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Dragon Their Feet

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Deadeye Joe: This is the final battle!
Player Character: The Colonel is already dead! Stop this foolishness!
Deadeye Joe: I could care less about the Colonel. I'm going all the way!

So we have a Big Bad, and their dragon. The plot unfolds as our heroes do what heroes do, getting past all the obstacles between them and the Big BadThe Dragon, as the penultimate obstacle, included—before taking the Big Bad down.

Somehow along the way, though, they neglected to actually defeat The Dragon. Then the Dragon turns up again. They’re not The Man in Front of the Man, they just weren’t around when the Big Bad went down. Sometimes there's a reason for it, but sometimes...they were just absent. They were Dragon Their Feet.

Their motives for persisting in going after the heroes can vary. They might be out for revenge for their murdered boss, or might have an agenda all their own, or might simply have not gotten the memo that their side's already lost.

May result in a Post-Climax Confrontation, or a Dragon Ascendant if the heroes are really unlucky. This may be more likely to come about when It's Personal with the Dragon and the hero's final showdown with The Dragon may come after foiling the Big Bad's plot is out of the way.

Any overlap with Lazy Dragon (about the actual scaly fire-breathers being lazy) is purely coincidental.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • By the end of Blue Reflection Ray, Uta is the only Red Reflector to not repent and accept that she was wrong after Shino's defeat. Not only does she remain the sole Red Reflector, but she's also hinted to still have her powers and is free to do whatever she wants.
  • This happened with the 5th Dragon Ball Z movie, Cooler's Revenge: when Goku recovers from his injuries and powers up to fight Big Bad Cooler; the force waves throw Cooler's last remaining henchman and more-or-less Dragon Salza into a rock face, which he disappears into. He's forgotten until the very end when Cooler is vanquished when he emerges to try and finish off the exhausted and battered heroes. Until Piccolo, who was apparently put out of commission by Cooler earlier in the movie, blows a hole in Salza from offscreen.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist (2003):
    • After Roy is finished with Pride, he exits his lair only to be shot in the eye by Frank Archer, who had been marching slowly into the area. Despite this, Pride was not the actual Big Bad, Archer had been the Dragon to another Dragon.
    • Thanks to surviving getting caught in Al's transmutation and crossing through The Gate, Envy has made it into the events of Conqueror of Shamballa, where he's able to encounter his younger half-brother and later his father.
  • In the final episode of Go! Princess Pretty Cure, Close absorbs what’s left of Dyspear and challenges the Cures to one final battle.
  • The next act of In Another World with My Smartphone involves The Wicked Devout's five Generals Indigo, Scarlet, Hazel, Tangerine and Orchid. They all serve and worship the Wicked God before becoming deities themselves after eating the dust of the Wicked God's remains. They all acted as de facto The Dragons to the Wicked God, due to them having close-cut loyalties to him, but throughout the story they were never mentioned or made an appearance even in the battle with the Wicked God against the World Alliance led by Touya. After the Wicked God fell during the climatic battle, they later make an appearance and ultimately become the main antagonists in their attempts to fulfill the Wicked God's mission, as well as planning to revive him through a new vessel and plotting another goal of world destruction.
  • This is the driving plot behind Kill la Kill's OVA: two weeks after the events of the final episode, Ragyo's assistant Rei takes over control of the school and tries to destroy Satsuki and the Elite Four with evil versions of themselves.
  • The Kirby anime has an interesting variation. In this continuity, Meta Knight is technically a vassal of King Dedede (a Large Ham borderline Harmless Villain), but Dedede himself is frequently annoyed that he never seems to help out except in the most dire circumstances. Meta Knight being technically a good guy might have something to do with it.
  • Quattro in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS had an excused absence. She was operating the Cool Ship that was heading to space while Big Bad Jail Scaglietti was in his Elaborate Underground Base when Fate came to kick his ass. That, and she had one of Jail's backup clones implanted in her womb, so her not going down with the Big Bad was what the Big Bad wanted.
  • Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro: Sicks' right hand man Zenjiro seemingly dies when the burning building where he tried to drag all the heroes down with him to a fiery death collapsed. In the 3-year timeskip at the end of the series, he is shown to have somehow survived the explosion. He does not seek revenge, though. Zenjiro was never loyal to Sicks to begin with and his ultimate wish was to outlive his boss, something he finally accomplished.
  • Graham Aker from Mobile Suit Gundam 00 season finale. After Setsuna gives it his all to destroy the Big Bad's Mobile suit, Graham re-appears after several episodes to fight Setsuna in his GN-Flag, for revenge against the Gundams.
  • In Episode 6 of Symphogear GX, Carol apparently dies after losing to the IGNITED Symphogears. The Auto-Scorers become the main threat. This is subverted later on, when Carol is revived in a new body at the end of Episode 8.
  • In the Soul Eater manga, one of Arachne's dragons, Giriko, was drugged by the good guys while they were attacking Baba Yaga Castle and is unconscious for the rest of the story arc. When he wakes up, he ends up joining the villains of the next arc to avenge Arachne by killing Maka and Soul, but ends up killing himself in the process.
  • Occurs in the manga of Yu-Gi-Oh!: After the Pharaoh discovers his name and manages to defeat Zorc, he still has to contend with the corrupted Akhenaden before he can exit his memories. In the anime, this is averted, as Akhenaden is dealt with right before the final battle with Zorc begins.
