Sometimes, instead of allowing the player to face a Video Game boss directly in battle, the game will instead present the battle as a non-interactive sequence or cutscene. This has a few advantages, in that by removing the player's skill from the equation, the battle can achieve a specific outcome using strict choreography — fully rendered CGI cutscenes can ply their Cutscene Power to the Max, with the player and/or boss executing awesome acrobatic feats that would not otherwise be possible in an actual, in-game battle.
On the other hand, if the player was expecting to engage the boss directly, seeing the battle play out with no input from them whatsoever can feel very anticlimactic, even more so than a Zero-Effort Boss.
This can be downplayed somewhat if the cutscene employs Press X to Not Die, allowing the player some interactivity even if they have no ultimate say in the battle's outcome (as in most cases, failing to hit the right button immediately fails the battle, forcing the player to try the sequence again).
Compare Coup de Grâce Cutscene, where the Boss Battle itself was fully interactive, but a cutscene is used to depict the killing blow. See also The Unfought.
In Alice: Madness Returns, Alice and the Hatter found themselves face-to-face with a steampunk Humongous Mecha. Hatter was swiftly caught by a hook and suspended in mid air off-screen, and the player expects a difficult boss fight alone against the mecha. Suddenly, just as the mecha was going to flatten Alice, a giant tea-pot falls onto it and destroyed the entire mecha. Then, the Hatter nimbly and unflinchingly lands in front of the carnage...
Near the end of Star Fox Adventures, you finally face off one-on-one against General Scales. As soon as you draw your weapon, the battle gets interrupted by a cutscene where Scales is unceremoniously offed and the game is Hijacked by Andross for the finale.
Messiah: The battle with Father Prime. The cutscene shows Bob (possessing a Behemoth) approaching the boss, dodging his laser beam and slaying him with one blow. You could argue that the true challenge lies in possessing the none-too-cooperative Behemoth in the first place.
After you disable her doomsday machine, Natla dies in a cutscene at the end of Tomb Raider: Underworld
Three times in the sequel, Batman: Arkham City. The first is Bane, who is involved in one of the optional subplots. The most glaring and frustrating is Hugo Strange, since he's effectively the main villain of the story (or at least The Heavy). The other is The Joker, but that's not quite as bad, because by the time you find that out, you did fight him, it just wasn't the real Joker. There are numerous borderline examples who are taken out with little effort, but whether they count - and whether the challenge of getting to them makes up for it - is a matter of personal opinion. There is also Ra's Al Ghul, who turns out to be The Man Behind the Man for Hugo Strange, but like The Joker you actually did fight him much earlier in the story, and unlike the Joker, it was really him.
God of War III has Hephaestus. His "godly possession" lampshades this, as it unlocks a cheat that automatically completes quick-time events for you.
Helios also. However, the worst offender for this trope in the game is Hera, who is literally killed in a regular cutscene with no player input whatsoever.
The Call of Duty series has almost nothing but Cutscene Bosses this due to a casual pretense of realism (no one survives a full magazine of bullets to the chest, making any potential boss battle a very short affair by default). The best you can hope for when it comes to fighting a major villain is a quicktime event; fortunately, when this happens it is usually done very well.
General Shepherd from Modern Warfare 2. The sequence leading up to and during are very cinematic, at least.
The final boss for Modern Warfare 3 is just a few quicktime events. He dies in a helicopter crash, falls through a glass floor and is hung.
Battlefield 3's final boss Solomon ends up being the Press X to Not Die type of "QTE boss," who (other than in an in-engine cutscene with a bound Jonathan Miller about to be executed) is only encountered in person in a few QTE sequences during the middle and the end of the final level (unless one counts the first level which is a preview of the first half of the final level), all of which are of the Press X to Not Die variety. However, much like the above Call of Duty example, it's not necessarily a bad thing, as the sequence itself is pretty exciting, plus the final result (Bashing Solomon's skull in with a brick) is quite satisfying, given what's transpired up to that point.
