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Fisticuffs Boss

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"At last, we can fight as warriors. Hand-to-hand: it is the basis of all combat. Only a fool trusts his life to a weapon."
Gray Fox, Metal Gear Solid

You made it to the boss. Now you're going to use your most powerful weapon to easily beat it, right? Wrong! Every weapon except your fist (or, depending on the game, your basic melee weapon) is either disabled, removed, or unusable. Basically, this is the Duel Boss meets No-Gear Level. This can be a form of Fake Difficulty, particularly if it involves a Unexpected Gameplay Change (you never had to/have been able to use your fists before). Expect a speech or two about how Good Old Fisticuffs is the one true form of combat.

The two (In-Universe) major reasons are either:
1) The Hero lost all their equipment during or before the battle, leaving only their most basic items.
2) The Hero and the Big Bad have thrown everything they've got at each other, their ultimate weapons, ultimate attacks, drained their strength or magic pools, wrecked all their equipment, and still haven't put each other down, so the only thing left that they can do is punch each other.

The true reason might be that the author wants to show that the Hero's win wasn't due to only his weapons and attacks, that he and the Big Bad aren't so different (if they both finish the fight with only punches or their first weapon), to make a comment on the futility of the fight (and violence in general), or to evoke a sense of David vs. Goliath.

May overlap with Where It All Began, to further the symbolism. For a literal fisticuffs boss, see Giant Hands of Doom.


