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Awesome Bosses / Dark Souls

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Eat your heart out, Alduin.

The Dark Souls series is home to several bosses designed with the intent to intimidate you and give you all your money's worth. While some are excruciatingly hard to beat, they still provide some of the most heated fights in a video game of this genre. Unmarked spoilers ahead.

Dark Souls

  • The Bell Gargoyles. After the trek through the Undead Burg has tempered you into expecting what Dark Souls has to offer, you find yourself in the Undead Parish, where the first of two Bells of Awakening await you. The final obstacle is a towering gargoyle swinging both its tail axe and its halberd to smash you into the roof you fight upon. And then, when you've whittled down its health to half, another one joins the fray, blasting fire at you as you now deal with two opponents. Bonus points for this being the first point you can summon Solaire in the game. This boss was so popular that it was brought back for Dark Souls 2 and they brought their whole family this time!note 
  • The Iron Golem. You've been through hell and back after finishing the gauntlet of traps that is Sen's Fortress, and this colossus is the only enemy left that guards the way to Anor Londo. Your train of thought? Bring It! Bonus points for being allowed to summon the almighty Black Iron Tarkus. To top it off, you get to finish it off in one of the most satisfying ways any boss in a Souls game could be killed: lure it onto the bridge, stab the backs of its legs with a strong attack, and watch this giant angry mountain of metal topple over the edge and plunge to its doom.
  • Dragonslayer Ornstein and Executioner Smough. Once you bring in an allied phantom (players or even Solaire), the fights become much more enjoyable, letting you enjoy the monumental battle as the powerful knights destroy the surrounding pillars in order to kill you, complete with a totally awesome soundtrack that will make you beg for more, no matter how many times you die to them. Also, once you kill either of them, the surviving one gains full health and becomes even stronger, making for a much-needed encore.
  • Great Grey Wolf Sif. His Undying Loyalty towards his master after the latter died long ago, as well as the hauntingly beautiful boss theme, has elicited many a desire to not fight him, and even so provides one of the most emotional fights in the game, Gwyn notwithstanding. He also has one of the best visual designs of any boss, being a giant wolf wielding a beautiful BFS.
  • Gwyn, Lord of Cinder. While the buildup prior to encountering him was dreary and foreboding, you enter the arena and are treated to a melancholic music piece. After learning of the circumstances behind this sudden change in music, you realize that Gwyn still clings on desperately to a long-forgotten desire to preserve the Age of Fire, and happily gives you one of the toughest duels in the game. The fight gets even better if you managed to save Solaire, allowing you to summon him and beat Gwyn together in jolly cooperation.
  • The "Artorias of the Abyss" content adds a gauntlet of powerful bosses for the most hardened Dark Souls veterans:
    • The Sanctuary Guardian. A winged manticore that shoots lightning and punishes you for even the smallest of mistakes. You also fight it in an open area, leaving you with only your raw skills to overcome this fearsome beast, which becomes immensely satisfying once you do so. Want to get full access to the additional content? Defeat it first!
    • Knight Artorias. A clear-cut expy of Guts, this guy not only gives you one hell of a boss introduction, but is also a bonafide Lightning Bruiser on par with Gwyn, if not better. Between the crazy spin attacks and sword-plunging somersaults, Artorias lives up to his reputation as one of the most praised characters in the Dark Souls lore.
    • Manus, Father of the Abyss. See Artorias above? This bad guy proceeds to up the ante and attack you relentlessly from the start, possibly overwhelming you with heavy flurries and shadow sorceries. Not all hope is lost, however, for you are able to summon Great Grey Wolf Sif for the fight, giving you the courage to put a stop to this omnicidal abomination for good.
    • Black Dragon Kalameet. The Superboss to end all Superbosses, this feared dragon is more than eager to crush you with all his might when you descend down the valley for his proper boss fight. Between his awesome design and brillant soundtrack, there's little getting in the way for you to enjoy this hidden battle. There is a very good reason why this fight is widely regarded as the best dragon fight ever put into any video game.

Dark Souls II
  • The Pursuer, a massive levitating armoured knight who appears halfway through the first level...outside his boss arena. That's right, he doesn't wait for you to come to him, he comes to you instead! And he isn't done after his first death. He'll dog you across the entirety of the Lost Bastille, rematch after rematch, death after death. Every time he kills you, every time you kill him, there will be a rematch. And after you're through, and you've probably half-stopped wondering when the next time he'll show up is, he comes for one last go at Drangleic Castle, and there's two of him this time.
