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  • The King of Fighters 2001 reveals that the Zero fought in the previous game was actually a stand-in for the real Zero that is fought in 2001. And once you beat Zero in 2001, his boss Igniz appears, who then kills his own boss to remind you that Igniz is indeed the SNK Boss.
  • Vulka and her husband The Fatherboard in Iron Twilight acts as this. You go through their spaceship and when you reach the arena, it turns out that Vulka was helping a friend by holding on to their tools. Then they fight Vulka... ...but she bursts into light afterwards. The fatherboard was grieved by Vulka's death and sends out himself and his minions. When the Fatherboard is killed, he also bursts into light causing James and Tenor to speed towards the door, ending the Fatherboard arc.
  • Used in several Final Fantasy games.
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    • Final Fantasy III. You play through a world, discover it's a floating island, find a land frozen in time, and battle your way through everything Xande, the guy responsible for all the misfortune in the world, could throw at you. You fight through 2 dungeons before you can reach him, without save points along the way, and up comes the Cloud of Darkness, the embodiment of all the dark power in the world, who forces you to go through yet another dungeon, filled with a couple of more bosses that are tough as nails, before you can face her down.
    • Final Fantasy IV. For much of the game, Golbez seems like he'll be the Big Bad, but it turns out he was a victim of Zemus's Mind Manipulation.
    • Final Fantasy V: Some people were fooled into thinking that the fight against ExDeath in Galuf's world was the final battle, despite the 12 legendary weapons having not been unlocked yet.
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    • The Ultima Weapon in Final Fantasy VI, who has access to powerful magic and who happens to be the final boss of the Floating Continent. Emperor Gestahl himself turns out to be a Big Bad Wannabe. He's assassinated by his second in command, Kefka, who then proceeds to lay waste to the world.
    • President Shinra in Final Fantasy VII, who turns up dead early in Disc 1 — slain by Sephiroth. (Or the one the player thinks it's Sephiroth, anyway).
    • Another example from Final Fantasy VII is when Sephiroth is set up as a Disc One Final Boss because It's Personal, he has been hunted into the bleak Impact Crater where Jenova first came to the planet and everything is set up for an epic Boss Battle, ending in the foul villain's death, and presumably The Reveal of the Man Behind the Man, because you're still only at the middle of Disc/Part 2 out of 3. But then Sephiroth effortlessly wins via a Breaking Speech and Cloud, now a broken shell of who he used to be, simply hands over the Weapon of Mass Destruction before falling into The Lifestream and the rest of the party end up as the prisoners of Shinra. The story goes on after a two-week Time Skip, which somehow manages to make everything even worse. Before it starts getting better.
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    • VII also has the fight against JENOVA-Life immediately after Aerith gets stabbed through the chest with a seven-foot katana. A literal example, as the player switches to Disc/Part 2 after the following cutscene.
    • In Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Kadaj is the leader of the Remnants of Sephiroth, a trio composed of himself and his brothers, Yazoo and Loz. He spends the entire film antagonising Cloud Strife and Rufus Shinra, enacting one scheme after another to try and find Jenova's remaining cells and achieve reunion with her. Finally, he faces Cloud in a Sword Fight and, after being defeated, opens the box containing Jenova — and is promptly replaced by Sephiroth, who was manipulating Kadaj as part of his plan to come back from the dead.
    • The Sorceress Edea in Final Fantasy VIII, who's the boss of Discs 1 & 2, but then turns out to be just a puppet for something far worse. She later joins the heroes as an ally, sans most of her superpowers.
    • Final Fantasy IX has Queen Brahne, who is — as usual — killed by Kuja, who'd previously seemed to be The Dragon. He's a White Hair, Black Heart, so she really should've seen it coming.
    • Happens up to three times in FFIX, in fact, since Kuja himself is then set up to be a Disc One Final Boss when he's revealed to be working for Chessmaster Garland, and then subverted when Kuja goes Omnicidal Maniac, kills Garland, and proves to be the Big Bad after all. And AGAIN, at the very end, where the actual final boss fight is fought against the physical manifestation of the inevitable cycle of birth and death, although technically that was just because Kuja had caused enough damage that the heroes had to break reality to reverse it.. There's also Beatrix, the literal final boss of disc one.
    • In Final Fantasy X, the party isn't even halfway through the pilgramage when they hit the massive operation to kill the Big Bad Sin. Needless to say, it fails spectacularly.
    • The little known Game Boy title Final Fantasy Adventure (which is actually part of the World of Mana series) features an obvious Big Bad simply named "Dark Lord" and his Dragon Julius. Unexpectedly, not only does the player face off with Dark Lord at the halfway point of the game, he's not even challenging. The Big Bad turns out to be Julius after all.
    • Mateus in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. He's the last of the five main Totema bosses, each of whom represents one of the races of Ivalice and protects a crystal that Marche must destroy to go home. Once Marche defeats him, Queen Remedi/Li-Grim, the true antagonist, appears, and reveals that the world hasn't changed back because Mewt still wants it to exit.
  • Diablo II was divided into four acts, with one final boss per act. In Act 2, you're expected to kill Baal, one of the three Prime Evils (alongside Mephisto and the eponymous Big Bad), before he can escape his prison, but run into a giant bug called Duriel, one of the four Lesser Evilsnote  instead. Diablo is the final boss of act 4, but the expansion comes and Baal turns out to be the true final boss of the game instead.
    • And in Diablo III, the first major boss of the game is the Skeleton King, who is faced halfway through the first act and is largely unrelated to the rest of the game's plot (unfortunately for the characters in-game, he's literally barring the way to that plot). Then the player must face Belial and Azmodan before the real Big Bad is finally revealed to be Diablo himself once again.
  • Dragon Quest III was perhaps the first to do this, and one of the only ones to do it convincingly. After the entire world so far is explored, the apparent Big Bad, Baramos, is destroyed, and the apparent ending has started... the real Big Bad, Zoma, shows up from his home in the Hollow Earth and seeks vengeance for his defeated Dragon, requiring the hero to go into the Hollow Earth after him.
  • Dragon Quest VII was very convincing as well; after you've recreated the entire world, you finally go to face the Demonlord. After a big battle, you beat him, so now you can resurrect God and get to the ending... only to find that the Demonlord wasn't dead after all...
  • Dragon Quest VIII featured a villain named Dhoulmagus, who stole a magical sceptre and went around killing people. After chasing him all over the world, finally catching up with him in a Disc-One Final Dungeon that does a very good impression of an actual final dungeon, and going through a rather difficult boss battle (including the mid-battle transformations that are standard for a Dragon Quest final boss), it turns out the sceptre made him do it, and the game is less than half over — now you have to go after the real Big Bad, a Sealed Evil in a Can named Rhapthorne.
  • Dragon Quest IX has King Godwyn, ruler of The Empire. He has all the trappings of a Big Bad: A fancy, foreboding dungeon, powerful monsters and minibosses, and a One-Winged Angel form. Surely, he's the main villain, right? WRONG! Turns out Godwyn was an unknowing pawn in Corvus' plot to destroy/remake existence. He does a poor job of hiding this: He isn't even mentioned until shortly before you meet him, where he takes credit for only the most recent plot developments. A single glance at his castle tells you that whoever fired the giant beam of death aimed at God is living in his basement.
  • Dragon Age
    • Dragon Age II is an interesting example. It spans three time periods, each with their final boss. However, no one in their right mind would actually think something as bland as the Rock Wraith was the final boss... and they'd be right. It's genuinely surprising, then, for people taken in by the marketing, that the leader of the strange race of grey-skinned horned men, the Qunari Arishok, isn't the final boss. If you look carefully, however, you can see all the hints the developers planted towards the real Final Boss... a power-mad Knight-Commander Meredith.
    • Dragon Age: Inquisition is kicked off by the opening of an enormous Hell Gate called the Breach. You seal it after the first major quest, before even getting to move into that fancy fortress you were promised in the marketing. Then the guy who opened the Breach shows up, and he's not happy.
  • Halo:
    • Halo 2 has a Covenant force attack Earth before fleeing to a new Halo, where their leader, the Prophet of Regret, plans on firing it and wiping out all galactic life in a huge radius, similar to the plot of the first game, except that Regret is leading only a small fraction of the Covenant and is defeated roughly halfway through the game. The main antagonist turns out to be the Prophet of Truth, who also plans on firing the Halos (and unlike Regret, survives the game intact). The final boss, on the other hand, is Tartarus.
    • In Halo 3, the Prophet of Truth himself drives the plot at first and stopping his plan soon becomes the primary focus of our heroes. He ends up killed about 80% of the way through the campaign, allowing the Gravemind to take center stage. The Arbiter pretty much sums it up:
  • Brute Force has Shadoon, a Seer overlord who leads his own cult, starts the Feral outcast uprising on Ferix, and manipulates several factions against the Confederation of Allied Worlds. Turns out, he was doing all of this to weaken the system for the Shrikes.
