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"When I rob you from now on it's just my way of saying Charon, I would like to battle you to the death right now for a quick change of pace."
Zagreus, Hades

Bosses are big, scary, and typically await you at the end of each level. Gameplay wise, they serve as the ultimate challenge of skills the player has learned so far. In the story they are typically villains or other opponents that antagonize The Hero is a specific story segment.

But not all bosses are like this; some you just don't get to fight normally. Sometimes the developers want the player to have something else to do and challenge themselves with extra fights. It can be a good opportunity to add some worldbuilding with side-quests and problems irrelevant to the Myth Arc. The player doesn't have to solve every trouble the townsfolk have, but it's often encouraged. The reward can be just extra loot to help yourself (especially in Forced Level-Grinding), a Disc-One Nuke, or an unlockable secret.

Subtropes:


Examples:

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    Action-Adventure Games 
  • Aquaria has a number of optional bosses, but many consider Simon Says to be the most interesting. He's well-hidden, and you don't actually fight him — instead you play, well, Simon Says, with a very useful third cooking slot as your reward for playing well.
  • Castlevania series:
    • Castlevania 64 has the demon Renon, who's been running the Dungeon Shop throughout the game. If you haven't used his services too much, he appears near the end of the game to say he's leaving for better business opportunities elsewhere. But if you've spent more than 30,000 gold at his shop, instead he invokes the fine print in the "contract" on the scrolls you've been summoning him with to try to claim the player character's soul, at which point he turns into his true form and attacks.
    • Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia gave you the option to fight the Chinese vampire, Jiang Shi, in the Large Cavern bonus dungeon. He's not very hard, though, seeing as how proper use of Melio Scutum and any slashing Glyph would easily reduce his 6000+ HP down to nothing. Though this boss is interesting in the fact that when he dies, a seal is placed on his face, but if you break it off with an attack, he comes back to life, allowing you to fight him again as many times as you want. Not worth the attribute points though (30, 60, or 120).
    • The Whip's Memory, an image of Richter Belmont in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, is part of a ritual to unlock the true power of a weakened Vampire Killer whip. Unlike the rest of the game, you can only battle this boss with Jonathan. Thankfully, "dying" in this battle just boots you out of the battle with full HP and MP instead of yielding a Game Over.
  • Illusion of Gaia has Solid Arm, a boss originally from the first game in the series, SoulBlazer, who's only fightable if you collect all fifty Red Jewels.
  • Ittle Dew has one at the end of the Master Cave. Oddly, it's the one boss you beat through brute force rather than some kind of puzzle.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening: The Updated Re-release of the game for Game Boy Color featured a Bonus Dungeon based on color, designed entirely to show off the capabilities of the Game Boy Color. The boss of the dungeon isn't more difficult than the other bosses, but even once you find the entrance to the dungeon you can only actually enter it if you know the color of the stalfos' clothes at the entrance. There are also a number of color-based puzzles that would be frustratingly difficult if you managed to get in anyway while playing on an original Game Boy.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: Technically speaking, all the bosses, with the exception of Calamity Ganon and the four Blight Ganons, are optional to beat the game (this is because, if you skip freeing the Divine Beasts, the game forces you to fight the Blights you didn't encounter regardless in Hyrule Castle in a Boss Bonanza before the Final Boss).
  • After fully explorable hub words were introduced to the LEGO Adaptation Game series, many of them have included various boss fights that aren't necessary to beat to complete the story, but like everything else are needed for 100% Completion.
  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice:
    • The Demon of Hatred does not need to be fought to complete the game, and the player has to go out of their way to even find it. Though beating it does net the player 2 Lapis Lazuli, which are needed to upgrade to the final tier of prosthetic upgrades.
    • The Gauntlets of Strength adds 3 extra boss fights against powered-up versions of 3 of the games bosses, known as Inner Isshin, Inner Genichiro, and Inner Father. None of these are required to be fought to beat the game, since, well, the player can't even access the Gauntlets of Strength until after they've already beaten the game.
  • Super Gear Quest: As Starter makes his way up Mt. Mokula, he repeatedly hears voices from a random assortment of characters telling him to follow them. Eventually, the voices will attempt to lead him away from where he's supposed to be going. If he decides to continue following them, despite being warned not to do so, he will end up finding himself face to face with a Khraosis Entity known as Dimula. Considering that the only other Khraosis Entity he fights in the game is the True Final Boss, he's in for a difficult fight.
  • Terraria features several bosses that can be ignored, but drop powerful items that can help the player beat the game. One notable example is a pig-dragon-fish that must be fished out of the ocean using a rare mushroom worm as bait.
  • Tribal Hunter has four optional bosses spread out over the latter half of the game: Laura, who you find at the end of a passage way in the Jungle filled with ko'd pirates, Wave, who you meet in the Hive in a not so hidden passage that ends in a room with him and a bunch of boxes and chests, The Queen Bee, whose arena is to the right of the exit to the mountain top, and The Alpha, whose arena is in the mountain top area, its entrance in the same room as where you first find the wolf enemies.

