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Anti-Climax Boss

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Priestess: How is this possible?!
Kyran: Lady, your god was a chicken. That's not exactly boss fight material.

The Climax Boss is the boss at a pivotal moment of the story. The Final Boss is the last challenge of the story. The Anti-Climax Boss is when that boss gets killed with about as much effort as it took to fight some of the tougher Elite Mooks. Or the first level Warmup Boss. Either way, there was a lot of buildup, and what was expected to be a tense, critical, epic battle ended up being a breeze. This is a subtrope of It's Easy, So It Sucks!, aimed at singular bosses. Compare The Unfought, where the battle is built up, but never happens, causing the players to feel that they have met an Anti-Climax. Compare and contrast That One Boss, which sometimes causes the feeling that, at the end of the game, you have met an Anti-Climax Boss. Also Contrast Best Boss Ever, naturally.

This trope can be an acceptable break from reality in Wide-Open Sandbox RPGs that encourage nonviolent solutions to problems; if there must be a Climax Boss or Final Boss to round out the game, it has to be beatable by the weakest character who can survive to reach that point. Alternatively, the climax is in how easy the boss is to defeat, giving the player a chance for a cathartic beat down on someone who absolutely had it coming. It's important to note that this may be by design.

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Non-Video Game Examples:

  • Android Kikaider: The Animation: Gill-Hakaider in the OVA goes down pretty quick once Jiro's submission circuit is activated and he confronts him.
  • Anime/{{Kämpfer}}:
    • For as much as they're made a big deal of the White Kämpfer tend to go down pretty easily.
    • Even worse is after The Reveal that Sakura is actually the Big Bad, the White Kämpferinnen still are easily beaten, with Sakura being hardly a threat in the finale.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel - Northern War has Jayna who gradually gets built up as the Big Bad of the anime and is a manipulative schemer but in the final episode, she unceremoniously gets killed by Talion who just slits her throat from the back. Lavi doesn't even get to fight her with the closest confrontation they got being that Jayna has a few young Northern Jaeger recruits as hostage that she needs to rescue and Jayna fleeing immediately.
  • The Sea Prince and the Fire Child: After the entire movie builds up Argon as an extremely dangerous threat who could destroy the entire world if released, he goes down in one hit from Glaucus.

    Comic Books 
  • The Flash: From the end of Flash War, the villain Paradox is built up as a dangerous villain out to utterly destroy the Flash's legacy, capable of erasing people with ease. In issue #750 he finally appears. He gets erased from existence a few issues later.
  • The Golden Age: While Dynaman puts up an epic fight, his equal partner in evil-Ultra-Humanite, the very first supervillain of the DC pantheon-spends two pages wrestling with Manhunter, gets off a quick wild burst of gunfire from a stolen machine gun, and then falls out a window to his death. He never uses either his trademark albino gorilla body (which is absent from the story despite Humanite having been trying to escape somewhere to switch bodies when Manhunter catches him) or the whip, revolvers, and cape/flying carpet associated with his body-jacking victim Tex Thompson.
  • Hellblazer: In the story "Fear Machine", the Freemasons use Ley Lines to convey fear from all over Britain to summon a powerful entity on the Cthulhu level to destroy the world. The solution by Constantine and company was to summon it's mate to balance it out. How do they do this? A massive spell with an army of wizards? A terrible sacrifice? No, Constantine has a threesome which summons the mate and they fly away doing nothing but blowing a lot of wind around.

