You're just outside the lair of the BigBad who has tormented you throughout the game. He's [[DoomedHometown destroyed your home town]], sent wave after wave of enemies to try and destroy you, and may even have [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking 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 BigBad. 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 BaitAndSwitchBoss. In video game examples, he may have been [[CutsceneBoss 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 BigBad. In the cases where The Unfought is TheChessmaster or MadScientist, this can be [[SequelHook somewhat justified]], as they [[NonActionBigBad 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 [[LevelGrinding 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 ClimaxBoss, which these examples are hyped up to be. Not to be confused with ZeroEffortBoss or AntiClimaxBoss, 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.'''

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* [[TheUnfought/VideoGame Video Games]]

!!Non-Video Game Examples:
[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* The Emperor of Darkness was BiggerBad from ''Anime/MazingerZ'' and BigBad from ''Anime/GreatMazinger''. The second series ended up with the heroes [[spoiler:killing his CoDragons and annihilating a large part of his army,]] but they never fought him. Outside of an episode of one of the manga versions of ''Anime/UFORoboGrendizer'' and the ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsAlpha'' games he has never been fought (and in ''Anime/{{Mazinkaiser}}'' he is not even mentioned).
* In the ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'' episode "Battle of the Badge", viewers expected to finally see Ash come face-to-face with Team Rocket's leader...[[AntiClimax only to be disappointed when Giovanni left the building and Ash had to instead fight his]] TerribleTrio [[AntiClimax for the Earth Badge instead.]]
** Ash finally came face-to-face with Giovanni in ''Anime/PokemonMewtwoReturns'', but with no battle, and [[spoiler: Giovanni [[LaserGuidedAmnesia doesn't remember Ash anyway]].]] His companions ''do'' face Gio's forces, but [[OffscreenMomentOfAwesome that happens offscreen]].
** Ash and Giovanni finally meet and battle in the Meloetta arc of ''Best Wishes''. However, the title of The Unfought soon passed to Virgil, who stands as the only Major Tournament Rival Ash has never faced.
** Also in the Best Wishes series, Drayden from the Opelucid Gym and Marlon from the Humilau Gym become The Unfought to Ash, since they battle against Iris and Cameron, respectively, and don't appear until after Ash has already won eight badges.
** Barry of the Diamond and Pearl series and Bianca of the Best Wishes series are also The Unfought for Ash in their respective league tournaments, though Ash has had battles with both of them in prior episodes.
** A lesser example is [[TheRival Gary Oak]], Ash's rival from the early years. The anime's original intended StoryArc centered around their rivalry, building up to a final confrontation between them...but ExecutiveMeddling meant this didn't end up happening until ''five years'' after the series began. Gary didn't even appear that much in the series proper.
* In the Fortune Cup arc of ''Anime/YuGiOh5Ds'', Godwin hires a duelist assassin named Shira to duel Yusei; Shira has a reputation as being so intimidating that some pro duelists are known to give up the game out of fear after facing him. However, Jack Atlas' rival Mukuro Enjo crashes the event hoping to win it in order to get a rematch with Jack, mugs Shira, steals his costume, and takes his place when the duel with Yusei is about to start. Neither Yusei nor Godwin have a problem with Enjo taking Shira's place, so the fight card is quickly changed.
* Despite being the BigBad of ''MagicalGirlLyricalNanoha'''s first season, neither one of the main heroines ever got to battle Precia since she [[DisneyVillainDeath fell to her apparent death]] before this could happen. This is why many fans wish [[HesJustHiding Precia survived]], so she could get her butt properly kicked.
* In TheMovie version of ''Manga/FistOfTheNorthStar'', Kenshiro never gets to settle his old rivalry with Shin like he does in the manga and TV series. When he eventually arrives at the city of Southern Cross to fight Shin, he finds the place in ruins, and while he does briefly face Shin, Shin ends up dying instead from previously inflicted wounds he suffered from a prior off-screen battle he had with Raoh.
