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Final Boss Preview

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"Listen up, boy. If we were to say today was one of those Japanese video games I play in my spare time... Then this would be the part where you ask why the final boss helps you when you're about to die in the first dungeon."
Evangeline after much asskicking, Negima! Magister Negi Magi

The Final Boss Preview is when a major antagonist, such as the Big Bad or The Dragon, shows off just how dangerous they are by getting into a fight with the protagonist early on and easily defeating them. If the protagonist has already been established as a badass in their own right, then this overlaps with The Worf Effect.

The point of this is to give the plot a shift to high gear by giving the protagonist a taste of battles to come and something to fight for, as well as building up the villain as a serious threat. In Video Games this often coincides with Cutscene Incompetence, Railroading, Hopeless Boss Fight, and Heads I Win, Tails You Lose, making victory impossible. The exception being in a New Game Plus where you can beat the villain, but they teleport away before the final blow. (Or maybe you do get to beat them and send the plot careening Off the Rails, probably leading to a Gainax Ending or simply cutting to the credits and epilogue.)

Variants are when the villain fully intends to kill the protagonist, but the protagonist is rescued by their mentor or allies, maybe at the cost of one of their lives. Or the villain is frightened off somehow or forced to leave; maybe they've got far more pressing matters to worry about (say, their Evil Plan is put in jeopardy by The Starscream and he has to leave posthaste). In some cases, this can overlap with A Taste of Power, where the villain shows up on the side of the player for a brief period. If the villain turns out to be a Disc-One Final Boss, this trope may end up repeating itself when the real Big Bad shows up.

A specific form of Your Princess Is in Another Castle!, a version of Sorting Algorithm of Evil and aversion of No Sneak Attacks. Sister Trope to Final Dungeon Preview. Contrast Orcus on His Throne. See also New World Tease.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • It happens accidentally in Bikini Warriors, courtesy of Dark Elf teleporting the gang to Deathgeld's lair.
  • Done many times in Bleach with Ichigo, most potently when Aizen managed to stop his bankai with one finger, then casually sliced him nearly in half. Just to hammer the point home, Aizen says he's surprised that he didn't completely sever Ichigo's spine, and tells himself not to hold back so much next time. It's later revealed that he let him live on purpose, as Ichigo is integral to his master plan.
  • The Brave Fighter of Sun Fighbird has Draias directly interfere with the Space Police's efforts and beat them in the early episodes.
  • Digimon Adventure: This happened every first time the Digidestined encountered the Big Bad of the arc: When they first encounter Devimon, he scatters them across the broken pieces of File Island, forcing them to seek each other out. Etemon is their first encounter with an Ultimate level villain (one who has the ability to nullify their digivolutions). Myotismon first attacked them in a field and showed that he was leagues beyond Etemon. The Dark Masters all ganged up on the children and toyed with them as they attempted to fight back, with Piedmon even easily taking out WarGreymon and MetalGarurumon in an instant.
  • Happens several times in Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z: Goku's first fight with Tao Pai Pai, his first fight with Tambourine, first fight with Piccolo Daimaou, Raditz's arrival at Kame House, etc.
  • In Fairy Tail, Acnologia appears at the end of the Tenrou Island Arc after being attracted by both the battle between Fairy Tail and Grimoire Heart as well as the actions of Zeref in order to casually No-Sell the attacks of the entire main cast before nuking the entire island off the face of the earth before flying off to parts unknown, setting up the first Time Skip. Then he shows up again near the end of the Tartaros Arc to fight and kill Natsu's dragon dad Igneel before taking off again, setting the stage for the second Time Skip. Finally, Acnologia becomes the True Final Boss of the series facing off against all the Dragon Slayers and the rest of the heroes.
  • In Fist of the North Star's first half, Kenshiro's first battle with Raoh starts shortly after the latter strikes a pressure point on Rei. At this time, Kenshiro isn't any stronger than Raoh, so they end up so evenly matched that both of the combatants end up being far too bruised to keep going, forcing Raoh to retreat. A more proper case happens later on, when the arc villain Souther manages to defeat Kenshiro by simply being completely immune to his Hokuto Shinken techniques.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Father does this when the main characters encounter him for the first time. He shows off his nigh-invincibility, no-motion transmutation and his power to turn off everyone else's alchemy, setting himself up to be all but impossible to defeat. And he only gets more powerful later on.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist (2003), Ed's encounter with Envy and Lust in Laboratory 05 count, as Envy is the last person in the anime who Ed fights since Dante isn't a fight. Interestingly, Ed also loses his fight with Envy - Al saves the near-death Ed with a human transmutation and Envy chooses to enter the Gate of Truth to pursue Hohenheim.
  • Futari wa Pretty Cure Splash★Star has the confrontation with Akudaikaan in episode 23. Akudaikaan No Sells the Cures' attacks, claims that he's not even showing half his power and beats the Cures while never getting up from his throne. While the Cures did fight him again, it turns out Akudaikaan wasn't the final villain...
  • In the Farewell Shinsengumi Arc of Gintama, Kagura, Sougo, and Nobume fought against the head of the Naraku and one of the Tendoshu; Utsuro. They all got curbstomped by him, but Gintoki appears and was able to match up to his speed until his mask broke off to reveal himself to look like his teacher Shouyo and even fought like he does! Even with the combined effort from the others to help Gintoki defeat Utsuro, it was all for naught because he can regenerate his wounds fast and effectively because of the Altana.
  • In The Law of Ueki, Ueki tries to defeat Robert Haydn early in the series, but is quickly dropped from a great height, only to be saved in a Heroic Sacrifice by his mentor.
  • In The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer, the fight with Hekatombaion gave the remaining Beast Knights a small taste of what's to come, as well as formally introduced the Knights to Animus.
  • Zagato does this to our three heroines in Magic Knight Rayearth just after they've become more powerful than we've ever seen them.
  • Fate Testarossa of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha does this nicely. Setting the stage for the Genre Shift that is to come in episode 7, and beyond.
  • Megalo Box is set into motion by one of these: Protagonist Junk Dog ends up mouthing off the sport of Megalo Boxing within earshot of its reigning champion, Yuri, so Yuri shows up in his underground boxing ring and cleans his clock in less than two minutes. Junk Dog spends the rest of the show getting into Megalo Boxing for real so he'll have a shot at a proper rematch.
  • In Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, Scirocco sorties against the Argama crew a couple times early in the story. After that he's not seen piloting a mobile suit again until the last five episodes.
  • Moo pulls this early on in the Monster Rancher anime. The only reason he didn't kill the heroes then and there was because he was there to claim the Magic Stone... and Holly. When the Searchers come after him to rescue her, he even declares that he won't spare them a second time, and only lets them live after they escape because he's got better things to tend to, like reclaiming his original body.
  • Fate Averruncus of Negima! Magister Negi Magi does this thrice.
  • Zoro of One Piece gets this in the Baratie Arc when Hawkeye Mihawk, the greatest swordsman in the world and Zoro's ultimate goal, shows up long enough to humor Zoro with a duel. Turns out Zoro really is nothing compared to Mihawk, but fortunately, he manages to gain the guy's respect, so Mihawk merely gives him a nearly fatal wound.
    • Happens fairly often to Luffy with the final boss of a given story arc after getting into the Grand Line:
      • In the very first instance, he was defeated by Sir Crocodile the first time they fought when he got stabbed by the latter's hook and buried in a quicksand made from his powers.
      • Luffy went through the same thing with Rob Lucci (who swatted him down with ease, and this is before he unveiled Gears 2 and 3) and Warden Magellan (who managed to indirectly take ten years off Luffy's life). He never does beat Magellan though, instead just escaping the prison he was in charge of.
      • During the Impel Down arc, Luffy encountered Blackbeard, and upon learning that he was the one responsible for Ace being set for execution, the pair traded a blow each before Jinbe intervened, telling Luffy there were more important things at the moment, such as saving Ace.
      • Immediately after the above, Luffy also encounters numerous contenders for the eventual final foes in Marineford, like Akainu, Kizaru, Mihawk, Garp, Sengoku, and more - Blackbeard even shows up later again, but by then, Luffy is out of action. The war is explicitly called The War of the Best and showed that comparably, Luffy was a very tiny fish in a literal ocean. While he could fight some of the lower ranked Marines, he was utterly out of his league for almost the entirety of the arc.