    Action Games 
  • Cuphead:
    • Performing specific actions against certain bosses heavily alters the fight, usually skipping or cutting short a phase of the fight - at the cost of adding additional enemies in later phases.
    • The DLC adds a secret boss, found by interacting with specific tombstones, and then examining the strange light while having the Broken Relic charm. Defeating the boss "upgrades" the charm into the Cursed Relic, which turns you into a One-Hit-Point Wonder and forces you to use random weapons. Defeating enough bosses (a maximum of 8 and minimum of 4) with the Cursed Relic equipped turns it into the Divine Relic, which gives you the positive effects of every charm you own at the same time and lets you switch freely between all of your weapons.
  • Shrek 2: The Prison Break level features a boss fight against a troll. The troll can be skipped by rolling a metal ball into a nearby gate, which opens up an alternate route that takes you past the troll's arena.

    Beat 'em Ups 
  • Via Asura's Wrath DLC, two optional bosses that have nothing to do with the main game story are Ryu and Akuma, who become Evil Ryu and Oni respectively.
  • The Red Dragon features as an optional boss in both of the Dungeons & Dragons Beat Em Ups.
  • No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle has Kimmy, a school girl with an unhealthy obsession over Travis. You only fight her if you don't go back to the Motel between fights with Charlie and Matt, making her the only assassin in the series who's optional.
  • In River City Ransom, Benny and Clyde are the only bosses that you don't have to defeat in order to access River City High School. Once inside, you can also skip Tex as well, since only Otis has to be defeated in order to fight the Dragon Twins, and then Slick, who is actually Simon.
  • Yakuza: Virtually every main game in the series has a coliseum where you can fight various enemies that you can't fight otherwise, including members of the aformentioned Amon clan, other protagonists, the masters who trained you, bears and tigers, and real-life professional wrestlers.

    Card Games 
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! Reshef of Destruction:
    • At the start of the game, before you board the Duel Express, you can visit KaibaCorp to find Rebecca trying to get back at Kaiba for tearing up her grandfather's copy of Blue-Eyes. Kaiba has no patience for this but lets you challenge her instead. However, because you've just started and your deck flat-out sucks, you'll be struggling due to lack of resources.
    • A sidequest, briefly available after restoring Obelisk, leads you to dueling the Big Five as part of a stage performance.
    • If you visit Italy after Canada's been made available to you, you'll get to rematch Jean-Claude Magnum, who has a better deck than the first time. In this same time frame, you can also find Tea worrying about fortune-telling, and have to fend off Johnny Steps and Crump back-to-back.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Duel Academy there is an event where you can challenge and duel Pharaoh, Dr. Banner's cat. To do so, you must be a member of the Slifer dorm, and have defeated Jaden, Syrus, Chumley and Banner three times each. If you then talk to Banner on a Saturday, you can duel Pharaoh, and get a card afterwards. (Panther Warrior for winning, Bone Mouse for losing, and Outstanding Dog Marron for drawing).

    Fighting Games 

    First-Person Shooter 

    Hack and Slash 
  • Diablo II has some in its later updates. Versions 1.00-1.09 had the Cow King as a sort of optional boss, though he was substantially weaker than the actual final bosses.

    MMORPGs 
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Wrath of the Lich King introduced optional bosses in some of the regular dungeons that are only accessible on Heroic difficulty. However, the WotLK optional bosses tend to be much easier than the Final Boss of their respective dungeons.
    • The Bug trio, Viscidus, and Ouro were all optional bosses in Temple of Ahn'Qiraj. Most, if not all guilds, did the Bug trio because the fight wasn't very difficult and it rewarded good loot. Viscidus is a fight that many guilds skipped because, even at level 80, it's still a pain in the ass. To defeat Viscidus, he must be frozen; naturally, he can only be frozen by Frost-based attacks, such as Mages' Frostbolt or Shamans' Frost Shock. Once Viscidus is frozen, then everyone in the raid must melee him (yes, even the healers need to). If melee'd enough times, he will shatter. All while attempting to freeze and shatter Viscidus, the raid must survive near-constant AoE Poison damage. Ouro is a fight that most Alliance guilds would skip in favor of C'Thun because A) he offered better loot and B) killing C'Thun at 60 was a significant achievement for raiding guilds. (Horde guilds would run him over due to Poison Cleansing Totem.)

    Platform Games 
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2 contains an optional boss only found in an updated re-release on iPhone/Android. It's still Robotnik/Eggman, this time dropping spiked balls which need to be under him when they fire back up in order to get him into range. To find it, you need to fall down a bottomless pit in Mystic Cave, a pit which in every other version of the game is a very deep spike pit.
  • The mainstream Super Mario Bros..
    • New Super Mario Bros..: World 4 and 7 are entirely skippable if you want to complete the game without using the Mini-Mushroom, making their respective bosses (World 4's Mega Goomba, World 7's Lakithunder) fit the trope.
    • New Super Mario Bros. 2: The non-numbered worlds (World Mushroom, World Flower, World Star) are entirely optional, making their respective bosses (Mushroom's Larry Koopa, Flower's Lemmy Koopa, Star's Dry Bowser) this. As a matter of fact, World Star can only be revealed after you defeat Bowser in World 6.
    • New Super Mario Bros. U: Depending on which path you choose after defeating Morton Koopa in Layer-Cake Desert, you can complete the main game without either taking on Larry Koopa in Sparkling Waters or Wendy Koopa in Frosted Glacier, as both victories result in Soda Lake being unlocked, starting with the game's first airship level and boss fight with Bowser Jr.
  • Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3: Hinyari is located in Sherbet Land. Amusingly, you can just walk right out of the battlefield through a conveniently placed door.

