEvil, with the greatest powers being invited to bid. Much to the Doctor's horror, a Dalek saucer approaches the auction and opens... revealing the ''Krotons'', who have become an utterly ferocious warlike race since last time he'd seen them.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live-Action TV ]]
* In the season 5 finale of ''Series/LawAndOrderSpecialVictimsUnit'', a male urophiliac potty-peeper who installs hidden cameras in ladies' bathrooms is quickly and easily apprehended by police. With an overwhelming pile of evidence incriminating him, he folds quickly, about a quarter of the way into the episode's length--but not before offering up video footage of what turns out to be a ''far more disturbing'' crime, which becomes the "actual" plot of the episode.
** The ''Series/LawAndOrder'' series have done this on several occasions, of course it's easy to see coming when they manage to try and convict a person [[SpoiledByTheFormat in the first half hour]].
* In Season 4 of ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'', Spike is watching Buffy from an balcony giving a speech about how he's back and this time he's going to kill the slayer, but is interrupted by being tazered and surrounded by the real season's villains The Initiative.
** Then it happens again seven episodes later with Initiative professor Maggie Walsh and Adam.
** And of course, there was Season 2. Spike and Drusilla were continuously built up as the main antagonists for that year, making it all but guaranteed the season would climax with a big showdown with them. [[spoiler: Then Angel winds up losing his soul...]]
** A quick version from season 1's ''Angel'': The Master decides to call in The Three. SmashCut to three intimidating bikers... who are immediately scared off by a trio of 7 foot tall vampires in medieval armor.
*** And before that was the Anointed One, the first big bad of season 2. Until Spike got bored and toasted him.
* For the finale of ''Let's Go Kamen Rider'', ''Series/KamenRiderOOO'' has defeated the [[BigBad Great Leader]] of Shocker, blasting him into the distance. Out of the rubble emerges [[Series/KamenRiderX King Dark]], ready to fight the Riders not unlike what happened at ''[[Series/KamenRiderDecade All Riders vs. Dai-Shocker]]''. [[spoiler:However, the Great Leader returns, going OneWingedAngel to become the Great Colossus, a monstrosity that's even larger than King Dark himself. The Colossus quickly deals with Dark and the rest of the surviving members of Shocker, so the Riders have to deal with him instead.]]
* Subverted in ''Series/{{NCIS}}'', when they capture the mole's boss, and it's someone whose wife is being held hostage. [[spoiler: double subverted when the team realizes he had killed his own wife and ''was'' the actual big bad.]]
* This is what happens to [[SpacePirates the Raiders]], who were the DiscOneFinalBoss on ''Series/BabylonFive''. They're last seen on board their mothership, gloating about how between the ancient relic they've captured and the Centauri nobleman they're about to ransom, they're going to get enough money to buy a whole fleet of warships, rendering their losses in previous episodes inconsequential- and then a [[ScaryDogmaticAliens Shadow]] warship drops out of hyperspace and vaporizes them with downright contemptuous ease.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games ]]
* ''AceCombatZeroTheBelkanWar'' has a secret boss that only appears on the hardest difficulty of the bonus mission. When it appears, it destroys the squadron you would face on any other difficulty before turning on the player. [[spoiler: OhCrap, it's [[MemeticBadass Mobius]] [[OneManArmy One]]!]]
* ''[[VideoGame/AeroFighters Aero Fighters 2]]'' has something alike in the level that takes place in Australia, when a warship appears from behind you and starts attacking... just to be rammed and destroyed by the '''real''' boss: a [[BattleshipRaid far larguer helicopter carrier-battleship]].
* In the final level of ''VideoGame/AlienVsPredatorCapcom'', you mow down your way to a fat colonel that is getting Aliens for the Weyland-Yutani company. After you take out his last mooks he steps forward to face you... only to be impaled and torn in half by the Alien Queen, which you thought you killed three levels earlier and who isn't a StationaryBoss like she was earlier due to not being attached to her egg sac anymore. Cue hellish final boss fight.
* ''VideoGame/{{Borderlands}}'' has Commandant Steele yell at you for stealing artifacts the whole game, only to be replaced by GiantSpaceFleaFromNowhere when she opens the vault.
* In the second DLC of ''VideoGame/{{Borderlands 2}}'', as you're about to fight Flyboy, Piston kills him so that ''he'' can fight you instead.
* In ''VideoGame/CastleCrashers'', when you reach the first boss fight, you first see a barbarian about twice the size of the regular {{Mook}}s. Then there's pounding on the door behind him and it falls onto him, as an even larger barbarian shows up -- this one fills up nearly half the screen.
** In the Thieves' Forest, a grizzly bear attempts to attack your party, but an off-screen GiantMook, which is causing the ground to tremble with its footsteeps, freaks out the bear so much that he ''craps himself'' and retreats back into his bush. You run away from this boss in the next stage, [[SuperPersistentPredator then fight him for real in a later level.]]
* ''Franchise/{{Castlevania}}'' has a few. In ''[[VideoGame/CastlevaniaHarmonyOfDissonance Harmony of Dissonance]]'' you enter the boss room in a later part of the game, and see a Living Armour marching towards you. Looks exactly like the one you fought about twenty levels ago, only with a {{BFS}}... Until it's destroyed in one hit by Talos, the real boss (the big armor that you ran away from at the start of the game).
** Another one in ''Harmony of Dissonance'' occurs when you walk into a boss room to find a Peeping Eye. Extremely weak enemy. Move a bit to the right, hero, and you'll find the REAL boss, a Peeping Big.
** Another version of Bait and Switch occurs in ''[[VideoGame/CastlevaniaChroniclesOfSorrow Aria of Sorrow]].'' You've pounded Death and Legion, two of the more intimidating bosses so far, and are expecting a good challenge in the Battle Arena stage. You enter the boss room, and the bats hanging on the roof form into... the Giant Bat? A common boss, but universally a low-level boss in Castlevania. What's he doing this late a level?... Until a massive hand comes out of the background and crushes the bat in its grip. Meet Balore, the real boss.
