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 AntiClimaxBoss or BreatherBoss, 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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[[foldercontrol]]

!!Video Game Examples:
[[folder:Examples]]
* The ''FinalFantasy'' series does this a lot. Emperor Gestahl in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI'' and Queen Brahne in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIX'' are both the primary antagonists throughout half of their respective games, and get killed by [[TheStarscream 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 WorthyOpponent.
** Also, Golbez from ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIV'', 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 [[spoiler: [=FuSoYa=] breaking Zemus's MindControl on him]]. And it wasn't so much of a battle as it was an interactive cross between CutsceneBoss and PressXToNotDie. The "fight" is basically [[spoiler:Golbez dodging every attack from everyone that isn't [[TheHero Cecil]] with the [[SwordOfPlotAdvancement Legend Sword]], then proceeding to [[CurbStompBattle wipe the floor with everyone but Cecil]], then [[BackFromTheDead Rydia]] popping up for a BigDamnHeroes moment and giving Cecil a second wind to force Golbez into withdrawing with the crystal still in hand.]]
** In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'', the Sapphire Weapon is killed by the Junon Cannon before the party can get to it.
*** Also, Tseng, leader of the [[QuirkyMiniBossSquad Turks]], never actually battles the party, it's always some combination of Rude, Reno, and Elena (who can also become TheUnfought if you decide not to fight the last Turk encounter).
*** 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 ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII'' with [[spoiler:[[EvilIsSexy Jihl]]]], who was even [[NeverTrustATrailer featured in the trailer]], but ended up appearing in a stupefying total of 4 scenes (if even that many), during the last of which [[spoiler:she was blasted in the back by the [[BaitAndSwitchBoss REAL boss]] as she confronted the heroes]]. They are now fightable in DLC for XIII-2, however.
** In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyTactics'', during chapter one, a couple people are set up as [[DiscOneFinalBoss disc one final bosses]], but are never directly fought. Among these are Gustav (Who set up the Marquis's kidnapping, which [[EvenEvilHasStandards Wiegraf detested]]) and Gragoroth, the Corpse Brigade member who kidnapped Teta[[note]]he commits suicide by explosion after being shot by Argath at Ft. Zeakden[[/note]].
** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIX'' also subverts this trope with the Four Fiends. At first, when the characters split into four groups to take them on, only one (Lich) is actually fought by the player, the other battles [[OffscreenMomentOfAwesome taking place offscreen]]. However, in the final dungeon they're revived and all four are indeed faced in battle.
** In the ''Chains of Promathia'' expansion for ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXI'', Nag'molada is an enemy working at cross-purposes to the player for most of the storyline, working indirectly by means such as spreading lies about the player, stealing credit for your accomplishments and sending powerful boss monsters against you. At the very end, however, he commits suicide by allowing himself to be absorbed by Promathia the Twilight God. Not only does this cheat us out of a boss fight, but it also unleashes an apocalyptic evil god upon the world. Not cool at all, Naggy. Even in a follow-up quest where his spirit is attempting to cross over into our world along with that of some other malefactors, an NPC ally fights him instead off-camera while we rematch with a couple of old bosses.
* Kamek never directly fights the player in the first two ''VideoGame/YoshisIsland'' games (SNES and DS), only showing up occasionally as an InvincibleMinorMinion. You do get to fight him in later games, including the third game (''Yoshi's New Island'').
* In ''VideoGame/SonicHeroes'', the player pursues Dr. Eggman to the flagship of his airborne fleet, only to find out [[spoiler:it was actually Metal Sonic impersonating him after having gone rogue and launched an operation against the protagonists himself.]]
* Isoc in ''VideoGame/MegaManX 6'' never fights you, instead being found dead and [[SequelHook seeming to set up a plot element for the sequels]], [[AbortedArc which never materialized]].
* ''VideoGame/MegaManZero 3'' ends with the fight with TheDragon, Omega. The game's BigBad, Weil, is not fought until the sequel.
* In the first ''VideoGame/MegaManStarForce'', this happens to [[spoiler: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, it happens to [[spoiler: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 [[DefeatMeansFriendship 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''; [[spoiler: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, [[spoiler:the BigBad, Katherine Marlowe]] becomes this. Justified due to being a [[spoiler:NonActionBigBad]]. From the same game, [[spoiler:Rameses]] also becomes this.
* Parodied in ''VideoGame/NoMoreHeroes'', where Letz Shake, the 5th-ranked assassin, is [[spoiler:[[BaitAndSwitchBoss 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 ''VideoGame/NoMoreHeroes2DesperateStruggle''. Travis never actually fights [[spoiler:any of the 22nd through 11th ranked assassins]]... since they're killed by [[MorallyAmbiguousDoctorate Dr. Letz Shake]], settling a proper battle against him. Then later on, [[spoiler:Henry]] kills the 6th and 5th ranked assassins for Travis as payback for [[spoiler:Travis saving his life]]. He even {{lampshade|Hanging}}s 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 ''VideoGame/MagicianLord'', 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. In fact you never even see him die, though he does say [[BlindIdiotTranslation "I'm Destined just to die".]]
