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Last Ditch Move

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"That's it! Prepare to face... my last breath!"
Black Bowser, Paper Mario: Color Splash

The kind of move that the boss can do when their health is depleted. The last thing they can do before they actually die.

Depending on the severity of such attacks, this may easily become a That One Attack that sends all of your efforts down the toilet. There may be ways of surviving or avoiding this.

Sometimes you're supposed to die to this attack, and then it's a case of Heads I Win, Tails You Lose. If it doesn't matter when in the fight you die anyway, it's a Hopeless Boss Fight.

Often done by an Action Bomb. Subtrope of Kaizo Trap. See also Taking You with Me and Last Breath Bullet. Can overlap with Desperation Attack, which is much more common with player characters and often requires them to be at low health, not dying. Compare Take a Moment to Catch Your Death.


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    Normal Enemy Examples 
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VIII has some Mooks using an HP to 1 attack upon death as a plot point. It hits one character in the throat, and he can't speak afterwards.
    • In Final Fantasy X, in the Bonus Dungeon and the Very Definitely Final Dungeon, there's a random encounter — not a boss, not even one in mook getup — called the Behemoth King. When killed, he attacks with the Meteor spell, and is very capable of killing the entire party if the player hasn't ground much. General strategy is to sacrifice an Aeon to deal the deathblow and take the punishment, or to try and arrange it so that the deathblow is dealt as a counterattack, as counters cannot themselves be countered again.
    • Many, many enemies in Final Fantasy VI have some kind of final attack, but the most notable is the boss of the Cultist's Tower, MagiMaster, who casts Ultima when he dies, which is easily capable of killing your entire party. To win, you have to find a way to survive it (usually by having Reraise active on at least one of your characters) or prevent him from casting it (usually by depleting his MP, which also kills him regardless of his remaining HP).
  • Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando: Thug Henchmen are terrible at this. The instant one gets the death blow, they always fire a last shot before vanishing, and if you're standing too close, it can sometimes land. On the other hand, this can also be invoked to make them deal damage on their own side.
  • Serious Sam has beheaded bombers who explode upon dying. Also, there are biomechanoids which shoot out the last projectile when falling down.
  • League of Legends is a rare player example, having three champions with passives that allow them to deal one last blow post-mortem. Kog'Maw is able to still move around after death, detonating after a delay. Zyra transforms into a plant on death, and can fire a single parting shot before expiring. Karthus can still cast his own spells after dying, but renders him immobile. Usually, this is the perfect time to cast Requiem to massively damage every enemy on the map without fear of retaliation.
  • The EarthBound Series has trees that make Smokey the Bear's advice look bad, with how much they tend to blow up. At lower levels, this does enough damage to constitute a potential Total Party Kill — thankfully, the rolling HP system in the second and third games means you can save yourself by saving the tree for last and ending the battle quickly. The first game is not as forgiving in this aspect. The fuel robots also explode upon defeat, but are typically not encountered until later in the games, at a point where their explosions make them more Goddamned Bats instead of lethal threats. Thanks to their healing capabilities, their presence in the second and third games exist to punish those who decide to Shoot the Medic First.
  • In Dark Souls 1, the Engorged Hollows in the Painted World of Ariamis release a short-range cloud of toxic gases when they die that hang over their corpse. It doesn't damage you directly, but inflicts the hard-to-cure Toxic ailment that rapidly drains your health for several minutes at a time. Fortunately, if you Kill It with Fire, they don't release the cloud.
  • In Ninja Gaiden II for the Xbox 360, there is a giant lava turtle that explodes when you kill it, and unless you are blocking, it will kill you as well.
  • Dragon Age's Abominations explode into fireballs upon death.
  • In the fan-made Halo custom campaign, SPV3, Energy Sword-wielding Elite Zealots and Elite Ultras will switch out their weapons when their shields are down and they have taken some damage; Zealots will exchange their sword for the Void's Tear while attempting to pull back into cover, whereas Ultras will pull out an Energy Sword before bum-rushing the enemy in a fit of rage.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • In many games, Bob-ombs tend to explode when stomped, although there's usually a means of taking them out that doesn't set them off.
    • In Super Mario RPG, the Drill Bits also charge into you and explode, a move simply called "Last shot!"
  • Spelunky's fire frogs explode when killed. You do have a second or two to get out of range, but even then you can still get into trouble, if one blows up part of a shop or altar. There are also flying saucers which explode upon getting hit on impact.
  • Quake:
    • The Spawn monsters from the original Quake are blobs that explode when killed. Combine that with their tendency to be incredibly hard to hit and get all up in your face, and you have a truly goddamned enemy to deal with.
    • Some mooks in Quake II will, just before dying, spray one last round of bullets.
  • Almost every Japanese soldier in Metal Slug 3 lights a stick of dynamite just before dying and then blows up.
  • Doom II: The Pain Elementals release a handful of Lost Souls when they die.
  • Too many normal enemies and bosses in World of Warcraft to count. One of the earliest and nastiest were the bat riders in Zul'Gurub, who at low health gave you about 2 seconds warning before exploding for enough damage to kill anyone but a well-equipped (for the time) tank.
  • Pokémon:
    • Debuting in Diamond and Pearl, Stunky/Skuntank and Drifloon/Drifblim can have the Aftermath ability that damages enemies upon KO. (One's a skunk and the other's a balloon; the idea is probably is that both are filled with volatile gasses and when they lose consciousness...)
    • And of course, Struggle, which is used after you run out of PP for moves or are unable to use other moves due to a move like Encore. As of Gen 4, it always causes recoil damage equal to a quarter of the user's HP regardless of how much damage it deals to the target, meaing a 'mon reduced to using it won't be sticking around for much longer.
    • Gen V introduced Final Gambit, which does damage equal to the user's HP and faints the user. Like with Self-Destruct and Explosion, items like Focus Band/Sash or the Sturdy ability on the user will not save it from fainting, though they may activate for the target.
  • In Halo, Grunts from Halo 3 onward go kamikaze with plasma grenades when desperate (eg if their leader is killed).
  • Inverted in Fallout 3 with Broken Steel. Nuclear Anomaly, a level 30 perk, causes your character to release a nuclear explosion if you're reduced to 20 HP or less.
  • Mass Effect: Abominations in Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 will explode upon death. Since they usually come grouped with husks, killing them at range can actually be a way of damaging all enemies around them.
  • Electro armour enemies in the remake of Syndicate release an AOE electric attack when killed. One achievement requires you to use it to kill at least three other enemies. Reactive armours explode when killed, with another achievement requiring you to use it to kill at least one other enemy.
  • In Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, damaging enemies enough without killing them will cause them to writhe on the ground and bleed out. Occasionally they'll pull out their side arm and start shooting at you if they see you. They won't raise an alarm, but they can kill you if you're caught unaware.
  • If you finish off an enemy in Red Ninja: End of Honor with an attack to the head, their headless corpse will continue flailing about with their weapon for a few seconds. It's painful and potentially lethal, but easy to avoid by either not targeting the head with the final attack or by staying out of reach.