    • Justified — and twice over at that — in the Kaiba Corp Grand Prix arc. Since all duels are one-on-one, Leon von Schroeder couldn't involve himself in his older brother Siegfried von Shroeder's duel with Seto Kaiba, no matter how much he might have wanted to. Additionally, the whole plan was for the Schroeder brothers to enter the tournament under two separate names so that if one of them was defeated or found out and expelled, the other would still have a shot at the championship. If Leon had so much as reacted during Kaiba's duel with Siegfried, he would have ruined the scheme. So instead he lets Siegfried lose, and goes onto duel Yugi in the finals, enabling them to put the final part of their plan into play.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds: The final battle against the Dark Signers unfolds by having the four Signers go all the way to the destinated five locations where the five Dark Signers are waiting for them. Even with a sixth Dark Signer (Bommer) being added, Rudger, the leader of the Dark Signers, is the fourth of the Dark Signers to be defeated. The two remaining Dark Signers, Carly and Misty, have been waiting the entire time for their opponent's to arrive, while two of their comrades (Demack and Kiryu), their new comrade (Bommer), and their superior (Rudger) have been defeating in the meantime. However, after the last Dark Signer is defeated, Goodwin emerges as The Man Behind the Man who has been manipulating both sides for his own benefits, and turning out to be a third party all along.

    Comic Book 

    Fan Works 
  • Just like the source material, the Dragon Ball Z Abridged version of Revenge of Cooler has Cooler's final henchman and apparent Number Two, Salza, attempt to finish off an exhausted and defenseless Goku after Goku manages to defeat Cooler.
  • The Karma of Lies has Hawkmoth defeated after Ladybug lures him out of hiding. His partner Mayura spends most of the fic preparing to strike back from behind the scenes, leading to one Final Battle.
  • Persona: The Sougawa Files: Nobuyuki Itou is killed before the group has any chance to fight his second in command, Yuudai Honda. This is an interesting case, however, as Yuudai becomes the Big Bad afterwards - and it turns out he had a far greater agenda than his former boss could have ever imagined.
  • In The Prayer Warriors Battle With The Witches, Dumbledore is killed two chapters from the end of the fic, and the final "battle" is with Harry Potter himself.
  • Ruby Pair: In "Beefus Megabombus", after the rest of the pirate space bees are all killed, first mate Ned shows up for one last fight with the Irkens. They immediately vaporize him.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter: After Big Bad Adam is killed by Lincoln, his sister Vadoma (who'd served as The Dragon), goes after Lincoln's wife... who shoots her in the head with a silver Tragic Keepsake.
  • At the end of Air Force One, the terrorists have been dispatched and a mid-air zipline transfer is about to take the remaining passengers to the rescue plane, Liberty 2-4. However, the traitor Agent Gibbs pulls a gun and demands that he be rescued over Major Caldwell and President Marshall.
  • In Agent Cody Banks, after Natalie kills Brinkman, Molay attempts to stop Cody from escaping the Collapsing Lair, but Cody manages to subdue him after a brief fight and captures him alive by sending him to the CIA.
  • Karla Fry survives Dent by about ten seconds of screentime in Beverly Hills Cop II. She is eventually disposed of by Taggart.
  • Of Lo Pan's three dragons (The Storms) in Big Trouble in Little China, only Rain gets killed before Lo Pan dies, while Lightning is knocked out during the battle royale. Thunder, who was distracted by one of the heroes when Lo Pan is killed, returns and self-destructs upon seeing the body. Then Lightning shows up to destroy the heroes as they escape, only getting killed when Egg Shen drops a statue on his head during the pursuit.
  • The film Chain Reaction has an interesting case of the main villain accidentally doing this to himself. He has two nameless elite mooks who he purposely separates himself fromnote ; a few minutes later, said mooks run into the main protagonists as they are attempting to escape the soon-to-blow underground base and serve as the final obstacle for the heroes to overcome.
  • Bennett from Commando doesn't fight Matrix until Arius has already been killed, because he was chasing down Matrix's daughter to kill her.
  • Death Ring: When Matt breaks into Vachs' mansion to rescue Lauren, he confronts Vachs' dragon, the Dragon Lady Ms. Ling, and throws her out a window to her apparent death. After Matt has killed Vachs' and he and Lauren are running to the chopper, Ms. Ling turns up injured but alive. She tackles Matt to the ground; wielding a set of tiger claws and demanding vengeance for Vachs' death.
  • The Departed:
    • A sort of reverse version of this shows up: The Mole causes the death of the captain, his Bad Boss, and the hero himself, though not all directly. Things are looking pretty good for him, as he's the only one left standing. However, in the last scene he walks into his apartment to find himself staring down the barrel of a gun held by the Captain's right-hand man, who disappeared about halfway through the film after his boss died. The film ends with The Mole's brain splattered all over his front door.
    • And before that, after both the captain and Costello die, the movie continues on for quite a while as the rival moles try to finish each other off as well, with the evil mole becoming the new villain.
  • Die Hard:
    • Die Hard has Karl turn up one last time at the very end of the film after previously being left for dead. Although, he did fulfill his duties as Dragon, having beaten the crap out of John McClane before his defeat. He was just too Bad-Ass to die, at least until Sgt. Al Powell regained the confidence to shoot a gun.