      • In the New World, Luffy got defeated with a single strike when in Gear 4. Who was the enemy this time? Kaido. The only thing several blows in Gear 4 managed to do was to sober him.
  • The witch from Madoka's dream in episode 1 of Puella Magi Madoka Magica that Homura is seen fighting against turns out to be Walpurgisnacht, the strongest witch and the second closest thing the series has to a main villain.
  • In the Amnesia arc of Saike Matashitemo, Saike and Hizu first fought Johan whose power was too mysterious, they had no idea what to even do against him and were easily defeated. They fight again in the climax of the Nepal arc and although Saike won, Johan successfully escaped using his mysterious power which Saike still had no idea what it is. By then, they're tied but settle the score in their final battle in a much later arc when Saike finally figures out Johan's ability was rotation.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V has the Big Bad Zarc possessing Yuya right at the end of the first episode. He makes several appearances of this type throughout the following events and gives the viewers a very good idea about how aggressive and overwhelming he is as a duelist.
  • YuYu Hakusho: Yusuke has his big showdown with Younger Toguro at the end of the long Dark Tournament Arc. Before that arc begins, he faces Toguro in what's otherwise a textbook case; with help from Kuwabara, he barely manages to eke out a win. Then it turns out that Toguro was using a fraction of his real strength, and even then he admits to his employer that he was worried that he'd accidentally kill the boys before he could find a plausible chance to fake his death. Then Toguro shows up alive and shows Yusuke just how outmatched he is, specifically saying it's to motivate him to train his ass off for the tournament.

    Comic Books 
  • Fantastic Four #20 , the titular heroes meet Molecule Man and flee after being completely outmatched by the matter-manipulator villain.
  • The first battle between Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus in Amazing Spider-Man #3 went like this: Doc Ock slapped Spidey around until he got tired and threw him out of the window, gloating that the wall-crawler is no threat.
  • It happens fairly often in Superman stories:
    • Subverted in Superman: Brainiac. Superman thought he had faced Brainiac dozens of times, but in reality he fought mere drones. When he comes face to face with the real deal for the first time at the beginning of the arc, the Man of Steel is easily pummelled into unconsciousness.
    • Who is Superwoman?: When they fight for the first time, Superwoman beats Supergirl, encases her in a block of solid ice, and dumps her into the ocean.
    • The Great Phantom Peril: Faora Hu-Ul beats Superman so badly during their first engagement that he is forced to flee in order to rethink his strategy.
  • In X-Men's seminal storyline The Dark Phoenix Saga, the heroes are very badly trounced when Jean Grey goes Dark Phoenix on them.

    Fan Works 
  • The Games We Play (The Gamer/RWBY):
    • At the end of the Conquest arc, just when Jaune thinks victory is within reach, Malkuth shows up and shows him that he's got a long way to go.
    • When Jaune accidentally pushes Cinder a bit too far, she reveals that she's the host for Famine and far more than he can handle.
    • As difficult as the fight with Malkuth controlling Gilgamesh's body is, it isn't even him at full power.
    • Talking to Jeanne, Jaune discovers Ozpin singlehandedly defeated the Royal guard, the four Witches, and the Queen in the battle to retake Vale, using insanely versatile time fields.
  • Roaring Hearts Pretty Cure: Sardonyx shows up to handily defeat Pretty Cure in episode 12. Were it not for some last-second intervention, she would have easily taken out the heroines prematurely.
  • Soul Chess: Early in the "Different Bonds" arc, Kasumi meets and easily defeats the team.
  • Subverted with the real Linka in The Loud House fanfiction Stories and Tales from Dimension 63. During chapter 20, she easily beats up Lincoln when they meet after suffering a "The Reason You Suck" Speech from her counterpart, but when she reappears in the citadel, the two are evenly matched, to an extent.
  • In the beginning of The Unfantastic Adventures of Bizarro No. 1, Bizarro engages the Blue-Kryptonite Men and is defeated and knocked out two seconds later.
  • The Vampire of Steel: Buffy and Kara are ambushed by Zol-Am and easily defeated early in the story.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Captain America: The First Avenger: In the first fight between Steve and the Red Skull, he manages to knock down Steve and dent Steve's steel shield with nothing but his fist.

    Game Books 

  • The Codex Alera series does this with the Vord Queen. She first appears as a random monster during Tavi and Kitai's side quest to the Wax Forest in the first book, and the reader could be forgiven for thinking at the time that that will be the end of it. However, starting with the following book, she becomes a secondary antagonist whose presence presents a looming threat far greater than Alera's internal political squabbles or even their wars with the surrounding other races. By the final books, the Vord take center stage as main antagonists, and the Queen proves far worse than anything else the heroes have faced prior.
  • Journey to Chaos: Eric confronts Nulos Xialin, one of the Big Bad Duumvirate of Looming Shadow, shortly after he returns to Roalt. He gets his ass handed to him in about ten seconds. He has to be rescued by Tasio.
  • Mountain of Mirrors has a frost giant and white dragon appear early on. The frost giant simply ignores arrows fired upon it, and treats the dragon as some guard monster. The encounter is cut short because the dragon whelp causes an avalanche.
  • The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign has the White Queen appear in every single book. The reason she doesn't simply kill Kyousuke is because she's madly in love with him, and lets him live so she can continue having her fun.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Every Power Rangers/Super Sentai Big Bad or Dragon who isn't too inhuman to move decides to show up after eight or so episodes for the expressed purpose of kicking the crap out of the entire rookie team, then returning home due to power failure, mentor interference, or simply deciding that they aren't worth the effort. They often tear the current Monster of the Week apart as a sort of pre-preview before the beatdown.
  • Arch-villain Sylar shows up in the first two episodes of Heroes, before they had even cast an actor for the role (he's played by a stuntman and obscured in shadows). He doesn't show up again until almost halfway through the first season.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The First Evil initially appeared as a Monster of the Week in a Season 3 episode, where we get a brief glimpse of how powerful it is, manipulating Angel into almost attacking Buffy and then trying to commit suicide-by-sunrise, before it disappears. Flash forward four years, and it's the final Big Bad of the series.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Kamen Rider Kuuga has Kuuga, after reaching his penultimate form (Amazing Mighty), get the stuffing kicked out of him mostly off-screen by Daguva, by the strongest of all the Gurongi. It takes Kuuga reaching his final, Ultimate Form just to match Daguva for the Final Battle.
    • Kamen Rider Gaim has a perfect example of this in episode four. Up to this point, Gaim had become smug and confident, winning all of his fights easily and without ever facing a significant challenge… and then he ends up coming face to face with Kamen Rider Zangetsu. What follows is Zangetsu causally mopping the floor with Gaim and giving him such a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown that he's left in a Heroic BSoD and terrified of facing Zangetsu again. Subverted later, as Zangetsu becomes an ally of Gaim once the true villains are revealed.
    • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: In "Judgement Received", Cronus' debut fight has him pummel the main character to the ground.
  • Lost: One of the earliest threats the survivors face on the island is the Smoke Monster, a malevolent entity that appears in the very first episode of the series. The Smoke Monster turns out to be the Man in Black, the ultimate villain of the series.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • A frequent trope, often used with super monster heels who are aimed at presenting a more dire threat than run-of-the-mill heels and even run-of-the-mill monster heels. Instead of easily defeating jobbers in his first appearance, this type of heel will immediately target the most popular babyface (often, the champion) and goad him into an immediate confrontation (for which the babyface is often ill-prepared) before handing the face a humiliating, thorough defeat. Then, as weeks and months pass, the super monster heel will continue to beat down jobbers and other face wrestlers before the lead babyface regroups, demands revenge and is (ultimately) successful.
    • A variant: The super-monster heel will physically destroy others closely allied with the babyface, to show what he is capable of and to intimidate. These have included but certainly are not limited to:
      • Family members: Both legit and "on-screen." When the parents — most often, the father — are involved, a storyline is used where the father, almost always elderly, has some health issues but that doesn't stop the heel from taking him out, often in an exceptionally brutal way. It is not unheard of for mothers to have their faces slapped (hard). Brothers are usually portrayed as older teenagers or aspiring wrestlers. Sisters usually aren't involved here, but often it is implied that they were brutally treated off-screen.
