->''"Listen up, boy. If we were to say today was one of those Japanese video games I play in my spare time... Then this would be the part where you ask why the final boss helps you when you're about to die in the first dungeon."''
-->-- '''Evangeline''' after much asskicking, ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima''

The Final Boss Preview is when a major antagonist, such as the BigBad or TheDragon, shows off just how dangerous he or she is by getting into a fight with the protagonist early on and easily defeating them. If the protagonist has already been established as a badass in their own right, then this overlaps with TheWorfEffect.

The point of this is to give the plot a shift to high gear by giving the protagonist a taste of battles to come and something to fight for, as well as building up the villain as a serious threat. In VideoGames this often coincides with CutsceneIncompetence, {{Railroading}}, HopelessBossFight, and HeadsIWinTailsYouLose, making victory impossible. The exception being in a NewGamePlus where you can beat the villain, but they [[TheBattleDidntCount teleport away before the final blow.]]

Variants are when the villain fully intends to kill the protagonist, but he/she is [[BigDamnHeroes rescued]] by their [[TheMentor mentor]] or [[TrueCompanions allies]], maybe at the [[HeroicSacrifice cost of one of their lives]]. Or the villain is frightened off somehow or forced to leave, [[ButForMeItWasTuesday maybe they've got far more pressing matters to worry about]] (say their EvilPlan is put in jeopardy by TheStarscream and he has to leave posthaste). If the villain turns out to be a DiscOneFinalBoss, this trope may end up repeating itself when the ''real'' BigBad shows up.

A specific form of YourPrincessIsInAnotherCastle, a version of SortingAlgorithmOfEvil and aversion of NoSneakAttacks. Contrast OrcusOnHisThrone. See also NewWorldTease.


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Done many times in ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'' with Ichigo, most potently when Aizen managed to stop his bankai with one finger, then casually sliced him nearly in half. Just to hammer the point home, Aizen says he's surprised that he didn't completely sever Ichigo's spine, and tells himself not to hold back so much next time [[spoiler: Its later revealed that he let him live on purpose, as Ichigo is integral to his master plan.]]
* Zoro of ''Manga/OnePiece'' gets this in the Baratie Arc, when Hawkeye Mihawk, the greatest swordsman in the world and Zoro's ultimate goal, shows up long enough to humor Zoro with a duel. Turns out Zoro really is nothing compared to Mihawk, but [[MadeOfIron fortunately,]] he manages to gain the guy's respect, so Mihawk merely gives him a ''[[NotQuiteDead nearly]]'' [[NotQuiteDead fatal wound.]]
** Happens fairly often to Luffy, with the final boss of a given story arc.
** He was defeated by Sir Crocodile the first time they fought.
*** Luffy went through the same thing with Rob Lucci (who swatted him down with ease) and Warden Magellan (who managed to indirectly take ''ten years off Luffy's life.'') [[spoiler: He never does beat Magellan though, instead just escaping the prison he was in charge of]].
* Fate Averruncus of ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'' does this ''thrice''.
** Evangeline ''says'' she's doing this (see page quote), [[NobleDemon but no one really believes her]].
* Fate Testarossa of ''Anime/MagicalGirlLyricalNanoha'' does this nicely. Setting the stage for the GenreShift that is to come in episode 7, and beyond.
* In ''Manga/TheLawOfUeki'', Ueki tries to defeat Robert Haydn early in the series, but is quickly dropped from a great height, only to be saved in a HeroicSacrifice by his mentor.
* Zagato does this to our three heroines in ''Manga/MagicKnightRayearth'' just after they've become more powerful than we've ever seen them.
* Happens several times in ''Anime/DragonBall''. Goku's first fight with Tao Pai Pai, his first fight with Tambourine, first fight with Piccolo Daimaou, Raditz's arrival at Kame House, etc.
* In ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'', Father does this when the main characters encounter him for the first time. He shows off his nigh-invincibility, no-motion transmutation and his power to turn off everyone else's alchemy, setting himself up to be all but impossible to defeat. [[spoiler:And he only gets ''more'' powerful later on.]]
** In [[Anime/FullmetalAlchemist the 2003 anime version]], Ed's encounter with [[TheDragon Envy]] and Lust in Laboratory 04 count, [[spoiler:as Envy is the last person in the anime Ed fights since Dante is the non-fighting type.]]
* Moo is this early on in the ''Anime/MonsterRancher'' anime. The only reason he didn't kill the heroes then and there was to kidnap Holly, and because his true form wasn't revived.
* In ''Manga/FairyTail'', [[spoiler:Acnologia]] appears just long enough to casually ''[[spoiler:wipe out the main characters]]'' before flying off to parts unknown.
* The witch from Madoka's dream in episode 1 of ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica'' that Homura is seen fighting against turns out to be [[spoiler: Walpurgisnacht, the strongest witch and the second closest the series has to a main villain.]]
* In ''Manga/{{Gintama}}'' the Farewell Shinsengumi Arc; Kagura, Sougo, and Nobume fought against the head of the Naraku and one of the Tendoshu; Utsuro. They all get curbstomped by him but Gintoki appears and was able to match up to his speed until [[spoiler:his mask broke off to reveal himself to look like his teacher Shouyo and even fought like he does!]] Even with the combined effort from the others to help Gintoki defeat Utsuro, it was all for naught because [[spoiler:he can regenerate his wounds fast and effectively because of the Altana.]]
* In ''Anime/DigimonAdventure'', this happened every time the Digidestined encountered the BigBad of the arc: When they first encounter Devimon, he scatters them across the broken pieces of File Island, [[PuttingTheBandBackTogether forcing them to seek each other out]]. Etemon is their first encounter with an Ultimate level villain (one who has the ability to nullify their digivolutions). Myotismon first attacked them in a field and showed that he was leagues beyond Etemon. The Dark Masters took this UpToEleven when they all ganged up on the children and toyed with them as they attempted to fight back; Piedmon even easily taking out [=WarGreymon=] and [=MetalGarurumon=] in an instant.