    • Live Free or Die Hard: After John McClane kills Thomas Gabriel by shooting through his shoulder, his last remaining henchman Emerson, who was holding John's daughter Lucy hostage, throws her aside and tries to shoot John, only to be shot by Matt Farrell.
    • A Good Day to Die Hard: after Jack kills Komarov, his daughter Irina attempts a Taking You with Me by ramming her helicopter into the building, only for the McClanes to escape at the last second.
  • Doctor Mordrid: After Kabal is defeated by Mordrid, his one surviving minion appears to try to kill Mordrid's comatose body while his spirit is still outside his body.
  • Foul Play: While the main planners in the plot to assassinate the Pope are defeated, albino assassin Whitey Jackson has already been sent to kill the Pope, and killing him is the object of the climax.
  • At the end of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, both Destro and Cobra Commander have been captured, but Zartan is the only Cobra member at large, and he had already kidnapped the President of the United States and became the President himself. This will lead into the sequel.
  • In G.I. Joe: Retaliation, after the main antagonist Zartan is killed, Roadblock is left to deal with Firefly while Cobra Commander makes his escape on a helicopter.
  • The Hobbit: The Necromancer is the Big Bad of the film series, but both he and Smaug are dealt with in the first act of The Battle Of The Five Armies. Azog carries out his plan to siege Erebor anyway, making him the primary antagonist for the rest of that movie.
  • In Hot Fuzz, after the final, massive shootout against the NWA and the defeat of Devil in Plain Sight Simon Skinner and the Big Bad Police Chief, everything seems like it's all wrapped up and the cops are all finishing up their paperwork, when suddenly the one NWA member they forgot about bursts into the police station and starts shooting.
  • In Hudson Hawk, Hawk kills the Mayflowers by sabotaging the Gold Machine, but their Battle Butler Alfred was far enough away from it that Hawk has to beat him in a hand-to-hand fight before he goes down.
  • In Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, after Harkness is in custody, Reacher is left to deal with the Hunter, who is after Samantha. When Reacher points out to the Hunter that Harkness has been arrested, the Hunter replies that he doesn't give a shit about Harkness' capture.
  • This became a convention of James Bond films for a time.
    • On Her Majesty's Secret Service sees Irma Bunt return to take revenge on Bond, in a tragic Post-Climax Confrontation.
      • Though this is ultimately subverted, as Blofeld is revealed to be still alive and with Irma, and together they exact their revenge in the Downer Ending.
    • Diamonds Are Forever had Mr. Wynt and Mr. Kidd (Blofeld's assassins) try to kill Bond and Tiffany Case with a Time Bomb after Bond dealt with Blofeld. Though Blofeld is implied to have survived so he could have ordered them to do it.
    • Tee Hee has a fight with Bond aboard a train after he kills Kananga in Live and Let Die.
    • Scaramanga's assistant Nick Nack took a final shot at Bond at the end of The Man with the Golden Gun. Justified in that Nick Nack never intended to be The Dragon in the first place. From the very opening, he says time and again he wants someone to kill Scaramanga so he can inherit the island fortress. Unfortunately for him, in the process of killing Scaramanga, Bond (or more accurately, Mary Goodnight) destroys the fortress and his inheritance.
    • The Spy Who Loved Me had Bond fighting Jaws after killing Big Bad Stromberg. Unlike most examples on this list, Jaws survives.
    • A View to a Kill: After James manages to throw Big Bad Max Zorin off the Golden Gate Bridge to his death, his Evil Genius Dr. Mortner continues shooting at Bond and Stacy (he considered Zorin his son, so he's plenty livid at them) and tries to blow them up with a few sticks of dynamite, only to end up killing himself in the process.
    • Big Bad Carver from Tomorrow Never Dies is completely alone when Bond takes him out and then his Dragon Stamper emerges afterward to have the final battle with Bond. Stamper makes it clear this is entirely about revenge, for both Carver and another assassin killed by Bond that Stamper regarded as a surrogate father.
    • In The World Is Not Enough, the final showdown is with Renard when Big Bad Elektra King is dispatched at the end of a scene where she tortures Bond, who has to face Renard. Renard is not happy when Bond tells him she's dead.
    • Subverted in Spectre. Blofeld seemingly dies when Bond blows up his Moroccan headquarters and C is left to be dealt with by Bond and his team. Bond even refers to Blofeld as the "recently deceased head of SPECTRE". But being Blofeld, he's very much alive and has one Final Battle with Bond in London.
    • The trope even follows into the parodies: Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery has Random Task infiltrate Austin's hotel room at the end, and at the end of the sequel The Spy Who Shagged Me Fat Bastard makes a surprise re-appearance ("SURPRISE SURPRISE!")
  • In Jason Bourne, after Heather saved Bourne from Dewey, Bourne still spends ten minutes chasing down and then killing the Asset. Though considering the man killed his father, this is very understandable.
  • Mr. Joshua from Lethal Weapon flees the scene of the movie's semi-final battle and instead chooses to battle Riggs and Murtaugh in front of Murtaugh's home after the primary Big Bad ended up "barbecuing his nuts on Hollywood Boulevard".
  • While Immortan Joe is taken out by Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road, his son Rictus survives Joe by about a minute and a half and is taken out by Nux's Heroic Sacrifice.
