Follow TV Tropes


Proactive Boss

Go To

Some videogame bosses are content to wait at the very end of a dungeon for the heroes to challenge them. Not these.

Proactive Bosses will use every dirty trick they know to slow down, harass, or even outright kill the player off well before the real battle officially starts; they will personally break bridges or set off traps until they're left with no choice but to fight. They have some aspects in common with a Level in Boss Clothing, but there are distinctive factors which make the two fork into separate tropes: The pre-battle harassment done by the practive boss is not considered part of a fight, because no Battle Theme Music is playing yet, nor is there a Life Meter displayed.

Compare "Get Back Here!" Boss (this only happens during the battle) and Final Boss Preview when this is done over the course of an entire game (as opposed to a single dungeon). If a boss actually battles you several times in a row, it can be a Recurring Bossnote , Sequential Bossnote , or Cowardly Bossnote , depending on the context.

Video Game Examples:

    open/close all folders 

  • ANNO: Mutationem: Prior to the Final Boss fight with C, after Ann catches up with him, he personally sends his troops to attack while he utilizes a Flechette Storm from a distance. Afterwards, his Nidhogg form emerges from his body, leading to a Rooftop Confrontation.
  • Bully: Before fighting Gary, Jimmy Hopkins is forced to give chase up to the roof of Bullworth Academy. All the while, Gary throws bricks at him when crossing thin scaffolding, and tries to tip carts filled with cinderblocks on top of him when he climbs up ladders.
  • God of War II: The game begins with the Colossus of Rhodes coming to life and attacking Kratos. The Colossus chases him throughout the level, becoming an obstacle or a hazard at points when Kratos is navigating the level or fighting other enemies. The level ends with Kratos and the Colossus finally squaring off, where Kratos defeats it.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess:
    • The City in the Sky is guarded by a giant wyvern Argorok, who at one point smashes through a stone bridge leading further inside (fortunately, there are alternate methods of crossing involving hookshots and helicopter plants). The actual battle takes place on the highest rooftop of the city.
    • While the Skull Kid periodically sends puppet fighters after you, he also inverts the trope by opening up other sections of the dungeon when he goes through them.

    Party Games 
  • Mario Party DS: Each of the bosses does double duty as a board hazard for the board that leads up to them, doing something to harass the players when they land on certain Event Spaces.

  • Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon: The final stage of the sequel's Episode 1, the Disk-One Final Boss Abaddon will chase you in several rooms cloaked in a swarm of highly damaging locusts and destroys some of the terrain in his path of destruction. If the immense contact damage with the swarm doesn't do you in, falling into a Bottomless Pit caused by his rampage surely will.
  • Banjo-Tooie: There are three bosses in the game (Terry, Chilli Billi and Chilly Willy) that attack Banjo and Kazooie when they reach the areas leading to their whereabouts, in an attempt to kill them or at least drive them away. Terry shoots mucus balls, Chilly Billi shoots fireballs and Chilly Willy shoots chunks of ice. Terry attacking the protagonists is justified to some extent, because he thinks mistakenly that they stole his eggs; however, the latter two bosses just do it because they're assholes.
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day: When Conker goes inside the fecal mountain during the Sloprano chapter, he's warned by a fellow about the Great Mighty Poo, who has devoured many victims before. Prior to the boss fight, Conker tries to attract the monster by throwing (sentient) chunks of corn at his pool, but the monster will use his hand to try to attack him when he approaches one of the adjacent holes. Conker has to dodge these attacks while throwing the corn until the monster finally appears into scene to begin the fight proper.
  • Dead Cells: In the Return to Castlevania DLC, accessing Dracula's Castle through the Clock Tower results in a more difficult version of the level. As part of this upgrade, Dracula periodically appears throughout the level to throw fireballs, upgrade enemies, temporarily flip the stage, and other acts designed to impede your progress. It's worth noting that this is a far departure from his usual strategy in his home series.
  • Mega Man:
    • Mega Man 11: Three pile driver robots called the "Impact Brothers" charge you throughout Impact Man's stage. Once you reach the end of the stage, the Impact Brothers combine into Impact Man. This is the first time a Robot Master doesn't even wait until the Boss Room to screw with the Blue Bomber.
    • Mega Man X:
      • Mega Man X4: Jet Stingray attacks you halfway through his stage.
      • Mega Man X6 has Illumina, who attacks you throughout Infinity Mijinion's stage.
      • Mega Man X8: Gigavolt Man-o-war's level is a big chase against him, with you on your Ride Chaser and him flying around the city area, occasionally leaving bomb traps or exploiting tight turns to slow you down. Shoot him enough with your Ride Chaser and he'll go down to a platform, initiating the proper boss battle.
  • Mighty No. 9: Most of the enemy Mighty Numbers will mess with Beck through the entirety of their stages in some way or another, though Beck is unable to actually attack them until he corners them at the end. Of particular notes are Countershade, a Cold Sniper who takes shots at Beck every several seconds in his stage; and Aviator, who watches Beck like a TV news reporter and interferes with him whenever things look too safe for Beck.
  • Rayman: Mr. Sax, Mr. Stone, and Mr. Dark all attack you early into their respective areas.
  • Sonic Forces: Infinite just shows up whenever he feels like it, regardless of if it's time for a boss battle or not. Capital City, the 16th stage in the game, sees a lot of him popping up to warp spacetime, then disappearing again to cause trouble later.
  • Super Mario Bros.: Traditionally, Bowser spits fireballs at you from afar in the levels you encounter him in before the actual fight.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • Dawn of War II: The second level of Retribution's campaign sees a Baneblade superheavy tank chasing your forces, blasting through cover and obstacles until you escape to the next area. It's finally defeated as a Cutscene Boss after you kill all the targeting cogitators (in the heaviest-defended area) controlling nearby turrets, causing them to fire on the tank ad taking it out.
  • Pikmin 2: The main gimmick of the cave Submerged Castle is that, in every floor, the Waterwraith will eventually arrive and begin chasing the Captains and the Pikmin, and during the first four floors it's invincible because the only type of Pikmin that can weaken it (Purple) doesn't appear until the fifth floor, where the monster can finally be challenged in a boss battle.
  • Pikmin 3: During the entirety of the final area (Formidable Oak), the Plasm Wraith will perpetually try to drag Olimar back to the nest area near the beginning, while the three main captains try to escort him back to SS Drake. The captains have to make their way through the labyrinthine interior of the level to return to the starting area (since they cannot go back from where they originally arrived), but once they do the Plasm Wraith will show its true form and the Final Boss battle will begin.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • Dark Souls:
    • Dark Souls II: The Duke's Dear Freja will appear in New Game Plus at the cliff just outside the cave leading to the church containing the Prowling Magus. Unlike the Pursuer, she'll abandon the fight and flee after a short time, and you'll get to face her again in her proper boss arena.
    • Dark Souls III: In the second DLC, The Ringed City, Darkeater Midir will impede your progress during your trek through the mountainside after the swamp section, flying above you and spewing large trails of fire. Once you approach the Church of Filianore, he'll set himself up at a nearby cliff and keep spewing fire to block you; you can either pass by him or make him fall off the cliff with enough damage and a riposte. The latter option is required to unlock his proper Bonus Boss fight, which takes place in a hidden area.
  • Etrian Odyssey:
    • Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl: During the fourth visit to Gladsheim, Gimle is ordered by the then-rebellious M.I.K.E. to eliminate your party's characters. Even before the boss battle against him, Gimle will proceed to shoot misiles at various points of its field of sight, thus requiring a careful strategy to approach its spot of placement and start the fight proper.
    • Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan: The three Elemental Dragons will periodically and respectively fly above the first three overworld areas (Great Dragon in Windy Plains, Storm Emperor in Scarlet Pillars, Blizzard King in Snowy Mountains), and over the course of the game they must be avoided at all costs until they fly away (being caught by one of them will cause it to sink your Global Airship and make you return to Tharsis with all your party's characters having only 1 HP each left). During the Playable Epilogue, when undertaking certain postgame sidequests, they'll fly above their areas of preference on a permanent basis, requiring you to complete said sidequests while avoiding them at all times. Only after completing those sidequests, you'll unlock others that task you to finally confront the Dragons in battle, one at a time.
    • Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth:
      • As soon as your character party enter the domain of the Crystal Dragon in the final floor of the Lucent Hollows, it will detect your presence and periodically shoot crystals at the field. The party has to figure out how to approach the boss while dodging the incoming projectiles in order to reach the boss and initiate the Boss Battle. Notably, with some cleverness, it's possible to trick the boss into dropping the crystals in certain spots to create a teleport link between them, giving the party a good chance to suddenly approach the boss from behind and start the battle with a preemptive strike.
      • During the postgame, the party is tasked to help Solor hunt down the Zombie Dragon. They traverse a previously-hidden maze in the second floor of Fetid Necropolis to look for it, and at first nothing unusual happens. However, as soon as they climb upstairs to reach a new area in the third floor, the Zombie Dragon spots them and spews a dark, dense mist that turns the area into a Blackout Basement. This not only makes visibility during field exploration more difficult, but also makes all characters suffer the Blindness ailment during the Random Encounters; also, the mist is highly flammable, so if a character or enemy uses a fire-based attack, it will ignite the whole area and cause severe damage to everybody, leading to potential casualties for both sides. And shortly after the mist dissipates, the Zombie Dragon will spew it once again, so the player's party has to deal with it during the whole way until finally reaching the boss to challenge it in battle.
    • Etrian Odyssey Nexus: The Shellbeast is the boss of the Southern Shrine, and is so big that it can easily move around the wide central area that is surrounded by low-level borders. The player is forced to climb those borders and walk across them in order to reach the entrance to the boss's area, but obviously the monster won't miss the chance to approach the party and perform an attack that makes them fall down due to Knockback. When that happens, a supporting character (Leo) suggests the party to lure the boss into the northeast corner of its area so they have enough time to cross the last side of the corners right before the boss reaches them, allowing them to unlock a Door to Before and finally have direct access to the wide central area to confront the boss in battle.
  • Golden Sun:
    • Golden Sun: The Lost Age: A rare case in that it's not done to the player: Agatio and Karst trigger a trap that causes the previous game's PCs Garet and Mia to fall down a hole, leaving only Isaac and Ivan to fight. They're defeated by the time you reach them (no matter how high you leveled them up previously), and the true boss fight begins.
    • Golden Sun: Dark Dawn: On entering the Phantasmal Bog, the first thing you'll notice is the giant purple-aura'ed salamander glaring at you from the water. The second is when it tries to drown you by crushing the part of the stepping stone you're standing on. The entire point of the dungeon is to get to a different area in the same room where there's enough space to fight it on land.
  • Undertale:
    • Downplayed with Papyrus, who certainly wants to be this by confronting the player with traps and puzzles; however, the puzzles are all hilariously easy and he doesn't actually try to harm you until his boss fight.
    • Throughout Waterfall, you'll encounter Undyne a few times before her boss fight at the end of that area. The first time has you hiding from her, the second and third times have you running away from her while she attacks you with spears, and the fourth time has her about to start the fight early before getting interrupted by Monster Kid. At one point she even breaks a bridge, leaving you temporarily unable to backtrack until you find a helpful bird.
    • Subverted with Mettaton, who appears to try to kill you during his shows while you're travelling through Hotland, only for his failed attempts to turn out to be staged as a way for Alphys to "save" you from him both to make her feel good and as a way to convince you to stay underground. His boss fight is him deciding he's had enough of playing along.