Comstock is killed in a cutscene when Booker beats him against his own baptismal font while screaming at him for all the horrible things he did to Elizabeth. Not really a spoiler, since we learn early on that he's an aged man with about half a dozen flavors of terminal cancer, and thus not particularly physically intimidating.
Songbird is also killed in a cutscene, though in this case it's not Booker who does the deed. Elizabeth teleports all three of them to the Rapture of Bioshock, but drops Songbird in the depths outside. Songbird's Achilles' Heel is water pressure (being designed for high atmosphere, he had trouble with being even a dozen feet underwater), so he dies quite quickly at the bottom of the ocean.
The Prophet of Truth, the Halo series' Big Bad, is ultimately killed in the final game of the trilogy in a cutscene (he doesn't even put up a fight and is already dying by the time the main characters reach him). Even the climactic fight leading up to him isn't particularly notable (other than the Fuel Rod Cannon spamming Heavy Grunts). Of course, Bungie was never particularly good at handling boss fights (as Halo 2 can attest), so most fans consider this forgivable.
There's no real confrontation with the Gravemind, either.
The first two encounters with the Field Marshal in Halo: Reach. You get to fight it interactively on the final mission.
In Resistance, after hearing about the Angel for quite a while, you enter the room where one is being held... only to open it and blast it's brains out with a rifle in a cutscene.
In Unreal II: The Awakening, the game ends with the player discovering that his boss, Sector Commander Hawkins, was the Big Bad all along. Hawkins gets quickly executed in a cutscene by a single pistol shot to the gut, although as an unarmed human officer it's not like he could have put up much of a fight anyway.
The 2008 reboot of Turok at least handled this in a semi-original way that actually managed to be reasonably organic. The final fight with the Big Bad is a QTE knife-fight (similar to the one from Resident Evil 4 against Krauser), but failing a QTE doesn't kill you instantly, it just changes the fight slightly so that the flow of the fight goes against you instead of for you. The fight lasts several QT Es, and varies quite a bit depending of which QT Es you win and which ones you lose.
Golg Boldoza in his appearance in Another Century's Episode 2. The entire final stretch of the game is dedicated to the climatic battle as seen in Do You Remember Love, and the final stage sees the player rushing through Boldoza's battleship for a final showdown. The player reaches the central core (courtesy of a Sekiha Tenkyouken from Domon Kasshu), and Boldoza... Simply screams "UWOOOOOOOOH!! PROTOCULTUUUUUURE!!" as the player and his wingmen unload their strongest weapons and attacks right in the face, killing him instantly.
The final battle of Macross Frontier, as depicted in Another Century's Episode: R, is just as bad if not worse. The original Macross finale was depicted in ACE2 as two stages of chaotic battle with the Zentraedi horde before the final stage as described above. Frontier's final battle is all one stage, consisting of three or four Rail Shooter sequences sandwiched between several long unskippable Cut Scenes that show the battle playing out almost exactly as it did in the original anime, complete with Alto finishing Big BadGrace O'Connor himself. Overall, the impact of non-Frontier characters is entirely negligible, which is Comically Missing the Point of ACE (and its progenitor Super Robot Wars).
Toontown Online has 2; The V.P. falls off of the tallest skyscraper and the C.F.O. tries to run away, but gets hit with his own trains.
The third form of The Naughty Sorceress in Kingdom of Loathing is effectively a non-combat adventure that you either beat or lose to depending on whether you have the Wand of Nagamar in your inventory, made from a W, an A, an N and a D.
Fahrad at the end of the Fangs of the Father questline in World of Warcraft, who is "fought" after turning in the last quest, which involves defeating Deathwing after completing all the previous quests.
The Wii and PS2 versions of Sonic Unleashed have you fight some Nightmares during cutscenes... by pressing a sequence of buttons.
The final leg of the Next-Gen Bionic Commando builds up to two dramatic confrontations — Groeder and Super Joe. Groeder lives up to the build-up... but You beat Super Joe in a cutscene after a neat Press X to Not Die sequence to get to him.
Similarly, earlier on in the game you enter a circle of statues that practically promises a boss fight. Instead, a cutscene boss is defeated, non-interactive, and the protagonist just walks away not having done any fighting during the level.