  • Baten Kaitos:
    • In Origins, you spend about 78% of the game fighting the sinister Lord Baelheit (and another 20% being Mental Time Travel in which you fight against Wiseman, an apparently unrelated villain millenia in the past). Then, in the last hour of the game, you defeat Baelheit, he gives a Motive Rant explaining that he's the true Spiriter, and has been a Well-Intentioned Extremist trying to stop the real villain... your boss, Quaestor Verus, who suddenly turns out to have been an Omnicidal Maniac with an Evil Plan. Nice job killing him, Hero. And then Verus is also upstaged by Wiseman.
    • Eternal Wings has Geldoblame, who goes insane after infusing himself with Malpercio's power and is killed by Fadroh's soldiers, after you've beaten him.
  • Inverted in Overlord where you discover at the end of the game that the Player Character is really The Dragon for the titular Evil Overlord (and that you're a Fallen Hero suffering from Laser-Guided Amnesia to boot), and you must defeat him to usurp/reclaim your throne.
  • The Tales Series does this frequently. A Recurring Element of the series is pulling a Wham Episode out after the Disc One Final Boss is beaten so that it can pull a Decon-Recon Switch later. Quite often, the Disc One Final Boss will be truly evil, whereas the Final Boss is a Well-Intentioned Extremist.
    • Happens roughly a million times in Tales of Symphonia, which was made of Your Princess Is in Another Castle!. Particularly with Remiel. While you know that Lord Forcystus isn't a final boss by any means, you do fight him at the end of Disc 1 (Symphonia uses two discs on Nintendo GameCube).
    • Tales of Vesperia has the second part concluding with an epic battle against The Man Behind the Man, Alexei. In fact, this boss is easily the most evil character in the entire game; in comparison, the final boss Duke is just misguided.
    • Tales of Destiny has Lydon Bernhardt, who kickstarts the plot by stealing the Eye of Atamoni, but is defeated- at which point Hugo Gilchrist steals the Eye instead. Then he turns out to be controlled by the Swordian of Darkness Berselius, who himself is possessed by the real Big Bad Kronos/Miktran.
    • Tales of Legendia has Vaclav Bolud, who kickstarts the rest of the plot by getting Stella killed while trying to destroy a city on the mainland.
    • Tales of the Abyss is notable for having the Disc One Final Boss and the final boss be the same guy. Van Grants appears to be the Big Bad, and this is seemingly subverted when Grand Maestro Mohs enters the picture, Big Bad it turns out Van was manipulating Mohs. Then, after defeating Van the first time, it looks like he falls to his death. But nope, he comes back stronger than ever, and the final boss battle is with Van fused with the soul of Lorelei.
    • Tales of Berseria also has its Disc One Final Boss and final boss as the same person, which the game makes it clear from the beginning who it will be: Artorious. However, it's also a Final Boss Preview and a Hopeless Boss Fight. When your party members will be lucky to be at level 20, Artorious is at level 66, and your attacks do Scratch Damage, at best. When the party reaches him as the final boss, he'll use all of the same attacks and then some, but with the expectation that the party has to win.
  • The giant living brain Agathos in The Adventures Of Rad Gravity. After you beat him, he returns to human form, and reveals that the Big Bad is none other than your robotic partner Kakos, who has been manipulating you.
  • Oddly enough, shows up in Bomberman 64. Altair is hyped up for the entire game to be the Big Bad, except if you've gotten all of the Gold Cards. If you do that, when Altair tries to flee after you've beaten him, Sirius, the guy who has been helping you out, showing up on almost every level and giving you hints, and dropping you the Remote Bomb powerup before every boss, flies in and kills him, then points out that the guys you've been fighting stole the superweapon from him, and you've been unwittingly helping him recover it. After that, all of the hint-givers in the previous levels tell you that you should die because it would be easier. They aren't lying. The hidden final world is way harder than anything and everything that came before it.
  • In Might and Magic IV, the Big Bad is Lord Xeen, who is only able to be harmed with a special weapon and can eradicate you at a touch. Once you kill him, another Big Bad shows up and proclaims you have defeated his general. Cue sequel.note 
  • Anyone who's not Wily in the Mega Man (Classic) series, except Sunstar/Sungod from Mega Man V/Rockman World 5.
    • Anyone who's not Sigma in the Mega Man X series, except Lumine.
  • Castlevania, particularly the Metroidvania-era games, is a big fan of this one, with the twist that frequently, the Fake Boss can be the final boss, depending on what you've managed to do throughout the game. This being a video game series about the eternal war with a certain vampire, however, the Disc-One Final Boss tends to be hijacked by Dracula when you do things right.
    • Symphony of the Night: Alucard's final foe appears to be Richter Belmont, and if he's defeated normally, Alucard gives a solemn monologue and you get a Downer Ending. If he puts on a certain piece of equipment, though, he can see that his foe is actually being mind-controlled by a weird ball of light; if Alucard focuses his attacks on this, it's revealed to be the evil priest Shaft, and the entire second half of the game, the Inverted Castle, is unlocked.
    • Aria of Sorrow: Graham Jones inherits the powers of Dracula, and has an epic battle with Soma. If Soma defeats him normally, the game ends with Soma and his friends escaping the castle, but with him getting a strange feeling. If Soma equips three certain souls, however, and defeats Graham, he absorbs Dracula's powers and finds out that he's actually the reincarnation of Dracula, after which he must travel to The Very Definitely Final Dungeon and do battle with the essence of chaos within him to set himself free.
    • Dawn of Sorrow: The game ends rather anticlimactically if Soma just defeats Dario straight-on, with the other cult members escaping the castle and Soma getting another weird feeling as he leaves. If he gets another certain soul, however, he can enter the mirror in Dario's room and cut Dario off from the fire demon that's fueling his powers. After a long series of events that result from this, he eventually goes to The Very Definitely Final Dungeon and does battle with the manifestation of the mutated and out-of-control powers of Dracula. Or something.
    • Portrait of Ruin: If Jonathan and Charlotte beat the vampire sisters head-on, Brauner stops them and flees the castle with them, leaving Eric's wish unfulfilled and sending the duo on what would likely be a country-wide hunt for the vampire and his hostages. If Charlotte manages to cast Sanctuary on them, they're cured of their vampiricy and, grateful for the forced Heel–Face Turn, grant access to the second half of the game and the eventual battle with Brauner himself... only for Brauner to be hijacked by Dracula at the very end. And Death. At the same time.
    • Order of Ecclesia: If Shanoa defeats Albus without having saved all the villagers (one of which is hidden behind a breakable wall), she goes home with all the Dominus glyphs for the ritual ...which ends in her life being sacrificed and her mentor gloating over his plan coming to fruition. If she does manage to save all the villagers, Albus gets a chance to warn her about what's coming up, leading to her calling out her mentor for the Treacherous Advisor he is, resulting in an epic boss battle with him. Which ends when he gives up his life to summon Dracula's castle. Nice try, Shanoa.
    • Castlevania 64: Used on two different occasions during the game. The first example is the Behemoth encountered in the Castle Center, which uses the same battle theme as the final boss. The second is Dracula's Servant atop the final stage, which has a unique battle theme to himself. Notably, both of these Disc One Final Bosses can become the game's final boss by either playing the game on Easy Mode for the Behemoth, or for Dracula's Servant, by taking too long to reach the final stage.
    • There doesn't even need to be Multiple Endings for this to be in effect. Case in point — Castlevania: Lament of Innocence, where the game builds up to Walter Bernhard being the Big Bad and final opponent, only for Mathias Cronqvist to appear after Walter's defeat, reveal that he was manipulating both Walter and Leon Belmont to gain eternal life, make a We Can Rule Together offer to Leon, then sic Death on Leon when he refuses — Death turns out to be the final boss, and Mathias goes on to become Dracula. And then there's Castlevania: Curse of Darkness, where after beating Isaac for the second and final time in Dracula's Castle, Zead shows up, reveals that he was manipulating both Isaac and Hector to resurrect Dracula, then seals Isaac in a coffin to use his remaining life-force to bring the Count back. Zead then reveals himself to be Death and takes Hector on. After Death's defeat, Hector proceeds to the throne room, where — surprise, surprise — he arrives just in time to watch Count Dracula be reborn, after which Dracula promptly attacks him, serving as the final boss.
    • If Dracula isn't declared in charge from the get-go, the villain's plan will usually involve reviving him and/or taking Dracula's powers. Dracula worshippers hoping to revive the dark lord get exactly what they wanted. Dracula ursurpers, not usually so lucky. Either way, they're demoted to Disc One Final Boss or The Dragon in the process.