  • In The Man from Toronto, after the Handler has been boiled and all the other assassins have been killed or knocked out, the Man from Tokyo still shows up to kill Teddy and Randy, but Randy promptly knocks him out.
  • Meg 2: The Trench: Montes outlives Driscoll and he is subsequently the last human antagonist to be dealt with.
  • In Mission: Impossible III, The Mole, Musgrave, survives Davian for about a few minutes after Davian is killed by Ethan until he is gunned down several times by Ethan's wife, Julia.
  • In National Security, Nash is the last of the bad guys to be taken down and takes the combined efforts of both Hank and Earl. Meanwhile, McDuff, the real Big Bad, is taken out early in the final shoot-out.
  • In the film Road to Perdition, after the protagonist kills the entire Rooney crime family, Psycho for Hire Maguire still shows up at the end and kills him; It was Nitti who hired him rather than Rooney.
  • A similar example to the Die Hard one happens in The Rocketeer, in which the hero, Cliff, beats The Dragon Lothar, and then proceeds to fight the Big Bad, Neville Sinclair. After he is killed, it is revealed that Lothar is still alive and attempts once more to kill our hero, before the zeppelin they're standing on blows up, ultimately killing him.
  • In the Liam Neeson movie Run All Night, after Jimmy Conlon invaded the pub and killed Shawn Maguire and his men in a shootout, he returns to his son Mike and his family, only to be fatally wounded by Mr. Price, a professional assassin hired by Maguire earlier and whom Jimmy spared in a Battle Amongst the Flames. Jimmy eventually kills Mr. Price via Boom, Headshot! before succumbing to his wounds.
  • In The Running Man, Ben Richards incapacitates Dynamo, one of the four "stalkers" - dragons of Damon Killian and stars of his show - but spares his life. The stalker comes back later and is killed by Amber.
    • However, this movie does a Bait-and-Switch by including a couple of characters who seem like (at least) one of them would fight The Hero in the Final Battle, but this never happens; instead, the protagonist is free to execute the defenseless Non-Action Big Bad in their final encounter.
  • At the end of Rush Hour 2, Lee and Carter are catching their breath after defeating Ricky Tan, only for The Dragon Hu Li to arrive with a bomb that's about to blow.
  • In Samurai Cop, Yamashita is the only one of Fujiyama's men remaining at the end of the Final Battle and is Marshall's final opponent in a Duel to the Death. When Yamashita loses, he cuts himself open.
  • In Shoot 'Em Up, Hertz continues to fight Smith after his boss Hammerson is killed.
  • In Section 8, after Jake Altherton (Ryan Kwanten) avenged the death of his family and killed Sam Ramsey (Dermot Mulroney), he returns home to his apartment only to find Leonard Locke (Scott Adkins) waiting for him. When Jake points out that his employer is dead, Locke responds he still has to complete the task given to him, leading to one final fight.
  • Appears in Sky High (2005). Stitches is the last villain standing by the end, and attempts to get away with the age-regressed superheroes, but is almost immediately taken down by none other than Ron Wilson, Bus Driver.
  • Star Wars:
    • General Grievous from the prequels is supposedly Dooku's right-hand man and most feared commander and assassin, but he's nowhere around while Dooku tries to take on two very powerful Jedi and gets himself killed.
    • Admiral Piett manages to outlive both the Emperor and Darth Vader (who had actually redeemed himself) and is still fighting the rebels when he is killed in Return of the Jedi.
  • Universal Soldier: The Return: Romeo continues to pursue Deveraux after SETH's demise, before finally being buried underneath a pile of rubble with the rest of the Unisols when the entire facility is blown up.
  • Similar to Die Hard, in Violent Night, Commander Thorp outlives Scrooge and is the final villain dispatched in the movie.
  • The Witches (1990): Subverted. Miss Irskine, the Grand High Witch's aide, is the only witch to survive the slaughter at the seaside hotel. She tracks down Luke and his grandmother at the end to seemingly avenge her former boss. Turns out she changed her mind about being a Wicked Witch and wants to do good from now on, so she turns mouse Luke back into a boy.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • While Magneto is captured at the end of X-Men, his right-hand woman Mystique escapes and later frees Magneto early in the next film.
    • Logan: While Logan dispatches Dr. Zander Rice quickly in the Final Battle, his right-hand man Pierce is still around and unleashes the Evil Knockoff X-24 to take him out. This gets taken further when the mutant kids kill Pierce and X-24 is the only bad guy left standing; he kills Logan but then gets killed by X-23.
  • In the 2003 Zatoichi movie, the Rōnin bodyguard Hattori waits until after his boss is dead to have a final showdown with Zatoichi.


    Live-Action TV 
  • In the third season of 24 main antagonist Stephen Saunders is brought down two episodes before the season finale, but although he's been dealt with the virus that was in his possession is still on the market, in the hands of his henchman Rabens. The final two episodes are devoted to stopping Rabens before he either unleashes the virus or worse, manages to smuggle it out of the country so more of it can be made, which would repeat the events of the day all over again. Seeing as how this was Saunders' plan from the start, it's also a justified case.
  • In Breaking Bad, Mike Ehrmantraut is a geriatric one man army and antagonist Gus Fring's button man. After Gus' successful plan to take down the cartel, Mike is wounded in a shootout and left behind at a makeshift hospital in Mexico. The last three episodes of season 4 play out with Mike out of commission and essentially forgotten about, culminating in Gus' death. The season 5 opener answers the question of what happened to Mike, who immediately foregoes healing to avenge Gus.
