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Mooks but No Bosses

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Nowadays, the vast majority of video games, even when not pure action games, include fighting enemies on the way. There may be a lot of weak ones or a few tough ones, they may be humans or monsters, you may kill them half-heartedly or with great enjoyment but they will be on your path to prevent you from Saving the World, rescuing the Damsel in Distress, finding your lost memories or eating your pizza. And at some points, you will have to fight big enemies, much more fearsome and dangerous than the others with an appropriate tension buildup.


But some games go around this. Even though you fight your way through numerous Mooks and death traps, no climactic battle against a boss ever comes. There can be several ways to explain and/or compensate the absence of bosses:

  • The fighting, even if present, is actually secondary to the action and the developers want to focus the intensity on other aspects, like the general atmosphere or the Shocking Moments in the scenario.
  • The climactic battle(s) will be against an army of mooks instead of a single boss, placing the player against seemingly impossible odds to create tension.
  • Sometimes, you expect enemies to be bosses, but they are fought and finished every bit like normal Mooks in the end. The difference with a mere Anti-Climax Boss being that they aren't just easy, they are identical to Mooks so you can't call it a Boss Fight.

Polar opposite of a Boss Game where all the fights are Boss Fights. Not incompatible with Cutscene Boss.

Note this trope is about the absence of bosses in a genre where their presence is the norm. An individual level with no bosses in a game where most or all the other levels have at least one each does not count as an example; all levels must be boss-less. Endless Games and Construction and Management Games are generally bossless for obvious reasons, as well as Strategy Games where the notion of "Boss Battle" is meaningless (potential aversions may be added as examples though). Not to confuse with Wolfpack Boss, where a group of Mooks are the bosses in their own right. And of course, no need to list the games where there are no enemies in the first place.

The extreme end of Hard Levels, Easy Bosses.



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    Action Adventure 
  • Assassin's Creed:
    • There are no real major boss fights in Assassin's Creed III, unlike previous games in the series. Most of the assassination targets aren't even particularly skilled combatants. The only real exception is a Climax Boss fight against Haytham Kenway towards the end, which is more of a cinematic Puzzle Boss fight than a straight boss encounter. The very last enemy you kill in the game is not even a challenge - he's killed in a cutscene.
    • Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag only has one enemy resembling a boss in the main story, with the other main targets being more like Elite Mooks in combat - and indeed, every other target in the game can be assassinated just like any mook. There are even bonuses for one-shotting them in specific ways. There are also four Bonus Boss ships in the form of the four legendary ships.
  • Batman games:
    • There are only 3 bosses in Batman: Arkham Knight only encountered in the endgame, all of them being taken out either by QTEs or through a cutscene. Noticeable because the previous two Arkham games have several bosses.
    • In the Batman Begins game, you fight Victor Zsasz, the Scarecrow and Henri Ducard, but they fight in exactly the same way as the Mooks, right down to the way they're taken down.
  • Battlestar Galactica Online dispenses with World of Warcraft-style storied raids and bosses to focus on PVP and sector control. As a result, the lategame challenge comes from swarms of Elite Mook or enemy players instead. The closest things to bosses are the outposts, but those are more like King Mooks, if Damage Sponge ones.
  • The Monsters University level of Disney Infinity has unusually nasty mooks, but just ends abruptly after the last story mission with nothing like a boss in sight.
  • The video game adaptations of The Godfather series. The "bosses" are the dons of the other families but they're easy to kill, the real challenge is fighting all their mooks. The sequel adds different levels of King Mook between the dons and the street-level rent-a-mooks, who correspondingly aren't that tough either.
  • In Soul Reaver 2, a good part of the game is slaughtering the soldiers and demons who want you dead, but curiously, there is no Boss. The Sarafan counterparts or Raziel's "brothers" at the end seem like they will be bosses but they turn out being like normal mooks, just tougher, and the Soul Reaver prevents you from dying anyway. The real Oh, Crap! moment comes after this battle.
  • In Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, the closest thing to boss fights in this game are basic fistfights against a guy who has a bit more HP than usual.
  • The End Times: Vermintide features five heroes against Warhammer's Skaven in a mission-based game similar to Left 4 Dead. Until its third DLC of missions, the only "bosses" were the usually one-per-level Rat Ogres, miniboss enemies who are mindless mountains of muscle and hit points that berserk their way into the party, and the Stormvermin Patrols, which are simply an unusually large collections of Elite Mooks who patrol together and are much easier to avoid than fight. The invasion's leader, a Grey Seer, cannot be fought directly at all, and beating him simply requires fulfilling level objectives while ignoring the Seer. The third DLC finally added a true boss in the clan's Chaos-infused chieftain. The sequel fully averts this with five full boss fights (two Chaos Champions, two Chaos Sorcerer Lords, and the same Grey Seer now riding a Stormfiend) and several miniboss types who usually show up once or twice per level (on top of the ogres there are now Stormfiends, Bile Trolls, Chaos Spawn, and, in the DLC, Minotaurs).
  • SNK's T.N.K. III has a few Giant Mook vehicles, but no traditional bosses, with the game cutting to a "Congraturation" message at the end of the last area. Averted in the NES adaptation, Iron Tank.