  • In Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, Kaileena turns out to be the Empress the prince has been seeking and the ensuing boss battle takes place. The fake aspect is that this battle occurs halfway through the game and the Prince's troubles don't disappear afterwards. Kaileena becomes the final boss in the bad ending if you haven't gotten the water sword.
  • Legend of Legaia pulls two of these. First, after you beat Zeto and clear the world map, you discover that there is another region (and later a third) to explore. Later, after Prince Cort has been defeated and the Mist has been eradicated, Songi shows up and has Juggernaut eat your town.
  • The 5th Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People installment, 8-Bit is Enough, has a fake final boss against the supposedly invulnerable Trogdor, who gets defeated with a single slash, emitting final words of "I could not handle your style!". Even Strong Bad himself concedes that it was easier than expected. Cue walls coming down and Ultimate Trogdor appearing.
  • The Binding of Isaac sets up Mom as the Final Boss. However, killing her and later what seems like the True Final Boss (Mom's Heart) is really only the halfway point. After defeating Mom's Heart enough times, the player has a choice to pursue one of three different final bosses and endings. Going to Sheol/The Dark Room confront's Isaac's religious confusion and pits Satan and The Lamb as the final bosses. Going to The Cathedral/The Chest has Isaac coming to terms with his imminent suicide by suffocation and pits Isaac and ??? as the final bosses. Going to the Blue Womb/Void confront's Isaac's physical and mental degradation and pits Hush and Delirium as the final bosses.
  • Banjo-Kazooie led you to believe that the final showdown with the Big Bad, Gruntilda, is a quirky board game/quiz show where you test your memory about the game and run through a few minigames. After you beat it, she skedaddles, Banjo and Kazooie rescue Tooty, and the whole gang goes back home for some well-earned rest and relaxation. The credits roll... and as soon as they're done, Banjo and friends are shown busy throwing a party when Tooty pops up and tells Banjo that he must also defeat Grunty. What ensues is probably one of the most epic final boss battles in the history of the N64.
    • Lampshaded in Banjo Tooie when Grunty does the same thing. After the quiz, Grunty has no idea what to do next, so Kazooie suggests that she run off again like in the last game before they beat her up. The next game has a challenge that feels very much like the ending: you have to incorporate every different aspect of the vehicles you've built before into one multitasker, complete with mid-challenge quiz (as featured in Banjo-Tooie). Once you beat it, Grunty requests a final battle, although it can easily be won using overwhelming firepower.
  • Happens a lot in The Legend of Zelda games:
  • Ōkami features two very convincing instances of this with Orochi and Ninetails. Both of them are heavily foreshadowed and reside in their very own big honking evil lairs, each of which constitutes a Point of No Return and has its own ridiculously dramatic lead up sequence. The fact that Ammy hasn't learned all of the skills necessary to restore her godhood and there's a lot of empty space on your weapons screen should be a dead giveaway to the status of these (admittedly imposing) nasties. Considering that you have twelve of the skills by the time you face Ninetails and Issun making a comment about how their adventure is almost over, it was fairly believable. Ninetails appearing in a constellation made this theory even more believable. However, there's still empty space on the weapon screen, sooooo...
  • Ōkamiden. You've got all the brush techniques, all the divine instruments (bar the one you get for New Game+), and the apparent final dungeon has the unique trait of coming in two parts. The threat level is high as well, as King Fury has a Humongous Mecha Moon Rabbit that will destroy Nippon. You beat King Fury, and hey, who's this guy called Akuro? As it turns out, all the previous bosses, including the aforementioned King Fury, were just fragments of Akuro that had taken on their own personalities. So, technically speaking, you were fighting the same guy the whole time.
  • Jade Empire sets up Emperor Sun Hai as the apparent Big Bad of the game, with hints that his Dragon Death's Hand may actually be the real driving force behind the evil plot. The player character fights and kills the Emperor at the end of the fourth of seven chapters of the game, after which your supposed kindly mentor Sun Li emerges as the true Big Bad.
  • In BioShock, Jack battles his way to the apartment of Andrew Ryan in order to kill him, only for Ryan to point out Jack's Tomato in the Mirror status. After which Ryan commits Jack-assisted suicide in a cutscene. Only then does poor Jack realize that he's been listening to the real Big Bad all along.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Maleficent is not, in fact, the last boss in Kingdom Hearts I, despite what everything up until that point has led you to believe.
    • In 358/2 Days, Xion is not the last boss, despite having all the trappings of one. No, there's still an epilogue chapter, with the true (and less challenging) final boss fight with Riku, as you re-enact the Deep Dive trailer.
    • In coded, Sora's Heartless likewise is a Sequential Boss which behaves very much like the final boss. However, the final boss of the game is actually Data-Roxas.
  • Metroid has Mother Brain, a Load-Bearing Boss with its own final dungeon. After the escape from the exploding dungeon, you are treated with victory music and a victory cutscene ... as long as the game in question isn't the Zero Mission remake, in which it quickly turns sour as your escape ship falls under attack and you lose all your equipment and have to work through part of the Very Definitely Final Dungeon without it.
  • Throughout Guild Wars Nightfall, you're trying to stop Varesh Ossa from completing her final ritual to release her god, Abaddon. The game even does a good job of disguising the mission where you confront Varesh as the final mission before pulling a Your Princess Is in Another Castle! in the ending cutscene: Varesh's rituals weakened Abaddon's prison enough that he can punch through unless you take the fight to him.
  • Chrono Trigger: Crono and company ventures into 600 AD to stop Magus from summoning Lavos and to stop it from raining destruction upon their future. It turns out that Magus was only trying to summon Lavos to kill it himself. You later end up going up against Queen Zeal, a woman from 12,000 BC who wanted Lavos's power. This leads to a second Disc-One Final Dungeon, the Ocean Palace. This is even more convincing, as it is very likely that the main character, Crono, will either be close to unlocking his final ability, or will have actually unlocked it, making it seem like the end is nigh. It isn't. You fight Lavos at the end of the Ocean Palace, but it is a Hopeless Boss Fight, and Crono dies. This then leads into the final portion of the game, and is also the point at which your party starts actually changing history, beginning with undoing Crono's death.
  • Chrono Cross is clearly building you to take on Lynx/Dark Serge and Fate itself, whatever that may be. Turns out it's the computer that's keeping everyone from being killed by the dragons. And it wasn't evil so much as trying to resolve its programming. Er... Well anyway, then you take on the dragons who are planning to destroy the Earth, only they/it aren't/isn't the final boss either because the Time Devourer ate it long ago. The final boss is a Giant Space Flea from Nowhere because while Lavos is mentioned a couple times, it never does anything throughout the entire game.
  • This happens a couple of times in the Wild ARMs series, but the most infamous example is probably in the third game, when the party finishes Part 3 by fighting against the Blue Menace, Siegfried, that had been foreshadowed the entire game. When the epic battle with him is concluded, the game goes into Part 4, which is only a few hours long and introduces, and puts an end to, Beatrice, a little girl who had been randomly appearing throughout the game all along, and was manipulating everyone, including Siegfried, to her own ends. Even then, she's not the final boss: her pet planet-organism...thing is.
  • Wild ARMs 2 does this with Vinsfeld, who is the final boss of disc one. Defeating him even brings a full and concrete end to his plans, allowing for a completely unrelated and not even foreshadowed threat to become the focus of disc two. Granted, there is a factor that ties them together, but it's tenuous enough to call them two seperate plots.
  • The Monster Scout Championship Finals in Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker. Interestingly, the game doesn't play it as a twist. Your supposed goal is to win the championship, but from the very start it's apparent that behind-the-scenes intrigue and the Incarnus' mission are guiding the plot.
  • Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice makes a big deal of how the final boss is going to be Mao's dad, but it turns out the real final boss is Super Hero Aurum. However, you can actually beat the "fake boss" on a second playthrough and get a secret ending.
  • In Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, you go through the whole game believing that the final boss will be Vulcanus, only to find out at the end there's still one more battle... and, Vyers/Mid Boss is a parody of this.
  • Parodied in Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten, where Desco actually has the title "Supposed Final Boss". Then there's DES X, with the title of "Final Boss"... who's also actually this trope. Finally, there's Nemo, with the (accurate) title "True Final Boss".
  • In [PROTOTYPE], the game is not over when you kill Elizabeth Greene. To be sure, the infection slackens off considerably when you do, but there's still Blackwatch to deal with. And The Starscream.
  • In The World Ends with You, everything in the game seems to build up to it being done when you defeat Higashizawa. After all, it's the 7th day, when the Reaper's Game is supposed to be done. However, after defeating him, Neku wakes up on the first day...of a new Reaper's Game. Finished? OH NO.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Gaiden has Emperor Rudolf, the Tin Tyrant who started a giant war to conquer your country. You spend 4 long chapters making your way to his castle, but once you kick his ass, he reveals that Duma is the true villain of the game.
