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Hopeless Boss Fight

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I think the game is trying to tell us something...

"If you run up against an enemy you just can't beat, maybe you should just try dying. Sometimes loss is victory, and victory loss. Think about it..."

Sometimes the plot demands that you fail. The storyline requires the defeat of the main characters in order to make a point or explain a key event, regardless of whether or not the player would allow their party to fall in battle. There are two ways to accomplish this: One is the Cutscene Boss, where the player has no control over the battle's outcome at all — and the other is the Hopeless Boss Fight.

This is a boss with Nigh-Invulnerability, if not sheer invulnerability outright. Odds are good you won't be able to damage or hit him at all — he'll quickly reduce it to Scratch Damage or just ignore it outright as he launches One-Hit Kill (if not Total Party Kill!) attacks on your team, and if you aren't able to run from this battle on turn one, it's Game Over on turn two. Or is it?

These bosses tend to make their appearance near the beginning of the game, before the characters have had a chance to earn Experience Points or level up, or otherwise become more powerful than their predefined starting levels — this makes narrative sense as well, because this is when the characters would be least likely to survive an encounter with them anyway. Done well, this defeat will strike fear into the heart of the player, having learned firsthand just how powerful this boss really is; done poorly, it feels like a cheap trick designed to advance the plot, Suspension of Disbelief be damned.

Since games like to pretend to be fair, your opponent in the Hopeless Boss Fight tends to return later in the game for a proper battle. They have the odd tendency to be Climax Bosses: If they were the Big Bad or The Dragon, players will get to fight them after this Final Boss Preview by the end of the game as a straight up Final Boss (or Penultimate Boss).

Ideally, the game should make it somewhat obvious to the casual gamer the fight is probably intended to be hopeless, lest you waste your serious healing items and abilities. This is another reason why these tend to appear at the beginning of the game, as you haven't even acquired any serious healing items or abilities yet.

Often, players may confuse a hopelessly difficult boss with this and give up fighting on the assumption that the battle is intended to be hopeless... only to discover it isn't. More fiendishly, some games can silently observe the player's efforts to determine whether they put up a decent struggle before going down, with a genuine Game Over issued if they died too quickly, or make the objective to survive for a fixed amount of time, with any deaths resulting in game over.

Not all Hopeless Boss Fights exist to defeat you at a specific point to advance the plot; there may also be Border Patrol, confronting players who try to go Off the Rails in certain areas with a Hopeless Boss Fight, from which the only option is to Run or Die. If the monster will become defeatable as you gain power, it's a Beef Gate.

Sometimes, the apparently invincible boss can technically be defeated, if you have a precisely tuned tactical setup, access to a Disc-One Nuke, the advantage of a New Game Plus, endless hours of Level Grinding behind you, exploited a glitch, or abused a flaw in the AI. Or maybe you just cheated. If the developers severely underestimated players, it might not even require anything but sufficient skill or strategy. Since a Hopeless Boss Fight is one the game expects you to lose, the game will react to its defeat in one of several ways:

A specific subtrope of Fission Mailed, and related to Controllable Helplessness in that you're directly taking part in a situation that will only end one way. If the boss must be defeated in battle to avoid a Game Over, but invokes a Story Overwrite after the battle to defeat you, it's Heads I Win, Tails You Lose. If you can only win by not attacking, look for Sheathe Your Sword.

Compare Seemingly Hopeless Boss Fight, which can resemble this at first (though not in the case of Final Bosses, for obvious reasons). Contrast Foregone Victory, where it's you who can't lose the battle, or The Worf Effect for the story purposes it accomplishes. See also Lord British Postulate and Curb-Stomp Battle.

The Implacable Man (with his Nigh-Invulnerability superpower) can sometimes look and feel like a Hopeless Boss Fight. Likewise, the Boss in Mook Clothing can end up feeling like a "hopeless Mook battle" when your party is already on the ropes.


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    Action Adventure 
  • Castlevania
    • In Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, at the final battle with Dracula, once you've whittled his HP down to 0, if you're not fast enough to quickly equip the Dominus Union he unleashes an unbeatable move that's supposed to instantly kill you (it does 9946 damage, though if you use the Volaticus Glyph, you can fly in the corner of the screen to dodge it, though the frame of Dracula and the explosion stays unmoving and never ends).
    • In Castlevania: Lament of Innocence Walter counts until the moment you hit him with Vampire Killer. If you don't and try to hit him with any other whip or attack instead, it'll be to no effect whatsoever. He can hit back, though, so unless you switch to the VK, you'll eventually end up dead.
    • In Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, you can't kill the Behemoth during the initial chase; you can only run, even if you are on New Game Plus and could beat the actual boss fight in under half a minute by Dart spam.
    • Castlevania: Rondo of Blood had the exact same setpiece years earlier. The Behemoth in Rondo could be defeated, though.
  • In American McGee's Alice, Alice cannot defeat the Jabberwock the first time she fights him. The objective of the battle is to survive and stall until the Gryphon can arrive to chase him away. (Succeed, and you get the final component of the Jabberwock Eye Staff, a powerful weapon.)
    • The truly ironic thing about that is, while the second battle with him doesn't fit the Trope (not only can she defeat him, she has to, because he'll kill her if she can't), the second fight is much, much harder than the first; probably the biggest reason is, he has enough room to fully utilize his ability to fly in the second battle.
  • Shadow of the Colossus has an unusual take on this: At the end of the game, you turn into the final boss; you're effectively invincible and can attack the armed group that just tried to kill you. This is hopeless, though. They'll seal you away no matter what you do.
  • killer7 brings two downplayed examples to the table, the first being the fight against the Handsome Men (essentially a series of duels, some of which are impossible to win, and in the long run you only win thanks to one character's 11th-Hour Superpower) and the other being the fight with Greg Nightmare (who sends a group of near-invincible Heaven Smiles at you, who systematically take down six of your personas, leaving Garcian to pick up the Golden Gun and finish Greg off).
  • Oddjob from James Bond 007 for the Gameboy could not be beat without a special item, ensuring Bond gets dumped in the desert where he can't possibly survive.
  • Brave Fencer Musashi has the fight with the super-vambees in the church. They can't be killed by damage, and if they grab you it's instant death. Fortunately, if you hold out long enough, the sunlight kills them. There's also a few instances where there's some invincible thing chasing you and all you can do is run — the stone head in the prologue chapter comes to mind, as does one of the forms of the Final Boss.
  • In Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, at the end of the prologue, Dr. M shows up with one of his chimera monsters and blocks Sly's escape route. Sly's cane attack on M only inflicts about 0.1% of damage and after a few more attacks, Bentley tells Sly to escape just before the rest of the story is told through a flashback. When we get back to this event in the final chapter, Carmelita arrives and properly fights and defeats the monster.
  • Pokémon:
    • In Pokemon Rumble Blast, at the end of World 2, you get a Team Battle with one of these. Lampshaded with a Help Sign stating that "things might not always go your way, but sometimes this is a good thing." Hurts your pride if you don't read the sign, but is considered a Critical Hit after winning the Charge Battle to reach this zone.
    • At the beginning of the game, the boss fight is against Zekrom, the Penultimate Boss fought right before Dark Rust. Because of the nature of the game, it would be possible to defeat it — except it destroys the floor of the arena and flies away after either you or it take a set amount of damage.
    • In Pokémon Rumble, at the beginning, Rattata notices that the boss door is open and sneaks in. Of course, you can't win with level 28 against 100.
  • Tomb Raider:
  • Monster Hunter:
    • Monster Hunter 3 (Tri): The first encounter with Lagiacrus, the game's flagship monster during the quest "Guts — It's what's for dinner", serves this function. The player is actually supposed to avoid it, but even if they're strong and skilled enough to knock its HP down to zero, Lagiacrus won't die. A rather odd case, as due to the game's parts damage system, the player can slice Lagiacus to ribbons and it will still keep fighting.
    • Monster Hunter Generations: The game has you "randomly" encounter its flagship monsters (Glavenus, Astalos, Mizutsune, and Gammoth) during otherwise ordinary quests, which you have to complete while dodging a ferocious monster that you can't actually kill. In the Ultimate expansion, this happens with Valstrax after a Gravios hunt, and trying to defeat it leads to a Fission Mailed ending.
  • The beginning of Metro 2033 requires you to actually get killed by the amassing enemies; if you continue defending, you will get overrun eventually.
  • Uncharted:
    • It's impossible to kill the Guardians in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves in your first three encounters with them. The first one is driven off in a cutscene after you do enough damage to it. In the second encounter, you can only flee the area. In the third encounter, you have to survive until reinforcements arrive. Afterwards, Guardians become normal enemies, albeit extremely tough ones. This is justified by the fact that you only have pistols in your first three encounters with Guardians, which are too weak to kill them.
    • In Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, Nate fights Nadine twice, and even with Sam backing him up the second time, they're unable to put her down. In the first fight, it's impossible to even land a blow or counterattack. However, in the second fight, you can exploit the game to knock Nadine out by taking her down the exact moment before she starts swinging.
  • In Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword, Ryu Hayabusa's cute apprentice Momiji will lose her first boss fight and become a tortured captive of the Black Spider Clan for most of the rest of the game. Faux Action Girl? Yeah, pretty much, but she takes a level in badass in the later games.
  • In Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, the tutorial boss fight against Genichiro Ashina is intended to be far too difficult to overcome for the average player starting a new game, since you start out with only one charge of your Estus Flask Expy, have no HP or damage upgrades, and no skills unlocked. After you swiftly get your ass handed to you, Genichiro cuts off Wolf's arm in the following cutscene, which is then replaced with a tricked-out prosthetic arm that is a key gameplay mechanic. It is possible to win, even on a first playthrough, and on New Game Plus the fight is very easy since you keep all of your upgrades from your previous playthrough. However, all this results in is a different cutscene where Wolf is about to deal a killing blow to Genichiro, only for one of Genichiro's Nightjar mooks to throw a shuriken from offscreen as a distraction, allowing Genichiro to capitalize on the opportunity and cut off Wolf's arm anyway.
  • Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order; the Final Boss of the game is none other than Darth Vader himself. As he is in his prime and Cal is an ex-Padawan who only recently got his Force powers back under control, Vader is completely unstoppable (so much so that he doesn't even have a health bar). The best you can hope to do is take two good swings at him with your lightsaber, both of which he blocks effortlessly, before he grabs you by the neck and starts strangling you. Then he throws Cal across the room and all the young padawan can do is desperately run for his life, and hopefully avoid being crushed by the mass of debris Vader throws at him as the Dark Lord of the Sith pursues.
    Vader: You would be wise to surrender.
    Cal: Yeah... probably.
  • In Ghost of Tsushima, the first time Jin challenges Khotun Khan is a completely one-sided affair for the latter. Not only does Jin not have any upgrades at this point (especially the Stance to properly deal with polearms) but even if you manage to reduce the Khan's health to nothing it does nothing and he'll keep on attacking until Jin's health is depleted.
  • Ys: Multiple:
    • In Ys Origin, when playing as Yunica, the first fight with Kishgal definitely counts. Similarly, in Hugo's route, his first encounter with his brother, Toal is one of these as well. However, it's possible in both cases to persevere through the fight until you take off enough of their health.
    • In Ys SEVEN, there's the first fight with Scias in Altago Palace where you MUST lose after his HP is at half, since ALL attacks are BLOCKED (0 Damage) from then on ALONG WITH an attack that does 2k+ damage to you.
  • In the NES game Crystalis, the second encounter with Emperor Draygon will become unwinnable if you do not use the Bow of Truth on him fast enough.

    Action Game 
  • God of War:
    • Kratos's first encounter with Zeus in God of War II, where Kratos is tricked into draining his godly power into the Blade of Olympus, rendering him mortal. After the battle with the Colossus, Kratos is heavily weakened, barely able to swing his blades. At this point, Zeus comes along and defeats Kratos.
    • Similarly, in Chains Of Olympus, your first battle against Charon is hopeless, since you don't have the right weapon to fend off one of his attacks. You must cross all Tartarus to find it and get back to fight the boss.
    • God of War (PS4) starts out with Kratos battling a tattooed stranger, who we later learn is Baldur. While the fight is intended to be beaten, it is impossible for you to defeat him in the first phase, you are overwhelmed and enter a Press X to Not Die sequence before the second phase.
      • The sequel, God of War Ragnarök, eventually pits Atreus against Heimdall Possessed the divine gift of foresight, Heimdall can see into people's intentions. Meaning everytime you try to hit him, he dodges in a nonchalantly. Mocking you all the way.
Heimdall: Oh, very nice. With moves like that, it is a wonder that the Jötnar lost every war they ever fought.
  • Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain includes an early battle with Malek. He cannot be killed, forcing Kain to leave and seek help, first from the oracle (Moebius) and then Vorador, who defeats Malek himself. In fact, the very first battle is against respawning bandits. If you kill them all, more will come along, and eventually kill you in order to progress the story.
  • In Dante's Inferno, you may perceive the first level's boss, Death, to be a hopeless fight (understandably so, seeing as he's Death), if you don't realize that his life bar decreases from right to left, rather than the standard left to right. In reality, he is a Wake-Up Call Boss, teaching you the importance of blocking.
  • In Katana ZERO, Zero's fight against V has his maneuvers and attacks quickly backhanded. V is able to withstand a reflected bullet while immediately grabbing Zero's sword and toss him aside once Zero goes in. Regardless of how evasive Zero is, V manages to land several kills, and the battle repeatedly goes on in a loop til the fight is interrupted by Snow.
  • This happens twice in Breakdown, both with The Dragon, Solus. The first time isn't much of a fight, since he slams you against a wall before you can really do much. The second time is more of a fight, but the second he gets more strength, the fight's basically over. However, you get to fight him again after some Time Travel, and after he remarks that you were supposed to die quick, you beat him because you're now as powerful as he is.
  • If you play the Zeon campaign in Mobile Suit Gundam: Federation vs. Zeon, nearly every encounter with Amuro and his Gundam is this. You're not even able to consistently damage him until the final mission, where you drop into his own final battle with Char.
    • Same with Char when playing the Federation side. For that matter, pretty much any named, voiced character from the original anime that isn't on your side and appears in more than one mission fulfills this role. Note that it is actually possible to defeat them before it's called for, it's just really difficult since they have hit points out the wazoo and they pretty consistently kill you in one or two hits, and the game will never make note if you manage it; as the campaign wears on and the end (or that character's time to die) draws closer, their HP continually lowers to more reasonable levels.
  • Eureka Seven has two videogames, the first of which has you get pit against a high level pilot before the tutorial runs. You are able to beat her with the correct amount of effort, but your first time playing, you will be severely unprepared. If you do win, it doesn't matter anyways, it only changes the following cutscene a little and everyone still treats you like the newbie afterwards while Ruri is still hailed as the best.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist 2: Curse Of The Crimson Elixir has the boss fight with Scar. Win or lose, the same exact cutscene happens where Ed and Al are defeated. If you win, you do get an item at least, but it doesn't change the story progression. Neither does the following battle with Armstrong, but that doesn't affect anything but the direct moment anyways.
    • The very end of the game, after you've beaten the final boss, pits you in a hopeless boss fight against both Mustang and Armstrong at the same time. You can attack and dodge them all you want, but they can't be defeated. You can knock them out, but they'll just get back up again a few moments later. You're intentionally supposed to lose.
  • The Sega Genesis version of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie has Ivan Ooze show up at the end of Level 1 and OHKO the player's Ranger character before teleporting out.
  • Custom Robo Arena: The second time you fight Hadron, he is totally invincible, as he has completely absorbed Scythe's energy. You have to lose to trigger the next scene. Also, in a dream sequence at the very start of the game, you fight Jameson of all Robos. Technically, it's possible to win, but the dream ends a short while after the battle starts anyway.
  • The first boss battle of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has Raiden facing off against "Jetstream" Sam. Sam does fairly devastating damage, even when the player blocks his attack and can also Flash Step away. Also, in the first and second phase of the final battle, Raiden can only do Scratch Damage to Armstrong at the best.
  • In the beginning of D.N.A.: Dark Native Apostle, while making your way though the first few rooms of the game, you encounter a boss, antagonist Greado. Even though you can hit him with bombs, he won't take any damage, so you end up getting defeated. After this, you get dragged away by security personnel and dumped into the sewers, leading to No. 13's amnesia and thus the main events of the game.
  • Episode 6 of Asura's Wrath is this from the story perspective, although it still plays like any other chapter gameplay-wise.
    • It happens again later on during the fight with the True Final Boss, Chakravartin, albeit with a twist. The hopeless boss fight isn't hopeless for the player. It's hopeless for the final boss himself. And yes, it's as magnificent as it sounds.
  • In P.N.03, your CO deems your first encounter with Sonnenblume to be hopeless, and teleports you away after about 30 seconds.
  • Loopmancer have your first encounter with Hiroyuki Ogata, which isn't a battle to the death, but requires you to survive Hiroyuki's attacks for a whole minute. Regardless of your performance and amount of damage you inflict on Hiroyuki, once the time's up, in the following cutscene Hiroyuki disarms you with ease. Only the revelation that the timer has hit zero leads to Hiroyuki sheathing his sword.
  • Yakuza 0 has a non-story minigame example. Try though you might, you won't be beating Miracle Johnson in a disco battle. What? You though an average Joe like yourself could go toe-to-toe with an international pop icon?
  • Played with in Devil May Cry 5, the prologue battle against Urizen is supposed to be this. However, it's designed that a good enough player can actually beat him. Doing so gives the player a special ending and will unlock the "Sons of Sparda", and (if they do it on the first try without an upgraded Nero proving just how good they are) the "Dante Must Die" difficulty levels.