* Arpeggio from ''VideoGame/Sly2BandOfThieves'' falls victim to the "killed by real villain" category, surprisingly late in the game.
* In ''VideoGame/BreathOfFireIV'', Yuna, the dark mage/geneticist in charge of the Carronade (a [[FantasticNuke 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. He was intended to have been fought by the player or at least given some form of comeuppance for what he did. Capcom was forced to rush the game at the end due to the fact that they were actually risking bankruptcy at the time. However, he still gets away in the manga.
* [[EldritchAbomination The Adephagos]] (accidentally summed by [[ClimaxBoss Alexei]])
** There's also Cumore, whom Yuri unceremoniously killed.
** In ''VideoGame/TalesOfTheAbyss'', Dist is the only God General who isn't fought personally. He sics his robots on the party multiple times, but that's it. [[spoiler:He's also the only God General who survives the events of the game.]]
* General Scales in ''VideoGame/StarFoxAdventures''. You confront him, and press A to start a cutscene in which [[spoiler:[[HijackedByGanon Andross]] tells him to give you the Krazoa Spirit. He does, and promptly collapses.]] A case where the villain was the BigBad. WordOfGod later revealed [[WhatCouldHaveBeen both boss fights were originally planned]]...then [[ScrewedByTheLawyers ownership of Rare shifted to Microsoft]], forcing them to rush development of the game and focus on only one. Unused audio also implies [[spoiler:''Falco'' would help Fox take down Scales.]]
* At least three in ''VideoGame/SuperSmashBros Brawl'':
** Ganondorf is presented as a major villain in The Subspace Emissary, but the closest you ever come to fighting him is [[spoiler: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.
** Despite being a straight boss in Classic Mode, Master Hand was presented as the BigBad of The Subspace Emissary until [[spoiler:it's revealed that he's the literal puppet of [[TheManBehindTheMan Tabuu]], who disposes of Master Hand before the players get there]].
** There's also the Ancient Minister, who was hyped as the subgame's main villain in previews and promotional material. [[spoiler:He [[HeelFaceTurn heel-faced]] just before the heroes busted into what would've been his boss chamber.]]
* Alex from ''VideoGame/GoldenSun''. He's more of TheChessmaster type. [[spoiler:And as of ''VideoGame/GoldenSunDarkDawn'', he's STILL unfought]].
* An infamous example is Ephidel from ''VideoGame/FireEmblem 7''. Set up to be a Climax Boss, [[spoiler:he instead suffers death by exploding dragon.]] Breaking open the game's code reveals that he only has genric "citizen" stats and an inventory filled with items he can't use (while several other non-combat [=NPCs=] have proper stats and inventories).
* ''VideoGame/BatenKaitos'': Geldoblame has yet to be fought in human form, unlike pretty much every other human villain in the series. And [[spoiler:Melodia]] isn't fought at all.
* Several ''KingdomHearts'' examples:
** Zexion was never battled in the GBA version of ''[[VideoGame/KingdomHeartsChainOfMemories 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. However, his fight was retconned into the [[PlayStation2 PS2]] version.
** The hyped-up duel between Roxas and Sora never happened in the original ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsII'', but was added in the Final Mix.
** A third example is Maleficent in ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsII''. Her only encounters with Sora end with [[spoiler:EnemyMine situations]], even though every other Disney villain from the first game is given a proper battle.
** You don't get to fight the [[Disney/SnowWhiteAndTheSevenDwarfs Wicked Queen]] in ''[[VideoGame/KingdomHeartsBirthBySleep 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 [[Disney/{{Cinderella}} Lady Tremaine]], though you do fight [[RightHandCat Lucifer]] (and no, he doesn't have any special powers, he'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.
** There's also [[Film/TronLegacy Clu]] in The Grid. Of course, given the way he is programmed in the film, [[FridgeBrilliance it's possible that neither Sora or Riku could even scratch him]].
* From ''VideoGame/PaperMario'':
** 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 ''VideoGame/SuperPaperMario'' is the only member of the QuirkyMinibossSquad 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 ''VideoGame/{{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) EldritchAbomination).
** 343 Guilty Spark in the first game [[spoiler:(though you do fight him in ''{{Halo 3}}'')]] and the Prophet of Mercy in the second game.
* ''VideoGame/SkiesOfArcadia'':
** Alfonso is the first major villain you're introduced to, and he never fights you directly. That does fit with [[SmugSnake his personality]], though.
** The empress of Valua is the same way -- although the heroes (with the exception of Fina) never encounter her in person. Given that [[NonActionBigBad she's elderly and shows no hint of magical talent to compensate for physical weakness]], the fact that she never fights you is unsurprising.