    Puzzle Games 
  • Dr. Mario 64 has two optional bosses with similar conditions; if you get through Story Mode on Normal difficulty or higher without losing or restarting a match, then upon defeating Rudy, whichever character you're not playing as will challenge you one last time for the rights to the Megavitamin bottle. If you're playing as Mario, then Wario will power up into Vampire Wario; conversely, Wario will have to contend with Metal Mario. Defeating them first try will unlock them in Versus Mode, where they're not only playable but also have the hardest AI.
  • Collecting all 24 tickets in Pony Island changes the ending to Hopeless Soul telling you that he now understands that you want a satisfying reward for getting full completion and fighting you in a three-stage boss battle using different gameplay segments to supply that reward.
  • Puyo Puyo: Carbuncle has played the role of optional boss twice in the series. To wit:
    • In Puyo Puyo Sun, he can be fought in Schezo's story without using a continue.
    • In the first Puyo Puyo Fever, he can be fought either by reaching Accord on the Hara Hara route without continuing (while ensuring that Fever mode is used either less than four times or more than twelve) and defeating her or by continuing with a multiple of 7 when defeating her.
  • Puzzle Quest 2 has five optional bosses: Kurak the polar bear, the Yeti, the Cave Ogre, the Arch Lich, and the Green Dragon. They're unlocked automatically as you level up, so you can tackle them at your leisure or not at all. Since the rewards they yield aren't any better than most high-end enemies in the game, they aren't worth the effort to beat, unless you're a completionist, an achievement hunter (which you don't even get, depending on the platform) or for the bragging rights.
  • Sutte Hakkun has the Purple Makkun, an odd-colored Makkun that hides within specific crevices in certain stages in every world, serving as the replacement for the Bonus Stages of the Satellaview versions. He's the only character in the entire game that attacks you in any form: upon finding him, he'll scoop you up and challege you to a race in one of his ten Battle stages (which have the same level of difficulty as the regular stages). Beat him, and you'll get a segment of the Solution code to write down.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • Pikmin 3 Deluxe features a new boss at the end of the "Olimar's Comeback" sidestory: a golden mix between a Shaggy Long Legs and the otherwise-absent Raging Long Legs from Pikmin 2. Since it's not part of the main game, it lacks a Piklopedia entry and thus goes unnamed.

    Rhythm Games 
  • Everhood has the Spirit of Light, who, when beaten, gives you one of the three gems needed for one of the Multiple Endings.
  • Frederic: Resurrection of Music has three optional songs/opponents that can be fought in Arena Mode. You need to beat the game three times (once for each difficulty except Too Easy) to unlock them all.