    Adventure Game 
  • Grim Fandango loves this Trope. Both fights against Domino Hurley and Hector LeMans will go on forever until you Take a Third Option.
  • Escape from Monkey Island ends with a Boss Battle that could go on indefinitely, as the players regenerate their hitpoints faster than the other can take them away. Naturally, there's a trick to winning this one.
  • In chapter 2 of Imprisoned, you have to kill two guards in a row, and then the third fight is against a machine, which you can't damage. Later on, with a special ring (and/or a whole lot of Level Grinding), you can beat them. The fight with Jade is similar in that you can't damage him because he needs to beat you for the game to continue.
  • The flash game Armed With Wings 3 has a battle with the evil king Vandeer Lorde as the third boss, which you're plotwise not powerful enough to kill by then. He gives you 30 seconds to live, so the boss battle ends after those 30 seconds with a cutscene, and the goal is to survive. A little annoying since he's not all that tough, and it would be possible to actually kill him, especially if you use a New Game Plus. Makes it all the more satisfying to kick his ass when he returns as the final boss, in pretty much the same state.
  • At one point in Cosmic Spacehead, you find yourself in an asteroid field and are told to keep dodging the incoming rocks. The action sequence continues until you take too much damage, at which point you are forced to take a scripted stop at a space station. Unfortunately, it's quite easy to dodge every asteroid that comes your way, which means that a good player may end up continuing the sequence indefinitely, or at least until they get bored and decide to throw themselves into a rock on purpose.
  • Actually present at the end of Quest for Glory III. As the Hero and his newly-arrived allies make their way into the Lost City in search of the World Gate allowing Demons access to the world of Glorianna, they must each fight an Evil Twin of themselves. It doesn't matter how high your character's stats are, what abilities or spells you have, or how good you are with the combat system, the player cannot defeat his doppelganger. As the fight drags on and the Hero is close to being defeated, Harami, who at first refused to fight, suddenly appears and Backstabs the Hero's double, distracting it long enough for the Hero to withdraw from the fight and head for the final confrontation with the Big Bad.
  • Two of them in Last Word. The first discourse you ever engage in is one where Level 1 Whitty is pitted against level 12 Ms. Prattle, who then devastates her in a single turn. You’re similarly out-levelled during your first discourse with Professor Chatters. It's possible to snatch a victory there, though; the game comments on it, before going on as if you lost.
  • Some of the fights in Dreamfall: The Longest Journey are meant to be avoided. These fights cannot be won.

    Beat 'em Up 
  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order features three of these in the fifth chapter. The first is a battle against the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (Magneto, Juggernaut, and Mystique), which will end if any of them are defeated. The next is at the end, where your team fights Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight, two members of the Black Order, first against Proxima before Corvus joins her for the second fight. They can be defeated, and you actually get unique artwork for doing so. What makes the second example unique is that you have to lose to them twice before everyone decides to just retreat.
  • Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity: An early mission has a fragment of Calamity's Malice cause a Guardian to go rogue and attack Link, Impa, and Zelda. You can only flee from the Guardian at first, leading to a segment where you have to activate two Unearthed Guardians and lure it into a position where they can shoot it to weaken it.note 
  • Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes: The prologue battle against Byleth is designed to be unwinnable, as you can only deal Scratch Damage to them while you take much more damage from their attacks even after you're revived and given a Super Mode to try to even the odds. After defeating a few extra soldiers that come in to run interference, Jeralt calls Byleth and the rest of his mercs off to go elsewhere, and the battle ends.

    Card Battle Game 
  • Etherlords II has a couple of these, most notably the "Dragon Musician" which has a level higher than any other thing in the game, including the final boss, who is basically the god of the universe, not to mention the crazy buffs he gets for free at the start of every fight (one wonders why the Vitals didn't conquer the rest of the world with this crazy powerful being).
    • Though it is possible to kill him, albeit being VERY difficult and breaking one quest which was tied to him, if you manage to kill him, you basically won the campaign, because the rest of your poor enemies no longer stand a chance against your highest level character.
    • A lower level example of this can also be found in the Synteth campaign, where you have to summon a monster to aid you n invading a fort, because the enemies there are of too high of a level, but the thing is you can kill them yourself if you are a good player and have some luck, but it will reset to before the fight happened as if you lost.
  • In the DS Dinosaur King game, one of these is fought against Seth - he counters every move you can make regardless of what you do. A variation occurs in that it occurs after a normal boss fight with him.
  • Somewhat unusually for a Yu-Gi-Oh! game, Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden Memories has one of these, the first time you encounter Heishin. If you do manage to beat him, he simply challenges you again. (And again, and again, and again, if need be...) Given that he uses 2700+ ATK monsters at a point where you have access to maybe one or two 1800s, you would need some serious luck or lots of grinding to beat him.
  • In Monster Monpiece, you get to fight the Masked Diva after her identity is revealed. She has 9 starting health (the max anyone else has, including the Super Boss, is four), 90 starting mana, on top of using a high upkeep Fusion deck (which 90 mana will let her easily spam from turn 1). If you can somehow survive the initial ten or so cards, her regen is the standard 3; but there is an immensely small chance you'll break even one of her cards before you're overrun the first time through.
  • In Magic Duels, you get this in one of Nissa's campaign duels. The opponent starts off at 100 health instead of the usual 20. It is highly unlikely that you'll be able to whittle this down before they acquire enough mana to cast Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. However, at that point the game simply declares you the winner; it was only a vision, and your objective was only to survive long enough to make that horrible discovery, triggering your planeswalker spark.
  • In Hearthstone, the prologue of the Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion pits you against The Lich King, combining this trope with Fission Mailed. You don't have any cards in your deck that cost less than 4 mana, except a single Magma Rager, and you will always lose by turn 3. Then, The Lich King resurrects you as a Death Knight, and a boss fight against Tirion Fordring begins (this time, it's instead a purposeful Curb-Stomp Battle).
  • Touken Ranbu: The tutorial battle is a guaranteed lose with the starter sword sustaining heavy damage. This is meant to teach the player about Shinken Hissatsu and damage repair.
  • Quantum Protocol: In the first mission, the player has no means of getting around the enemy's Decompile card, which sends all cards in the field, hand, and deck to the trash. The next time the player comes across this card, they can counter with the Rejuvenate card, which can be activated from the trash and restores all their cards.

    Dating Sim 
  • One actually happens part way through Kaichu - The Kaiju Dating Sim. The military sends a giant robot to break up the player and their chosen partner, and no matter what answers they pick or how many times they reload the level, they can't pick enough right answers to prove their love. This is so they can dramatically get back together and destroy the robot as a couple. Thing is, given the random nature of a normal date in that game, a player might not realize the level's supposed to be unwinnable.

