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Pre-Final Boss

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Hooray! The Hero has reached the Big Bad's dungeon, and it's time for the final battle. He opens the door to begin the final confrontation...and sees the Big Bad and The Dragon standing there, waiting for him. The Big Bad sics his second-in-command on the heroes, and after a long fight, the heroes come out on top...then the Big Bad himself becomes enraged, and the true Final Boss battle begins.

This is the Pre-Final Boss in a nutshell. It doesn't even have to be The Dragon followed by the Big Bad; any boss that is fought immediately before the final confrontation qualifies. In fact, it might even be the Big Bad themselves, or at least a character who appears to be the Big Bad, but then The Man Behind the Man shows up, or some evil entity the Big Bad was trying to use demonstrates that Evil Is Not a Toy, and they become the final boss. Sometimes, the Pre-Final Boss will have seemingly no relation to the plot.

Another variant is for the penultimate boss of the game to be followed up by a final level that contains nothing except for the last boss.

The difficulty of said boss fight tends to vary from game to game: though they're usually a rank down from the final boss, games with cases of Schizophrenic Difficulty could have these types of bosses be anywhere from laughably easy to a That One Boss that's significantly harder than the actual final boss of the game.

The first form of an One-Winged Angel final boss does not count; in order for it to be this trope, it must be an entirely different boss.

It may be part of a Boss Bonanza, where the final dungeon has many bosses. Contrast Post-Final Boss.

Due to the climactic nature of this trope, ALL SPOILERS ARE UNMARKED. Don't say we didn't warn you.


    open/close all folders 

  • Ninja: Shadow of Darkness: In the final level, Kurosawa's battle with the Warlord who summoned the Shadow Demon and plays the role of The Heavy for most of the game is immediately followed by the Final Boss, the Shadow Demon himself.

    Action Adventure 
  • Blaster Master Zero III: On the way through Area X, you fought all the other MA pilots at their strongest, and the one last roadblock before the final boss is Leibniz with a brand new Garuda Rising. It's just as fast as the old model, but it has way more health, leaves itself vulnerable for only a short time, recovery items are hard to get, and it has a One-Hit Kill Desperation Attack up its sleeve if you manage to remove all its health bars. And you have to fight this monster using your underpowered Metal Attacker. The final boss is a Zero-Effort Boss... if you're playing as Jason.
  • The Legend of Zelda
    • The Legend of Zelda: The final dungeon has Link defeating a Patra Mini-Boss right before taking on Ganon himself (and unlike the Patra he finds earlier in the dungeon, this one makes the orbit of the surrounding minions shift gradually, making it tricker to approach safely).
    • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link: At the end of the Great Palace, you must fight a red (or blue, when its weakness is discovered) bird named Thunder Bird before the final battle with Dark Link.
    • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past: The final dungeon concludes with a rematch against Agahnim, who's been antagonizing Link and Zelda for the entire game up to this point. However, defeating him causes him to revert to his true form, Ganon, who Link chases after and fights just moments later.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games: The Linked Ending has Link facing off Twinrova, before she sacrifices herself to revive Ganon.
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker: Ganon first uses a giant puppet (Puppet Ganon) to wear Link down before their fight.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: Ganondorf first uses Zelda's possessed body to fight Link before directly confronting him immediately after.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass: After Bellum's initial defeat in its true form, the demonic squid entity proceeds to possess the Ghost Ship. Immediately after Link and Linebeck defeat the ship, Bellum possesses Linebeck himself as the Final Boss.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks: Link and Zelda has to defeat the Demon Train before proceeding to challenge Malladus (and, indirectly, Chancellor Cole) in the climax. This is justified, because the evildoers are awaiting them within the Train, and their battle's first phase takes place above the frontmost wagon.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: Ghirahim has to be defeated one last time (in the past version of Sealed Grounds) before Link can challenge the actual final boss (Demise). Also a case of You Can't Thwart Stage One, since Link's original plan was to defeat Ghirahim quicker to prevent Demise's full awakening.
  • Luigi's Mansion:
    • Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon has Luigi face the Tough Possessor to retrieve the final shard of the eponymous Dark Moon, and then King Boo who aims to turn him into a painting like he did with Mario before.
    • Luigi's Mansion 3: Hellen Gravely is the owner of The Last Resort and the one who set King Boo free. Luigi faces her on the hotel's top floor. After her defeat, all that remains is an obstacle-free climb to the roof, then the fight with King Boo.
  • Metroid:
    • Metroid Prime Trilogy:
      • Metroid Prime: Samus has to defeat Meta Ridley before she can go inside the Impact Crater to face off against Metroid Prime.
      • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes: Samus defeats the Emperor Ing before facing off against Dark Samus for the last time.
      • Metroid Prime 3: Corruption: Samus has to fight Dark Samus before facing the corrupted Aurora Unit 313.
    • Metroid Dread: Samus fights an X Parasite-possessed golden Chozo soldier implied to have once been Raven Beak's second in command before facing the evil Chozo himself.
  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice:
    • On the Shura path, Emma serves as the last boss before fighting Isshin Ashina.
    • On the Immortal Severance, Purification, and Dragon's Homecoming paths, a revived Genichiro Ashina once again battles Wolf, but after defeating him, he uses a second Mortal Blade to bring Isshin Ashina back from the dead, forcing Wolf to fight him as the final boss.