[[folder:Game Books]]
* In the first book of the ''Literature/LoneWolf'' series, Lone Wolf may end up in the Graveyard of the Ancients. If he is foolish enough to open up a mysterious sarcophagus, he will encounter an [[UltimateEvil "ancient and timeless evil, far older and stronger than the Darklords themselves"]] that uses the corpse within to ensnare the fledgling Kai. The UpdatedRerelease reveals that this timeless evil [[spoiler:is [[GodOfEvil Naar the King of the Darkness]]. Naar does not take a direct role in the series again until the Grand Master books.]]

[[folder: Literature]]
* ''JourneyToChaos'': Eric confronts Nulos Xialin, one of the BigBadDuumvirate of ''Literature/LoomingShadow'', shortly after he returns to Roalt. He gets his ass handed to him in about ten seconds. He has to be rescued by Tasio.
* The ''Literature/CodexAlera'' series does this with the Vord Queen. She first appears as a random monster during Tavi and Kitai's side quest to the Wax Forest in the first book, and the reader could be forgiven for thinking at the time that that will be the end of it. However, starting with the following book, she becomes a secondary antagonist whose presence presents a [[GreaterScopeVillain looming threat]] far greater than Alera's internal political squabbles or even their wars with the surrounding other races. By the final books, the Vord take center stage as main antagonists, and the Queen proves far worse than anything else the heroes have faced prior.
* ''LightNovel/TheUnexploredSummonBloodSign'' has the White Queen appear in ''every single book''. The reason she doesn't simply kill Kyousuke is because she's [[{{Yandere}} madly in love with him]], and lets him live so she can continue having her fun.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* Every ''PowerRangers'' BigBad or [[TheDragon Dragon]] who isn't too inhuman to move decides to show up after eight or so episodes for the expressed purpose of kicking the crap out of the entire rookie team, then returning home due to power failure, mentor interference, or simply deciding that they simple [[NotWorthKilling aren't worth the effort]]. They often tear the current MonsterOfTheWeek apart as a sort of pre-preview before the beatdown.
* Arch-villain Sylar shows up in the first two episodes of ''Series/{{Heroes}}'', ''before they had even cast an actor for the role'' (he's played by a stuntman and obscured in shadows). He doesn't show up again until almost halfway through the first season.
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'': The First Evil initially appeared as a MonsterOfTheWeek in a Season 3 episode, where we get a brief glimpse of how powerful it is, manipulating Angel into almost attacking Buffy and then trying to commit suicide-by-sunrise, before it disappears. Flash forward four years, and it's the final BigBad of the series.
* ''Series/KamenRiderGaim'' has a perfect example of this in episode four. Up to this point, Gaim had become smug and confident, winning all of his fights easily and without ever facing a significant challenge... and then he ends up coming face to face with [[BigBad Kamen Rider Zangetsu]]. What follows is Zangetsu causally mopping the floor with Gaim and giving him such a NoHoldsBarredBeatdown that he's left in a HeroicBSOD and ''terrified'' of facing Zangetsu again. [[spoiler: Subverted later, as Zangetsu becomes an ally of Gaim once the true villains are revealed.]]
* ''Series/{{Lost}}'': One of the earliest threats the survivors face on the island is the Smoke Monster, a malevolent entity that appears in the very first episode of the series. The Smoke Monster turns out to be the Man in Black, the ultimate villain of the series.

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* A frequent trope, often used with super monster heels who are aimed at presenting a more dire threat than run-of-the-mill heels and even run-of-the-mill monster heels. Instead of easily defeating jobbers in his first appearance, this type of heel will immediately target the lead babyface (often, the champion) and goad him into an immediate confrontation (for which the babyface is often ill-prepared) before handing the face a humiliating, thorough defeat. Then, as weeks and months pass, the super monster heel will continue to beat down jobbers and other face wrestlers before the lead babyface regroups, demands revenge and is (ultimately) successful.
** A variant: The super-monster heel will physically destroy others closely allied with the babyface, to show what he is capable of and to intimidate. These have included but certainly are not limited to:
*** '''Family members''': Both legit and "on-screen." When the parents -- most often, the father -- are involved, a storyline is used where the father, almost always elderly, has some health issues but that doesn't stop the heel from taking him out, often in an exceptionally brutal way. It is not unheard of for mothers to have their faces slapped (hard). Brothers are usually portrayed as older teenagers or aspiring wrestlers. Sisters usually aren't involved here, but often it is implied that they were brutally treated off-screen.
*** '''Divas''': Not unheard of. Often, they will merely be kidnapped, but that hasn't stopped some particularly evil monster heels from brutally beating the diva -- sometimes an on-screen girlfriend, other times simply a super-attractive diva allied with the babyface -- in the ring and using his full array of moves on her to show what he is capable of.
*** '''Tag team partners''' and other wrestlers, managers and allies closely aligned with the babyface.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''[[VideoGame/DarkForcesSaga Jedi Outcast]]'' has this when Desann schools your Force-less ass and then mocks you how you might have been a challenge if you still had your Force powers (Kyle gave them up after the last game). Of course, [[spoiler: this was just part of a BatmanGambit to get you to go to the Valley of the Jedi and use it to infuse all of his troops with the Force.]]
* In the first ''[[Videogame/DarkSouls Dark Souls]]'', you find yourself in a sudden boss fight with Seath, the Scaleless. He's an ancient dragon armed with powerful, crystal-based sorcery of his own design. You are a lowly Undead. [[CurbStompBattle You can guess what happens.]] And to add insult to injury, you wake up locked in a cage!
* ''VideoGame/NoMoreHeroes'' has this happen during [[spoiler: the 5th ranked fight with Letz Shake. Just before the fight starts, Henry pops in and easily strikes him down with the intent of dueling with Travis.]] Before the two of them come to blows, Sylvia calls the fight off and Travis grudgingly has to wait until beating the game and earning the real ending to fight him.