  • Peru-ha, the Big Bad of Filipino series Juan Dela Cruz, gets defeated and lost most of her power (and minions) before the series even ended. She uses the last of her power instead to remove the Anak ng Dilim from the eponymous character's body, becoming his Enemy Without, who then becomes the actual Final Boss.
  • Madan Senki Ryukendo: After Big Bad Daimaou Grenghost is defeated by the heroes, his Dragon Jackmoon is revealed to have survived. Since Jackmoon is The Rival to Kenji and a Noble Demon, he wanted to end his life in honorable combat. Kenji grants him this wish.
  • Person of Interest:
    • Halfway through Season 3, the head of Dirty Cop cabal HR is arrested. However, his right-hand man remains on the run for a few days... and during that time he deals serious damage, killing one of the main characters and seriously wounding another.
    • In the Grand Finale, "return 0", after defeating Samaritan, Blackwell is the last surviving member of Decima, until he is finally tracked down and killed by Shaw as revenge for killing Root.
  • In Power Rangers Beast Morphers, months after the defeat of Evox, Scrozzle went into a rampage on Christmas ("'Tis the season for revenge!") against the Rangers for destroying his Cyber Dimension. Subverted in the following season where it's revealed that Evox is still alive.
  • Tomica Hero Rescue Force, from the same creators as Ryukendo, also features this trope. The show's three Dragons — Maare, San, and Sica — manage to survive the Big Bad Baatsu. With the three being androids, they are desperate for energy and follow their original programming of causing disasters, hoping this will reward them with energy. When Rescue Force finds them, the trio is re-purposed to assist Rescue Force from then on.
  • This is Played for Laughs in The Wrong Mans, when a Not Quite Dead Russian agent emerges from the hangar and shoots at Sam. He even shouts something along the lines of "I'm not dead".

    Tabletop Games 
  • Possible via the game mechanics in Sentinels of the Multiverse. The Chairman's card says that the heroes can't win while his Dragon, The Operative, is still in play, so it's entirely possible for the Chairman, who has less HP to start with, to go down before The Operative does, leaving the heroes to have to finish her off after taking down her boss.

    Video Games 
  • Abyss Crossing: The main antagonist, Siro, enlisted the aid of her sister, Kuro, to concentrate magical elements into the Astras, throwing the multiverse into chaos. However, Kuro doesn't assist Siro in the Final Boss fight and instead waits for the party in the optional Unexplored Labyrinth.
  • The Adventures of Bayou Billy has you chasing and confronting a villain named Godfather Gordon. When you beat him, his bodyguards Rocky and Rocko appear: they serve as the game's final battle. While this at first makes them look completely incompetent at their job, this is actually justified: they were actually plotting to take over Gordon's crime syndicate, and deliberately allowed you to take him out.
  • If Mike gains sufficient respect with Conrad Marburg in Alpha Protocol he can manage to do this. Marburg won't fight Mike inside the Greybox and instead show up after the Final Boss fight when you've got Leland dead to rights... Only to shake his head and walk off, leaving Leland just as badly off.
  • Assassin's Creed III: Connor's fight with Charles Lee doesn't occur until after Haytham's death. Justified, as Connor's vendetta was against Lee since he mistakenly blamed Lee for the fire that killed his mother.
  • Should you find True Episode 18 of Asura's Wrath, Asura and Yasha return to Mithra after besting Gohma Vlitra only to find Olga, who has been absent from the field ever since her fleet was decimated by Asura in Episode 12, try to kill Mithra. Though it is never explained what she was doing when her leader, Deus, was killed, she arrives to kill Mithra as revenge for Deus' defeat...and then she is killed by the Golden Spider.
  • Ultimately the case in BattleTech (2018), where Director Santiago Espionsa surrenders, but his daughter Victoria refuses to go quietly and forces the player's unit to face her as their final battle of the campaign. It's strongly implied that she can't accept that all the horrible things she did for her father ended up being All for Nothing, and wants to either kill the player who thwarted her or die trying so she doesn't have to live with herself.
  • Bravely Default: The Ninja sub-quest comes long after Kikyo's comrades in the Black Blades have been felled.
  • Breath of Fire:
    • This is the case in the first game. Jade, seemingly The Dragon, is the one you have the biggest grudge against, since he personally captured and brainwashed your sister, and he survives his boss Zog to resurrect the goddess Tyr. However, he was probably planning this from the start anyway, so he may qualify as the Man Behind the Man, even though Zog also planned to resurrect the goddess Tyr and use her to acquire ultimate power.
    • Yuna of Breath of Fire IV is a more typical example. He and Yohm are setup as Dragons to Soniel. After Soniel's death, Yohm goes on to serve Fou-Lu and fight against the party at the start of the final dungeon. But Yuna is nowhere to be found and is very much alive in the game's ending, unpunished for the Body Horror he inflicted on Nina's sister.
  • In Call of Duty: Black Ops II, it turns out Kravchenko outlived Dragovich by more than 20 years and ends up leading part of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In fact, Dragovich isn't mentioned at all in Black Ops 2, with Woods blaming Mason's condition solely on Kravchenko (granted, Woods never met Dragovich, so this kinda makes sense).