    • Mystery of the Emblem has Emperor Hardin, the Tin Tyrant who started a giant war to conquer your country. You spend 20 long chapters making your way to his castle, but once you kick his ass, it's revealed that he was possessed by Gharnef, who has resurrected Medeus. Again.
    • Genealogy of the Holy War has the Battle of Belhalla. You finally get to battle Duke Lombard of Dozel and Duke Reptor of Friege, the two nobles who framed Sigurd's father for the murder of Prince Kurth, and better still, after seemingly cooperating with them throughout the plot, Velthomer's forces turn on Reptor once you draw close. Okay, yes, the fact that your allies that left about two-thirds of the way through the plot showed up again as NPCs only to get slaughtered before you could do anything is rather disconcerting, a Player Punch for no apparent reason, it seems that this whole misunderstanding is about to be cleared up—oh, wait, Arvis was playing the two sides against each other all along because he wanted them both gone. And now they are. You just got TPK'd in a cutscene, and now we're going to have a fifteen-year timeskip so the Tagalong Kids of your party, as well as Sigurd's and Quan's mentioned-but-unseen infant sons, Seliph and Leif, and any other children that your party may have produced if you've been pairing them up, can grow up enough to become combat-ready.
    • The Blazing Blade:
      • Before the main story, you play through Lyn's Story, whose villain is Lundgren, the scheming power-hungry great-uncle of Lyndis. Every chapter builds him up to villain status, including Kick the Dog moments, culminating in finally getting to kick his ass in the story's Final Chapter. Afterwards, the main story starts proper.
      • Lord Darin is by far the most direct opponent for the first half of the main story, and when you finally face him on the battlefield, it's in what can only be described as The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: the gate where dragons were thrown out of the world, and through which the Black Cloak plans to let them back in. Though this is somewhat of a subversion as you know Darin is not the Big Bad by this point, it still plays out like the end of the game: after defeating Darin, you meet the real Big Bad, learn his evil plan, stop his evil plan, which proceeds to go nuclear, annihilating the Evil Chancellor in the process, and rescue the Mysterious Waif. Then, your Disappeared Dad, who had been used as an Unwitting Pawn to provoke a war, knifes the Big Bad in the back before dying himself and leaving you heir to the province he rules. Everything seems pretty adequately resolved and — wait, what? Chapter 20?
    • Emperor Vigarde looks like the Big Bad of The Sacred Stones, being responsible for the war you're trying to end. But you only get to fight him on one of the two main characters' different routes. Not that you've defeated all the evil Generals yet, but assuming you played Ephraim's route first, it ends when you DO defeat him and he... vanishes? Turns out the Emperor was really Dead All Along, and his son Lyon is the one that started the war — and Lyon is himself possessed by the Demon King, the true Big Bad of the game.
    • Radiant Dawn loves this trope, considering that it's split into four different parts, each one with different baddies. The first part has the Begnion Occupation Army led by Jarod, the second part has Crimean Rebels led by Ludveck, the third part alternates by mission between the Begnion Empire and the Laguz Alliance, and the fourth part has the goddess Ashera and her minions.
    • Awakening has this happen three times. The first is Gangrel, who has been set up as the main antagonist throughout the game thus far. And in some ways, he is a final boss of sorts — there's a two-year timeskip between his defeat and the next chapter, so his defeat did at least temporarily bring peace to the realm. The second one, Walhart, is far less convincing, as Validar has already been introduced and appears to be the greater evil, not to mention that Lucina has revealed her true identity by this point and identified the return of the Dark Dragon Grima as the catastrophe that she was fleeing, but the fact that he's the boss of two consecutive chapters and that the latter is a nice round number makes Walhart seem like the final boss. And the third, of course, is Validar himself, in a battle that mirrors your Taste of Power from the beginning of the game. With his plans seemingly all falling apart after Basilio reveals he'd been Faking the Dead and had switched out the jewels, there's no way that the battle atop the Dragon's Table can't be the end... until Grima manages to revive anyways thanks to the Grima from the Bad Future Lucina and the other future kids came from, who followed them to the past in order to ensure his resurrection succeeds and was the one behind Validar the whole time (even reviving the man from what should have been his death early on in the game).
    • Fates has an odd example due to the way the routes work. On the Birthright and Conquest routes, you are led to believe that you can bring peace back to the realm by killing King Garon. This seemingly works out on Birthright; on Conquest, Takumi has other ideas. Either way, it seems like you've won after you take out the Final Boss. However, the Revelation route reveals that both of them were just patsies for the true villain, Anankos, who takes center stage.
  • Pokémon:
    • In Pokémon Red and Blue, once you get to the Indigo Plateau, you are led to believe that your final opponents are the Elite Four, concluding with the Dragon trainer Lance. He proceeds to tell you that you are the Pokemon Champion... is what he would say, except someone got there before you. That person is none other than your rival, Blue. After that, you proceed to fight him with whatever you have left after beating the Elite Four. Since then, it's been series tradition to have the final opponents be the Elite Four plus the Champion as the actual final opponent.
    • In Pokémon Gold and Silver, the champion himself is an example of this trope. After the build up of the eight gyms and Elite Four, you'd think this was the end... but after you beat him, you can visit the setting of Red and Blue, complete with all eight gyms still intact. After this, you'd think the sixteenth gym leader would be the final boss...but there's still one more boss to face: Red, the player character from the original games.
    • Primal Dialga from Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time/Darkness/Sky. The game's real final boss is Darkrai.
    • Pokémon Black and White plays with this as well. By this point, players should be used to the villainous plot being thwarted before the eighth gym, so the fact that nothing's changed and you're headed to the Pokémon League should be a sign something's up, but having Team Plasma interrupt your Pokémon League challenge? And then it's played straight when Ghetsis turns out to be the main villain instead of N. Also, technically, this means that like Gold/Silver, the true "final boss" comes in the postgame, since you still haven't actually beaten the Champion when you first see the credits.
  • The Dark Lord in Miitopia is hyped as the game's Big Bad through 4 long chapters of the game. But after you defeat him, it's revealed that he was only an Innocent Bystander possessed by an evil entity, which promplty pulls a Grand Theft Me on the Great Sage, creating the Darker Lord. The party will need to go through five more worlds to catch up on it and defeat it.
  • General Scales in Star Fox Adventures is portrayed as the ultimate target, but this changes when the real mastermind Andross reborn reveals himself shortly before the true final battle.
  • The beginning of Star Fox: Assault plays up Andrew Oikonny to be the main villain, only for him to get shot down by the real antagonists, the Aparoids.
  • The NES Ninja Gaiden trilogy has this for the second and third games. In II, Ashtar is set up as the Big Bad, but the story doesn't end with his defeat. After facing a familiar monster in the next stage, Ryu goes through the final lair and discover that the real mastermind is Jaquio, the villain from the previous game. Ashtar was merely a pawn whose death allowed Jaquio to be reborn. Then in III, Foster is presented as the main antagonist, but then Clancy, who initially helps Ryu take on Foster, reveals that he was merely using Ryu in his plot to reclaim a doomsday weapon from Foster. Unlike the previous examples given, Ryu never gets to fight Foster, as Foster is killed by Clancy instead.
  • In the original Time Crisis, after saving Rachel from the Big Bad Sherudo, The Dragon, Wild Dog, kidnaps her and becomes the True Final Boss.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising:
  • In Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura, you finally corner ultimate evil devil-figure Arronax within the prison dimension he's on the verge of escaping from to lay waste to the world. Psyche! Another one of the evil villains banished to the Void defeated Arronax centuries ago and stuck him in a magic bubble. It's not the evil elf wanting to enslave Arcanum you've got to worry about, it's the First Necromancer coming back to wipe out all life on the planet.
  • The first three sectors of Iji set you up to find Krotera, who you fight as soon as you see. That's all to set up the arrival of the Komato.
  • Happens throughout the Persona franchise:
    • Takahisa Kandori is build up as the main antagonist of the original Persona but after he is defeated, Aki vows revenge on the party and awakens Pandora, the nihilistic aspect of party member Maki Sonamura.
    • Persona 2:
      • For the first half of Innocent Sin, the main antagonists are the Masked Circle led by Joker (Jun Kurosu) but after he is defeated, the party is left to deal with the Last Battalion led by a revived Hitler and the remaining members of the Masked Circle led by Akinari Kashihara. However, the leaders of both factions turn out to be Nyarlathotep in disguise, who's revealed to also be the same being responsible for the events of the previous game.