* In the first ''VideoGame/BaldursGate'', BigBad Sarevok shows up five minutes into the game and kills your mentor in a cutscene. In ''VideoGame/BaldursGateII: Shadows Of Amn'', BigBad Jon Irenicus shows up several times and captures the party at least twice (once offscreen) before you even get the chance to fight him. His [[TheDragon lieutenant]] Bodhi does this as well. Averted in ''[[VideoGame/BaldursGateIIThroneOfBhaal Throne of Bhaal]]'' where the BigBad never shows up before the fight, [[spoiler:or at least not in a way that you can recognize her as the BigBad.]]
* ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil3'' has this very early, [[spoiler:just when you were about to enter the Raccoon City Police Station. The Nemesis makes a BigEntrance and you can choose to either fight him or run inside. If you choose to flee, he later comes through the window, carrying a rocket launcher - and you are both in a ''very'' narrow hallway. If you choose to fight, you better have a .357... but this only means he will later reappear without the rocket launcher. And if you beat him inside the station, that ''still'' doesn't mean he's dead. After all, he is the FinalBoss.]]
* ''[[VideoGame/MetalSaga Metal Max 2]]'' has this at the very start of the game but it is TheDragon Ted Broiler who promptly kicks the ass of your mentor and her allies before beating on you and leaving you for dead.
* ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'' loves this trope:
** In the original ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyI'', the first boss you battle is a rogue knight named Garland, who's pretty much on a WarmUpBoss level. He returns in the climax as a demonic being called Chaos.
** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIII'' does a very late preview of [[BiggerBad the Cloud of Darkness]] right before the final dungeon. It's very educational, however, as you get a clear demonstration of what would happen if you rushed straight to the boss without taking the precautions necessary to depower it enough to be realistically beatable.
** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIVTheAfterYears'' does this numerous times with the game's primary antagonist. At one point you have the option to send a single weak playable character into a matchup with the villain that buffed out parties before him couldn't touch, and upon the first weak shot landed she effortlessly casts one of the most powerful spells in the entire story to rid of you.
** In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI'', this is inverted when you fight Kefka earlier in the game, as he's a [[BreatherBoss pushover]] and you wouldn't imagine he could possibly be the Final Boss. [[NotSoHarmlessVillain This changes once he gets a power boost....]]
** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'' plays this trope straightforward, with an unusual twist: [[BigBad Sephiroth]] is in ''your'' party and laying down the superhuman asskicking against ''your'' enemies. At least for a little while and only in a flashback.
** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVIII'' has Disc 1 end with a battle against Edea[[note]]who, while not the main villain, is being possessed by them[[/note]]. Despite Squall and Co.'s best attempts to assassinate her, the fight ends with her seeming unfazed by their assault and she summarily impales Squall through the gut with an icicle.
** Played with in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIX'', where the BigBad requires a defeat by the heroes in order to gather enough energy to achieve [[LimitBreak Trance]] and transform into his final boss form, which naturally results in a preview of how overpowered [[NiceJobBreakingItHero you've helped him become]].
** In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX'', [[SinisterMinister Seymour]] joins your party for the second part of a SequentialBoss around mid-game.
** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIV'' does this a few times during the main campaign of Stormblood with Zenos yae Galvus, a man who is able to defeat the Warrior of Light handily the two times they fight before the final battle.
* ''[[VideoGame/DissidiaFinalFantasy Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy]]'' has a ''[[TrueFinalBoss True Final Boss]] Preview''. If you say "I am a master." to the tutorial moogle, he throws you and the Level 1 [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII Lightning]] you've been taking the tutorial with into a fight against a level 130 [[spoiler:Feral Chaos]] equipped with the same equipment and abilities as is ultimately fought in the post-game. [[SarcasmMode Have fun]].
** Played straight after Destiny Odyssey, since this is the first time the heroes have ever seen Chaos.
* ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'':
** Ganondorf in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime'' just before you get the eponymous ocarina. Link draws his sword and Ganondorf blasts the kid right on his ass with his sorcery before declaring his intention to TakeOverTheWorld.
*** Also the fight with Phantom Ganon, which is a preview of the [[FinalBoss fight]] with the real Ganondorf.
** We get the same scene again in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTheWindWaker'', only this time Ganondorf is smart enough to proceed to try to kill Link... If it weren't for [[BigDamnHeroes Tetra]] barging in and saving Link.
** In ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess Twilight Princess]]'', [[spoiler:Zant ambushes Link and Midna after beating the Lakebed Temple, trapping Link in wolf form and nearly killing Midna by exposing her to Lanayru's light]]. Of course, [[spoiler:[[HijackedByGanon Zant technically isn't even the final boss]].]]
** In ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaSkywardSword Skyward Sword]]'', you get to encounter Ghirahim quite a number of times, and even fight him twice, before your ultimate battle with him. The first time you fight him is, in fact, as the boss of the ''first dungeon''. [[spoiler:The actual final boss, The Imprisoned/Demise, is fought three times throughout the game before his final showdown, although it's vastly different from the final battle.]]
** In ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaALinkBetweenWorlds'', the BigBad Yuga turns up as both the boss of the first dungeon and the Hyrule Castle dungeon, mirroring Ghirahim and Agahnim's appearances in ''Skyward Sword'' and ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaALinkToThePast A Link to the Past]]'' respectively. [[spoiler:Although the FinalBoss battle with him is very different to his first two battles]]
* The first ''VideoGame/{{Mega Man X|1}}'' game had [[TheDragon Vile]] attack you in powered armor at the end of the first level. You ''could'' with some skill get into a pattern of dodging his paralyzing shot and returning fire, but the game won't continue until you get hit by it and force Zero to come help you. You can also accidentally die by [[CollisionDamage touching him]] while low on health.
** ''VideoGame/MegaManZX'' has this as well. Giro, after having sustained injuries from Vent/Aile in a IKnowYouAreInThereSomewhereFight, gets blasted to death by Serpent, and your character gets similar treatment as well. Serpent then leaves to start Project Haven with a small horde of Pantheons left behind to finish both of you off. Cue the titular Double Megamerge, though Giro isn't coming back.
* Bowser in ''VideoGame/PaperMario'' and Count Bleck [[spoiler: and later, Dimentio]] in ''VideoGame/SuperPaperMario'', as well as, technically, all three ''VideoGame/MarioAndLuigi'' games, where Bowser is fought in the tutorial of all three games, but he's never actively the final boss. [[spoiler: In the first two games he serves as such while possessed by the true Big Bads, in the third his own final boss is a shadow version of himself.]]