* In ''Manga/VinlandSaga'', [[TykeBomb Thorfinn's]] entire reason for living is killing [[YouKilledMyFather Askeladd]], who [[spoiler:dies at the hand of Canute in front of his eyes]]. Played with in the sense that Thorfinn [[TheStarscream actually fought under Askeladd's command for years]] and dueled him several times, just never getting the result he was after (which was defeating and killing him in a fair duel). He didn't [[HeroicBSOD take it well]].
* [[spoiler:[[BigBad Dante]]]] from the [[Anime/FullmetalAlchemist 2003 version of Fullmetal Alchemist]]. Despite being a highly powerful alchemist in her own right, she flees from a direct confrontation with the Elric brothers at the end and ends up [[spoiler:devoured offscreen by Gluttony after she had erased his mind]].
* ''Anime/VariableGeo'': [[TheDisembodied Miranda]] [[BigBad Jahana's]] spirit is contained within [[HauntedTechnology the cyber drive]], which allowed her to gradually [[GrandTheftMe superimpose her consciousness over Satomi's.]] After Yuka frees her from Miranda's control, her spirit remained trapped in the cyber drive, preventing Yuka and Satomi from attacking her directly. But it also left her utterly defenseless. So when they [[KameHameHadoken unleashed their combined fury on it]], Miranda and the cyber drive [[OneHitKill went up in flames together.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Fan Fiction]]
* In ''FanFic/ClashOfTheElements'': The inner guardians of the Terra Cave, Frozen Palace, and Ignitor Cave count for this trope. [[spoiler: Though their powers are given to the people who merge the Elemental Stones with themselves.]] This also counts as an example of TheUnseen.
* In the [[BadFuture Dark World]] timeline of the ''FanFic/PonyPOVSeries'', [[spoiler:[[EvilOverlord Discord]] is ultimately never fought by the Elements of Harmony -- when they finally confront him, [[SixthRangerTraitor Rancor]] literally stabs him InTheBack, mortally wounding him. When the Elements find him again after that, he's on his deathbed and not a threat anymore; he dies minutes later.]]
** Also from Dark World, [[spoiler:Mad Tiara and Screwball (Diamond Tiara and her mother who became Discord's CoDragons before he finished corrupting the Mane Six into the role) are also never fought, as Discord [[EvenEvilHasLovedOnes sends them away and tells them not to fight the heroes period because he knows they can't beat the mane cast and]] [[BiggerBad Nightmare Eclipse]] would make ''sure'' they die just to hurt him, and after Eclipse's defeat, perform a HeelFaceTurn and become good guys.]]
* In ''[[https://www.fimfiction.net/story/237022/discords-decision Discord's Decision]]'', a WhatIf scenario of the ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' season five finale in which [[spoiler:Discord rejected Tirek's offer to go bad again, Tirek]] ends up being this to the Mane Six, with Rainbow Dash grousing about it, as they always take on the main threats to Equestria.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* In ''Film/TheFifthElement'', the hero and [[TheDragon Zorg]] never fight or even communicate directly in any way (even though at one point they are mere meters apart). He does encounter the ActionGirl, but at this point she's outgunned and has to retreat.
* The main character in ''Film/{{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... [[spoiler:[[NegatedMomentOfAwesome when Command decides to just bomb the place instead]].]]
* In ''Film/TheFinalCountdown'', 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 ''Film/StreetFighter''. 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.
* EvilPrince Humperdinck in ''Film/ThePrincessBride''. Not only is he subdued with a bluff, none of the TheHero Westley's fight scenes are with true Villains, but with {{Anti Villain}}s who [[DefeatMeansFriendship join his cause]].
* In ''Franchise/StarWars'': ''Film/ANewHope'', Luke Skywalker never directly fights this film's BigBad, Grand Moff Tarkin (Darth Vader was TheHeavy in this film).
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* In ''Literature/DragonBones'', the heroes never fight the main villain. When they find out who he is, they are already his captives, and vastly outnumbered. They manage to escape, but are still outnumbered, so they have to employ a non-fighting method of winning.
* In [[Creator/IainBanks Iain M. Banks]]'s ''The Algebraist'' the hero and the big bad are never even in the same star system for entirety of the book.