** You never get to fight the purple Gigas, Plergoth.
* Edna from ''VideoGame/{{Wild ARMs XF}}'' dies before you get a chance to kill her for all the terrible things she's done.
* In ''VideoGame/TheWorldEndsWithYou'', it seems like [[spoiler:the Composer]] is going to be the final boss. However, the player has no input when he [[spoiler:challenges Neku to one final game]] after [[spoiler: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 [[spoiler:you find him crushed by his own trash heap.]]
* You never get the chance to fight Varil in the final round of the tournament in ''SummonNight: Swordcraft Story''.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 3}}'', President John Henry Eden is never actually fought in the game [[spoiler:...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.]]
* ''[[VideoGame/FirstEncounterAssaultRecon F.E.A.R.: Project Origin]]'' promises an incredible psychic battle between protagonist Michael Becket and BigBad Alma. [[spoiler:It doesn't happen. Instead, you get a somewhat anticlimactic BattleInTheCenterOfTheMind with your EvilCounterpart, while Alma rapes your comatose body.]]
* ''Videogame/AloneInTheDark2008'' 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 GainaxEnding.
* ''Videogame/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles2013'' Karai shows up in the penultimate level and sends mooks out to fight the Turtles. Just when it seems like you're going to fight her at the end of the level...she leaves, and is never seen in the game again.
* In ''[[VideoGame/TronTwoPointOh Tron 2.0]]'', you never actually get a chance to fight apparent BigBad 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 ''VideoGame/SuikodenI'':
** You never actually fight the game's real BigBad, Lady Windy. Instead, the final battle is you beating some sense into TheEmperor (who [[ScaledUp turns into a 3-headed dragon for the fight]]). After you beat him, he apologizes for everything he's done, grabs Windy, and jumps off the castle to his death, [[TakingYouWithMe dragging her with him]].
** Yuber from the same series is another example. In the first two games, he's a minor antagonist who [[ScrewThisImOuttaHere deserts]] during the final battles when it becomes apparent that his side has no chance. In ''VideoGame/SuikodenIII'', he is one of the main villains and [[RecurringBoss is fought repeatedly]]. [[HopelessBossFight It quickly becomes apparent that he didn't desert out of cowardice]].
* Out of the ''many'' antagonists in the ''VideoGame/{{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? [[spoiler:''Wilhelm'', the ''BigBad'' 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 [[TheDragon right-hand man]].]] However, [[spoiler: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, [[spoiler: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 ''VideoGame/ConkersBadFurDay'', the Panther King [[spoiler:has a barely lawyer-friendly [[Franchise/{{Alien}} Xenomorph]] burst out of his chest shortly after he meets Conker for the first time, killing him and leaving the Xenomorph as the final boss. Though, in the multiplayer map, Doon, the Panther King DID serve as the map final objective, you have to shoot his heart. This mode is only available in ''Live and Reloaded'', though.]]
* Subverted in ''VideoGame/JadeEmpire'': [[spoiler: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 [[UnexplainedRecovery he gets better]]]].
* Most of the top-level antagonists in ''VideoGame/{{Xenogears}}'' escape the direct wrath of your giant robot violence. [[spoiler:The Gazel Ministry is wiped out by [[BigBad Krelian]], and Krelian himself gets off scot-free, having achieved pretty much exactly what he wanted.]]
* ''DynamiteHeaddy'' 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 ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil'':
** [[spoiler: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 ''VideoGame/ResidentEvilCodeVeronica'', [[spoiler: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 the following games, such as ''[[VideoGame/ResidentEvil0 0]]'', ''[[VideoGame/ResidentEvil4 4]]'', and ''[[VideoGame/ResidentEvilTheUmbrellaChronicles The Umbrella Chronicles]]'', before finally being averted in ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil5'', when you finally face off with Wesker and kill him]].
** [[spoiler:His colleague, William Birkin]], also has this when [[spoiler:never being confronted in human form in ''0'' and ''[[VideoGame/ResidentEvil2 2]]'']]. Instead, [[spoiler:he is confronted after becoming a monster due to injecting the G-Virus into himself]].
** [[spoiler:Their boss, Ozwell E. Spencer]], the BiggerBad, is not confronted by the protagonists. In fact, they never even encounter him. [[spoiler:Alive, anyways]].
* After a fantastic boss fight with the Demon King, Fortinbras, in the original {{Onimusha}}, there's a short movie sequence featuring the BigBad, Lord Nobunaga, walking ominously down some steps towards your character, Samanosuke. Then the screen fades to black and there's an epilogue. There's still a few Onimusha players scratching their heads and wondering how Samanosuke got out of that one.
* The main antagonists of ''Franchise/SilentHill'' are rarely fought at all.
