Many examples in the Hopeless Boss Fight trope count as this - until you hit this, your characters have been reliably able to defeat everything that comes their way. But then comes the Hopeless Boss Fight and they don't even have a chance...
In one of the many odd plot choices made in Resident Evil: Code: Veronica, the series' biggest major antagonist, Albert Wesker, shows up after his supposed death in the first game, only now with superhuman physical abilities. The first thing he does is get his ass handed to him by that game's main villain, Alexia Ashford, in a show-off of their superpowers, and then run away so Chris Redfield can fight her instead. What follows is usually considered to be a laughably easy boss fight, as Alexia is extremely slow and easy to hit, with attacks that while damaging are easy to avoid, and she takes exactly three shots of the magnum to put down. If only the superhuman Wesker had been carrying a pistol!
The Updated Re-release preserves Wesker's badassitute and alters this scene so that he is initially caught off guard by Alexia's bitchslap, but quickly recovers to effortlessly dodge her attacks and get in a sweet slow-motion punch in before leaving to let Chris deal with her. In the extended ending, Wesker blithely admits that Alexia's work didn't amount to much compared to what he could already do.
Opalneria Rain from Grim Grimoire is a powerful necromancer and a respected teacher at the school, yet in every single repetition of the "Groundhog Day" Loop she is either killed or rendered unconscious, often by the main character (Three times and counting). You begin to wonder towards the end if she's offended some great cosmic force or something!
Halo 3: As the only competent human still alive besides the player character, Sergeant Johnson falling victim to this trope was inevitable. A Pelican gets shot down? Johnson was on it. Enemies storm the base? Johnson gets pushed back and you have to finish the job for him. Need a third team leader for a crucial operation? The normal human takes the riskiest spot, while the Super Soldier and the Proud Warrior Race Guy get targets that are not directly connected to the nearby enemy stronghold. It gets to the point where our Badass Normal becomes a Distressed Damsel of sorts — and a rescue attempt is mounted by the person whom you'd expect to fill the role.
Johnson seems aware of his status - when overwhelmed, he admits "there were too many, even for me"
The promo for Halo 4 shows the UNSC Infinity, the largest and most powerful UNSC warship ever built, going down from a single blast of the new enemy. According to the fluff, the ship incorporates not only the latest in human tech, but also tech acquired from the Covenant and the Shield World Trevelyan (i.e. Forerunner tech). It's also the training site for the SPARTAN-IV program (experienced soldiers enhanced Master Chief-style and given Powered Armor).
The Infinity itself gets to do this in the beginning of the Spartan Ops arc, when it jumps out of slipspace and rams into a Covenant cruiser, not even slowing down. Before, a Covenant cruiser by itself was more than a match for even several UNSC warships, and the Infinity literally cut through them like paper.
Vanquish also plays strict homage to this trope with Colonel Robert Burns, a gruff old cyborg squad leader who so happens to survive almost everything that the robot legion throws at him WITHOUT A HELMET.
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption: Subverts this. The Berserker Lord can't be hurt by your weapon's standard fire and has to be worn down. You then see Ghor defeat a Berserker with two hits, making it seem like this trope but it but was really a weaker lookalike you can beat even faster than he did.
Played straight in Super Metroid twice the titular Super Metroid can not only take out enemies Samus can barely scratch in seconds but it is completely invincible to her bombs, power bombs, ice beam and everything else she can use normally. This escalates when Mother Brain then kills the Super Metroid without even using her strongest weapon...which was luckily transferred to Samus by the Super Metroid before it died.
Metroid: Other M features Ridley appearing again and scaring the shit out of Samus, making him seem like a credible threat. Later in the game, Ridley is owned by a creature you don't see until you fight it as the final boss - a Metroid Queen. You know it's not messing around because it killed Ridley.
Gears of War 2:Skorge's first act in the game is to leap onto the battlefield and immediately saws a tank in half. He then begins to solo both The Big Guy and a Mauve Shirt while the player character(s) can do nothing but watch. Granted, the exact ending of the conflict was never shown and The Big Guy wasn't actually killed, but still. His predecessor, RAAM, proved that he was Serious Business by killing your Lt effortlessly, though the Lt only really showed his Badass-ness in the same cutscene he was killed.