      • Girlfriends: Not unheard of. Often, they will merely be kidnapped, but that hasn't stopped some particularly evil monster heels from brutally beating the woman — sometimes literally a girlfriend, other times simply a super-attractive woman allied with the babyface — in the ring and using his full array of moves on her to show what he is capable of.
      • Tag Team partners and other wrestlers, managers and allies closely aligned with the babyface.
  • Despite his heroic Backstory, Big Van Vader's attack on Antonio Inoki in New Japan Pro-Wrestling immediately cemented him as bad news and angered the usually placid New Japan fans so much they rioted. While Vader eventually underwent a Heel–Face Turn, this moment remains legendary.
  • Jerry Lawler was subject to every single version of this trope, (although his main female face Jacqueline could hit back). Two of his best known cases are Lord Humongous, who was used eleven different times across various companies by a different man under the mask each time, and Bam Bam Bigelow, who went on to do it again in New and All Japan Pro Wrestling (although Bam Bam himself got beat up by Terry Gordy and "Dr. Death" Steve Williams in the latter).
  • Carlos Colón made use of this trope fairly often in CSP/WWC, Dick Steinborn beating him to the Junior Heavyweight Title belt, getting beaten for the Puerto Rican title in Ox Baker's debut, initially coming up short against Gil Hayes and Ernie Ladd as North American champion, Abdullah the Butcher becoming inaugural World Champion before Colón, then getting beat by The One Man Gang as hardcore champion. He got the win back, and usually the belt every time.
  • Colón didn't just subject himself to this trope, as WWC Tag Team Champions Invaders #1 and 2 were defeated by Terry Funk and Dory Funk Jr. in the latter's debut.
  • Colón also put Wendi Richter through this with Monster Ripper, although given Ripper had infamously beaten the legendary Jackie Sato in her second Zenjo match for the prestigious WWWA singles title, only for Sato to win it back at their next Tokyo show, there was precedent for it.
  • There was also precedent for Relámpago Hernández beating Jack Veneno for WWC's Dominican Republic Heavyweight Title belt with little buildup, given anyone familiar with the pro wrestling in the Dominican Republic would have already known about the poison vs lightning feud.
  • Then there was Carlos's son Carly being harassed by Ray González before Carly even became a wrestler. This in fact inspired Carly to become a wrestler and the top face of WWC. On the flip side, a face turned González had to deal with the family member version when El Patron Alberto ambushed his son during a training session, after Carly himself tried and failed to invoke this trope on Ray González Jr.
  • WWC did this multiple times by accident with Black Rose, in particular when she suffered The Worf Effect against Lady Demonique, Sexy Juliette and Sarita in order to hype up matches for Génesis and Mickie James that ended up not happening. So Rose triumphed in rematches down the line and in fact became women's champion just as many times as Génesis(though WWC officially treated two of her reigns as one to keep the count for Génesis higher)
  • One of WWC's sillier uses of this trope was Ricardo Rodriguez. He was a talented wrestler who cut good promos, but he was nowhere as physically intimidating as the Puerto Rican Champion Ilegal Chicano. Furthermore, Rodriguez had just come off a lengthy stint as the punchable mangaer of El Patron Alberto, where Chicano was a legit combat sports athlete fields pro wrestling, including an undefeated in amateur boxing that continued into the pros when he was forced to turn pro by Puerto Rico's athletic commission. To make fans see Rodriguez as a credible threat to a Cotto, one would need to build him back up for months, maybe even years, but WWC couldn't resist having a Mexican win the Puerto Rican Championship belt and rub it in the faces of the fans.
  • An especially absurd case was in WCW, where The Giant, didn't just win his first match but won WCW's World Heavyweight Championship belt in his first match. This wasn't just The Giant's WCW debut, but his straight up pro wrestling debut! And The Giant would go on to be defeated in relatively quick order and become a highish mid card wrestler.
  • TNA was/is infamous for fast tracking wrestlers into the main event and or title contention. It's most infamous case, where Kurt Angle arrived and staggered Samoa Joe with a headbutt, is ironically the case that worked the best, as they went on to have the most financially successful program Impact Wrestling ever had under the "TNA" branding. Another case that worked was when Gail Kim had established herself as champion of the Knockout's division and quite possibly the best pure wrestler in it, then Awesome Kong arrived and beat her rather easily. The latter case lead to a program that drew TNA's highest ratings, and isn't as infamous as the Kurt vs Joe case in that while Kong did proceed to beat the piss out of Kim, Kim still quickly found ways to win at least half of the time, where Kurt just beat Joe again, and again in a most dramatic fashion.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Savage Tide: In "City of Broken Idols," the final boss is an aspect of Demogorgon, who is the final boss of the campaign.
  • Curse of Strahd highly recommends the DM does this with the main villain, Strahd. He's supposed to show up several times to threaten the players. He's designed to be a challenge for a level 15 party, and the adventure only goes to level 11 at most, so he's pretty much going to wipe them, especially if the DM is smart with his chosen battleground.

    Video Games 
  • In Abomi Nation, Furcifume himself ambushes you midway through the run. Unlike most video game examples, you are expected to win this fight, though Furcifume will Villain: Exit, Stage Left afterwards. This serves as an Antepiece for his Final Boss form, as he uses similar tactics and abilities in both fights.
  • Jedi Outcast has this when Desann schools your Force-less ass and then mocks you on how you might have been a challenge if you still had your Force powers (Kyle gave them up after the last game). Of course, this was just part of a Batman Gambit to get you to go to the Valley of the Jedi and use it to infuse all of his troops with the Force.
  • In Dark Souls, you find yourself in a sudden boss fight with Seath, the Scaleless. He's an ancient dragon armed with powerful, crystal-based sorcery of his own design. You are a lowly Undead. You can guess what happens. And to add insult to injury, you wake up locked in a cage!
  • No More Heroes has this happen during the 5th ranked fight with Letz Shake. Just before the fight starts, Henry pops in and easily strikes him down with the intent of dueling with Travis. Before the two of them come to blows, Sylvia calls the fight off and Travis grudgingly has to wait until beating the game and earning the real ending to fight him.
  • No More Heroes III has a particularly nasty case of this happen after the 10th ranked fight with Mr. Blackhole. FU appears personally at the motel and Travis starts fighting him, until Shinobu leaps in and tries to cut him in half, to no avail. FU proceeds to rip both of her arms off and subdue her. Then Bad Man arrives to whack FU a few times in retaliation, but gets easily manhandled and killed by him, just to even out Mr. Blackhole's death. Angry at this, Travis tries to summon his Full Armor, until he realizes that he already had been cut on his stomach by FU and passes out.
  • In the first Baldur's Gate, Big Bad Sarevok shows up five minutes into the game and kills your mentor in a cutscene. In Baldur's Gate II: Shadows Of Amn, Big Bad Jon Irenicus shows up several times and captures the party at least twice (once offscreen) before you even get the chance to fight him. His lieutenant Bodhi does this as well. Averted in Throne of Bhaal, where the Big Bad never shows up before the fight, or at least not in a way that you can recognize her as the Big Bad.
  • Resident Evil 3: Nemesis has this very early, just when you were about to enter the Raccoon City Police Station. The Nemesis makes a Big Entrance and you can choose to either fight him or run inside. If you choose to flee, he later comes through the window, carrying a rocket launcher — and you are both in a very narrow hallway. If you choose to fight, you better have a .357... but this only means he will later reappear without the rocket launcher. And if you beat him inside the station, that still doesn't mean he's dead. After all, he is the Final Boss.
  • Metal Max 2 has this at the very start of the game, but it is The Dragon Ted Broiler who promptly kicks the ass of your mentor and her allies before beating on you and leaving you for dead.
  • Final Fantasy loves this trope:
    • In the original Final Fantasy, the first boss you battle is a rogue knight named Garland, who's pretty much on a Warm-Up Boss level. He returns in the climax as a demonic being called Chaos.