* In Literature/TheDresdenFiles 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 CombatByChampion between Harry and Susan vs. the vampires' side, they fight...the Eebs' pet monster, and a [[TheRuntAtTheEnd 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 [[Literature/TheLordOfTheRings the books]] and the Creator/PeterJackson [[Film/TheLordOfTheRings movie trilogy]]), [[BigBad Sauron]] himself never appears on any literal battlefield, although his [[TheDragon 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 MindRape through Sauron's Palantír. 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.
* In the climax of ''Literature/HarryPotterAndThePhilosophersStone'', one of the challenges to get to the Philosopher's Stone was supposed to be defeating a troll. However, the troll has already been knocked out before the heroes get there, so they just walk past it. They had already fought a troll earlier in the book, though.
* In ''Literature/{{Mistborn}}'', Lord Tevidian is HighPriest of the CorruptChurch, one of the chief lieutenants of [[GodEmperor the Lord Ruler]], and [[spoiler: 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 [[spoiler: his daughter]], much less has any sort of confrontation with her.
* In ''Literature/HisDarkMaterials'', [[GodGuise the Authority]] is set up as the ultimate source of the problems of society and the plot. But late in the series, it becomes apparent that [[DragonInChief Metatron]] is really calling the shots, while the Authority is the victim of a carriage crash, a stiff breeze, and his own old age.
* The Council of Thirteen are the ultimate heads of the Yeerk Empire in ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'', but they're a mostly off-page BiggerBad, 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.
* In ''First Test'', ''Page'', and ''Squire'', the first three books of the ''[[Literature/TortallUniverse Protector of the Small]]'' quartet, the closest Kel has to an enduring enemy is [[HotGuysAreBastards Joren]]. Kel gets into fights with Joren while they are both still pages, but when he becomes a squire he stops and finds other ways to hassle her. He never challenges her to combat. [[http://tpwords.wordpress.com/2007/08/26/joren-the-chamber-and-kel/ According to]] WordOfGod:
--> If he challenges her, he admits she is entitled to equal treatment as a warrior and as a noble. He tells the world "I accept her on her terms." That he would never, ever do – and that rigidity [[spoiler: is why he dies in the Chamber of the Ordeal. He’s so rigid in his beliefs that he can’t bend, and the Chamber breaks him.]]
* In ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'', [[MouthOfSauron Shaidar Haran]] is a recurring villain in the later half of the series of unknown but tremendous powers. Many fans anticipated a showdown between him and [[TheChosenOne Rand]] at some point. [[spoiler: But when Rand arrives at Shayol Ghul in the last book, he finds Haran already dead. It turns out that Haran was less a person in his own right and more a vessel for the Dark One's will, and at this point the Dark One's prison had been weakened enough that such a tool was no longer necessary, and Haran was discarded. Furthermore, WordOfGod indicates that Shaidar Haran's ability to harm those not sworn to the Dark One was always extremely limited, to the point that he might not even be able to physically touch those not so sworn, and therefore a physical confrontation with him was never really in the cards anyway]].
* In ''Franchise/TheDarkTower'', [[spoiler: Roland and his ka-tet never get the final confrontation with TheDragon and King's BigBad Flagg (Roland meets him at the end of the first book, and they have a brief encounter with him in the beginning of the fourth book). He's killed off by Roland/Crimson King's son Morded in the seventh book. Additionally, Roland doesn't really physicall interact with the Crimson King at the end either, he's erased out of existence by Patrick.]]
* The ''Literature/AgeOfFire'' series has King Gan, the leader of the snake colony in the cavern where the Copper first meets his bat companions. While he appears as though he's being set up as the BigBad of the hatchling portion of the Copper's story, they only have two brief encounters (neither of which really counts as a fight), followed by the Copper fleeing further into the Lower World, after which Gan never shows up again.

[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* In ''Series/BreakingBad'', the Salamanca twins are introduced in Season 3, coming after protagonist Walter White in revenge for the death of their cousin Tuco. Thanks to some manipulation by Walter's boss Gustavo, they end up being diverted to Walter's brother in law Hank, who actually pulled the trigger on Tuco. He kills one twin and cripples the other. Walter only encounters either of them when he sees the legless surviving twin in his hospital bed. This remaining twin is soon dispatched by Gustavo as well.