Both in-game and out, the Heavy in Team Fortress 2 is the biggest, toughest character in the game, able to soak up rockets like a sponge and kill multiple people in a second. ("He punched out all my blood!") Over the course of nine of the ten "Meet the Team" videos currently released, the BLU Heavy has been gibbed three times, shot to death by a level one sentry, headshotted by the Sniper, and beaten unconscious in three hits by a baseball bat. He is killed more often than almost anyone else anyone else (he can't hold a candle to the BLU Soldier, though), and commonly by things he could easily tank.
He reclaimed his throne as in-game resident badass after Valve increased his damage and tightened his firing cone; a week later, they released the Scout update - including a weapon whose sole purpose seems to be rendering the Heavy comatose with relative ease.
The Heavy can retaliate by calling on another of his gals and rob Scout of his greatest asset, so it's all good.
In gameplay, you may encounter Spy players who show just how good they are by stalking and killing Pyros, the class meant to counter theirs.
Also, before, the Ubercharge was one of the most tide-turning aspects of a game. You get a invulnerable, rocket/boolet firing monster mowing everyone down. Now? You get someone immune to damage, but not the push-back effects of explosions or the Pyro. In fact, the Pyro is considered to be one of the most effective Uber-counters. Good Pyros can effectively render an Ubercharge useless.
This counter has been countered once again, with an alternate form of Ubercharge that, while leaving you vulnerable to One Hit Kills, makes you immune to the deadly knockback.
Now, from Meet the Pyro, we learn that every single person on The Pyro's own team is afraid of him/her, providing this line:
Heavy: I fear no man. But that...Thing...It scares me.
You will know how dangerous Mr.Sandman is in Punch-Out!! as soon as you unlock the final fight.That is, by watching the 8-seconds clip that shows him effortlessly knocking out every other opponent you beat before him. When he enters the ring even Doc is afraid of him.
The player characters seem to fit that role in the later Metal Gear games.
In Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, Dario proves easily able to defeat Julius as a way of showing how much more powerful he's become since the last time (Julius also got Worfed by Soma himself in the previous game). Later on, Dmitri defeats Arikado/Alucard, albeit by using Celia's sacrifice to cause him to lose control of his dark powers.
In another dinosaur example, the one-eyed T. rex in Dino Crisis 2 (Who was nigh invulnerable to your weapons, as well as taking on a tank and surviving gets ripped apart in seconds by a Giganotosaurus. This one is even more egregious than the Spinosaurus example above, as the Giganotosaur is depicted as so huge it can pick up the Tyrannosaur in its mouth and toss it around like a rag doll. A real-life matchup would be much more evenly weighted, as the real Giganotosaurus is only marginally bigger than T. rex, possesses a more gracile build, and lacks the Tyrant Reptile's bone-crushing bite strength.
In Tekken, ever since returning Back from the Dead, Kazuya Mishima has been suffering this a lot. He's beaten down by Heihachi, and then Jin consecutively. And if the newer bio of Tekken 6 is to be trusted again, someone beats him in the middle of the tournament (presumably Jin. AGAIN), opting him to leave the tournament to deal with the G Corporation. Then one of the leaked screenshots for Tekken 6's new Scenario Campaign had him being kicked in the ass by Heihachi. Was coming Back from the Dead really worth it?
Iji manages to do this on a species-wide scale. Granted, we only see the last major battle, but the backstory states that these wars have been going on for decades, so it still counts. Specifically, at the beginning of the game, the Tasen seem like a rather frightening, imposing warrior race, but once their ancient rivals appear on the scene they're absolute jokes.
In Final Fantasy VII SOLDIER is heralded in the backstory as a group of unrelenting hardcases who can mow down countless enemies with ease. In-game, however, the lower class members of this group are less than impressive, just another batch of Mooks for the protagonists to stomp.