    Roguelikes 
  • In Hades, the player can choose to steal money from the boatman Charon to start a fight with him.
  • In Spelunky 2, a boss called Vlad can be encountered by doing a small secret side quest to activate a drill that digs down into the volcano level. This has no bearing on the story or the run, but rewards players with an unique item. Also doubles as a Route Boss.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • Abomi Nation: After collecting 5 of the 6 artifacts, you can fight an optional boss Abomi who gains stat boosts at the start of the fight and is scaled to always be above your level. You are rewarded with Macrogame currency if you win.
  • In Alpha Protocol, the Blood Knight Action Girl SIE will offer to team up with you during the mission where you first encounter her. You can agree to the alliance, or you can attack her (or you can agree, complete the mission, then attack her when you encounter her again at the end of the mission). Not only will she not die when you win, but your rep with her will increase.
  • The Baldur's Gate series:
    • Most of the dragons in the game are also optional fights, though they give some good rewards after being slain.
    • There's also an optional (and completely story-irrelevant) fight against some demon knights in the Underdark.
    • The Twisted Rune is an order of evil spellcasters who, when you enter their lair, assume that you've come to foil their plans and attack you. They're sensibly skeptical if you claim to have found them by accident, because the only way that would happen is if you were wandering around a bad part of town while carrying an incredibly rare and valuable type of gemstone and opening doors at random. (This is in likely exactly what happened, unless you looked at a guide. The clues that would lead you to them were never put into the game.)
  • Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden:
    • The spirit of Dikembe Mutombo is the boss of a bonus dungeon and gives Barkley the Holy Dunk attack.
    • A duergar (actually Balthios, who is a Wereduergar) can be fought if you take the ferry to Liberty Island instead of the Underground Railroad.
    • The Ghastly Darklord is encountered by checking a seemingly empty corner in Proto Neo New York.
    • Kevin Garnett is the final opponent in the Arena in the optional B-Ball Dimension.
  • Baten Kaitos Origins: Nasca, Valara, Heughes, and Wiseman are optional bosses fought to tie up loose ends; one of them allows access to the game's True Final Boss. There's also Arma Prototype M, a.k.a. The Wicked Gawd, who is the final boss of the Coliseum and is absurdly hard.
  • The Xbox 360 game Blue Dragon has several Dragons that don't need to be beaten, but give the player a useful accessory if they are.
  • Corruption of Laetitia: When fighting the Predatory Birds in the map north of Gruhnwald, there's a chance that Hawkzombie will show up in the second turn to fight the party.
  • Bloodborne:
    • The first boss most players will encounter, the Cleric Beast, is not actually blocking progress to anything. However, killing it will get you the Sword Hunter Badge, which unlocks several useful items from the Messengers, including a key item that turns the Blood-Starved Beast into a Skippable Boss.
    • Henryk the Old Hunter can only be encountered if the player decides to progress Eileen the Crow's quest line, as he will never appear otherwise.
    • The Afflicted Beggar Mini-Boss can be encountered at either the Forbidden Woods or the Cathedral Ward, but does not actually have to be fought in order to progress. Beating him does net the player a powerful Beast Rune, however.
    • The Witches of Hemwick do not need to be fought in order to progress the story, though beating them does grant the player access to Caryll Runes.
    • Martyr Logarius is found in a very secluded area in the Forsaken Cainhurst Castle, which in of itself is an optional area that requires a special item to access.
    • The Celestial Emissary is an optional encounter that only needs to be beaten to encounter Ebrietas, who herself is also optional.
    • Ebrietas, Daughter of the Cosmos doesn't need to be fought to progress the story, only being required to unlock more Chalice Dungeons.
    • Darkbeast Paarl is a boss encountered in Yahar'gul at any point after reaching the area, but does not actually need to fought to progress.
    • Amygdala does not need to be fought to progress the story, and the only reason the player would ever need to fight them is to unlock the Ailing Loran Chalice Dungeon.
    • Yharnam, Pthumerian Queen is only encountered within the deepest of the game's optional Pthumerian Chalice Dungeons.
  • Bug Fables: There are multiple criminals and hostile bugs fought as mini-bosses in sidequests or by exploring, the Mother Chomper, encountered in an optional dungeon, the Broodmother in the power plant sidequest, and the five Bounty Bosses you can take from Underground Tavern's side quests that are a major step up in difficulty compared to the storyline bosses.
  • Dark Souls:
    • Dark Souls:
      • The Stray Demon can only be encountered by returning to the Undead Asylum, and going back there is not only a completely optional challenge, but even finding out how to get back there is not an easy thing to do. Fighting it is worthwhile, however, as it is the only enemy guaranteed to drop a rare Titanite Slab, an item needed to reach the final upgrade of any standard or lightning weapon.
      • Both Hydra Mini-Bosses are this. The one encountered in Darkroot Basin can be easily ignored, especially given how much of pain it can be to fight if the player doesn't have the Rusted Iron Ring, and the only reason the player would ever need to confront it is that killing it grants access to the Artorias of the Abyss DLC, which is also optional. The one encountered in Ash Lake is also this by virtue of the fact that Ash Lake itself is a completely optional area.
      • The Moonlight Butterfly is found in an area of the Darkroot Garden that's very out of the way in terms of exploration. Beating it earns the player the Divine Ember, which is needed to create divine weapons, and the Watchtower Basement Key, though this item is rendered moot if the player has the Master Key.
      • The Great Felines Mini-Boss can be found on one of the paths to the Darkroot Garden, but because players are more likely to enter the forest through the seal gate, and there's a much faster path than either one of these anyway, it's entirely possible to never encounter them. The fact that they don't drop nor guard any loot also discourages the idea of fighting them.
      • Dark Sun Gwyndolin is an entirely skippable encounter that many players can easily miss, due to him hiding behind an illusionary wall that can only be passed by either wearing the Darkmoon Seance Ring or by killing the illusionary Gwynevere.
      • Crossbreed Priscilla can only be found in the optional Painted World of Ariamis, and even then does not need to be fought in order to complete the level due to only turning hostile if the player attacks her first.