    Fighting Game 
  • Rival Schools:
    • Regardless which team you choose, in the third round you'll face Raizo, the principal of Justice High School and Batsu's Disappeared Dad, along with a brainwashed student (his partner for the 2-man special attacks) to fight you. True to the trope, Raizo is very powerful and extremely resistant to damage at this point, but with enough skill, you can manage to chip off enough damage from him and fend him off until time runs out. If you lose as the plot demands, you continue to fight other students and unravel more of the story. If you are playing as the two Justice High teachers and lose, you still continue to fight students... as a Brainwashed and Crazy agent for Raizo, complete with color-changed outfits, until the plot has your adversaries fight you to snap you out of it. On the other hand, if you do beat Raizo here, you skip directly to the end of the game, with another fight against him (depowered to beatable levels, of course). Either way, once you defeat him you then fight The Man Behind the Man, an Ax-Crazy, sword-wielding Justice High student named Hyo.
    • For Gorin High's second story mode battle, if you're using Natsu as your primary character, she ends up having to fight Shoma and Roberto by herself — with the odds stacked against her. Not only does Shoma get a tag team partner, they start the battle with three full stocks of super meter. Which allows them to use their Burning Vigors and Team Up attacks right from the start, with the AI being set to 'perfect play' mode. Whereas Natsu gets jack shit, since she starts off with her super meter being empty. It's still possible for her to eke out a win, but don't count on it.
    • Slightly different with the Gedo High in which Akira fights with her teammates instead. This is a normal match (i.e. you have to win it, but your opponents are not especially durable); if you win with a perfect, you skip to the end.
    • The sequel Project Justice gives you a similar setting in Story Mode. Only the opponent is "Vatsu", an empowered Batsu who is actually the resident Smug Snake Kurow Kirishima in disguise. He reveals his identity once the fight's over, and then you have to fight him. Also, depending on the team you chose, he might have an extra incentive for your team: he's holding either Hinata (if you chose the Taiyo team that included her, Kyosuke and the actual Batsu) or Kyouko-sensei (if you chose the Teachers Team with her, Hideo and Hayato) as a hostage.
  • In several wrestling-based games, there are matches where, even though they are hard, you can easily win. However, due to the storyline calling you to not have "come out on top" or not possess a certain title, a cutscene will play that takes the title/glory away from you. Several examples in Smackdown vs Raw 06 include: HHH losing in a steel cage, but Eric Bischoff taking away your title, defeating Eddie Guerro but the Undertaker interrupting the match, winning the tag team title, but having to give it to the injured wrestler you previously replaced.
    • The original SmackDown vs. Raw has a big example itself. At one point, you are given the option to join Vince McMahon, who will referee a WWE Championship match you're in. If you take his offer, it is impossible to lose, as he will not recognize submissions or count past two when you're pinned. The inverse, however, is that if you turn him down, the same goes for your opponent, meaning it's only a matter of when you lose.
    • The final game under the SmackDown vs. Raw banner has one in nearly every Road to Wrestlemania (you can beat the one on John Cena’s RTW, but only if you’re really, really good since you face two opponents and have a four minute time limit). Perhaps the biggest one of these is the match at the Royal Rumble in Christian’s RTW. No matter how hard the player tries, they will lose due to Dolph Ziggler’s interference, and can’t even get a three count before he shows up, either.
  • In YuYu Hakusho: Dark Tournament Saga for the PlayStation 2, every fight against Toguro save the last one is a Hopeless Boss Fight. The final match with Toguro is merely That One Boss.
    • You can win the fights, if you're extremely good at dodging, and very patient. But the cut scenes take place like it never happened, since the cut scenes are right out of the anime.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 plays with this. Certain fights are normally impossible to win, and losing them advances the plot. However, level up your characters enough and you'll be able to alter the story's progression by winning. This opens up alternate story paths that shift around events and characters, the results of which are often hilarious.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable: The Gears of Destiny: The earlier battles against System U-D are like this, though they're beatable with enough skill. If you do manage to win, it will be revealed that the now exhausted character did little to no damage to System U-D, with the story continuing as normal after U-D retaliates. Having said that, beating her during these Hopeless Boss Fights is one of the prerequisites for accessing the Playable Epilogue and unlocking System U-D as a playable character.
  • In Duel Savior Destiny, these get pulled on you more frequently as you get into the later story routes. For example, having to go up against four boss units at once all by yourself. During the last route, the game even dumps characters you've never had a chance to use or even have as your ally before, apparently expecting you to lose. If you don't, the game just undoes your victory anyway so you can win the way it wants you to.
  • In Kamen Rider Battride War, Kuuga's Memory Level reenacts the final battle in his show. In fact, the entire level is one big boss fight, starting with a hopeless one. Every attack you preform against the boss is worthless and futile, up to and including finishing attacks. Then, after a cutscene where the boss sets Kuuga on fire, he transforms into Ultimate Form and you're finally able to fight him.
  • This is a literal explanation for many characters created in M.U.G.E.N, such as Chuck Norris or Atom Bomb. They have no hitbox and are intended to be used as Game-Breaker fighters for the player to control, but if you neglected to place them outside your fight order in the game's .def file, they'll appear as CPU opponents who are still unbeatable. The only thing to do at that point is restart Arcade mode from the beginning; do not pass Go, do not collect $200.
  • When starting a new game in Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, if you tell the Moogle at the beginning of the game that you mastered Dissidia, he'll pit you against a maxed-out version of the game's Secret Boss with a level 1 Lightning. Have fun!
  • Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage: At the end of the first stage, as Spider-Man, you'll fight a Giant Mook. Beat him, and then 2 Big Mooks, and then 4. The 4th one will have maximum hp, but it can be whittled down. If you win, you'll get the same event as if you lost, with Cloak and Dagger rescuing Spider-Man.
  • In Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite's story mode, your first encounter with Ultron Sigma is designed for you to lose. He is accompanied with an XGardian (a Brainwashed and Crazy herald of Asgard) that can be beaten without too much trouble, but Ultron Sigma himself has an Infinity Stone and stupidly high defense, and you have neither of these. And just to add insult to injury, even though you can still fight against and deal damage to him, you cannot actually defeat Ultron Sigma because the match ends once his health is brought down to 25%, and the game simply proceeds as if you had lost the fight.
  • Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2:
    • The last stretch of Jiraiya's fight against Pain. Having spent most of his chakra for the Sage Mode, a weakened Jiraiya does a Last Stand against the Six Paths of Pain. The fight is designed to be unwinnable; Jiraiya is slow and can only muster a few pathetic attacks, while Pain has an unlimited health bar. By the middle of the fight, Jiraiya is too weak to get up, so the player can do nothing but watch him get brutally kicked around by the Six Paths.
    • The last part of Sasuke's duel with Itachi also features this. The only thing the player can do is back Sasuke against a corner as Itachi slowly closes in on him.
  • Downplayed Trope in BlazBlue. There are several fights in various Story Modes that end 'successfully' with the player's health falling below a certain threshold. These tend to be followed by a story-progressing cutscene of the character on their last legs or realising that they're in trouble. To make it more likely to get this narrative outcome, the AI in these fights tends to be turned up to an intimidating difficulty. It is still conceptually possible to win these fights, but you'll probably take a beating doing so and BlazBlue has never been afraid of saying The Battle Didn't Count.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • For the Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep expansion for Borderlands 2, Tina is the dungeon master for a roleplaying game called Bunkers & Badasses. Just as the Vault Hunters approach the gate to a hub world called Flamerock Refuge, Tina narrates that a dragon appeared out of nowhere to fight. It is impervious to weapons and its attack instantly sends every vault hunter into Fight For Your Life mode. When called out for this by Lilith, Tina revives everyone and substitutes the dragon for a different, easier boss.
  • Deus Ex has a well-executed instance of this, where you are confronted by a small army who demand your surrender, led by Gunther Hermann (a main character). You have the option of resisting (even if this is obviously foolish), but Gunther is invincible in this fight, so there's no way to avoid getting captured even if you manage to outfight everyone else (which is pretty hard to do, so you will likely not even notice Gunther's invincibility). You get to fight Gunther later, when he's quite mortal.
    • It is quite possible to be starkly confronted with Gunther's invincible nature by taking advantage of his ridiculously stupid AI; lure Gunther into the train station and make an escape through the tunnels. Destroy the small army of UNATCO troops and bots awaiting you, and then find out (to many tropers' eternal frustration) that even though you can hear the evac chopper waiting for you, you can't get to it; you're forced to battle Hermann.
      • It is actually possible to get to da choppa by putting LAMs or gas grenades on one of the shack walls, and then climbing them. If done properly, this will get you past the invisible walls and invisible ceiling and you can get to Jock's copter. Even if you do this, he will still completely ignore you, forcing you to either kill yourself to continue or load from an earlier point.
      • If you trap Gunther in the train station as mentioned above, and manage to survive the other troops and bots outside for an extended amount of time, the game will move to the next plot point anyways just as if you had surrendered or been knocked out.
  • The various Jedi Knight games contain several examples:
    • Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II: The climactic battle in the expansion pack Mysteries of the Sith presents a unique Hopeless Boss Fight when Mara Jade fights Kyle Katarn (now seduced by The Dark Side). Kyle's attacks are normal, but he is entirely invulnerable and hence impossible to defeat. This situation almost counts as a Puzzle Boss, except that the solution is not a test of wit.
    • Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast: After Jan Ors is captured and seemingly killed by Tavion, an enraged Kyle Katarn tries to fight the Big Bad Desann in a scripted Curb-Stomp Battle in favor of the latter. Justified in that, alas, he has Force powers and you do not. The justification is even better than it sounds, because theoretically he has an unbeatable counter to any kind of attack you use. Blasters and energy weapons? Deflected by lightsaber. Thrown explosives? Force Pushed back. So it's not likely the player will even get the chance to verify he's invulnerable as well. Of course, if you happened to be less than skilled and used a cheat code to make yourself invincible, the game becomes unwinnable, since neither side can die.
    • In the last fight in Jedi Outcast you can reverse this trope on Desann (though it is hard). This is possible by trapping his lightsaber under the weak pillar in the room by making it fall on top of it when Desann uses a saber throw. He will then be unable to defend, and only use his force powers to force pull his saber, which is stuck.
    • Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy: In one mission level, you have to distract a rancor so some prisoners can escape, and you escape as well in the end. You can actually kill the rancor, but the game respawns it immediately.
    • In a later mission level of Jedi Academy, you have to defeat a gigantic mutated rancor. It's not-quite-immune to your weapons, so you can kill it if you try hard enough. But it respawns immediately. You have to follow the (not so) logical level layout in order to get to the scripted ending where it dies for real.
  • When you first encounter the Makron in Quake IV, you can't beat it. You can die trying, however, unless you let the Makron catch you with its gravity beam, and thus capture you alive.
    • Sometimes the gravity beam glitches and kills you anyway (perhaps by wanting to drag you through scenery):
      Makron: *Evil Laugh* You cannot win! Die human!
  • Halo:
    • Inverted in the original Halo: Combat Evolved: There is a scene where several waves of enemies (but no boss enemy) are used to herd the character through a scripted scene. Perplexingly, however, the enemies aren't unlimited, and it is possible on the lower difficulty levels to beat them all, while Cortana keeps telling you that the only safe way out is to jump...
    • Played straight with the post-credits Last Stand mission in Halo: Reach, where you fight increasingly tough waves of enemies until Six is killed.
  • In Half-Life, if you refuse the G-Man's offer at the end of the game, you materialize in the middle of a Vortigaunt building with an endless number of enemies...and no weapons. Additionally, both of the first two gargantuas encountered were apparently intended to only be beaten by luring them into a power reactor and an airstrike, respectively, but through an oversight (likely to make it vulnerable to the airstrike), if you hit it with enough ordinary explosives, you can kill one early — though this required a degree of ammo conservation discipline that most players wouldn't have observed.
  • Half-Life 2:
    • While not technically a boss fight, a scripted event early on forces you to be overwhelmed by Combine forces before Alyx saves your sorry hide. It's impossible to skip this or defeat the Combine soldiers because you don't have access to weapons that early in the game. If you use a cheat to give yourself weapons early and kill the soldiers before they wail on you, the event doesn't trigger and you're stuck in a small corridor with nothing to do.
    • Midway through Half-Life 2: Episode 2, you encounter the acidic antlion queen in the antlion lair, who cannot be hurt until you're back outside later in the game. According to the commentary, not only were you not supposed to fight the Guardian in this section, as a general rule you didn't have enough ammo to actually kill it. That didn't stop playtesters from trying, though, so they had to add a line from the Vortigaunt expressly forbidding you to kill it so that you wouldn't try.
  • In Call of Duty 4, during the end mission, You are told to shoot down a pursuing helicopter. Naturally, you can't.
  • In Rise of the Triad, your first fight with El Oscuro cannot be won by simply shooting at him until he falls down. Firing at him will cause him to mirror your attack with a magical variant of his own. Just wait it out, avoid his attacks, and eventually he'll run away and trigger the next level.
  • The first level of the time-traveling FPS Darkest of Days has you as a member of General Custer's cavalry during the Battle of Little Bighorn. That goes about as well as you would expect.
  • Doom: Episode 1 of the original game ends this way (as does one level of The Plutonia Experiment if you choose the wrong one of its two exits); you get teleported to a dark room full of monsters, with a floor that not only drains your health but also turns off the god-mode cheat if in use, and you can't move; apart from shooting the monsters, all you can do is wait for your health to drop to below 11%, which ends the game. This can be overcome with cheating somewhat if you use IDBEHOLDV (granting you an invulnerability sphere), which isn't affected by the god-mode disabler. However, even if you kill the monsters, you're stuck there unless you noclip and there's no other way to beat the level in the Episode 1 example.
  • If a player pirated a copy of Serious Sam 3: BFE, then they would soon start getting hunted by an immortal, lightning-fast, giant pink scorpion who would mercilessly slaughter them.
  • In Battlefield 3, during the second and final mission as Miller, you have to hold out for an evac helicopter to come save you and your comrades from your disabled tank with its .50 cal machine gun for 15 minutes. It's impossible.
  • In Far Cry 2, you start the game trying to flee a town while a civil war is going on all around you. You can't successfully escape the town, because even if you avoid getting killed by gunfire, you collapse from malaria before you can get far. Once you're out of commission, one of the factions picks up your semi-conscious body and drags you to safety to get you to work for them. Which makes very little sense, considering that you may have just shot a lot of them... and then either lost, or collapsed from your terminally serious case of malaria.
  • The very first Big Sister encountered in BioShock 2 cannot be defeated no matter what, as she will eventually flee if either her health or Delta's gets too low. Originally, all fights with the Big Sister (singular, as there was only going to be one in the whole game, who would eventually be revealed as Eleanor) were going to be like this, but playtesters didn't take kindly to fighting an unwinnable battle over and over again.
  • Destiny
    • Destiny
      • In the "Lost to Light" mission from Destiny's The Taken King expansion, you have to return to a location from a previous boss fight to retrieve a shard from the soul of a previous Big Bad. It's guarded by an enemy that, while not a boss, is a little tricky. But then, it suddenly vanishes, so you decide to steal the shard anyway. You get the usual "Mission complete" screen and a major NPC's closing remarks over the radio... but then the signal starts cutting out. Then a whole bunch of bosses spawn, which is your signal to get the hell out.
    • Destiny 2
      • In the first mission of the Shadowkeep expansion, "A Mysterious Disturbance", you venture deep into the heart of the Moon and unearth a Pyramid, a remnant of the Darkness that remained in the Sol system after the Black Fleet's defeat at the hands of the Traveller. As you get closer, a Nightare of the Hive God, Crota, is summoned, which you must fight. But as the fight goes on, he is joined by the Nightmares of Dominus Ghaul and Fikrul, and all three become invulnerable, prompting Eris Morn to recite an incantation and pulling you from the one-sided battle before you are inevitably killed.
      • In the "The New Kell" mission of the Beyond Light expansion, you enter Riis-Reborn with the task of finding and killing Eramis, Kell of House Salvation. Things go astray, however, when the Eliksi gifts the power of Stasis to her minions, which forces you to flee before you're overpowered. On the way out, you encounter a massive, invincible Captain wielding the power of Stasis, who you must dodge the attacks of as you continue to flee the Fallen city.
  • A variation in Battlefield 1 prologue "Storm of Steel". Unlike typical depictions of your main character being a Super-Soldier, you're just a regular soldier fighting another army in an Anyone Can Die situation and it won't end until you are dead. Every time you die, you learn the name and dates of birth and death of the soldier you were controlling, before taking control of yet another soldier. The sequence only stops after a minimum of four deaths, though it can keep going depending on how often you die.
  • The sequel, Battlefield V, features a War Story called "The Last Tiger," in which you pilot a German Tiger I tank against the invading American forces. In the story's final act, you are forced to fight alone against a whole battalion of US Shermans while defending an already-abandoned cathedral. The chapter's opening narration actually lampshades this by telling you that the US tanks vastly outnumber the German ones. You do technically win after you defeat the last tank, but this is followed by you retreating towards the bridge, only for your allies to detonate it and leave you stranded with more US troops attacking you.
  • Similar to the ending of the final stage of Doom's Knee-Deep in the Dead episode, in Nitemare 3D, when you first face off against Hammerstein he will simply taunt you and deplete your health all the way to zero, ending the first episode on a Cliffhanger.

    Mecha Game 
  • Zone of the Enders
    • Anubis, the Final Boss, is unbeatable, and that's it. While you can just wait for the end of the game to happen, if you are fast with the controls, you can avoid any damage from him whatsoever, at least on easy. The only damage taken is that in a cutscene about halfway through the battle. What makes the battle that much more frustrating is that you spend the entire game (which isn't very long, mind you) fighting bosses that condescend and belittle you for being a kid, despite wiping the floor with them time and again. What do you learn when you reach Anubis? They were right: the only reason you were winning was because you had a Super Prototype on your hands. Anubis is the first time you've fought something that is Jehuty's equal, and worse, it's at its full potential, while Jehuty still lacks some important equipment. It is literally impossible to land a hit on the thing because it teleports from place to place constantly, away from you and dangerously close; but, to make matters worse, it can kill you if you're foolhardy enough to try to take it on (or are playing on the higher difficulty levels). The only option is to wait for the Atlantis to save you and run away. Nohman even lampshades this with quotes like, "It's impossible for you to kill me." and "I see. At least you're good at running away."
    • In the second game, you have several encounters with Anubis, and, once again, it's hammered into you that Anubis just far outclasses you in every possible way. Between his Teleport Spam, overpowered normal attacks, and ultra-tough armor, it's flat-out impossible to beat it. You can inflict some minor damage if you're good, but there's no way you're winning. Only at the very end of the game, when Jehuty has finally unlocked its full potential (particularly the ability to Teleport Spam itself), can you put up a fight against Anubis. Oh, and the game didn't just weaken Anubis for the final fights... Anubis is just as powerful as it's ever been. Jehuty has powered up that much, which is shown when it's capable of one-shotting what were previously very difficult bosses with ease.
  • Gotcha Force has several scripted battles with Sho and Orochi, and both are extremely powerful, with the player lacking the powerful bogs that they use until after several times through the story or massive amounts of Level Grinding. They technically are winnable; they just massively outgun you. Actually winning in each encounter with them results in Defeat Equals Friendship.