Not just the lower class. While at the beginning you fight the 3rd Class (recruits) in the mid-game you're against 2nd Class and by the end you're easily dispatching SOLDIER 1st Class, the elite of the elite of which Cloud, Zack and Sephiroth are supposed to be from. By the time you fight the 2nd class the fate of the world is in your hands and personally gunning for the Strongest Soldier that ever livednote This may be justified by Shinra's policies at the time: prior to the beginning of the game, there were very, very few 1st Classes, limited to Zack, Sephiroth, Genesis and Angeal, all of whom are dead at the time. Shinra may be promoting relatively unqualified 2nd Classes to 1st Class to fill in the roster. And the party is also full of people with world-destroying power and materia, so that might help too.
Another example would be the Midgar Zolom. When you first encounter it, it's almost impossible to beat, and the game encourages you to evade it instead. When you get to the other side of the swamp where it lives, you find that Sephiroth already killed one and left it's remains dangling from a tree.
Enforced Trope. Kyousuke was well aware that the Alt had it's limits. One of the first things we see him do in the game is tactfully pointing out to his superior that his team's machines need some serious tune-ups. Later on after getting Worfed a couple times he puts in a request for a major overhaul to his mech in order to avoid this trope. Unfortunately, he doesn't get the green light until after the Alt is ripped apart by Axel.
If Mario fights in the opening of a game, he's getting a Worfing. A particular example is at the start of Super Mario Galaxy, when he doesn't even get in striking range of Bowser before getting blasted by Kamek. This despite Magikoopas being fairly minor enemies in their previous appearances (though it was Kamek, the Magikoopa leader, so it's not quite as egregious).
And, to tie it to an above example, in Brawl, the first fight is a quick slobberknocker between Mario and Kirby. Then, the two of them hold off incoming waves of Primids and such. Then...Mario's promptly shot by a cannonball. Just...blam, the most iconic video game character of all time, blasted off like Team Rocket to show that whoever the antagonist of the story is, they're serious (and the kicker is that he was blasted away by Petey Piranha of all people). This becomes the standard in any subsequent appearances Mario makes in any given cutscene... while Kirby and co. proceed tosteal the spotlight whenever possible.note Though it needs to be pointed out that this appears to be to make up for the lack of attention Sakurai gave to his own franchise in the previous games, as both Dedede and Metaknight were intended to be included right from the start, but were always the first things to be cut for either development time or game space. Not to mention Kirby being Nerfed in Melee.
Even Bowser himself is not immune to the Worf effect, but his Worfings are nearly exclusive to the RPG titles (such as Bowser's Inside Story).
Mario Party 3 provides not one but two non-RPG examples, with both Daisy and Waluigi (newly introduced to the series) giving Bowser a Worfing when they make their appearances in Story Mode. Of the two, Daisy's is by far the more humiliating; whereas Waluigi beats Bowser in an actual scuffle, Daisy merely reacts to turning around and finding Bowser standing right behind her by immediately punching him, out of surprise...which somehow is enough to launch him into the background, Team Rocket style. When asked why she hit Bowser, Daisy casually responds, "He was in my way!"
Mass Effect 2 did this to the Normandy: what better way to establish the Collectors than have them blow your trusty ship in half.
Whoever you take to fight the Shadow Broker gets this - he throws a desk into them with enough force to knock them out for the rest of the fight.
Mass Effect 3 when Kai-Leng is around he worfs somebody in a very specific way. When you finally fight him in gameplay, Kai-Leng is a decent but not particularly challenging boss, but during scripted sequences, he defeats Shepard repeatedly by essentially cheating: unable to put Shepard down himself, Kai-Leng will call in flunkies, gunships and more, almost pushing him into Dangerously Genre Savvy levels. He's effective because he recognizes his ineffectiveness. He also kills either STG major Kirrahe, Thane or the Salarian councilor despite Shepard being right in front of him. And takes the crucial Crucible data right under Shepard's team's nose with a gunship. Thankfully it makes finally giving him a proper fight that much more satisfying Breaking his sword and impaling the guy as a finisher just being the perfect way to end the douchebag.