    • Final Fantasy III does a very late preview of the Cloud of Darkness right before the final dungeon. It's very educational, however, as you get a clear demonstration of what would happen if you rushed straight to the boss without taking the precautions necessary to depower it enough to be realistically beatable.
    • Final Fantasy IV: The After Years does this numerous times with the game's primary antagonist. At one point, you have the option to send a single weak playable character into a matchup with the villain that buffed-out parties before him couldn't touch, and upon the first weak shot landed, she effortlessly casts one of the most powerful spells in the entire story to get rid of you.
    • In Final Fantasy VI, this is inverted when you fight Kefka earlier in the game, as he's a pushover and you wouldn't imagine he could possibly be the Final Boss. This changes once he gets a power boost…
    • Final Fantasy VII plays this trope straightforward, with an unusual twist: Sephiroth is in your party and laying down the superhuman asskicking against your enemies. At least for a little while and only in a flashback.
    • Final Fantasy VIII has Disc 1 end with a battle against Edeanote . Despite Squall and Co.'s best attempts to assassinate her, the fight ends with her seeming unfazed by their assault and she summarily impales Squall through the gut with an icicle.
    • Played with in Final Fantasy IX, where the Big Bad requires a defeat by the heroes in order to gather enough energy to achieve Trance and transform into his final boss form, which naturally results in a preview of how overpowered you've helped him become.
    • In Final Fantasy X, Seymour joins your party for the second part of a Sequential Boss around mid-game.
    • Final Fantasy X-2 plays with this when YRP first enter the Via Infinito. They see an Unsent in its early stages, talking about someone. At the bottom of the dungeon, they encounter the same Unsent, who turns out to be Trema and having talked about himself in the third-person in the beginning.
    • In Final Fantasy XIII-2, Caius is both your first and your final opponent.
    • Final Fantasy XIV does this a few times during the main campaign of Stormblood with Zenos yae Galvus, a man who is able to defeat the Warrior of Light handily the two times they fight before the final battle.
  • Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy:
    • There's a True Final Boss Preview. If you say "I am a master." to the tutorial moogle, he throws you and the Level 1 Lightning you've been taking the tutorial with into a fight against a level 130 Feral Chaos equipped with the same equipment and abilities as is ultimately fought in the post-game. Have fun.
    • Played straight after Destiny Odyssey, since this is the first time the heroes have ever seen Chaos.
    • 012 also contains another example in one of the earlier reports involving Cloud deciding to pick a fight with Chaos that can be unlocked for play before you even unlock Destiny Odyssey. While Chaos is toned down so as to make the fight winnable, Chaos simply dusts himself off after and frags Cloud to death for his efforts.
  • Jet Force Gemini: When all three playable characters arive Mizar's Palace and enter the pyramidal spaceship of the eponymous Big Bad, one of them (Juno) watches Mizar approach and tries to confront him with his standard pistol. Mizar laughs at him and then throws him an energy ball that incapacitates him, and then leaves. The other two characters (Vela and Lupus) confort him as he stands up again, and all three go forward to face the villain together. Surprisingly, Lupus manages to defeat Mizar alone, since the latter only intended to toy with him for the sake of intimidation; realizing this mistake, Mizar does a Rage Quit and begins a plan to destroy Earth, kickstarting the second half of the game.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Ganondorf in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time just before you get the eponymous ocarina. Link draws his sword and Ganondorf blasts the kid right on his ass with his sorcery before declaring his intention to Take Over the World. Also the fight with Phantom Ganon, which is a preview of the fight with the real Ganondorf.
    • We get the same scene again in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, only this time Ganondorf is smart enough to proceed to try to kill Link… If it weren't for Tetra barging in and saving Link.
    • In Twilight Princess, Zant ambushes Link and Midna after beating the Lakebed Temple, trapping Link in wolf form and nearly killing Midna by exposing her to Lanayru's light. Of course, Zant technically isn't even the final boss.
    • In Skyward Sword, you get to encounter Ghirahim quite a number of times, and even fight him twice, before your ultimate battle with him. The first time you fight him is, in fact, as the boss of the first dungeon. The actual final boss, The Imprisoned/Demise, is fought three times throughout the game before his final showdown, although it's vastly different from the final battle.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, the Big Bad Yuga turns up as both the boss of the first dungeon and the Hyrule Castle dungeon, mirroring Ghirahim and Agahnim's appearances in Skyward Sword and A Link to the Past respectively. Although the Final Boss battle with him is very different to his first two battles.
    • Just like its debut, Phantom Ganon in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is a preview of what the real Ganondorf's fight would be like, with Gloom attacks that can reduce Link's max Heart Containers.
    • In Hyrule Warriors, the heroes meet Cia in person early on, but she defeats them, takes the Triforce pieces, and opens doorways to the other eras of Hyrule.
  • The first Mega Man X game had Vile attack you in powered armor at the end of the first level. You could with some skill get into a pattern of dodging his paralyzing shot and returning fire, but the game won't continue until you get hit by it and force Zero to come help you. You can also accidentally die by touching him while low on health.
    • Mega Man ZX has this as well. Giro, after having sustained injuries from Vent/Aile in a "I Know You Are in There Somewhere" Fight, gets fatally injured by Serpent, and your character gets similar griveous-if-not-fatal treatment as well after trying and failing to harm Prometheus while Pandora rips the password data out of you both. Serpent then leaves with Pandora to start Project Haven with a small horde of Galleons left behind to finish both of you off, while Prometheus stays just long enough to drop either a mocking monologue (Vent) or musing on how things are going even easier than "he" forsaw (Aile). Cue Giro giving up Model Z at the cost of his own life and the titular Double Megamerge, though Giro isn't coming back.
  • Bowser in Paper Mario and Count Bleck and later, Dimentio in Super Paper Mario, as well as, technically, the first three Mario & Luigi games, where Bowser is fought in the tutorial of all three games, but he's never actively the final boss. In the first two games, he serves as such while possessed by the true Big Bads; in the third, his own final boss is a shadow version of himself.
    • Mario & Luigi: Dream Team has the Big Bad Antasma show up to serve as the game's combat tutorial and gets stomped into oblivion by Mario in short order. Though it turns out it was just a dream Luigi was having. And Antasma isn't even the final boss; that honor belongs to Bowser.
      • Mario & Luigi: Dream Team also has Antasma and Bowser fought as a team in Dream's Deep, which can almost be seen as a Final Boss Preview for BOTH the Big Bads. Indeed, both even use one or two attacks similar to those they use in their later main battles.
    • In Paper Mario: Color Splash, Mario comes across some non-sentient black paint spilled onto Sunglow Ridge. Enemies at that point in the game do 5 or 6 damage at most. Merely touching the black paint inflicts 30 damage, showing that Mario's going to need to be a lot stronger if he hopes to defeat it. Indeed, when Mario takes on the black paint at the end of the game, when it's actively trying to kill Mario, its attacks begin at 30 damage and can inflict up to four times that much.
  • A non-RPG Mario example would be in the beginning of Super Mario Galaxy, where shortly after Bowser captures Peach and carries both her and her castle into outer space, Mario jumps onto one of Bowser's spacecraft as it is leaving Earth orbit, only to be knocked out by one of Bowser's Magikoopas (confirmed to be Kamek in the tie-in trading card game), sending him plummeting toward a small planet nearby where he is then rescued by Rosalina and some Lumas.
  • In Chrono Trigger, you can use the bucket at the End of Time to visit the Day of Lavos regardless of where you are in the story. Defeating him isn't feasible until the end of the game, so you have the option of running to fight another day. The first time you examine the portal, the old hermit gives you a fair warning ("Go there only if you’re looking to achieve a shorter life span… Lavos will help you leave this mortal coil").
    • You get a free preview in Ocean Palace, via an attack that will likely kill the party in one hit. If you survive the opening attack, it will be a difficult battle since Lavos is much tougher than normal.
    • However, if your party is strong enough (like in New Game Plus), you can defeat the Big Bad at any time and access the Multiple Endings.
    • The DS version even gives you a sort-of preview of the Time Devourer, the final boss of Chrono Cross, in the form of its previous form, the Dream Devourer.