  • In EverQuest, Kerafym the Sleeper in the Scars of Velious expansion. He had insane HP and attack power for the time on top of the death touch ability. He was not intended to be defeated, instead utterly destroying your raid party and the inhabitants of Skyshrine, then disappearing from the game until he resurfaced as the killable Big Bad in Secrets of Faydwer.
    • That didn't stop the top three most powerful guilds on the Rallos Zek server from uniting together in 2003 and proving to the entire world that he was technically killable. Zerg Rush tactics worked out quite nicely. His corpse had no loot.
  • The final mission of the Statesman's Task Force in City of Heroes features Lord Recluse, who's sucking the power from every hero in Paragon City, except you and your team, via four collection towers. He is completely impossible to defeat while the four towers remain standing. He can barely be hit, and if he is hit, he takes little damage, and he regenerates more health in one second than it would take a team of 8 damage dealers to do in a minute. And he can one-shot most tanker-type characters.
    • In Issue 15's Task Forces, the Arch-Villain Reichsman takes no damage the first time you see him. You spend the next few missions devising a way to damage him, then put your plan into effect in the last mission. Even then, he's no push-over.
  • Kingdom of Loathing had Don Crimbo in the 2009 Crimbo Quest; after he inevitably beat you up, your character would give a speech that convinced him to give up on his evil schemes for the time being. There's also The Whole Kingdom, an Optional Boss that cannot be defeated by any known means; it also has difficulty defeating you because it does almost no damage, but it eventually achieves Victory by Endurance.
    • One example that's still available is Cyrus the Virus. He's invincible and always defeats you after one round, but if you use specific items to make him stronger in 3 separate fights, he decides that he's too overpowered to hang around beating you up, so he leaves (after beating you up one last time). Afterward, a different area gets ravaged by a certain virus, which allows you to complete a quest there.
  • Mabinogi: In G13 (Hamlet), you are instructed to fight the Grim Reaper, who is trying to kill Shakespeare. However, this is impossible due to the Grim Reaper's high immunity.
  • World of Warcraft has a variant of this in the Halls of Reflection. The boss is impossible to kill, but the encounter is more about running away from him and killing waves of his minions fast enough before he catches up to you and kills everything in one hit.
    • Sort of repeated with Arthas in Icecrown Citadel. He instantly kills everyone when his health reaches a certain mark, but it's not over yet... King Terenas' spirit breaks free from Frostmourne and brings everyone back to life, while also weakening Arthas to the point of being a free kill.
    • In an example that was less of an intended instance and more of a bandaid, in the original release state of Blackwing Lair, Chromaggus was overtuned on purpose to be completely unbeatable regardless of the raid's gear, because invoked the Nefarian encounter hadn't been coded entirely and they were buying time.
  • The Vizunah Square mission in Guild Wars: Factions ends with Shiro Tagachi showing up and killing the entire party. It's not over yet, though, as the Envoys appear to resurrect you and explain the situation. This can be a problem, however, as any necromancer minions (which generally prove very useful in the rest of the mission) have become unbound when the necromancer died and are now wailing away on the resurrected party while the leader chats with the envoys. Parties have been known to wipe this way.
  • Phantasy Star Universe has one of these in the first chapter of episode 2. The battle against Ethan and Liina is impossible as you cannot deal any damage at all. All you can do is endure long enough for a cutscene to take over.
  • The "Whisperdoom's Spawn" adventure in Dungeons & Dragons Online includes a section where you have to destroy the giant spider Whisperdoom's eggs while avoiding the spider herself. On normal difficulty, she's level 11 (the quest is level 6) and has massive damage reduction and a Healing Factor. It's best not to attack her directly and just smash the eggs.
  • Final Fantasy XIV has the Warriors of Darkness that you fight in the main story in the Heavensward expansion. Because they possess the Echo like the player does, every KO they suffer is only temporary and they are later revived with more strength and HP. After a while, the enemy leader binds the player and their allies completely, ending the fight until a 3rd party intervenes to even the odds and then the battle resumes.
    • The primary antagonist of the Stormblood expansion, Zenos yae Galvus, gives the player multiple Hopeless Boss Fights during the 4.0 main scenario quests. The only way to "win" is to survive long enough for him to resort to his ultimate attack. In the second fight, you at least force him to literally turn red. Even the final battle with him in Ala Mhigo at the very end of the expansion isn't much easier.
    • The first few battles with Ran'jit are this as a means to set him up as a major forced to be reckoned with. Like the Zenos fights, you're only supposed to last long enough for him to pull out a trump card. The fight when you're Thancred is especially meant to convey this with Thancred using increasingly dangerous techniques. Ran'jit does however get his just desserts when you fight in him Eulmore.
    • In the Post-Endwalker story, the player must fight a horde of Voidsent as Zero by herself. The final Voidsent isn't nigh invincible like Zenos and Ran'jit were, but upon reaching 60% health or so, hits Zero with a tank buster attack, and immediately follows it up with a series of attacks that resolve too quickly for Zero to deal with.

  • Fisher-Diver has Captain Connell, who cannot be damaged. He eventually kills the player. You cannot escape him, either, as the oxygen supplies stop working when trying to return to the surface.
  • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc technically has "culprits", not "bosses", but the trope plays out the same way in chapter 5. Chapter 5's murder cannot be solved in chapter 5 itself, because it's a set-up by the Mastermind, and the necessary evidence only comes up in chapter 6. The only correct answer is to let Makoto take the fall by refusing to expose Kyoko's lie (she was the intended scapegoat), which results in a Fission Mailed scenario and the game progressing to the next chapter where Kyoko convinces Monokuma to allow a second trial because the first wasn't fair. Accusing Kyoko leads to the bad ending, where no one is willing to investigate the school's secrets or kill, so the survivors simply live within the school forever.
  • Online egg-hatching game PokéFarm Q did this in its "Sidereal Revolution" event. At one point, you run into Solynx, who's angry at you from a previous event and demands a battle. You're supposed to lose, at which point he deems you a Worthy Opponent and befriends you. If you win, he'll insist that you cheated and demand a rematch. The "victory" cutscene actually changes the first few times you win, showing Solynx becoming progressively more tired and even Garthic telling him to stop, but he just keeps challenging you to rematches until you figure out you're supposed to lose.
  • VR boxing game Creed: Rise to Glory mirrors the film Creed in one notable way: it enforces the canon outcome of the film's climactic fight against Conlan on the player. The player must go the distance against Conlan for 10 rounds, but Conlan cannot be knocked down until round 10. Once he does finally get knocked down, the match instantly ends and commentators will declare Conlan the winner.
  • Lioden:
    • Vashkartzen has ludicrously high stats when you battle him, and rabbit's foots are disabled in your fight. To continue his storyline in Brotherhood of Zeal, you're meant to lose to him so that he'll offer to train with you. If you do somehow win, you can't proceed and will have to fight him again until you lose.
    • The Serpent of Chaos in Rise of the Serpent will automatically deal 1000 damage to your lion on its first attack, defeating you instantly. Unusually for this trope, it happens almost at the end of the storyline rather than the start, with your lion barely escaping with its life shortly before the real final battle with the Serpent.
  • The beginning of the ruined zoo in Super Smash Bros. Brawl has the Porky Statue from Mother 3, which cannot be defeated... well, technically not. Without cheating, using Smash hacks, or somehow changing his absurdly massive HP, you can and will never manage to deal nearly enough damage to it to break it. Instead, Ness destroys it once you manage to get to the end of its chase and you then fight Porky himself.
  • Twisted Wonderland:
    • The tutorial battle is a guaranteed lose.
    • To show how shit's getting real in arc 7, there are a lot of guaranteed losing battles here e.g. multiple Malleus encounters, second Meleanor vs. Knight of Dawn.
  • The Rewinder has the Jorogumo boss who will kill you, no matter the outcome. If you can't escape her, she'll skewer you, while if you can she then catches you in a cutscene and skewer you. Although the second outcome have your sidekick finding a way to revive you instead of a Game Over.

    Platform Game 
  • Mega Man
    • Vile, the first boss of Mega Man X, is unbeatable, and in order to advance in the game, you have to let him beat the crap out of you. A similar situation happens later on in the 1st section of the final level, but Zero sacrifices himself so that you can fight Vile without having to deal with his indestructible giant mech.
      • With patience, it is possible to survive the fight with Vile, but he still doesn't see you as a real threat and only leaves when Zero shows up.
      • When you are down to low amounts of health, Vile will try to jump away and shoot a paralyzer beam. If you're skilled enough, you can dodge the beam, run into Vile, and take enough damage to die. Take that, Capcom!
    • In the remake of this game, Maverick Hunter X, you can beat Vile very easily, and you are in fact required to do so (he'll kill you easily, no paralyzer beam this time), but he uses what basically amounts to a sucker punch to achieve the same situation as in the original game. In the rematch, the Hopeless Boss Fight is skipped entirely and goes straight to the Heroic Sacrifice, which then leads to the mano-a-mano.
    • Similarly, the Mega Man X world DLC included in Minecraft, the first Vile battle allows you to bring Vile’s health down like any other boss…only for him to grab you once he is brought down to half of his health left, and proceeds to restore it back to full. Zero then comes in and brings him to low HP instantly by shooting off his mech’s arm. During your second encounter with Vile, you can again damage him like normal, and once Vile reaches half of his remaining health, Zero sacrifices himself to destroy the mech, and your health is restored for the battle against Vile outside his mech.
    • Similarly, in Mega Man & Bass, the first real fight with King is unwinnable, requiring Proto Man to perform a Heroic Sacrifice, enabling you to actually hurt King. Even though he was cut in half in the opening minutes by an axe.
    • Your first fight with High Max in X6 is unbeatable; you just have to wait out his attacks until a cut scene triggers.
      • Given how the game was designed, any of the times you fight him with X after the first time can be unwinnable because it's possible to fight him before getting a way to damage him. Except the fight never ends after the first time and you die if you lose.
    • In Mega Man Unlimited, the final boss fight against the Z-Prototype, a prototype version of Zero is hopeless. He deflects every weapon you fire at him, and the fight only ends when he takes you down to one unit of life and dislodges your arm cannon.
  • Metroid series:
    • Super Metroid:
      • The fight against Ridley in the opening. You can make him fumble the Metroid hatchling's container, but you can't stop him stealing it, and you can't prevent him from starting the self-destruct sequence.
      • Samus can't do a single thing to harm the Super Metroid, which effortlessly reduces her to 1 energy unit before it realizes who she is and backs off.
      • The second portion of the final fight. Mother Brain's giant multicolored laser is impossible to dodge. When you're hit by it, it will drain any remaining missiles, super missiles, and power bombs, and reduce your health by 500. If you can survive another hit with the beam (energy 600+), then you can get up and keep fighting until you get hit by the beam again. Otherwise, you're stuck on your knees, unable to move until the plot happens and the final phase of the battle begins. Because of the extreme damage of the beam, if you have fewer than 3 energy tanks when you get to Tourian, the battle is literally hopeless: you MUST survive at least one hit with the beam in order to win.
    • Metroid Fusion:
      • Every encounter with SA-X prior to the fight in the research station is a Hopeless Boss Fight, since Samus cannot harm it with her weapons (the Ice Missiles can only momentarily freeze it). The only option is to run away from it when it spots you.
      • At the end of the same game, you face the Omega Metroid, and must let it claw you down to 1 HP, at which point the erstwhile Big Bad, SA-X, attempts to kill the Omega Metroid and is struck down with one blow, sacrificing itself to allow Samus to absorb it and regain her Ice Beam.
  • In The Adventures of Rad Gravity, when your Robot Buddy Kakos is captured and taken to the planet Effluvia, if you fail to switch off the Conveyor Belt o' Doom at the end in time, he is converted into an invincible Killer Robot. You can still use your communicator and restart the mission, though.
  • A really strange version occurs in Revenge of Meta Knight, one of the games in Kirby Super Star. The first time you face down Heavy Mole Lobster on the ship, it actually isn't invincible to your attacks or strong enough to KO you with one hit. Your attacks are as effective as normal. However, while you're fighting, Meta Knight is having a dialogue with his crew on the bottom of the screen. The dialogue doesn't last very long, and the second it ends, Kirby gets blown off the ship. So the player hypothetically could defeat the boss, but there isn't nearly enough time.
    • If you are really fast, skilled, dodge every attack without taking damage, never cease damaging Heavy Lobster, and have an appropriate weapon, it is just barely possible to kill it before you're blown away. Of course, because Heavy Lobster is only really meant to distract you at this point long enough for said blowing, it changes nothing.
    • In the Meta Knightmare Ultra mode of the remake, Kirby Super Star Ultra for the DS, you actually do have to beat the boss, both here and at the later point in the game where you'd face it for real as Kirby.
  • Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter's final battle with Wilfre must be initially lost to continue.
  • Midway through Clash at Demonhead, you face one of the Big Bads in a hopeless boss fight. You have to "die" and continue here to continue the story; i.e. an early example of Fission Mailed.
  • The Legendary Starfy has one in the final world before you defeat Mashtooth for the first time. Starfy's Dragon form is useless against Mashtooth, due to the fact that Mashtooth has a shield that can easily shrug off the fire attack. So, combined with the fact that Dragon Starfy can't jump over Mashtooth due to his jump height not being high enough, the battle must be lost in order to continue, where you battle Mashtooth for real as normal Starfy. This does not happen after defeating Mashtooth for the first time, not even in the boss rush, instead skipping to Normal-Starfy-Versus-Mashtooth fight.
  • The Legend of Dark Witch 3 opens with one against Day. At roughly half health, Day activates Capacity Zero, which shuts down Zizou Olympia's magic and renders her unable to attack. All the player can do is let Day finish them off, which triggers a cutscene where Zizou's sister Mati pulls a Big Damn Heroes. It is possible to reduce Day's health to zero before the Capacity Meter completely empties, but it won't kill her.
  • Sonic Frontiers has Sonic's first encounter with each of the Titans except SUPREME. His encounter with GIGANTO is the straightest example, as it seems like a regular boss fight right up until GIGANTO snatches Sonic out of the air and hurls him through a mountain, knocking him out and firmly establishing just how powerful the Titans really are. After that, Sonic's first encounters with WYVERN and KNIGHT consist entirely of him desperately running for his life and only narrowly escaping.
  • Super Catboy has the first battle against thee Cat Ninja, who can spam her Flechette Storm everywhere and defeat you easily because you lack the proper defense against her projectiles. Your partner Weapongirl busts you out, and you fight the same boss in the end, but this time with your level and defense maxxed out.

    Puzzle Game 
  • The first fight with the Great Devil in Adventures of Lolo 3, 3/4 of the way through the game, is unwinnable. There's nothing really to indicate that you can't beat him, the only hint being that the manual says there are 3 sections of the game, while this fight takes place in the 2nd section. Not so bad, since there are no items for you to waste, but has the potential to be a nasty surprise if you thought it was the final boss, only to discover that there are still 25 more levels before that. Not to mention that his only attack is firing very easy-to-dodge projectiles, which means you could keep up the fight a long time without realizing it was useless.
  • In Dandy Dungeon, you fight Ayanokoji at the top of the Chairman's Tower. Once you defeat him, it turns out he was using a decoy, and the real Ayanokoji (with many more Hit Points than his decoy) will appear, disable your Magic Barrier if you used the Magic Shield scroll, and freeze you in place with Ice-All spells until you die.
  • In Sorcery School your first attempt at the ogre in the greenhouse results in being killed in one hit, purely so a new character can give you some enchanted chainmail.

