That One Boss / Dark Souls

As you progress through the many difficult dungeons in Dark Souls and its sequels, it wouldn't be unreasonable to think that at the end of each of them, you'd be rewarded with not-so-difficult pushovers, becoming a textbook case of Hard Levels, Easy Bosses, right? Heh, well, that's certainly not the case for these guys. Unmarked spoilers ahead.

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     Dark Souls I
Easy Mode? Pffftt! What's that?

  • The questionable honor of the most hated boss goes to one of the first bosses of the game, the Capra Demon. The boss itself wields two very large machetes and loves to slam both of them down on any unfortunate player that thinks they have a chance of blocking its attacks, occasionally starting the fight with this attack, which can kill you instantly. The two attack dogs that accompany it make the fight all but impossible until they're disposed of, and the brutal speed at which the boss charges at you with powerful attacks as soon as the battle begins, combined with the very small area you have to maneuver in mean many players will stare at the "You Died" screen mere seconds after starting the fight. The dogs and the arena are the biggest reason why this boss is difficult, which is a relief as you meet seven of them as respawning enemies on the way to Lost Izalith, with most of them tightly packed together making picking them off one by one a must. Good thing you can skip the fight via Sequence Breaking...
  • The boss directly after Blighttown, Chaos Witch Quelaag, is this for sorcery-based builds that normally trivialise most bosses. Her magic resistance is very high, so you will run out of soul arrow before she even reaches half health, forcing you to rely on physical damage.
  • Ornstein and Smough is where many players either become masters or give up. They are essentially designed to be a co-op boss, and either one of them can kill a player in about two hits. It's nearly impossible for non-ranged players playing solo, as neither one will ever shift their attention, giving no windows to attack. To add insult to injury, they are also a sequential boss, in that if you kill one, the other gains his power and full health.
    • This gets even worse if you decide to kill Ornstein second for the Leo Ring. When Smough absorbs Ornstein, he just gains more health and stronger attacks. Ornstein, on the other hand, gains all of this and a completely different moveset, including the incredibly powerful Lightning Impale that provides the page picture and will almost certainly one-shot you if it hits.
  • The Four Kings. The battle is essentially a damage race to kill each King as quickly as possible before the others spawn while surviving/avoiding their highly damaging magic-based attacks, which is easier said than done because of their Hitbox Dissonance, and the arena a pitch-black, infinite, entirely featureless void with absolutely nothing to provide a frame of reference is extremely disorienting. It gets worse in New Game+ since the Kings get a considerable health boost making it that much harder to kill them quickly. Oh, and just to make the fight even harder, the Four Kings do no physical damage at all. It's all magic damage in varying flavors, so that 100% physical block shield that's carried you through the entire game now does nothing.
  • Gravelord Nito becomes this if you lack any sort of useful divine weapon. He's not that powerful by himself, and most of his attacks are telegraphed. However, several smaller skeletons accompany him, and unless they are killed with divine weaponry, they respawn constantly until you defeat Nito. While you're busy trying to clear them off, Nito himself will start unleashing gravelord miracles at you or even try to take advantage of the situation by swinging his sword at you (even knocking off some of his minions in the process). Even worse, if you go too far into the boss room, you'll get swarmed by Giant Skeletons, adding to the smaller ones in case you haven't already killed them off with divine weapons. One of the most common hints left by other players outside his room is "Need Divine" for a good reason.