After going through the final stage in Ghostbusters II four times (one for each Ghostbuster), you are in front of Vigo... and automatically shoot him repeatedly until he goes down.
The final boss in Trine gets a lot of show, screaming at you and flying around as you try to climb a tower while lava advances, and various obstacles are summoned in your way. Then once you get to the top... the heroes separate, and The Knight hits the boss in the head with the hammer in a cutscene. Cue "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue.
Mirrors Edge has quite a bad habit of Anticlimax Bosses, with only one out of three presenting any prolonged effort. However the first one is 100% Press X to Not Die; he's a wrestler who comes charging at you with a pipe (in a cutscene), at which point you have a nanosecond to disarm him before he clobbers you and chucks you off a building (in a cutscene). When you finally get this right, you are treated (in a cutscene) to him falling off said building, catching the ledge, exchanging a few pleasantries with you and getting shot by a sniper.
In Psychonauts, despite being one of the main antagonists throughout most of the game Doctor Loboto is unceremoniously knocked off a cliff by his own weapon in a cutscene. You never get to go into his mind, either.
Bob the Goldfish from Earthworm Jim 2. In the first game, he was easy enough. In this game, you get up to him, his final defences slide away revealing his bowl, letters come down declaring "FIGHT,"... and then Jim eats him.
In the Colossus level of Spyro 2, you're told that you must kill a yeti that's been terrorising the inhabitants of the world. As soon as you step into its cage, it roars and stomps the ground...causing a statue to fall and crush it to death.
At the end of the Sega GenesisNinja Gaiden clone El Viento, the final boss is neither Bishop Henry, leader of the evil cult, nor Hastur, the elder god they were trying to summon. Instead, once you kill the witch the cult was intending to sacrifice to summon Hastur, the cult's plans are foiled and Henry is shown led away in chains.
In Metroid: Other M, the final boss fight with MB takes the form of one very brief FPS segment - aim at the boss and Federation soldiers storm in and finish the job.
The SNES Alien³ builds up to a confrontation with the Alien Queen, but when you actually reach her there's just a cut scene of Ripley forcing her into a smelting vat. A Winner Is You!
The Joker is this in the beta version of Batman for the NES. After you defeat one of his cronies at Gotham Cathedral, you watch a cutscene of Batman punching the Joker and the credits roll. The Joker is upgraded to Final Boss in the final version of the game.
In the first Ty the Tasmanian Tiger game the first fight against Sly is fun, frantic and ends with an ominous promise of a rematch. Said rematch conforms to this trope.
One of the earliest Cutscene Bosses has to be "the Great Devil" of the puzzle game The Adventures of Lolo. You only get to see him during the ending cutscene, in which he is seen standing completely still and grinning like an idiot. Lolo shoots a projectile at him, encasing him in an eggshell. Lolo then shoots another projectile, and the egg goes flying off into the distance. Thus, the Great Devil is revealed to be a One-Hit-Point Wonder, and the day is saved. (The sequels avoided this by including actual boss battles with bosses that, you know, fight back.)
In Valkyrie Profile, Surt, the leader of the Vanir, becomes this if the player manages to lock themselves on the path to the A Ending. Here, Loki, after gaining his true form with the Dragon Orb, kills him in one shot and prepares to destroy Midgard after stealing Jotunheim's treasure. If you played the game normally and didn't mess up, Surt is the actual Final Boss.
At the end of Lunar: Dragon Song, you've gone three rounds with The Dragon and finally killed him, avenging a party member he killed earlier. It's time to fight the powerful Big Bad and save Lucia. And after a dramatic cutscene with him... earthquake! Ignatius falls down a pit and that's all she wrote. The Dragon was the final boss, which is why he was so persistent.
Ephidel, the apparent Dragon, from Fire Emblem 7 lived just long enough for you to meet his boss, Big Bad Nergal, before getting offed in a cutscene. Every other high-ranking Fang gets faced at least once (except for the one that does a Heel-Face Turn), but Ephidel, who canonically is probably Nergal's second-most powerful morph, gets killed by a cutscene, pathetically screaming for Nergal to help him.
