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Boss Banter
"Maybe you could settle for that and we'll just call it a day. I guess we both know that isn't going to happen. You chose this path. Now I have a surprise for you. Deploying surprise in five, four..."
GlaDOS, Portal

When a Boss talks to you during combat. Since they usually manage to say anything really important in the introductory cutscene, Boss Banter typically consists mainly of the Boss taunting or mocking the hero, possibly in an attempt to either guile you into a foolish mode of attack or to subtly hint at their weak point. Or, inexplicably, they'll just tell you what attack they're about to use, but that's another trope.

Related to Enemy Chatter, which is random chatter from Bosses and Mooks alike, and is not necessarily directed at the player character.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Action Games 

    Action Adventure Games 
  • A number of bosses in Psychonauts, with one boss managing to weaponize it.
  • The final boss of Beyond Good & Evil taunts you in alien language. While it's never translated, it's obvious from context that it's something along the lines of "We Can Rule Together!"
  • Various bosses in Iji will either laugh or make comments. In one case, Iosa banters towards a character assisting you.
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time features this with the Final Boss. During the fight, both the prince and the Vizier talk to each other. The fight ends once the full run of the speech has been said. However, if you stop attacking, the speech stops, so you can't just casually dodge until it's over.
  • TRON: Evolution gives us Gibson. However, he pleads with you only for deresolution.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, if you do very badly against Ghirahim, he will take your sword and chastise you for your poor technique.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Chaos Bleeds have this. According to vamp!Tara, Willow is the domme in the relationship.
  • Quite a few bosses in the Assassin's Creed series. In the first game, Al Mualim taunts you and goes on a Motive Rant in between phases of the fight. In the second game, Rodrigo Borgia taunts Ezio during both fights with him (in Venice and in the Vatican vault). And in the third game, Haytham Kenway goes on a lengthy rant during his fight with Connor about why the Templars will never die.

    Adventure Games 
  • The Silent from Lux-Pain. Something is on the top screen in the beginning, near the middle, and near the end for each Silent (though each one says different things). The first and second thing are similar and are related to evilness, while the last one is about it dying. In addition, the Original Silents say a bunch of stuff after you win.

    Beat Em Ups 
  • Every single boss, as well as every gang member, in River City Ransom has something snide to say to you as you pummel each other into currency.
  • The X-Men arcade game has some of the hammiest one-liners delivered by Magneto. "Kill you!" "X-chicken!" "You are DEAD!"

    Fighting Games 
  • Street Fighter IV has "Rival Battles", where you fight with someone who is somehow tied into the story of your currently selected character. As the fight goes on, voice clips of the two taunting each other will play, sometimes with new clips replacing their usual Super or Ultra startup/finisher soundbites.
  • Similarly in BlazBlue, characters have altered voice clips when they fight characters deeply involved in their story. These clips vary greatly in nature from each matchup, from the disturbing exchanges between Jin and Ragna, to the hilarious interactions between the ambiguous Taokaka and Boobie Lady, as well as the almost heartbreakingly tragic exchanges when Litchi fights her fellow ex-scientist and former colleague, Arakune. Nu's voice clips change A LOT when she fights Ragna, and in Continuum Shift so do Hazama's.
  • Shao Kahn from Mortal Kombat will refrain from the pummeling just to inform the player that "You will never win".
  • Every character does this in Punch-Out!! Wii, corresponding to their moves.
  • General Gyozen (under the influence of the Crystal) of Godzilla Unleashed never shuts up when fighting against him towards the end of the Story mode.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • In Jedi Academy Trilogy, the enemies have combat taunts. The dark Force-users are more common to spam their comments, as the lesser mooks tend to die much more quickly.
  • SHODAN from System Shock talks to you constantly. Constantly. For a self-proclaimed cybernetic goddess, she sure spends a lot of time repeatedly asserting how superior to you she is...
  • Heinrich I from Return to Castle Wolfenstein constantly brags about how he'll crush you like an insect, wrap you in your own guts, and establish the reign of terror over the world. Earlier in the game, Deathshead provides a sort of this — he's gloating in the control room while you're fighting the Ubersoldat below.
  • Team Fortress 2:
    • As of the 2012 Halloween update, Merasmus the Magician, though most of which backfires in trying to be scary:
    "Merasmus arrives on a tide of blood! ...Oh, hello, Soldier."
    "Fear me! Poop! Poop in your pumpkin pants!"
    "I'm healing myself... with healing magic! ...And aspirin."
    "Feel the terror... of reading!"
    • The 2013 Halloween update adds the Mann brothers, Redmond and Blutarch, although most of the time they're far too busy exchanging banter with each other to bother with the players.