  • Tales of...
    • Tales of Symphonia:
      • Yggdrassil. You get into two Hopeless Boss Fights with before you finally get a chance to fight him legitimately.
      • And just before that, you get to fight Kratos. He isn't going to be the final boss, but you'll have to solo him at one point near the end of the game, yet here you're not even required to win with your full party present (rather lose, plot-wise). Just so that you know how badass you're going to get.
    • Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World does this in a strange way. The Final Boss turns out to be Richter Abend, a temporary party member from the beginning of the game. However, when the party learns that he's not actually on their side, there is a Hopeless Boss Fight against him, where he uses his own Mystic Arte to destroy the party in one fell swoop, and proves his having the annoying ability to counter Emil's Mystic Arte any time he uses it. And when the party finally does battle Richter in a proper battle, it turns out that the real Final Boss is Emil's Superpowered Evil Side 'Ratatosk'.
    • Tales of Phantasia, which was released first but takes place far later in the same timeline as Symphonia, does this with Dhaos. Twice, as Dhaos is also the boss of the Disc-One Final Dungeon.
    • Also, Shizel in Tales of Eternia. It isn't as much of a curb stomp since you CAN fight back, but after a while the fight abruptly ends anyways.
    • Tales of Xillia does this with Gaius and Muzet. Both of them are fought multiple times, but the final boss fight pits you against both of them simultaneously.
    • Tales of Berseria has the party's ill-fated first battle with Shepherd Artorius Collbrande, in which all your attacks (with the exception of Mystic Artes) will do zero points of damage and you're automatically KO'd when Artorius uses his own Mystic Arte.
  • Tears to Tiara 2 has Abraxas appear at the Cemenelum Gates as a projection of his will. When you beat him, the Lord of Death appears to laugh at how hard it was for you to beat him.
  • In the Fire Emblem franchise:
    • Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light and its remakes have Gharnef appear halfway through the game, armed with a tome that makes him immortal. He chases you around for a bit, likely killing anyone he catches, until he gets bored and leaves.
    • Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem and its remake have Hardin appear during chapter 8. He's completely invulnerable thanks to his Darksphere, so you don't want to hang around for too long.
    • In Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, this somewhat happens… twice: First, you see Arvis (Chapter 10's final boss, and one of the major antagonists in the game) in the Prologue as an "Ally" unit… He's a bit weaker than in Chapter 10, but at level 25, and wielding his signature Holy Weapon, pity the poor level 1 to 3 mook who comes too close. Then the real Final Boss Julius shows up for a little "game" in Chapter 10, where he and his girlfriend have a competition to see who can kill one of your units quickest… Of course, the next chapter is the endgame, so it's not that much of a preview. (Funnily, the Julius you fight in Chapter 10 is a bit nerfed; he's missing his crit-negating Nihil skill, which makes him somewhat beatable.)
    • Zephiel in Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade Curb Stomp Battles the rebel leader, hangs around a few turns for you to see his uber stats, then leaves.
    • Happens quite frequently with The Dragon in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. The Black Knight shows up and only attacks if you get within range. Should you value your life, don't attack him. He's got super high stats in all aspects, appears at the level cap, and either has blessed armor that renders him invulnerable to any attack other than Ragnell (Path of Radiance) or a special attack that is so powerful that even the final boss can't survive it (Radiant Dawn).
      • In Radiant Dawn, when he first appears, he's on your side. If Micaiah is also level capped, the mission is one of the easiest Fire Emblem missions ever. Of course, he's also the most EXP-eating-happy Crutch Character in the entire series.
      • The first time he appears as an enemy in Radiant Dawn, you have to have Ike survive a battle with him if you want to unlock Lehran as a playable character later in the game (though this is only possible in a second playthrough or later). This requires either significant level-grinding (to the point that Ike will probably level cap soon afterwards with a number of chapters to go until his story-driven promotion) or some finagling to get a Speedwing from a previous party to him, and since Nihil and Fortune aren't available to Ike's party yet, this is a complete Luck-Based Mission (or a Save Scumming-based mission in Normal difficulty or lower).
      • In fact, there's a fun variation of this trope: the penultimate boss of Radiant Dawn appears in Path of Radiance as an NPC with no weapons but very impressive stats.
    • In Chapter 12 of Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright, the final boss, Garon, will show up on the map. Fighting him here is a very bad idea unless you've done a lot of level grinding.
    • Fire Emblem: Three Houses loves this trope:
      • In the Blue Lion and Golden Deer routes, you face the Flame Emperor six times. The last time you face them before the climax, they are That One Boss: they're a Mighty Glacier so they are strong and resistant. However, unlike the other mighty glaciers, they're also pretty fast. The worst part? You must defeat them to win the battle and it's really hard to do so without losing any units.
      • On the Black Eagles route, the first fight with the Flame Emperor happens later because, depending on which path you take she's either The Hero(ine) or The Heavy. If you become Edelgard's enemy, the two first time you face them before the Time Skip they're already powerful. However, things become worse after the Time Skip because it starts with Byleth having a Cutscene Boss battle with The Emperor. They don't lose but they don't win either. It ends with a draw, because now the villain is just as strong is Byleth.
      • The Death Knight shows up on the battlefield in chapter 4 for the first time. Unless Lysithea is on your team and has level grind a bit, Hubert has the dark staves after clearing his paralogue on a previous playthrough or Byleth went through some level grinding and/or has skills from a previous playthrough, avoid him at all costs. He reappears in chapters 6, 8 and 12 and it's easier to face him then but the guy is still a nearly unstoppable foe until the climax. Even then, facing him is still difficult.
      • The Big Bad of the Black Eagles route, Rhea/Seiros shows up for the first time during an optional paralogue you can perfectly miss! They're already a powerful foe, but fortunately they're on your side and will easily defeat any Mooks coming near them. You then face them as the Disc-One Final Boss, and they prove themselves very challenging. However, it's still possible to defeat them. In fact, that's the thing to do to clear the map... except that after you beat them, they reveal their One-Winged Angel form and defat Byleth, leading to the Time Skip... oops.
      • The Big Bad of the overall game, Thales shows up after the Disc-One Final Dungeon is cleared and casually gives a Curb-Stomp Battle to Byleth, nearly killing them. To top it all, it happens in a cutscene and this is the event that leads to the Time Skip in all routes but the Black Eagles one (as explained above). Why is this the event that kickstarts the Time Skip? Well, because Thales nearly kills Byleth, leading to them being unconscious for five years of course!
  • The second battle of Breath of Fire II is against The Dragon, Barubary. Barubary is the second most powerful demon alive and arguably tougher than the final boss. Ryu is a 6 year old boy. Armed with a stick.
  • Malak in Knights of the Old Republic, and Sion in the sequel. Interestingly enough, between them, they demonstrate the best and worst ways to do this:
    • First, the bad. In the first game, you meet Malak about halfway through. You're powerful enough at this point to beat him into the ground in a single hit, BUT WAIT! He recovers and effortlessly stuns you. Bastila then sacrifices herself for no good reason whatsoever.
    • KotOR 2. You meet Sion on Korriban, and he's a toughie. He can kill you easily if you're not careful. After you take off half his health, he pulls his signature trick, and it is revealed he's invincible. Kreia appears in a vision and tells you to flee your arse out of there, and you do, if you know what's good for you.
  • The first battle against Ramirez in Skies of Arcadia is a type of this, assuming you choose to fight him in the first place. Your options are "Surrender" and "Fight, even though you know it is futile."
    • You can also possibly fight Galcian in your first time in Valua, by meeting him on the roof of the train when he does The Slow Walk towards you. Aika will clue you in with "I'm not sure we can take him, we should keep moving". She's damn right.
  • The very first boss in the first Shadow Hearts 1 game is the Big Bad. Naturally, he knocks you out in one hit. If not for Cutscene Power to the Max, it'd be a very short game.
  • A variant is used in Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness. The Big Bad and his Co-Dragons show up and effortlessly beats down… a mook who broke the rules. Oh, and you don't know it's the Big Bad and his rwo Co-Dragons, though it is pretty obvious anyway. Another example is Shadow Lugia in the introduction.