** In ''VideoGame/SilentHill1'', the BigBad is dispatched by the FinalBoss.
** In ''VideoGame/SilentHill2'', [[ImplacableMan the creature that has been stalking you for the entirety of the game]] commits suicide before the actual FinalBoss.
** In ''VideoGame/SilentHill3'', the BigBad is also dispatched by the FinalBoss. Like the first game, it involves a priestess being killed by the very abomination she was trying to summon.
** In ''VideoGame/SilentHill4'', you actually get to [[AvertedTrope avert this trope]] for the one and only time in the series.
** In ''VideoGame/SilentHillOrigins'', Travis fights neither Dahlia nor Kaufmann, instead wrestling with a GiantSpaceFleaFromNowhere during the game's climax.
** In ''VideoGame/SilentHillHomecoming'', the BigBad becomes a minor CutsceneBoss well before the game's climax.
** In ''VideoGame/SilentHillShatteredMemories''... [[NoFinalBossForYou there are no bosses of any kind]]. But you can't even fight the mooks.
** In ''VideoGame/SilentHillDownpour'', [[spoiler:you ''become'' the final boss]].
* In ''VideoGame/TheDarkSpire'', 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 is only fought 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 ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid2SonsOfLiberty'', he is far too busy with his GambitRoulette to fight you. You still get to battle him in the other games in the series, though.
** Another ''Franchise/MetalGear'' example: [[spoiler:[[MeaningfulName Decoy]] Octopus]] is the only member of the FOXHOUND terrorist squad who doesn't have a boss encounter in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid''. Instead, [[spoiler: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 ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolidPeaceWalker'' to be the main villain, but you don't get to fight him. [[spoiler:Or Zadornov, who's killed in a cutscene]].
** The original MSX version of ''VideoGame/MetalGear'' sees you destroy the titular Metal Gear by avoiding two laser cameras moving behind it and planting C4 on its feet. The NES version has this boss edited out: instead, you destroy a super computer, and never even ''see'' Metal Gear in the game at all.
* In ''Videogame/CrashBandicoot3Warped'', 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 ''VideoGame/CrashBandicootTheWrathOfCortex'' 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 ''VideoGame/CrashTwinsanity'' for a proper battle with Uka Uka, but by that time, he's no longer the main villain.
* In ''VideoGame/PokemonMysteryDungeonExplorers 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 forgotten, aside from one dungeon.
** There are a few in the [[Franchise/{{Pokemon}} main series]] too. Giovanni, despite being hyped up as returning throughout all of ''VideoGame/PokemonGoldAndSilver'', never even appears [[spoiler:(though they fixed that in the remakes)]], and Charon is never fought in ''Platinum'' despite temporarily taking over as BigBad once Cyrus is beaten, to name a couple of examples.
** Many fans were disappointed when they found out that during the post-game storyline of ''VideoGame/PokemonBlackAndWhite'', when you're given the task of [[GottaCatchThemAll 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. This also applies to the Shadow Triad -- those teleporting ninjas who guide you throughout the game.
** In the sequel, ''VideoGame/PokemonBlack2AndWhite2'', [[spoiler:some of this is remedied, as two of the Sages, Rood and Zinzolin, are fightable, as are the Shadow Triad.]]
* The final boss of ''VideoGame/MightAndMagic 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 SealedGoodInACan fighting him for you and defeating him with a HeroicSacrifice. The battle itself was climactic, but the challenge was not. You never even get to see an in-game character model of the BigBad. And if you didn't unseal the Sealed Good, ''then'' the BigBad simply [[OneHitKill waves his hand]] [[RocksFallEverybodyDies and your party dies]].
* In the original ''VideoGame/{{Rayman}}'', you never actually get to fight Mr. Dark. First he tortures you with some fire magic, then you fight his three mutants[[note]]whether he summons the mutants or transforms into the mutants is still up in the air[[/note]], then... the game just ends. You do get to fight him in the incredibly obscure GBC Rayman game, though.
** [[spoiler:The Magician]] from ''VideoGame/RaymanOrigins'' doesn't even get something even resembling a boss fight.
* ''GunstarHeroes''. You never get to fight the evil emperor, because he gets nuked by the crystals he was trying to collect, which then open the SealedEvilInACan for the ''real'' boss fight.
* Arnold Leach from ''VideoGame/CliveBarkersJericho'', while a BigBad, is never fought (contrary to what [[UrbanLegendOfZelda some players may tell you]]). It is possible to shoot at him during a later level, but it has no effect on him.
* In ''VideoGame/BeyondGoodAndEvil,'' General Kheck, the leader of the [[TheEvilArmy 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 TripodTerror from your ship, and it crashes and lands... but when you go inside, he's already dying, and all you get is an AlmostDeadGuy speech.