    Beat 'em Up 

    Fighting Game 
  • Seen a lot in The King of Fighters series:
    • First seen in "The Orochi Saga": KOF '95 has Saisyu Kusanagi (Kyo's father) as the mid-boss, but he's being mind-controlled by Rugal, KOF '96 has Chizuru Kagura (who sponsored the KOF tournament as a way to get information about Orochi) before fighting one of his heralds, Goenitz; and in KOF '97 when The New Faces Team revealed their true colors (literally) as the other heralds of Orochi and who were the ones who reincarnated him in the present (via Self-Sacrifice Scheme).
    • Later in "The NESTS Saga", it's only used in KOF 2001 where before getting to NESTS' leader Igniz, you have to defeat Original Zero first, with the help of Krizalid (who somehow survived after the end of KOF '99), Ron (renegade master of Lin and NESTS' ally) and Glugan (Zero's pet, a black lion).
    • KOF: Maximum Impact 2 has Luise Meyrink, who tries to persuade the player to abandon their quest to fight Jivatma.
    • KOF XIV has you fight Antonov, the champion and sponsor of the latest KOF, with Verse showing up as the actual final boss after Antonov is defeated.
    • KOF XV has Re Verse, another form of the aforementioned Verse, as your opponent before the final boss Otoma=Raga.
  • Mortal Kombat:
  • Red Earth: Blade is the penultimate challenge facing all four heroes before they can take the fight to Scion. If playing as Leo, how you take down Blade determines which ending you get.
  • Street Fighter: Usually seen when The Dragon fights the player before the Final Boss emerges. Seen in the first game where Adon, Sagat's disciple, is the fighter to defeat before getting to his master and actual champion of the tournament; in the the second game where the player has to defeat not one, but three Dragons (Balrog, Vega, and Sagat) before getting to M. Bison; and Alpha 3 where you have to defeat Balrog and/or Juni and Juli (with a few exceptions; most notably, Ryu has Ken as his penultimate opponent) before getting to M. Bison again.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • Super Smash Bros. 64: In 1P mode, The Fighting Polygon team are fought collectively on Battlefield before facing off Master Hand on Final Destination.
    • Super Smash Bros. Melee:
      • In Classic Mode, the player faces off an opponent in metal form on Battlefield before facing off Master Hand (and Crazy Hand if reached under certain conditions).
      • In Adventure Mode, the fight against Giant Bowser/Or Giga Bowser if reached under certain condition on Final Destination is preceded by a face-off against Metal Mario (and Metal Luigi if you unlock his non-metallic counterpart) on Battlefield.
      • In Event Match, a face-off against Master Hand and Crazy Hand is the penultimate event before facing off against Giga Bowser, Ganondorf, and Mewtwo in the final.
    • Super Smash Bros. Brawl:
      • In Classic Mode, the player faces three random opponents before Master Hand (and Crazy Hand if reached under certain conditions) crashes in.
      • In Event Match, a face-off against Bowser, Ganondorf, and King Dedede (the Big Bads of their respective franchises) is the penultimate event before facing off against Snake, Sonic, and Giant Mario (the mascot of their respective companies) in the final.
    • Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U:
      • In Classic Mode, the player faces the Fighting Mii Team on Battlefield before facing Master Hand, Crazy Hand, and Master Core (depending on the difficulty set).
      • Similar to Brawl, Event Match has a face-off against Bowser, Ganondorf, and King Dedede (the Big Bads of their respective franchises) as the penultimate event before facing off against Mario, Sonic, Pac-Man, and Mega Man (the mascot of their respective companies) in the final.
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: This happens at the end of certain character routes in Classic Mode. Mega Man faces Dr. Mario and then Mewtwo one right after the other. Pikachu and the Pokémon Trainer battle Mewtwo as well, but it is followed by Master Hand. And Hero faces Robin and then a giant Charizard immediately after.
  • This is standard procedure in Tekken:
    • The first two games and the first Tag Tournament game have a "rival" character fought in Stage 7. What character you choose to play will determine which rival you fight; for instance, playing as Nina means that you will face Anna as your rival.
    • The second, third, fifth, sixth, and the second Tag Tournament games all feature a fixed boss character fought just before the final boss. The second has Kazuya (or Heihachi if you play as Kazuya himself, or Jun if you play as Devil), the third has Heihachi (or Jin if you play as Heihachi), the fifth has Devil Jin, the sixth has NANCY-MI847J (who doesn't have to be beaten to advance), followed by Jin, and the second Tag Tournament has Jinpachi/Heihachi, followed by a solo round against Ogre.

    First Person Shooters 
  • Borderlands 2:
    • In the main story, Handsome Jack himself serves this role, fighting you personally and in the process buying time for the Vault Key to charge up, allowing him to then sic The Warrior on you as the actual final battle once you defeat him.
    • Played for Laughs in the Sir Hammerlock's Big Game Hunt DLC. As you make your way onboard the crashed Hyperion ship, Professor Nakayama forces you to fight the Jackenstein monster if you want to get to him. After a challenging fight against the monster, Professor Nakayama tells you to prepare yourself to fight him...only for him to trip, fall down the stairs, and die in the process.
  • Geist combines this with Boss Bonanza, because the endgame pits you against three different bosses back to back: Two golem statues that serve as the guardians of the final chamber's entrance, then Alexander Volks who is the Big Bad, and the demon possessing him (and the Greater-Scope Villain).
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order: Whoever didn't survive 1946 (Wyatt or Fergus) has their brain put into a robot and fights against BJ before he gets on to the game's Big Bad, Deathshead.