    Fan Works 
  • In Sword Art Online Abridged, the Floor 75 boss, the fearsome Skull Reaper, makes a hell of an entrance cutting down two players in a single attack, only to immediately afterward glitch out and die. Unfortunately, this leads to a Game-Breaking Bug where the door to his boss room doesn't unlock, trapping the clearing team indefinitely.
  • Thanos in the Second Chance Series is built up as the ultimate villain whom the Avengers have no hope of defeating if he has even a single Infinity Stone. During the Final Battle, Thanos has both the Power and Reality stones on his side but the instant Tony momentarily gets the Infinity Gauntlet off, the Stones immediately insert themselves in Tony's suit and allow him to easily wipe out Thanos and his forces in moments. It's revealed that the Stones don't want to be used at all, but they really don't want to be used by an Omnicidal Maniac like Thanos.
  • Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail: Mrs. Turner is quite a sad Final Boss and Arc Villain compared to the likes of (motive-wise) Parker, Sara, Yeardley and Class 5-E and (power-wise) Henry and Walter, The Apex and The Unown and UnChloe, especially since she's the last enemy faced in the story, period. While initially a Mundanger threat, all of that goes straight out the window when she reveals herself to be just as cartoonishly evil as the antagonists of Act 1, with very little nuance or depth to her character. Despite having a gun, her threat level is also vastly inferior to previous antagonists, with the only thing setting her apart being her bluffs. And when someone calls out said bluffs? She gets a big Villainous Breakdown that renders her a mindless maniac, losing the ability to think with logic and reason with the intention of getting ready to shoot lead, even if it doesn't get her what she wants. Couple that with an incredibly shallow motivation (wanting a Shiny Mew and nabbing Goh's tracker) and her arrest being only mentioned, she's a pretty weak send off villain.

  • Flash Gordon (1980): Ming is Impaled with Extreme Prejudice by war rocket Ajax, which could be seen as a bit too quick and easy for anyone looking forward to him having a Duel to the Death with Flash.
  • Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom: Shoggoth gets taken down with a One-Hit Kill thanks to the rune Howard had on him.
  • Mad Max: The Toecutter, as all it takes for Max to finish him off is to chase him down until he gets run over by a truck.
  • Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior: Lord Humungus, as he and Max are never directly face-to-face at any point until Max smashes into his vehicle with the tanker truck.
  • Mandy (2018): Red takes down the Children of the New Dawn pretty easily. Brother Klopek is the only one who puts up a fight. Justified in that they are a cult of drugged-up hippies who had to summon demonic forces to do the dirty work for them.
  • No Escape (1994): While Outsider leader Marek gets a relatively memorable (although not too long) final battle, the same can't be said for his Badass Army of Always Chaotic Evil marauders, especially after the more intense and drawn-out Christmas raid in the middle of the film. They charge into an empty camp and mill around in confusion for a few seconds before Robbins blows almost all of them up with a grenade launcher without a fight.
  • The Secret of Kells: Crom Cruach. Despite being an ancient Celtic god who destroyed Aisling's entire family (and possibly species), it gets about a minute of screen time and is promptly defeated by a piece of chalk.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, a movie all about videogame tropes, has this in Nega Scott, the evil counterpart of the main character. Built up as a big threat (even more so in deleted scenes), when the time comes to fight him... the scene cuts to Scott and Nega Scott exiting the place chatting and laughing, having become instant friends.
  • Wizards: The final battle between Avatar and Blackwolf. Avatar just cuts the BS and shoots him, killing Blackwolf on the spot and ending his reign of terror then and there.

  • Fighting Fantasy:
    • In the gamebook Space Assassin, the Final Boss has skill 9 stamina 12 — the stats of a typical mid-tier enemy.
    • An even worse offender is the Final Boss of the gamebook Eye of the Dragon, with skill 8, stamina 8 and going down in 2 hits instead of the usual four. Especially considering the obscenely powerful mandatory enemies in the game.
  • Lone Wolf:
    • Darklords Zagarna (Book 2) and Gnaag (Book 12) are destroyed without a fight by the power of the Sommerswerd. In gameplay terms an anticlimax, but the satisfying and incredibly badass descriptions of these literal embodiments of evil being annihilated in a blast of holy sunfire makes up for it.
    • Wytch-King Shasarak and Agarash the Damned from the World of Lone Wolf books starring Grey Star might end up being these. The former can have a fearsome Combat Strength of 30, but that can be reduced to 10 if you take certain options in the pre-fight, making him significantly weaker. Grey Star beats the latter by simply throwing the Moonstone at the gate Agarash is trying to pass through, thus preventing his escape.