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    Examples A — F 
  • Aliens vs. Predator:
    • The climax of the original game, in the Predator missions, involves doing battle with an Alien Queen in which all of your plasma weapons were disabled. While it's possible to kill her with the speargun, you usually end up running out of ammo - and being reduced to your claws.
    • The Marine's final battle, also against a Queen, simply has none of his weapons do any damage to her. You are forced to avoid her attacks and use the environment to kill her, making the Queen more of a Puzzle Boss. This was meant as a homage to the ending of the second Alien movie.
  • In the first Alone in the Dark (1992) game, there was a pirate midboss. Throwing an item or firing a projectile weapon simply caused him to do a graceful flip over the projectile. Ultimately, you had to defeat him with mélêe weapons.
  • Assassin's Creed II plays the trope to the hilt for its final boss fight, down to Ezio telling his opponent that they should settle it like men. The "Holy Shit!" Quotient is still off the charts because the man he's challenging to a fistfight is the frickin' Pope. This is less annoying than other examples in that fighting unarmed is not too different from fighting any other way, and you're punching the hell out of the frickin' Pope.
  • The Batman Doom Game Mod has its final battle with Bane in the ruins of the Batcave, and your weapon for the battle is a special gauntlet that you only get on that level. Switching to any other weapon gets you a message saying "You failed to fight Bane with your fists" and locking out all your weapons with a mocking "Is that your best?" from Bane, making the game essentially Unwinnable unless you restart the level.
  • In BioShock, after you get Peach Wilkins to let you into his hideout, you have to fight him and his men with nothing but your wrench and any plasmids you have equipped. Fortunately, there are also some nearby defenses that you can hack. Also, you can pick guns off the dead splicers, and throw his Molotovs back at him with Telekinesis.
  • Bloody Wolf got particularly wacky when it came to Fisticuffs Bosses. First, the player's weapon would be destroyed by a boomerang thrown by the Big Bad, prompting a boss fight using only your knife and escape from the entire enemy compound. Later, a boss named Knife Guy would prompt the player to, with no explanation, drop his gun and begin brawling. The guns would, again, disappear in the final level. On the plus side, when Knife Guy reappeared in the final level, the player would keep his gun, letting him shoot the Recurring Boss just once to kill him. In another stage (Arcade version only), your character jumps on a raft and, inexplicably, decides for himself that the "raft is too small for gunfight. Better to use knives!"
  • The final boss of Bully is a one-on-one fisticuffs fight with Gary. By this point your hand-to-hand fighting ability is way better than his, making this an Anticlimax Boss. It should be noted, however, that pretty much every boss in the game is a Fisticuffs Boss.
  • Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow: The final boss removes all of Soma's Souls and concentrates it into three nodes. Each of them attacks differently and represents a different type of soul; killing one restores all Souls of that type to Soma.
  • There is a scene in Chrono Trigger, which defaults to a stealth mission briefly. Unless you have Ayla in your party who, like Zell, fights hand-to-hand (despite carrying a club in all artwork).
    • If you don't have Ayla in your party and get caught or she gets knocked out, you get an automatic game over. What's awkward is that your characters have (in)conveniently forgotten how to cast magic despite nothing within the game indicating that they need their items to do so.
  • Dark Forces Saga:
    • Dark Forces: After being captured by Jabba the Hutt, Kyle Katarn is stripped of his gear and forced to fight a hungry Kell Dragon with nothing but his fists - two on hard mode.
    • Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II:
      • The penultimate boss is intended to be beaten in a straight-up lightsaber fight, without any other weapons available. However, it's possible to use explosives on him from a place he can't reach instead.
      • The last few levels of the Mysteries of the Sith]] expansion are like this. All your guns flatly refuse to work and you are left with only your melee weapons. Given that one of those is a lightsaber, feel free to decide if the loss is significant.
    • In every other episode of the series, each boss encounter turns into this. While you have other weapons, clumsy blasters and random explosives are no match for a good lightsaber in your hands. Perhaps the only real exception is fighting Boba Fett in Jedi Academy; you have to bust out the sniper rifle, then saber him to pieces.
  • The final boss in Dead Rising's Overtime mode is a Special Forces officer who you fight on top of a main battle tank in the middle of a sea of zombies (Oh, yeah). While trying to fight him normally is quite difficult, his AI has an easily exploitable bug that makes him jump up to the turret if he's hit while jumping down. Delivering a series of jump kicks in this manner is an easy win. Or if the player so chooses, he's also extremely vulnerable to the somersault kick to roundhouse kick combination.
  • Towards the end of Death Stranding, Sam travels to the Beach to have a showdown against Higgs, electing to leave all of his equipment behind in the world of the living. For the first half of their fight Sam can only count on his fists, the Strand, and the discarded cargo lying around to temporarily subdue the rifle-wielding Higgs, while in the second half the two of them trade blows while half-submerged in tar.
  • In Destroy All Humans!: Path of the Furon, the final boss locks out all of your guns, leaving you with only your PK abilities, as he spits explosives and breathes fire, cold, & green gas at you. Fortunately, you regain use of your guns after destroying the tubes that attach the boss to the ceiling. You do this by freezing time before one of the explosives hit you and using Temporal Fist to send the explosive into a certain glowing tube, one at a time.
  • DRL: The Angel of Death can only be fought in melee, though if you're engaging it with actual fists instead of a more decent melee weapon, you're either really good, or about to get scythed to pieces.
  • In the James Bond game Everything or Nothing, Bond get cornered by the villain Jaws a couple times, and the player can only use Bond's fists for the duration of the fight. Not because he's lost his weapons, but because it's the stylish kind of thing that James Bond does. (It helps matters that Jaws is established in the films as being next to unkillable through conventional means, anyway...)
  • Fable: The Fist Fighters Gang Sidequest requires the Hero to go Fight Clubbing without weapons, armour, or magic, culminating with the Chief of Knothole Glade. The Chief can knock out even a One-Man Army Hero in two hits flat, potentially making him a tougher opponent than the main quest's threats to all the realm.
  • In Fallout 2, you can join different dojos in San Francisco. Matches for these dojos are strictly hand-to-hand combat with no other items, except when fighting Lo Pan. Though underhanded, Lo Pan draws a gun when he starts losing.
  • In the Final Fantasy series:
    • In Final Fantasy IV, there is an entire dungeon like this, in which having metal objects of most any type equipped causes you to be perpetually paralyzed in battle due to an intense magnetic field that the dungeon's boss generates because metal weapons are his Achilles' Heel. It looks as though you'll have to fight the boss this way as well, until Edward uses an object he gave the party earlier to send music into the battlefield, which cancels out this power.
    • In Final Fantasy VII, depending on your affection value with Yuffie, that is. When the time comes for her to steal your materia, she'll leave one or two materia with you. Depending on your luck, this can mean a few decent Magic Materia, or, if you're really lucky, a Summon Materia.
    • In Final Fantasy VIII, you find yourself locked up in jail with all your weapons and equipment taken away. Which would be a problem, except one of the characters locked up is Zell, who fights hand-to-hand anyway.
    • There is a slight variation of this in Final Fantasy IX. An entire non-optional dungeon shows up pretty much out of the blue where the only weapons that can do any significant damage are the ones the characters started out with (many players would had sold them all long ago, after having milked them for their learned abilities. The designers factored this into the dungeon by conveniently providing copies of most of them near the beginning). There's also a dungeon that's covered by an anti-magic field, rendering over half your party (Garnet, Eiko, Vivi and Quina) useless.
    • In Final Fantasy XII, the playable characters have their weapons taken away and are thrown into prison. You must then fight some prison Seeqs using only your fists and magic.
      • The fight against Chaos inverts this, by disabling your basic 'fight' command, forcing you to use magick or tecknicks to battle him.
      • Another boss fight plays with this: in a variation/homage of the example from IV, anyone wearing heavy metal armor has their actions and movement slowed to a crawl during the fight because the boss uses a magnetic field.
    • In Final Fantasy XIV, the final segment of the final fight against Zenos viator Galvus in the Endwalker expansion. After the two of them fought alongside each other against the Endsinger, the physical incarnation of despair, on the edge of the universe, the two finally have their long-awaited duel. After an intense fight complete with voidsent possession and a quick-time event, the Warrior of Light and Zenos throw punches and kicks at each other before charging at each other, reeling back one final punch. The Warrior of Light lands the final hit and knocks Zenos to the ground before collapsing alongside him.
  • In Fugitive Hunter: War on Terror, the main character hunts downs and captures various terrorist leaders around the world. After mowing down their security forces via regular gunplay, the player throws away his guns and takes on each leader hand-to-hand, eventually leading up to a Kung Fu showdown with Osama bin Laden.