      • JOKER (Tatsuya Sudou this time) is once again the main antagonist for the first half of Eternal Punishment but after he is defeated, his father Tatsuzou Sudou replaces him. It turns out that Tatsuzou is also another pawn and the true culprit is Nyarlathotep again.
    • In Persona 3, after the final Arcana Shadow is defeated, the main characters think the Dark Hour is finally over. Obviously, there's still a bit more to the game, what with STREGA possibly still out there and you never finding out more about Pharos... and you're right. The Dark Hour happens, but with the added twist of a main supporting character being a villain. And you still haven't found out who the Big Bad is yet. That new classmate of yours is an avatar of the real Big Bad, Nyx.
    • Persona 4:
      • The game has a variation on this trope, in that the game's story is a murder mystery, so it's less a case of a fake final boss and more a case of a fake culprit. The murder case seems to wrap up once you apprehend Mitsuo and he confesses to the murders. But the player can easily figure out there must be a twist in store, since you're only in the middle of the summer, and catching the killer would mean the game is, well, over. Sure enough, after a couple of in-game weeks of peace, our heroes discover that Mitsuo is just a copycat, and the real killer is still at large.
      • Later on, there's a Disc Two Final Boss, in the form of Taro Namatame. This time, however, everybody's too pissed off to realize that he's also not the real killer, and, if you agree to kill him, you get the bad ending. If you let him live and find the true killer, the game goes on for another month.
      • Even after you figure out and defeat the real killer, Tohru Adachi, the game is still not over — the fog and the threat of Shadows are still out there, and there's still one final Big Bad behind the scenes that you have to take down to get the True Ending.
      • The Updated Re-Release, Persona 4 Golden, does this a third time with Marie, who, if you level up her social link all the way before the new winter month events exclusive to Golden, pulls a Disc Three Final Boss by turning out to be another part of the real Big Bad, taking the powers of both Namatame, Adachi, and the fog into herself to become Kusumi no Ookami. She intends to die in order to free humanity from the threat of the fog, and defeating Kusumi no Ookami is the only way to save her. Also played with in that you have to beat her to get the True Ending's new epilogue, despite her still not being the final boss.
    • In Persona 5, the Phantom Thieves are led to believe that defeating Masayoshi Shido will end the Conspiracy, but they are proven wrong when his fellow conspirators continue their nefarious activities. The true Conductor is actually Yaldabaoth, the God of Control, who had been impersonating your guide Igor the entire time.
  • Star Ocean: Till the End of Time has the Vendeeni. For the entire first disc, you have four goals unrelated to the idiots of Elicoor II: 1) Get off of Elicoor II, 2) Get your girlfriend back (she acts as if they are cousins, but it says in the manual that she is just your girlfriend), 3) Get your dad back, 4) Destroy all of the Vendeeni for taking your girlfriend. There is no legitimate boss at the end of the first disc, but right at the start of the second, you beat up the leader of the Vendeeni and then new enemies pop up from nowhere and start blowing up bits of the galaxy. In fact, it really is from nowhere because the programmers of the universe decided that that galaxy needed to get bits of it blown to bits by giant monsters (instead of, say, deleting that one galaxy or, say, running some sort of program that deletes all instances of the tech that they don't like and making all of the AI forget that it existed to begin with).
  • Interesting examples in the BlazBlue series: The final bosses in the arcade versions of both games appear to be the main villains, but become this in the story mode of the console version. Translation: When Calamity Trigger was ported to consoles, final boss Nu-13 effectively became The Dragon to an NPC, who was made the final boss of Continuum Shift, only to himself become The Dragon to another NPC upon that game's console release. Later on, Chronophantasma reveals that the Big Bad Duumvirate, Relius Clover and Hazama/Yuuki Terumi, are not the real Big Bad, as they were revealed to be an unwitting pawn to the "true" Big Bad — Izanami, the Goddess of Death, who is using Saya as a vessel (being the Imperator of the NOL). She later abandons the duo after their defeats, leaving Terumi seemingly Killed Off for Real and Relius a broken man...until Central Fiction, where Izanami and the sole remaining Dragon/potential Starcream Phantom/Nine end up being taken out by the heroes, but the still-alive Terumi comes back and goes One-Winged Angel to become the True Final Boss. Relius, meanwhile, gets his act together and decides it's time to bug out.
  • A case in the first two Golden Sun games, since they're essentially one complete story — it would be a straight example if the games were just one. You fight and defeat Saturos and Menardi — up to this point the main threat — at the end of the first game, and after they proceeded to go One-Winged Angel on you. You think it's over; their evil plan is thwarted even though two lighthouses are lit. Becomes a subversion when, after Felix declares he will continue their plans himself, he's knocked into the sea and the game ends. Then The Lost Age comes around — Saturos and Menardi's ally Alex becomes effectively the Big Bad for the next game and Felix becomes the protagonist lighting the lighthouses. Alex then proceeds to become The Unfought, subverting this trope even further — on the other hand, one of the major themes of the dualogy was about people from different backgrounds putting aside their cultural or philosophical differences to save the world from a greater threat. As the Wise One reveals at the end of the game, the true enemy isn't each other, but the evils within humanity in general, which led to the sealing of Alchemy — and the gradual entropy of the world — in the first place.
  • The third game, Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, has this with Blados and Chalis at Belinsk Ruins. Note that your original mission has already been fulfilled, and, if not for the villains manipulating an NPC, you probably could've been done with this quest. And then Luna Tower activates and triggers the Grave Eclipse. Of course, a quick look at the party screen should tell you that the game's far from over, as you just acquired a new party member and still have space for two more.
  • The Z-Master in Super Robot Wars W plays this role. His strength is quite hyped up, his show's plot has been the most important so far, has much higher HP than anything up to now (and anything for quite a while, for that matter), The Fight of the Courageous Ones plays in the background, and your Original Generation main character gets an Eleventh Hour Combining Mecha to help defeat him. However, some series haven't got finished (or started, for that matter) yet, and if you watched GaoGaiGar, you know this isn't over yet, plus there's the whole thing this game features sequels... sadly (to Z-Master), you fight him again later as a Degraded Boss, albeit with the same base stats (but higher level).
  • Super Robot Wars Z 2 is a two-part game; the Big Bad of Hakai-hen, Gaioh, serves as a Disc One Final Boss to himself.
  • Fassad from MOTHER 3. You encounter him near beginning of the game, as in before the Time Skip, and witness him as he sadistically tortures an innocent monkey while he's trying to corrupt your hometown by introducing money to the villagers. He remains The Unfought until he seemingly dies at the end of chapter 5, but by that point, the player party has become aware that Fassad is a relatively low-level operative in the Pig-Mask army. Fassad does come back as a cyborg you fight later on, but it's still obvious that he's just a minion to the real Big Bad, Porky Minch.
  • Children of Mana pulls this twice, once with the Mana Storm and then with the Mana Lord.
  • In Wings of Liberty, the first third of the Starcraft II campaign, Kerrigan plays this role. She even fights your forces personally in the final mission (although you can't kill her; she'll teleport back to her base when her HP is low). The end strongly hints that she's going through a Heel–Face Turn, and there's a Greater-Scope Villain looming in the horizon. She is. Also, Mengsk is the Disc Two Final Boss.
  • Phantasy Star IV does the rather expected example of the first bad guy, Zio, being a minion of Dark Force, the perennial boss of the series. But after beating Dark Force a few times, you finally find out about his master.
  • In Phantasy Star Online 2, the story gradually builds up to a confrontation with Dark Falz Elder. However, he simply escapes after being defeated, and it's then revealed that he's just one of four incarnations of Dark Falz that are running rampant...
  • Benny serves this role in Fallout: New Vegas. He kills your character in the opening cinematic (you get better), and you spend the first half of the game chasing after him and trying to figure out what his plot is and why he put a bullet in your brain. By the time you finally deal with him, though, you've learned that a major conflict is about to ensue between the region's 3 major superpowers, and you get to decide which one wins. In fact, if you choose to go for the NCR or the Legion, you don't even have to deal with him.
  • Kellogg serves this role in Fallout 4. After you and your spouse are placed into cryogenic preservation in Vault 111, Kellogg comes along after about a hundred years and change, murders your spouse, and kidnaps your son. The first act of the game involves chasing him down in the hopes of finding your son.
  • Touhou:
    • Seirensen ~ Undefined Fantastic Object managed to have the Final Boss be the Disc One Final Boss, with Byakuren having nothing to do with the UFOs while Nue, the Bonus Boss, was the one who started the protagonists on the fruitless quest for treasure by planting the seeds of non-identification.
    • In The Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, Reimu believes Patchouli, the stage 4 boss, to be the mistress, but she isn't fooling Marisa.