      • Because the Artorias of the Abyss DLC does not need to be completed to finish the game, all 4 of the boss fights found in it are completely optional. Among them, however, Black Dragon Kalameet is this even in the context of the DLC. He's the only boss the player doesn't have to fight in order to complete the DLC's main story, encountering him requires the player go out of their way to do so, and it's impossible to properly fight him until the player talks to Gough, who himself can be hard to reach.
    • Dark Souls II:
      • The Belfry Gargoyles don't need to be fought, appearing in the optional Belfry Luna area. However, beating them does make the fight against the Lost Sinner easier, as beating them earns the player the key needed to unlock a room with a torch that can be used to light up the Lost Sinner's boss room.
      • While Vendrick must be encountered in order to progress the game's story, actually fighting him is completely optional. Not helping matters is that it's next to impossible to damage him without first gathering the Souls of a Giant, which are scattered around the world, with one of them being guarded by another optional boss.
      • The Ancient Dragon does not need to be fought to progress the game, and it will only attack if the player provokes it anyway. Beating it nets the player a Soul of a Giant, which does make the fight against Vendrick easier, though that fight is optional as well anyway.
      • The Darklurker is one of the most easily missed bosses in the series. Not only is fighting it not required to beat the game, but actually getting to it is a challenge, as it can only be found in an area that can only be accessed by joining the obscure Pilgrims of Dark covenant. Beating it will complete the player's progression in said covenant.
      • Because The Lost Crowns DLC trilogy does not need to be completed to finish the game, all 9 of the boss fights found in them are completely optional. Among them, Crown of the Sunken King's Afflicted Graverobber, Ancient Soldier Varg, and Cerah the Old Explorer, Crown of the Old Iron King's Sir Alonne and the DLC's version of the Smelter Demon, and Crown of the Burnt Ivory King's Lud and Zallen, the King's Pets are this even in the context of their respective DLCs. All of them are encountered in secret areas of their respective DLCs, and none of them need to be beaten to complete the DLCs' stories.
    • Dark Souls III:
      • The Curse-rotted Greatwood does not need to be beaten to travel to the next area, and the Giant Archer's greatarrows can end up discouraging the player from trying to reach the Curse-rotted Greatwood anyway. However, beating it earns the player the Transposing Kiln, which is needed to turn boss souls into weapons, equipment, and spells.
      • The Stray Demon Mini-Boss does not need to be fought to progress through Faron Keep, as it is only found in a very out of the way location in the area.
      • The Old Demon King is very easy to miss, as reaching the area he's found in requires cutting down the bridge in the Catacombs of Carthus. And since the game encourages the player to steer clear of the bridge and find another route, it's entirely possible to go through the game without even knowing of the area's existence.
      • Oceiros, the Consumed King can only be encountered by taking a detour before reaching Lothric Castle, and killing him is not required to progress the main plot. However, beating him does grant the player access to Archdragon Peak and the Untended Graves.
      • Champion Gundyr is found in the optional Untended Graves area, which itself can only be accessed by beating the optional boss fight against Oceiros. However, beating him is necessary to getting the "End of Fire" ending, as an item needed to achieve that ending, the Fire Keeper's Eyes, can only be found in an area blocked off by him.
      • Because the game's DLCs do not need to be completed to finish the game, all 6 of the boss fights found in them are completely optional. Among them, Ashes of Ariandel's Champion's Gravetender and Gravetender Greatwolf and The Ringed City's Darkeater Midir are this even in the context of their respective DLCs. The Champion's Gravetender and Gravetender Greatwolf can only be encountered if the player cuts down the bridge to Ariandel Chapel, and the two don't have any relevance to the DLC's main plot, only existing as a wall between the player and the Arena added in the DLC. Darkeater Midir, meanwhile, can only be reached by the player going far out of the way of the main areas, and even then, fighting him requires they first beat him when he attacks them in the path to Filianore's Church.
  • Deltarune:
    • In Chapter 1, you get to find and ultimately fight the locked-away Jevil, whose fight makes the Final Boss look tame through sheer Bullet Hell, with his attacks being fast-paced and leaving little wiggle room to avoid. Depending on how you defeat him, you'll either end up with the best armor in the chapter or Susie's best weapon.
    • Chapter 2 features another, similarly out-of-the-way secret boss: Spamton NEO, an upgraded form of a boss fought earlier in the chapter. The spoils for beating him are determined the same as with Chapter 1's Super Boss: a piece of equipment for sparing him, or a weapon for Ralsei for defeating him.
  • Demon's Souls has Old King Doran, who the player can be easily go without seeing and still complete the game. However, fighting him to the point of impressing him will earn the player the Demonbrandt, and killing him outright will get them his armor and the very useful Eternal Warrior's Ring.
  • The Denpa Men:
    • The first game has two optional bosses. One mid-game dungeon appears to have two bosses—a Water-type Golem and an Ice-type Golem. The Ice-type Golem is more difficult to get to, and is the true boss of the dungeon. The Water-type Golem, however, gives you a few extra goodies if you beat it. At the very end of the game, you can also choose to fight The True King, the final form of the King of Evil. He has his own Rare Random Drop, and each time you defeat him, he drops an emblem that can be sold for a tidy sum of money.
    • The sequel has even more optional bosses than the first, most of whom are based around chess pieces. Each of the four Caves of Darkness contains a different variation on the Knight, and each one is progressively more difficult—especially because the Caves are timed, and even though you can keep battling if you run out of time, if you do, you'll be kicked out of the dungeon before you can collect your rewards for completing it. There's also a Pawn who you have one required fight against early on—but he keeps getting stronger and stronger throughout the game, and you can return to challenge him after different story events. The last two sets are linked—the "big" Bonus Dungeon ends with a fight against the Demon Queen, who serves as a combination of this and a True Final Boss. This unlocks the Bishop, King, and Queen, who fight you back to back in a Call-Back to the original game's final boss.
  • Elden Ring: Most bosses are actually optional, for whatever reason.
    • The Shardbearers are the main storyline bosses, but there are six of them and you only need two of the Great Runes they hold. So if you want a quick game, you could just fight Godrick the Grafted and Renalla before heading off to Leyendell, but it's totally possible to go for Mohg instead if you're feeling masochistic.