  • The Last Giant, a foe so huge you can only target his feet and ankles. His opening cinematic has him tear himself free of the rubble confining him in a particularly badass way, and once you reduce his health enough he'll rip off his own arm and use it as a freaking club.
  • The Old Dragonslayer, a shadow of the previous game's Ornstein. As soon as you enter the Cathedral of Blue, you're immediately confronted by this familiar face, forcing you to fight once again amidst breakable pillars, avoiding his powerful spear thrusts. This is topped by his unique Leitmotif, "The Old Dragonslayer". Many players report seeing Ornstein again and panicking, spinning around wildly looking for Smough.
  • The Lost Sinner, a nameless undead warrior entombed in Sinner's Rise. Having her hands shackled together does nothing to stop her from cleaving you in half with her ultra-greatsword. Unlike some of Dark Souls II's enemies The Lost Sinner has no gimmicks at all, simply being an ultra-aggressive swordswoman yet still managing to be one of the most memorable bosses in the game.
  • The Skeleton Lords themselves are somewhat disappointing, but beat them and you have the closest thing to a full-on The War Sequence as Dark Souls has on your hands, a solid mass of skeletons bearing down on you, and any phantoms you summoned for help. Just powering through the swarm with a greatsword or blasting it apart with magic simply feels satisfying.
  • The Executioner's Chariot is one of the more enjoyable Puzzle Bosses in the series. Not only is it a unique idea, requiring the player to perform a desperate Corridor Cubbyhole Run while luring skeletons into getting run over by the boss to avoid being overwhelmed as they make progress, but it's also immensely satisfying to pull the lever and de-horse the executioner...only to find that the two-headed horse itself is the boss, and it's an aggressive stallion to boot! The other way to kill it is equally inventive, requiring you to pick away at the Chariot's health as it passes until it can't clear the gap by the you the chance to knock it into the pit with one more satisfying strike.
  • The Duke's Dear Freja, apparently borne out of the Duke's fascination with arachnids and the like. While the boss itself is fairly straightforward, the really impressive part comes after beating it... no Great Soul drops. It's sitting in the open at the back of the arena, directly below a cocooned dragon — meaning the player had to kill something tougher to get it.
  • The Looking Glass Knight, where the game drops all pretences of subtlety and INDULGES in a gorgeous display of graphic prowess with an unforgettable Battle in the Rain. From the boss' intimidating presence to the bolts of lightning he unleashes, there's nothing quite as fun as taking him down in the middle of a storm. Oh, and his mirror shield can summon NPCs or even other players, akin to the Old Monk.
  • The first Guardian Dragon. Ever wondered how a straight-up boss fight against Dark Souls's Hellkite Dragon would turn out? This is it. After the bone-chilling trip in Aldia's Keep, you finally get to fight one of the most prominent creatures featured in the pre-launch trailers (right up there with the Looking Glass Knight). Despite fighting it in a massive cage, this Drake still gets to fly around a bit, and makes full use of the boss room, all while hailing you with a trail of fire breath. Bonus points for the glorious Scenery Porn that comes after the boss fight.
  • The Ancient Dragon, who appears at the top of the Dragon Shrine as an NPC and actually gives you an essential item to complete your quest, if provoked turns into what is possibly the most brutal Superboss in Dark Souls 2, if not the whole series. Seeing this massive beast rise to crush you like the pitiful bug you are compared to it is sure make you wish you could pause the game to get some clean underwear. This is accentuated by the sountrack, which just screams "you have indeed fucked up".
  • The Darklurker. Just reaching it is a challenge (requires finding and joining an obscure covenant and fighting through several gauntlets of black phantoms). The actual boss fight pits you against an eerie angelic figure who is bar none the most powerful spell-caster in the game. The entire battle is a desperate race to whittle down its (thankfully relatively low) health any way you can while it hurls pyromancies, hexes, and sorceries at you. Then, just when you think you've got it on the ropes, it duplicates itself.
  • The Crown of the Sunken King DLC adds three bosses, two of which stand out.