* Dr. Loboto in ''VideoGame/{{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 DisneyVillainDeath. Presumably for the same reason other heroes do: Raz beating up on ''mental'' baddies is OK, but real people? No. Also, [[SplitPersonality The Milkman]], who after being awakened simply ignores Raz [[spoiler:and eventually burns down the asylum, completing his programming, then leaves Boyd's mind forever.]]
* In ''ShadowComplex'', [[spoiler: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 ''VideoGame/DevilMayCry 4'', you never get to fight [[spoiler:Credo in human form, despite his InformedAbility of being a master swordsman. He activates Devil Trigger before throwing down with Nero.]] Another example is Trish in the original game: When she's revealed to be working for Mundus, only Nightmare is fought, not her.
* In Iron Tager's Story path of ''VideoGame/BlazBlue'', 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 ''OperationFlashpoint''. [[spoiler:Having been defeated, the enemy BigBad, Soviet Colonel Guba, gets off scot-free and flees in a helicopter, but not before [[PlayerPunch 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 ''VideoGame/CallOfDuty VideoGame/ModernWarfare 2'', [[spoiler:Vladimir Makarov is originally set up as the BigBad. Then MagnificentBastard 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.]] In fact, 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 ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'', 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. [[spoiler:This is because the Collector General is not his true body either. He's actually a [[StarfishAlien Reaper]], and the Collector General is just another shell he discards [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness 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 ''VideoGame/HouseOfTheDead'' games, the final bosses are artificial monsters created by the MadScientist 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. [[spoiler:Although, in Curien's case, you ''will'' get to fight him at the end of the third game, after being resurrected and transformed into the artificial life-form "Wheel of Fate".]]
** ''VideoGame/TheHouseOfTheDeadOverkill's'' dragon, Papa Ceasar, manages to get away from the protagonists throughout the game. [[spoiler:To make it worse, he gets killed by the BigBad.]]
* ''VideoGame/RatchetAndClank'': Captain Qwark's involvement in the plot is inverse to the way he is fought.
** In the first, he's [[spoiler:TheDragon, yet only fought ship to ship]].
** In the second of the games [[spoiler:he is the main villain, but not fought at all]].
** You finally fight him head to head in the third, yet he's barely a comic relief villain.
* The eponymous Hisoutensoku of the expansion to the second ''[[VideoGame/{{Touhou}} 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 [[spoiler:who ''was'' responsible for the event]], and Meiling [[BigLippedAlligatorMoment hallucinates]] about a [[GiantSpaceFleaFromNowhere big freaking catfish]].
* ''VideoGame/GodOfWar 3'' has several: [[spoiler: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 MadScientist called Beruga who is set up as the BigBad 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 ''LegacyOfKain: Soul Reaver'' -- in fact, the entire third act of the game was [[DisappointingLastLevel unceremoniously]] DummiedOut to set up a sequel. Fortunately, future games in the series got a chance to rectify this: [[spoiler: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.]]
* ''VideoGame/FableII's'' [[spoiler:Reaver will shoot Lucien if you allow him to talk too long.]]
* Officer Tenpenny in ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoSanAndreas'' 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 [[WhereItAllBegan CJ's home]]. [[spoiler: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.]]
** Ray Bulgarin seems to be the perfect BigBad for Niko in ''GrandTheftAutoIV'', being a bigger threat and having a greater personal connection to him than Dimitri Rascalov, but he simply disappears after letting loose a group of goons on Niko and Packie in an attempt to retrieve his stolen diamonds. His fate is revealed in ''TheBalladOfGayTony'', where he ''does'' serve as the BigBad and FinalBoss.
* Meibisi in ''RiseOfTheKasai'' is never fought in his human form; despite being [[spoiler:invincible because he removed his heart [[SoulJar 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 [[spoiler:straight into OneWingedAngel mode during his boss fight, becoming the mindless avatar of his [[GodOfEvil god]], Kri.]]
* [[spoiler:MB, aka Melissa Bergman]] in ''VideoGame/MetroidOtherM''. Justified 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.
* ''VideoGame/EarthwormJim 2's'' first boss fight ends almost as soon as it begins, when Jim eats the boss.
* In the arcade game ''HardHead 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 ''VideoGame/TheCombatribes'', 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 [[BodyguardBabes female bodyguard]], who confronts the player as the final boss instead.
* In ''VideoGame/ThePunisherCapcom'', 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 getaway. 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.
* [[TreacherousAdvisor Hiruko]], the fortune teller in the NES version of ''[[VideoGame/DoubleDragon 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 ''VideoGame/GrandiaIII'', Grau is never fought. [[spoiler:[[KarmicDeath One of Xorn's roots turns him into glass and shatters him]].]]
* ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaSpiritTracks'' has Chancellor Cole [[DownplayedTrope to a smaller extent]]. While you never directly fight him, the first fight with Malladus has him constantly interfering, and [[spoiler:the final boss is Malladus possesing Cole's body, which goes OneWingedAngel.]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Okamiden}}''. [[HumongousMecha Daidara]][[MoonRabbit botchi]]. Big. Threatening. Never even moves, let alone fights.