  • This happens in the "true ending" path of Contra: Hard Corps. You defeat the Big Bad at the end of the 2nd to last level. At the beginning of the last level, The Dragon shows up to fight you. When you point out that his boss is dead, he replies that he doesn't care and just likes fighting.
  • In Dark Souls III, you'll still be fighting Pontiff Sulyvahn's lieutenants and minions (the Dancer of the Boreal Valley, the Outrider Knights, the Cathedral Knights) in areas that only become accessible after killing the Pontiff himself.
  • The original Dragon Quest's publicity material claims the dragon battled after the pansy Dragonlord/Dracolord, is a trained superdragon he learned how to control when he was living in a cave. This is contradicted within the game itself though, where he turns into said dragon instead.
  • This happens in every Fallout game. In Fallout, it's optional based on the order you tackle the last two levels, whereas it happens as part of the plot in Fallout 2 and Fallout 3.
    • Namely, in Fallout, the last two levels are a cathedral where you confront and kill the Big Bad and a military base where you kill The Dragon and destroy the Big Bad's Forgotten Superweapon. You can tackle them in any order you want. According to the manual for the second game, killing the Big Bad first is canon.
    • In Fallout 2, the 15-foot tall, genetically engineered, cybernetically augmented, Ax-Crazy Dragon-in-Chief shows up to fight you at the very end of the game, after you've already caused the Enclave's oil-rig fortress to self-destruct and have likely already killed the Big Bad President Evil also.
    • Likewise, in Fallout 3, after destroying the Big Bad President Evil and nuking the Enclave's mountain base, the game's final quest has you dealing with The Dragon and the remaining Enclave soldiers, who've deserted the Big Bad and holed up inside the Water Purifier facility around which the main plot revolves.
    • In Fallout: New Vegas, depending on your actions, Caesar and/or President Kimball can end up dead before you deal with their military commanders Legate Lanius and General Oliver, who only appear in the final mission of the game because they're off coordinating the war (though Oliver in the Wild Card/House path is more of a Post-Final Boss that you deal with after Lanius).
  • In the Fire Emblem series:
    • Fire Emblem Gaiden has Massena, captain of Rudolf's guards. He is left behind to handle the cleanup in case Rudolf falls in battle, and never opposes Alm at any point. The remake, Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, has Rudolf's nephew and heir presumptive Berkut outlive him in a similar manner. Unlike Massena, he does come back for one last piece of Alm.
    • Used in an odd sort of way in Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade. Narcian more or less acts as Zephiel's second in command, but is sort of a weasel and dies relatively early. However, Zephiel is always being followed by the priestess Idunn, who is a literal dragon. After you kill Zephiel (the "normal" ending) you can go on to find that Idunn, a MacGuffin Super-Person with no emotions, is still robotically following Zephiel's commands, making her the Final Boss, but Zephiel the Big Bad is still controlling the plot even after his death. There's also a straight example in Brunnya, last of the Wyvern Generals, who commands the remnants of Zephiel's army in the chapter after Zephiel's demise.
    • In Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, either Lloyd or Linus will become the final boss of the second act after the Black Fang falls, depending on who died first.
    • Ashnard is the Big Bad of Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance. Two of his four Co-Dragons, the Black Knight and Bertram, outlive him and return for Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn; the Black Knight turns out to have been working for The Man Behind the Man all along and fights you two battles before his master, while Bertram has his Brainwashed and Crazy status cured, returning him to his true identity of Renning and allowing him to join you for the final battle.
    • In Fire Emblem: Awakening, Aversa manages to do this twice over. She outlives Disc-One Final Boss Gangrel, to who she was a Dragon with an Agenda, and her true master The Heavy Validar, coming back after the latter's death for one last swing at the party.
    • Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest does this in a complicated manner. Ryoma is the main Hoshidan antagonist and a member of the Big Bad Ensemble of the Conquest route along with Garon. You defeat all of his siblings and his main tactician before Ryoma himself. After that, it's just mopping up Garon and his cronies and you think you're done... right until the Greater-Scope Villain drags Ryoma's younger brother Takumi out of his grave for one last swing at you. Thus, this trope comes into play through Back from the Dead/Came Back Wrong.
    • Played With in Fire Emblem: Three Houses due to the Grey-and-Gray Morality of the game, but on the Crimson Flower route, Ashe and Annette, if not recruited prior to the timeskip, will outlive Dimitri and command the remnants of the Knights of Faerghus in the final battle.
  • In Fountain of Dreams, the Canon Discontinuity sequel to Wasteland (made by Electronic Arts, but with no input from the original Wasteland team), your squad kills the leader/patriarch of the Killer Klowns about 7/8ths of the way through the game, but his daughter shows up and tries to kill you at the very end just before you reach the Fountain of Dreams.
  • In God Hand, this happens when you beat Belze to find that The Dragon of the group, Azel, has left for his own plans of world domination, tired of the failings of the demons. He did not realize Belze planned to use Azel as a sacrifice to summon Satan, which actually worked.
  • In Halo 4 Jul 'Mdama is considered the Didact's Dragon, having even been named "the Didact's Hand", but his forces do not accompany the Didact when the latter decides to launch a one-ship assault on Earth. In fact, Jul only becomes prominent in the Spartan Ops co-op campaign, which takes place six months after the Didact's defeat; he continues to fight because his main goals are to wipe out humanity and establish his own species' dominance, having viewed the Didact himself as nothing more than a means to those ends.