    • Elana, the Squalid Queen. Combining hexes, pyromancies, and the ability to summon minions, she's exactly what Queen Nashandra would be if the developers had put more thought into it than the Anti-Climax Boss we're presented with in the endgame. Boasting incredibly high health and a myriad of attacks (including the ability to summon a lesser version of Velstadt), Elana ranks high in terms of boss difficulty, which makes it all the more satisfying to take her down. Perhaps it is time for you to rely on Benhart of Jugo...
    • Sinh, the Slumbering Dragon. A magnificent reprisal of Kalameet's legendary boss battle, Sinh flies around while raining down fire on you, before landing in a dramatic fashion and engaging you in a ground fight, complete with toxic-infused fireballs and environmental damage.
  • Crown of the Old Iron King also has its share of Superbosses, all of which put even veteran players to the test.
    • The Smelter Demon comes back with a vengeance! Now it has more fancy moves and a different design (devilish horns and blue flames), and your only source of light in the boss room is this beastly golem once it gloriously sets itself aflame.
    • The Fume Knight, or Sir Raime the Rebel. Boasting hard-hitting DUAL-WIELDING swordplay with his straight sword and ultra greatsword, and resistances that would put even Manus to shame, this Fallen Hero is a likely candidate for the hardest boss in the game. Rising from his slumber to protect the Bride of Ash, he gives you a very thorough swordfight that forces players on the defensive constantly, striking you with long combos that will break down shields before tearing you apart, varying up his sword strikes to punish players that twitch-roll expecting one combo only to be hit with another right after rolling, counter-attacking if you try to press your attacks too much, and charging at you and smacking you down if you try to use your Estus Flask while he isn't recovering from an attack. And just when you think you've weakened him, he ditches his smaller sword and goes full-on Lightning Bruiser with his BFS!
    • Meet Sir Alonne, a proud samurai who became the catalyst for the rise of a kingdom, he meditates within the memories of the Old Iron King, awaiting for the day a worthy foe would challenge him. Once you enter the boss arena, witness what is unequivocally the most breathtaking castle room in the game, from the floor's reflection to the dust collected each time you fight, as well as the sunset backdrop seen outside of the windows; the definite proof that the game's engine is being pushed to its limits. Sir Alonne himself is one of the fastest striking bosses in the Souls series, ensuring that you will never forget his signature blade's strikes; the very second you stop dodging in this fight, you have lost. To top it off, there's the imperious leitmotif, which makes replaying this boss an absolute must.
  • Crown of the Ivory King boasts a few unusual bosses:
    • Aava, The King's Pet: After making your way through the level a bit, you encounter a fog door with a side path. Ignore the mysterious voice's warning and you're faced with... nothing. Nothing you can see, even as your health bar gets blasted down to zero. Take the side path first and make your way through half the level, and you'll find an item that reveals Aava as an icy tiger almost as big as Sif.
    • The Burnt Ivory King: After dropping down a massive pit into a small arena surrounded by an ocean of lava, you're attacked not by a boss, but by wave after wave of Charred Loyce Knights who pop out of 3 portals. Kill a certain number of them, and then a huge portal rises up from which the Burnt Ivory King emerges in epic slow-mo fashion. However, unless you took the time to find the three other Loyce Knights scattered throughout the DLC, the Charred Loyce Knights will just keep on coming. What the Loyce Knights will do is sacrifice themselves to freeze the portals so that the Charred Loyce Knights will stop coming out, making your fight with the Ivory King easier. The Ivory King also has his fair share of awesome animations, such as backflips and a jumping attack that make him go slow-mo in mid-air and then suddenly dash towards the ground.

Dark Souls III
  • Iudex Gundyr is a perfect introduction to the game. Remember when the Asylum Demon taught you how to dodge and attack during openings? Well, this guy also does that... but he also teaches you that bosses in this game are fast, will change up their attack patterns, force you to stay in close and be constantly vigilant, and then start a second phase that's even more frantic. This guy is more intense than most bosses in Dark Souls II, and he's found in the tutorial. Want to access Dark Souls III? Beat this guy first.
  • Though technically only a mini boss (though one that drops a boss soul and has boss hit points), the Stray Demon is a very memorable encounter. Basically one last rematch against the Asylum Demon, this hammer wielder keeps the pressure up even at a distance with a boulder spewing pyromancy. But don’t get too comfortable in melee either, or he’ll grab you and throw you off his bridge arena, Iron Golem style.