    • In fact, out of all the Elden Ring bosses, the only absolutely necessary ones are whichever Shardbearers you choose, Godfrey's golden shade, Morgott, the Fire Giant, the Godskin Duo, Maliketh, Godfrey (the real one this time), and then the final boss. All others can be skipped, though their rewards are generally useful.
    • All field bosses can be avoided simply by never entering their aggro range. Some also won't spawn outside of certain conditions (the Bell-Bearing Hunter only spawns at night, for example).
    • Any enemy past a fog gate, aside from the mandatory ones mentioned above, can be skipped if the player doesn't want to enter their arena.
    • All Evergaol enemies are locked away in extradimensional prisons and can't do anything to you unless you seek them out.
    • All of the dragon bosses are avoidable simply by avoiding their territories. Dragonlord Placidusax won't even attack you in his boss arena until you get too close, and Fortissax is a Route Boss for Fia's sidequest.
    • Both the Ancestor Spirits are bosses of optional areas.
    • The Astel fights won't even appear unless you defeat Radahn, who can also be skipped.
  • The EarthBound ROM Hack EquestriaBound has a few optional bosses, who always drop the parties Infinity Plus One Swords. According to the hack creator, this was to prevent Sword of Kings situations.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy IV: There are four optional bosses that become Eidolons once you beat them: Asura, Leviathan, Odin, and Bahamut. Only one of these was particularly difficult. The others required very specific strategies rather than a high-leveled party to defeat, making them closer to Puzzle Bosses than anything else. This was fitting, as the battles were intended to be tests of your skill.
    • Final Fantasy VIII: The Brothers are optional bosses, as are the Jumbo Cactaur, Odin, Tonberry King and Bahamut.
    • Final Fantasy X-2:
      • The Experiment, a Machina the Machine Faction in Djose Temple are working on throughout the game, which can be upgraded with parts the player obtains from digging in the Bikanel Desert. It is completely optional, and you only have to fight it for two points in the 100% Completion: the Djose Temple Episode Complete, and the Annihilator Blue Bullet.
      • Angra Mainyu, a gigantic snake-like Fiend slumbering in the Bikanel Desert. It can be encountered as early as Chapter 1 during digging sessions if the player is unlucky, but to actually fight it in a proper battle, the player must complete a long sidequest first, one that begins in Chapter 3 and can only be concluded in Chapter 5.
    • Final Fantasy XII has lots of these, as part of an assortment of sidequests which many argue form 75% of the game's content. For instance, there are thirteen Espers, but only five are necessary to proceed with the story, which means you have to seek the other eight on your own volition. Non-Esper optional bosses include Earth Tyrant, King Bomb, Gilgamesh, Phoenix, Shadowseer, Hell Wyrm, Yiazmat, and Omega Mark XII. While you face Ba'Gamnan early in the story, he can be fought again much later in a sidequest, where he is much stronger.
  • Fossil Fighters: There is a huge slew of optional bosses bosses, one of which opens up before the final boss, and the rest of which appear afterwards, in the Playable Epilogue.
  • The Legend of Dragoon: In the dungeon before the Point of No Return, you are given the opportunity to fight the spirits of the three dragons you defeated. They drop some useful attack items, and they're also guarding chests containing powerful equipment.
  • Liar Jeannie In Crucifix Kingdom has the two elite Pleiades Knights, Celaeno and Alcyone, as optional bosses who guard the exit of the kingdom and must be defeated to get the secret ending.
  • Lost Odyssey has seven optional bosses: Persona, King Kelolon, the Cave Worm, the Blue Dragon, the Holy Beast, Legendary Spirit Sorcerer Fu, and The Immortal One in the Backyard. Players with access to XBox Live can get a new downloadable dungeon with an extra boss Professor K, aka The Killalon.
  • Luminous Plume: Returning to older areas like the Mystic Forest, Arctic Lake, Tempest's Heart, and Mt. Arzen allows Raven to fight optional berserker bosses.
  • Lunarosse has two post-game bosses. One is implied to be a Greater-Scope Villain for the creator's future projects and the other tied into the Sequel Hook.
  • Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story: Returning to Bowser's castle as Mario and Luigi and solving the cold-storage vault puzzle using hints scattered along the path to said vault let's the bros fight three Shroobs. They do a lot of damage but have relatively small health and simple attack patterns. Defeating them rewards the bros with the powerful Magic Window attack.
  • Marvel: Avengers Alliance has the Epic Bosses in certain missions, which only show up if you fight every battle and complete every deploy (which often require spending rare Command Points to recruit specific heroes) in that mission. The bosses offer stronger weapons and gadgets and higher chances of winning more Command Points as prizes for defeating them, compared to normal bosses.
  • Mega Man X: Command Mission has two Bonus Bosses plus another set of nine. Rafflesian and Duckbill Mole gave X, Zero, and Axl new abilities that were useful in what remained of the game by that point. Ninetails and the preceding eight Tails Clan members could only be fought after beating the final boss, making the rewards for beating them worthless.
  • Mother 3 has the Ghost Knight (encountered in Osohe Castle) and Li'l Miss Marshmallow (encountered at the top of Thunder Tower), both of whom will ignore you if you choose not to engage them; Li'l Miss Marshmallow, in particular, will only attack you if you try to examine the yo-yo in the playroom at the top of Thunder Tower (you get to keep the yo-yo and use it as a weapon if you defeat her). The Ghost Knight is an animated suit of armor with a sword and a shield, and Li'l Miss Marshmallow is Porky Minch's robot maid.
  • The Gundam RPG MS Saga: A New Dawn has Ultima Gundam and Omega Gundam, made from a mix of parts from Mobile Fighter G Gundam and Mobile Suit Gundam Wing mecha respectively. Their names are obvious homages to Final Fantasy's perennial Bonus Boss pair, Ultima Weapon and Omega Weapon.
  • Paper Mario:
    • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door:
      • Atomic Boo, fought in Creepy Steeple if you enter the main hall and take the Spin Hammer attack to the swarms of Boos enough times. He isn't particularly hard, but knowing he even exists is a bit of a Guide Dang It!.
      • Bonetail, the oldest and strongest of the Shadow Queen's three dragons, is the boss of the optional Pit of 100 Trials.
    • Super Paper Mario:
      • You can rematch Francis, Chapter 3's boss, in the final chapter's second episode if you tell Mimi (disguised as Merlon) that you fear him most.
      • Both Flipside and Flopside Pit of 100 Trails are optional dungeons just like its predecessor, so you can expect their respective bosses, Wracktail (a stronger version of Fracktail) and Shadoo (taking on darker forms of the heroes: Luigi, Bowser, Peach, and Mario respectively), to be optional bosses as well. Shadoo takes it up a notch where you have to do the entire dungeon again to fight it.