    Driving Game 
  • Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts only has the Final Boss, Gruntilda, fought at the end. Though Mr. Patch (who first debuted as a boss in Tooie) appears as well, he's merely a Boss in Mook Clothing target in two challenges.

    First Person Shooters 
  • BioShock 2 has no bosses, except for some Elite Mooks like the Big Daddies and the Big Sisters (and even then the latter are only optional if you harvest/rescue all the Little Sisters), and the Wales brothers and Subject Omega, who are simply tougher versions of regular enemies, with more health and a posse of helpers.
  • The Call of Duty series never really had any bosses (with the exception of a Cutscene Boss fight at the end of each game since Modern Warfare), with practically all enemies fighting the same and taking the same number of bullets to kill. Modern Warfare 2 upped the ante with the addition of Juggernauts, but in general all the major, plot relevant foes are either killed in a cutscene, quick time event, or as easily as any other mook. This is averted by Call of Duty: Black Ops III, with each of the major antagonists being fought in a boss battle, including a giant mecha, a giant aerial assault vehicle, a Flunky Boss, and a Proactive Boss.
  • Call of Juarez: The Cartel doesn't have any one-on-one boss fights, unlike the previous 2 games. The closest it gets is fighting an enemy gunship at a few points in the game.
  • Far Cry 2 is a game consisting of Mooks and only Mooks, due to attempting to be more realistic than its mutant-battling predecessor. There aren't even any Giant Mook or Elite Mooks. Even the assassination targets are just bog-standard enemies. This is averted in Far Cry and Far Cry 3, which do have at least one or two traditional boss fights. Far Cry 4 is filled with mooks, a few Elite Mooks during specific missions, and two badass boss fights that have almost nothing to do with guns whatsoever.
  • The Halo series is known for this, with Halo 2 and Halo 5: Guardians being the only real exceptions. In particular, the boss fights in Halo 2 were so highly criticized that Bungie decided to not put traditional boss fights in any of their subsequent games (with the possible exception of Halo 3's Scarab fights, and the fight with the Monitor).
  • The Medal of Honor series has generally avoided boss fights and other elements that would conflict with its more realistic tone. There have been a couple of exceptions, though, namely Baron Sturmgeist in Frontline and the officer battles in European Assault.
  • Star Wars: Republic Commando completely lacks bosses (although it does have a Boss in Mook Clothing in the form of spider droids and occasional Magnaguards).
  • STALKER has the occasional Boss in Mook Clothing in the form of some of the more monstrous and powerful mutants, but none of them are unique and, for the most part, they spawn randomly in addition to scripted encounters. The final level of the first and third game both essentially boil down to "get to the place while under fire from Elite Mooks", and the first game's such sequence can even be solved without killing anyone, assuming the player has the capability to tank it out.
  • Land of the Dead: Road to Fiddler's Green has zombies. Only zombies. Some of them have weapons, some of them throw up occasionally, and one was a buddy, but none of them are anything special.
  • The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct only has one enemy type; the basic zombie. There are no Elite Zombie enemies, let alone a boss. The closest you get is the occasional zombie herd.
  • Pathways into Darkness' closest thing to a boss enemy is the "Big Blue Meanie", a unique Boss in Mook Clothing encountered on the level "Need a Light?" In lieu of a Final Boss, the climactic battle is a Multi-Mook Melee against every mook type encountered over the course of the game.