  • Farron's Undead Legion of the Abyss Watchers are concentrated badass given form, both in the lore and in the fight against them. They're basically a legion of undead designated with guarding against the horrors of the Abyss, and when the time came for them to Link the Fire, they went down there together to burn as one. It also helps that they are both a Call-Back to and were founded by fan favorite character Artorias, and it really shows in the fight against them; these bastards are Lightning Bruisers to the core, able to cross yards of arena in the blink of an eye and incorporating a lot of scrambling movements and flips into their devastating move set. It gets even better when you hit Phase 2 of the fight, as the combined power of all the fallen Watchers flows into their leader, activating his/her powers as a Lord of Cinder. You'll be in for the fight of your life as they practically flash step around you and strikes with his/her flaming greatsword.
  • The Fire Demon encountered in the Catacombs of Carthus, while more like a miniboss, is still memorable for the fact that the player can actually cooperate with the friendly neighborhood skeletons to take him down — and even with the numbers on your side, the big guy can still put up a fight! It gets even better when you try dragging the nearby Mimic into the war, who will ruthlessly pound the demon into the dirt.
  • Despite also being one of the most notorious cases of That One Boss in the series, most still agree that the battle against Pontiff Sulyvahn is excellent despite its brutality. It's a fast-paced, exhilarating battle against an incredibly aggressive and nimble boss that will thoroughly test your dodge-roll timing, ability to quickly react to enemy tells, and quickly punish openings. This, combined with his memorable design (basically the Pope Dual Wielding BFSs), epic music, and excellent lore, made Sulyvahn extremely popular with the fandom.
  • Aldrich, Devourer of Gods, aside from having possibly the coolest title in the franchise, is a terrifying foe. Despite a fairly low hit point pool, he is lightning fast with both his varied spell moveset and his health-stealing scythe miracle. He also fights you while using Dark Sun Gwyndolin as a flesh puppet. Aldrich does not disappoint as likely the final Lord of Cinder you will face before the endgame. He's so good, he's the only boss you can fight twice! One of Anri’s questlines has you face down Aldrich in their world as well, fighting the abomination alongside the brave knight.
  • While Yhorm the Giant is an easy boss, it can still be an amazing spectacle as you fight against a massive giant wielding a great machete while charging the Stormruler to create a Sword Beam that can bring him to his knees. The grand arena and the thrilling music create an epic experience that makes up for the easy difficulty of this fight. The spectacle of this old king rising up off his throne and slowly marching down the throne room towards you is truly a sight to behold. It gets even better if you've completed Siegward's questline, because he joins you for the boss fight with his own Storm Ruler, fulfilling his promise to his dear old friend.
  • The Dancer of the Boreal Valley has unpredictable yet elegant attack patterns that are challenging to dodge. The fight gets more intense as the dancer pulls out a second sword and starts spinning like a windmill, while the arena is set on fire. The haunting music and the boss design create a challenging yet unforgettable experience.
  • Champion Gundyr, the alternative version of Iudex Gundyr in the Untended Graves secret area, is a relentless Lightning Bruiser who is guaranteed to make your adrenaline flow. From his excellent AI who will punish common exploits and strategies to cheese him, to his tough but fair long combos, to his rather unpredictable patterns (especially where his Foe-Tossing Charge and his kick are concerned), Champion Gundyr will keep you on your toes through the entire battle.
  • The Nameless King is one of the most visually stunning battles in the games, in addition to being an awesome fight in its own right. There's a good reason for this: You're fighting the literal God Of War of the Souls series. Not a hollowed god, not a god of death who has been drained of power for untold ages, and not a cowardly god who spends the entire battle fleeing from you. This is a full-on battle against a real, living god, one at the height of his power, and who is not afraid to go toe-to-toe with you. With him being the last of the true gods, this battle is The Last Dance for the deities of Dark Souls as a whole, and as he wrecks your face for perhaps the hundredth time, you'll begin to understand why guys like him reigned undisputed until the fire began to die.
  • Not many Dark Souls Bosses can be best described with the word “Fair”. But the Dragonslayer Armour is just that. He’s just as fast as the player, uses a fairly basic build and moveset, has a wonderfully designed arena, a challenging second phase, and an amazing theme. Despite having little lore importance, Dragonslayer Armour is a tough but fair fight that will stick in your mind until The Ringed City, where you get a rematch against him as a powerful mini boss!