    Examples G — L 
  • In the third ending of Grand Theft Auto V, an optional objective for 100% Completion is to kill Stretch in melee combat.
  • In the board game stage of Gunstar Heroes, if you land on the "no guns" space, you'll have to fight the boss "Curry and Rice" with no guns - your "shoot" button instead makes your character do a short-ranged, weak punch. Due to Curry and Rice's own range, this is a very difficult and annoying battle that most players try to avoid.
  • Hitman:
    • In Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, you start the 2 last missions with nothing but the fiber wire, while every enemy has a gun - and no spare ammo to loot. In the last mission, the shed where you hide your weapons is not far from the mission entrance and the enemies didn't bother to loot it. Now getting to that shed...
    • Hitman: Absolution: Sanchez is a combination of this and Cutscene Boss if the player chooses to dress as The Patriot. Of course, given the game's multiple options for assassination, this can also be averted by simply shooting him or dropping the lighting gantry on him.
  • Iji:
    • Asha the Assassin is only vulnerable to the most basic weapon, the Shotgun... because anything else will make him teleport away, and the Shotgun (and Buster Gun, a rapid-fire shotgun) is the only weapon he deems too weak to be worth bothering to dodge. He dodges kicks, too, so it isn't a literal case of fisticuffs.
    • Iosa the Invincible cannot be damaged by any weapons, and instead must be kicked, stunned, and hacked out of her forcefield.
  • Kirby:
    • There is a subversion of this trope in nearly every game. No matter what skill you're carrying (or sometimes, not), Meta Knight won't even give you the time of day until you pick up that freakin' sword. The only exception is Kirby Super Star's "Revenge of Meta Knight" chapter, where if you wait long enough without picking up the sword he offers you, since the both of you are on a falling and exploding airship, he's not gonna waste any more time and attacks anyway. This at least allows you to fight him with whatever copy ability you have on hand.
    • The whole Kirby Mass Attack is this, as at the beginning of the game Necrodius splits Kirby depriving him of most of his abilities, most notably his trademark Power Copying. The flock of Kirbies has no other way to fight than dogpiling enemies.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords there are several optional duels that make you fight unarmed, most notably against the Handmaiden and the Mandalorian battle circle.
  • Villain example in Largo Winch: Empire Under Threat. Then final boss approaches your team with a machine gun, then throws it away and engages in a melee fight.
  • The Last of Us Part II has several, most notably the fights between Ellie and Abby. Their first confrontation has you controlling the latter as she fights the former — who has her full arsenal at her disposal — while completely unarmed, while their final battle is a more evenly matched hand-to-hand fight.
  • Legend of Legaia:
    • While the characters do use weapons, they use them as a part of a martial art, and none of the powerful Arts skills actually rely on them. Your boon is magic. Then Lapis turns up, always makes the first move, and uses it to make an attack that drops the maximum MP of everyone in the party to a flat zero.
    • In the fighting arena, you are not allowed the use of items. The mid-tier tournament also takes away your ability to use weapons and armor, and the upper-tier tournament further takes away the ability to use magic, meaning that you must rely on basic attacks, arts, and guarding.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has a variation. Link loses his Master Sword at the start of the battle against Ganon, forcing you to use your other weapons. But if you completed the future era's Chain of Deals, you'll still have the Biggoron's Sword to fight him properly until you get the blade of evil's bane back.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games: In Oracle of Seasons, you must fight with your fists only against a boxer named Blaino, if you want to win back Ricky the Kangaroo's gloves. Of course, this becomes really easy if you have a certain ring equipped.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks: During the fight against superboss Dark Link, all weapons except the sword are disabled.
  • In Lunar: Silver Star Story, there is a dungeon with a magical prohibition against using weapons - excepting the legendary hero known as the Dragonmaster. Since no one in your party has become Dragonmaster, you need to rely on barehanded attacks and magic.