* Fairly early in ''VideoGame/CaveStory'', you encounter a power switch that supplies power to the fans (which you need to activate) and something called "Malco." Turns out that Malco is the nearby security bot, which promptly prepares to kill you, before the RecurringBoss drops down out of the sky to take you on and lands on top of it.
** Later on, a major villain shows up and prepares to fight you, when the ground suddenly begins shaking. The villain remarks that she's no longer needed and teleports away as a giant monster bursts out of the ground.
* ''VideoGame/{{Contra}}'' series:
** ''Shattered Soldier'' has Mr. Heli-Robo, a TransformingMecha that chases the player throughout Mission 1. It eventually appears at the end of the stage, where it is promptly crushed by Slave Beast Taka, the actual boss. Mr. Heli Robo returns as a proper boss in Mission 6.
** In Stage 2 of ''Contra 4'', the player has to face a group of four enemy snipers in black who are tougher to kill than the regular {{mook}}s. When only one of the black-clad snipers remains, a tail suddenly grabs him and cuts him in half. Then the true boss rears his ugly head.
* ''DinoCrisis2'' has you fighting and constantly running from a one-eyed T-Rex (who's justifiably pissed off seeing as you and your team are the ones responsible for blowing up its eye). What's worse than fighting a T-Rex, you might ask? [[spoiler: Having that T-Rex corner the player about 3/4ths of the way into the game, only to be grabbed, tossed aside, and made into lunch by an even BIGGER dinosaur: Giganotosaurus.]] The "good" news? You get to fight (and more likely run from) it about two rooms later!
* ''DragonsCrown'': In one stage's B-route, the players are tasked with stopping an evil cult from summoning the Demon King. They succeed with relative ease, banishing him before he can even leave the demon realm...only to be forced to face his [[TheDragon Dragon]], the Arch Demon.
* The arcade game ''Dungeon Magic'' (from 1993, but playable now via MAME) has a classic example of this. After chasing the evil wizard Venom through three scenarios, each of which ends with him escaping and leaving you to fight one of his minions, you face off with him. He summons a Demon Lord...which kills him in one blow, and then fights you.
* The first boss of ''VideoGame/DynamiteHeaddy'' shows up at the end of the second world with a new vehicle, only to be squashed by the real boss. He even remains stuck in the boss's underside for the whole fight.
* A variant occurs in ''VideoGame/DonkeyKong64''. Diddy enters a boss room, finding it inhabited by a small, insect-sized dragon which buzzes irritatingly around his head, so he jumps on it and squashes it. Then an identical but much larger dragon crawls out of the lava behind Diddy; it's not happy.
* At the end of 1-3 in ''VideoGame/DemonsSouls'', you find a typical Fat Minister, the likes of which you've been fighting as regular enemies before. At first it looks like he would be the boss, but suddenly he gets stabbed from behind and thrown out by the real boss, [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast The Penetrator.]]
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIV'', [[spoiler:you arrive at the core of the moon just in time to see TheManBehindTheMan get defeated in a cutscene, only for his hatred to take form and become the FinalBoss.]]
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyV'', after retrieving one of the PlotCoupons, one of the BigBad's minions shows up, ready to fight you; only to be swept away (somewhat literally) by [[spoiler:Leviathan]]. However, [[spoiler:nothing forces you to fight Leviathan now: You can proceed to the next dungeon and return there only when you want to unlock his Summon]].
* Early on in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVIII'', Squall and company run into [[GoldfishPoopGang Biggs and Wedge]] atop the Dollet Communication Tower. After depleting their health (a simple feat - they're only slightly better than normal Galbadian Soldiers and Elites), they get sucked up in a tornado as [[GiantSpaceFleaFromNowhere Elvo]][[DegradedBoss ret]] gets annoyed at all the racket.
** Also inverted with a bait and switch ''ally''. If you've got Odin by the time you fight Seifer the last time, Odin shows up (which he never usually does in boss fights), attacks Seifer, and is killed(!). Later in the battle, Gilgamesh shows up and beats Seifer instantly for you, [[ReplacementScrappy and replaces Odin from then on]].
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX'' features an example in the beginning of the game. Tidus, the main character, battles several minor enemies who ambush him in the water. After he defeats two of them, a massive [[HopelessBossFight unbeatable]] (at that point) boss, Geosgaeno, kills the remaining enemy and promptly attacks you.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXII'' combines this trope with FluffyTheTerrible [[spoiler:with The Fury from the Necrohol of Nabudis. When entering the boss room, a huge behemoth greets the party... but it suddenly collapses and a [[KillerRabbit fuzzy little purple bunny]] shows up and the real battle takes place.]]
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII'' continues the trend with [[EvilIsSexy Jihl]], although many agree that [[AssholeVictim she]] [[KickTheSonOfABitch deserved it]] after some [[KickTheDog less than meritorious behavior]].
** In one of the side missions later in the game, your objective is to fight Zenobia, an Undying Cie'th--that is, a Cie'th holding onto immense hatred for the fal'Cie that cursed it. Zenobia rises from the ground, in all its BodyHorror glory, only to be [[spoiler:stabbed in the leg and killed instantly by a [[KillerRabbit Tonberry]], the real boss of the mission.]]
*** Both Zenobia and Jihl are fightable in [[{{VideoGame/Final Fantasy XIII-2}} the sequel]], former as a storyline boss and latter as DLC.
** The last enemy you face during Titan's trials is one of the Undying, which kills the behemoth Titan had intended for you to fight.
* In ''[[VideoGame/FireEmblemElibe Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword]]'' [[spoiler: the BigBad turned out to have summoned a great big dragon that you need to take down]].
** This is also seen in certain chapters of ''Sword of Seals''. For instance, when you go to free the Western Isles once and for all, Arcard is sitting on the throne. When the chapter starts proper, he leaves and puts General Flaer in charge...who then makes way for Aine when he shows up.