* This happens on ''Series/TwentyFour'' on its first season. After the first hitman hired to kill Palmer fails, a lot of build-up is given to this new hitman hired to do the job, Alexei Drazen, he's both given a climatic entrance at the end of an episode, and is given a lot of build-up as to how well trained he is on special forces. He's taken out by his girlfriend via a stab wound in the stomach, and spends the rest of the show either unconscious or in a hospital bed. Eventually he dies without having fought anyone really.
* ''Series/MightyMorphinPowerRangers'':
** The Power Rangers never fight Rita Repulsa personally, with her eventually getting kicked out alongside Lord Zedd by the Machine Empire and giving up on conquering/destroying the Earth.
** An even bigger example is Dark Specter from ''Series/PowerRangersInSpace''. He's the ManBehindTheMan for all of the ''Power Rangers'' villains up to that point, but does literally nothing throughout the season and proceeds to get killed off by TheStarscream early in the GrandFinale. His DragonInChief ends up taking over.
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'':
** The Anointed One was killed by Spike due to the actor aging out of the character (The [[strike:Annoying]] Anointed One was a kid vampire). Buffy never fought him and he never had any real plot importance.
** Drusilla, unless you count her really brief skirmish with Kendra.
* Narutaki, technically speaking the main enemy of ''Series/KamenRiderDecade'' [[note]]as the one responsible for most of Decade's troubles[[/note]], never directly fights Decade or any of the KR allies he has made. Even in [[spoiler:the ''Final Chapter'' movie, where Narutaki basically reforms TheRemnant of Decade's old [[LegionOfDoom 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, [[Series/KamenRider 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 [[spoiler:the Neo-Organism Doras]] is released. Which he ''still'' manages to blame on Decade.
*** Finally subverted in ''[[Film/KamenRiderXSuperSentaiSuperHeroTaisen Super Hero Taisen]]'', where Narutaki [[spoiler:takes the form of [[Series/KamenRiderV3 Destron commander Doktor G]], revealing that this and his previous Colonel Zol form are mere disguises rather than true identities. While Narutaki did not assume the [[OneWingedAngel Werewolf form]] of the original Colonel Zol in ''The Last Story'', he does here assume Doktor G's Kani Lazer form, which is actually a whole new costume and much more powerful than the original. In this form, he is seen being easily able to hold off around a dozen Kamen Riders via, you guessed it, lasers. He is only defeated when the Series/TensouSentaiGoseiger lend their new reflect cards to Decade with [[Series/KamenRiderBlade Blade]] and [[Series/KamenRiderRyuki Ryuki]], allowing them to deflect Doktor G's lasers allowing them to [[FinishingMove finish him off with their respective finishers]].]]
* ''Franchise/SuperSentai'' has three ultimate Big Bads who did not receive a proper final battle: [[spoiler: Great Doctor Lee Keflen of ''Flashman'' (the heroes caused a chain reaction that destroyed his base, killing him), Great Professor Bias of ''Liveman'' (NonActionBigBad who never really got a chance to fight), and Captain Ryuya of ''Timeranger'' (TheChessmaster who did nothing directly; one of his pawns, Gien, became the FinalBoss)]]
* This happens many times on ''Series/{{Merlin}}'', most notably between Arthur and Cenred, the antagonistic king of a neighbouring kingdom. After being set up as a WorthyOpponent throughout the course of series three, Cenred is killed off by one of his own allies in a case of YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness. They ''do'' have a brief scuffle in a DeletedScene, 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.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* ''Webcomic/TowerOfGod'':
** At the climax of the [[StormTheCastle storming of Zahard's castle]] by Phantaminum, Phantaminum faces off Zahard… and just leaves. Fan speculation has it that it had something to do with the fact that Zahard stopped climbing the Tower at some point.
** TheChessmaster Yu Han-Sung from Season 1 is never fought. The characters just keep on climbing while he just stays on the second floor, [[AffablyEvil he even bids them farewell]], though there must be something with those rings he gave them.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Video]]
* The Captain Teneille imposter in ''WebVideo/VaguelyRecallingJoJo'' because he died when his ship was rammed by the plane sunk by Grey Fly.
[[/folder]]
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