    Hack and Slash 

    MMORPGs 
  • World of Warcraft:
    • "Fools! Kill the one in the dress!". Especially the dear, old Kael'thas Sunstrider in Tempest Keep. He's like he can't do nothing but talk, talk and talk.
    • In the Wrath of the Lich King dungeons, it's sometimes hard to find a boss that will shut up for more than 10 seconds. However, this crosses often into Calling Your Attacks, which can be useful, or Bond One-Liner, which can be pretty awesome.
  • Common in The Lord of the Rings Online. At one point, Mordirith gives his entire origin story while his minions fight the players.
  • RuneScape: While 99% of the game's dialogue is read-only, several of the bosses of daemonheim have voiced banter. Laughing Mad Blink, in particular, who says the most ridiculous things when you fight him; 'M-More tea, Alice?'. Aptly-named Yk'Lagor the Thunderous was the first boss with voiced dialogue, and ALL of his banter is in the form of Thundering One-liners: "This is... TRUE POWER!" "Another Kill For The Thunderous!!"
  • Foxbat in Champions Online is rather notorious for this, including lines like "Admit it, you're just here for my autograph!" and "Would you classify yourself as a creepy stalker, or just an obsessed fan?"
  • City of Heroes not only features this frequently, but also allows it as part of the player-created content Architect System. Bosses can react as their health drops during the battle. Depending on the boss, this can be epic, hilarious, or annoying.

    Platform Games 

    Puzzle Games 
  • GLaDOS in Portal spends the entire final confrontation telling that you're a bad person, that things will be much worse if you destroy her, making petty insults, and being bitter and resentful. For that matter, the whole game consists mostly of Boss Banter, with GLaDOS slowly dropping the facade of being a helpful AI.
  • Wheatley in Portal 2 spends the entire Final Boss fight talking. And talking. And talking. And when he's not talking, the defective cores are, just like in the first game, only with a lot more dialogue this time. Since the battle is a Timed Mission, you will fail it if you try to listen to everything they have to say. Note that it's worth failing to hear it.
  • Some demons in Nethack. Examples: "I first mistook thee for a statue, when I regarded thy head of stone." "Go play leapfrog with a herd of unicorns!"

    Real Time Strategy 
  • Command & Conquer Generals: Zero Hour has a "challenge campaign" that puts the player up against the various subfactions in the game. The leaders of these subfactions taunt the players and react to situations on the battlefield. "Oh, look! I have a nuke all ready for you!" Some of these taunts seem to play randomly, though. For example, a futile attack of around three helicopters against a heavy anti-air defenses is accompanied by the enemy General noting that "Fools rush in, General."
  • All the stronghold missions in Dawn of War: Dark Crusade have the leader characters of the factions perform Volleying Insults with each other as the mission proceeds (except for the Necrons, who are The Voiceless and so have a human recently converted into a Necron do the bantering for them). Most of the them are pretty generic "Prepare to Die!" "No, You!" type of things, but some of the insults get incredibly personal; Taldeer and Eliphas for example pull off some epic burns against Captain Thule, while Space Marines vs. Imperial Guard is a rather tragic (for the setting) example of Just Following Orders.