  • Every level in the Commander Keen games is devoid of bosses, with the exception of the final level in the third (the Grand Intellect), fifth (the Shikadi Master) and spin-off episodes (Boobus Tuber). Even among the exceptions, the Shikadi Master is invincible, as the goal in that level is to defuse the energy source of the Armageddon Machine while avoiding the big enemy's attacks. The majority of Fan Sequels are devoid of bosses as well, with one of the notable exceptions being Episode 9 in its last level, where you confront the Grand Intellect in his true human form, Mortimer (Keen's vicious rival).
  • The second episode (game) of Cosmo's Cosmic Adventure doesn't have any bosses at all, and the first and third only have a Final Boss (the same in both cases).
  • Do It For Me: The Wooffles serve as enemies for the player to fight, but there is no boss in any of the endings. The girlfriend, the Big Bad, is confronted but never fought- even in the "Psychopath" ending, where you kill her, she is too scared to fight back.
  • Dustforce. The boss-looking Evil Counterparts from the intro and trailer are actually multiplayer characters.
  • Electro Man by xLand Games. The last level is particularly brutal, and may serve as the "boss" of the whole game, but, due to the nature of the game, there's never once any real bosses.
  • Eversion has no bosses, but it makes up for that with its more famous attributes.
  • The 2D PlayStation game Heart of Darkness is like this. The final battle is against a huge number of mooks but you never actually fight the Evil Overlord, he's just destroyed in the following cutscene.
  • Mutant Mudds has no bosses, instead focusing on the platforming levels. Once all of the Plot Coupons are collected, the Mudds are defeated, and the game is won.
  • Mystery Quest lacks bosses in the traditional sense, but each castle has its own Giant Mooks that must be killed to obtain keys.
  • The first two Oddworld games involve killing a lot of guards in usually gruesome ways, but since Abe has no weapon nor actual fighting skills there is nothing in the games that looks like a Boss (well there are "bosses" but not in the video game sense. Abe actually has to possess those and guide them to voice locks only they can open ― and only then kill them by dispossessing. So the trek to the lock becomes a "boss encounter").
  • In Prince of Persia, Jaffar is the Final Boss only in the sense that, unlike any other enemy, you have to kill him; he fights like all the other Mooks, and though he does have more health, that advantage is nullified by an obvious situational weakness. A few ports throw in a conventional Boss Battle with Jaffar after this, and the SNES version adds many original bosses.

    Puzzle Game 
  • A large portion of Chip's Challenge is spent dodging, killing or even creating mooks (through a clone machine), but there's no boss in any of the 149 levels of the game. This also applies to the CC Level Pack Fan Sequels as well as the official sequel.