** ''VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiDreamTeam'' has the BigBad Antasma show up to serve as the game's combat tutorial and gets stomped into oblivion by Mario in short order. Though it turns out it was [[AllJustADream just a dream Luigi was having]]. [[spoiler:And Antasma isn't even the final boss; that honor belongs to Bowser.]]
** ''VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiDreamTeam'' also has Antasma and Bowser fought as a team in Dream's Deep, which can almost be seen as a FinalBossPreview for BOTH the [[BigBad Big Bads]]. Indeed, both even use one or two attacks similar to those they use in their later main battles.
** In ''VideoGame/PaperMarioColorSplash'', Mario comes across some non-sentient black paint spilled onto Sunglow Ridge. Enemies at that point in the game do 5 or 6 damage at most. Merely touching the black paint inflicts 30 damage, showing that Mario's going to need to be a lot stronger if he hopes to defeat it. Indeed, when Mario takes on the black paint at the end of the game, when it's actively trying to kill Mario, its attacks ''begin'' at 30 damage and can inflict up to four times that much.
* A non-RPG ''Mario'' example would be in the beginning of ''VideoGame/SuperMarioGalaxy'', where shortly after Bowser captures Peach and carries both her and her castle into outer space, Mario jumps onto one of Bowser's spacecraft as it is leaving Earth orbit, only to be knocked out by one of Bowser's Magikoopas (confirmed to be Kamek [[AllThereInTheManual in the tie-in trading card game)]], sending him plummeting toward a small planet nearby where he is then rescued by Rosalina and some Lumas.
* In ''VideoGame/ChronoTrigger'', you can use the bucket at the End of Time to visit the Day of Lavos regardless of where you are in the story. Defeating him isn't feasible until the end of the game, so you have the option of running to fight another day. The first time you examine the portal, the old hermit gives you a fair warning ("Go there only if you’re looking to [[YouHaveNoChanceToSurvive achieve a shorter life span]]… Lavos will help you leave this mortal coil").
** [[spoiler:You get a free preview in Ocean Palace, via an attack that will likely kill the party in one hit. If you survive the opening attack, it will be a difficult battle since Lavos is much tougher than normal.]]
** However, if your party is strong enough (like in NewGamePlus), you can defeat the BigBad at any time and access the MultipleEndings.
** The DS version even gives you a sort-of preview of [[spoiler: the Time Devourer, the final boss of ''VideoGame/ChronoCross'', in the form of its previous form, the Dream Devourer.]]
* [[spoiler:Gilgamesh]] in ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'''s Fate and Unlimited Blade Works routes (he only gets to be the BigBad in the second route, though). The Black Shadow, a.k.a. [[spoiler:the incarnation of Angra Manyuu]] in the Heaven's Feel route.
* ''VideoGame/TalesOfSymphonia''
** [[spoiler:Yggdrassil]]. You get into ''two'' {{Hopeless Boss Fight}}s with before you finally get a chance to fight him legitimately.
** And just [[SequentialBoss before that]] you get to fight [[spoiler:Kratos]]. He isn't going to be the final boss, but you'll have to [[DuelBoss solo]] him at one point near the end of the game, yet here you're not even required to win with your full party present (rather lose, plot-wise). Just so that you know how badass you're going to get.
** The direct sequel has a strange way of doing this. The Final Boss of the game [[spoiler:ends up being a temporary party member at the beginning of the game]] before you learn he's evil, and he's POWERFUL. Then later after you learn he's not on your side, [[spoiler:there's a [[HopelessBossFight boss battle]] where he ''destroys you'' with his [[LimitBreak Mystic Arte]] at the very beginning of the battle.]] THEN after you FINALLY fight him for real, it turns out that [[spoiler:the ''real'' final boss is ''the main character''.]]
* ''VideoGame/TalesOfPhantasia'', which was released first but takes place far later in the same timeline as ''Symphonia'', does this with Dhaos. [[spoiler:Twice as Dhaos is also the boss of the DiscOneFinalDungeon.]]
* Also, Shizel in ''VideoGame/TalesOfEternia''. It isn't as much of a curb stomp since you CAN fight back, but after a while the fight abruptly ends anyways.
* ''VideoGame/TalesOfXillia'' does this with [[spoiler: Gaius]] and [[spoiler: Muzet]]. Both of them are fought multiple times, but the final boss fight pits you against both of them simultaneously.
* ''VideoGame/TalesOfBerseria'' has the party's ill-fated first battle with Shepherd Artorius Collbrande, in which all your attacks (with the exception of Mystic Artes) will do zero points of damage and you're automatically KO'd when Artorius uses his own Mystic Arte.
* ''VideoGame/TearsToTiara2'' has [[BigBad Abraxas]] appear at the Cemenelum Gates as a projection of his will. When you beat him the Lord of Death appears to laugh at how hard it was for you to beat him.
* In the ''Franchise/FireEmblem'' franchise:
** ''VideoGame/FireEmblemShadowDragonAndTheBladeOfLight'' and its remakes have Gharnef appear halfway through the game, armed with a tome that makes him immortal. He chases you around for a bit, likely killing anyone he catches, until he gets bored and leaves.
** ''VideoGame/FireEmblemMysteryOfTheEmblem'' and its remake have [[spoiler:Hardin]] appear during chapter 8. He's completely invulnerable thanks to his Darksphere, so you don't want to hang around for too long.
** In ''VideoGame/FireEmblemGenealogyOfTheHolyWar'' this somewhat happens... twice: First, you see Arvis (Chapter 10's final boss, and one of the major antagonists in the game) in the Prologue as an "Ally" unit... He's a bit weaker than in Chapter 10, but at level 25, and wielding his signature [[InfinityPlusOneSword Holy Weapon]], pity the poor level 1 to 3 mook who comes too close. Then the real FinalBoss Julius shows up for a little "game" in Chapter 10, where he and [[ThatOneBoss his girlfriend]] have a competition to see who can kill one your units quickest... Of course, the next chapter is the endgame, so it's not that much of a preview.