    Roleplay 
  • Destroy The Godmodder: the godmodder does it regularly, and other random bosses doing it isn't unheard of.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • Jack of Blades in Fable.
  • As of the the fourth generation games of Pokémon, important bosses, such as Gym Leaders, will taunt the player based on the context of the battle, such as when they send out their final Mon.
  • This is present in most of the 3D Tales Series games, the majority of it tending to occur at the beginning of the battle.
    • Tales of Vesperia has several bosses in which they have an entire conversation with the party as the boss fight is going on, where is where we get this gem from:
    Zagi: I'm going to kill you, and carve your name into my blood!
    Yuri: Yeah... that's pretty disgusting.
    Lloyd: How can your world be ideal when you've caused countless innocent people to suffer?
    Yggdrassil: Human. Don't tell me what's right and wrong.
    Richter: What do you know?! My methods are my business! I don't need you telling me what to do!
    • Tales of the Abyss ramps this up by giving nearly every human boss a conversation sequence at the start of the fight... which changes slightly depending on which party members you're using. The Final Boss even changes more depending on who's leading the party.
    • Tales of Xillia has this, though with the addition of stylish animated character portraits that appear as each character speaks their lines.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • In Paper Mario most of the Boss Banter follows a progression, and they tend to only say something when entering a new phase and when you discover a weakness. Although the Koopa Bros. alternate between two units of chatter while they're hidden in a lame Bowser disguise, and later, when they're out of it, say "Woah! We're going over!" when Mario throws them off-balance.
      • The Final Bosses of the series are the real banterers. Especially the Shadow Queen, who, when she becomes invincible, will taunt you until you attack her three parts before killing everybody in your audience to replenish her HP.
      • The most prominent of these is probably Rawk Hawk — a grandstanding Professional Battler who is in it for the show.
    • In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, Fawful chats at you throughout his entire fight. This would probably get annoying, if Fawful wasn't made of concentrated funny and doom mustard. (Oddly enough, he doesn't say a single word when you fight him in Bowser's Inside Story, though he does engage in some Evil Laughing.)
    • In Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, a few bosses do this. Popple calls you an idiot and proceeds to annoy the boss he's fought alongside in the process, Earthwake has a seeming meltdown at about one third of its health and talks about how badly its been damaged, and Pi'illodium mocks you every few turns or so in Robo Speak. Amusingly, the latter actually changes its quotes when its losing, going from bragging about how your end is nigh to worrying about its own gradually worsening condition (and then going right back to bragging when it heals). The other giant bosses do this a bit too, with the Zeekeeper commenting on the battle as it fights you and Bowser talking about finishing you soon.
  • The end bosses in Baldur's Gate tend to do this. Not as much as some, and it mostly involves shouting battle-cries, but still...
  • Common in Persona 3 and Persona 4, though in the former it only appears when fighting Strega, the last boss, Elizabeth, and your teammates in The Answer; the other bosses, being Shadows, don't speak human languages. In the latter, every plotline boss does it.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Gilgamesh from Final Fantasy V has a tendency to talk more than what he actually fights... frequently giving excuses for him running away and giving advice to each of your party members before his Heroic Sacrifice.
    • Final Fantasy VI: "Ouch! Seafood soup!" "Meatheads? I hate 'em!"]]
    • Final Fantasy X is a rare example where the player can respond to the taunts. During certain fights, a "Talk" option appears on some characters' combat menus. Using it wastes a turn but grants the character a rather large stat boost or, in the final boss fight, calms the boss's anger and thus his Overdrive meter.
    • Final Fantasy X-2's Ormi: Feel like taking a spin?! *throws shield*
    • Final Fantasy XIII: FULFILL YOUR FOCUS AND GAIN ETERNAL LIFE. DESTROY THE WORLD THAT DESPISES YOU!
      • IGNORANT SLAVES OF PULSE! DOES ETERNITY NOT ENTICE YOU? THEN YOU CHOOSE THE PATH... OF OBLIVION!
  • Dagoth-Ur in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind spends a lot of time during the Final Battle explaining why you cannot kill him: he is a god. It turns out, you really can't kill him until you destroy the source of his divinity.
  • This is a tradition in the MOTHER trilogy. Each of the game's final bosses interrupt the action every turn to say something, and then attack.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Ursula warns you to "Get ready for this!" while Hades invites you to "Feel the heat!"
    • "Dance, water, dance!"
    • All of the Organization XIII bosses have some pretty cool lines during their battles. And then we have Quinton Flynn's wonderful work with Axel, which, to sum all of his lines up: "BURN, BABY!"