    Survival Horror 
  • Resident Evil 4: Two bosses in Chapter 5-3 harass Leon well before the latter manages to confront them in boss fights to finally defeat them. The first is U-3, which will constantly throw attacks at Leon while he makes his way out of the three-part Container Mazes that hang above a bottomless pit, and won't be challenged in a proper battle until Leon reaches a crag at the end. The second boss is Krauser, who already pestered Leon in a prior chapter, and will periodically come at him to attack him until being driven away temporarily; Leon has to make his way through a network of ruins until reaching the roof of a watchtower (at which point he'll have two key fragments) to fight him in a proper battle under a time limit in order to get the last fragment and escape before an explosion kills him.

    Tower Defense 

Other Examples:

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Count Strahd von Zarovich from the classic I6 Ravenloft module was one of the first (if not the first) such bosses in D&D, showing up in different corners of his eponymous castle to manipulate the heroes (if not to try killing them outright). The module was highly praised at the time for its intelligent and proactive villain, as most D&D modules until then (1983) had been little more than straightforward Dungeon Crawls where all encounters were either nailed to their rooms or completely random.
  • Pathfinder: In the adventure path Rasputin Must Die, the titular mad monk uses Astral Projection magic to harass the heroes as they attempt to gain access to his extraplanar sanctum.


Films — Animated