  • During the Kirby Star Allies side mode Heroes in Another Dimension, you fight the Three Mage Sisters after you defeat Hyness, reversing the order they were fought in the main game.
  • In Legacy of Kain, Malek, the Pillar of Conflict and protector of the Circle of Nine, shows up right after Vorador slaughters the members of the Circle. For his failure, he's cursed to spend eternity as a suit of Animated Armor. Then Soul Reaver 2 explains why he was late to the party.
  • In the first Mahou Daisakusen, after you defeat the Final Boss, Bashinet suddenly comes out of nowhere and refuses to give up until you blow him up for good in an anticlimactic boss fight.
  • Metal Gear:
  • In the first Modern Warfare game, if you shoot Imran Zakhaev before his two henchmen.
  • The Game Boy Advance game based on Monsters, Inc. has Randall as the final boss, despite Waternoose being the true Big Bad of the story. He kidnaps Boo to goad Sully into one last confrontation after Waternoose's defeat.
  • As The Chessmaster, Porky of the Mother series has a habit of leaving his dragons around to wreak havoc with the protagonists after he's defeated. First Giygas, then Claus.
    • While it can be argued Porky was the Co-Dragon to the mindless Giygas, The Masked Man (Claus) features this trope outright. The mind control placed on him is so steadfast that not even Porky being sealed away in the Absolutely Safe Capsule stops the Masked Man from following his programming; to attempt to pull the final Needle, and destroy anyone trying to stop him.
  • In Myth: The Fallen Lords, Soulblighter chases the Legion until it reaches the fortress of Rhi'Hanon where the Big Bad, Balor, resides. Then, he suddenly stops the pursuit, with the narrator's journal stating that he mysteriously went away. After defeating Balor, the Legion is magically teletransported to the Great Devoid to throw his head inside. Here the remnants of the forces of light find again Soulblighter, angrily waiting for the survivors and seeking to retrieve Balor's head. He fails, only to flee and return for the sequel as a Dragon Ascendant.
  • As possibly a homage to James Bond, this happens in No One Lives Forever. Three times. After Kate storms the Very Definitely Final Dungeon and defeats her Arch-Enemy, Volkov, she goes to a quiet Swiss village to contact her superiors, where she's surprised by The Baroness. After The Baroness is dealt with, it looks like the game is over... until The Mole shows up and challenges her to a one-on-one shootout because you killed his employer, thus preventing him from getting the big, fat paycheck he worked so hard for. After beating The Mole, another Mole shows up and is promptly dealt with in a cutscene after explaining the entire plot of the game.
  • In Octopath Traveler II, you defeat Arcanette, the true leader of Moonshade Order, before personally meeting up with Oboro, who is one of the key members of the Order. You don't get to fight him, though, as he sacrifices himself to resurrect Vide.
  • A retroactive example in Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus. When the Big Bads are introduced at the beginning of the second disc, we learn they were the former subordinates of Mullock, the first game's Big Bad, who are now at a loss of what to do with the loss of their boss.
  • Ogre Battle has many examples, but the most obvious is in Tactics Ogre. Xaebos plays this role to the Galgastani remnants, whose main leader has either stabbed himself or been sufficiently guillotined off-screen.
  • This happens in [PROTOTYPE]. You kill the Big Bad in a Climax Boss fight about 4/5ths of the way through the game, and her "offspring" the Supreme Hunter then spends the rest of the game manipulating you to destroy Blackwatch and allow the city to be nuked, so the Supreme Hunter can escape undetected and restart the infection elsewhere.
  • Happens twice in Shadow Hearts: Covenant. First with Nicolai and Rasputin, then with Kato and Ishimura.
  • The Terminal Guardian pulls a variant of this in Shin Megami Tensei IV. He was the guy who set Domains in Terminals across Tokyo on behalf of the Lawful Evil Ashura-Kai. After you tear the organization apart, he keeps doing it - even if they are gone, it's still his job, dammit!
  • Mazinger ZERO ends up the last foe among the Mazinger enemies to fight in Super Robot Wars X because the Mycenae Empire is defeated on the scenario before the last route split. He can join you on the IF route.
  • Skies of Arcadia ultimately does this more than once - the game initially builds up the Big Bad to be the Empress of Valua, with The Dragon as Galcian. Eventually, it's revealed that Galcian was the one manipulating things in the first place and he too comes with his own Dragon, Ramirez. Galcian ultimately kills the Empress and much of the population of Valua, thus seating himself as the actual Big Bad. However, instead of you taking out The Dragon and defeating Galcian afterwards, the game reverses this as Galcian attacks you first - leaving Ramirez to defend his superweapon instead. After Galcian is killed during his escape, Ramirez goes insane and tries to destroy the world as his revenge, leading to Ramirez becoming the final boss fight of the game.
  • A common theme in Splinter Cell is that the Big Bad and main instigator of the current problem is killed off in the penultimate mission, with the finale being something of a mop-up mission. In Splinter Cell it takes place in a DLC, while in Double Agent it's a bonus level for achieving the full ending.
  • Duran, The Dragon to Kerrigan is conspicuously absent from StarCraft: Brood War's final battle. Finishing the game's secret mission reveals he was The Mole for a fourth faction all along, and has now returned to his true masters.