  • Your journey to Lost Izalith is filled to the brim with bosses that will make you want to Rage Quit. To wit:
    • The Ceaseless Discharge. If you're not cheesing the boss around, then you'll find that he has nothing but powerful moves at his disposal, and his arm flail greatly suffers from Hitbox Dissonance, often nailing you when you think you dodged it. Straying too far from him will also prompt him to punish you with a fire blast that's unblockable by all but the mightiest fire-resistant shields.
    • The Demon Firesage. While it's mostly just a reskin of the Stray Demon (already a highly souped-up version of the Asylum Demon), the room it's in is cluttered with numerous wooden branches and roots which litter the entire floor and can make your movement awkward. Some of these roots you can walk over, some of these you can't. Some of these roots you can break, some of these you can't. No indication as to which are which. This all being in a boss fight that's heavily reliant on your ability to dodge and get around the boss who can kill you very quickly if you're stuck in place. Oh, and its name is completely misleading, as its attacks are physical and magical, not fire-based, so coming in expecting to guard against its explosions with fire protection will leave you in a world of hurt.
    • The Centipede Demon. You're fighting it in a room full of lava, with a small strip of rock near the entrance. The Centipede Demon has several alarmingly powerful attacks with excellent reach, meaning it can hit you from a good distance while you're helpless to do anything about it. Its bizarre anatomy (three big centipedes stuck together on a pair of legs?), obscene range, and tendency to jump around make it hard for you to get your bearings and not immediately obvious where you're supposed to aim at. Worse, you get the Orange Charred Ring, which you need to walk on lava, after you defeat the Centipede Demon. You can get it early, however, if you don't mind trying to cut the Centipede Demon's tail... which is often over the lava.
    • The Bed of Chaos. If there was one endgame boss that is absolutely hated by players just for how mind-boggingly frustrating the strategy to defeat it is, it's this monster. It's also despised for being full of Fake Difficulty in a game that usually avoids the trope, primarily because you can't actually damage it with your weapons in order to kill it you have to run to and destroy three weak points, avoiding virtually-unpredictable and difficult-to-dodge attacks that instakill you by sweeping you into a bottomless pit. They become increasingly difficult to reach with the chaos that piles up throughout the boss fight (read: tree arms swinging around wildly, crumbling floor, fire scythes digging their way to you, and straight-up Firestorm pyromancies). The single shred of mercy this fight has in it is that the weak points don't regenerate if you die, meaning you don't have to start the entire fight from the beginning when you inevitably plummet to your doom. How annoying is this fight? Both Miyazaki and the developers apologized for this boss after release, saying that it was rushed and wasn't playtested properly.
  • The Hellkite Dragon that guards the bridge between the Undead Burg and Undead Parish has a nasty habit of roasting the entire bridge in a 1 hit K.O move that is near impossible to dodge, usually just after knocking you over with a fire blast. And if you do decide to take him down, you have to continually dodge that 1 hit kill fire breath of his and bait him to land on the bridge to actually deal damage. Forget ranged attacks: at lower than 50% health, he starts regenerating at a rate that will almost certainly outpace your ranged attacks, and is tough to overcome even with melee. Fortunately, killing him is completely optional, and you don't even get anything other than 10,000 souls for doing so, which at the level you're likely to be at if you do kill him, isn't all that much. At the very least you won't have to put up with him again that playthrough.
     Dark Souls II
Standard result of a fight against the Smelter Demon.