    Racing Game 
  • In Monster Racers, you face off against world champion Reinhart in Ayers Rock shortly after winning the Star Cup. He has a level 35 Furion, whose stats are far and away higher than any of your monsters at this point, and it will outrun you effortlessly. You won't lose any Will for losing the race, and Reinhart will praise your effort in spite of your loss.
  • A rare case in a "realistic" racer, in Need for Speed: Most Wanted, your first race is rigged such that you can never win.
    • In one case for Need For Speed: Carbon, you can't ever get away from your pursuer in the very first race.
  • A very bizarre example exists in the Megadrive/Genesis port of arcade game Super Monaco GP. G. Ceara, who is in no way supposed to be late F1 legend Ayrton Senna is supposed to be set up this way. He appears during your second racing season and is supposed to defeat you in the first few races no matter how fast you drive until you lose your contract to drive the best car in the game. Upon doing that, he will then become beatable normally for you to earn back your position with the top team. However, the way he's coded, if you can drive a string of perfect races early on, you can defeat him and bypass this entire scenario. Nothing changes except that you don't change teams.
  • Racing Lagoon, a battle against Kyoji Nanba's monster RX-7 is likely to be unbeatble. It's possible to win with a lot of turbos, but the result's not different.
  • Forza Horizon starts with you racing festival champ Darius Flynt; it's also the tutorial, so the best you can really do is stay on his tail.

    Rail Shooter 
  • Tin Star features this with Kid Johnson. Because Tin Star refuses to shoot a child, drawing Tin Star's gun and trying to hit him will cause Tin Star to miss and the cursor to move about wildly. There's nothing you can do except just wait for Kid to shoot you. Tin Star eventually gets blamed for shooting Kid anyway as part of a plan to drive him out of town by Black Bart.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • The second Bavakh Brother in Immortal Defense, who ends up destroying all life on your homeworld. It turns out it is possible to beat him, if you're crazy good and crazy lucky, but even if you do, the game continues as though you hadn't.
  • Warcraft III:
    • Enemy heroes with Divine armor can be found in the campaign (chiefly Cenarius and Tichondrius), which can only be destroyed by units with Chaos damage (well, they can be damaged by regular units, but Divine reduces damage by so much that any Scratch Damage inflicted will be canceled by their entirely average health regeneration). Because no ordinary units in those scenarios have Chaos damage, the bosses are invincible until the player seeks and finds a power-up to gain the Chaos damage required to kill them and win the scenario.
    • In the final mission, Archimonde is impossible to kill (well, almost), so the player must Hold the Line and keep his army from reaching Nordrassil's gate until the time runs out.
    • Similarly, one of the early missions in the Human campaign has you having to defend a small town against endless waves of undead. Given the small amount of resources, upgrades, and units that you can use to set up a decent defense, you can never actually destroy the two undead bases that keep sending their spawns at you. By the end of the mission, not even a perfectly positioned series of towers and soldiers can stop the undead from overwhelming you. To make matters worse, there's a side-quest in which you have to prevent a third undead army on the other side of the map from being spawned.
  • Pikmin 2: The Water Wraith. The game's Exposition Fairy even tells you "Run Away! Run Away very Fast!" Any attacks against it result on the Pikmin being killed until the last sublevel of the dungeon when you recruit the purple Pikmin and can make him tangible.
  • Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders:
    • During Gerald's campaign, you supposedly get one of these against Regnier. Your commanding officer tells you to flee the fight and protect the king. It's only supposedly hopeless because you can actually beat Regnier's unit by having your archers heal you and fire into the melee, while your infantry charge in, steal a few technique points (enough to heal), and then high-tail it back out. This allows a level 7 Gerald and level 9 Hugh to defeat a level 50 Regnier. You still have to leave the battle, though, and it doesn't alter anything. (Though you do get a ton of experience.)
    • Happens later on while trying to sneak past a massive army of level 50-100 orc units. You're supposed to go around them. Sneaky players can lure them off one at a time and defeat them using the paladins you have with you to heal. The dark elves which try to nuke you with meteor spells are, however, invulnerable, and your only recourse is to dash past them. This leads to the incredibly frustrating situation where you've beaten around five units of ridiculously high level orcs and swarms upon swarms of weaker enemies if you went to wipe out every last enemy on the map, only to get blown into oblivion by some stripperiffic "vellie" mages. Gosh Dang It to Heck!! Again, you get gamebreaking amounts of experience and gold for this. Just as well, as the hardest battle in the game is just around the corner.
    • Similarly, in Ellen's campaign, there's a mission in which you're supposed to just run past several armies of ecclesian knights and paladins. While you can attempt to take them on one by one, you're constantly being chased and spammed by the spells of the paladins, so fighting is not quite a viable option.
  • StarCraft:
    • In Terran 9 for story reasons, you are not allowed to destroy any Zerg buildings. You simply have to play defense against the Zerg while you fight the Protoss. Fortunately, killing the Zerg units is allowed.
    • In the StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty mission "In Utter Darkness" the ultimate fate of the Protoss (and Zerg) is to be annihilated. Your mission objective is to hold out as long as you can until the inevitable end, where you must be wiped out in order to 'complete' the mission. Rather than completing the level under a set time as with other levels, the achievements for this level are based on how many of the enemy you take with you.
  • Two levels in Homeworld 2 have you facing off against Progenitor Keepers, incredibly advanced drone warships left behind by a Precursor race millions of years ago and who've taken a disliking towards you for having stolen one of their ancient artifacts. The player's most powerful weapons will barely dent a Keeper, and once worn down by attrition, they simply hyperspace out and reappear again with full health. It is then up to the player to stay alive against this onslaught until the game script eventually bails him out of the situation.
    • There is one trick to making them immediately bail — the Scout's EMP blast. If this can be successfully deployed against the Keepers, you can minimize the damage to your forces, as it gives you enough time to burn their health down or they simply jump out on the spot.
  • AI War 2:
    • If you, another AI-hostile faction, or an alliance of both build up massive amounts of strength and really, really, really piss off the AI, it will start sending Extragalactic War units from tiers 1 to 5, depending on the level of sheer galaxy-cleansing fury/fear. At tier 5, far beyond what most normal playthroughs would see, lies the Extragalactic War Flenser, a titanic star-shaped vessel that can and will murder everything sharing the same gravity well in a matter of seconds, even normally indestructible threats like the Zenith Devourer Golem. You're not meant to be able to beat it even if it does have HP; unless you want to test the Lord British Postulate, all you can do is trigger the Instant-Win Condition of killing the AI Overlord, or get disintegrated.
    • Inverted if you finish the Extragalactic Transceiver event (easier said than done, the AI will throw the mother of all Exos at you for it); a literally endless fleet of Spire vessels will start pouring out and killing everything the AI has; not even Extragalactic War units will save it (though them clashing with Flensers has not been reported yet, they're known to chew up everything below them).
  • From the perspective of the French State in The New Order Last Days Of Europe, their war against Burgundy is this owing to how the French State's military of a few poorly-armed divisions is facing one of the largest militaries in the world.
  • Mental Omega
    • The Paradox Engine in Unthinkable (Epsilon Mission 22). It appears during the final few minutes of your Hold the Line action and you have to face off against it to stop the Engine destroying the Old Chronosphere too soon, but between its massively boosted health pool and Time Freeze ability, you won't be able to destroy it, as it will activate the Time Freeze and wipe out your base soon enough. Even if you manage to bring the Engine down to critical health, it will simply activate the Time Freeze right away and wipe your forces out regardless.
    • Libra in Hamartia (Allied Mission 24). Like the Paradox Engine above, her health is massively boosted when appearing as a boss unit, while her Particle Shield and incredibly damaging explosive darts ensure that she'll quickly chew up any army you send against her, should you try using Chrono Weaponry against her she'll simply activate her Gravity Field and disable your units' weapons. Even if you do defeat her, likely at massive cost, she'll return soon. She's flat out impossible to defeat in Stage 2 since you only have Tanya and Siegfried to control, whom she can kill in one barrage of darts while their weapons won't be enough to kill her before then.

    Rhythm Game 

    Shoot 'em Up 
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising has the first face-off with Hades, which is built up to be the final confrontation and starts off with Hades blasting Pit's Three Sacred Treasures to bits. Pit keeps fighting with his regular weapon and even manages to hurt Hades, but he ends up being eaten just after that.
  • Radiant Silvergun: The final boss is the Stone-Like, the entity that orchestrated the annihilation of the human race and whose forces you've been fighting against the whole game. It's utterly invincible, even intangible. Your only hope is to survive long enough against it for it to deposit your character far back in time to restart the human race, and hopefully this time the Stone-Like won't need to wipe them out for failing to meet its expectations.
  • Ikaruga has a hopeless boss fight with the Stone-Like (possibly the same being as in Radiant Silvergun) at the end, where you can't shoot and have to dodge many patterns of bullets for a certain amount of time. At the end, the Ikaruga releases a Heroic Sacrifice self-destruct attack. A Bittersweet Ending, but our hero is allowed to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence, and The End of the World as We Know It is averted, unlike in RS (a Downer Ending).
  • In the very first mission of Chronos Twin DX, while you can be 'hurt' by regular enemies, nothing will kill you until you reach the boss, who exists across two timezones at once. He kills you dead by attacking from the past. The story then shifts forward several years to your character's younger brother trying again, this time with a modified time machine that lets him simultaneously be in the past and the present.
  • "Versus" at the end of Thunder Force IV's fifth stage. You and your squad shoot it to no avail, and your squad soon gets their asses completely handed to them, forcing your remaining members to resort to give you the Mid-Season Upgrade.
  • The flash game RPG Shooter: Starwish has the introduction level. You face against some easy cannon fodder Mooks... then you come across the Firebolt. This thing spams bullets and very damaging, hard-to-avoid lasers, and while you can beat it (doing so gets you experience, money, and an achievement "Time Paradox", but the cutscene after is the same), it's very hard to do so and you'll probably go down.
    • And if you think you can curbstomp it in a New Game Plus with all your cool weapons, it also gets a health and damage buff and is just as difficult!
  • Angry Birds: Transformers has the infamous Boss Pig, whose attacks instantly kill your character. The only reason as to why he exists is that The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard.

    Simulation Game 
  • From Wing Commander III:
    • In the climactic mission, the plot called for you to lose your wingmen in battle with an enemy ace and make the final attack alone: however, this was achieved by having the ace magically respawn so long as any wingmen were present. This lead to a surreal battle in which you might shoot him down a dozen times in a row, using up all of your missiles and countermeasures, and have no way of knowing what obscure action would cause things to proceed.
    • Similarly, forgetting to use a certain technology could also lead to a constant stream of respawning aces.
    • Finally, if you fail a critical mission and end up in the losing path, the final mission involves a confrontation with the KIS Hvar'kann, Crown Prince Thrakhath nar Kiranka's personal dreadnought, which is almost impossible to kill without whittling it down with many minutes of firing. The expectation appeared to be for Maverick to die trying so that the Bad Ending could roll. As you were not meant to destroy it, the game has no idea what to do when you beat it, so just leaves you hanging in space.
  • While few in the Ace Combat series, Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies may be the only one where there are enemy planes that are literally invincible: in your first encounter with the Yellow Squadron, their AI is so insanely beefed up that hitting them is nigh impossible... and attempting to use guns will reveal that they are invincible as well, just in case someone tried fighting them anyway. In fact, your Mission Control orders you to run the hell away the second they show up; not retreating until the mission timer runs out fails the mission.
    • In the next encounter, the Yellow Squadron's piloting skills have been reduced just enough that a mid-tier plane actually stands a chance of hitting them; while they're still invincible, scoring a single solid hit on any of them will cause the entire squadron to disengage and leave the battlefield amidst surprised radio dialogue from both sides.
    • There are two missions in Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War where you're actually unarmed (although you're actually very unlikely to get hit), and the series is sprinkled with missions where engaging the enemy aces would run counter to the mission objectives. Of particular note is the infamous 8492 in AC5, which sees you get jumped by a very large number of Su-47 Berkuts and YF-23s... right after a very taxing close air support mission, not allowing you to change your attacker plane for a more suited fighter jet between the two engagements. Upon spawning, the entire enemy force immediately beelines for you and get on your tail, ripple-firing their missiles in large salvos that instantly kill even on lower difficulty levels, making even fleeing them (which is the objective) almost impossible. While extremely difficult to battle due to their superb agility making them impossible to out-turn without an F-22 or other top-tier monster of your own, these aces are not actually invincible and shooting them down is required for an S-rank, regardless of your teammates' insistence that staying to fight is suicide. Luckily, bagging enough of them for an S-rank automatically despawns the rest and counts as mission success, regardless of whether you've escaped or not. The question is whether the player actually has the skills and good enough plane to do this.
    • Technically speaking, Stonehenge in 04 starts out as this. It first causes trouble in mission 7, right after you complete your main objective — it's almost like a Kaizo Trap in this sense, except you receive plenty of warning at first. You can't even attack it at all in this mission, as it's not even anywhere on the level and is instead firing One-Hit Kill salvos from afar (with a ten second warning, granted). You have to enter a tight ravine and stay below 2000 feet to keep out of its sights, otherwise you are dead. Later, thankfully, you're given a warning to expect it to act up, and you get more time between shots. You still can't even fight Stonehenge, however. Fast forward to mission 12, and you're actually able to attack it and know where the cannons are, making it far easier to manage. Watch your flying though: although the cannons have serious difficulty tracking you from so close, they still dish out a One-Hit Kill if you happen to be in the way when it fires.
    • A smaller example from Zero is the first phase of the final boss fight against Pixy. You can shoot at him and you can hit him - but until your Mission Control informs you of his Morgan's weakness, you cannot kill him, the reason being that the Morgan's sophisticated ECM makes it invulnerable against both missiles and guns. Only nailing the front air intake can take it down - apparently, whoever designed the ECM thought that nobody would be crazy enough to try Air Jousting with a jet fighter. Unfortunately for Pixy, Cipher is that crazy.
    • The third mission in Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown has you going up against the Arsenal Bird, a massive, unmanned flying wing that deploys dozens of Attack Drones. After a couple of minutes, your allies are overwhelmed and the Arsenal Bird deploys an impenetrable shield, forcing you to retreat while providing cover against the drones.
  • Defied in The Sims Pet Stories. At the final Dog Show event at the end of "Best in Show," it appears that no matter how much Alice Whitt trained Sam, it appears that Diana DeBore's trophy winning Precious would take it all away as she has max skills on all equipment. But she trips on the penultimate obstacle, running away and making Alice Whitt the winner by default.
  • In Star Trek: Bridge Commander, there are a few times where you are encouraged to complete your objective and get the hell out of there ASAP, due to being highly out-gunned. A few times, ships respawn infinitely, but a few times you're highly rewarded for defeating all the enemy vessels.
  • In FreeSpace you can fight the Lucifer multiple times, but can only destroy it during the last mission due to its invulnerable shield. (This is because the final mission is the only time you encounter the Lucifer in the campaign where the "Invulnerable" flag for the Lucifer is not turned on. It doesn't even have shields, just a mission editor hax.)
    • Not that you'd stand much chance of destroying it even without the shields: you're a small, one-man fighter and the Lucifer is a 3 kilometer long superdestroyer. It takes a full squadron of fighters guarding two wings of heavy bombers armed with bombs meant for planetary bombardment to destroy it in the end.
  • On the World of Tanks Russian server, fifteen T-34-85 drivers can enter a boss battle with the White Tiger, driven only by WarGaming staff. It has 14,960 hitpoints, making it Nigh-Invulnerable, and uses the L/56 8.8cm but fires 15cm shells from the E-100. Released partially to promote the obscure German film "The White Tiger".
  • Bjorn Headcleaver, the Big Bad from Dead In Vinland introduces himself very early in the game - and beats the crap out of your squishy low-level party as a demonstration that he's in charge of the island and they're only alive at his sufferance.