** [[spoiler:Zephiel]] in ''VideoGame/FireEmblemTheBindingBlade'' {{Curb Stomp Battle}}s the rebel leader, hangs around a few turns for you to see his uber stats, then leaves.
** Happens quite frequently with TheDragon in ''VideoGame/FireEmblemPathOfRadiance'' and ''VideoGame/FireEmblemRadiantDawn''. The Black Knight shows up and only attacks if you get within range. Should you value your life, don't attack him. He's got super high stats in all aspects, appears at the level cap, and either has blessed armor that renders him invulnerable to any attack other than Ragnell (''Path of Radiance'') or a special attack that is so powerful that the final boss can't even survive it (''Radiant Dawn'').
*** In ''Radiant Dawn'', when he first appears, he's on YOUR side. If Micaiah is also level capped, the mission is one of the easiest ''Franchise/FireEmblem'' missions ever. Of course, he's also the most EXP eating happy CrutchCharacter in the entire series.
*** The first time he appears as an enemy in ''Radiant Dawn'', you ''have'' to have Ike survive a battle with him if you want to unlock [[spoiler:Lehran]] as a playable character later in the game (though this is only possible in a second playthrough or later). This requires either significant level-grinding (to the point that Ike will probably level cap soon afterwards with a number of chapters to go until his story-driven promotion) or some finagling to get a Speedwing from a previous party to him, and since Nihil and Fortune aren't available to Ike's party yet, this is a complete LuckBasedMission (or a SaveScumming-based mission in Normal difficulty or lower).
*** In fact, there's a fun variation of this trope: the penultimate boss of ''Radiant Dawn'' appears in ''Path of Radiance'' [[spoiler:as an NPC with no weapons but ''very'' impressive stats]].
** In Chapter 12 of ''VideoGame/FireEmblemFates: Birthright'', the final boss, Garon, will show up on the map. Fighting him here is a ''very bad idea'' unless you've done a lot of level grinding, though.
* The second battle of ''VideoGame/BreathOfFireII'' is against TheDragon, Barubary. Barubary is the second most powerful demon alive and arguably tougher than the final boss. Ryu is a 6 year old boy. [[OneSidedBattle Armed with a stick.]]
* Malak in ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublic'', and Sion in the sequel. Interestingly enough, between them they demonstrate the best and worst ways to do this:
** First, the bad. In the first game, you meet Malak about halfway through. You're powerful enough at this point to beat him into the ground in a single hit, [[YourPrincessIsInAnotherCastle BUT WAIT!]] He recovers and [[CutscenePowerToTheMax effortlessly]] [[TheBattleDidntCount stuns you]]. Bastila then sacrifices herself for no good reason whatsoever.
** ''[=KotOR=] 2''. You meet Sion on Korriban, and he's a toughie. He can kill you easily if you're not careful. After you take off half his health, he pulls his [[HealingFactor signature trick]], and it is revealed he's invincible. Kreia appears in a vision and tells you to flee your arse out of there, and you do, if you know what's good for you.
* The first battle against Ramirez in ''VideoGame/SkiesOfArcadia'' is a type of this, assuming you choose to fight him in the first place. Your options are "Surrender" and "Fight, even though you know it is futile."
** You can also possinly fight [[BigBad Galcian]] in your first time in Valua, by meeting him on the roof of the train when he does TheSlowWalk towards you. Aika will clue you in with "I'm not sure we can take him, we should keep moving". [[CurbStompBattle She's damn right]].
* The very first boss in ''VideoGame/ShadowHearts'' is the BigBad. Naturally, he knocks you out in one hit. If not for CutscenePowerToTheMax it'd be a very short game.
* A variant is used in ''VideoGame/PokemonXDGaleOfDarkness''. The BigBad and his Dragons show up and effortlessly beats down...[[spoiler: a mook who broke the rules. Oh, and you don't know it's the BigBad and his 2 Dragons, though it is [[ObviouslyEvil pretty obvious]] anyway]]. Another example is Shadow Lugia in the introduction.
** ''VideoGame/PokemonBlackAndWhite'' has a variant where you encounter N, the leader of Team Plasma, after a few gyms. He seems to be helping you at first, then challenges you to a battle. You don't know it's him until after the fight. An aversion to the 'you'll lose' part, though, because you must defeat N to proceed in the game.
* The first boss battle against Takeda/Tiny in the original ''VideoGame/{{Persona}}'' initially features BigBad Takahisa/Guido as part of the enemy party. Kei/Nate attempts to attack him, only to miss. Takahisa counters with a Mabufu spell before retreating. Of course, [[spoiler:he isn't the final boss...]]
** There's a variation in ''VideoGame/{{Persona 4}}'' too. In one of the very first scenes of the game, you go to the Yomotsu Hirasaka in your sleep and fight an enemy shrouded in fog. Since BigBad [[spoiler: Izanami]] later reminds you of it, presumably this means that she was the enemy you fought.
* ''VideoGame/ZoneOfTheEnders'' has a cross-game version of this: The final boss fight of the first game involves simply ''surviving' for a short period of time against the ridiculously overpowering Anubis. You get a second preview early in the second game: you can do a little damage to him this time, but not enough to win. It isn't until the end of the game after you acquire the same powers can you face Anubis with a chance of victory.
* Zigzagged in ''VideoGame/{{Disgaea 3|AbsenceOfJustice}}''. Mao's father is the boss of the first chapter, and is easily beatable if you've been leveling up a bit, but even if you win, he'll revive himself in the following cutscene, forcing Mao and Almaz to retreat. The third twist is that [[spoiler:he isn't the final boss at all.]]
* ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsOriginalGeneration'' loves this. All the major endbosses show up early and often, and while usually you don't have to genuinely fight them... sometimes you do, and they're at full final boss power. Thanks to how the game engine is made, you still have a fighting chance... just not of beating them, which is why they'll always get called away or get bored after a while... and they need you alive.