    • The Final Boss of Kingdom Hearts II has some, uh, memorable banter. First, for those of you who haven't played the games: It is, among other things, the story of two boys who are close friends and, before the game started, rivals, who, after making some horrific mistakes and serious sacrifices, spend three games and the better part of two in-verse years trying to fix what went wrong, find each other, and go home, their rivalry abandoned because dammit, there are more important things than one-upping each other, and through it all, never losing trust in each other. And all that is if you don't believe they're romantically inclined towards each other. The final boss's taunts?
    "Sora... are you certain you can trust Riku?"
    "Riku... are you sure you're not jealous of Sora?"
    • Sephiroth has "Descend.... Heartless Angel", "Give in to the dark!", and if you stray from him without fighting for too long... "What's wrong? Are you afraid?"
    • The final boss of the original Kingdom Hearts. Due in part to both awesome dialogue and an awesome voice actor, some of the game's most memorable lines are spoken by the Big Bad during the battle with him.
    • Saix says some of the most badass lines while trying to pummel you.
    • The Duel Boss against Rikunort in the first game. Some generic lines made cool by his Voice of the Legion and just how cool the boss fight is.
    "Welcome oblivion!"
    "It's over."
  • The Witcher is filled with banter between Geralt and named enemies. The most is with Azar and the Professor because of their history of chase and false finishes, with banter before, after, and throughout combats.
    Azar Javed: Did anyone warn you about pissing upwind?
    Geralt: You talk too much.
    Azar Javed: You just pissed in a tornado!
  • Drakengard 2 does this often. Of particular note is Yaha, whose banter consists partially of him HITTING ON the male characters. He's also male himself, so...
  • In Destiny Of An Emperor, Sima Shi and Sima Zhao keep taunting the heroes as you beat the stuffing out of them.
  • The World Ends with You has most of the major bosses engage in this. Most of Ensemble Darkhorse Sho Minamimoto's more memetastic lines show up in this format.
  • Several boss battles in the Knights of the Old Republic games will pause partway through so you can have a brief conversation with the boss. Sometimes, you can convince them to stop fighting you, maybe even join your party, but when you fight Darth Malak, the best possible result is that he admits that he made a mistake going down the dark path before he dies. All the other results just end up with him taunting you, and most of these conversations start out as taunting and Volleying Insults.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Harbinger's battle quotes during Mass Effect 2: “This hurts you”, “You cannot resist”, “This is what you face”, “Face your annihilation”, “You are bacteria”, “You are shortsighted”, “Pitiful", “We will end you”, “We are the beginning, you are the end”, “I sense your weakness”, “Your attacks are primitive”, “You cannot sustain your attack”, “Your attack is an insult”, “You are no longer relevant”, “My attacks will tear you apart.”
    • Kai Leng in Mass Effect 3 tries this out during the final battle with him. It backfires.
    Kai Leng: You're still slow, Shepard!
    Shepard: I'm only slow because I'm not running! You ran at the Citadel! You ran on Thessia!
    Kai Leng: Sh... shut up!
  • Xenosaga bosses frequently taunt, curse, or threaten you both in person and over the comm. The second game's Final Boss has Albedo spend most of the battle simply taunting Jr. Justified because he wants his brother to finally kill him.
  • Many Resonance of Fate bosses find deadly combat to be the best time to exposit their political and religious philosophies.
  • All the human bosses in Eternal Sonata will throw one-liners at you when the battle begins, before calling their attacks, and once their turn is over. Special credit goes for the last two bosses, who spend longer talking that performing their attacks.
  • Digital Devil Saga has this, but one of the bonus bosses, Gui-Xian, gets special mention because the dragon and the tortoise occasionally argue amongst themselves.
  • Bomberman Quest, a comedic RPG spinoff from the main Bomberman series, had this set-up: before every battle (whether with a boss or a mook), Bomberman and the enemy character would have some humorous back-and-forth banter; even the True Final Boss does this, except his banter is completely serious.
  • Shin Megami Tensei IV actually allows you to respond to the banter, with your choice affecting the battle - a boss may feel intimidated or disgusted, lowering stats or eating his Press Turns, or you might gain stats as you get into the fight. Miss the correct choice and instead the boss will power up, or you will start losing heart. In the last fights, it's very important you actually think the available options - actually picking the answer that does not help you might well spell doom for you and your team.
  • Inverted in The Last Story, where it's the main characters who continuously discuss about the possible weaknesses of the bosses they fight. There are a few exceptions, such as human (or humanoid) bosses who can speak.
  • Every major boss fight in Time And Eternity engages in this and is the source of much of the game's humor. The only tricky part is keeping the fight going long enough to allow everyone to finish speaking.