    Stealth-Based Game 
  • Metal Gear:
    • In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Raiden goes up against 'Lady Luck' Fortune. Any shot fired at her misses, and any grenade thrown near her is a dud. Your only hope is to dodge her shots until events elsewhere force her to leave.
    • In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, when you encounter "The Sorrow", any sort of offense is useless since you can't hurt him or his spirits. The only way out is by essentially dying, game over screen and all, and taking the revival pill.
  • The DLC of Assassin's Creed III has one against George Washington. Yes, THAT George Washington. If you run up to him, he blasts you away with an energy wave; if you run circles around him, he'll shoot lightning at you; if you just keep your distance, he'll summon thunder bolts from the sky on top of you. Eventually he hits you with his staff, shoots you with two pistols, takes a musket and stabs you with the bayonet, simultaneously shooting you a third time before leaving you for dead. You get your revenge later... sorta...

    Survival Horror 
  • Endless Nightmare have the Fire Demon in the second game, encountered as early as the first stage. You kill some zombies, and then gets assaulted by the fiery monster who shrugs off all your weapons and absorbs every single bullet you have at that point, before it pulls a Neck Lift on you causing the screen to go black. You wake up in another ward later, and eventually confront the same monster again at the end of the game, in a boiler room where you shoot sprinklers making it actually vulnerable.
  • Silent Hill:
    • Silent Hill 2 and Silent Hill 4 both feature unbeatable bosses. Silent Hill 2 has the ever-popular Pyramid Head, and after running away from him down a long, narrow, winding hall, blindly shooting at him, you run into an elevator to escape. Not everyone does though, and he manages to kill Maria. But only sort of. Eh. In Silent Hill 4, Walter Sullivan chases you for the entire second half of the game. He cannot be killed, but he can be slowed. He and PH do, however, eventually become beatable.
    • The two actual "fights" against Pyramid Head (in the apartment building and near the end of the game) definitely qualify. The only way to end these fights is to either die or wait until he decides to end it after a certain amount of time (the first time by leaving the room, the second time by both Pyramid Heads impaling themselves on their own spears). However, while you can't actually "win" the fights, shooting him does shorten the amount of time it takes Pyramid Head to end the fight.
    • Inverted in Silent Hill: Downpour. At the end, you get transformed into the Bogeyman (since this is how Anne has viewed you during her journey through the town). You are essentially a hopeless boss fight for her, and can choose to smash her brains in with your huge hammer or spare her. Her pistol does Scratch Damage to you, so you can stand there and let her kill you for a Twist Ending.
    • Silent Hill 4 also features the ghosts, who are more like hopeless miniboss fights — they show up in particular areas and deal damage just by getting near you. Weapons will knock ghosts down, but they will always stand up again unless you permanently immobilize them using a special sword item. There are more ghosts than swords in the game, though, so you can never get rid of all of them (you do have the ability to pull the swords out, but this has the obvious consequence of setting the ghost loose).
  • In the Gamecube Remake of the original Resident Evil, Lisa Trevor is an invincible deformed implacable girl super-zombie that stalks the player in several areas of the game. The final encounter with her is a Puzzle Boss fight where you have to push several blocks off a ledge to open her mother's coffin, causing her to jump to her death at the sight.
    • Even then in the Wii rail shooter Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, Lisa apparently survives her fall/suicide and becomes an unbeatable boss against Wesker during the Rebirth scenario. The least he could do against her was slow her down and pin her under a chandelier. It takes the mansion's self|destruct system to finally kill her off.
  • Tragic Monster Steve in Resident Evil – Code: Veronica. Your only option is to run, and he will inevitably score a hit or two on you with his axe, which kills in two hits, so you better have some healing items on hand, or this may become an Unwinnable situation.
    • You can turn around and shoot him to slow him down (the explosive arrows are best for this). Technically, you can get away without a scratch. However, it is not possible to defeat him.
  • The first time you encounter a Leech Zombie in Resident Evil 0, you lack the firepower to defeat it, so you can only run for the exit, which triggers the cutscene where Billy takes it down. It is technically possible to bring it down, but this triggers the same cutscene regardless, and there's no reward.
  • Albert Wesker is impossible to kill the first time you face him in Resident Evil 5: all you're expected to do is survive for seven minutes. It is possible to inflict enough damage to end the fight early (and earn an achievement and a valuable gem for your trouble), but the following cutscene is exactly the same as if you just waited out the clock.
  • The Tyrannosaurus rex in the Dino Crisis series is an unbeatable boss, and if he catches up with Regina, he will swallow her whole. Although he cannot be killed, he can be slowed down with gunfire.
  • The first few encounters with the White Witch from The Dark Meadow will be this. You simply don't have the proper equipment or experience levels to deal with her, forcing you to investigate more of the game's story and kill more monsters first. And don't even think about winning against The Trickster's second and third forms on your first try.
  • The zombified Alan Morton, the final boss of Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare. No matter how many times you knock him down, he always gets back up. After stunning him, you have to run into a mundane alcove which contains a spear, which Carnby automatically uses to kill Morton.
    • Likewise, Obed Morton is so difficult to defeat that to many players he seems like a Hopeless Boss Fight, such that even most of the game's walkthroughs indicate the only way to finish the game is to use an exploit to run past him instead of fighting him. You actually can kill Obed by shooting him (and it doesn't even matter what weapon you use either), but you can only hurt him when he's in a certain pose (he should be knocked backwards if you hit him correctly, indicating you got it right).
  • In Fatal Frame II, you have the Kusabi. An extremely powerful ghost, any time he appears before the end-game fight against him, he's immune to the effects of the Camera Obscura (rendering him invincible) and getting touched by him is instant death, whether you have a Stone Mirror or not. Your only option is to run.
    • The same game also features a sequence where the player must run from Sae Kurosawa, another extremely powerful one-hit kill ghost. In this case, though, she's invincible because the player has lost the Camera, and with it their only means of defending themselves against ghosts. Curiously, when she's encountered as the True Final Boss, she's no longer able to one-hit kill you.
    • The Fatal Frame series makes a tradition out of this: Kirie Himuro from the first game is also invincible and a one-hit kill until the final boss fight. The third game has Reika Kuze, who does not have one-hit kill powers, but is invincible until (you guessed it) the final boss fight.
  • World of Horror:

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance has two of these, both of them involving Llednar. He's invincible and strong. You have to stall for several turns before the plot takes over. He does become beatable towards the game's end. Just to give an idea of how unbeatable Llednar is: Most battles have objectives like "Win battle!", "Defeat the Boss!", or the suchlike. During the fight that's just Marche versus Llednar? "Survive!".
  • In Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis, the final boss doesn't take damage until it is hit by a weapon whose description says that it can pierce his skin. The battle is extremely difficult with lesser enemies being summoned as fast as you can bring them down and his attacks can one-shot most of your team. The game even gives you a Bad Ending if you lose the battle, giving an impression of a hopeless boss fight.
  • Nippon Ichi games, such as the Disgaea series, Phantom Brave, and Makai Kingdom, had bosses too hard to defeat without massive Level Grinding. The writers cater to Nintendo Hard fans, and have divergent game areas just for them. Careful, though, because winning some of them causes a Nonstandard Game Over leading to a Bad Ending.
    • Disgaea 2 subverts this at one point. Initially, Laharl shows up and kicks your ass. However, in the process, he breaks Rozalin's talisman, triggering her Superpowered Evil Side. This causes an inversion, where it is he who cannot possibly defeat you. However, you still have to lose the first phase of the fight. If you win in the first phase, then you get an ending and are forced to start the story from the top. The same with your battle with Etna. If you lose, the game continues, if you win, you get a joke cutscene, the credits roll, and you have to take it from the top.
    • Another Disgaea subversion happens during the first game. Initially, during the Chapter 6 fight against the Alternate Overlord, his group of ten is all at level 75, and you're normally barely breaking 30 on your first playthroughnote . However, should you win this fight on another playthrough (or just level grind enough on your first time through), it turns out that the game just proceeds on. No special cutscene, nothing.
    • The Nippon Ichi game La Pucelle Tactics also had two such bosses, in chapters 4 and 8; defeating them earns a "special ending" for the chapter which grants a powerful piece of equipment.
    • Soul Nomad & the World Eaters has the titular World Eaters, and without the aid of the resident Omnicidal Maniac, you can't hope to defeat them.
      • Storywise, the only World Eater that falls under this category is Feinne, the first World Eater you encounter (right at the beginning of the story, to boot). Actually beating her triggers the battle against Asagi.
    • Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure loves to use this trope. Several boss fights (primarily with Marjoly's minions in early goings of the game) are impossible to win, simply because you can't damage them — all attacks will miss). Others later you have to at least survive for a few rounds before the game ends the fight. Still, the most amusing one is during the contest when you fight Etoile. You vs Rocket Launchers and Machine guns. Good luck!
    • Makai Kingdom actually inverts this at the beginning, placing you against a series of opponents whom you could not possibly lose to.
      • Chapter 8 ends with Alexander finally stepping to defeat you on his own, being way above your level on a first playthrough. Fortunately, Salome joins the fight as an uncontrollable third party, even higher level, and turns him into a smear. Unless you have the bad fortune to get into the crossfire, it's a sure win. And of course, on future playthroughs, you can fight them on your own for certain alternate endings.
  • In Super Robot Wars: Original Generation 2, you are constantly pitted against the main bosses of the game — who retain their endboss-level stats the entire time. Whenever they show up, you're supposed to simply stay away from them until they leave, but one battle forces you to go all-out on one who is strictly unbeatable. In another, similar situation, the boss won't leave; either you leave, or you finally beat it by what amounts to cheating. It should be noted that this particular battle is the first time you use the majority of the units in that battle with no chance to upgrade them before the chapter begins, meaning that even with Level Grinding or New Game Plus, the battle is always a near-impossible one no matter how many times you fight it.
    • Should you actually win the first fight against the Inspectors (the Quirky Miniboss Trio), you get an awful lot of very good items, ridiculous amounts of gold and exp, and a rather amusing No Fourth Wall moment.
    • In Original Generation 1, there is the early and optional fight against Shu Shirakawa's horrendously broken Granzon. You are encouraged to run, although battling it is an option and a viable one at that, provided you have put a lot of money and level-grinding into Irmgult and the Grungust. Even then, the Granzon still takes a beating and only your top-tier units at the time should be used against it.
  • Warsong (Langrisser in Japanese) had a non-boss version of this. In the first scenario you are supposed to escape, but a clever strategist can beat all the enemies instead. This has no effect on the plot except for a sentence or two.
  • Fire Emblem
    • In the Archanea games, most famously Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, there's Gharnef. The only thing that can damage him is the Starlight tome, and he shows up in chapters before you have it. In those chapters, your objective is generally to stay out of his way.
    • Emperor Hardin in Book 2 of Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem and its remake carries the Darksphere. Much like Gharnef, he's invincible to any unit that isn't carrying a specific item, the Lightsphere. And much like Gharnef, he first shows up quite a while before you can obtain the Lightsphere, during which your only option is to run for the hills. His status as a Lightning Bruiser with mostly-capped stats and an insanely powerful weapon that hits at both ranges should provide your other clue that you're not supposed to fight him; he's very likely to kill anyone who engages him in a single turn.
    • Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade: Captain Fargus challenges your group to see if they're worthy of being given passage to the Dread Island. If you select "Attack" instead of "Talk" when you reach him, he will fight the character you used to challenge him. Since he's a promoted class as well as extremely powerful, he'll probably kill whoever fought him and result in a Non-Standard Game Over on the next turn. If you do manage to defeat him, it also will result in a Non-Standard Game Over, since you just killed the only person with a boat to take you to Dread Isle and was willing to take you there.
    • Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones: Valter in the beginning is completely unbeatable, as was demonstrated on YouTube to comedic effect.
    • Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance: The Black Knight in shows up in Chapter 11, about a third of the way through the game, and Chapter 24, fairly close to the end. In both cases, he is utterly invincible; even your strongest characters are prevented from actually hurting him due to his blessed armor. He's also quite powerful, and likely to kill anyone who engages him, particularly in his first appearance. In both chapters, you're expected to finish the chapter objectives and avoid him. His third and final appearance in Chapter 27 is the only time you're actually able to defeat him, having finally gained a weapon that can harm him; even so, the fight is optional and a Luck-Based Mission.
    • Fire Emblem Heroes: For the first two encounters with Ike (Chapters 10-1 and 10-4), the second encounter with Titania (Chapter 10-3), and the second encounter with Celica (11-3), they all have a special Sacred Seal called "Embla's Ward" that makes them completely immune to damage. Your only options are to either ignore or avoid them until you've successfully survived for long enough to achieve victory.
    • Fire Emblem: Three Houses: The Death Knight shows up several times throughout the early game, initially at a far higher level than any of your characters could be, meaning they're likely to only manage Scratch Damage while he counter-attacks them into oblivion. However, he will just sit there on the map unless you attack him, and defeating him isn't required until you're at a closer level. Despite all this, it actually is possible to finish him off even at his first appearance if you cast Dark Spikes on him (if you grind Lysithea up to rank B or Hubert up to rank A in Reason), which inflicts bonus damage to cavalry units. Successfully pull this off and you can gain a reward item much earlier than you otherwise would.
  • Battle Moon Wars, Stage 27: when it gets down to Weak!Shirou versus Archer, the game expects Shirou to hit 0 Hit Points and for the Shikis to have their Big Damn Heroes moment. However, it's possible without cheating to beat Archer; well, it would be, except when he hits 30% of his health, the script goes on as if Shirou had been defeated. You barely get a line of acknowledgment for your troubles.
  • Devil Survivor, Day 3: Beldr, first encounter. When NPCs say that Beldr is immortal, they mean it; his HP and MP are "???", and he nullifies everything, Almighty included for wiseguys on their second playthrough. Your only option is to escort Midori out of battle, then have your party escape.
  • Devil Survivor 2:
    • You can't harm Dubhe at first — the objective is to reach the other end of the map and escape, and losing any party member in the process results in an ordinary game over. However, just as you reach the escape area, it becomes blocked off and a cutscene results in Dubhe becoming vulnerable.
    • Day 7: Benetnasch, first encounter. It possesses a passive skill called Pacify Human, which naturally cancels out any attack from a human character... and then it pulls out the ability to forcibly unsummon your demons, leaving you no way to harm it and thus no choice but to run away until you can figure out a way to counter it.
    • Record Breaker adds Arcturus, who much like Beldr is completely and utterly invulnerable and forces you to flee the initial encounter while enduring powerful party-wide attacks.
  • Sengoku Rance: If you fail to stop Miki from becoming the Demon King, you will enter the Demon King pseudo-route, and a Hanny will appear to your castle and tell Rance that there's absolutely no way to win. The enemy army will become incredibly tough by enabling all 4 buffs for every unit, greatly increasing troops sizes and fielding Kentarou and Xavier units with 8000 troops each against you. It's still possible to actually conquer all the enemy territories by using battle permits, but it will lead to Kentarou accusing the player of cheating and a standard Game Over anyway.
  • The first Sakura Wars game had this in the first battle with the Koumas, where you're expected to fight for about one turn, realize your attacks are doing almost nothing, and run. In the PS2 remake, they're actually beatable, but the cutscene still treats it as if you ran away even if you stay and beat them.
  • In the Descent to Darkness campaign in Battle for Wesnoth, the final mission is essentially a hopeless series of boss fights. Mal Keshar is attacked by a hero and his/her army — it isn't hard to defeat them, but the mission will just repeat itself with new heroes until Mal Keshar is slain.
  • Genesis 2009: Reciful. The guy has 80,000 HP and reflects half of the damage dealt to him back to the attacker. However, you do get to fight him again straight afterwards using Esis, who is more than capable of dealing 80,000 damage in a single move, which is extremely satisfying.
  • In the first Vandal Hearts game, the first battle of Chapter 4 pits you against a large enemy force including the four enemy generals and a large entourage of high-level crimson knights. From the get-go it is implied that this fight is unwinnable by design and you are directed to attempt to break your way through the enemy lines and flee, a fact reinforced by the mission goal being to simply escape to the gate at the other side of the map. With some patience and strategy, it is possible to win the fight and wipe the entire enemy force out, but you still need to move all characters to the gate and "flee" and the following cutscene does not change to accommodate your victory.
  • A couple of missions in the original Front Mission have Driscoll in his ridiculously overpowered Wanzer who leaves you alone, unless you make the mistake of attacking him, in which he will relentlessly (and easily) take out your entire unit one by one. Though it's subverted with a Good Bad Bug if you can pin a helpless enemy Wanzer between you and him and have a ranged primary weapon. It'll take a solid two hours, but you can take him down and yield a buttload of cash and experience.