  • Despite being a mere Dark Spirit and not technically a boss, Armorer Dennis in HD Scholar of The First Sin is excessively rage-inducing. He's basically a high-level sorcerer player with Sorceries like the standard issue Soul Spear, the fifty-mile-wide, roll-or-else Soul Greatsword and Soul Vortex, a storm of block-penetrating perma-stunning energy roughly the width of the area he's encountered. He's not even a Squishy Wizard as he has a high-stability shield and way more HP than any Dark Spirit of his level should have. Oh, and you first find the bastard in the Forest of Fallen Giants.
  • The Pursuer in the Forest of Fallen Giants can be a pain to deal with if you decide to fight him early on. Obscene defense, little room to dodge, and high damage. The ballistas, the only way to reliably hurt him, can easily be broken while you're trying to ready them.
  • The Royal Rat Authority is a Flunky Boss the size and speed of Great Grey Wolf Sif, whose mooks can inflict toxic on you. He also suffers from Hitbox Dissonance, so some attacks will have problems connecting. Yours, that is. Not his.
  • The Royal Rat Vanguard will make you realize that those rats are using every advantage the game provides to the enemies against you. First, you have to kill a high number of poisonous rats before the boss actually appears, who looks exactly like any rat except for his Mohawk, and that he inflicts petrification. Second, all the rats are smaller than you, so a lot of your attacks won't reach them; you will need a weapon that hits the ground like a club. Third, there are statues all over the arena that cannot be destroyed, and every time you hit one, your weapon will bounce off, leaving you completely exposed.
  • The Smelter Demon is a good candidate for a Dark Souls player's worst nightmare of the year. In addition to its metric ton of health, its Nightmare-esque BFS with immense range, speed, and damage, and its indifference to most physical damage, it's also the first boss to basically force players to either get a damn good shield, or else outright master the new, harsher dodge timings. As a cherry on top of the flaming, spiked iron cake, it has two traits that specifically punish most players' preferred boss strategies. One; shortly into the fight it bursts into flames, slowly chewing through the health of players who like to stay close to punish its openings. And two; it frequently performs a large, telegraphed Sword Plant. It looks like an easily-exploitable opening. Sometimes it genuinely is. Other times, it isn't. It doesn't help that a glitch can trap you against the wall, making you easy pickings. The fight is technically optional, but the only alternative is trudging through the whole of the Iron Keep using one bonfire, so it's really a case of pick your poison. An oft-overlooked exploit is using Lucatiel of Mirrah (summonable nearby) as a distraction, while loading the Smelter Demon with poison throwing knives. While it by no means makes the fight trivial, it makes it significantly easier and keeps the Demon's focus away from the player.
    • It's telling that the Bonus Boss encounter for the Crown of the Iron King DLC is another Smelter Demon - this time dealing magic damage thanks to its blue flames.
  • Despite being an Anti-Climax Boss, the Old Iron King strikes fear into the heart of anyone who doesn't spam lightning miracles at him and are forced to fight him head-on. Punches that can drain your entire stamina bar if you block and flatten you to the ground? Check. Fire breath that also screws with your stamina management? Check. A conspicuously small boss arena which he can abuse to knock you into a random crack of lava pool? Check! It's to the point that many posters on message boards claim that they've died to the Old Iron King's boss arena more than they have to the Old Iron King himself! NG+ (or a patch rework) added a new ability to punish those that liked to snipe from the corner — a red-hot beam of magma that pierces through the wall and can knock the player backward into the nearby lava.
  • Remember when the Capra Demon used to slaughter you within seconds of entering the fog gate due to the annoying attack dogs that made a perfect job at distracting you? The Flexile Sentry in New Game+ gains two nasty minions that will keep you on the edge with toxic buildup. Way to put a roadblock through No-Man's Wharf in subsequent playthroughs, FromSoftware.
  • The Lost Sinner has quickly become one of the most hated bosses in Dark Souls II. Not only does she have swift yet powerful, long reaching attacks, her arena is fought in the dark, meaning your lock-on range is terribly short unless you defeat another challenging optional boss, allowing you to light up the lamps in her room. What cements her status, however, is when you lower her HP to 60% in NG+, two black phantom pyromancers spawn, both whom have access to some of the most powerful pyromancy spells in game. It's gotten to the point that both of their health and damage output were reduced in Patch 1.03 due to how frustrating this boss was to many; Scholar of the First Sin also makes it so that you no longer have to face the optional boss in the Pv P area just to light up the oil lamps in her arena.
    • If you're fighting her with a one-handed weapon, you can bring your torch in, and keep your lock-on distance. Better get good at rolling, though.
  • Velstadt, the Royal Aegis. While his attacks are easily telegraphed, what makes him dangerous is his serious case of Hitbox Dissonance; you'll be getting clipped for massive damage even if you rolled out of the way. He also has a crazy habit of mixing up his attacks; sometimes he'll string his attacks together, sometimes he won't, something which can throw your roll timing off if you think he's going into an attack animation. Blocking won't be much help either, since he hits like a freight train to your stamina. And once you damage him down to 60% percent, he'll begin to channel Dark Magic and start using Hexes. Which alone is bad, but it also gives him a massive boost in strength while also getting his defense buffed to the point your strikes are just Scratch Damage.
  • The first phase of Executioner's Chariot can be extremely frustrating for some, if you decide not to cheese it with ranged attacks. Playing solo, the respawning skeletons don't hit very hard, but they just love to pin you up against a wall and stunlock you, making it very difficult to escape and proceed down the corridor with the extremely small safe zones the arena gives you. Playing online, the chariot's trample seems to gain a very frustrating case of Hitbox Dissonance. Occasionally you will be at the back of one of the cubbyholes, with your partner slightly further forward, and you will get trampled while your partner is fine.
  • While the Looking Glass Knight doesn't seem too bad on it's own, it has a gimmick that arguably slips it toward this. Unless you interrupt it's summon ability in some way (whether it be staggering it, breaking it's shield, or killing it), it can summon other players (with said players doing everything they can to cheap you to death, on top of you having to worry about the knight itself). Worse, the player summon happens much earlier than an NPC summon.