    • Imperishable Night has Eirin Yakogoro, the creator of the fake moon, as the initial final boss on a character's first playthrough. Starting a New Game+ with said character reveals a new path to the real moon and the True Final Boss, Kaguya Houraisan.
  • Medabots AX Metabee And Rokusho: Your goal for the entire game is winning the World Robattle Championships, which of course demands you defeat its champion. Doing that however, isn't the end of the story.
  • Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker does this twice. The whole game appears to be building to a battle with Coldman, Peace Walker, or both. You fight Peace Walker at the end of Act 3, after which there are some plot twists. A few stages later, at the end of Act 4, Coldman dies and you fight Peace Walker again after one of the longest, most action-filled stages in the whole game, and everything looks like it's resolved. In fact, there are six more missions and the average game's worth of plot twists before the real final boss.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
  • Subverted in Super Mario RPG. After the prologue, you spend roughly half of the game in search of the Princess, who had been thrown from Bowser's Keep (along with Bowser and Mario) when the sword Exor fell from the sky. Near the midpoint of the game, you finally find her... being held captive by some random lunatic named Booster, who intends to marry her. After pursuing Booster through a series of weird minigames, you finally confront him in the wedding hall... but instead of facing off with him in a climactic showdown, the wedding cake randomly comes to life and attacks you. The cake turns out to be one of the most difficult bosses in the game and a major wake-up call if you haven't been leveling up effectively. Booster then eats the cake, the "wedding" is concluded, Mario rescues the princess and the second half of the game (which focuses on defeating the real Big Bad) begins shortly after. None of this is ever explained or brought up again. And, unless you failed the "Hide Behind the Curtains" minigame in the last floor of Booster's tower, Booster remains The Unfought.
    • You will be excused if you thought that the giant sword that crashed into Bowser's Keep at the begining of the game is Smithy, the Big Bad everyone keeps talking about. Once you reach the roof of Bowser's keep and come face-to-face with "Smithy"... it turns out that no, the sword's name is Exor and defeating him merely creates a portal to the Final Dungeon. Smithy is at the very end, creating copies of the previous bosses.
  • Paper Mario does this a couple of times:
  • Mario & Luigi also does this:
  • In Jak II: Renegade, Jak ascends Baron Praxis' palace for a showdown only a third of the way through the game. Near the end, Praxis is killed by the real Big Bad, Metal Kor.
  • The Thief and the Thugs-4-Less leader in Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando.
  • The Marquis de Singe seems to be the Big Bad for the first four chapters of Tales of Monkey Island. In the climax of Episode 4, Guybrush finally defeats de Singe and cures the Pox of LeChuck... [[folder:only for Lechuck to show up and reclaim his voodoo power. LeChuck resumes his role as the Big Bad in Episode 5.]]
  • Portal 2: The game has 9 chapters. You face GLaDOS in Chapter 5. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that this won't be the end.
  • Red Faction:
    • Red Faction: Halfway through the game, you kill Capek, who has been experimenting on your fellow miners using nanotechnology, but Ultor sends in reinforcements.
    • Red Faction 2: You know that villainous dictator you've heard so much about, has fucked your country up almost beyond repair, and you have been gearing up to assassinate? He's not the Big Bad — he gets his Karmic Death halfway through the game, and you spend the rest of it fighting the anarchic new regime led by your former team leader, Molov.
    • Red Faction: Armageddon: Adam Hale, the head of the Apocalypse Cult responsible for destroying the Terraformer and unleashing a horde of alien horrors upon Mars, is killed in the middle of the game. However, the goal quickly shifts to bringing down the alien queen.
  • In Drakensang, about halfway through the level you find out that there's a young purple dragon named Japhgur who's raiding the country. However, after you kill him, there are still a lot of things to do.
  • Heavy Weapon has X-bot, at the end of the Disc One Final Level. When you beat him, you are teated to a scene showing your tank driver celebrating, untile he learns that it was a diversion and that the enemy had amassed a reserve army 10 times the size.
  • Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals and Lufia: The Legend Returns have Gades, a god of destruction, who firstly appears to be a Big Bad of the game, but defeating him only reveals that there are three more of his kind. Subverted in the first game, where the heroes already know Gades has friends, and they don't even get to kill him until the final dungeon.
  • Saints Row
    • The first two games have multiple discs, where the player can choose which gang they want to dismantle first in a non-linear fashion. Only after the three rival gangs are defeated do the true Final Boss characters reveal themselves (Richard Hughes for the first game and Dane Vogel for the second).
    • In Saints Row: The Third, Phillipe Loren is set up as the Wicked Cultured, mafioso-like leader of The Syndicate, but is killed in a mere handful of missions. In his place, Killbane, seemingly a dumb thug in a wrestler's mask and cheap suit before, takes over as the Big Bad of the game, with Matt Miller as his second-in-command. There's also the commander of the technologically-advanced, anti-gang military force who is determined to put an end to the urban war on terror. In Saints Row IV, Loren is brought back as the boss of Johnny Gat's loyalty mission by Matt (now an ally), since he wants to give the two of you a chance to settle things personally.
  • Fossil Fighters:
    • The first game fakes you out with the BB Boss, Captain Bullwort, and his Olympus Mon, Frigisaur. He's the head of the Goldfish Poop Gang that's been chasing you everywhere throughout the game, he's trying to take over the islands, and in order to stop him, you have to get your own godlike powerbeast from the climactic Mt. Lavaflow. Afterwards, you'll fight the final stage of the tournament To Be a Master, so clearly he's the final Big Bad, right? Not even close.
    • The second game does it twice. The first time is when you confront Don Boneyard, who is once again head of the Goldfish Poop Gang. However, someone who played the first game might quickly catch wise to the fact that he's not the real villain. However, it catches you again when you go to face the real Big Bad for the first time. It plays up the confrontation big-time, you prepare to seal him in a can... However, you don't succeed in catching him, and have to go to the Very Definitely Final Dungeon to finally get him.
  • Bruno's chase after the medallion to awaken Lares and Take Over the World is the major conflict of Solatorobo, and he's set up to be the final boss. The final boss of part one, that is. Cue the second part of the game, where you get to meet Nero, Blanck, and Baion. They're worse.
  • Epsilon in Mega Man X: Command Mission. Unsurprising for a Mega Man X game, however, The Man Behind the Man is not the one fans had come to expect...as he's actually your CO for the game, Redips.
  • King Dedede is this is most Kirby games. Kirby's Return to Dream Land amps it up by doing this twice. At the start of the game, your mission is to help reassemble the Lor Starcutter, which has been split into five pieces, and the Traversible World Map is clearly divided into five sectors. The final boss of World 5, the Grand Doomer, certainly has the feel of a Final Boss, both with its status as a King Mook version of the Sphere Doomers, which are themselves extremely challenging Mini Bosses, and the epic finisher required, but the fact that even if you've collected every Energy Sphere to this point, you'll still be well short of the full 120 makes it fairly obvious that it's not. Okay, so now you've gotten to the end of Dangerous Dinner, Landia must be the Final Boss, right? Wrong. Post-battle, Magolor reveals that you've been an Unwitting Pawn all along, and you have to fight him in three more battles.
  • The demon Mal'ganis is this in Warcraft III. He appears to be the man behind the Zombie Apocalypse and his death is the objective of the final mission of the first campaign, but he's actually far from it. Ner'zhul and Archimonde are the true Big Bads, the latter being the Final Boss.
  • Subverted by the huge golden mecha from Dogyuun. It appears in the intro where he kills the protagonists' friend, then flies off in stage 1 (and the start of stage 2). However, instead of a mid-game boss, it's only the stage 2 boss.
  • In Max Payne 2, the story is mostly about Max trying save Mona Sax and help protect his mafia friend, Vladimir Lem, from Vinnie Gognitti and his men. However, it isn't until later that you find out that Vladimir Lem is the real Big Bad and was using Max, while at the same time, setting him up to get killed throughout the game.
  • The fight with Luca Blight in Suikoden II. He had been played up as the main villain up to that point and the characters talk as if his defeat will end the war. The fight itself is much harder than anything up to that point, even split up into three teams and is capped off with a duel between Luca and Riou. And yet, with his defeat, you're maybe two-thirds done with the game.
  • In Dishonored, your goal is obviously to rescue the kidnapped future Empress and then get revenge on the Lord Regent who had the previous Empress assassinated and framed you for her death. After doing this, you might think the game is over... but you'd be wrong. You get betrayed again by the leaders of the resistance group that was helping you get your revenge, opening another chapter in the storyline.
  • The Valahaia leader is this in Ace Combat: Joint Assault.