    Boss Examples 
  • Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon gives most end-stage bosses a final attack which can't kill you, awarding a 1-up if it is dodged. This changes on the boss rush or nightmare difficulty, where it can kill.
  • Dice and the Tower of the Reanimator: Glorious Princess: On a fist run, depleting the Reanimator's HP will result in her using one final attack, meaning the player needs to be prepared to survive it in order to reach the good ending.
  • It's a staple of Final Fantasy games that there will be at least one boss that casts Ultima (usually the strongest spell in the game) as it dies.
    • Final Fantasy IX also has Maliris' "Raining Swords" attack.
    • Final Fantasy V has a few bosses that do this - most notable is the Purobolos, a Puzzle Boss where each of the six enemies cast a full-party revive spell upon defeat. This is humorously subverted by the Minotaur in Fork Tower: it tries to cast Holy upon defeat, but since it's a physical-based boss, it doesn't have enough MP. Its counterpart Omniscient can and will cast Flare on death, though.
    • In Final Fantasy VII, the "Final Attack" Materia gives the PCs this ability, activating whichever Materia is grouped with it. Leveling up the Materia lets it be used more than once per battle. And yes, this works with anything that revives the now-dead character, Phoenix being obviously the best choice.
    • The Orc King in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles will run to the center of the arena and start glowing brighter and brighter when he gets low on health, which is your queue to finish him off as quickly as possible or take shelter in the very corners of the room, lest you get wiped out by the massive burst of energy he eventually unleashes.
  • Many boss and miniboss monsters in the Diablo series have AoE elemental explosions that occur on death, which can be very nasty for Hard Core players.
    • Diablo II has the random monster attributes Fire Enchanted and Cold Enchanted not only giving their wielders elemental damage of the respective type but upon death they pull off this trope: Fire Enchanted monsters cast Corpse Explosion on their own corpse while Cold Enchanted monsters fire off a Frost Nova. For low-level characters, the latter is VERY nasty as cold damage slows and such monsters rarely go solo.
    • Player characters can acquire this via certain pieces of equipment, such as the unique Rainbow Facet jewels.
  • In Punch-Out!! for the Wii, Aran Ryan has one of these. In the first round of Career Mode, every time you knock him down, he takes a swing at you which doesn't hit. However, in Title Defense mode, he has a boxing glove on a rope that he uses like a flail. When you knock him down, he brings out the glove on a rope and tries to whack you one more time before falling down. Of course, it's not really capable of turning the tables, because he can't knock you down with it, and if you time a Star Punch right you'll instantly knock him out.
  • Pretty much every boss in Castlevania: Rondo of Blood throws out one last attack before they drop. Thankfully, this last attack can't kill you (if it would, you just end up with a single sliver of life instead), but it can wreck your life bonus (and, if you hadn't taken any damage up until then, your hopes of being rewarded with an extra life for [what would have been] a Flawless Victory.)
  • Happens in Razing Storm when you defeat the Spider Tank boss via a Kill Sat. It drops to the ground (you're on a high platform connecting two skyscrapers) and fires out a TON of missiles in a bid to destroy the platform you and your squad are on, before exploding to bits. If you don't destroy enough of the missiles in time, you get a Non-Standard Game Over Downer Ending where your platform is destroyed and your entire squad falls to their death.
  • XenoGears: In the battle with Stone and his Alkanshel, once he's beaten, his gear will emit a powerful blast dealing a large amount of damage before blowing up. If all party members HP weren't sufficient by then, it's an automatic game over.
  • Splatterhouse bosses like this. In the first game, the Boreworm fight sees you fighting a small army of boreworms - and once the boss music stops, the last one leaps out of a corpse on your right. The poltergeist boss, once defeated, ends the fight by dropping the chandelier.
  • Played straight to the hilt with White, the final boss of the Playstation port of Real Bout Fatal Fury Special. At the end of the second round won against him, he shoots one last fireball out of his cane. Failure to dodge or low-block this fireball causes an instant KO, whereupon White gets up and wins the round.