    Shoot Em Ups 
  • And, of course, Ultimate Crab Battle. "You cannot stand between me... and my destiny!" and so forth.
  • Most bosses in Star Fox 64 talk during the battle. Surprisingly, Andross himself mostly talks in cutscenes and contacts you during the final level to taunt you, but during the battle, he mostly laughs. The Star Wolf team is especially prone to do this, with Pigma having some pretty cruel banter, such as "Too bad Dad's not here to see ya FAIL!" and the surprisingly harsh (for a Nintendo game) "Daddy screamed REAL good before he died!", both referencing how he helped conspire to kill him.
  • Touhou usually restricts boss dialogue to before and after the battle, but some levels feature an exchange with the boss in the middle of the level. Ten Desires takes it further, with one spellcard of the final boss being her calling for assistance from her two allies, all three of them with dialogue boxes above their sprites, the battle not interrupted whatsoever.

    Stealth-Based Games 
  • Metal Gear Solid loves this trope — from Ocelot comparing Snake (favorable or not depending on how long you take) to Big Boss, while The Fury will scream insults at the player when he gets hit, etc.
  • In the first Hitman game, the drug dealer (read: a living Shout-Out to Scarface (1983)) will interrupt the battle for each and every bullet he gets hit with... even when you're using a machine-gun.
  • In the final level of Thief II, the Big Bad is aware that Garrett is somewhere in the building, so periodically speaks to him over the loudspeaker, taunting him and trying to get him to give up. Garrett is too smart to allow this to affect him, only muttering "Yeah, yeah, keep talking" under his breath at one point.

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • Just about every boss in John Woo's Stranglehold will do this during your battle with them.
  • In Resident Evil 5, every boss-fight with Wesker involves him taunting you and/or explaining his evil plan in great detail. Towards the end, Chris finally had enough...
    Wesker: The human race requires judgment.
    Chris: And you're going to judge us? Do you get all your ideas from comic book villains?
  • In Resident Evil 4, the boss battle with Salazar is the ONLY boss battle (besides the final boss) to talk with you. And it can be used very tactically, as he only talks for 3 reasons, besides his introductory "You will suffer like Ashley did". 1, whenever you shoot the Verdugo, he mocks you saying things like "That tickles"; 2, whenever he grabs with you with the tentacle, and the best of all, when he uses his one hit ko move. Which is very useful, since you can tell when to dodge.
  • Dead Space 2:
    The Marker: YOU WILL ALL BE MADE ONE! MAKE! US! WHOLE!
  • In Gears of War 3, the final fight with the Queen is filled with this.
  • The bosses in Syphon Filter do this. When they go off at Logan's feelings for Lian, it's pretty effective.
  • In Kid Icarus: Uprising they don't just talk throughout the boss fights, but the entire level too. In a World of Ham, this can be pretty entertaining — and distracting on higher difficulties. Those that don't speak themselves result in chatter with their rulers/manipulators (Cragalanche, the Underworlder rematches, Phoenix), between Pit and Palutena (Twinbellows, Great Reaper), or even between Pit and Pit namely, Heart Of Hades.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • Quite a few bosses in Fire Emblem will say something along these lines when you first attack them, or when a specific character attacks them.
  • Super Robot Wars in all of its incarnations does this. Oftentimes, this only happens when the current boss you're up against has some relation to the person that's attacking them, but the final boss of a game almost always has a few lines of conversation with any conceivable member of the group. Banter also accompanies literally every attack delivered, received, dodged, or intercepted. (Warning: Video contains spoilers in the above-mentioned variety of Boss Banter.) And even that is sometimes preceded by unique one-liners when fighting bosses.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics - Quite a few story battles consist of Ramza arguing with his opponents, trading dialogue (and/or banter) at various (scripted) points of said battle, turning these fights into an exercise in Shut Up, Hannibal!. If you take along the right special characters to the right story battles, they've got some optional dialogue too.
  • Every boss in Vanguard Bandits, and even a few grunts, will have lines once you attack them. Faulkner takes the top position, as he regularly taunts the party without being attacked.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • Sasha from inFAMOUS keeps talking about being in love with you and being angry about you loving another woman while you fight her. She at one point mistakes you for Kessler, foreshadowing The Reveal at the end. Kessler too, made funnier or more sad by the fact that, as he is Cole, he knows exactly what to say to make him feel bad.

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