    • Pokémon Black and White has a variant where you encounter N, the leader of Team Plasma, after a few gyms. He seems to be helping you at first, then challenges you to a battle. You don't know it's him until after the fight. An aversion to the 'you'll lose' part, though, because you must defeat N to proceed in the game.
  • The first boss battle against Takeda/Tiny in the original Persona initially features Big Bad Takahisa/Guido as part of the enemy party. Kei/Nate attempts to attack him, only to miss. Takahisa counters with a Maragi spell before retreating. Of course, he isn't the final boss…
    • There's a variation in Persona 4 too. In one of the very first scenes of the game, you go to the Yomotsu Hirasaka in your sleep and fight an enemy shrouded in fog. Since Big Bad Izanami later reminds you of it, presumably this means that she was the enemy you fought.
  • Zone of the Enders has a cross-game version of this: The final boss fight of the first game involves simply ''surviving' for a short period of time against the ridiculously overpowering Anubis. You get a second preview early in the second game: you can do a little damage to him this time, but not enough to win. It isn't until the end of the game after you acquire the same powers can you face Anubis with a chance of victory.
  • Zigzagged in Disgaea 3. Mao's father is the boss of the first chapter, and is easily beatable if you've been leveling up a bit, but even if you win, he'll revive himself in the following cutscene, forcing Mao and Almaz to retreat. The third twist is that he isn't the final boss at all.
  • Super Robot Wars: Original Generation loves this. All the major endbosses show up early and often, and while usually you don't have to genuinely fight them, sometimes you do, and they're at full final boss power. Thanks to how the game engine works, however, the boss fights are not hopeless. The bosses will usually retreat after taking some damage, but if the player knows exactly who and what to upgrade early on, it's possible to actually beat them, and doing so earns large sums of money, experience, and sometimes rare items.
  • Lufia & The Fortress of Doom had an interesting take on this; the first level of the game has you playing as the legendary party of heroes who defeated the 4 Sinistrals, during the final battle 100 years ago. So, although the first dungeon ends with you fighting the 4 Big Bads, your party is likewise at legendary levels and capable of easily kicking their asses.
    • It's played straight a little while after this prologue, when the real protagonist (the descendant of legendary hero Maxim) encounters one of the Sinistrals early on in the game. He's allowed to get in a few shots of token offense before the Sinistral wipes him out with one blow.
    • Gades plays this role in all of the first three Lufia games. Usually, if you do manage to defeat him anyways, you get a special item, but then he wipes the floor with you in a cutscene.
  • In Fallout 2, it's extremely likely that the first person you meet after leaving the starting village is 12-foot tall Powered Armor cyborg Frank Horrigan, the final boss. Fortunately, you're so beneath his notice that he doesn't even bother to attack you, or else the game would have been really, really short.
  • Emperor Doviculus from Brütal Legend has one hell of a great example of this. After having effortlessly killed Lars by stabbing him with his Big Fucking Spear, Eddie tries to attack him, but is stopped as a horde of BDSM Demons rain down from the sky. And the CMoA appears just after this as you drive right out of Lionwhyte's collapsing fortress as DragonForce plays in the background. Fuck. Yes.
  • In Quake IV, after having just wiped out two fairly easy Stream Protectors, you are attacked by the Makron, the Strogg leader. After a short "battle", he incapacitates you, leading to you getting mutilated and partially turned into a cyborg. This example is somewhat atypical in that you do have to deal a decent amount of damage to him, or else he'll just straight up kill you instead of advancing the plot.
  • eXceed 3rd: If you're doing well enough, the Optional Boss, Remedy, will pop up in the middle of Stage 4 to challenge you. To unlock the Extra stage and fight her for real, you have to "impress" her during this fight, which means completing it perfectly: no deaths and no bombs.
  • Nobunaga appears at the start of Onimusha 3: Demon Siege, in a scene that mirrors the final battle, for a short fight against Samanosuke.
    • Nobunaga makes a brief appearance in the second stage of Onimusha Tactics. You can see his maxed health and pumped out stats. Magochi gives him a direct shot to the face, that does absolutely nothing.
  • In Ninja Gaiden, the first boss is your uncle Murai before his sudden change. The final boss is... Murai AFTER his sudden change, and the battle dynamics is the same, with other powers provided by the Dark Dragon Blade. In this case, you can defeat Murai, but it will just be a friendly combat between family.
    • Ninja Gaiden Sigma offers a better example, where you fight Doku right after he snatches the Dark Dragon, one hit will end the battle and move on with the story, and if you defeat him here... he still kills you and we move on with the story. You face him again a few chapters later, twice.
  • Homeworld 2 doesn't have bosses as such, but the end-of-level cutscene for the first mission sees you fleeing from a very large fleet containing some enemy hardware you won't be engaging for several more missions.
  • About halfway through Planescape: Torment, a figure clad in misshapen golden armor appears before the half-dead Ravel and tries to convince demands that she help it defeat the Nameless One. When Ravel refuses, a scripted battle ensues in which the golden figure effortlessly obliterates her with an impressive array of magic powers. Say hello to the Transcendent One.
  • Though you don't get to fight him then, the Big Bad of Mass Effect makes quite an impression in the first mission on Eden Prime. He's not who you think he is.
    • The game also provides a straighter example on Virmire, where you encounter Saren Arterius, who shows up just as the nuclear bomb is set. You fight Saren until his health is gone, but this changes nothing; his flying disk simply emits a pulse that sends Shepard flying and triggers a cutscene before Saren escapes. This fight is very similar to the final boss fight against Saren in the Citadel, but you can Take a Third Option then…
    • There is even one for the whole series. The final Boss of Mass Effect is Sovereign, a Reaper. Fast forward to the end of the third game, and the final boss is the Reaper invasion fleet.
  • You (as Raziel) get to fight Kain two times in Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, but it is implied he's holding back. Both battles end with Kain victorious, but running away instead of finishing the job. (Although there is some discrepancy between the final battle of Soul Reaver and the intro of Soul Reaver 2 — in the former, Kain is visibly exhausted and his remark "You nearly had me, Raziel" seems genuine, while in the latter, he brushes off Raziel's attacks easily and his remark comes across as sarcastic.) A third and final battle ensues in Defiance in which Raziel rips out Kain's heart and leaves him for dead. Which he isn't.
  • Nero gets to battle Sanctus once around the middle of Devil May Cry 4 and once at the very end. The first battle is just against the ascended form, but the second is against his One-Winged Angel form that comes with the power gained from Sparda's sword.
  • In Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura, the Big Bad shows up once you reach the Wheel Clan to taunt you and then knocks your entire party unconscious before disappearing. Pretending to be the devil figure of the main religion on the continent, though an attentive player can notice something is up if they look at the interface and realize the race indicated for the speaker by the UI isn't the one history says it should be…
  • In Kirby Super Star Ultra, the final boss is Marx's Soul, but you fight Marx himself only halfway through the game. Before you fight him, there is a cutscene showing him morphing into the demonesque form that you fight him in, and for a SPLIT SECOND, you can see his soul.
  • Played straight in the start of Golden Sun, when the villians are shown in conversation. As is normal, the heroes are shown to be eavesdropping, and promptly get beaten to within an inch of their lives. There's also an odd one with this game and its sequel. The Doom Dragon you face in the final battle atop Mars Lighthouse… turns out to be the parents of the main characters who went missing at the start of the first game!
  • In TimeShift, the first level ends with you and the resistance being blown away by the Big Bad's giant spider-mech fortress. In the final level, you replay the exact same scene, only you have a better vantage point and are armed with a weapon capable of harming the giant robot.
  • In the Turok reboot, the T-Rex final boss appears several times in the earlier levels, usually passing by briefly to snack on a few enemy soldiers before leaving. You fight her briefly about halfway through the game, but there's a convenient hole you can hide in from which you can shoot her from complete safety. In the final battle, there's no safe spot for you to hide, and the T-Rex has a lot more health than in the previous fight.
  • In Redline: Gang Warfare 2066, the Red Sixer leader is both the first boss you fight as well as the game's final boss. The key difference is that in the first level you fight him on foot, while in the final level he has access to a unique hover-tank that is the most powerful vehicle in the game.