  • In Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, the Dark Star will create a black hole once its HP is depleted, prompting you to mash the A and B buttons to keep the bros. from being sucked into it (which will deal a most likely fatal amount of damage).
  • NEO: The World Ends with You: Certain bosses cannot die until they use and complete their cinematic attack which prevent the use of Mashups while they're occurring.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • The Egg Genesis boss in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) tries to crash into you after its health is depleted. It isn't a One-Hit KO however, rendering it somewhat ineffective if you have rings.
    • By the time you've damaged the Egg Viper in Sonic Adventure beyond repair, Sonic is left on up to four suspended platforms above a large abyss. But in the words of Tikal, "Watch out! He's up to something!" The Egg Viper's last move is to home in on you and destroy one of the platforms. Jump out of the way, quick! Unless, of course, there's only one platform left, in which case there's nothing you can do.
    • Sonic the Hedgehog 4's Final Boss does this. He attempts to smash you with its fist, but shakes the ground as a result. If you don't land the final hit on him fast enough, he'll break the floor open and lead you into a Bottomless Pit, costing you a life.
    • The final bosses of Sonic Rush and Sonic Rush Adventure do it as well. The Egg King tries to crush the platform Sonic or Blaze is on by ramming into it three times. After the third time, you must jump onto its weak point before falling to your doom. The Ghost Titan fires two One-Hit Kill laser beams to the edges of Sonic/Blaze's platform and slowly aims them at the center of the stage as the robot collapses, and you must jump into its weak point when it becomes low enough to hit. Neither of these attacks are at all difficult to avoid, and they're probably just there to add tension.
  • Metroid:
    • Super Metroid: Crocomire will attempt to attack you as a skeleton, but instead collapses and opens the way to new rooms.
    • Metroid Dread: When captured by an E.M.M.I., Samus has two chances to escape (one chance if the E.M.M.I. is standing upright when it catches you) by pressing X when the robot emits a red flash, first from their claw, and then from their head. Failing both will result in an instant Game Over. However, the timing is strict enough that it just barely falls short of average human reaction time with a window of just a few frames, amounting to mere milliseconds to counter. On top of that, the E.M.M.I.'s delay before these flashes are randomized every time, keeping players from relying on it to cheese E.M.M.I. encounters.
  • Mother 3:
    • Done with the Mecha Drago. It's a Wake-Up Call Boss to begin with, but many, many people found defeat based solely on his "tumbling forward" attack, which happens right after you defeat him. To make matters worse, in past games, if a character fainted during the defeat animation, they would stay alive with 1 HP. Not in Mother 3.
    • Subverted with the Barrier Trio. When they hit zero HP, the trio use their last ounce of strength to... Make a dramatic pose, which the game describes as "spectacular".
  • Runescape has Nex, which uses retribution prayer upon defeat, damaging everyone nearby. There are a few other bosses too.
  • The first boss of the original Descent sometimes decides to fire an instant-death missile barrage right when you kill it. Also, all bosses explode when defeated, potentially taking you with them if you're low on shields. Keep in mind that every boss is a Load-Bearing Boss and the Self-Destruct Mechanism will start upon destroying them, so getting killed immediately afterwards results in your inventory being incinerated in the mine explosion. A few levels also have monster closets that activate after you blow the reactor.
  • Prince Dail from Freedom Planet attempts one after being defeated by the player, only to get sidelined by Spade before he can launch his attack.
  • Serpentine in Freedom Planet 2 has one in his second phase, where he has his Mini-Mecha slash in front of him uncontrollably as it explodes.
  • The Clipped-Wing Angel final form of Master Core in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U has only one attack, which it only uses if you take an excessive amount of time finishing it off and is a One-Hit Kill if you fail to dodge it. If you do dodge it, it gives up and self-destructs.
  • Kirby: Planet Robobot:
    • In the final area, Kirby encounters a series of "Security Force" mid-bosses modelled after Metal General from Kirby's Return to Dream Land. When the Security Force's health bar is fully depleted, it'll pull out a Big Red Button from Hammerspace and press it, triggering a violent explosion that leaves lingering flames on the ground for a while. It can be destroyed before it explodes, however.