      • After you beat the game, Sammer's Kingdom is restored, which means you get to finally have a chance to do the entire Duel of 100  culminating in End Boss as the last Sammer Guy you get to defeat to win the ultimate prize.
  • Parasite Eve had a few optional bosses in the Chrysler Building. While most of the bosses are color swaps of the storyline bosses, the giant cockroach and giant bee were exclusive to the building. The original Eve is at the very top of the building, and defeating her gets you a different ending.
  • Pillars of Dust: In the final chapter, the party can find a key that unlocks a secret room underneath a tomb. This contains a portal to the world in Shadows of Adam, resulting in a fight against Kellan, Asrael, Curtis, and Talon.
  • Resonance of Fate pits you up against Sullivan and Rebecca at the end of Neverland. They are generally pushovers, especially compared to what you fought to get to them.
  • Robopon: In the original, you can rematch the first six Legends in Zero Tower post-credits. The second game has several, including Rena's restored-to-youth mother, the younger version of Nick D., the Robopon in Delica Castle's basement, and the W-King.
  • In the SaGa series, most of the game is optional, including many of the bosses.
  • Sailor Moon: Another Story has Esmeraude as an optional boss in the fourth chapter. Beating said boss gets you a second Red Pupil.
  • Soma Union: The game lets the player save after they beat the game once, allowing them to fight the Sunset Squad, the Cooler Crusader, and the library's copy machine.
  • The Spirit Engine 2 has a variant: the bonus boss, Urtat Underval, is fought roughly halfway through the game rather than at the end. Another variant is that you fight him twice; once as a human, and once as a hulking zombie.
  • In Act IV of Super Lesbian Animal RPG, the four sons of Javis each set up lairs in different parts of the world. Their fights each have a different, unique challenge to them, and defeating them will grant the party powerful equipment.
  • Super Mario RPG has three:
    • Tiny martial arts master Jinx, who you can fight three times after defeating his apprentice, Jagger, each fight harder than the last. The boss lives in Monstro Town.
    • Mokura, a green cloud miniboss that may appear in Land's End or Belome's Temple, dodges the player unless they track the boss down, and has two forms.
    • The game's Superboss: the Final Fantasy Shout-Out Culex, a powerful magic-using entity from another dimension who attacks using four elemental crystals and is harder than the game's Final Boss. It too lives in Monstro Town.
  • Uncommon Time has an optional boss at the end of each Bonus Dungeon: Altair at the end of Aubrey's Uncommon Time, and Arietta at the end of Arietta's.
  • Ragu o Ragula is an optional boss in all of the Wild ARMs games for PlayStation, PS2, and PSP. Angolmois also appears in some of them. In fact, the Wild ARMs games have many bonus bosses, often found sealed in crystals found throughout the game. Ragu o Ragula is neatly incorporated into all of these titles as the sleeping demon who is fated to destroy Filgaia, centuries after the conflict-of-the-day is finished off. Big extra credit for overachieving heroes. The other bonus bosses can range from Call-Back characters, characters who are no longer a part of the main plot and have been more-or-less forgotten by the main cast, and nudie mags
  • A Witch's Tale has a bonus fight with friendly vampire Loue, who suddenly turns not-so-friendly for the fight. If you win, you get a game-breaking doll.
  • The World Is Your Weapon: Defeating the Demon Lord is not necessary to get the first ending, but beating him is necessary for the third and fourth endings. He and the Final Boss can also be fought in rematches so that the player can capture them. In version 2.40+, Weaco will have to fight a third version of the Demon Lord to get the secret ending.
  • Xenosaga:
    • Episode 1 has four: two mechas, Din Gareth and Jin Gareth, the sharpshooter Great Joe, and Mintia, an evil version of MOMO.
    • Episode 2 has a metric-buttload of optional bosses encountered in the game's many sidequests.
    • Episode 3 has two mechas: Omega Universitas AKA Id Weltall and Erde Kaiser Sigma. The latter is the only mecha in the game who's fought without the use of E.S.s.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 1: One long sidequest chain with its own story that covers almost half of the game leads to a bonus boss. Though this one is not overleved, it stands out because the quests that lead to it can be lost forever, the battle is under a tune only reserved for a few select Hopeless Boss Fights, and the boss is one of the NPCs involved in the sidequest chain: Bana, the Nopon Kingpin.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X: Neilnail Albus and Neilnail Furvus, a pair of Skells fought in the 'Twin Dolls of Mystery' Time Attack mission, were originally supposed to be a story boss, but that plot thread was scrapped. They're still present in the game to be fought optionally, because defeating them yields unique items necessary to craft Level 60 Skells, among them the powerful Ares 90.
  • In the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Fan Game Your Bizarre Adventure, there are several bosses in the main game that do not need to be fought in order to clear the storyline. Several of them simply stand in the main map and can be challenged at any time (though doing so until the player has leveled up enough is not advised).
    • DEO waits in the mountains, using The World against players who try to beat him and complete Dopey'snote  side quest in the process.
    • Joenote  can be found outside the Naples train station. Fighting him is necessary to finish a side quest from DEO (who stands nearby).
    • Joe Kujoenote  stands in the ocean near the Colosseum in the main map. He puts up a particularly strong fight, boasting an evolved form of his original Stand and having a hefty amount of HP, but he sometimes drops an item necessary to get one of the game's most powerful Stands.
    • Heaven Ascension DEO is the climax of Joe's own side quest, only achievable after gathering every part of the Saint's Corpse. Defeating the boss and his extraordinarily powerful Stand will rarely reward you with an item crucial to upgrading one of two Stands available to the player—either turning The Universe into The Universe Over Heaven (a copy of the boss's Stand) or G-Moon into The Way to Heaven (along with Joe's Disc).
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: The 7th Stand User has quite a few optional bosses, many of them only available on repeat playthroughs or depending on which ending you get. Diavolo also appears on repeat playthroughs, and if you choose to fight him, he has a chance of running away, so you don't get the money and EXP for beating him.
  • Werewolf: The Apocalypse Earthblood: At the end of the game, the player is given a choice between turning back to help Ava and the activists and pressing on to avenge himself on Richard Wadkins. The second option leads to a boss battle against Wadkins and his hordes of fomori.