Saren from Mass Effect 1 is potentially a cutscene boss. If the player's persuasion skills are high enough, he can be convinced to commit suicide during the cutscene that takes place before the boss battle, completely avoiding the second-to final battle.
Vido Santiago on the Renegade path through Zaeed's loyalty mission.
The Illusive Man in Mass Effect 3. Depending on your previous choices, he can be convinced to shoot himself or you will have to shoot him yourself.
In the Japanese version of Final Fantasy VII, three WEAPONs are released, and two are killed in cutscenes. In the International version, a fight against Diamond WEAPON is added to the game (as well as two more optional WEAPONs that can be fought by the player), but Sapphire WEAPON is still killed in a cutscene.
In FinalFantasyXIII-2, immediately following a two-part Warmup Boss battle as Lightning against Chaos Bahamut, you're treated to a Cutscene Boss fight against Big Bad Caius, with some a few quicktime events thrown in.
Admiral Alfonso and Empress Teodora in Skies of Arcadia, with both being a part of The Empire and all. You actually fight Alfonso in a ship fight and two of his more dangerous Mooks, but given that he's a Smug Snake and can apparently fence judging from the cutscenes, it's infuriating to see him die during the Rains of Destruction via crushing by a pillar. It's more implausible with Teodora because she never actively does anything.
Rhaknam is briefly fought by the Little Jack in Valua, but there's no boss battle against him.
At the end of Dungeons & Dragons: Warriors of the Eternal Sun, you don't kill the Burrower that had driven Duke Hector Barrik and his people insane. You just have to reach the Burrower's lair and use a scroll to summon the Immortal Ka the Preserver and he kills the Burrower. Justified in that Burrowers are pretty much invincible by any other means.
The real final boss of this game is the pyrohydra that your party fights just before the Burrower. The pyrohydra itself can be a bit of an Anticlimax Boss despite being able to spam attacks that reliably hit characters of maximum armour class due to the amount of space in the dungeon it's fought in.
Subverted at the end of Final Fantasy IV, right at the bottom of the lunar subterrane, when the party comes face to face with Zemus, a cutscene starts and Zemus is killed by a former player character and an NPC. But before the victory can be celebrated, the embodiment of Zemus' hate attacks the party, providing a suitably brutal final boss fight.
Subverted with Orias in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey. He is fought by Commander Gore in a cutscene, and Orias surrenders and goes away...but it's a trick, as he delivers a fatal attack to Gore shortly afterward. After this happens, you fight an (injured) Orias.
Final Fantasy XIII does it for dramatic effect with Jhil. A battle with her got a lot of buildup, but she gets brushed aside from the Big Bad. She can be challenged in the sequel as DLC though.
In Tony Hawk's Underground, if you play through Sick difficulty after beating the story mode on Normal, the cutscene leading up to your ultimate showdown with archrival Eric Sparrow is itself the entire battle. No, seriously. You smash his face in and take the tape, you did it, you won, no skate-off. Admittedly, this is kind of a fitting way for a guy like Eric to go down.
Stealth Based Game
Tenchu: Fatal Shadows had a boss who could either be fought normally if you finished the level through one door, or who you killed in one hit in a cut-scene if you finished the level through a different door. Considering the boss is That One Boss who continually spams attacks which knock off a good portion of your health, being able to kill him in a cut-scene was a relief. (Although it earned you less points.)
The original Tenchu had the corrupt minister. Ayame would insult him then proceed to fight him normally, but if you were playing as Rikimaru, he'd convince the minister to die with honor and commit Seppuku.
In the endgame of Beyond Good & Evil you shoot down General Keck's spider ship, defeat his bodyguards, and get ready to confront him - only to find him dying in the cockpit of the ship.
You chase Charles Lee, fully expecting a climactic battle at the end, but then a cutscene occurs wherein Connor, again injured, shoots him. Even then, you have to follow him in order to finish him off, which takes place in yet another cutscene.