    Examples M — R 
  • Fisticuff Final Bosses are something of a tradition in Metal Gear.
    • This happens in Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, in which all of Snake's equipment catches on fire and must be discarded by the player before the final bosses, involving Snake boxing Gray Fox in a mine field, and burning Big Boss with an aerosol can and lighter.
    • In Metal Gear Solid, after you beat both forms of Metal Gear REX, you fight Liquid Snake on top of REX. However, he's removed all your weapons, and your shirt. A version with a twist appears in when Cyborg Ninja challenges you to a bare-handed fight. You're free to continue attacking him with your firearms, but he'll block most of them with his sword, and counterattack with lethal power. If, however, you remove your weapon and attack him with your fist, he'll drop his sword as well, making the fight actually easier.
    • This also happened in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, in which Raiden lost all his weapons except a sword before the final showdown. It will be a true fisticuffs boss if you challenge him as Snake (either in the Boss Survival mode or in one of the Substance version's Snake Tales).
    • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater:
      • The Final Boss doesn't need to be a Fisticuffs Boss, but since she has the bad habit of breaking your guns, it's generally better to do it that way, though she also has the habit of breaking arms.
      • The succeeding Cutscene Boss, Ocelot, drops all your gear into a lake and engages you in some fancy CQC.
    • And, of course, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots has an old man's fistfight between Snake and Liquid Ocelot, on top of a truly huge precipice, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, on top of Outer Haven with the reactivated World War II-era Iowa-class battleship USS Missouri in the background.
    • In Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Senator Armstrong breaks Raiden's sword after the first phase of the fight, reducing him to his arms and legs. He can't even use his subweapons. Already taking simply Scratch Damage from your sword, Armstrong is even less effected by Raiden's fists and feet and once you've knocked off 0.1 percent of his health, Raiden will attempt two rounds of Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs, both of which the boss no sells but will move the fight onto the final phase.
  • Somewhere in the middle of the final boss of NieR, Grimoire Weisse, your sentient Spell Book is taken from you, forcing you to fight the Shadowlord with your weapons only.
  • In No One Lives Forever, the player controls a female superspy said to have too slender a frame to carry dead or unconscious bodies around. At one point she is required to defeat a certain villain through fisticuffs. Said villain is much larger than her, very muscular, said to be able to tackle several opponents at once in brawls, shakes the floor by punching it and throws sticks of dynamite.
  • In Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath, after being stripped of his equipment and outed as a Steef, Stranger decides that he can't let D. Caste Raider and his crew live and fights them bare-handed. Luckily for him, he gains a new charge attack and there's fire everywhere to knock them into.
  • In Ōkami, at the start of the battle with Yami, the lord of darkness and the game's final boss, he steals all of Amaterasu's brush techniques, and the player must earn them back one at a time by beating down on the boss. In an earlier battle in a "cursed zone" (and whenever she uses up all her ink), Amaterasu temporarily loses her godhood, stripping her of both brush techniques and weapons. The player then literally has to kick a demon to death, which may be the most absurd image in the entire game. Or, you could always bypass the kicking and use exorcism cards on Yami at first...
  • At the end of Persona 5 Royal, after defeating the True Final Boss Takuto Maruki, you engage them in an ordinary fist fight. Fortunately, it's a Cutscene Boss. Justified, since at that point, neither you nor the boss can summon your Personas anymore.
  • Red Dead Redemption II: Several missions in the game involve Arthur defeating enemies while unarmed in order to continue the mission. Notable ones are the fight in Valentine's saloon shown in trailers, and the final confrontation against Micah Bell.
  • In Red Steel, during every boss battle, your character puts away his vast variety of guns to instead have an honorable sword duel.