  • Maul: Lockdown: Calculating Banking Clan executive Vesto Slipher, Magnificent Bastard mob boss Iram Radique, hard-nosed Warden Sadaki Blirr, her brother and pet savant Dakarai (who has been Playing Both Sides for some time), and resentfully deposed gang leader Vas Nailhead all have powerful arcs and build-ups. Nonetheless, all of them are removed as obstacles to Maul (one way or another) with very little build up, difficulty, or fanfare.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Handsome Siblings: In this Wuxia series, all three of the best martial artists among the villains, Jiang Biehe, Wei Wuya, and Yao Yue, are either defeated effortlessly by the heroes or don't even need to be fought due to circumstances. (It could be argued that this is thematically appropriate, since the real tension of the story is the friendship between Jiang Xiayu and Hua Wuque in light of their fated duel, but it wouldn't have killed them to make at least one villain pose a serious threat.)

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The Tarrasque is hyped to be the biggest, baddest, toughest monster in the game, often rumoured to be the cause of why so many powerful empires are no longer around. Too bad that for its 3rd edition incarnation (and others), it moves slow, can't fly, and has no ranged attacks, meaning anything that does and has a decent damage output can poke it to death without harm. It has a pathetic will save that any wizard that should be encountering him can beat (barring natural 20) and no immunities to the effects that target will (even the ones that people avoid using because every other high level monster beside Big T is immune to them). You can have your very own pet Tarrasque for a day/level (that can easily be renewed before it expires with no effort, just command it to lower its SR and fail the will save) via Dominate Monster. One noticeably laughable design choice is that over half its feats are some of the worst feats in the game (which was something of a recurring theme for monster feat choices- they often tended to be ones that were extremely weak and made no thematic sense). It doesn't help that ever since it was created, gamers have had unofficial "easiest/silliest ways to defeat the Tarrasque" contests. One particularly noticeable one involves a goat with a jar of green slime tied around its neck. The Tarrasque eats the goat and the slime then destroys it from the inside.
    • Technically, due to the open-ended nature of DnD, any campaign final boss can be like this. It all depends on how well the DM designed the encounter, and whether the players pull off some crazy dumb instawin strategy.
    • The Red Hand of Doom adventure features a number of these, largely due to clumsy character building.
      • The Ghostlord is meant to be a Hopeless Boss Fight — he's encountered when the party is around 8th level, and he's CR 13, so on paper, the only way to beat him is to talk to him and convince him not to join the Big Bad. However, the Ghostlord is pretty miserably-built for CR 13; he's a lich ex-druid 6/blighter 5, which translates to his first six class levels being useless and his next five levels being in a fairly weak prestige class designed to compensate for his first six levels being useless. On top of that, he's already used his 5th-level spells when you encounter him, so he's actually down to 4th-level blighter spells, making him effectively a 7-8th-level druid. And just to seal the deal, the room he confronts you in is pretty cramped, making it easy to dogpile him, and one of the items you can pick up is a Staff of Life, which can potentially one-shot him outright.
      • Despite being the Climax Boss of the adventure, Hravek Kharn, leader of the Red Hand horde, is pretty underwhelming, though not as much of a pushover as the Ghostlord. He's a blend of favored soul and talon of Tiamat, with the former being a less effective cleric and the latter a very ineffective prestige class that doesn't do a whole lot for him but make his casting worse and give him a Breath Weapon that deals about 20 damage. He has a lot of buff spells, but several of them are either redundant with his equipment or each other, and even fully buffed-up, he isn't an especially strong fighter due to subpar feats. Unlike the Ghostlord, he at least has the good fortune to not confront the players alone, but the hill giants he shows up to the fight with are significantly bulkier and harder-hitting than he is. At least one guide to the adventure recommended simply rebuilding Kharn entirely rather than work with his existing statline.
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse: It is possible for Wager Master to defeat himself before the first turn of the game. If Wager Master plays two Wagelings (one damage to each hero) and Losing To The Odds (instant win if the heroes are all on even HP and some damage at that stage of WM's turn), and your party all have even starting HP counts, the Wagelings will deal two damage to each, leaving them still on an even count, and then you will win without having played a card. In the lore, he was once bested by Guise pulling random junk out of his Bag of Holding to technically meet the requirements of his challenge, such as a subway token for a "rune of transportation".
  • If you're facing Bokrug in Arkham Horror and you're using the Epic Battle variant introduced in Kingsport, it's possible to, on the first turn, draw an Epic Battle card that has you draw one of Bokrug's Ancient One Plot cards, and one of his cards has him... walk away. The players don't have to roll anything, don't have to sacrifice anything, they don't even have to have done damage. It's possible, at any time, to draw Bokrug's plot card where he apparently looks at the Investigators, then just waltzes off for whatever reason. Considering how massive of a nightmare Bokrug and the other Ancient Ones can be during the final battle, it can be bewildering to start the fight and have it end so randomly in victory (the only downside is losing 4 points to scoring).