The first encounter with Krauser in Resident Evil 4 plays out entirely with a Press X to Not Die cutscene of a knife fight between the two of them. It's actually done fairly well, and you get a proper battle against him a little later on.
Similarly, Resident Evil 5 has you do essentially the same thing against Wesker after you hitch a ride onto his bomber, only this time, there are two characters and potentially two players, which means more potential for one of you to Have a Nice Death.
Dead Space 2 does this for several of its human antagonists. Stross, after he goes insane, is killed in a single button mashing sequence, while the battle with Teidemann requires you to mash twice before Isaac kills him in one shot with his own Javelin Gun.
More interactive and unbelievably cooler is the action sequence that follows reaching Daina at the end of Chapter Five. Wham - she's a Unitologist who wants you to build Markers for her. Wham - Gunship blows out the window and gibs her! Button mash or get Thrown Out the Airlock! Air-Vent Passageway escape! Then a giant Necromorph shows up, more than capable of squishing you in seconds! It starts shredding the scenery! Shoot it in the weak point For Massive Damage! All you did was piss it off! Run away! Gunship again, windows blown out, no handholds so out the airlock you go! You latch onto the gunship - and so does Necromorph Kong! Shoot The Fuel Tank! Then you ride the blast back into the station, dust yourself off and walk away. Whew. Isaac Clarke is a monster truck that walks like a man.
Mercenaries 2 has the main bad guy of the story, Ramon Solano, military dictator of Venezuela, who betrayed and attempted to kill you after you helped him by staging a coup that puts him in power, hide in a heavily fortified bunker that requires a tactical nuclear weapon to pierce, after which you go straight to an ultra lame boss battle that requires a bunch of Quick Time Events that destroy the helicopter he's in and that's it. Considering how the first game had you take on the best of the best of the North Korean Army, fighting massive waves of tanks and helicopters before defeating the top North Korean General, the boss battle in Mercenaries 2 is a major disappointment.
Red Faction II has one that is kind of similar to BioShock but with less symbolism. You play as a soldier whose squad defects to the rebellion to take down the dictator Sopot. When you finally get to him it turns out that Authority doesn't Equal Asskicking. In fact he's unarmed. In the cut scene the protagonist holds him at gunpoint and escorts him to a catwalk under a launching rocket. Then your commanding officer reveals that he only wanted to overthrow Sopot to take his place and now you have to fight your way to him to have a real boss fight.
General Randall is the leader of Blackwatch, the Government Conspiracy behind all of the mayhem in Prototype. When AlexMercer finally catches up to Randall, he delivers a brief tirade and then consumes the general effortlessly. Which makes sense, given that Alex is able to take on entire batallions or infected hordes singlehandedly and win, and Randall's a middle-aged, one-armed man.
The final fight in Uncharted 3 is an interesting example, as it's primarily a series of quick-time-event mini-cutscenes, but they're context-sensitive and mixed into a normal gameplay fistfight (basically every 2 or 3 punches triggers a QTE cutscene). It's like they took the final fight from Metal Gear Solid 4 and made it even more QTE heavy.
In Max Payne 3, there's Neves (the leader of Crachá Preto) who holds Max at gunpoint and then gets shot by Passos, his Dragon Milo Regos who is defeated by Press X to Not Die and Victor Branco who you don't fight in person, only blow up his plane from underneath him and then have a conversation.
True Crime: New York City has two ending paths. In the "good" ending path, you don't even fight the Big Bad, you just chase him through a subway car until a cutscene plays of him dying in a train wreck.
Sheffield from Scarface: The World is Yours seems to be a tough opponent when he is introduced from a distance, armed with a bazooka whose power players probably are well-acquainted with. However, when Tony confronts him proper, he gives in without resisting.
Dante parody Helter Skelter of No More Heroes is killed by Travis in the intro. An E3 demo did feature the actual fight, and the sequel starts off with a fight against his brother, Skelter Helter.
Letz Shake is also killed by Henry before you get to fight him, though he returns in the sequel for a proper fight.