* In ''VideoGame/OdinSphere'', you never fight BigBad [[spoiler:King Valentine]]. You just deal with the mess he creates.
* The Dark Queen appears but remains unfought in the GameBoy and arcade ''VideoGame/{{Battletoads}}'' games, both of which have Robo-Manus as the FinalBoss.
* Papa Muerte in ''VideoGame/TotalOverdose'' is a legendary and feared underworld figure who all of Tommy's investigations have pointed to, and eventually Muerte is connected to [[YouKilledMyFather killing Ram and Tommy's father]]. He's behind every mobster Ram fights, works for, or works for and then fights. A BigBad 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 ''VideoGame/ShinMegamiTenseiStrangeJourney'', [[spoiler:Mastema]] becomes this if you're on the Neutral ending. Normally, alignment-specific characters in [[ShinMegamiTensei 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, [[spoiler:Mem Aleph]], the BigBad, is your ally and thus not the FinalBoss as per usual.
* ''VideoGame/AliceMadnessReturns'' has [[spoiler:the first boss, a [[SteamPunk steam-powered]] HumongousMecha piloted by the Dormouse and March Hare.]] Just after the pre-battle cutscene is over, [[spoiler:[[HeelFaceTurn Mad Hatter]] unceremoniously whacks it out of existence with a giant teapot.]]
* In ''VideoGame/{{Borderlands}}'', Commandant Steele and the Crimson Lance are the main antagonists for most of the game; however, upon reaching the Vault, [[spoiler:you don't get to fight Steele because she is impaled by an EldritchAbomination named The Destroyer, that is, quite in fact, a GiantSpaceFleaFromNowhere]]. However, [[spoiler:she returns in ''Claptrap's Robot Revolution'', having been rebuilt as "Steele-Trap" and as an actual boss.]]
* In ''VideoGame/{{Borderlands 2}}'', when you go to rescue Roland from the Bloodshots, who are planning to ransom him off to the Hyperion Corporation, you're probably expecting to fight their leader Flanksteak. The game seems to really try to sell you on this guy being a big deal, so you're probably even looking forward to facing him. Instead, Hyperion decides to storm the Bloodshots' base with an army of MechaMooks and capture Roland themselves, and Flanksteak, comically oblivious that the mayhem going on in his own base is not just the fault of the Vault Hunters, gets killed when he [[TooDumbToLive tries to offer an attacking Hyperion Loader twenty bucks for Roland]].
** In the first DLC expansion, ''Captain Scarlett and her Pirate's Booty'', you get a downplayed example. While you do technically fight the titular Captain Scarlett, she's actually only marginally involved in the fight; the real enemy is her pet rakk hive. After the battle, she runs away and is never seen or heard from again, managing to use some sort of teleportation device to escape.
** In the second DLC expansion, ''Mr. Torgue's Campaign of Carnage'', Flyboy is set up as one of the competitors before Piston kills him so ''he'' can fight you.
** In the third DLC, ''Sir Hammerlock's Big Game Hunt'', [[spoiler:Professor Nakayama dies when he trips and falls down some stairs.]]
* [[spoiler:Skint]] in ''VideoGame/TheReconstruction''. You come ''extremely close'' to battling him (there's even a FightWoosh!), but [[TechnicalPacifist Dehl]] calls off the battle and solves things diplomatically. The next time you see him, [[spoiler:he's HalfTheManHeUsedToBe and requests a MercyKill in an AlasPoorVillain scene.]]
* In ''TransformersWarForCybertron'', Optimus Prime is never fought during the Decepticon Campaign [[spoiler:(the major boss fight is against [[HumongousMecha Omega Supreme]])]] and Megatron is never fought directly during the Autobot Campaign [[spoiler:(the end boss fight being against [[KillSat Trypticon]])]]. Averted in the sequel, where you can choose to play as Megatron or Optimus for the final battle and get to defeat the other in a duel.
* Most of the people responsible for what happens in New York in ''VideoGame/{{Prototype}}''. [[spoiler: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.]] Justified since any normal human other than [[BadassNormal Captain Cross]] would have been a ZeroEffortBoss to Alex Mercer.
* {{Homefront}} 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 ''VideoGame/OrcsMustDie'' is never confronted directly, although there is some [[IShallTauntYou verbal sparring]].
* Many villains in the ''{{VideoGame/Batman Arkham|Asylum}}'' Series never get a proper boss fight, either being taken out in a cutscene ([[spoiler:Harley, Scarecrow, Hugo Strange]]), are defeated with a single stealth attack or thrown Batarang ([[spoiler:Zsasz, Riddler, Deadshot]]), or both ([[spoiler:Croc]]). This is particularly egregious with [[spoiler:Hugo Strange, since he's a main antagonist and the in-game description of him includes the bulletpoint "Trained to physical perfection."]] That sounds like a fight! Nope.