* ''VideoGame/LufiaAndTheFortressOfDoom'' had an interesting take on this; the first level of the game has you playing as the legendary party of heroes who defeated the 4 Sinistrals, during the final battle 100 years ago. So, although the first dungeon ends with you fighting the 4 [[BigBad Big Bads]], your party is likewise at legendary levels and capable of easily kicking their asses.
** It's played straight a little while after this prologue, when the real protagonist [[spoiler:(the descendant of legendary hero Maxim)]] encounters one of the Sinistrals early on in the game. He's allowed to [[PunchPunchPunchUhOh get in a few shots of token offense before the Sinistral wipes him out with one blow.]]
** Gades plays this role in all of the first three Lufia games. Usually, if you do manage to defeat him anyways, you get a special item, but then he wipes the floor with you in a cutscene.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 2}}'', it's extremely likely that the first person you meet after leaving the starting village is 12-foot tall PoweredArmor cyborg Frank Horrigan, the final boss. Fortunately, you're so beneath his notice that he doesn't even bother to attack you, or else the game would have been really, really short.
* Emperor Doviculus from ''VideoGame/BrutalLegend'' has one hell of a great example of this.[[spoiler: After having effortlessly killing Lars by stabbing him with his Big Fucking Spear, Eddie tries to attack him, but is stopped as a horde of BDSM Demons [[ItsRainingMen rain down from the sky.]] And the [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome CMoA]] appears just after this as you drive right out of Lionwhyte's collapsing fortress as Music/DragonForce plays in the background. Fuck. ''Yes''.]]
* In ''VideoGame/QuakeIV'', after having just wiped out two fairly easy Stream Protectors, you are attacked by the Makron, the Strogg leader. After a short "battle", he incapacitates you, leading to you getting mutilated and partially turned into a cyborg. This example is somewhat atypical in that [[HeadsIWinTailsYouLose you do have to deal a decent amount of damage to him]], or else he'll just straight up kill you instead of advancing the plot.
* ''[[VideoGame/{{EXceed}} eXceed 3rd]]'': If you're doing well enough, the BonusBoss, Remedy, will pop up in the middle of Stage 4 to challenge you. To unlock the Extra stage and fight her for real, you have to "impress" her during this fight, which means completing it ''perfectly'': no deaths and no bombs.
* Nobunaga appears at the start of ''VideoGame/Onimusha3DemonSiege'', in a scene that mirrors the final battle, for a short fight against Samanosuke.
** Nobunaga makes a brief appearance in the second stage of ''VideoGame/OnimushaTactics''. You can see his maxed health and pumped out stats. Magochi gives him a direct shot to the face, that does absolutely nothing.
* In ''VideoGame/NinjaGaiden'', the first boss is [[spoiler: your uncle Murai before his [[FaceHeelTurn sudden change]].]] The final boss is... [[spoiler: Murai AFTER his sudden change,]] and the battle dynamics is the same, with other powers provided by the Dark Dragon Blade. In this case, you ''can'' defeat [[spoiler: Murai, but it will just be a friendly combat between family.]]
** Ninja Gaiden Sigma offers a better example, where you fight [[TheDragon Doku]] right after he snatches the Dark Dragon, one hit will end the battle and move on with the story, and if you defeat him here... he still kills you and we move on with the story. You face him again a few chapters later, [[spoiler: twice]].
* ''VideoGame/{{Homeworld}} 2'' doesn't have bosses as such, but the end-of-level cutscene for the first mission sees you fleeing from a very large fleet containing some enemy hardware you won't be engaging for several more missions.
* About halfway through ''VideoGame/PlanescapeTorment'', [[spoiler:a figure clad in misshapen golden armor appears before the half-dead Ravel and [[strike:tries to convince]] ''demands'' that she help it defeat the Nameless One. When Ravel refuses, a scripted battle ensues in which the golden figure effortlessly obliterates her with an impressive array of magic powers. Say hello to [[BigBad the Transcendent One]].]]
* Though you don't get to fight him then, the BigBad of ''VideoGame/MassEffect1'' makes quite an impression in the first mission on Eden Prime. [[spoiler: [[ManBehindTheMan He's not who you think he is.]]]]
** The game also provides a straighter example on [[spoiler:Virmire]], where you encounter [[spoiler:Saren Arterius, who shows up just as the nuclear bomb is set.]] You fight [[spoiler:Saren]] until his health is gone, but [[spoiler:this changes nothing; his flying disk simply emits a pulse that sends Shepard flying and triggers a cutscene before Saren escapes.]] This fight is very similar to [[spoiler:the final boss fight against Saren in the Citadel, but you can TakeAThirdOption then...]]
** There is even one for the whole series. The final Boss of ''VideoGame/MassEffect1'' is [[spoiler:Sovereign, a Reaper]]. Fast forward to the end of the third game, and the final boss is [[spoiler:the Reaper invasion fleet]].
* You (as Raziel) get to fight Kain two times in ''VideoGame/LegacyOfKain: Soul Reaver'', but it is implied he's holding back. Both battles end with Kain victorious, but running away instead of finishing the job. (Although there is some [[RetCon discrepancy]] between the final battle of ''Soul Reaver'' and the intro of ''Soul Reaver 2'' - in the former, Kain is visibly exhausted and his remark "You nearly had me, Raziel" seems genuine, while in the latter, he brushes off Raziel's attacks easily and his remark comes across as sarcastic.) A third and final battle ensues in ''Defiance'' in which [[spoiler: Raziel rips out Kain's heart and leaves him for dead. Which he isn't.]]
* Nero gets to battle [[spoiler: Sanctus]] once around the middle of ''VideoGame/DevilMayCry 4'' and once at the very end. The first battle is just against the ascended form but the second is against his OneWingedAngel form that comes with the power gained from Sparda's sword.
* In ''VideoGame/ArcanumOfSteamworksAndMagickObscura'', the BigBad shows up once you reach the Wheel Clan to taunt you and then knocks your entire party unconscious before disappearing.[[spoiler: Pretending to be the devil figure of the main religion on the continent,]] though an attentive player can notice something is up if they look at the interface and realise the race indicated for the speaker by the UI isn't the one history says it should be...