** Also seen in ''VideoGame/FireEmblemTheSacredStones'' in Ephraim's version of Chapter 10, after [[spoiler:Duessel defects.]] In the chapter preparation screen, it looks like you'll be facing against one of Grado's top generals, Selena... only for her to be replaced on the first turn by a much weaker boss named Beran. You do later face her for real, though, and she's a ThatOneBoss at that.
* An early mine level of the ''VideoGame/GanbareGoemon'' game ''Goemon's Great Adventure'' has a boss setup on a bridge against a bigger version of the standard haniwa enemy, except the haniwa is instantly smashed by a giant skeletal hand from behind the bridge, and Goemon must then fight a gashadokuro (giant skeletons composed of starved bodies).
* In the beginning of ''VideoGame/GodOfWar: Chains of Olympus'', a cyclops armed with a gigantic club smashes through a door you're trying to open. You drive off his first attack, and then the massive Basilisk, the real first boss, nibbles the cyclops from outside the door and eats it. At least he leaves you his club to use on the big lizard.
* Two of the bosses for ''VideoGame/GunstarHeroes'' qualify. After fighting your way through an entire army, the boss warning sounds as you approach an invulnerable soldier who's just standing there and...swaying his torso around? The boss read-out identifies him as "Final Great Soldier", and lists his attack as "Love Love Dancing". After a few awkward seconds, the real boss, the BigBad's [[TheDragon Dragon]] shows up, chews him out, and tosses him aside. The whole boss warning/read-out sequence starts up again to herald the upcoming fight.
** As well, when you face off with Grey, the BigBad, his evil scheme fails on him, and he gets blasted by the real boss, Golden Silver.
*** Oddly, despite being a sequel, not a remake, the exact same things happen ''again'' in ''Gunstar Super Heroes''. The entire plot of ''Gunstar Super Heroes'' basically revolves around the exact same things as the original ''Gunstar Heroes'' happening ''again'', but with more story and explanation surrounding them this time.
* In ''VideoGame/IWannaBeTheGuy'', right before you enter the Palace of The Guy the moon, which has been pestering you throughout the game, drops down from the sky to confront you...and then the real boss, the robot dragon from ''VideoGame/MegaMan2'', beats it down and the real fight begins.
* In ''VideoGame/JadeCocoon 2'', all the non story bosses are oversized versions of regular monsters, and before fighting a short fmv clip is played. In one of them a large Dragon fly buzzes at you menacingly. It looks a little out of place in the water world, and seems smaller than other bosses. It then gets eaten by a HUGE frog monster, who then attacks you.
* ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess'' does this in the fourth dungeon (which may seem like the final dungeon if you aren't familiar with the series tradition of having ''two'' sets of MacGuffin). BigBad Zant appears, but rather than facing Link directly he just drives his sword into the skull of a dragon skeleton, animating the boss of the dungeon. Even then you may think it's just his [[TheDragon Dragon]] and you'll be facing him afterwards, but no.
* ''VideoGame/TheLordOfTheRingsOnline'' has one in the quest "Tomb of Elendil": after wearing down the first boss for a while, he runs over and wakes up the real boss, a giant turtle that eats the first boss for waking him up.
* ''VideoGame/LunarDragonSong'' does this in reverse. [[spoiler:Before you ever see Ignatius or Lucia, you battle Ignatius's butt-fugly pet Gideon twice. In the second time it is in the chamber of rebirth in his most powerful form possible. After the fight, Lucia is already transformed into Althena and she is killed trying to save Jian in his not-so noble and heroic submission. Just when Ignatius tries to kidnap Flora and attempt to prompt Jian and co into a battle, it turns out Ignatius slips and falls when the platform he stood on crumbles and he falls into the endless void below. Despite the game portraying Ignatius as the main villain and the whole point of collecting all four dragon rings, the player will never battle him ([[HopelessBossFight not including one earlier match before you collect the dragon rings]]) and it is implied Gideon had been the final boss instead.]]
* In ''Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo'', Dan originally appears as the final boss, only to get jumped by Akuma before the round starts.
* ''VideoGame/MetroidPrime Hunters'' - In one stage, the player is about to face a guardian who gets shot by Trace, a bounty hunter with a sniper-scope weapon.
** This happens twice on ''VideoGame/MetroidPrime 2: Echoes''. Both times, you face off against an "alpha" version of a wild creature you've already faced before, but then, it gets possessed by the Ing. Neither one is very far into the game.
** Zig-zagged at the end of ''Metroid Fusion''. You get mauled by the big nasty-looking boss ''first,'' then the boss you ''thought'' just died shows up...and gets destroyed in one shot (at least giving you the firepower to kill the original enemy).
* ''VideoGame/NoMoreHeroes'' had three of these: [[spoiler:Boss #5, Letz Shake]], is taken out by [[spoiler:Henry (whom you don't fight until much later). This is played straight, with your character (and probably yourself) left angry and unfulfilled.]], and just before the fight with final boss begins [[spoiler:the real final boss punches straight through him, and one cut scene later the real final battle begins]]. Then, after the final boss, you can watch the ending, where [[spoiler:an unnamed assassin kicks down the door while you're...compromised. If you meet the requirements for the TrueFinalBoss, and select the 'real ending' option, he will then be chopped in half by the TrueFinalBoss, starting the fight.]]