In Mass Effect 1, the asari dreadnought Destiny Ascension is said to be able to "rip through the kinetic barriers of any ship in the fleet." It's portrayed as a perfect example of the Council's power. And it either nearly gets blown up, or does, during Sovereign/Saren's attack on the Citadel.
In the backstory, do this to theturians. During the disastrous "First Contact War," the Alliance sends the turians into retreat for the first time in centuries.
The turians get this again from the Reapers; they're at best barely holding, and most of their homeworld is on fire. Earth gets worfed at the same time, with the Reapers cutting through the fleet in minutes and reducing both London and Vancouver to ruins with impressive speed. The Reapers, in turn, get worfed by Tuchanka's wildlife; a Destroyer-class Reaper gets killed by a Sand Worm after a scrap lasting only a couple of minutes.
To start, during the tutorial level, intended to take a new character from level 1 to 5, Kinetik is captured by mooks the player can easily handle, and during the battle with Black Talon, Defender gets permanently restrained and the player has to finish the fight themselves. The prologue has since been revised, removing the mission with Kinetik entirely and having Defender take on enemy reinforcements instead of being outright taken out of the fight.
Sonic himself suffered from this in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006). All of his encounters with Silver end with him being dispatched rather easily. In addition, Mephiles manages to kill him without much effort.
So now that Silver has been established as being incredibly powerful thanks to his Telekinesis, in the Archie comics if you want to show somebody can kick ass, you have them give Silver a beating. First he brought Super Scourge to a halt. So if that's awesome, next he's beaten by an Enerjak. After he brought down Enerjak, he was then subjected to a beating by Ixis Naugus (but not without displaying his awesomeness first).
In Smoke's chapter of Story Mode, he faces off against Kitana and Sektor and triumphs without much difficulty. When they meet again (Kitana and Nightwolf's chapters, respectively), Kitana beats him alongside Cage, and Sektor treats Smoke like a ragdoll, with Smoke being unable to successfully land a blow before Sektor gets him into a chokehold and Nightwolf has to intervene.
If the Story Mode is any indication, Sub-Zero punked Kratos (PS3 version only) off-screen and put him on ice.
Sindel, having been empowered by Shang Tsung's soul/essence, attacks the heroes after the automated Lin Kuei warriors fail to kill them. It quickly escalates into a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown like no other. Nightwolf, Kitana, Sonya, and Cage are the only immediate survivors; one of them dies of their wounds and another has to pull a Heroic Sacrifice.
In Deadly Alliance, Liu Kang, the protagonist from the first three games, dies before Quan Chi and Shang Tsung can continue their evil plan.
The NCR Rangers are built up throughout the game to be a crew of ultra-badasses that only the best of the best get to join. Right before the final boss fight, there's a scripted sequence where two of them charge Legate Lanius, only to be immediately cut to shreds.
The Antivan Crows in Dragon Age are (allegedly) the greatest assassins in Thedas. Yet, every time they go up against the Warden/Hawke they get soundly defeated, just to prove how tough s/he is. This is somewhat justified in the Warden's case, as even the Crows are somewhat unwilling to go up against the people responsible for stopping Blights, so any assassins that any that take those assignments are either stupid or suicidal.
In the Mark of the Assassin DLC for Dragon Age II, while hunting for a wyvern, you end up coming across the corpse of a dragon that was killed in a fight with a wyvern, marking perhaps the first time in any Western RPG that has ever happened.
Fire Emblem is guilty of using this. In Fire Emblem Elibe: The Sword of Seals. General Cecilia who was established as Roy's teacher and one of the best generals in Etruria, promptly gets taken out in one hit by Zephiel. It gives you a sneak peek at how powerful he is and he even stays on screen for a couple turns afterwords to show off his stats.
In the Tellius series, right hand to the Beast king Ranulf takes beatings to show how outclassed he is.