* In ''[[VideoGame/KirbySuperStar Kirby Super Star Ultra]]'', the final boss is Marx's Soul, but you fight Marx himself only halfway through the game. Before you fight him, there is a cutscene showing him morphing into the demonesque form that you fight him in, and for a SPLIT SECOND, you can see his soul.
* Played straight in the start of ''VideoGame/GoldenSun'', when the villians are shown in conversation. As is normal, the heroes are shown to be eavesdropping, and promptly get beaten to within an inch of their lives.
* In ''VideoGame/TimeShift'', the first level ends with you and the resistance being blown away by the BigBad's giant spider-mech fortress. In the final level you replay the exact same scene, only you have a better vantage point and are armed with a weapon capable of harming the giant robot.
* In the ''VideoGame/{{Turok}}'' reboot, the T-Rex final boss appears several times in the earlier levels, usually passing by briefly to snack on a few enemy soldiers before leaving. You fight her briefly about halfway through the game, but there's a convenient hole you can hide in from which you can shoot her from complete safety. In the final battle, there's no safe spot for you to hide, and the T-Rex has a lot more health than in the previous fight.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Redline}}'', the Red Sixer leader is both the first boss you fight as well as the game's final boss. The key difference is that in the first level you fight him on foot, while in the final level he has access to a unique hover-tank that is the most powerful vehicle in the game.
* The first enemy fought in ''VideoGame/DukeNukemForever'', the Cycloid Emperor, is also the game's final boss. Surprisingly, he's not really any tougher in the final battle than he was in the first level; the only differences are that he's supported by respawning Mooks in the finale, and you have to deplete his health bar 3 times instead of just once.
* ''VideoGame/{{inFAMOUS 2}}'' starts off with a BossFight against [[BigBad the Beast]]. Interestingly, you're almost guaranteed to win, since it's the beginning of the game and Cole is at full power. [[spoiler:But it's really a HopeSpot, because no matter how much damage you inflict, [[StoryOverwrite the Beast is just going to revive and almost kill Cole]]. [[HeadsIWinTailsYouLose But you DO have to "beat" it, because it WILL kill you otherwise, tutorial or not.]]]]
** The first ''VideoGame/{{inFAMOUS}}'' plays with this a little. You get your first look at [[spoiler: Kessler]] after one of the early missions. You don't fight him or anything though; he just proceeds to show you a vision of the future.
* In ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim'', the very first Dragon you see in the game is Alduin himself interrupting your execution with his own attempt to kill you.
** Not to mention [[spoiler: that you have to fight him alongside Paarthurnax on top of Throat of the World after learning Dragonrend, only to have him get bored and leave before you can do any real damage.]]
* ''VideoGame/DistortedTravesty'': The Shroud Lord attacks the player several times in Distortion WTF before retreating, several levels before the final showdown in the Secured Data Segment. [[spoiler:It's not the final boss, but it's pretty close, and is generally agreed to be the toughest boss in the game.]]
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII2'', [[BigBad Caius]] is both [[BookEnds your first and your final opponent]].
* ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedII'': When Ezio first meets [[spoiler: Rodrigo Borgia]] face-to-face, Ezio immediately learns that he is ruthless and cunning. He [[YouHaveFailedMe stabs his subordinate and leaves him for dead after his failure in the Pazzi Conspiracy]], and predicts the arrival of Ezio and sets a trap for him, leaving him for dead as well.
* Subtly done in ''VideoGame/Sonic3AndKnuckles''. All of the final bosses attacks appear throughout the course of the game on other machines. The first MiniBoss of Angel Island breathes the same fire, the boss of Flying Battery has the same lazer canon, and the MiniBoss of Lava Reef has the crushing hand.
* [[spoiler:Xemnas]] makes for an imposing BigBad and multi-stage final boss in ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsII'', but those who've had a chance to play the Japan-Only (prior to HD 1.4 ReMIX on PS3 and later PS4) Kingdom Hearts Final Mix have already gotten a taste of his power in the form of the Mysterious Stranger BonusBoss. This makes this an exceptional example of this trope, having had a preview ''two'' games before he's finally defeated.
** Likewise, Unknown, later identified as [[spoiler: Young Xehanort]], serves as a bonus boss in ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsBirthBySleep'', and ends up serving as one of the final bosses of ''VideoGame/KingdomHearts3D''.
* ''VideoGame/{{Geneforge}}'': Due to the political nature of the games and the multiple plots leading to multiple endings, you're often obligated to have met all of the potential final bosses in the course of the game. Of course, some may also be your final allies, depending on your choices. In particular, some of the most serious opposition you can face in Geneforge 5 show up as students and potential party members in Geneforge 3.
* ''VideoGame/{{Avadon}}'': Several examples. You meet [[spoiler: Tarkus the Shadow several times as the Wayfarer]] over the course of the game. [[spoiler: Additionally, since you get a final option to rebel against Avadon, you can end up fighting Redbeard back WhereItAllBegan.]]
* In ''VideoGame/{{Xenoblade}}'', you face [[spoiler:Zanza]] in a [[HopelessBossFight hopeless]] [[DuelBoss duel]] shortly after the ClimaxBoss.
* ''VideoGame/StarTrekOnline'': The ultimate [[BigBad big bads]], the [[spoiler:Iconians]], are seen several times, though as of ''Legacy of Romulus'', the player never engages in combat with them.
* In ''WWE Day Of Reckoning 2'' when you fight Triple H and Ric Flair in a tag team match in story mode. Ric Flair is as much of a push over as everyone else you have wrestled up to this point on account that your CAW's stats are likely lower than the most non wrestling diva on the roster at this point. [[ImplacableMan Triple H's stats are comparable to one of the game's unlockable legend figures and the computer is much less passive when he is the legal man]]. Lucky for you, Chris Jericho is there to back you up on top of Triple H and Ric Flair making quick tags as frequently as they can, even when it makes little sense for them to do so, so it is possible to simply isolate Flair and send Jericho after Triple H when you are ready to put him away. Fighting Triple H directly will probably lead to time running out unless your CAW is over leveled.