  • 8-Bit Theater: The Light Warriors are faced with Astos and begin taunting him. Black Mage makes a pun so awfu that Astos has a stroke and drops dead on the spot.
  • Joe vs. Elan School, which is a Roman Clef autobiography about the author's time spent at a horrifically abusive "school" in Maine, builds up the school's founder "Jay Cirri" as a Greater-Scope Villain: a petty con man and thug turned mercurial mob boss who makes millions of dollars off of the school's prolonged child abuse. However, when the protagonist finally meets Cirri while doing work on his estate a few weeks before leaving the school for good, he finds that Cirri is a very visibly sick Empty Shell with dementia that doesn't even register his presence.

    Web Original 
  • Fire Sensei in Club Penguin. After winning all of the fire suit in Card Jitsu Fire, which can be very hard, you have to fight the Fire Sensei to get the fire gem. You expect Sensei to be quite hard, but when you fight him he suddenly starts using weak cards and gets beaten very quickly.
  • In the 2012 D 20 Live event, Big Mike introduced a menacing, albeit injured, Black Dragon, which was intended to be defeated by the party with the aid of the town magistrate and his personal guard. But through clever actions and some very lucky dice rolls from the players (as well as very unlucky dice rolls from the DM), they managed to defeat him all on their own... with the dragon not even managing to land a single hit on the players.
  • Dream:
  • Economy Watch: In Episode 24, "It's An Economic Snowfall", the final boss and overarching antagonist of Season 2, the Econiangel, is defeated quite easily, as David just fires a gun and kills him.
  • Spoofed in ProZD's King Dragon saga. In his only fight scene, the titular King Dragon goes down in a single slap because Dennis found all 900 pinecones and is overpowered to Game-Breaker levels as a result.
  • Slimecicle: Downplayed in The HARDEST Minecraft Difficulty: while the Ender Dragon does give Charlie and his friends a relatively challenging fight, they have Vanishing Mist and a friggin' glock, so it goes down relatively quickly compared to Fallen Grizzly.
    Western Animation 
  • In American Dragon: Jake Long, the Dark Dragon is built up as an even greater threat than the Huntsman but is easily defeated in all his appearances.
  • The Ghost and Molly McGee: After being depicted as The Dreaded and an all-powerful being, the Chairman is taken out by a single joy-infused tap on the nose by Molly.
  • Skeleton Warriors: The last thing Dr. Cyborn, Shriek, Dagger, Aracula and Bad Dog do is confront Guardian, only to turn tail and run when Grimskull, Talyn and Stalker arrive.
  • The Wuzzles: In "Bumblelion and the Terrified Forest", the Gorantula is built up as a horrific monster that could overrun all of Wuz. When we actually get to see it, Transylvia swoops in and shrinks it back down to normal.

Alternative Title(s): Joke Final Boss


Wizards (Blackwolf)

In what would look like a buildup to a climactic Wizard Duel, Avatar decides to defeat Blackwolf simply with a shot of a handgun, killing him almost instantly.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (24 votes)

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Main / AnticlimaxBoss

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