  • The Twin Princes, Lothric and Lorian, a Handicapped Badass duo who will regardless stomp you into the dust. Lorian is crippled such that he can't use his legs properly, but Lothric is able to teleport him around the room, turning a Mighty Glacier into a Lightning Bruiser. Even once you manage to fell Lorian, Lothric will teleport into the fray, revive his brother with an incredibly haunting line ("Rise, if you would. ...For that is our curse."), and climb onto his back as the two enter their Lord of Cinder form. Cue Lorian's Lightning Bruiser being added to with Lothric hurling sorceries from his back, making the battle even more desperate. Add in their haunting and beautiful theme and their incredibly sad and tragic lore, and you have one of the game's most memorable boss fights.
  • The Final Boss fight is probably the single best boss battle in the history of the series, for no other reason than the fact that you are basically fighting yourself! More specifically, the Soul of Cinder combines the power of every Chosen Undead and nameless entity that ever Linked the Fire, and as such it has access to, in no particular order; a straight sword, a greatsword, a curved greatsword, a staff, sorceries, miracles, pyromancies, and the backflip-dodge of the Dark Wood Grain Ring. The only thing that makes this fight even better is when you hit Phase 2, and you hear the three lonesome piano notes of Gwyn's theme as the Soul takes on the move set of the first Lord of Cinder himself. It feels both like a do-over of Gwyn's fight from Dark Souls and an enhancement; no cheesing out parry attempts here folks, you're gonna have to do this legit! Hope you know your way around the combat or brought a couple phantoms in to help you. Suffice to say that FROM pulled out all the stops in making the Final Boss of the Souls series worth all the effort to get to it.
  • The Ashes of Ariandel DLC offers a fight that is as challenging as it is spectacular: Sister Friede. She starts the fight as a bonafide Lightning Bruiser, with rapid scythe combos on par with the likes of Gehrman. She can dash across the room in seconds to hook you with her scythe, create exploding ice crystals on the ground, and many other tricks that would be enough to qualify her for this page by themselves. But once you take her down, Father Ariandel promptly freaks out and comes after you himself... but not before reviving Friede. Round two of the fight is a chaotic endurance match as you have to contend with not only Friede's vicious moveset, but Ariandel's imposing presence as well. Once you finally slay them both, the music goes silent, and you expect "Heir of Fire Destroyed" to pop up at any moment. It doesn't. Instead, Ariandel gives an ominous speech as Friede revives again as Blackflame Friede, drawing a second magical scythe to dice you with and turning her already-intense attacks up a notch. This is a boss that makes you work for your victory.
  • For those who were left feeling more melancholy than awed by the Old Demon King boss from the main game, being an outright pitiful end to demonkind, The Ringed City DLC's first boss starts off strong with a Dual Boss fight against Demon from Below and Demon in Pain, two bat-like fiends that take turns alternating between tearing you to shreds and blowing you up... and then, once you've felled them, the corpse of the last one to fall becomes host to the soul of the Demon Prince, who'll either use apocalyptic rains of fire or a pyroclastic Breath Weapon to burn you to cinders depending on which corpse he possesses. This is a worthy end to the tale of the demon race.
  • The Ringed City's final boss, who is the final boss of the trilogy, has already been heralded as one of the best bosses, if not the best, in the entire series, Slave Knight Gael. First phase, he uses his brutal swordsmanship skills and inhuman speed, before being powered up by the Dark Soul itself, becoming even faster, utilizing every weapon at his disposal, including a rapid fire crossbow, the Way of White Corona, and his fricken cape. During the third phase, lightning bolts begins to pour around the arena, and he starts channeling Manus himself, and throws around crimson abyss projectiles. Described as an unholy fusion between Artorias and Manus, it's safe to say FROM saved the best till last.
  • No Dark Souls game would be complete without a proper dragon Superboss battle, and Darkeater Midir does not disappoint. Like Kalameet and Sinh before it, the thing is huge and incredibly fast, with enough punch to make you reconsider tanking. Its Breath Weapon, while infuriatingly powerful enough to one-shot players, is also a spectacle to behold, especially if it turns into a black beam of Abyss light that produces a wave of Delayed Explosion across the arena.