* ''{{Runescape}}'' has a few, which include, but are not limited to:
** [[spoiler:Lucien]], percieved for several years to be the game's [[spoiler:BigBad until a new quest was released in which he is killed easily by an even more powerful enemy.]]
** There's also [[spoiler:Bilrach]], who is revealed to have died sometime before his great work was even added to the game, [[spoiler: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 [[spoiler:throw a VoodooDoll 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.
** You don't get to fight [[spoiler:Mother Mallum]], as you are being controlled. Instead, a team of player controlled NPC's drops a pillar on her. This one caused much uproar in the community.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Bastion}}'', there is [[spoiler: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.
* ''VideoGame/DragonAgeII'' has [[spoiler:Sister Petrice]], who is killed by a [[spoiler:Qunari archer]] in front of you -- though she admits early on to being a non-action person, so this is perhaps unsurprising.
* Viridi from ''VideoGame/KidIcarusUprising''. 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 [[GiantSpaceFleaFromNowhere 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. The most likely explanation is that [[HideYourChildren she looks like a little kid]], but that doesn't prevent Pit from at least ''threatening'' to attack her.
* 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.
* [[OurCentaursAreDifferent Motaro]], in ''VideoGame/MortalKombat9'', is unceremoniously killed by Raiden just off-screen early in the third part.
* Danek Emperor Jeal in ''VideoGame/{{Vay}}''. Though you do eventually come face-to-face with him once most of the Orbs are collected, [[spoiler:his [[DeceptiveDisciple second-in-command]], Prince Sadoul, kills him right in front of the party's eyes]].
* The varsity squad in the ''MarioTennis'' 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 ''Videogame/ShiningTheHolyArk'', 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 because was she was a powerful Vandal and to retain the fear of vandals for the sequel ''Videogame/ShiningForceIII''. You never get to fight Galm, either.
* In ''Videogame/ShiningForceIII'', 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, let alone fought.
* In ''TacticsOgre'':
** Heirophant Balbatos, the silent antagonist for the first part of the game, is never fought by the player. In the Chaotic route, he is captured by the Walister Resistance and more liberal Galgastani and executed off-screen. (However, you can view it with the Warren Report.) In the lawful route, he simply commits suicide before he gets to you.
** Of the dark knights, Volaq and Balxephon are never fought in the original versions of the game. In fact, battle data for Volaq and Balxephon didn't even ''exist'' in the original versions! This was changed in the PSP version where Balxephon is one part of a DualBoss in Chapter three, and where Volaq is an optional boss fight in chapter four.
* The third ''VideoGame/MaxPayne'' has Serrano. You get close to him, but never have a proper gunfight. The last you see of him is in a building about to collapse.
** This also applies to Neves, the leader of the Crachá Preto mercenaries, who is shot by another character just before he can kill the protagonist. His second-in-command is taken out with a handful of [[PressXToNotDie quick time]] actions.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Contra}}: Hard Corps'', one of the four main story paths ends with an outbreak of alien organic matter, providing a distraction for the main antagonist, Colonel Bahamut, to escape to fight another day.
** Chief Salamander in ''Contra Rebirth''. {{Justified|Trope}} for plot twisting reasons.
** And in ''Shattered Soldier'', [[spoiler:the Triumvirate]].
* ''VideoGame/FarCry2'' and ''VideoGame/FarCry3'' with the most badass mercs Jackal and Vaas. You get taken down by CutsceneIncompetence whenever you meet Jackal for one. Same thing for Vaas (apparently the Far Cry devs really love this trope), and when you finally take him down, it happens in a trippy drug/dream sequence that you aren't even sure is really happening.
* ''VideoGame/{{Bioforge}}'': [[spoiler:Dr. Mastaba got away scot free.]]
* In ''[[VideoGame/BombJack Mighty Bomb Jack]]'', you don't get to fight Beelzebut in any of the MultipleEndings.
* Colonel Capricciola, Bubbles, and Gingerelle from ''VideoGame/BraveFencerMusashi'', despite all three being warriors. Bubbles and Gingerelle [[spoiler:vanish about halfway through with no explanation, and Capricciola is actually Jon and is secretly helping you.]] It's possible that Cappricciola was to be fought at one time, as his action figure has attacks and voice-overs that aren't used elsewhere in the game. Either that, or that was done to hide the big twist later.
* In ''VideoGame/FireEmblemAwakening'', there's a good chance you won't get to fight Ruger, the boss of Paralogue 9: Wings of Justice, who tricks a group of mercenaries into believing that he is Chrom, {{the hero}} of Ylisse. As soon as he recruits all of the available neutral units (or you get close enough to his position to stop his charade), he will immediately [[VillainExitStageLeft turn tail and run to the closest edge of the map]], never to be seen again unless you're fast enough to catch him.