* ''VideoGame/NoMoreHeroes2DesperateStruggle'' has more, numerically speaking. Out of the 51 ranked assassins in the United States, [[spoiler:numbers 49 through 26 are cheerleaders who work with the 25th ranked assassin, [[JerkJock Charlie MacDonald]], to form a HumongousMecha. Assassins ranked 22 through 11 are participating with Travis (ranked 23rd by this point) in a free-for-all battle where they are killed by the tenth ranked assassin, [[PersonOfMassDestruction Dr. Letz Shake]] (ironically, the brain from the machine that Letz Shake used in the last game). Story-wise, the ninth ([[ScrewTheRulesIHaveMoney Million Gunman]]) and eighth ([[WeCanRebuildHim Neo Destroy Man]]) ranked assassins are this to Travis, although you do get to fight them as Shinobu. Finally, after [[EnsembleDarkhorse Henry]] comes out of a coma thanks to Travis, he goes out and kills the fifth and sixth ranked bosses for Travis off-screen, giving the victories to Travis and sending him pictures of the aftermath; he also chides Travis for being upset about it because the game already has 15 bosses and more would be unreasonable.]] All in all, that's [[spoiler:39]] bosses that the player does not get to fight ([[spoiler:when Henry killed some assassins for Travis, he gave three names, but Travis only went from rank 7 to rank 5, which implies that one of the bosses worked as a team. That or the creators just can't do math]]).
* In ''VideoGame/PaperMario'', what you expect to be a rematch against the first-level QuirkyMinibossSquad is interrupted when all four of them get knocked out by the RecurringBoss, who demands one last fight from you.
* ''VideoGame/PaperMarioTheThousandYearDoor'' has an interesting variant. Where you THINK you're fighting the chapter boss, and it goes through the entire sequence of the end of a chapter. But for some reason, there's no Peach or Bowser segment: [[spoiler: It turns out, Doopliss has stolen your name, and fooled your party into thinking he's the real you. The rest of the chapter has you getting your "self" back.]]
* Done in ''VideoGame/PrinceOfPersiaWarriorWithin'' in the TrueFinalBoss ending. If you got all the health upgrades, as you prepare for [[spoiler:a second battle with Kaileena, the Dahaka attacks again, but by this point you have a weapon that can harm it, so you and Kaileena team up to kill it]]. Earlier in the game, you're about to confront the Crow on an outside ledge, but it just then gets killed by the Dahaka, and yet another EscapeSequence begins.
* ''VideoGame/RocketKnightAdventures'' for Genesis had you finally get into the evil pig space station and lay some smackdown on the Pig Emperor. Except he's a robotic impersonator, and once you beat him you find out the real boss is an ancient malevolent computer.
* In ''[[VideoGame/{{Gradius}} Salamander 2]]'', the sequel to Salamander (known as Life Force in the United States), you encounter the first boss of the first game, the giant brain Golem. Golem attacks you at the end of the first stage in Salamander 2. A few seconds later, Golem is gobbled up by a gigantic serpent-like creature. You then end up fighting this giant serpent instead as the boss proper.
* In ''VideoGame/StarFoxAdventures'', you've barely begun fighting General Scales when the real final boss has him give up the Krazoa spirit (killing Scales when he resists). He doesn't reveal himself until after the last McGuffin is in place--[[spoiler:surprise, surprise; [[HijackedByGanon it's Andross]].]]
* In ''Star Wars: TheOldRepublic'', a group mission features a {{boarding party}} of the players' faction (Galactic Republic or Sith Empire) fighting to reclaim a cruiser from some rogue [[ProudWarriorRaceGuy Mandalorians]]. As you approach a group of enemies rallying around a huge war droid, a boarding pod punches through the hull, crushing the Mandalorians and bringing in a boarding party fighting for the other faction. Naturally, you have to fight them.
* ''Super VideoGame/StreetFighterII Turbo'' normally has you fight M. Bison for the final showdown. But if you've beaten the game without losing a single round, Bison is taken out in one shot by Akuma, [[PerfectRunFinalBoss who becomes your final opponent]].
** Also happens in the first ''VideoGame/StreetFighterAlpha'', as well as in the first ''VideoGame/StreetFighterEX''.
** In ''Alpha 2'', each character has a secret rival who will interrupt one of the scheduled matches if the player fulfills certain conditions.
** Played for laughs in ''Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo'', where after defeating all of the other characters a pumped up [[JokeCharacter Dan Hibiki]] stands up as the final boss...and then Akuma pops out kicking Dan's ass and making him flee in tears, facing you with a nasty evil grin. For those of you who don't know, Dan is the [[PunchOut Glass Joe]] of the game.
** Also played with in ''Alpha 3''. Sometimes when you fight [[RichBitch Karin]], Sakura's rival, the pre-match animation will show her muscled butler waiting to fight you instead - then Karin throws a pot at him, he runs off, and she gets ready to fight.
* The entire plot of ''VideoGame/TronTwoPointOh'' builds up to a final confrontation against Thorne, the 12-foot-tall BigBad Super-Virus...and when you finally get to his inner sanctum, [[spoiler:you see him being unceremoniously killed by the regular-sized ICP Kernel (the leader of the game's {{Mook}} cops), who out of nowhere decides to fight you too while he's at it]]. The rest of the game is also a case of a HalfwayPlotSwitch, as the last several levels has you chasing after greedy corporate hackers after an entire game of battling TheVirus.
** (cough) Not "out of nowhere". The Kernel has been out to get ''you'' too. You're an unauthorized program and you escaped him once already, while killing his men. Also, at that point, you're trying to ''save'' Thorne, because he is the only one who has the codes to get you ''out'' of the system and back to the physical world. The Kernel doesn't want you to save him.
* The final boss of ''[[VideoGame/CrudeBuster Two Crude Dudes]]'' was the evil scientist who'd unleashed all those hideous mutants upon post-apocalyptic New York. He's hilariously easy to beat the crap out of and throw around like a ragdoll...until he suddenly mutates into a gigantic asskicking monstrosity.
* ''VideoGame/CliveBarkersUndying'' does this with the final boss fight, no less than ''four times''. Here we go:
** First, you fight Bethany, who's been set up to be the final boss all through the game.
** After killing her, [[spoiler:your friend Jeremiah]] appears and reveals that [[TheManBehindTheMan he's been behind the whole thing]]! Looks like he's the final boss...but then Patrick just unceremoniously [[OffWithHisHead decapitates him]] [[TalkToTheFist mid-speech]]...
** ...which results in the much-hyped [[EldritchAbomination Undying King]] being summoned, leaping out of the ground looking like a pissed-off mummy, as befit his name, only to seemingly disintegrate before engaging you...