    Turn-Based Tactics 
  • At the end of Transformers G1 Awakening, the player is made to think that Shockwave must be defeated by Optimus Prime and Bumblebee. However, both Autobots are significantly weaker, even working together, and there are no power plants on this level that would allow them to level up. However, after Prime goes down, The Cavalry shows up in the form of Grimlock, who proceeds to Curb-Stomp Battle Shockwave.
  • In Bahamut Lagoon, you have to fight against Sauzer/Zauzer in Chapter 5, but don't waste any items or energy, this guy has infinite HP, so you can't kill him.
  • Stella Glow in the beginning of the game you have to fight a witch called Hilda, you can't win this fight since Hilda and her follower are way too strong at this point, the fight finishes at some point by a cutscene.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Tyrion Cuthbert: Attorney of the Arcane, Case 4 marks the first time a final argument with the culprit doesn't work. You can't deplete their confidence no matter what you present. Of course, there's an alternative way to win the case.

    Wide-Open Sandbox 
  • Shenmue:
    • The first game has a character named Chai who is supposed to beat you; when you lose, you're unconscious for several days, but the game isn't over. Beating him is nearly impossible, but can be done.
    • Shenmue II has one hopeless boss fight where Ryo fights Dou Niu and his henchmen in a plaza until the screen blacks out and shows a cutscene of Dou Niu beating Ryo. Another earlier event has you surrounded by Ren's gang and, even if you were winning, the screen slowly fades to black as you fight and Ryo is overwhelmed offscreen. Also, don't expect to land any blows on Xiuying during your sparring matches with her.
  • Grand Theft Auto 2 featured a mission that required you to "die" while attempting to break into an enemy gang's stronghold. Your employer then picks you up at the hospital and sends you back to the fort with a better plan and better equipment.
    • The original Grand Theft Auto featured a mission where you're asked to board a train as part of a plot to prove that your boss is the one true god. It's then revealed that the train is rigged with explosives. If you stay on it, after you die, your boss apologises, saying that he was high on smack and is impressed that you made it... Assuming that wasn't your last life. Worth getting off the train and failing just for the quote: "Only the righteous shall be saved! You! You are a shithead and bound for hell!"
  • inFAMOUS: Second Son, has a story-related twist on this for the DUP King boss. The idea is that it's a Hopeless Boss Fight so long as the hero, Delsin, sticks to using Smoke powers and stubbornly refuses to use his Neon ones. It is expected that the player will eventually run out of Smoke energy and be forced to use Neon; however, skilled players on lower difficulties can in fact beat the DUP King without having to do that. This causes dissonance in the next cutscene as the characters will behave as if Delsin gave in and used Neon. According to the developers, none of the playtesters were capable of winning just with Smoke, so they never bothered programming in an alternate cutscene.
  • Red Dead Redemption has the final "boss" of the mission where you kill waves of army and BOI agents ending with John making a final stand against a line of soldiers as his family flees, getting shot to death by the same man he helped track down all of his old friends. Oh, the irony.
  • Mafia II has the first fistfight with Brian O'Neill in the prison yard. While his pattern is easy enough to figure out, once his health reaches a certain level, he will start auto-dodging all of your attacks while counter-punching faster than you can react. Fortunately, once your health gets low enough, the guards intervene and incapacitate both of you.

Non-video game examples:

    Anime and Manga 
  • Bofuri: I Don't Want to Get Hurt, so I'll Max Out My Defense.: Maple, the main character, ends up becoming this from a PvP perspective. She can take almost any attack thrown at her, immediately convert it into MP, and then flood the area with her hideously powerful poison magic. Also, she can paralyze you if you try to run.
  • Claymore: Priscilla, an existence so powerful that anything and anyone who tries to oppose her in combat ends up utterly destroyed in the span of minutes.
  • The struggle against Merged Zamasu in the Future Trunks arc of Dragon Ball Super has shades of this. No matter what Goku, Vegeta, and Trunks try, from fusion to a spirit bomb sword attack, Zamasu just won't die because of his wish-granted immortality. In the end, the only way to stop him is to call the Omni-King to wipe out the entire timeline.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • Gildarts serves this role against Natsu during the S-Class Promotions Trial. He's clearly not trying seriously and Natsu considers the fact he managed to knock him back a few feet with a surprise attack via one of his strongest moves as a major accomplishment. This was even invoked, as the lesson Gildarts was trying to teach Natsu was that sometimes you will fight someone who's completely out of your league no matter how hard you try and while you shouldn't fall into despair out of fear, you also shouldn't be afraid to surrender or run away to fight another day.
    • Acnologia excels in being one of these, being so far above nearly everyone else the number of people able to even make him try can be counted in the single digits. Case in point, he dealt a Curb-Stomp Battle to Gildarts without really trying.
  • This trope is parodied in the Haruhi Suzumiya side story "Haruhi Theatre Act 1". Haruhi and Brigade are trapped in an RPG, and when Haruhi meets a sage who warns her that she can't defeat the dragon without the power to do so, she doesn't listen and drags the Brigade over to fight it. Naturally she gets creamed and regenerates next to the sage, who smugly tells her off. She doesn't listen again and continually goes back and dies. When she finally listens to him, he demands some stuff from her as he's only giving them out if she gets quest items... but she just threatens him.
  • Hellsing: Anyone aside from Anderson or the Captain is this when fighting against Alucard.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure have several through its multiple parts.
    • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind: Notorious B.I.G, a undying Blob Monster of a stand that that utterly refuses to die and attacks anything that moves. To the point that it's left undefeated at the end of the arc it appears in, left alone to its own devices for better and worse.
  • In New Game!, the Fictional Video Game Fairies Story 3 has one of this. Specifically, in a particular battle, mooks spawns indefinitely until Sophia dies.
  • One Piece:
    • In the Baratie arc, Zoro has no chance of defeating Dracule Mihawk—the World's Strongest Swordsman—while he's made a living of capturing no-name pirates in the East Blue. And to bring it home, Mihawk even lets him know that the East Blue is the weakest of the four Blue Seas, while fighting him with his dagger.note 
    • Sanji's fight with Gin as well in the same arc. By the time their fight starts, Gin is fighting at full strength while Sanji has numerous broken bones from fighting Pearl. He's able to land a couple of hits on Gin, but doesn't have nearly enough strength left to put the necessary force behind them, and eventually he just starts hurting himself with his attempts.
    • The Alabasta arc has Luffy vs. Crocodile, Round 1. Not only does Crocodile have his Sand-Sand Fruit powers to rely on (which is a Logia-type), but he knows how to use his abilities to the fullest. And Luffy's fighting him in the desert, where he's nearly invincible.
    • Another is Enel toward everyone that isn't Luffy. Not only he is a Logia Devil Fruit user, his DF in particular allows him to control lightning. That means he can pretty much one-shot anyone with massive amount of watts of electricity, including Zoro and Sanji! However, this gets turned around against Enel when he faces Luffy who, being a rubber man, is immune to Enel's electricity. Most of the "fight" between Luffy and Enel was Enel trying to stay away from Luffy.
    • Near the end of the Davy Back Fight arc, Luffy (and for that matter, Zoro and Sanji) had no chance against Admiral Aokiji/Kuzan, said to be one of the "Military's Greatest Powers", and one of the strongest characters in the series.
    • Near the end of the Thriller Bark arc, the Straw Hat Pirates (sans Luffy) and the Rolling Pirates against the Warlord Bartholomew Kuma. The former didn't stand a chance, particularly since they just came off the heels of a battle with Gecko Moria and Oars. Although, if Kuma was actually interested in eliminating them as ordered, then it would have made an epic Last Stand, particularly when they refused his offer of their lives spared for Luffy's head.
    • In the Sabaody Archipelago arc, Admiral Kizaru wiped the floor with the Straw Hats, including the strongest members. If former pirate Silvers Rayleigh had not intervened, Zoro and rest of the crew would’ve been killed!
    • Really, this can be said any time an average pirate tries to fight a Marine Admiral. They are the most powerful Marines and simply one being in the general area will cause panic among pirates. In fact, the only ones who actually has a chance of defeating a Marine Admiral are the Four Emperors, legendary Marines like Garp or Sengoku, infamously notorious individuals such as Dragon The Revolutionary, and ex-Admirals like Aokiji.
    • Speaking of which, this is also the idea of fighting any of the Four Emperors. They are considered the strongest pirates in the entire world and fighting them directly is just asking for a death wish. The only people that could clash with the Four Emperors are, well, themselves! The biggest proof is shown much later in the Wano arc where Kaido of the Beasts one-shots Luffy in his Gear Fourth form! Luffy could only return the favor in Onigashima thanks to slowly reaching Emperor level and an 11th-Hour Superpower...
  • Since Saitama in One-Punch Man can defeat anything in one punch, he's this. In a sparring match, Genos sets the rules so that they will fight until Genos can't keep fighting, not either one of them. Part of the reason Sonic is obsessed with Saitama is he can't actually envision himself defeating Saitama.
  • Walpurgisnacht of Puella Magi Madoka Magica essentially embodies this trope. Known as the strongest witch in existence, it can cause gigantic and terrible storms and it fights by either hurling any object, including buildings, at its enemy or simply blasting them with powerful flames. It is also tough enough to withstand anything. Case in point, Homura attacked it with RPGs, Mortars, an exploding gas tanker, and missiles, then detonated landmines to where it landed and all of it did absolutely nothing. This is why it is stated that Walpurgisnacht's nature is helplessness, as no magical girl other than Madoka can stand up to it and win, while it laughs at their feeble attempts at trying. In the mobile game, this is averted- Walpurgis is defeated with no casualties, but it takes almost the entire cast revealed up to that point to win, and even then they need a blessing from Madoka to defeat her.
  • In Soul Eater, the final battle against Asura is one. Even with Soul being a Deathscythe, Black Star and Tsubaki mastering the Will of Nakatsukasa (not to mention Black Star becoming positively inhuman), and Death the Kid becoming a true shinigami, the main characters with support from numerous other characters can barely even give Asura a challenge. It ultimately takes Crona becoming a Kishin and re-imprisoning Asura by drowning the entirety of the Moon in Black Blood to stop him. And even then, it's probably only temporary.
  • The angelic legions in Yggdrasil in Sword Art Online. Yui notes that individually, they aren't that strong. However, due to their spawn rate and population cap, their sheer numbers turn them into a giant, unbeatable boss. Only by calling on the combined military might of every race is it possible to get a single player to the top of tree.
  • Inverted in YuYu Hakusho when the party goes up against "The Gamemaster", who has the power to bring any video game of his choosing to life, trapping anyone within his territory within various game roles. Unfortunately for him, the game he chooses to use this for is "Goblin City" (with him taking on the role of the game's Big Bad and the party being the player characters). Kurama, being familiar with the game, explains that players have unlimited continues within the game, while the Big Bad is Killed Off for Real if the heroes win, meaning that he's trapped himself in a situation that can only end in his death, and all he can do is prolong the inevitable.

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel enjoys doing this with their cosmic villains, originally exemplified by Galactus in the early issues of Fantastic Four. Even today, despite some Villain Decay, he's usually presented as unbeatable by any hero or team of heroes in a direct confrontation when he's not weakened somehow.
  • The Beyonder from the Secret Wars II event, Thanos when he had the Infinity Gauntlet and the Heart of the Universe, and Mad Jim Jaspers were also portrayed this way, ultimately losing only due to their own character flaws.
  • When Ben Grimm faced off against the immortal Champion of the Universe, it was acknowledged by everyone that he had no chance to win, and indeed he didn't. However, he did manage to impress him enough with his tenacity that he decided to spare the Earth.
  • The Incredible Hulk is known for getting into these often deliberately, against such beings as Zeus and Dormammu. Occasionally, though, he actually manages to succeed, such as against Onslaught (although he did have a lot of help in that case).
  • The Living Tribunal's first appearance in Marvel had him serving as one of these for Doctor Strange. Fortunately, Strange didn't have to win, just impress him enough to temporarily stay his wrath.
  • Pre-Crisis Superman, of all people, faced one of these when he tried to challenge The Spectre to rescue Supergirl, who had accidentally flown past the barrier of heaven. He was unable to do a thing against him, but once he calmed down, he realized that all he needed to do was simply ask the Spectre to save her for him.
  • This is also one of the themes of one of Superman's most powerful enemies, Mr. Mxyzptlk, a being that he's physically helpless against even with all of his power, so he has to rely on using his mind and outsmarting him.