Zig-Zagged in Fire Emblem 7. One scene, Athos uses Forblaze on Nergal. And while you can see that it does scratch him (Athos is at a magic triangle disadvantage after all) it forces Nergal to retreat. Next time you can have Athos confront Nergal, he can use more appropriate tomes and can even possibly solo the guy if need be.
Basilio gets hit with this twice in Fire Emblem Awakening. Despite being one of Ferox's two khans and having a huge army, the Valmese army nearly decimates his midway through the game, and the other characters even directly comment that Valm's army must be pretty strong if Basilio can't beat them.
In Dawn of War II - Retribution, during the Exterminatus of Typhon Prime, a Carnifex tries to flee from the planet. This completely pisses off a Chaos Champion who's offended that all these escapees aren't accepting the "honor of such a glorious death" and so he single-handedly kills the Carni with a synch-kill. While the Chaos Champion is a minor-boss, he's certainly no match for a Carnifex in-game or table-top. Your heroes will only take seconds to finish the guy off and hopefully collect a shiny from him too.
Retribution has this for the first level. Each race will have a character from another race as a relatively weak tutorial boss. The Space Marines have Eliphas, the Chaos Space Marines have Davian Thule, the Orks have Autarch Kayleth, the Eldar have Kaptin Bluddflag, the Imperial Guard have the Tyranid Hive Lord, and the Tyranids have Lord General Castor. For the Tyranid campaign, the opening cutscene has the Tyranid Hive Lord butcher Sergeant Merrick "Clever Girl" style.
In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, capital cities are generally safe havens, and very rarely have any dangerous NPCs in them (except as the result of griefers or Good Bad Bugs). So naturally, each expanion created events that results in attacks on capitals, and one of the first things Deathwing does after his return is attack Stormwind, for no (stated) reason other than to show he's a Not-So-Harmless Villain. And to chagrin of Horde fanboys, he doesn't even have the decency to burn it to the ground; he just melts some of the walls and burns the night elf neighbourhood.
Another example of this trope occurs in the previous expansion, Wrath of the Lich King. Dranosh Saurfang- also known as Saurfang the Younger- is shown during the cutscene at Angrathar, the Wrathgate to cleave down three reanimated Vrykul warriors at once when a normal warrior struggles with one. He then attempts to confront the Lich King only to have his axe- ironically an Arcanite Reaper, a devastating weapon in vanilla World of Warcraft- shattered by Frostmourne. The strike knocks him to the ground and ultimately kills him.
In the Hour of Twilight 5-man dungeon, during the final gauntlet before the last boss Archbishop Benedictus, if you look closely you can see various Earthen Ring NPCs the player met while questing in Cataclysm being killed off by generic trash mobs. This was presumably done to add a sense of urgency to the dungeon, but since the game does nothing to draw your attention to them, many players didn't even notice.
In Mists of Pandaria, the Klaxxi preserve some of their strongest warriors and greatest minds, the Paragons, in amber so that they can be released in times of great peril, such as when their empress is corrupted by the Sha of Fear and forces the Klaxxi to overthrow her to stop her from self-destructing their civilization. At the end of the Klaxxi quest line, after getting Exalted with the Klaxxi, one renowned warrior Paragon, Malik the Unscathed, so called because whereas most Klaxxi warriors bear their scars with pride, he came back with both eyewitness accounts of his valor and skill and no scars at all goes up against Imperial Vizier Zor'lok, an Empress loyalist and the first boss of the Heart of Fear Raid, and is instantly killed by Inhale.
The Three Sacred Treasures, very powerful weapons of light, were used in the first game and Uprising to defeat Medusa. When Pit uses them to battle Hades, Hades destroys them by blowing on Pit real hard.
Ziggy gets this treatment a lot in Xenosaga; the largest, most experienced and most physically intimidating of the main cast, he's nevertheless been thoroughly trounced in encounters with Margulis, Voyager and T-elos.
Chrono Trigger: Magus is probably going to be a Wake-Up Call Boss for many players, if you don't know the trick to beating him he'll quickly curbstomp you. Later on he gets taken out by the Big BadLavos with no real effort on its part.