** ...only ''then'' [[spoiler:to raises out of the ground in the form of some odd-EldritchAbomination-crab-spider-scorpion ''thing'']]. After him, the game ends. Promise.
* ''VideoGame/ViewtifulJoe 2'' ends a later stage with yet another appearance by the RecurringBoss. His conversation with the heroes lasts for a good half-minute before he is taken down and replaced by the NobleDemon {{expy}} [[TheRival Rival]] from the first game. Oh, and did we mention an almost exact thing happens in the next level, this time without even the excuse of being a different character?
* ''VideoGame/WinBack'': First, Cecile, TheDragon, [[TheStarscream pulls a Starscream]] and kills the BigBad, Kenneth. Then Dan, TheMole and ManBehindTheMan, shows up and shoots Cecile in revenge for his brother. Then you fight Dan as the apparently FinalBoss, but after you defeat him, it turns out that Cecile is NotQuiteDead, although he's an AnticlimaxBoss if you figure out how to get past the [[LaserHallway laser fences]].
* ''VideoGame/TheWorldEndsWithYou'' tries to set you up expecting a rematch with [[spoiler: a [[BackFromTheDead back-to-the-undead Minamimoto]] - which judging by an [[HopelessBossFight earlier encounter]] would be undesirable. It turns out that someone knocks him out first, and when your partners start celebrating Neku points out that someone capable of that is their next opponent and that they shouldn't get too comfortable]].
** [[spoiler:YMMV on if this counts, since the one who knocked him out was The Composer, who is TheUnfought.]]
* In ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft: The Burning Crusade'', the apparent final boss of the Arcatraz dungeon is an insane blood elf who hides in a magical bubble and releases three random minibosses (and an obnoxious but allied gnome) from the cells around him. After defeating them, the "real" final boss, a SealedEvilInACan (a MindRape insect mage) (and presumably the reason the elf was crazy, given all that babbling about a "master"), is released; he kills the crazy elf rather swiftly then moves on to you.
** The Trial of the Crusader raid has another, rather sad one. A gnome warlock named Wilfred Fizzlebang, rather confident about his abilities and his supposed immense power. He intends to summon a Doomguard (a rather powerful demon, but not ridiculously powerful, however). Instead, he accidentally summons a huge eredar lord, a much more deadly demonic sorcerer, and proceeds to attempt to convince said demon (who is about 20 times bigger than him) that HE, the gnome, is in charge here. Needless to say, he gets swiftly killed by his summoned demon, who then proceeds to blast away at the players.
** In the ''Cataclysm'' expansion, there's another example of this in the Stonecore. The very first pull in the instance has you fight Milhouse Manastorm (incidentally the same gnome as in the Burning Crusade example above), who fights until he's at half health and runs to the next trash pull. Finally, you have him and his group of adds cornered, and he's channeling a powerful spell. But as soon as you engage him, a giant gyreworm named Corborus bursts out of nowhere, knocking the gnome and his group far away, never to be seen again. You fight the worm (who puts up a decent fight, especially on Heroic mode).
* In ''VideoGame/YoshisIsland'', when you get to the boss room in Baby Bowser's castle, it looks as though you are about to confront Kamek, but then Bowser wakes up, complains about the noise, and proceeds to stomp Kamek flat and kick him away. Kamek later shows up all fine just to provide a segue to the second phase of the battle and take Bowser away when he's defeated.
** Similarly, at the end of ''VideoGame/SuperMarioGalaxy'', just right before you even get to [[BigBad Bowser,]] you see [[OverlordJr Bowser Jr.]] once more, but instead of fighting him, he simply flies away in his spaceship, and as a result you actually end up fighting Bowser directly.
* In ''VideoGame/ThePunisherCapcom'', Frank Castle and Nick Fury spend the first two stages running after mafia boss Bruno Costa, eventually cornering him and setting up for a not so intimidating boss battle. Suddenly, a laser sweeps away Bruno and his henchmen in a single hit, and a huge robot sent by the Kingpin engages the player instead.
* A Olympus Coliseum mission in ''VideoGame/KingdomHearts358DaysOver2'' has you fighting in a tournament (which plays in the exact same way as the tournaments in the first ''VideoGame/KingdomHearts''). The final opponent there is...Xigbar? Just wail out some of his lifebars and cue the uninvited appearance of the mission's boss: the Guard Armor from the first game. And when it seems like Xigbar will assist you in fighting it, he instead dumps you for the boss battle. That [[strike:clever]] little sneak.
* ''Manga/OnePiece: Unlimited Cruise Episode 2'' plays this pretty straight with the battle against Donquixote Doflamingo. At first it looks like you're going to fight against Bellamy, the relatively weak and easily dispatched villain from the Jaya arc. All of a sudden, a pink arm rises from the boss container and takes control of Bellamy. This is followed by the rest of Doflamingo's body, which proceeds to [[ThatOneBoss KICK. YOUR. ASS.]]
* You know Zouken Matou, big bad of the Heavens Feel route in FateStayNight? Yea, turns out Sakura wasn't as brain dead as he assumed. Cue bridge drop with [[spoiler:Saber vs. Shirou and Sakura vs. Tohsaka, while the ''real'' BigBad, Kotomine, shows up. And then after that, Shirou still has to beat what is essentially the devil.]]
* In ''Anime/YuGiOh Worldwide Edition: Stairway to the Destined Duel'', sometimes a nearby duelists with a story connection to the person you challenge will make your opponent go away and you'll have to fight them instead. An example would be Marik and Bakura or Mokuba and Seto Kaiba. You could try to challenge Bakura, but then Marik shows up out of nowhere and drives him away with possibly the worst excuse ever to trick someone with this line,"[[NotEvenBotheringWithAnExcuse If I recall correctly, there is something you need to take care of right away...you don't have the luxury of wasting any time here, correct."]] This works and you face Marik.