* ''Franchise/BioShock'':
** In ''VideoGame/BioShock1'', you never really fight Andrew Ryan. [[spoiler:He basically commits suicide using your mental conditioning to bash his brain in a cutscene.]]
** In ''VideoGame/BioShock2'', the player doesn't get to fight Sofia Lamb, but her fate can be determined by the choices they made. She will either drown or be left to live as CruelMercy.
** Many of the named antagonists are not directly fought by the player in ''VideoGame/BioShockInfinite''. [[spoiler:Daisy Fitzroy kills Jeremiah Fink, Elizabeth kills Fitzroy, Booker [=DeWitt=] does kill the main antagonist but in a non-controllable scene, and Songbird ends up assisting the player in the final battle before being sent to die at the bottom of the ocean. Cornelius Slate is played up as a boss battle, but once you have killed his men and confront him, he's too exhausted to fight and he turns into a CutsceneBoss instead. Lady Comstock is the only named character that is actually confronted in a player-controlled battle and, as if to make up for the long list of unfought, has to be defeated three times in three equally difficult fights.]]
* In ''VideoGame/RedDeadRedemption'', John Marston spends almost the entire game hunting down Dutch Van der Linde, the leader of his old gang. But when the two men finally come face to face, [[spoiler:Dutch commits suicide in a cutscene.]]
* VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsUX: Master Vespasianus, Emperor Annex Zaboom, and Shot Weapon.
** Vespanius is not fought because Augustus killed him.
** Emperor Annex Zaboom is not fought because he was betrayed by Hazard, who commanded Vajra to suicide bomb themselves at his and Sharom's battleships.
** Shot is not fought because he attempted take to Alto with a suicide bombing.
* ''VideoGame/SecretOfMana'': Emperor Vandole is the main antagonist, but he never engages the party in battle, always leaving that to his lieutenants and minions. [[spoiler:Then he's killed off by [[TheStarscream Thanatos]] and it's revealed that two of the other lieutenants, Fanha and Sheex, were in on Thanatos' plan the whole time.]]
* ''Triad Stone'' spends much of its story building up King Barroll as the villain who stole the [[DismantledMacguffin three magic stones]] for himself to tyrannize the island by releasing evil monsters and disasters, and [[SpiritAdvisor Gian]] repeatedly urges [[TheHero Ashe]] to go stop him. Yet in the end, Barroll is never fought or even [[NoOneSeesTheBoss seen]] during the game. The ending narration says the stones were taken back from Barroll's followers, but not how the king himself was dealt with. Instead the final battle is against Barroll's SealedEvilInACan predecessor, Faless the Dark King.
* In Die Hard: Vendetta, Hans Gruber's son Piet is introduced at the very beginning. He is established as the main villain almost immediately, and is constantly taunting John throughout the game. Piet is killed in the next-to-last level's ending cutscene by John's daughter Lucy, leaving action star turned terrorist [[TheDragon Jack Frontier]] as the final boss.
* Shere Khan plays this straight in both the NES and Genesis versions of the ''VideoGame/{{Talespin}}'' video game. He appears in both games, but only through cutscenes. He can be fought in the less well-known [=TurboGraphx-16=] game.
* In DragonQuestIV the main villain that only the Hero is able to defeat is Estark, who is about to [[SealedEvilInACan awaken from a long slumber since his defeat in the distant past]]. In a surprising subversion, you get to him before he has a chance to wake up, and kill him in his sleep. [[TheDragon Psaro, one of his minions]], ends up being the final villain.
* Despite his name being in the title, Gargamel doesn't actually appear anywhere in ''VideoGame/SmurfRescueInGargamelsCastle''.
[[/folder]]

!!Non-Video Game Examples:

[[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 [[spoiler: Virgil, who stands as the only Major Tournament Rival Ash has never faced.]]
* ''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.
* 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]].
[[/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.]]
[[/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:when Command decides to just bomb the place instead.]]
* In ''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 ''ThePrincessBride''. Not only is he subdued with a bluff, none of the TheHero Westley's fight scenes are with true Villains, but with {{AntiVillain}}s who [[DefeatEqualsFriendship join his cause]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* 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'' (Non Action Big Bad who never really got a chance to fight), and Captain Ryuya of ''Timeranger'' (The Chessmaster who did nothing directly; one of his pawns, Gien, became the Final Boss)]]
* 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.
* In the sixth season of ''Series/TrueBlood'', BigBad Sarah Newlin gets away after nearly killing the vampire cast, and is not shown after the six-month time skip. Time will tell if she reappears in the seventh and final season, but the average viewer wanted her dead more than [[NinjaPirateRobotZombie Warlow]].
[[/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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