    Shoot 'em Ups 
  • Armed Police Batrider has a crapton of optional bosses, all of which appeared in the Mahou Daisakusen series and Battle Garegga. Said bosses include Bashinet, the Stage 1 boss of Mahou, and Black Heart, the Stage 5 boss of Garegga that, thanks to the stage edit feature, you can fight as early as Stage 2.
  • DoDonPachi Dai-Fukkatsu has the six normal bosses of DoDonPachi (Suzaku, Senkou, Kakou, Raikou, Rankou and Ryuukou) as bonus mid-bosses, triggered by fulfilling certain conditions.
  • In the PS2 remake of Space Harrier, continuing to fire at the end of Stage 19 results in the game continuing for four more stages, with twin fire dragons Haya-Oh awaiting at the end of #22.

    Simulation Games 
  • Lots of missions in the Ace Combat games feature enemy aces whose defeat is not necessary for mission completion. They're not really harder than the compulsory aces. On the other hand, there is a more traditional one in Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War: Mobius One and his Raptor are encountered in an Ace difficulty run of The Gauntlet if you do well enough. Similarly are Scarface One and ZOE Commander in a certain mission in Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception.
  • Two optional bosses are available in the combat sequences-filled Dating Sim Mitsumete Knight : Zeelbis the Bloody and Salishuan the Spy of the Eight Generals of Valpha-Valaharian, the main enemy squad of the game. While not a storyline-related boss unlike the other two, Sparkster of the Rocket Knight Adventures series is also an optional boss.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • Final Fantasy Tactics features an optional battle with Elidibs and the Zodiac summon.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • In Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, in the Final Chapter, Arion is flying around with a squad of Wyvern Knights. However, the chapter can be cleared without ever fighting him, and he'll even become an NPC ally if Altena talks to him.
    • Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance has General Bryce of Daein. Appearing in the last level of the game, Bryce stands in the centre of the map, astride the easiest path to the Final Boss, Mad King Ashnard. If you take him on and take him out, you can loot the most powerful lance in the game, the Wishblade. It is, however, entirely possible to avoid fighting Bryce by taking another route.
    • Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn has Levail, General Zelgius's apprentice and Bryce's successor as the wielder of the Wishblade. While Ike fights a Duel Boss battle with Zelgius, the rest of your team takes on Levail and his army. Defeating Zelgius is all that you have to do to beat the level, and the rest of your troops don't even have to move, let alone fight Levail (who, as a top-level Sentinel equipped with the Wishblade, is one of the few genuine threats you'll meet in the last quarter of the game). Many choose to engage him though, out of the desire to kill a few more opponents and maybe get their hands on the Wishblade.
  • In the postgame of Yu-Gi-Oh! Monster Capsule GB, you can duel Joey, Tea, Tristan, Ryou, Grandpa, Pegasus, Bandit Keith, Shadi, Yami Bakura, and a freed Seto Kaiba. The latter two have the toughest monsters in the game.

    Visual Novels 
  • Lux-Pain zigzags between regular optional boss and Skippable Boss. Most bosses have to be fought as part of the game, but some can only be encountered by following the right events (or even sequences of events) that only become available at certain points and lock again afterwards (hence the zigzag—there is no 'default' way through most of these sections, so whether you encounter them or not is just down to where you looked when you had the chance). This includes battles with the SILENT in the minds of Honoka, Sakai, and even Mint the ghost cat.

 
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Yozora

After Sora defeats Master Xehanort and saves Kairi, Sora faces against Yozora, a man who he initially thought was just a fictional character. Not only that but he claims to not actually be Yozaru and that he has heard of Sora.

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