** Every now and then, a Rare Hunter will show up to give an in-story example, and will replace any character.
** Any character that has an alternate ("Yami") form can do this to themselves. Yami Yugi and Yami Bakura are their default forms, but can switch out with Regular Yugi or Bakura. Marik can switch out with Yami Bakura, who is a lot more aggressive. These examples mean minimal, though, as they use the same decks.
* Generalissimo Killt is setup as the BigBad of ''VideoGame/BionicCommando Rearmed''. When you meet him, he is immediately backstabbed by the newly-resurrected [[strike:Hitler]] "[[NoSwastikas Leader]]".
** Same in the original game, except [[strike:Hitler]] "Master-D" is somehow able to folgorate Killt from inside his resurrection chamber.
* In an early dungeon in ''VideoGame/MegaManLegends 2'', the MacGuffin at the end of the dungeon is gone when you get there. This is not surprising, as you already fought a CowardlyBoss pursuing the same MacGuffin twice in the same dungeon. He then shows up behind you...and informs you that he doesn't have it, then leaves you to fight the boss that does.
* In ''VideoGame/TheForceUnleashed 2'', while [[spoiler:rescuing General Kota]] on Cato Neimoidia, you end up with him in a gladiator arena, surrounded by the corpses of countless warriors and wild beasts. Suddenly, a large gate nearby opens up, and out steps a rancor. Starkiller smirks and readies his blades... and then, from beneath the ground, a ''humongous'' hand reaches up, smashes the rancor into the ground, and pulls it under. And then said hand's owner comes out to play. Say hello to the Gorog.
** Zig-zagged in the first game, where Maris Brood looks like she's the boss, then introduces a rather large bull Rancor, then turns out to actually be tougher than the Rancor after it goes down.
* In ''VideoGame/HenryHatsworthInThePuzzlingAdventure'', the final boss is apparently your ArchEnemy Weasleby. However, [[spoiler:after beating on him for a while he suddenly starts twitching a whole bunch before his head pops off, with Henry's KidSidekick Cole coming out of his body. After a speech in which Cole reveals that HE'S the real BigBad, he summons out a massive Mech that he only managed to build thanks to [[AdamSmithHatesYourGuts all the money you've spent on upgrades in his store.]]]]
* Subverted in ''VideoGame/BlazBlue: Continuum Shift'', where one battle in Hakumen's Arcade Mode path seems to set you up against [[spoiler:Tager]], but then [[spoiler:Rachel]] appears...and then she only speaks briefly with Hakumen before making way for [[spoiler:Tager]], for real.
* ''VideoGame/MassEffect1'' made you think that the entire final battle was going to be against Saren while the fleet dealt with Sovereign. While it is possible to get into a final boss fight with Saren, either way you get into a fight when Sovereign takes over Saren's body.
* In ''VideoGame/SonicColors'', Eggman tries to use mind control to force a fight between Sonic and Tails, but when the device he's using breaks down, he's got a regular boss ready to go.
** In ''VideoGame/Sonic3AndKnuckles'', when you reach [[FinalBoss Sky Sanctuary]] with Knuckles, it looks like you're going to fight the Eggrobo yet again, shortly before [[TheDragon Mecha Sonic]] shows up and destroys it.
** In ''VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog4'' ''Episode 2'', the first boss seems to be a rehash off the [[VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog2 Aquatic Ruin Zone boss]], right before a ''giant flower robot serpent thing'' pops out of the background. Seeing as one of the major complaints of the first episode was boss rehashing, [[PlayingWithATrope it's obvious why this happened.]]
* ''VideoGame/ApeEscape 2'' has Hikaru finally meet Specter after defeating the Freaky Monkey Five. Specter talks about how he'll beat Hikaru with a powerful mecha...when Yellow Monkey, the one who run after you beat him, appears again, and [[AttackOfThe50FootWhatever giant size]]. After Yellow destroys the mecha because he's told not to eat more Vita-Z bananas Specter leaves you to deal with the new problem.
* In ''VideoGame/AdventureQuest'', Kimberly and One Eyed Doll decide to assist you in battling Chaos Lord Discordia. You battle your way to Discordia, but after defeating him and preventing him from summoning his Chaos Beast, Kimberly suddenly reveals that actually, ''she's'' the real Chaos Lord of the Mythsong saga, and Discordia was just a victim of her MindControl. And she's already got a Chaos Beast lined up for you to fight before you take her and the band on proper.
* ''VideoGame/PokemonBlackAndWhite'': [[spoiler:So, you've defeated the Elite Four and are on your way to challenge the Champion. Not easy by any means, but at least you know what to expect! You heal up your Pokemon and ascend the staircase...wait, what's N doing here? [[YouCantThwartStageOne Oh crap!]] At least you know who the Final Boss is now, though! Wait, ''Ghetsis''?! ''[[TrickBoss Oh crap...!]]'']]
** ''VideoGame/PokemonRedAndBlue'' pulls off a similar trick. You fought the Elite Four and even Lance appears to set you up as the champion so all is well. Right? Nope! You WOULD have been the champion, but your rival beat you to the punch so now you have to go beat him to obtain the title!
* Used creatively in ''VideoGame/DevilMayCry 4''. The boss of mission five appears to be two luminescent HornyDevils with ice powers, fought in a snowing courtyard, but as you fight them they seem unusually pathetic, rarely ever attacking and doing little when they do. Damage them enough, though, and [[spoiler: a massive toad demon with ice powers will suddenly lunge out of the blizzard, trying to swallow you whole. He's the actual boss - the devils were just his lures.]]
* In ''VideoGame/KingdomOfLoathing'', there's a [[BonusBoss Bonus]] PuzzleBoss called the Guy Made of Bees. His opening line is "We are Bees. We hate you." There's also a special challenge path called Bees Hate You. Curiously, the Guy Made of Bees doesn't appear in his usual location during a Bees Hate You run. Given the page you're on, you've probably guessed that [[spoiler:he takes out the final, sausage-y form of the [[FinalBoss Naughty Sorceress]], [[TrueFinalBoss and you have to fight him instead]]]].