* ''VideoGame/ThunderForce IV'' had Versus at the end of the BattleshipRaid level. Your team of ships try to destroy it and get their asses completely handed to them, forcing the remaining members of your squad to resort in giving you the MidSeasonUpgrade. Thankfully, you get your revenge when you fight and destroy him as the last opponent before the final boss.
* ''VideoGame/TheInfynPrism'' has Leo in a HopelessBossFight against Rasen, Po and Wyndi. [[spoiler: Those three are later part a of a final boss of 7, so while it is a preview per se, it's not all of the final boss]]
* In an interesting case in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid'', Revolver Ocelot is the very first boss, and the very last boss [[VideoGame/MetalGearSolid4GunsOfThePatriots three games later]] as Liquid Ocelot. What's interesting is that the final fight with him is more reminiscent of the final boss from the first game, Liquid Snake. You also fight Ocelot as the first boss [[VideoGame/MetalGearSolid3SnakeEater 40 years earlier]] in a fight very similar to the first one.
* ''VideoGame/{{Wizard101}}'' has a variation with Morganthe, the boss of the second StoryArc. When the player enters the Ghost of Avalon[[note]] a past version of Avalon but the player's actions don't change the present[[/note]] they encounter Moganthe [[ThatOneBoss the toughest boss the player is required to defeat]]. Why does this trope apply? She's only about ~14 back then and doesn't have her [[ArtifactOfDoom Deck of Shadows]]. Now she's in her late 20s and has the deck, and even [[BigGood Ambrose]] is scared.
* ''VideoGame/TheLordOfTheRingsOnline'' has Mazog, the orc leader of Moria. Despite being talked up early in the story, he tends to be more of an annoying putz. And then when you show up to attack him at his lair, Sauron's lieutenant Gorothul shows up to prove how weak you are...
* ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft''
** The Halls of Reflection dungeon. You have to flee from the Lich King. The reason for his many, many, many previews was due to the poster-villain of TheBurningCrusade having next to no show time directly. [[spoiler: He is trying to help you level up to kill you when you are at your strongest as a forced conversion to his side.]]
** Deathwing is encountered in a few quests, a few of them being drunk men's tales. You can also encounter him in almost any area, at the least expected moment... and he'll just kill everyone in sight. At least you get an achievement for it...
* ''VideoGame/ArmedWithWings 3'' has a battle with [[EvilOverlord Vandheer Lorde]] at the end of level 3. The battle is not actually all that difficult, though that's primarily because Vandheer is [[JustToyingWithThem holding back]]. Once you've survived for about a minute, Vandheer announces "[[PreAsskickingOneLiner Your time is up]]" and [[CutscenePowerToTheMax kicks your ass in a cutscene]]. The next time you face him, he's the final boss.
* In ''VideoGame/FTLFasterThanLight'', one of random events may lead you to the Rebel shipyard, where you encounter [[spoiler: a second Rebel Flagship under construction]], which is roughly equal to the last phase of the final boss fight, but with smaller crew and without its LimitBreak. Unusually for this trope, it's fully beatable if you have a good ship, and not only gives you a huge reward, but it's required to unlock one of the ships.
* The Dragon in ''VideoGame/DragonsDogma'' takes up the very first instance of gameplay after the prologue. You can't even scratch him, but the fight is how you get marked as an Arisen and get involved in the plot.
* The ''VideoGame/WanganMidnight Maximum Tune'' games, [[Manga/WanganMidnight being based on the manga that they are]] especially because you're not actually playing any of the characters, likes to throw story missions at the player early on in the single-player mode showing off [[TheHero Akio and his Devil Z]] and [[TheRival Tatsuya and his Blackbird.]] You can bet you'll be racing them later.
* When you first fight the big mech at the end of the first major mission of ''[[VideoGame/{{Broforce}} The Expendabros]]'', you won't be able to defeat it, especially since none of your Bros are with you. Your defeat and capture sets up the main plot of the game, where you have to rescue your Bros and then face down the BigBad for real.
* ''Starblade'' has the Enemy Flagship Commander, who appears a few times throughout the course of the game. It is indicated by the voiceclip "Located Enemy Flagship Commander," but it is unkillable at first, going as far as to shooting at you before leaving. However, after taking care of the reactor in Iceberg, the Enemy Flagship Commander escapes to the outside alongside you, and when the voiceclip repeats "Located Enemy Flagship Commander," without warning, some music kicks in as it fires missiles at you. This prompts a proper final boss fight with the Enemy Flagship Commander, with you and the Commander firing rounds at each other as the Iceberg explodes while this is happening. It is satisfying after you beat the Enemy Flagship Commander, as the enemy fighters become confused after the destruction of the Commander, making the mission fully complete.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Fred from ''Webcomic/WhatsShakin'' ''[[http://whatsshakincomic.com/2010/09/06/ch1-pg1/ appears early]]'' in the webcomic series for a bit of fighting with the main cast and hero, Coffinshaker.
* ''Webcomic/TheChosenFour'' adds one to the battle against the Mani Mani Statue in Moonside. Whereas in the [[VideoGame/{{Earthbound}} video game]] it was mostly just a conventional boss fight, here [[spoiler:Giygas is controlling the statue directly, and as Ness and Jeff damage it, he loses what remaining sanity he has left until he becomes the EldritchAbomination that appears at the end of the game. It's only thanks to the intervention of manifestations of [[VideoGame/EarthBoundBeginnings Ninten and his friends]] that Ness and Jeff manage to survive.]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Darkseid's first appearance on Earth in ''WesternAnimation/SupermanTheAnimatedSeries'', at the very end of the episode "Father's Day", counts. Superman catches up to the defeated episode villain Kalibak in time to watch Darkseid (who he has no idea who is) [[OffingTheOffspring disintegrate him]]. When Superman angrily demands he identify himself, Darkseid simply smiles, turns on his [[EyeBeams Omega Beams]], and zaps Superman to the floor. He then says "''That'' is who I am" and leaves.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles2012'' episode "The Gauntlet", the Turtles (who have grown too confident in their fighting skills) encounter the Shredder for the first time and he utterly curbstomps them. It's only through the Shredder being distracted by the mutation of his two henchmen that they escape.