  • Fighting Fantasy. In several books, you will be confronting the lead villains, two or more of them, one after another. In any case where you're lacking the necessary items to bring down their SKILL or STAMINA stats, you're in for a tough fight!
    • Island of the Lizard King: The final battle has you entering the Lizard King's fortress and making your way to its top for you to confront the King. The King merely sics his Black Lion (a powerful, unavoidable enemy with SKILL of 11) on you, and if you manage to defeat the lion, you will then face the Lizard King whose SKILL is 12 (if you have a Fire Sword and / or a pet monkey however, you can bring down the Lizard King's SKILL to a lower, much more reasonable level).
    • The climax of Curse of the Mummy have you battling against the Evil Pharaoh, Ankharis, who is a worshipper of the Evil Goddess Sithera. If you manage to defeat Ankharis and destroy him permanently, Sithera will gain a mortal form that possess a giant statue of herself and try to crush you on the spot, and you must do battle with the Goddess to win the game.
    • Beneath Nightmare Castle: At the culmination of your adventure, before your final battle against Xakhaz, you will fight against a luminous warrior sentinel, who appears to be the Immortal Warrior Skarlos — only to be revealed to be a slug-like monster animating an armour, Xakhaz's most powerful creation, which you must destroy before the final battle against Xakhaz.
    • The main quest of Master of Chaos revolves around you competing against Naas, a powerful Dark Elf warrior and agent sent by the evil elves, to retrieve the Staff of Rulership from the Masterof Chaos, Shanzikuul. Should you reach Shanzikuul first, you will battle him to the death and retrieve the Staff, but before you can even catch your breath, Naas will catch up with you and challenge you to a final battle for the staff.
    • Legend of Zagor have you finally confronting Zagor, the sorceror-turned-demon, in his chambers, but right before that battle, you will need to fight the War Dragon of Castle Argent — the most powerful of the dragons who destroyed the armies of humans occupying the castle years ago and the only one still remaining alive. By this point of the adventure, however, you should be prepared with the necessary artifacts to overcome these powerful opponents, one at a time.
    • Legend of the Shadow Warriors ends with your final battle against the Shadow Warriors — those which you haven't defeated during your adventure, where there will be at least one out of the original six remaining to confront you — which you must slay, one at a time, right before you fight Voivod.
    • Night Dragon has you racing against time to prevent the Night Dragon's awakening, and as you enter the dragon's lair, fighting off Draconic Stalkers and cultists, your final enemy in your way before confronting the Night Dragon will be against the Bone Stalker Mage — leader of the Night Dragon's Cult, your second-to-last battle before the titular dragon.
    • Black Vein Prophecy ends with two Puzzle Boss fights in a row. You confront Feior the Warlord, your evil brother, in a Magic Duel, that ends with Feior's defeat and capture. But immediately after it ends, you will be abducted by the soul of Benzieval, your evil father, who forces you to relive your past as you are sealed alive by Benzieval for opposing his rule, and must find a way to outsmart your evil father to finally win the game.
    • Bloodbones ends with you leading your army of resurrected skeletons to fight dreaded pirate Captain Cinnabar, which you defeat and uncover his sole weakness, being his Soul Jar. But after destroying Cinnabar, you will then face Quezkari the Voodoo God, of whom Cinnabar and his crew is worshipping, and your final boss battle to win the book.
    • The Port of Peril climaxes with you battling the resurrected Night Prince, Zanbar Bone, together with your allies Hakasan, Yaztromo and Nicodemus. As you eventually reach Zanbar, you must fight defeat the Quag-Shugguth, a lesser Demon who serves Zanbar, before battling Zanbar.
    • Howl of the Werewolf: Your final battle is against Count Varcolac, the Wulfen Lord, as both of you reveal your respective werewolf powers to the max and dukes it out. After Varcolac's defeat, the Wolf Demon, the true evil behind the forces of chaos plaguing Lupravia, shows up to claim your soul, and you must defeat the Wolf Demon to win the adventure.
    • Tower of Destruction ends with you fighting the Warlock Zeverin, who destroyed your hometown and your Arch-Enemy for most of the adventure, but as soon as Zeverin is destroyed you will confront Relem the Demon, the true villain of the book and the source of Zeverin's powers, which you must banish into the Demon Realms in order to win.
    • Night of the Necromancer have you finally catching up with the titular Necromancer, Count Unthank, just as he is finishing the ritual to sacrifice your sister Orianna to the powerful Shadow King for complete immortality. After you defeat Unthank, you will have to destroy the Shadow King as the final boss battle. You can, however, retrieve an important power-up from Unthank after defeating him, before confronting the Shadow King, which can make your final battle a lot easier.
    • Spellbreaker have you fighting against the coven of Nazek, just as Nazek had unlocked the Casket of Souls and is unleashing the forces of evil into the world. As you seal the Casket, the most powerful demon of all, the Night Prince Kurakil, provides the Climax Boss fight of the book, and after you had defeated Kurakil you then confront Nazek as the true final battle.
    • Vault of the Vampire have you confronting the Vampire Lord, Count Reiner Heydrich, the most powerful vampire of Mauristania, resurrected from the dead by his sister, the sorceress Katarina Heydrich. After defeating Reiner, you then battle Katarina and wins the book by defeating both of them. The sequel, Revenge of the Vampire brings back both Reiner and Katarina, but this time the positions are flipped - the final battle have you fighting Katarina first, and then Reiner.
    • Subverted with Daggers of Darkness, considering the final confrontation against both bosses are actually Zero-Effort Boss battles. You confront the Evil Vizier Chinghiz, the man who inflicted the titular curse on you - but he gets Killed Mid-Sentence when his daughter, Meghana-dur betrays him and stabs him In the Back. You then confront Meghana-dur, by making a choice that will either kill you, or cause your curse to backfire and kill her instead. If you already have an earlier hint and knows which choice to make, the battle against both Chinghiz and Meghana then ends in 3 pages.

    Hack and Slash 
  • Dynasty Warriors 2: This happens on the Battle of Wuzhang Plains for both sides. If the player is doing Shu's version, Sima Yi takes up the role, blocking them from entering Cao Cao's fort until his death. If the player is on Wei's side, Zhuge Liang will need to be killed before they can go into Liu Bei's fort.
  • Hours (2020): While Ronin might seem like the final boss, considering the fact that his level is called the "grand finale", it is actually just the precursor of the actual final boss, Resident Mind.

    Light Gun Game 
  • Alien 3: The Gun: The final level ends with the player facing against the strongest of all Xenomorphs, the Alien Dragon, which is finally defeated by drenching in liquid nitrogen, whereupon it shatters and dies. But immediately after the Alien Dragon's demise, the player gets confronted by the true Final Boss — a Weyland-Yutani enforcer (simply called "An Unidentified Man") who is the only Badass Normal human boss for the whole game and repeatedly tries to kill the player with a flamethrower-grenade launcher combo attack. After the enforcer is killed, then the game finally ends.
  • CarnEvil: At the end of the final level, you finally confront the evil Ludwig von Tökkentäkker on his airship. After an Evil Laugh, Tökkentäkker summons his lackey Umlaut to fight you. It's not until you defeat Umlaut that you get to fight Tökkentäkker himself, although Umlaut does go down fairly quickly.
  • Time Crisis: The final stage of the second game have the players battling VSSE's main nemesis, Wild Dog, as the second-to-last boss, which they defeat. It's followed immediately by the last boss, Ernesto Diaz, who sics a Kill Sat on the players.