    Rail Shooter 

  • In Azure Dreams, all combat takes place within a tower teeming with monsters, but with no unique encounters. The powerful sorcerer Beldo waits on the top floor, but it's impossible to actually lose to him
  • Roguelite Toe Jam And Earl has a veritable cast of enemies, but no actual bosses, and no need to attack any enemies beyond getting rid of them.
  • Streets of Rogue:
    • The game only has mooks to deal with for any of your missions (and often not even those if you're clever) and considers it a victory just for reaching the Mayor's Village regardless of what happens there.
    • Even if you do consider the Mayor encounter, it stills plays it completely straight since they're far weaker than most mooks and their elite mook Super Cop guards can be easily dispatched in a wide variety of ways. If you won the election then you don't even need to bother with what little fight there is, they just hand you the hat and walk away.
    • In particular, the killer robot (which can show up as part of a random disaster) has all the hallmarks of a boss due to it having a massive amount of HP, attacking with infinite rockets and ability to track you anywhere, but in practice it's very easy to just run away from it and skip the fight altogether. Custom chunks can try to repurpose it into a proper boss fight by marking it as an owner of a locked steel door (thus requiring the player to kill it to get the key), but even that can be avoided by just finding some other way to open the door (including just pushing the robot itself into it somehow, triggering its "tear down any doors in the way" effect).

    Role Playing Games 
  • Deus Ex: You do engage several elite enemy operatives, but they are not much stronger than a regular mook, if better armed and augmented, and die almost just as easily. The same is true of Deus Ex: Invisible War, even more so than the original as all the elite operatives are just regular enemies with somewhat more health. They don't even have any special abilities even though plot-wise they are supposed to.
  • Mass Effect 3: There are only two bosses in the game, and one of them is closer to a beefed-up Phantom than anything. The second being one of the three Reapers (the first and third encounters function more as environmental hazards than enemies with which Shepard can interact).
  • The Ultima series in general is known for not having bosses at all, with many of the games being more about actual role-playing than pure combat. Some of the games do have a final confrontation against a unique enemy, but they're usually not noticeably tougher than regular enemies.
  • Mother probably comes closer to this trope than any other Japanese RPG. It has very few boss battles at all and many of them are unconventional and/or scripted fights. Most dungeons have nothing resembling a boss.
  • Albion is almost like this. There's really only one regular boss (the avatar of Kamulos); the few other boss-ish characters include a unique named character who's not actually powerful, a more powerful version of a regular bandit who's only here for being unique (more powerful versions of monsters being otherwise common), a strong guard you don't have to fight, and a Hopeless Boss Fight. Most of the time, the final fight somewhere will just be a group of powerful regular enemies.
  • Prey (2017) has no boss encounters. The large Typhon called the Nightmare doesn't need to be killed to progress and will eventually respawn. The major endgame threat that is Walther Dahl can be easily killed or stunned like any human. The Apex Typhon isn't fought at all and is indirectly destroyed when you trigger either of the game's endings.

  • Dishonored plays it straight save for the possibility of Daud, who not only has similar powers to Corvo but is quite resilient and has Contractual Boss Immunity. However, he can also be dealt with sneakily.
  • Most targets in the Hitman series go down just as easily as regular enemies, unless they are scripted or wearing body armor (Which doesn't help if they're being strangled from behind). The catch is to actually get to them, which is more difficult than it sounds. In the earlier games major assassination targets were much tougher than regular Mooks, but could still be killed with a headshot or taken out stealthily. This has been downplayed in later games starting with Blood Money. The Hitman (2016) game is the most extreme example, without a single assassination target that's any tougher than a normal Mook (with the exception of an Iron Man-expy in one of the bonus levels).
  • Mark of the Ninja does have plot-critical antagonists, but none of them are fought as anything other than a Cutscene Boss.
  • Most Splinter Cell games at most have assassination targets but devoid of bosses. Instead, the games throw in mooks with stronger armor or equipped with night vision goggles. The only time there are bosses are the PS2 version of Double Agent and Blacklist.