  • In Asura's Wrath, there are two examples. First is Deus, the one who instigates one of the main plot points of the game, kidnapping Asura's daughter for more power. Vlitra, who's the other Big Bad, reawakens and you fight him after defeating Deus. Played with here in that it's outright stated Vlitra was ready to return by the time Deus is defeated by other characters. Played straight with Vlitra, that, if you download the DLC, the True Final Boss of the game, the Golden Spider, whose real name is Chakravartin, turns out to be the true bad guy behind the plot.
  • Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Tranced is an odd case in that the Big Bad of the game is clearly Dr. N. Tropy taking orders from Uka Uka, and N. Trance is The Dragon despite being billed as the main antagonist. Once N. Trance is defeated, you're sent to collect Plot Coupons to unlock three hard extra levels, after which you fight N. Tropy.
  • Donkey Kong Jungle Beat has the Cactus King, who appears after the first 12 kingdoms have been completed. This appears to be the final boss at first, especially after the ending ceremony plays and the credits start rolling. However, during said credits, you will see footage from levels you haven't been to yet. After the credits roll, you'll unlock a new kingdom barrel, containing 4 new kingdoms. Once those are completed, you can fight the real final boss, the Ghastly King.
  • In Bio Menace, once you beat Dr. Mangle, he reveals that the actual person behind the infestation is Mr. Cain. You have the next two episodes to kill him.
  • NeoQuest II has Ramtor, who you fight twice (he runs off the first time). Beat him, and you get a hero's welcome. And also several more chapters of the game.
  • Messiah does this with Father Prime, who is the main villain initially and is reached and killed quickly, but once you defeat him, it turns out you've merely allowed a greater bad guy to take over.
  • An unusual example — in Carmen Sandiego: Great Chase through Time, you appear to catch all the criminals and are told to take a rest after catching Jane Reaction in the 15th Century. However... insert Disc 2, and Carmen breaks out all the criminals and gives you new cases to work on.
  • Monster Hunter
    • Ceadeus in Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. It helps that it is the True Final Boss of the Wii version, where the Disc One Final Boss is Lagiacrus instead; once all low-rank chapters are completed in Ultimate, a slew of new missions and chapters opens up.
    • Shagaru Magala in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. After a lengthy campaign taking you all over the world, you learn about this ultra-dangerous monster spoken of only in legends, and you fight it. You beat the monster, you get a satisfying ending sequence, and that marks the end of your adventure... as a low-rank hunter. As it turns out there is a whole other campaign and loads of monsters more powerful than the one you just beat. And that's just the single player campaign. If you want to do multiplayer expect a whole other set of missions and ranks to earn.
  • The PS3 version of Ni no Kuni does the same thing with Shadar, who was the actual final boss in the DS version, and whose defeat sparks a cutscene that could easily be the end of the game. Like some examples above, cutscenes are shown to make it clear to the player from the beginning that the White Witch is the real Big Bad and Shadar is just The Dragon. The real point is how the characters react when they find out.
  • In Dragon's Dogma, once you defeat the Dragon, the world is changed for the worse (the sky is always dark and the monsters are given a massive boost in power) and the Everfall opens up. Once you collect 20 Wakestones, you then deal with The Seneschal and take his place.
  • RefleX has Cancer, the last of the human-made pseudo ZODIAC units and your last bit of opposition from the Global Unified Army. For all intents and purposes, it seems like things will be wrapped up after this...but after defeating it, ZODIAC Virgo makes its appearance, destroying Cancer and blowing up the Valkyness lunar bases, and the Raiwat invade Earth. Notably, in Reflection, which RefleX is an expanded remake of, Cancer is the True Final Boss instead.
  • Literal example from The Legend of Dragoon: Emperor Doel is presented as the main antagonist throughout disc 1, and the main focus of the story at that point is to end the Seridan War by reaching the Imperial Capital and slaying Doel. Of course, his defeat at the end is only the beginning of the story.
  • Grand Theft Auto
    • In Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, your goal from the start of the game is to get revenge on those who ambushed the deal at the beginning. A few missions later, it is revealed that Ricardo Diaz was the one behind the ambush, but when you finally kill him and look at the in-game stats, you see you're only about 30% into the game. The final bosses are actually the man you're working for the entire game, Sonny Forelli, and your own sidekick, Lance Vance.
    • In a way, Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories counts as this as well. Being loyal to Salvatore and the Leone Family, Toni's goal is to help wipe out the other rival mafia families, the Sindaccos and the Forellis, from Liberty City so that the Leone's will be unchallenged. Shortly after you kill the Sindacco don and wipe out their family, as well as weakening the Forellis beyond recovery, the real antagonist of the game is actually the Sicilian Mafia, that has been planning for the three mafia families of Liberty (Leone, Sindacco, and Forelli) to wipe each other out in the mist of gang warfare, and then claim their territories after the carnage. Thus, they have been pulling the strings, making deals with their business rivals in the area, which have caused friction and rivalry between the mafia families in the first place.
    • In Grand Theft Auto IV, the Big Bad is revealed to be Dimitri Rascalov about a quarter of the way through the game. As the rivalry between him and Niko heats up, eventually the player is hit with a choice between two endings. In the "Revenge" ending, Niko kills his adversary and the role of Final Boss goes to Jimmy Pegorino. In the "Deal" ending, this trope is averted and Rascalov remains the Big Bad and the Final Boss, while Pegorino becomes his sidekick (he later gets betrayed by Dimitri).
    • In Grand Theft Auto V, Bogdan is this for the Doomsday Heist. After defeating his group, the true Big Bad reveals himself in the form of Avon Hertz. Bogdan later decides to help the protagonist.
  • Terraria has the Wall of Flesh, an Eldritch Abomination that could very well be a final boss. By the time you're ready to fight it, you've very likely already defeated the Eye of Cthulhu, Eater of Worlds, and Skeletron, and obtained what seems like the highest tiers of weapons and armor possible. However, that doesn't mean it's the final boss. It simply means that all the really good items aren't unlocked until "Hardmode", a permanent change to your world that makes it much more dangerous, is activated.....which occurs as soon as the WoF is defeated.
  • Tears to Tiara 2 has Izebel, the traitor who killed Hamil's father and is ruling Hispania for The Empire, play this role. Turns out none of it is true. Hamil takes the fight to The Empire after killing her.
  • The second season of The Walking Dead seems to build up William Carver as its Big Bad. He's not seen, but his presence is strongly felt in episode one, he's established as a Hero Killer in episode two's climax, and he's the central antagonist of episode three. Then he gets kneecapped and has his skull bashed in by Kenny at the third episode's end, permanently ending him as a threat.
  • Shin Megami Tensei II has the Boss Bonanza with Uriel and Raphael, Michael, and the fake YHVH. Having been responsible for everything wrong with Millennium, the fights with them are in sequence and even have a special battle theme. After beating them, however, two more villains show up: Satan and Lucifer. Anyone expecting them to play the same roles as Michael and Asura in the previous game are ultimately shocked when they turn out to be the Disc Two Final Bosses. You fight one or both depending on the route, but then it turns out there's one last boss that must be taken care of.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey gives us Maia Ouroboros in sector Eridanus, who is the final demon guarding the way out of the Schwarzwelt. Beat it, and escaping turns out to be more complicated than previously thought...
  • Shin Megami Tensei IV:
    • The first is when you fight the Minotaur in the final stratum of Naraku, who has forbid the Samurai from traveling to Tokyo for the past 1500 years. His defeat is a major violation of the Samurai code, yet is necessary in order for the Samurai to proceed to Tokyo and hunt down the Black Samurai.
    • The second depends on a major choice that determines which one of two companions you choose to go with after the group you've been traveling with splits up. If you went with Jonathan, you and him go to Tsukiji Hongwanji to kill Lilith. If you went with Walter, you take on several National Defense Divinities, culminating in a showdown with Yamato Takeru. This entails a major Wham Episode involving traveling to Alternate Timelines.
  • Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse:
    • Armageddon, in which you have to fight Merkabah and Lucifer back to back to finally save Tokyo. Notably, one of these two bosses can be the Final Boss if you side with the other one, but if you refuse both, another dungeon opens up afterwards.
    • Vishnu-Flynn, the fusion of Krishna and Flynn at the heart of the Cosmic Egg. This is where the game's overarching plot largely ends, and it's also the final battle with the Divine Powers. There's ultimately one last dungeon after this one, though, with its own bosses. It's less of an issue in the Massacre route, as Dagda not only wants you to kill Krishna, but also YHVH, something he's been boasting about planning to do for a good portion of the game.
  • In Denpa Men, the game's Big Bad, the Evil King, is this in both his main encounters (in the third encounter, he's a Bonus Boss). The first time you defeat him, he escapes with Crystal and makes you go through more dungeons, and the second time you beat him, the main character decides that he wants to do even more dungeons so he can get married. The actual final boss ends up being a set of chess piece-themed monsters unrelated to the plot.