  • The whole point of the Kobayashi Maru test in Star Trek. Like the Giant's Drink below, it's actually a psychological test rather than a tactical puzzle, although that doesn't stop people from trying. As various cadets' attempts to hack the infamous sim have piled up, they've resorted to ever-more-obvious tactics to keep it hopeless, including spawning extra enemies when needed or allowing them to break the laws of physics.
  • In a rare occasion, this is the case for both opponents in the Final Battle of Doctor Strange (2016). Strange has no chance of beating Dormammu... but because of the "Groundhog Day" Loop, Dormammu can't win either, since every time he kills Strange, time just bounces back to the start.

  • The Fighting Fantasy series is seriously fond of this trope.
    • The titular citadel in The Citadel of Chaos has two guardians, the Ganjhees and the Hydra, in the final chamber, before the penultimate battle against Balthus Dire. The former can only be bribed, while the latter can instantly kill anyone who tries fighting it without the Golden Fleece.
    • Creature of Havoc has the creature facing powerful enemies that they simply can't defeat. Such as Thugruff the Half-Orc captain, who summons reinforcements the moment his stamina drops to 4 points, and the Master of Hellfire, who kills the player with his Eye Beams even if the player wins the fight.
    • Daggers of Darkness has a gargantuan swamp monster called a Kalamite that cannot be fought; players are instead meant to avoid it long enough until their partner intervenes by hacking off the Kalamite's arm causing the monster to flee.
    • Portal of Evil has a T-Rex boss that players can only run from, suffer unavoidable damage, and escape through a crevice. Taking any other option? Your funeral.
    • The titular warriors of Legend of the Shadow Warriors can't be defeated in the first encounter, where fleeing is the best way. Players can only obtain a clue on how to beat them later on, and use said clue afterwards; the Warriors' boss, Voivod the Damned, is an even more glaring example, for killing him will have him resurrect immediately; the players are supposed to use an enchanted spear to reverse the chaos magic around Voivod, turning him back to life leading to a happy ending. But if the spear doesn't have enough magic left, then the players will be forced to keep fighting Voivod over and over again until they decide to just stop playing.
    • Seas of Blood has the guardians of the Pit on Enraki, which players can never defeat, regardless their SKILL. Fleeing is the best way.
    • The Dai-Oni from Sword of the Samurai, trying to fight him and his three guardians, one at a time, and you automatically lose at the third. You're supposed to have collected enough allies of your own, and then defeat at least two of those guardians, before you standing a chance against the Dai-Oni.
    • The Mercenary Leader, Zhanshi, from The Crimson Tide; not only is his SKILL really high, but choosing to fight him to the death will have Zhanshi summon reinfocements on you once he's about to lose.
    • An immensely powerful Iron Golem is one of the major encounters in Knights of Doom; while its stats aren't that high, because of its high Life Meter and Damage Reduction abilities, fighting the Iron Golem head-on is somewhere between impossible to frustratingly long. Turns out, the player is supposed to collect an item from earlier and save it all the way until the encounter.
    • The spinoff Sorcery! has two compulsory guardians in the Mampang Fortress, the Sleepless Ram and the God-Headed Hydra. The former can only be escaped from by running away, where having the right items or casting the correct spell can merely slow it down while the players try finding an exit, while the latter have ungodly high SKILL stats and can damage players automatically even if it's wounded... turns out players are supposed to lose an attack round, at which point they discover the Hydra is an illusion.

  • Used in-story by Ender's Game, where a video game given to the cadets ends with a giant killing their character. The point was to see how they would react with an unwinnable scenario. Ender kills the giant by jumping into its eye and attacking its brain.
  • Grent's Fall has a rare non-game example, as Osbert Grent is so talented he instantly slays Warren Stanley.
  • Discussed in detail in the Star Trek novel Kobayashi Maru in which we see exactly how Scotty, Chekov, Sulu, and Kirk all dealt with the eponymous training simulation: Scotty performs engineering miracles (including one that only works in a simulator) until the ship is finally overpowered and destroyed (this leads to him being transferred out of Command School into the Engineering Corps), Chekov rams the Enterprise into the Klingon ships, destroying them (and the Maru as well), Sulu realized that it was likely a trap and left without crossing into the Neutral Zone, while Kirk reprogrammed the simulation so that, when he introduced himself, he was so well-known as a badass that the Klingons immediately surrendered.
  • This trope is Older Than Print, as a Norse Myth had Loki of the out lands pit Loki of Asgard, Thjalfi and Thor against opponents they really shouldn't have been expected to stand a chance against. Loki was in an eating contest with fire (or, perhaps, Logi the fire giant), Thjalfi a race against thought (no matter how fast you are, someone can always think of a second faster, even if it would be physically impossible), Thor was put in three, ending with a wrestling match against an avatar of aging itself.
  • The White Queen in The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign is impossible for most people to fight, as she can effortlessly One-Hit Kill any opponent and is (almost) completely invincible. Kyousuke is one of very few people who has ever defeated her, by exploiting his knowledge of her psychology and her love for him, which causes her to always leave opportunities for him to win.
  • In the Novelization of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, Yoda realizes that his fight against Palpatine is this.
    Finally, he saw the truth.
    This truth: that he, the avatar of light, Supreme Master of the Jedi Order, the fiercest, most implacable, most devastatingly powerful foe the darkness had ever known...
    have it.
    He'd never had it. He had lost before he started.
    He had lost before he was born.

    Live-Action TV 
  • At the end of the first quarter of Kamen Rider Zi-O, the title character is sent forward in time to meet his Evil Overlord future self so that he'll understand just what a bastard he's going to become if he doesn't change his ways. Zi-O is so overwhelmed by the realization that he tries to kill his future self right then and there, only for Oma Zi-O to effortlessly dominate him and force him to run away. The pair have a rematch near the end of the show, which goes no better for the present Zi-O than the first round despite all the new powers he's gained since then.
  • This was the point of Q's test of Picard in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode 'Q Who' which first introduced the Borg. The Enterprise could damage, slow down, and run from the Borg Cube, but in the end Picard had to ask Q to save him.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In one famous week-long series of FoxTrot strips, involving a Fictional Video Game, Jason has spent a month playing a game trying to beat a Boss called the Red Orb Guardian who he can't even come close to defeating. When Paige tries to play the game, she figures out why; you aren't supposed to fight the guy at all, if you simply walk past him, he won't stop you. (Jason seems to wonder why you aren't supposed to challenge a huge, hulking, ferocious-looking warrior that has skeletal corpses surrounding him, calling the situation "counter-intuitive". Of course, Jason is like that a lot.)

    Tabletop Games 
  • In one Vampire: The Masquerade rulebook, there is a section on fighting Caine that consists of two words, "You Lose." He is the Biblical Cain, turned into the first vampire by God. He knows every vampiric Discipline in the books, has centuries upon centuries of experience, and has the ability to do — more or less — anything he wants. In addition, he possesses the Mark of Cain from the Bible. Any damage inflicted on him is returned sevenfold to his attacker, and on the off chance someone did manage to kill Caine, they would instantly die.
  • In Cyberpunk, there is one fundamental rule: you do not fight Adam Smasher unless you want to die. The anime adaptation shows exactly why this is the case.
  • Togashi Yokuni in Legend of the Five Rings. The utterly mysterious lord of the Dragon Clan, who is so enigmatic that those who speak with him don't even really remember what his voice sounded like or what words were said, is actually Togashi-Kami, the immortal child of the Sun and Moon and the only remaining sibling of the first Emperor. He is also a dragon. He can see the future and knows when he will die, and it sure ain't gonna be you that kills him.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The Lady of Pain. She is the enigmatic steward and protector of Sigil, the City of Doors, whose motives cannot be divined and who can (and has) annihilate even higher-tier deities with her power. She will flay you outright or trap you into a nigh-inescapable labyrinthine dimension should you ever do anything to cross her. Stats for her simply aren't given, because She > You no matter how many epic levels you've got. And if you're a minotaur with an adept sense of direction? She just puts you in a single million-mile long hallway. And by the way, you can't die in her labyrinth dimension. As The Spoony One put it, "The Lady of Pain is 'you lose.'" Planescape: Torment illustrates this principle best.
    • There's also the entity known as the Guardian of the Dead Gods, a being who was formerly the god Anubis, who now watches over the dead gods in the Astral Plane and protects them from desecration. It's very hard to tell just what will make him intervene (the githyanki have built entire cities on the giant corpses and he doesn't seem to mind, but sometimes, simply touching one might get him upset). The article where he's mentioned gives a flat 5% chance that doing anything to one of the dead gods will attract his attention (unless someone does something really stupid, like try to completely demolish one, in which case it's almost assured), and even then, he'll usually send his servant to deal with it (who's a powerful wizard, but not unbeatable). If you're unlucky enough that he decides to deal with it personally... The same source says that your only chance is to flee (he usually will not follow, but there's no guarantee). Simply put, he cannot be hurt by anything mortals have at their disposal.
    • This was a common theme in Planescape in general. While on a Prime (Earth-like) world, high-level PCs might get used to being the biggest badasses around, on the planes there's always a bigger fish — always. Demon lords and archdevils were the weakest of the untouchables (who you had a chance of at least defying and defeating their servitors), then any of the gods were next up the list (with their own hierarchy from hero-deity and demigod to greater power), and finally up to enigmatic cosmic forces like the Lady (who can kill gods) and the Guardian of the Dead Gods. At the same time, Planescape was dedicated to cutting a survivable niche out for the merely mortal while in realms populated by such beings, when before the planes themselves had only really been open to high-level characters with powerful magic.
    • There's something like this in the first scenario (also the Framing Device) of the module The Vortex of Madness, a sort of inversion of a Puzzle Boss theme. The PCs meet an intelligent iron golem in a room that resembles a chessboard, with smaller golems as the pieces; the golem demands a game of chess. However, if the PCs do this, it demands a rematch again and again (regardless of whether it wins or loses). If the players finally catch on and decide to fight the golem, it gladly does so, with its chess pieces supporting it, and the PCs' pieces supporting them; and if defeated, the golem finally admits defeat. (The purpose of this strange encounter is an attempt by the Machine of Lum the Mad, who controls the complex, to recreate the battle between Lum the Mad and General Leuk-O, which ended indecisively. The golem represents Leuk-O, and the PCs represent Lum.)
    • There's a couple such battles in the Tyranny of Dragons modules for the Fifth Edition of D&D.
      • The encounters with Langdedrosa Cyanwrath and Lennithon in the first episode of Hoard of the Dragon Queen. As written, the fights are almost impossible to win. Lennithon can fly, has hundreds of hit points, and can easily one-shot an entire party of first-level characters with his breath weapon. The party is means to convince the dragon that raiding a village isn't worth his time rather than directly fight him. Cyanwrath is expected to be fought solo and can dish out enough damage to demolish all but the toughest first-level characters in one round. Both of them can be encountered again later in the campaign, at points when the players will be stronger and have a much higher chance of beating them.
      • In Rise of Tiamat, the Cult realizes that the heroes are the biggest threat to their plans, and send three assassination squads to kill them. The first two are supposed to be hard, but the third is supposed to be close to impossible; the cult sends multiple young red dragons after them, just for a starter. If the characters all die, it's suggested that Ontharr Frume save them, and use the fact that the Cult thinks they're dead to their advantage.
  • Pathfinder has the module "The Heroes of Undarin" from the book Doomsday Dawn. This book is a playtest for Pathfinder Second Edition and so this module is intended as a test to see how long the players could survive against waves of increasingly powerful enemies. Puffin Forest has a video about the module here.
  • In one of the Warrior Cats tabletop games included with a few of the books, if you attempt to fight a Twoleg, it ends like this. The PCs' only options are to attack, which does nothing but damage them, or run away.
  • The big boss himself in Call of Cthulhu. In some versions, his only stat is that he eats 1d6 characters per round and gives you a huge hit to your Sanity Meter upon seeing him. And even if you do manage to kill him, like the sailor Johansen who fought him in the original story, he'll simply come right back.
  • In SLA Industries, two unstoppable badasses are repeatedly made mention of: the infamous serial killer, Halloween Jack, and the king and father of all Manchines, Digger. While both are notable threats or inconveniences to the company, and have many attemps made against them, both are effectively unkillable: Jack has has a bounty of 2 billion credits on his head that no sensible op would try and collect on, and Digger has a whole army to fight with. Neither character has stats in any of the books, as they are considered to OHK the party if they ever cross paths. This is especially bad news for those taking one pre-made platinum mission, which requires them to go right into Digger's home base, and sabotage his ultimate plan to conquer Mort.
  • In Arkham Horror, failing to seal enough portals before too many have opened will result in the Big Bad of the session breaking through and the players facing it in direct combat. The fight is heavily stacked in its favor and the PCs are probably going to die, but it's potentially winnable... except when the Big Bad is Azathoth. If Azathoth wakes up, the whole universe ends.
  • Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies ranks NPCs from cannon fodder Minions all the way up to powerful Archvillains, but then notes that some characters are so arbitrarily powerful they can only be designated "Plot Devices" and so doesn't bother giving them stats — for example, Alexei Rostand, a retired sky-pirate who had been at the work-around fifty years before he managed to win a pardon. Even Rostand's lieutenants go un-statted and are simply described as extremely dangerous.
  • In Decipher's The Lord of the Rings rpg, the core book discourages allowing the PCs to have any sort of face-to-face confrontation with Sauron, but if they do, it recommends the GM run the encounter like this.

  • Awful Hospital: Dr. Man was intended to be one, as an example of how even the lowliest doctor could beat the stuffing out of Fern and her entourage without much trying. But then the readers had the idea to poison his healer with the cafeteria's coffee, so that healing attempts actually damaged him more; this brought the result closer to a mutual KO.

    Web Video 
  • Parodied in College Saga. The characters face Leviathan, who uses the devastating "Tidal Wave" attack, and quickly kills off the party... and then says "Just kidding LOL. You can't kill a guardian force."
  • It's a bit ambiguous because Thamill did manage to pull off a narrow victory, but the post-fight dialogue after the Ocean Sage Briney battle in episode 50 of Pokémon Alpha Sapphire Extreme Randomizer Nuzlocke suggests that the player is not expected to win and the game would progress the same win or lose.

    Western Animation 
  • This kind of situation fittingly happens in Carmen Sandiego, during the first fight with Coach Brunt, one of VILE's Faculty members. No matter what Carmen uses against her, Coach Brunt just can't be beaten, even with a taser. The only reason that Carmen even survives the encounter at all is due to Shadow-San knocking out Coach Brunt with a sneak attack to the head.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Unwinnable Boss Battle


Khotun Khan

The first time Jin challenges him, not only does the Khan take and deal massive damage (as well as using a polearm, which at that point you don't have the skills to properly counter) but he's outright invulnerable since reducing his health to zero does nothing and the fight only ends once Jin's health is depleted.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / HopelessBossFight

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