** Something similar happens on the Avatar of Boris run - [[spoiler:the final form of the Naughty Sorceress is taken out by an Avatar of Sneaky Pete, who takes the opportunity to attempt revenge on Boris for stealing his thunder back in their mortal days.]]
** In an Avatar of Jarlsberg run, [[spoiler: you find the Avatar of Boris has already defeated the Sorceress, and Jarlsberg seizes the opportunity to get revenge on Boris for being the JerkJock to Jarlsberg's HollywoodNerd.]]
** Likewise, the Zombie Slayer challenge path ends with [[spoiler: you facing Rene C. Corman, mastermind behind the ZombieApocalypse plaguing the kingdom, instead of the Naughty Sorceress's final form.]]
* ''{{Subverted|Trope}}'' in ''Videogame/LastScenario''. At the end of the DiscOneFinalDungeon, [[spoiler:Ortas, the guy who you'd been lead to believe was the BigBad]], gets [[InTheBack literally and figuratively]] stabbed in the back by [[spoiler:Castor]], who reveals that [[TheManBehindTheMan he's been manipulating him all along]]. Despite being mortally wounded, [[spoiler:Ortas]] [[{{Determinator}} gets back up and fights you anyway]].
* ''[[VideoGame/{{Zuma}} Zuma's Revenge]]'' has the final boss, Zhaka Mu. After putting out the four torches, the mysterious cloaked figure reveals themselves to be a chicken-themed boss monster with an ''enormous'' health bar. [[spoiler:He goes down in one hit, at which point it turns out he was really Zhaka Mu's chef. Cue the ''real'' Zhaka Mu's entrance, and the toughest boss battle in the game.]]
* At the end of the fourth chapter in ''VideoGame/MegaMan8BitDeathmatch'''s single player campaign, it appears you're going to fight the Cockroach Twins, only for them to be stomped flat by the [[ThatOneBoss Metool Daddy]].
* In ''VideoGame/{{Solatorobo}}'', Red finally wises up and answers the third guardian's riddle, gaining the last piece of the Flute without having to fight him. However, at that exact moment Blanck shows up and a boss battle against him ensues.
* ''VideoGame/AbobosBigAdventure'' first has Jaws being eaten by the larger Big Daddy. Later just as it seems you are about to fight the giant Contra end-boss alien [[spoiler: he gets inhaled by Kirby, and things get ''nuts'']]
* [[TheUnfought The Panther King]] from ''VideoGame/ConkersBadFurDay''. At first, it looks like if you're going to fight him at the end of the game's final level, but then [[GiantSpaceFleaFromNowhere a Xenomorph queen]] show up for no reason, kills the Panther King, and as a result the final boss battle actually pits Conker against her.
* Halfway through playing in single-player in ''DigimonBattleSpirit'', one of your next opponents may be blasted off the stage by Impmon before the battle can start. If you manage to defeat him and collect 300 D-Spirit in total by the end of the playthrough, you can then unlock Impmon as a playable character.
* In ''VideoGame/DeadSpace2'', it looks like the majority of the game is leading up to a dramatic final confrontation with Tiedemann before you [[spoiler:destroy the Marker]]. Then you get there [[spoiler:and Tiedemann is already horribly mauled and barely able to stand, then proceeds to ''shoot you through the chest twice'' with Javelins. A quick-time-event lets you pull them out, steal the Javelin gun and shank him in return.]] Game over right? [[spoiler:Nope. You hallucinate about Nicola one more time, only now she wants to absorb you into the Marker body and mind and you have to [[BattleInTheCenterOfTheMind hallucinate-fight her in your psyche]], after which you sit down to accept your imminent demise as the station explodes.]] And THEN the credits roll. [[spoiler: And ''then'' Ellie comes [[BigDamnHeroes crashing through the ceiling in a ship]] to rescue you.]]
** ''VideoGame/DeadSpace'' had this as well; after [[spoiler: Kendra Daniels turns out to be working against Isaac, and ruins his only hope for escape, the player is supposed to grip the controller with rage. When you finally see her next on the destroyed colony, she's just on her way to leave... And is [[KarmicDeath smashed to bits by the Hive Mind.]]]]
* Played the other way round with Maiden Astreaea in [[DemonsSouls Demon's Souls]]. Her bodyguard, Garl Vinland, is a formidable fighter in his own right (though not near the class of the other bosses of the game). Once you kill him, Astraea is completely helpless and you can either slay her with a few hits, or talk to her, which results in her suicide. [[YouBastard Not without poiting out what you just did.]] She is supposed to be a heretic priest using demon powers, [[BeautifulVoid but the game doesn't tell you that]].
* In ''VideoGame/VagrantStory'', Ashley interrupts a scene where [[spoiler:[[SmugSnake Rosencrantz]] is beating up [[AntiVillain Sydney]], demanding that Sydney teaches him mastery of the dark and berating him for choosing Ashley as his 'apprentice.' It looks like he's going to be the next boss fight... but then Sydney tricks him into discarding his weapon, and uses his dark magic to animate a statue sat against the wall, which crushes Rosencrantz with a giant sword. You end up fighting the statue instead]].
* Near the end of ''VideoGame/DiabloIII'''s Act IV, one of the "boss preview/warning" of sorts shows what seems to be [[spoiler:Imperius]] as the next boss, with earlier scenes highlighting a conflict between him and the Nephalem. Unfortunately, [[spoiler:Diablo reaches the Crystal Arch at about this time and begins extinguishing it, neutralizing every angel in the High Heavens and nipping this impending fight in the bud, meaning that Diablo becomes your final opponent]].
** The previous game provides an inversion of the usual trope. Act II of ''VideoGame/{{Diablo}} II'' plays up Baal as possibly being the final boss of the act, but instead you face the [[AllThereInTheManual Lesser Evil]] named Duriel (who is still a ''very'' tough boss, mind). Baal himself isn't confronted until the expansion.