     Dark Souls III
  • Holy Knight Hodrick, the very first NPC encounter in the game and one of the toughest to boot. Encountered at the Dilapidated Bridge bonfire in the Undead Settlement, Hodrick is ridiculously good at parrying, and will almost always succeed when he tries, setting you up for a ripe riposte. If you try circumventing this by attacking him while he two-hands his Claymore, he'll just hyper-armor his way through your attacks and slaughter you. Finally, if you somehow whittle down his monstrous health and his supply of Estus, he'll cast Warmth to start healing himself again. The secret encounter with him as part of Sirris' questline is largely the same, except you have half the healing and you have to make sure Sirris lives through it - if she dies, you have to try again.
  • Pontiff Sulyvahn is pretty much Raime the Fume Knight, Darklurker, and Martyr Logarius from Bloodborne rolled up into a single package of pain incarnate. Two incredibly strong elemental swords that he likes to spin around with wild abandon? Check. Summoning a shadow clone when he reaches half his health that he likes to combo his obscenely powerful attacks with? Double check. Fast, agile, and extremely aggressive, allowing scant opportunities for healing? Triple check. Extending the reach of his swords with magic, purposefully delaying his sword strikes to punish quick dodge rolls off the floor, and having little to no tells on his sword lunges and backhanded sword strikes that he tends to use immediately after you attempt to punish his moves? Check and mate. The only small concession is that he's vulnerable to parrying, but if you can't get the tricky parry timing down, be prepared for a hell of a fight as he will mercilessly punish any player mistake. Heavy fire and magic resistances are pretty much mandatory.
  • The Dancer of the Boreal Valley isn't too difficult to start, but once you get her health down enough, she pulls out another sword and gets a completely different moveset where she constantly spins around and never shifts her attention. Getting caught in her spin combo is pretty much certain death, especially in NG+. It doesn't help that her swords have an extremely long reach by themselves (and often an even longer reach due to Hitbox Dissonance). And if you killed Emma and fought her earlier than you should, every aforementioned thing above is One-Hit Kill.
  • High Lord Wolnir sounds easy on paper, but is very challenging in practice. The battle requires you to smash the three gold rings on the boss's wrists, which causes him to die instantly. That's where the difficulty starts. Not only does Wolnir like to keep his left arm back in a cloud of rapidly-damaging poison gas, but he also likes to breath said gas through the entire room. In addition, the enormous size of the boss and the fact that he's constantly flailing his arms about during his attack animations makes it very easy to get disoriented. And just to make things worse, he also constantly spawns skeletons to help him too.
  • Aldrich, Devourer of Gods is basically much Gwyndolin on steroids which is rather fitting considering it absorbed Gwyndolin. Many of his magic attacks are unblockable and do insane amounts of damage, even considering that he's a late-game boss. In particular, his most cruel ability is launching a barrage of magical balls at you before blowing you away with a dark magic shockwave when you get try to dodge the balls by getting close to him. He loves to teleport around the arena when you get close, casting homing magic missiles with excellent tracking whenever he leaves or appears. Oh, he also has a Soul Spear that can go through the pillars, so don't even try to hide. And that's phase one! In phase two he sets himself on fire alongside the ground around him, gains increased damage and can launch a rain of arrows which follows you around the arena for at least 15 seconds and will kill you almost instantly if you get caught in it. If you're not cheesing his attacks with Vow of Silence (or don't know that the miracle can stop several of his attacks), get ready for pain.
  • The Twin Princes. In the first phase, Lorian (the big one) charges you with minimally telegraphed attacks. However, he teleports, courtesy of Lothric (the small one), and gives you a barrage of Sword Beams of both light and fire. After the painful one-on-one with the first Prince, Lothric comes to the rescue and revives Lorian full health! Here comes the second phase, aka the most painful experience of RNG. There are at some points where they teleport less, or teleport incessantly to the absolute extreme. While the attacks are pretty much the same, though Lothric's magic intervenes with the battle, the worst aspect of the second phase is the fact that if you kill Lorian first, Lothric revives him, again!! Full health. The design of the boss's hitboxes makes it sure that there is at least one bloody revive from the Princes. Good luck maintaining your estus till the end!
  • While not technically a "boss", the Stray Demon above the Wolf of Farron bonfire has acres of health and will almost certainly oneshot you if it hits you with any of its attacks. If it manages to get you in its grab attack, it also has a nasty habit of throwing you off the bridge, which is instant death.
  • The Deacons of the Deep are easy on a first playthrough (especially for Strength builds), but on NG+, they become much more aggressive and love to launch their attacks one after another, and it's incredibly easy to get boxed in by them and become impossible to dodge their attacks. They're also a pain for magic builds in general, since it's extremely hard to target them with spells so anyone used to cheesing bosses with magic will be in for a surprise.

Lothric: "This spot marks our grave. You may rest here too, if you like."

Alternative Title(s): Dark Souls II