  • The first enemy fought in Duke Nukem Forever, the Cycloid Emperor, is also the game's final boss. Surprisingly, he's not really any tougher in the final battle than he was in the first level; the only differences are that he's supported by respawning Mooks in the finale, and you have to deplete his health bar 3 times instead of just once.
  • inFAMOUS: You get your first look at Kessler after one of the early missions. You don't fight him or anything, though; he just proceeds to show you a vision of the future.
  • inFAMOUS 2 starts off with a Boss Fight against the Beast. Interestingly, you're almost guaranteed to win, since it's the beginning of the game and Cole is at full power. But it's really a Hope Spot, because no matter how much damage you inflict, the Beast is just going to revive and almost kill Cole. But you DO have to "beat" it, because it WILL kill you otherwise, tutorial or not.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the very first Dragon you see in the game is Alduin himself interrupting your execution with his own attempt to kill you. You later have to fight him alongside Paarthurnax on top of Throat of the World after learning Dragonrend, only to have him get bored and leave before you can do any real damage.
  • Distorted Travesty: The Shroud Lord attacks the player several times in Distortion WTF before retreating, several levels before the final showdown in the Secured Data Segment. It's not the final boss, but it's pretty close, and is generally agreed to be the toughest boss in the game.
  • Assassin's Creed II: When Ezio first meets Rodrigo Borgia face-to-face, Ezio immediately learns that he is ruthless and cunning. He stabs his subordinate and leaves him for dead after his failure in the Pazzi Conspiracy, and predicts the arrival of Ezio and sets a trap for him, leaving him for dead as well.
  • Subtly done in Sonic 3 & Knuckles. All of the final bosses attacks appear throughout the course of the game on other machines. The first Mini-Boss of Angel Island breathes the same fire, the boss of Flying Battery has the same lazer canon, and the Mini-Boss of Lava Reef has the crushing hand.
  • Kingdom Hearts likes to do this in an odd sort of way: the games that get expansion packs each include an SNK Boss in the pack, who's usually the final boss of the next game.
    • In Kingdom Hearts III, you fight an enormous Demon Tide in Twilight Town early on. It has far more HP than any other boss arround that point in the game, but it runs off once you knock off the first few bars. You fight it again for real (where it even has the same HP total it had before) in the Keyblade Graveyard.
  • Geneforge: Due to the political nature of the games and the multiple plots leading to multiple endings, you're often obligated to have met all of the potential final bosses in the course of the game. Of course, some may also be your final allies, depending on your choices. In particular, some of the most serious opposition you can face in Geneforge 5 show up as students and potential party members in Geneforge 3.
  • Avadon: Several examples. You meet Tarkus the Shadow several times as the Wayfarer over the course of the game. Additionally, since you get a final option to rebel against Avadon, you can end up fighting Redbeard back Where It All Began.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles, you face Zanza in a hopeless duel shortly after the Climax Boss.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X: One Affinity Mission, "The Nopon Heir", requires you to go up against the game's most powerful superboss: Telethia, the Endbringer. Very thankfully, you don't actually have to defeat Telethia, just challenge it. After losing about 5% of its health it will give you the reward you need and leave, and it seems coded to not use any of its really powerful attacks during this encounter. Still, it gives you an inkling of what exactly you'll be up against when you ultimately try to fight it for real.
  • Star Trek Online: The ultimate Big Bads, the Iconians, are seen several times, though as of Legacy of Romulus, the player never engages in combat with them.
  • In WWE Day Of Reckoning 2 when you fight Triple H and Ric Flair in a tag team match in story mode. Ric Flair is as much of a push over as everyone else you have wrestled up to this point on account that your CAW's stats are likely lower than the most non wrestling diva on the roster at this point. Triple H's stats are comparable to one of the game's unlockable legend figures and the computer is much less passive when he is the legal man. Lucky for you, Chris Jericho is there to back you up on top of Triple H and Ric Flair making quick tags as frequently as they can, even when it makes little sense for them to do so, so it is possible to simply isolate Flair and send Jericho after Triple H when you are ready to put him away. Fighting Triple H directly will probably lead to time running out unless your CAW is over leveled.
  • Thunder Force IV had Versus at the end of the Battleship Raid level. Your team of ships try to destroy it and get their asses completely handed to them, forcing the remaining members of your squad to resort in giving you the Mid-Season Upgrade. Thankfully, you get your revenge when you fight and destroy him as the last opponent before the final boss.
  • The Infyn Prism has Leo in a Hopeless Boss Fight against Rasen, Po, and Wyndi. Those three are later part a of a final boss of 7, so while it is a preview per se, it's not all of the final boss.
  • Metal G Hear:
    • In an interesting case in Metal Gear Solid, Revolver Ocelot is the very first boss, and the very last boss three games later as Liquid Ocelot. What's interesting is that the final fight with him is more reminiscent of the final boss from the first game, Liquid Snake. You also fight Ocelot as the first boss 40 years earlier in a fight very similar to the first one.
    • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater: Naked Snake's mentor (appropriately named The Boss), easily breaks just about every bone in his body and tosses him off a bridge after she defects to the Soviet Union in the prologue. He squares off against her several more times in cutscenes over the course of the game, and noticeably improves on each occasion until the stage is finally set for their last confrontation at the denouement.
  • Wizard101 has a variation with Morganthe, the boss of the second Story Arc. When the player enters the Ghost of Avalonnote  they encounter Moganthe the toughest boss the player is required to defeat. Why does this trope apply? She's only about ~14 back then and doesn't have her Deck of Shadows. Now she's in her late 20s and has the deck, and even Ambrose is scared.
  • The Lord of the Rings Online has Mazog, the orc leader of Moria. Despite being talked up early in the story, he tends to be more of an annoying putz. And then when you show up to attack him at his lair, Sauron's lieutenant Gorothul shows up to prove how weak you are...
  • World of Warcraft:
    • The Halls of Reflection dungeon. You have to flee from the Lich King. The reason for his many, many, many previews was due to the poster-villain of The Burning Crusade having next to no show time directly. He is trying to help you level up to kill you when you are at your strongest as a forced conversion to his side.
    • Deathwing is encountered in a few quests, a few of them being drunk men's tales. You can also encounter him in almost any area, at the least expected moment... and he'll just kill everyone in sight. At least you get an achievement for it...
  • Armed With Wings 3 has a battle with Vandheer Lorde at the end of level 3. The battle is not actually all that difficult, though that's primarily because Vandheer is holding back. Once you've survived for about a minute, Vandheer announces "Your time is up" and kicks your ass in a cutscene. The next time you face him, he's the final boss.
  • In FTL: Faster Than Light, one of random events may lead you to the Rebel shipyard, where you encounter a second Rebel Flagship under construction, which is roughly equal to the last phase of the final boss fight, but with smaller crew and without its Limit Break. Unusually for this trope, it's fully beatable if you have a good ship, and not only gives you a huge reward, but it's required to unlock one of the ships.
  • The Dragon in Dragon's Dogma takes up the very first instance of gameplay after the prologue. You can't even scratch him, but the fight is how you get marked as an Arisen and get involved in the plot.
  • Dragon View has you chance upon Giza while exploring the Keire Temple partway into the game, and he proceeds to utterly trounce you and humiliate your character in the scene that plays out. Bonus points for him trying the exact same attacks when you meet up with him for the final battle in his castle in the Underworld, only for Alex to resist his powers and kick his ass, causing him to transform into the final boss.
  • The Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune games, being based on the manga that they are especially because you're not actually playing any of the characters, likes to throw story missions at the player early on in the single-player mode showing off Akio and his Devil Z and Tatsuya and his Blackbird. You can bet you'll be racing them later.
  • When you first fight the big mech at the end of the first major mission of The Expendabros, you won't be able to defeat it, especially since none of your Bros are with you. Your defeat and capture sets up the main plot of the game, where you have to rescue your Bros and then face down the Big Bad for real.