* ''VideoGame/Sly2BandOfThieves'' builds Arpeggio up as the main villain. Then during the final level [[spoiler:Neyla]] betrays him and takes over as the real BigBad of the game.
* ''VideoGame/FireEmblemElibeSwordOfSeals'' does this in a few chapters. The earliest example is in Chapter 3, where [[spoiler:Zephiel]] is sitting on the throne before he, Brunya and Narshen leave, leaving [[WakeUpCallBoss Slater]] to replace him.
* In ''VideoGame/KidIcarusUprising'', Chapter 8 has Pit fight through the SpacePirates on his way to confront the Pirate Captain, only for a [[GiantSpaceFleaFromNowhere space Kraken]] to show up out of nowhere, eat the Pirate Captain, and become the boss for the chapter.
* In ''VideoGame/Rockman4MinusInfinity'', [[spoiler:the final boss is set up to be the alien from ''VideoGame/MegaMan2'' before Mega Man climbs on a nearby structure and blasts it, revealing it to be a hologram (like in the original game). With this, Wily quickly distracts Mega Man long enough to flip a switch and trap Mega Man, stealing his weapons and E-Tanks to create the [[WolfPackBoss Petite Robot Masters.]]]]
** Also, doing a NoDamageRun up through Wily 4 [[spoiler:has the third Chimerabot get [[DiagonalCut slashed]] by [[RecurringBoss Shadow Man]], revealing [[ActuallyADoombot they were just holograms.]] The new boss [[ThatOneBoss is ''very'' hard, but the reward for doing so turns every hit into a [[CriticalHit critical one]], making the rest of the game a breeze.]]
* In ''Buriki One'', you work your way up in the tournament and when you reach the final match, the guy you're supposed to be fighting is suddenly knocked through the entrance door (with said door flying off its hinges) and into the ring's steel cage before crumpling to the ground. Then an evil-looking guy with [[GoodScarsEvilScars scars]] all over his body slowly walks in, and then leaps straight into the ring in a single bound.
* ''FurFighters'' has a rather humorous example. In the Space Station Meer, you bump into a [[Franchise/{{Alien}} Xenomorph]], but before the fight starts, [[AcceptableTargets a stereotypical lawyer]] barges in, claiming to represent 31st Century Films, and begins berating the game for breaking 35 different copyrights. The player character argues back, so the lawyer draws a gun and begins shooting at them.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Webcomics]]
* In ''Webcomic/EightBitTheater'' [[spoiler:Chaos]] does this to [[spoiler:Sarda]], when his PhlebotinumOverload [[spoiler:transforms Sarda's body into a portal to Chaos' realm]].
* Happens in ''Webcomic/TwoEvilScientists'' with [[spoiler:Omachoa]] replacing King.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation ]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Wolverine and the X-Men}}'', a little mutant girl is released from a stasis box by Juggernaut. The first (apart from the manner of keeping her in stasis) way of demonstrating her powers? She flings said [[TheJuggernaut Totally Unstoppable Juggernaut]] a few miles away, knocking him out completely.
* ''JusticeLeagueUnlimited'' pulls this twice in consecutive season finales. First [[spoiler:Luthor]] sets himself up as the ultimate villain of the Cadmus arc, only for [[spoiler:Brainiac]], of all people, to come in from nowhere in a plot twist tied to an episode of ''Superman'' that aired ''eight years before.'' Then in season five, after an entire arc [[spoiler:dedicated to Luthor's attempts to revive Brainiac]], it looks like he's finally succeeded...until it resurrects [[spoiler:{{Darkseid}} instead.]]
* ''TheSpectacularSpiderMan'' builds up Tombstone through the first season and most of the second as New York's resident MagnificentBastard crime-king BigBad, with it seeming that the series will come to a head with him against Spidey, [[spoiler: but then he's deposed by the Green Goblin's EvilPlan, and Gobby's the final villain instead.]]
* Happens ''twice'' in succession during the climactic episodes of ''WesternAnimation/{{WITCH}}''. KnightTemplar {{Chessmaster}} Nerissa was BigBad for most of the season, but near the end former BigBad Phobos returns, steals her AmplifierArtifact and seals her inside it, resuming his EvilOverlord throne. [[spoiler: And then in the last episode, Phobos's previously loyal [[TheDragon Dragon]] Cedric senses opportunity, goes all ScaledUp, and ''eats'' both Phobos and the artifact, acquiring both Phobos's throne and nearly limitless power]].
* In ''Ben10UltimateAlien'', Aggregor is the BigBad for most of the first season, and later, [[spoiler: he's within inches of acquiring PhysicalGod levels of power when a desperate Kevin powers up directly from the Ultimatrix and beats him to a pulp- but thanks to how Kevin's powers work, suffers from [[WithGreatPowerComesGreatInsanity great insanity]] in the process, becoming a villain again ''and'' BigBad to boot.]]
* [[spoiler: Doctor Frankenwagon and his Monster]] from ''[[PixarShorts Monster Truck Mater]]''.
* GregWeisman seems to be becoming fond of these. In addition to the ''WesternAnimation/{{WITCH}}'' and ''WesternAnimation/TheSpectacularSpiderMan'' examples above, the second season of ''WesternAnimation/YoungJustice'' builds up [[LegionOfDoom the Light]] and [[ScaryDogmaticAliens the Reach]] as a BigBadDuumvirate, with the former lead (more-or-less) by VandalSavage and the latter by [[ManipulativeBastard the Reach Ambassador]]. As of the season's penultimate episode, the Light [[spoiler: has suffered a major setback, with many of its members captured, incapacitated, or forced to [[VillainExitStageLeft withdraw from the field]]]], and after a string of failures results in the Ambassador having a VillainousBreakdown [[spoiler: [[TheDragon Black Beetle]] forcibly removes him from command, takes over as head of the Reach invasion force, and decides to destroy the Earth, cementing him as the final villain for the season]].
[[/folder]]
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