  • Batman (Sunsoft) has you fighting an extremely tedious boss named Firebug at the top of the tower before the final fight against the Joker.
  • Battle Kid: Fortress of Peril: After defeating the seventh boss, Zedd, you will travel through a teleporter, followed by 2 rooms. (One has an enemy, but it dies in one shot.) After walking through these rooms, you will come face-to-face with the dreaded Super Mech.
  • In the Sega Master System version of Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse, Mickey has to fight a dragon before the final battle against Mizrabel.
  • Castlevania likes this trope.
    • Castlevania: Rondo of Blood: After defeating Shaft's ghost, you will go to the final stage, which is a Boss-Only Level with Dracula.
    • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night also does this, except it's the real Shaft and not his ghost that you fight before Dracula.
    • Super Castlevania IV exaggerates this. You must might three unique bosses (Slogra, Gaibon, and Death) one after another before you reach Dracula.
    • If you're playing for the good ending in Harmony of Dissonance, Dracula's Wrath will appear after Maxim is "killed".
    • If you're playing for the good ending in Portrait Of Ruin, you will fight Brauner at the end of the game. When he is defeated, Death appears, and starts pointing and laughing; you've just fallen for his Batman Gambit, allowing him to revive Dracula.
    • Bloodlines does this as well, with The Grim Reaper, followed by Medusa/Elizabeth Bartley, and then a three-stage battle with Dracula.
  • Donkey Kong Country has Master Necky Snr. (or in the GBA remake, Master Necky and Master Necky Snr.), the boss of Chimp Caverns, the final world. Unlike the sequels, King K. Rool doesn't get a world of his own; his boss stage is located on the main overworld map otherwise used to travel between worlds.
  • Gal Guardians: Demon Purge has a rematch against regular Kurona as the final stage of the castle, followed by a short platforming section in a dimensional rift before challenging the actual final boss Adult Kurona, the first phase of which is actually against a minion while she lounges in the background.
  • Frequently appears in Kirby games, usually with a Disc-One Final Boss twist:
    • King Dedede himself is fought just before the actual final battle in Kirby's Adventure and Kirby's Dream Land 2. In the first game, he turns out to be trying to prevent the real Big Bad, Nightmare, from corrupting the Fountain of Dreams, while in the latter game he's the victim of the Demonic Possession via Dark Matter. However, if the player did not collect all the Rainbow Drops in 2, he will end up being the Final Boss, with the bad ending playing.
    • In Kirby Super Star, before the final confrontation with Marx, the player has to destroy Galactic Nova Nucleus in an Unexpected Shmup Level.
    • In Kirby's Dream Land 3, collecting all the Heart Stars and defeating the possessed King Dedede unlocks the Boss-Only Level Hyper Zone, where Kirby faces off with Dark Matter. After defeating it, he immediately fights the True Final Boss, Zero.
    • In Kirby & the Amazing Mirror, Kirby has to fight Dark Meta Knight inside the Dimensional Mirror. After his destruction, Kirby is immediately sucked through a portal to fight the true Big Bad, Dark Mind.
    • Kirby's Return to Dream Land:
      • Right before the final confrontation with Magolor in Another Dimension, he summons his personal spaceship, Lor Starcutter, to fight the heroes riding Landia in the Unexpected Shmup Level.
      • In the Magolor Epilogue, Magolor faces off the Crowned Doomer after the Master Crown merges with it and consumes the Gem Apple Seed. However, after Magolor defeats the Crowned Doomer, the crown then merges with the Gem Apple Seed, creating a crowned Gem Apple Tree, setting the stage for the Final Battle.
    • In Kirby: Triple Deluxe:
      • Taranza faces Kirby in the end of the Royal Road, where he brainwashes King Dedede, turning him into the Masked Dedede. After Dedede's defeat, Taranza summons Queen Sectonia, the true Big Bad of the game, who promptly blasts him with her magic for his failure before facing Kirby as the Final Boss of the game.
      • The Dededetour Extra Mode has Sectonia herself, alongside Shadow Dedede (who emerges from the Dimension Mirror after it makes its unexpected appearance). After Dedede defeats his dark counterpart, he enters the Mirror World and faces off the true mastermind of the game: Dark Meta Knight.
    • Kirby: Planet Robobot: Before the final confrontation, the secretary Susie unleashes the Mecha Knight+ to fight Kirby. After his defeat, the President Haltmann reveals himself, dismisses Susie and then fights Kirby as the Disc-One Final Boss. After that, he tries to use the Star Dream, but at the last moment, Susie steals his controller, resulting in the Star Dream gaining sentience and setting off to destroy all organic life. After that, Kirby, using the Robobot Armor provided to him by Susie and taking the Halberd Mode from copying Meta Knight's Halberd, sets off to fight the Star Dream, the real Final Boss of the game.
    • Kirby Star Allies:
      • Double Subverted in the main story mode. Before the fight with Hyness, Zan Partizanne appears to prevent Kirby and his friends from stopping the ritual. After that, Hyness appears to fight the heroes himself, and after his defeat, he sacrifices his generals and then himself to the Jamba Heart, releasing Void Termina, the Destroyer Deity trapped within the Jamba Heart, which is fought as the real Final Boss of the game.
      • In the "Heroes in Another Dimension" mode, the team fights the Corrupt Hyness in the final stage. After his defeat, the Three Mage-Sisters appear to avenge his defeat, fought as the true Final Bosses of the mode.
    • Kirby and the Forgotten Land: Fecto Forgo is the penultimate boss of the game, with Fecto Efilis right after.
  • Klonoa: Door to Phantomile and the Wii remake have Klonoa fight the Big Bad, Ghadius, at the end of the Moon Kingdom, Cress. Even after being defeated however, Ghadius still manages to successfully unleash Nahatomb, forcing Klonoa and his allies to fight the perfect Nightmare to save Phantomile.
  • Mega Man (Classic): The standard classic formula always has a boss fight right after the Boss Rush that ends with the villain escaping and you having to chase after them for the actual final boss fight.
  • Mega Man X:
    • Mega Man X: Upon reaching Sigma, the maverick leader has Velguarder fight X before fighting the maverick hunter himself.
    • In Mega Man X2: If X didn't collect all of Zero's parts, Sigma brings the resurrected Zero to the final confrontation and X has to defeat Zero first. (If X did collect all the parts, Sigma has a fake Zero that is quickly destroyed when the real Zero makes his entrance.)
  • Ninja Gaiden: All three games in the original NES trilogy end with three boss fights.
    • The first game puts you against Ryu's demonically possessed father, followed by Jaquio. Finally, the Sealed Evil in a Can wakes up, and must be defeated for good.
    • The second game puts you against Jaquio again. He is then revived again and must be defeated a third time! The final boss is very similar to the final boss of the first game, funnily enough.
    • The third game has you confronting two forms of Clancy after his betrayal. Then, Foster shows up in a giant ship.
  • In Ristar, the titular shooting star faces off against Inonis in the Eyebar-555 before the final battle against Kaiser Greedy himself.
  • Rocket Knight Adventures:
    • In the original game, Sparkster faces off against Axel Gear a third time in the Pig Star. After Sparkster defeats Axel, he battles the Pig Star Computer, the game's final boss.
    • In Sparkster: Rocket Knight Adventures 2, Sparkster faces off against Axel once again in the heart of King Gedol's castle. After Sparkster defeats Axel, he battles King Gedol, the game's final boss.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
  • Stinkoman 20X6 ends with a battle against Z Sabre, who upon his defeat summons his significantly stronger pet Mecha-Trogador as a last resort.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels: In castle 8-4 (and the true final level, D-4), you will encounter "Bowser's Brother" (A blue palette-swap of Bowser, sometimes called "Bruce") shortly before reaching the real Bowser.
    • Super Mario Bros. 2: After collecting the orb to open the hawk head that leads to the final starts flashing and becomes hostile, flying around the room in an attempt to ram you. After you defeat it, you can enter its mouth to start the fight against Wart.
    • Super Mario Land: The last level has Mario fight Biokinton (a Cumulonemesis monster) right before Big Bad Tatanga.
    • Super Mario Odyssey: Shortly before Mario exits the Moon Kingdom's crater to access the chapel where Bowser is planning to consumate his marriage with Peach, he has to defeat Madame Broode.
  • In Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster's Hidden Treasure, just before the final battle with Montana Max's giant robot, Buster faces off against Elmyra Duff. Subverted in that Buster has to evade Elmyra rather than fight her, as if she catches him, he instantly loses a life.
  • Wario series:

    Puzzle Game 
  • Kirby's Avalanche: Meta Knight is the last enemy standing between Kirby and the Final Boss, King Dedede.
  • Parodied and double subverted in Zuma's Revenge. After completing level 60, you end up in a small level with 4 torches, and the game tells you to extinguish them. After doing so, you will face a boss that has twice as much health as the other bosses...except it dies in one hit. You then get the to see the ending credits...until the REAL final boss appears.

  • The final DLC of The Binding of Isaac, Repentance, has one in the form of Dogma, a boss which Isaac only fights after making the Ascent back through the game's levels and reaching Home. Dogma represents the Christian broadcasting and televangelists that drove Isaac's mom religiously insane and started the suffering and self-loathing that would ultmately lead to Isaac's death, meaning that it's done more to cause the story of Isaac than any other boss in the entire game. And it's only the beginning of the Boss Bonanza that ultimately ends with Isaac facing down the Beast, the True Final Boss of the DLC and the game in general.
  • Cult of the Lamb: If the player chooses to defy The One Who Waits at the end of the game, they need to fight his attendants Baal and Aym before facing the True Final Boss himself.
  • Revita
    • On the fifth (and in most runs, final) area the unbeatable tutorial boss Enigma seemingly returns to act as the final boss, breaking the naming convention of all previous bosses being named after the first four of the Five Stages of Grief. Except that upon beating Enigma, you're met with the actual final boss, Acceptance.
    • However in a 5 Lucent Shard run or higher, there is a sixth area with a new final boss Mother. Except, after beating three phases of increasing difficulty, the kid is then taken to the real final boss: Regret