    • The True Final Boss, Star Dream Soul OS, is a far more egregious example. Upon running out of health, it'll unleash a series of energy waves that deal enough damage to KO Kirby if he's missing even the smallest amount of health. To make things worse, this attack can't avoided with conventional forms of invincibility such as Stone's transformation or most dash attacksNote , so those who try to take the easy way out are in for a nasty surprise even though the attack itself isn't too difficult to avoid otherwise. It should be noted that you can only fight Star Dream Soul OS at the end of the True Arena. To get the opportunity to fight this boss in the first place, you have to defeat souped-up New Game Plus versions of all the bosses in the game, including the three Superbosses Dark Matter Clone, Queen Sectonia Clone, and Galacta Knight, with limited recovery items, and the battle against Star Dream Soul OS itself is a marathon effort that takes more than 10 minutes to complete. If you mess up, let your nerves get the better of you, and get hit by the last move? That's about 20-40 minutes of effort, completely wasted.
    • As a nod to the Security Force fights, Metal General pulls the exact same trick in the fan-made Kirby: Revenge of Dream Land.
  • The Suicide Psychos in Borderlands 2. If you have encountered their Hyperion Counterparts (the EXP Loaders) who instantly explode upon death , these Psychos will instead throw their grenades at your direction just after you killed them.
  • Every boss at the end of the Cossack and Wily stages (with the exception of Wily 4) in Rockman 4 Minus Infinity has one of these when playing on Hard mode.
  • Monster Hunter: World has a few:
    • Nergigante has a divebomb attack which is capable of one-shotting the player. Ordinarily the player needs to damage them enough for thorns to appear on its entire body before the attack is available. However, once near death Nergigante retreats to its lair and will ram through walls, damaging itself in exchange for quickly charging a divebomb attack.
    • True to form from the series it's from, the Behemoth will do this. More specifically, once its HP hits 0, it will perform one final casting of Ecliptic Meteor before going down. If you're too far away from the Comets and haven't mastered dodging the blast with the FFXIV Jump Emote, say hello to the cart. This CAN cause you to fail the quest.
  • Persona 5: When their health gets low, Black Mask Akechi will attempt to use the Almighty skill Laevatein on Joker. This can easily lead to a game over as not only are Almighty skills unable to be resisted, Akechi can also potentially be buffed by Desperation and/or Heat Riser. Luckily, the attack is telegraphed and gives the player enough time to try and finish Akechi off before they can use it.
  • Dark Souls III: The Old Demon King, at very low health, will sometimes charge up his power and create an enormous explosion of fire around himself. It can easily one-hit kill most players, but if the player survives it (or backs away outside its area of effect), it leaves the Demon King powerless, and all he can do for the remainder of the fight is feebly swipe at the player while they finish him off.
  • Played for Drama in the Genocide route of Undertale where Sans, in a final effort, starts slamming your SOUL against the wall to try and reduce your health. But your determination prevents you from falling below 1 HP during this attack and after that, it becomes a Foregone Conclusion that he will die to you, as well.
  • Several boss fights in Star Wars: The Old Republic end with a phase commonly called "DPS check". Below a certain threshold of health, the boss will either start a countdown on a super-powerful final attack or spam an AoE attack that quickly wears down the party. Either way, it's a guaranteed party wipe unless the boss can be defeated quickly enough.
  • Mega Man Zero 2: Kuwagust Anchus and Herculius Anchus try a pincer attack on Zero during their rematch at Yggdrasil in a final attempt to destroy the crimson reploid. Zero dodges their attack and the following collision destroy them both.


Video Example(s):


Black Bowser last breath

Black Bowser sacrifices the last fifth of his black paint and all his natural paint (which in this game is basically his life force) to unleash one immense, winner-take-all attack on Mario. Blocking it results in Mario winning the battle.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / LastDitchMove

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