In Pokémon Black and White, N manages to defeat the regional champion in an offscreen battle to show how powerful he and his dragon really are.
Justified as a deconstruction of what happens when you call the Retired Badass out of retirement; it is clearly stated that not only was N very powerful, but Alder and his team were also badly out of practice, which also contributed to his loss. In the post-game, Alder shapes up and becomes a Bonus Boss.
In BlazBlue, Hakumen was The Leader who destroyed the Black Beast, which itself almost destroyed the world. Further, almost every character states how powerful he is, and it is often noted that he isn't even at full strength. Naturally, he loses every plot-critical battle, and is even bested by some of the weaker characters (even if they don't seriously threaten him), with most of his victories being cutscene based.
Kagura's first on-screen battle in Chronophantasma has him effortlessly demolishing Ragna, of all people.
Final Fantasy XIII has Cid Raines. When Lightning (who ties for second best strength and magic in the whole game) attacks him, he blocks every single one of her hits with his gloved hand, proceeding to grab her gunblade, and use it as leverage to throw her back at the rest of the party. Needless to say, the following battle is a toughie.
Kingdom Hearts II uses this trope to establish the Nobodies as credible opponents. Over the course of the game, they constantly one-up the Heartless and even at one point best Maleficent.
Star Trek Online's two-year anniversary included the launch of the brand-new Odyssey-class flagship cruisers, including the Enterprise-F, with a great deal of publicity, fanfare and celebration. Eight months later and the Odyssey-class USS Houston shows up in the Special Task Force mission "Hive Onslaught", for the sole purpose of getting one-shotted by the weapons of the Borg Unimatrix ships. To make this example truly complete, the Houston is under the command of Worf's grandson, Admiral D'Vak.
Shoot ahead about a year later with Season 8 and the introduction of the Voth, who gleefully love to employ The Worf Barrage on your characters by No Sell|ing your characters strongest attacks. Four months later, with Season 8.5 and the mission "A Step Between Stars", we watch as a Voth Dreadnought, a large and powerful ship that takes a five man team to tear through is one-shotted by the Undine, who undo four years of Badass Decay in one shot.
In the original Doom, the barons of hell served as the Dual Boss of the first episode, scores tougher than any other enemy faced so far - they could take five rockets, when everything else was gibbed by a single one - and even when demoted to a more common enemy in the rest of the game and the sequel, with more monsters introduced, were among the most powerful foes and easily took the most hits to down. Yet the final level of the second episode started inside a room with four barons of hell gutted and hanged from a wall. The implications were made quite clear.
Mario and Link seem to get this in trailers revealing new characters to Super Smash Bros.. A price to pay, being two of Nintendo's biggest mascots.
In the Need for Speed: Rivals trailer that revealed the undercover cop, two cops in SRT Chargers are shown rolling a suspect in an Aston Martin with ease at the beginning of the video. Later on, when the race involving the undercover cop is underway, the cops in the Charger are sent as backup to apprehend a high-value target in a Lamborghini Veneno. When they reach the suspect, they're immediately tossed by it.
Early in .hack//G.U. Rebirth, Haseo is established as an utterly badass PKK, seen killing three P Ks with ease. In his first fight with Azure Kite, he furiously attacks him with everything and doesn't land a single blow before being beaten down in two hits and being reset to level one.
In Saints Row: The Third the Syndicate kill Johnny Gat, establishing themselves as a threat. Admittedly he made them work for it.
The intro cinematic to Sword of the Stars II: Lords of Winter includes a scene where a Sword of the Stars class dreadnought from the first game is simply bisected by a Suul'ka's tentacle.
RefleX features the Virgo, a high-speed fighter piloted by Spica Astrea, a top-ranking pilot in the Global Unified Army. Except she's only the Area 1 boss, though she does flee intact after sustaining enough damage from the Phoenix. To add insult to injury, her ship is destroyed for good by ZODIAC Virgo at the beginning of Area 7, forcing her to retreat.