     Survival Horror 
  • The Alan Wake series seems to avoid boss fights, instead using large numbers of regular enemies combined with a few Elite Mooks for major encounters.
  • There is only one type of enemy at all in Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. They are mooks which grapple the protagonist and drain his body heat away.
  • The Walking Dead: Apart from the zombies and human mooks, there are only two Cutscene Bosses that incorporate the game's Press X to Not Die function; Andrew and The Stranger.
  • Stateof Decay does not have an actual boss unless you count the Juggernaut during a siege. These guys pack a lot of punch and can survive about three grenades. Like all kinds of enemies, however, they can be encountered occasionally while travelling.
  • The only real boss fight in The Last of Us is the fight against David in the burning restaurant, and the difficulty comes more from the fact that it's a No-Gear Level than because the boss is any tougher than the game's other human enemies.

    Third Person Shooters 
  • Link's Crossbow Training: Link spends most of the game shooting down common enemies and targets. The only two enemies that approximate bosses are the Darknut and Stallord. Even then, the player doesn't actually have to defeat either of them; as there is no health system and points are based solely on shooting, the stages they're in can be passed just by waiting for time to run out.
  • In Max Payne, there were many fights against "boss" mobsters who could withstand boss levels of punishment before being defeated. Max Payne 2 does away with these fights almost completely. There's only one enemy who's at all tougher than a regular Mook, Kaufman, and even he goes down in less than a dozen shots. The final boss fight is mostly a Puzzle Boss, although you do shoot him up after solving the puzzle. Max Payne 3 is mostly like Max Payne 2 in this regard, although there is one boss fight against an armored Giant Mook about 4/5ths of the way through the game.
  • Power Pete: Bad toys abound, some a little tougher than others, but none of them serve as bosses.
  • Spec Ops: The Line, which features stronger-than-usual enemies but otherwise no conventional bosses. The closest thing to a traditional boss is Captain Walker's hallucination of Lugo. If the player is killed by "Lugo" and continues playing, it will be replaced by a normal Heavy enemy.
  • Ratchet & Clank (2002) has all of 3 bosses: A Giant Space Flea from Nowhere Queen Mook who is so easy that there's a Skill Point for killing it with the Omniwrench, the Blargian Snagglebeast that Captain Qwark traps you with, and the Final Boss, the Big Bad Chairman Drek.
  • Warp, hosted by FreeArcade. Reach a certain distance and you pass automatically.

    Tower Defense 
  • Desert Moon only has four different types of mooks, and no bosses. At the end of each level is a massive Zerg Rush of mooks, and the final wave of the final level are The War Sequence.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • This is common with Rockstar Games' open-world titles.
    • The Grand Theft Auto games have never been big on boss fights, with your main foes often being no tougher than a random mook wearing body armor, and being threatening more for the power they wield over their underlings than because they themselves are all that physically imposing. Case in point is Ending C in Grand Theft Auto V, which pits the player against all of the antagonists at once, but none of them have unique strengths and go down as easily as any random pedestrian. Steve Haines and Devin Weston, in particular, don't even get to be truly "fought", as the former is sniped and the latter is kidnapped in a cutscene. As a result, the ending of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas stands out even more for its aversion of this trope, with a conventional boss fight against Big Smoke in a burning warehouse with far more health than any other enemy in the game.
    • The nearest you'll ever get to a boss in L.A. Noire is an important enemy with a slighly better gun than usual, unusual car chase (such as the one against a tram), or the occasional scripted Good Old Fisticuffs fight or "shoot the villain before he shoots the hostage" minigame. The emphasis is instead on detective work.
    • In Red Dead Redemption, the closest thing there is to a Boss Fight is Edgar Ross in the epilogue, but it's played like a normal duel (except you don't have the option of sparing his life). As for John's old companions, two are summary executions and the last throws himself from a cliff.
  • Spore: the closest thing is has are Grox and even then they act more like Elite Mooks.
  • Watch_Dogs only has one boss-like encounter, Delford "Iraq" Wade, fought at the top of his building. And it's only barely stronger than an Armored Guard. All other plot-critical targets are killed in cutscenes, quick-time events or in the same way a traditional enemy is.


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