  • Starblade has the Enemy Flagship Commander, who appears a few times throughout the course of the game. It is indicated by the voiceclip "Located Enemy Flagship Commander", followed by "Pursue and engage" in some versions, but it is unkillable at first, going as far as to shooting at you before leaving. However, after taking care of the reactor in Iceberg, the Enemy Flagship Commander escapes to the outside alongside you, and when the voiceclip repeats "Located Enemy Flagship Commander," without warning, some music kicks in as it fires missiles at you. This prompts a proper final boss fight with the Enemy Flagship Commander, with you and the Commander firing rounds at each other as the Iceberg explodes while this is happening. It is satisfying after you destroy the Enemy Flagship Commander, as the enemy fighters become confused and in disarray after the destruction of the Commander, making the mission fully complete.
  • Happens twice in Epic Battle Fantasy 4, first against Holy Godcat at the end of Crystal Cavern and second against Dark Godcat in the lava cave in Lankyroot Jungle. Both times you are forced to try your best and survive as she slaughters your party member until she gets bored and leaves. Good news is that she will only attack one party member at a time and leaves after 2 - 3 turns, spawning 2 lesser mooks that you can actually beat.
  • Zeus does this twice, once in God of War II and once in God of War III. He fatally impales Kratos with the Blade of Olympus early on in II (some button-mashing resistance is possible, but futile). After some time-traveling shenanigans and quite a bit of help from the Titans, Kratos comes back for Round 2, and very nearly succeeds in killing him. Regardless, Zeus dispatches Kratos again quite handily at the start of III (which is rather grating, seeing as it picks up right where its predecessor left off), and it takes another whole game's worth of effort to defeat him for good.
  • We Love Katamari has a rare non-sentient case of this when the Prince of All Cosmos is tasked with rolling up the Sun. At the time this is attempted, there clearly aren't enough celestial bodies to do so yet, and he quickly gets burned. The objective can only be properly achieved after every other level in the game is cleared first.
  • Happens twice in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. The first opponent in the game is a reenactment of the ending of Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, where you fight Dracula (who returns as the baddie of SotN) as Richter. Once you're Alucard, the first major character you encounter is Death in a cutscene, who proceeds to end your little powertrip by stealing all of Alucard's awesome endgame equipment, showing off just how much work you have left to do.
  • Shiva, The Dragon to Mr. X in Streets of Rage 2, shows up as the first boss in the third game, although heavily nerfed. However, he's a preview of his encounter at the final level if you're on the path to the bad ending where you fail to save the chief of police and he fights a lot harder there. If you're on the path to the good ending, then you don't get to fight Shiva.
  • Ryuji in Yakuza 2 is this when you fight him at the Omi Alliance headquarters, at the end of Chapter 3. While he does get defeated at Kiryu's hands, the latter makes it clear that the former wasn't at the top of his condition, since Daigo unsuccessfully tried to fight him earlier (expending Ryuji's stamina with nothing more than his tenacity). The more proper duel with him (sword included) happens at the end.
  • In mission 10, "Transfer Orders", of Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, Trigger, Count, and Colonel McKinsey, are ambushed by an Eurusean drone that’s more advanced than any drone encountered before. Its the prototype to Hugin and Munin, two AI controlled drones who are the last enemies fought in the Lighthouse War.
  • In Ghost of Tsushima, you face Khotun Khan in the second hour of the game and are completely trounced. Interestingly much of this is down to familiarity with the combat: you can actually put up a decent fight if you're starting in New Game Plus after getting a lot of experience with it, whereas the first time you fight him you're much greener and more prone to making punishing mistakes.
  • Tails of Iron: After Redgi defeats his brother as the Warm-Up Boss as part of the coronation ceremony, the Big Bad Green Wart crashes the ceremony by killing the king, and then battling Redgi in a fight that ends with Redgi defeated and knocked out.
  • Metroid Dread: The very first thing Samus encounters upon descending into the depths of ZDR is Raven Beak, a powerful Chozo warrior who quickly overpowers her and is on the verge of blasting her to bits before she suddenly passes out and is left without most of her abilities.
  • BIONICLE Heroes follows each boss fight against one of the Piraka with a short fight against Vezon, who uses his full moveset while he's there. Regardless of your efforts, he runs off with each Piraka's head. Vezon's lair is only unlocked after this happens with all six Piraka.
  • Bug Fables: About halfway through the game, the Wasp King invades the Ant Kingdom and fights Team Snakemouth. Three turns in, he oneshots them by blasting them all with a giant pillar of fire, which is lethal to all bugs. When he's faced for his proper battle in Chapter 7, Team Snakemouth had since obtained an item that helps them resist his magic, which allows them to stand a chance against him.
  • Two Worlds begins with a sequence involving Gandohar kidnapping your player character and appearing at the first village, trying to gain your favor by being a member of an underground society. You can try attacking him, but his retaliation will instantly kill you. Infamously to speedrunners, however, he is perfectly killable even in this first encounter (in the initial patch of the game, at least), you just have to invoke his splash damage to trigger the nearby Invulnerable Civilians who will gradually mob him to death. Him dying triggers the game's ending sequence, so because of this oversight, it's possible to go from the tutorial area to beating the game in less than three minutes.

    Visual Novels 

  • Fred from What's Shakin' appears early in the webcomic series for a bit of fighting with the main cast and hero, Coffinshaker.
  • The Chosen Four adds one to the battle against the Mani Mani Statue in Moonside. Whereas in the video game it was mostly just a conventional boss fight, here Giygas is controlling the statue directly, and as Ness and Jeff damage it, he loses what remaining sanity he has left until he becomes the Eldritch Abomination that appears at the end of the game. It's only thanks to the intervention of manifestations of Ninten and his friends that Ness and Jeff manage to survive.

    Web Videos 
  • Vox Machina of Critical Role end up fighting (and losing against) Vecna in episode 102, before fighting him again, after he ascends to godhood and attacks Vasselheim in episode 115.

    Western Animation 
  • Gravity Falls: Bill Cipher is introduced as a Monster of the Week in the penultimate episode of Season 1, working as hired muscle for the season's Big Bad Gideon. Season 2 has him take over as the new Big Bad, and further reveals that he was the Greater-Scope Villain of the series all along, serving as the ultimate Arch-Enemy of the Pines family.
  • Darkseid's first appearance on Earth in Superman: The Animated Series, at the very end of the episode "Father's Day", counts. Superman catches up to the defeated episode villain Kalibak in time to watch Darkseid (who he has no idea who is) disintegrate him. When Superman angrily demands he identify himself, Darkseid simply smiles, turns on his Omega Beams, and zaps Superman to the floor. He then says "That is who I am" and leaves.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) episode "The Gauntlet", the Turtles (who have grown too confident in their fighting skills) encounter the Shredder for the first time and he utterly curbstomps them. It's only through the Shredder being distracted by the mutation of his two henchmen that they escape.
  • Trollhunters: Angor Rot's Start of Darkness flashback near the end of Season 1 shows him cutting a Deal with the Devil with a mysterious sorceress called the Pale Lady. In Season 3, she's revealed to be Morgana and confirmed to also be The Man Behind the Man to Gunmar, making her the Greater-Scope Villain of the whole series, who ends up serving as the Final Boss in the Grand Finale.
  • In the OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes episode "Let's Have A Stakeout", K.O. gets to fight Shadowy Figure for the first time, but the latter outmaneuvers, blocks and even returns every attack he can muster at him. It takes a Villainous Breakdown and K.O. dodging Shadowy Figure's lunge so that he ends up falling into a cliff, for him to get any sort of defeat.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Since the series takes place before Revenge of the Sith, it has some Call-Forward to Obi-Wan and Yoda's fights with Anakin and Palpatine/Darth Sidious. The former fights his eventual ex-Jedi Apprentice in the Well of the Dark Side, pre-Mustafar, during the events of Ghosts of Mortis though Anakin himself is not selfish in his desires to save the Galaxy, since said desires are about stopping the future Emperor himself and not about saving Padme from death by childbirth. The latter fights Palpatine/Sidious in an illusion during the events of Sacrifice that would be a taste of their confrontation in the Senate.
    • Its sequel series Star Wars Rebels is no slouch in that department, either. Palpatine himself uses Sith sorcery to attack Ezra Bridger and Ashoka Tano in The World Between Worlds during the events of A World Between Worlds.