    Role-Playing Game 
  • Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden: The heroes board the Necron 5 spacecraft to confront the mysterious leader of B.L.O.O.D.M.O.S.E.S., only to find Michael Jordan blocking their path. Charles Barkley must face Jordan one last time before his party can proceed to the real final battle.
  • The end of Breath of Fire IV is a Sequential Boss. The first one, however, is a Duel Boss that doesn't require you to win (although it is possible to get a Game Over here). After that is a lengthy scene that, depending on the player's choices, would result in a different Final Boss and ending. The "canon" ending would have you face two more proper boss battles afterwards.
  • Chrono Trigger takes a unique spin on this trope. Because Lavos can be fought as soon as the party gains access to the End of Time, practically any boss battle from the R Series onward can become the game's pre-final boss. A more straightforward example occurs if the player chooses to fight Lavos through the Black Omen, in which case the party fights Queen Zeal immediately before confronting Lavos himself.
  • Cosmic Star Heroine: Before the final fight with Eternity, the true Big Bad of the game, the party initially fights the Integrated Arete, who uploaded herself into the Eternity's schemes. After her defeat, the machine explodes, killing her, after which her posthumous message plays that her integration allowed her cybernetics to upload the Computer Virus into the Eternity's schemes, making it vulnerable enough to defeat.
  • Cthulhu Saves the World: On the top of R'lyeh, Cthulhu and his party face Golthulhu, a golem duplicate of Cthulhu that intends to fulfill his template's role and destroy the world. After its defeat, the party teleports into Azathoth's realm, where they fight the final boss of the game, Azathoth himself.
  • In Dark Souls II, the Throne of Want is guarded by a Dual Boss, Throne Watcher and Throne Defender, two enemies with not much lore behind them. Unusually, they are technically a separate fight from the real final boss, Nashandra, who only appears after you acquired the Giant's Kinship after defeating the Giant Lord, so it's possible to avert this trope if you choose to fight them early. With Scholar of the First Sin, Nashandra herself gets demoted to Pre-Final Boss, with Aldia acting as the true final boss.
  • In Dark Souls III, the Twin Princes Lothric and Lorian are fought together as the final Lords of Cinder and are the last opponents standing in the way of the Ashen One reaching the First Flame and fighting the Soul of Cinder.
  • Deltarune features one for each chapter:
    • In Chapter 1, Rouxls Kaard forces the party to rematch K. Round as a last resort immediately before the fight against King.
    • On the normal route of Chapter 2, the party fights against Queen and a hijacked Berdly just before the actual final battle against Giga Queen. Chapter 2's use of this trope is more deceptive compared to Chapter 1, with the Queen/Berdly fight being framed identically to the King fight (right down to taking place in a similarly-designed location), making the reveal that it's not quite the final battle of the chapter more of a twist.
  • In Digital Devil Saga:
    • In the first game, there is Ananta who is fought in the room before the final boss.
    • In the second game, before the party can face off against Brahman, they're forced to fight the Solar Data of Meganada.
  • Dragon Age:
    • In Dragon Age II, whether you side with the mages or the Templars, you'll be forced to fight and kill First Enchanter Orsino as he crosses the Despair Event Horizon and turns himself into a Harvester. This is then followed by the true final boss fight against Knight-Commander Meredith. Unusually for the trope, however, Orsino is not actually Meredith's dragon — in fact, they're on opposite sides. The initial plan was that you could skip the fight with Orsino if you sided with the mages, but this was changed in order to give the player another fight regardless of their story path.
    • In Dragon Age: Inquisition, the trope is done a little differently in that you start out fighting the final boss Corypheus, while your ally deals with The Dragon (who is literally a dragon). Roughly halfway through your pursuit of Corypheus, however, your ally loses their fight, and the party must stop chasing the "Get Back Here!" Boss in order to deal with the dragon themselves.
  • Elden Ring: You have to fight Radagon right before the Elden Beast. And no, there is no checkpoint between them; you get no chance to replenish your resources, and if you lose to the Elden Beast, you'll have to fight Radagon again.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Morrowind:
      • The main quest has Dagoth Gilvoth, the most powerful of Big Bad Dagoth Ur's seven "Ash Vampire" servants, in the area directly before you meet Dagoth Ur himself.
      • The Tribunal expansion pits you against the Imperfect, a giant Mecha-Mook created to serve as a guardian by the supposedly deranged Sotha Sil. In a major clue that something is not right, another destroyed Imperfect is in the room implying that someone else has already come along this way. After defeating it, you enter Sotha Sil's chamber to find that he has been Dead All Along and it's Almalexia who is the expansion's true Big Bad.
      • The Bloodmoon expansion has the Frost Giant Kaarstag as the final enemy before you encounter Big Bad huntmaster Hircine. He has Regenerating Health and a powerful 50% Spell Reflection. Depending on which "aspect" of Hircine's you choose to face, some consider Kaarstag to be the more challenging opponent.
    • Skyrim:
      • Before facing Alduin in Sovngarde in the main quest, the Dragonborn must first do battle with the Nord god Tsun in front of the Whalebone Bridge in order to be granted entrance to the Hall of Valor.
      • For the Dawnguard expansion, the last proper boss fight before doing battle with Lord Harkon is with the Falmer vampire Arch-Curate Vyrthur in the Forgotten Vale located between Skyrim proper and High Rock's Western Reach.
  • Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City features, in the route where you side with the Abyssal King, a battle against Kujura in the final stratum that directly precedes the final boss (Deep Princess). The trope is averted in the route where you side with the Senatus, as the two final bosses (Automaton King and Olympia) are fought together in Dual Boss form.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VI has, depending on who you fight in the order you choose, a member of the Warring Triad. The last hurdle you need to face to get to Kefka will be a fight against Demon, Fiend or Goddess.
    • Final Fantasy VII: Just before the party fights Sephiroth, they encounter and fight Jenova one last time in the form of Jenova-SYNTHESIS. Notably, the boss look different than the other encounters with Jenova and even has its distinct theme.
    • Final Fantasy VII Remake: Just before the party fights Sephiroth, they encounter and fight the Whispers of Fate in the form of Whisper Harbingers.
    • Final Fantasy IX: Trance Kuja turns out to be this, as Necron suddenly appears after beating him.
    • Final Fantasy XII: Right before you face Vayne in the climactic battle on Sky Fortress Bahamut, you are confronted one last time by Judge Magister Gabranth, who is still visibly wounded from your last encounter with him.
    • Final Fantasy XIV: Each expansion and, as of 6.1, the base game, ends with a dungeon followed immediately by the final boss trial.
      • A Realm Reborn has Nero tol Scaeva as the second boss of the Praetorium, followed by Gaius van Baelsar on foot as the final dungeon boss and piloting the Ultima Weapon as the final trial boss, with a Post-Final Duel Boss against Lahabrea afterwards.
      • Heavensward has you fight Lahabrea, Igeyorhm, and their Ascian Prime form, then the Knights of the Round.
      • Stormblood has Aulus mal Asina as the second boss of the final dungeon, with Zenos yae Galvus as the final dungeon boss before he possesses Shinryu and becomes the final boss as well.
      • Shadowbringers gives us the Terminus Beast Therion immediately before Hades.
      • Endwalker has the Last Mercy, Ra-La, A Primal like being summoned by the people of one of the Dead Worlds Meteion encountered. In turn, immediately after the fight with Meteion's Endsinger form, there's a Post-Final Duel Boss with Zenos yae Galvus.
    • Final Fantasy XV: Just before confronting Ardyn, Noctis and his party face off against either Ifrit alone (in the original version) or three Kings of Lucis after him (in the Royal Edition).
    • The Final Fantasy Tactics series in the Ivalice Alliance games:
      • Final Fantasy Tactics has Ramza's party fight against Hashmal, who is trying to revive his master Ultima through a blood sacrifice. When he is defeated, Hashmal kills himself and uses his own blood to bring back his master, whom you then face in a two part battle.
      • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance has Marche's party face off against Llednar, who blocks their path in confronting Mewt. Once Llednar is defeated, the party approaches Mewt, but they get blocked by his (desire made real) mother who serves as the final boss in a two part fight.
      • Final Fantasy Tactics A2 sees Luso's party fight against Illua where she had been attempting to summon a demon from the rift to take over the world with. Despite her defeat, the demon is successfully summoned and serves as the final boss.
  • Grimms Notes: Before the party could confront Chaos Archteller, he summons six of the game's major bosses as a last resort, with Chaos Andersen being the last one standing up between them.
  • Ikenfell: Being Driven to Madness, Headmistress Aeldra kills Bax and attacks the player party. Afterwards, Bax's lover Ibn Oxley is traumatised and becomes the true final boss, slowly transforming into a monster over several stages of battle.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance]: Young Xehanort is the Climax Boss with the actual final opponent of the game being the Ventus Nightmare; but the two-stage boss fight with Ansem in Riku’s story is the last boss before Young Xehanort. It all depends on whether the player regards Xehanort or the Nightmare as the final boss given how easy the latter is compared to the former.
    • Kingdom Hearts III: The penultimate boss fight is against Ansem, Xemnas, and Young Xehanort, the three sub-commanders of the Organization who are all world-ending threats in their own right, but now serving as Co-Dragons to their leader and originator, Master Xehanort, who serves as the Final Boss. This is done to give Sora and Riku closure with their most personal enemies to date before they move on to the final battle the series has been building to since the beginning, and to show how much more powerful the heroes have become that they can face three former Final Bosses at once and still triumph.
  • Mario RPGs:
  • Mega Man Battle Network:
  • Might and Magic VI: You are lead to believe that destroying the reactor of the Kreegan Hive will be the end of things, and once you actually reach it its integrated turret defences and your limited options for attacking it (it can only be damaged by blasters, which you have been warned about and was the entire reason for an earlier quest), combined with the fact that the Hive will be completely destroyed shortly after the reactor's destruction (another quest was to uncover a magical ritual that will limit it to merely the Hive and not the entire planet), that does look plausible. Upon destroying the reactor, you are immediately teleported down to the floor of the room it is in, with a veritable horde of Kreegan appearing and a wall sliding to revealing the Kreegan Queen — defeating her is necessary to be able to get out.
  • Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes: Aidan, due to having been corrupted by the Binding Blade. Right after he returns to normal upon his defeat to Godric, he turns against Azh Rafir in another battle and defeats him, which triggers Rafir transforming into Lord Bloodcrown, who is then challenged by Nadia in the real Final Boss battle.
  • Monster Hunter: Rise: In the final High Rank urgent quest, you first fight Wind Serpent Ibushi. Once you're about to slay it, the monster goes toward Thunder Serpent Narwa, which proceeds to absorb his lifeforce and become Narwa the Allmother. The hunter then has to defeat her in battle to truly end the quest.
  • The Mother trilogy's second and third installments indulge in this:
    • EarthBound has the first phase of the final battle consist of a fight against both Giygas and Pokey Minch. However, Giygas is invincible in this phase and deflects all attacks directed at him, making Pokey the actual target of the fight (with Giygas functionally being nothing more than an extra turn for Pokey). It's only after defeating Pokey that the party is able to directly butt heads with Giygas himself.
    • Mother 3 sees the party fight the game's Big Bad, Porky (an older and more malevolent Pokey, who goes by his Japanese name in both the Fan Translation and the English release of Super Smash Bros. Brawl), just before the final battle against the Masked Man at the site of the seventh and final needle. An immediate giveaway that Porky isn't the final boss is the fact that he has to be defeated violently, whereas Giygas was defeated through the power of Clap Your Hands If You Believe in EarthBound Beginnings and EarthBound. Appropriately, the Masked Man's fight revolves around a similar battle of emotions.
  • NEO: The World Ends with You has Shiba, the Game Master who's been set up as the main villain for the entire game, fought as the final boss at the end of Week 3. Except, once you beat him, you get one hell of a Wham Episode where Kubo reveals himself as The Man in Front of the Man and unleashes Soul Pulvis on Shibuya to wipe it off the map. After Rindo Replays to get another chance at making things right, it is Soul Pulvis (in its Phoenix Cantus form) that serves as the actual final boss.
  • Pokémon:
  • In Shin Megami Tensei II, if on the Neutral or Chaos routes, you will fight Satan, YHVH's Dragon, before fighting YHVH Himself. If on Law, the Satan fight is skipped on account of being an ally of him. This same sequence of fights is repeated in Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse.
  • Trails Series:
    • The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky: At the bottom of the sealed area below Grancel, the player's team faces off against the Big Bad Colonel Alan Richard. After his defeat, however, his plans inadvertently awaken a massive ancient weapon called Reverie, which serves as the final boss.
    • The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky - Second Chapter: Much of the game is spent building up the player's eventual confrontation with The Dragon, Leonhardt the Bladelord. The penultimate battle against him serves as the resolution for Joshua's character arc, before the proper final battle with the Big Bad.
    • The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky - The 3rd: For the final battles, the player's party of sixteen is split into four teams of four, with three of those four teams facing off against the Big Bad's three strongest minions — recreations of Reverie, Ragnard, and Pater-Mater — before the fourth team fights the Big Bad itself.
    • The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure: The penultimate boss of the game is the leader of the Crois clan of alchemists, Mariabell Crois, who gives the heroes a good fight before unleashing her clan's thousand-year alchemy project, Azure Demiourgos.
    • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II: Like the Second Chapter example, much of the game is spent building up Rean's rematch with The Dragon, Crow Armbrust. After Rean wins their Divine Knight duel, Crow peacefully surrenders, spurring a pissed-off Duke Cayenne into unleashing the Vermillion Apocalypse to serve as the proper final boss.
  • Undertale:
    • For much of the game, most monsters speak about King Asgore as the one in charge of holding several human souls which would be used to break the barrier containing monsterkind. When you eventually defeat him in a Neutral Run however, he is killed off by Flowey, who then takes the human souls to gain control over the timeline. However, unless the player performs a True Reset, only the first Neutral Run will have Flowey as the Final Boss: he won't attack on any other Neutral Run due to remembering the effects of the previous route. In those routes, Asgore actually is the Final Boss.
    • In the Genocide Route, before fighting Sans the Skeleton, you confront Mettaton NEO. However, in a parody of this trope, he goes down in one hit.
  • Wild ARMs 3: Beatrice is this to her creation, Nega Filgaia.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 1 has you fight Dickson on top of Prison Island rather than Zanza, who the player last saw entering Prison Island as it sank into the Bionis. Only after beating Dickson is it revealed that Zanza is actually hanging out in space, where Shulk and friends immediately go for the final battle.
  • Yakuza: Kyohei Jingu, the Corrupt Politician who wants the ten billion yen that's the central conflict of the game, is fought right before Kiryu's sworn brother turned Arch-Enemy, Akira Nishikiyama.