  • In Tales of Vesperia, Zagi is at least temporarily the Dragon for every villain except for Cumore and Alexei, who share Yeager as their Dragon. Yeager's Dragon, of course, would be Zagi.
  • The arcade shoot'em up game Time Crisis is also an example. Two thirds through the game, Miller manages to kill Big Bad Garo in a fairly anticlimactic battle. His mercenary Dragon, Wild Dog, then takes command and tries to finish his job to make up for not being paid.
    • Though Wild Dog would return in Time Crisis 2-5 as a more traditional Dragon. Even when it seems like he won't. Apparently he wears an explosion-proof vest.
  • In Tomb Raider II, the Big Bad turns himself into a giant Chinese dragon and is fought and killed by Lara in a massive boss battle in the game's second to last level. In the last level, Lara is relaxing at home when the Big Bad's remaining men crash through the front door, led by the Big Bad's 8-foot tall, dual-shotgun-wielding The Dragon.
  • In Touhou Chireiden ~ Subterranean Animism, Komeiji Satori, the leader of the boss group (calling her a Big Bad is a bit misleading) appears in the fourth of six stages. The two final stage bosses, Kaenbyou Rin and Reiuji Utsuho are Satori's "pets".
  • In Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, the Big Bad Marlowe is killed by being buried alive in quicksand as Iram of the Pillars is collapsing (caused directly by the heroes). Just as they're about to escape, her Dragon Talbot attacks Nate in a Roaring Rampage of Revenge and is defeated.
  • In Unreal there's an implication that the Warlord you encounter a couple of times (and kill) is some sort of royal guard for the Queen and the Skaarj mothership, but in Return to Na Pali you encounter another one as the Final Boss who is hardly referenced at all and was nowhere to be seen in the mothership.
  • Sort of happens in Wario Land II, where after going through the game, fighting the Big Bad multiple times and going through the secret worlds, the very final level ends with a battle against The Dragon (the giant spear man) on an invisible floor.
  • This is fairly common in the Warcraft universe, especially in the MMO.
    • Rend Blackhand was chief lieutenant to Orgrim Doomhammer during the Second War. During the climactic battle which saw the Horde defeated, Rend and his clan were sent to deal with Gul'dan. After a few final skirmishes with the Alliance, Rend and his remaining allies retreated to Blackrock Spire. Decades later, Rend has proclaimed himself the Warchief of the Horde in opposition to Thrall. However, his battle is doomed to failure and he is little more than a minor lieutenant to Nefarion.
    • Kargath Bladefist was a major player in the Second War but remained largely on Draenor. After its destruction and his corruption by fel energy, he declared himself Warchief of the "True Horde". Ultimately, he and the Fel Horde were easily dismantled by heroes.
  • One of the possible endings for Way of the Samurai 2 featured the Big Bad's Psycho for Hire, Kyojiro Kagenuma, dropping by to fight you AFTER you've defeated and killed her boss. But then again, she's more 'Psycho' than 'For Hire', and only really followed him in the first place, because he gave her plenty of opportunities to kill people. (One of those possible endings is actually a bit of a subversion - she shows up at the Good Guys 'victory party' to fight you - but you've already left to Walk The Earth again, so instead, she simply slaughters everybody there, including your temporary love-interest, and drinks their blood while crying for you to come back and fight her...)
    • Also, take too long to find her, and you'll come right after she has impaled said love interest to the ground, and later dying on your arms (the love interest). Note, the Love Interest is an Action Girl who is actually quite competent as far as allies go. Kyojiro is just that damn good.
      • It should be noted that Kyojiro, in her own way, has a monster crush on the protagonist, and those bloody actions are her way of getting his attention. She even, at one point, tells you "I like you so much, I could just hack you into little pieces...!". Yandere much? Yeeeeaaaaahhhh...
  • Played With in Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Despite Jin being the leader of Torna and Amalthus being the Greater-Scope Villain responsible for Alrest's degredation, the final boss is Jin's second in command Malos. However, for all his power Jin never had the means to fufill their plan while Malos, as an Aegis, could, as most of their plan revolved around getting Malos to Elysium so he could destroy the Architect and the world, with Jin fighting the party while Malos went ahead despite the latters protest that they would go together. Amalthus on the other hand, while being responsible for Malos' corruption due to his warped view of the world, ultimately had no control over him as was as much their enemy as Rex was. Ultimately the final battle has Malos carrying out both of their wills as he fights to be free of his tainted existance either by forcing the party to kill him or by taking the entire world down with him.
  • This is the entire premise of Yuri's Revenge. When the Allies won the war and caught Romanov, Yuri slipped away somewhere else. A few months after the war, he's back - and he's a few minutes away from total world domination via mindcontrol. Unluckily for him, the Allies have an ace in the hole, San Francisco is still not under Yuri's control and they have a time machine to send themselves back in time to undo Yuri's plan.


    Western Animation 
  • Zig-zagged during the Grand Finale of Codename: Kids Next Door. About midway through the special, Big Bad Father is trapped under his house, leaving the Delightful Children as the final challenge of the episode. However, it is revealed that Father was the one to whom the events of the story was being told, but Sector V outsmarted him. So while he is the final villain, he is defeated first in a physical sense.

Alternative Title(s): Dragon His Feet, Post Climax Dragon Appearance