    Examples S — Z 
  • In Scarface: The World Is Yours:
    • Gaspar Gomez' head of security must be confronted in hand-to-hand. Subverted in the Fidel's Records mission and various other Lead missions, where the target that has to be fought in melee can be softened up first with firepower; however, keeping true to the intent, gunning the victim down leads to failure and the final blow must be delivered by hand.
    • Sosa is also much easier to beat this way. In fact, he won't defend himself at all, making him an Anti-Climax Boss.
  • Sin and Punishment:
    • In the fight against Brad, only your sword does damage to him. Since it's the same button (and device) as your gun, you might not notice.
    • This is repeated in the sequel when Isa loses his gun while fighting Deko Gekisho. Except now you're handcuffed to him and the only advantage you have is flight and slightly more flexible juggle ability, while he has a far more varied moveset, the handcuffs stun you if you try to roll away too far and he'll pull you in with them if you spend too much time far away from him.
  • In Super Paper Mario, after Dimentio insults Luigi, he gets angry and urges Mario to go on, and for Luigi to fight Dimentio himself. You're deprived the use of your Pixls and their respective abilities for the battle, which might've been something of an issue if not for the fact that your opponent is airborne and Luigi's Super Jump ability is the ultimate anti-air attack.
  • Some servers in Team Fortress 2 feature Sudden Death matches where you are locked into your melee weapon; others further restrict it to one class (for example, an all-Heavy Weapons Guy boxing match).
  • Variation: In TRON 2.0, halfway through the fight against the Kernel, he says, "Discs only, program!" You are then unable to use anything except your basic Disc weapon. Different in that the Disc is generally more useful than many of the other weapons (or indeed fisticuffs).
  • In the game True Crime: Streets of LA many of these will pop up and when you try to shoot the guy Nick will respond with a one-liner explaining why he won't. Examples: Nah. I'd rather beat ya senseless., Guns are overrated... Sometimes., Let's do this honorably.
  • Warcraft:
    • In Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne the RPG style Orc quest has a fight where you are forced to fight without "any magic toys". Sadly for your opponent by that point in the game you can summon a half dozen animal minions to tear him limb from limb.
    • Nefarian, a classic World of Warcraft boss, has call outs to particular classes which cause specific things to happen to those classes and some of them are a lot like this. Druids are forced into the fragile, melee-oriented Cat form for the duration of the spell (especially annoying for both offensive and healing magic-oriented druids). More straight, all Hunters get their ranged weapons broken. However, since Hunters can't really do any damage in melee, they will generally lug around several extra bows or guns just in case - and it's also possible to avoid getting your weapon broken if you unequip it on time.
  • In the middle of the fight against Puzzle Boss Konishi in The World Ends with You, she takes away your ability to use any pins. The only way to deal damage to her is to stay in her shadow to clear the clones from the top screen to give your partner a fighting chance.
  • Not a boss, but an example takes place in Xenosaga Episode I. Your party loses their equipment and has to fight two guards before finding it again. Since your battle android is not around, the resident fist-user, chaos, fights them on his own. If he can even be hit by the enemies, it is very rare to actually happen, so this is basically a battle you cannot lose. One wonders why the cyborg with the built-in switchblade doesn't help though.
  • In Zone of the Enders: the 2nd Runner, just before the second fight with Anubis, your Humongous Mecha Jehuty is heavily damaged, losing access to all its weapons and subweapons except for its basic blade.

    Non-Video Game Examples 
  • In Genius: The Transgression, fighting a Clockstopper might necessitate this. Their presence alone wrecks technologies... the problem is how you define technology. They'll obviously be immune to guns and explosives, but they can also see language, clothings, domestication as technologies, regressing the area back to the stone age, and even something as simple as using a rock or a stick is considered a weapon, thus a technology and doesn't work. But your fists are likely to work.
  • Kamen Rider Kuuga: The Final Battle has Kuuga and N-Daguva-Zeba both end up reverted to human form, forcing them to finish the fight hand to hand without their powers. Yuusuke ultimately beats Daguva to death. Even before they smash each other's Transformation Trinkets that forces them to de-transform, the two of them simply elect to slug each other rather than use anything more than their pyrokinesis at the start. Moreso since extra lore states that Ultimate Kuuga has access to black versions of his weapons' Rising forms, and Daguva is implied to be capable of the same.
  • Another non-game example in One Piece Film: Z: The final battle between Luffy and Z turns into this, Z's Seastone Weapon broken and Luffy too tired to use any of his special moves. The only thing the two have left in their arsenal is Haki, which makes their punches stronger, but doesn't make them faster or more skilled. They're running on empty, and it's sheer willpower that will determine the fight's winner.
  • The Fighting Fantasy book Seas of Blood ends with a fight against a cyclops who snatches away your sword, forcing you to fight bare-handed.
  • The Street Fighter movie. Bison (Raúl Juliá) insists on meeting Guile (Jean-Claude Van Damme) hand-to-hand, then cheats by using electromagnetic levitation.
  • Lampshaded in The Last Daysof Foxhound, during Liquid Snake and Big Boss's Battle in the Center of the Mind. It starts out with fists only, until Big Boss pulls a gun out of nowhere, pointing out that there's no rules or physics in the world of the mind. Liquid responds by materializing an attack helicopter, whereupon Big Boss remarks that maybe fisticuffs are more symbolic.