    Simulation Game 
  • In mission 19 of Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, the Oseans and the Conservative Eruseans launch an assault on the Lighthouse, where the remaining Erusean Radicals have holed up. After taking the remaining Radical pilots and their drone escorts, the Arsenal Bird Liberty arrives, and after its destroyed by Trigger, the Radical Eruseans surrender to the Oseans and the Conservative Eruseans. However, immediately after the Liberty is destroyed, two UCAVs named Hugin and Munin arrive, and wipe out a large number of allied forces around the Lighthouse, and with the satellite network destroyed, the two drones can't receive new orders to stand down. The survivors then rally behind Trigger to stop Hugin and Munin from using the Lighthouse to transmit their data to automated drone factories across Usea that would start a Robot War against humanity.

    Shoot Em Up 
  • Level 6 of Alpha Mission II has the player fight a giant warship made up of parts and weapons from all other bosses fought until that point, after which the player is transported to a Boss-Only Level against Big Bad Fulvar.
  • EXTRAPOWER: Star Resistance has Mensouma, the last boss fought before the final Stage 6 sequence.
  • Star Fox 64: Regardless of the path taken to Venom, there will be a boss fight right before Andross, with the path chosen determining which boss it is. On the path from Bolse, it's Golemech. On the path from Area 6, it's Star Wolf.
  • TaleSpin (Capcom): Baloo fights Don Karnage in the Tri-Wing Terror just before the final battle against the Iron Vulture.
  • Touhou Project: In some games, the bosses of Stage 5 tend to re-appear again in Stage 6 as a mid-boss right before the Final Boss, usually in a desperate attempt to prevent the player from proceeding any further. Some notable examples include Sakuya Izayoi in The Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, Youmu Konpaku in Perfect Cherry Blosson, and Rin "Orin" Kaenbyou in Subterranean Animism.
  • Ultra X Weapons: The final level culminates with the battle against Fire-Draco, which the title screen claims to be the stage boss of the final level. But the moment Fire-Draco goes down...surprise! The game's true Final Boss, Zetton, shows up for the final confrontation.

    Survival Horror 
  • Resident Evil 4: In the final stage of Separate Ways, Ada has to defeat Jack Krauser, who is revealed to have survived his defeat to Leon, and then confront the Final Boss, (Saddler).

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • Splatoon 2: The climax of the Octo Expansion concludes with a Mirror Boss fight against a brainwashed Agent 3 that is followed immediately with the fight against a doomsday machine controlled by Commander Tartar (the Big Bad of the expansion's story).

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • Fire Emblem
    • Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade: On the good ending route, Yahn, the last Fire Dragon on Elibe, serves as the boss of the first part of the final map, which then transitions to the fight with Idunn after he is defeated.
    • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, the Azure Moon and Crimson Flower, respectively the Blue Lions route and the version of the Black Eagles route in which you side with Edelgard, have two-part final maps. Hubert is the boss of the penultimate Azure Moon map, a siege of the Imperial capital of Enbarr, before Edelgard is fought in the last map. On the Crimson Flower route, Dimitri is the main boss of the penultimate map, although Seiros, Dedue, and Sylvain and Mercedes(or their Kingdom General stand-ins) must be defeated, and the Immaculate One is the boss of the final map.
  • Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance: The Big Bad of the game, Void Dark, is the game's penultimate boss. After his defeat, he reveals the whole reason he started the war was to gather enough power to resurrect his sister, Liezerota, and warns that all the energy he loses control of after his death can destroy the entire Netherworlds if it isn't stopped. His lingering evil energy possesses his sister, who becomes the final boss.
  • The War of the Chosen expansion to XCOM 2 revolves around three recurring bosses, the titular Chosen. Each of them has a chain of missions that opens up an opportunity to kill them off for good, but It Only Works Once. Any Chosen you haven't dealt with permanently by the time you embark on the final mission will show up one last time right before the actual Final Battle, decked out in special armor and stronger than ever. If more than one are still alive, they effectively become a Quirky Miniboss Squad that can cause you no end of trouble, especially since they're fought after you've battled your way through a huge number of Elite Mooks already. Needless to say that you should make damn sure the Chosen are out of the picture before you initiate the endgame.
  • Triangle Strategy: The Morality ending has Kamsell serve as the final obstacle before freeing the enslaved Roselle and leaving Norzelia. After he's defeated, the party makes it to the Great Falls without incident... and then along comes Idore, hellbent on keeping the Roselle in slavery, to provide one last boss fight.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • Starbound: Before the final boss with the Heart of Ruin, the player ends up facing Asra Nox in a rematch. After her defeat, she leaves, but not before taunting the player for the last time about how the Ruin will destroy everything except humanity; then the Heart of Ruin awakens, facing the player in the final battle.
  • Assassin's Creed Origins: The Big Bad Flavius Metellus / The Lion is the penultimate boss of the game, with only his second-in-command Lucius Septimius / The Jackal being left after him.
  • Ghost Recon Breakpoint: Almost every Big Bad confrontation in the main game and its DLC campaigns is preceded by a boss fight against a Behemoth mecha. Nomad even lampshades this at the end of Operation Motherland, noting how unoriginal it's starting to become.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Penultimate Boss


Mecha Sonic

Before Sonic confronts Dr. Robotnik at the Death Egg, he has to fight Mecha Sonic aka Silver Sonic, the most powerful Badnik ever created by the doctor.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / PreFinalBoss

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