  • ''South Park The Fracturedbut Whole: Eric Cartman in the community center, after you tracked him after the Coon's riddles. He later escapes custody.
  • Resident Evil series:
  • In the NES port of Super Contra, Emperor Devil Gaba/Jagger Froid, the arcade version's Final Boss, is demoted to a Disc One Final Boss, with the NES final boss being a strange human-faced alien spider.
  • Far Cry 3: Vaas is the leader of the Ruthless Modern Pirates who are infesting the North Island, so when you beat him … hang on, did you say North Island? And even after beating the South Island boss, there is still a set-piece battle to be fought before you decide which ending you will have.
  • The promotional material for Mars: War Logs makes it look like Sean will be your primary nemesis. Nope, he buys it about a third of the way into the campaign.
  • In Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Skull Face is presented as the Big Bad Diamond Dogs must defeat. After he is killed, along with his Humongous Mecha that he loses control over, you discover that the whole event was the conclusion of Chapter 1. You also discover that Skull Face was an Anti-Villain who wanted to get rid of different languages, especially English, because he believed it was the source of world discrimination and wars.
  • Double-subverted in Star Wars: The Old Republic's expansion Knights of the Fallen Empire and it's continuation Knights of the Eternal Throne where the villain at first seems to Emperor Valkorion, the reincarnation of the Sith Emperor, until he's killed in the first chapter by either the player or his Starscream Arcann, the latter of whom becomes the villain from then on. However, Valkorion lives on as a Force Ghost who manipulates things from behind the scenes before finally attempting to hijack the player character in the finale.
  • In Until Dawn the main villain for the entire first half of the game is the Skull-Faced Psycho killer, but about halfway through it is revealed this has all been an elaborate prank by protagonist Josh as revenge for a prank-gone-wrong the year prior. At this point, the Wendigos, who have taken a backseat up until this point, become the primary villains.
  • Marketing for Batman: Arkham Origins presented the lesser-known villain Black Mask as the primary antagonist. The game proper agrees as he's the most powerful and feared mob boss, and has hired eight assassins to kill Batman, each of whom has their own boss fight. However, roughly half way into the game, The Joker is revealed to have been pretending to be Black Mask, is the one who hired the assassins, and is the real villain. Black Mask himself has lost his power, and is reduced to a Big Bad Wannabe much to the disappointment of many gamers.
  • Sinjid has Warlord Asura, the last Shogun warlord Sinjid must kill to end the war between the Imperial Army and the Shogun so he will be pardoned for his alleged crimes. While the war ends after Asura's death, Sinjid's adventure doesn't, as he must still continue his quest to find his master's true killer and bring them to justice and figure out the identity of a strange man named Kazuro who somehow knows about his past. They're one and the same.
  • In Arc Style: Baseball!! 3D, the game against Team Crystal is labeled as the final round of Tournament mode... but then there's an extra match if you defeat them.
  • In River City Ransom: Underground it is Slick, the Big Bad from the original River City Ransom, who by all appearances is once again the main antagonist for the game, and the kidnapping that kicks off the plot seems to match his old modus operandi, but after he's defeated, it turns out that he was actually working for someone else.
  • Dark Watch: The vampire lord Lazarus Malkoth serves as the Big Bad, having infected the main protagonist and spread a curse raising dead across the Old West. However, after killing him, his position is stolen by Tala in the good ending, or by you in the evil ending, forcing your Spirit Advisor to fight you as the Final Boss.
  • NieR: Automata gets points for having perhaps the most convincing one of these in video game history. At the end of route A, you fight Eve in a climatic boss battle, after which the credits roll and you are allowed to access New Game+. Eve again serves as the final boss of route B, but after winning a second time... you unlock the entire second half of the game.
  • Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana has Okeanos, the giant squid-like creature that sank the Lombardia, causing everyone to become stranded of the Isle of Seiren, and stands as the main obstacle in getting off. Once it's defeated, the approach of the Lacrimosa shifts everyone's priorities.
  • Randal's Monday: The business bum. Kramer is also a bit of one, since they're built up as Randal's most constant antagonist, but it would make little sense since Kramer has no villainous intentions, he's just trying to do his job. The latter disappearing from the game is brought up for mockery in the end credits by the Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
  • In Soul Calibur VI's Libra of Soul mode, Azwel is set up to be the final boss, but after you defeat him, there's another chapter of the story to go through that has you tracking down the Black Demon, a.k.a. Grøh.
  • Wolfenstein:
    • Return to Castle Wolfenstein: The Super Soldier at the end of mission 5, regarded as the hardest boss in the game. BJ is also a little beat up after the battle. The game then returns to the occult theme, focusing on the resurrection of Heinrich I (in which three Super Soldiers are being used to do so).
    • Wolfenstein (2009): General Zetta, the "man" in charge of the Nazi occupation of Isenstadt. You kill him halfway through the game, and he is replaced by Deathshead. The final boss, on the other hand, is Deathshead's enforcer, Hans Grosse.
    • Wolfenstein: The Old Blood: Rudi Jäger is the boss at the end of the game's first chapter. The second half of the game has you going after Helga von Schabbs, who later releases a strange gas that causes a Zombie Apocalypse. At the end, she awakens King Otto's Monster, the final boss.
  • The arcade game Night Slashers manages to pull this off twice. The game initially sets up the vampire boss as the main villain, but the conflict isn't over after the vampire is defeated. After the player completes the goal of sealing off the portals to the netherworld, it then looks like The Grim Reaper will be the final boss, but he also turns out to be a mere underling. The real final boss of the game is King Zarutz, a skeletal robot demon.
  • Red Dead Redemption does this twice in regards to Bill Williamson and Dutch Van der Linde. John Marston is tasked with taking down Bill, who forces him to chase him all the way down to Mexico. Afterwards, he's told that he now needs to go after Dutch. And after he's dealt with, the game goes on for quite a bit before the actual ending where John dies fighting off government forces and his son Jack eventually grows up and avenges him by killing the crooked government agent who was forcing John to go after his old gangmates.
  • Due to Copy Kitty being in open development for so long, the game ended up with two of them by the time it was finally finished. The swordsman Arikan was the Final Boss of the original freeware release, before getting pushed back to being the boss of World 8. After that was Fortress Virs and Giga Dengrahx, the dual final bosses of the original retail release, before two more stages were added in afterwards, with Supreme Thremnat or Isotope if you're playing on Hard Mode, or Lymia if you're playing as Savant being the ultimate Final Boss of the game.
  • Just Shapes & Beats: After collecting the three triangular Macguffin, you face off against a boss, which is unique for a game where the only hazards are environmental. Afterwards, you're sent to "Paradise", a geometric Sugar Bowl, and walk through it while the credits appear to roll. Eventually, you come across a cave and give a smaller triangle to what looks like a plant of some sort. Then it jams it into its head, turns into the boss you just fought, makes a mess of the place, and steals the large triangles while its theme plays. Congratulations, you just finished the tutorial.
  • The Evil Within 2 has Stefano Valentini, a Mad Artist turned Serial Killer obsessed with capturing people at the moment of their deaths with a Magical Camera to create grotesque art pieces. When you finally take him down and the events of the game should be wrapped up, however, a couple of new antagonists are revealed and the narrative continues. Surprise, you're only half way through the game!
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's "World of Light:" The battle with Galeem only marks the midway point of the story, something savvy players who have explored the map may see coming when they notice that they only have about half the roster recruited. Immediately after Galeem's defeat, his dark counterpart Dharkon appears and the Dark Realm is unlocked, which has all but four of the remaining fighters. Downplayed as Galeem returns after Dharkon's defeat and they could both be fought at the end (which also has the last four fighters), with the True Ending being acheieved by fighting both of them at the same time. Galeem is still (half of) the final boss and main villain, it's just that his initial fight in the Light Realm was not the end.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Morrowind has Dagoth Gares. The first several missions of the main quest involve your character gathering information on the Nerevarine and Sixth House cults (as well as doing favors for the sources of that information). Finally, you are sent to investigate a Sixth House base directly. After battling your way through Ash Creatures, you run into and defeat Gares. As he dies, he afflicts you with the dreaded Corprus Disease to bring you under the influence of the true Big Bad, the resurrected Physical God, Dagoth Ur. This kicks off the rest of the plot which revolves around you getting "cured" and then finding a way to defeat Dagoth Ur before he can spread the disease (and do much worse) to the rest of Tamriel.
    • Skyrim has Sahloknir. While not the first storyline dragon you fight (that would be Mirmulnir), he is the first with real plot relevance. You stumble upon Alduin in the middle of resurrecting Sahloknir (proving that the dragons aren't simply returning, but returning to life). Defeating him and absorbing his soul in the presence of Delphine also proves to her that you really are Dragonborn.

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