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Rival Final Boss

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It's finally over. The Big Bad is defeated, and for good measure, any Greater-Scope Villain is vanquished. Now for the heroes to Earn Your Happy Ending and...

What's this? The Rival now declares himself the final obstacle that the hero has to overcome? Welcome to this trope, where the Rival becomes the final enemy for the hero to fight. Just a rule of thumb, just because the Rival is the final boss doesn't necessarily make him the Big Bad. If the rivarly isn't just a game between them (or if the game is Serious Business) and its of the duel to the death variety it may also reveal that the Rival Turned Evil provided his true colors weren't already known from before.

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Sub-Trope of Post-Final Boss, in that this battle is usually less climactic than the final boss battle, but still potentially hectic. Compare It's Personal with the Dragon, where the The Dragon is the most bitter enemy of the hero, not the Big Bad. Also compare Dragon Their Feet.

Because this is an Ending Trope, could be unmarked spoilers ahoy. You Have Been Warned.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bakugan: After Mechtavius Destroyer is defeated, Dan and Gunz battle each other in the finals of a tournament that was previously interrupted.
  • Gamaran: while Gama's archnemesis is his own father Jinsuke, the very final opponent he fights is Jinsuke's pupil Ranmaru, with whom he previously fought twice (first as a Curb-Stomp Battle, later as a draw).
  • In Part 7 of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, the last major opponent Johnny faces is Diego Brando, one of the frontrunners of the Steel Ball Run, or at least, an alternate universe version of him, armed with THE WORLD.
  • Happens in Naruto, where after Big Bad after Big Bad after Big Bad (Naruto had a really huge Sorting Algorithm of Evil that began during the Ninja War) Sasuke and Naruto fight one last time to determine if the Cycle of Revenge will keep going.
  • In Yaiba, after defeating Fujin-possessed Onimaru In the first two story arcs and finally for good in the Orochi arc, it seems that Yaiba is going to confront his own presumed father Kenjuuro in the Oda Nobunaga Tournament, but instead has to face Onimaru, who was trained by Kenjuuro and became his equal in strength, playing this trope straight.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! has a tradition that the final duel of a series isn't between hated enemies as such sometimes the final duel is between the protagonist and their rival.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's has the final duel be between Yusei and Jack after beating Z-One. The Signers are stuck between leaving Neo Domino for new opportunities or staying in the city thus Yusei and Jack duel, hoping to that the duel would help them decide what to do.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V has the final duel be between Yuya and Reiji after Zarc was defeated by Ray. But unlike 5D's final duel which was a light hearted duel between friends/adopted brothers, this duel continues the Myth Arc as Yuya's final attempt to redeem and neutralize Zarc with Reiji being Yuya's final opponent to help him out.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier: After Alexander Pierce has been killed, HYDRA has been defeated, and the Helicarriers are currently in the midst of destroying themselves, Steve Rogers has to deal with his still-living rival, the Winter Soldier, though instead he refuses to fight his brainwashed friend.
  • In Commando, Matrix kills Big Bad Arius but then has to fight Bennett who was once part of Matrix's team and claims to be a better fighter than Matrix.
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    Literature 
  • Towards the end of A Million Open Doors, having helped liberate Caledony from its brutal theocracy, Giraut returns to Nou Occitan to battle his rival Marcabru.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Done a few times in Kamen Rider.
    • Kamen Rider Gaim has Kaito become the final boss for Kouta to fight. It overlaps with Big Bad considering that he becomes a major threat for a bit of the end game.
    • Kamen Rider Drive does this for the finale with Heart vs. Shinnosuke. Heart even mentions that they will have a final battle once they overcome the Big Bad and his Dragon Ascendant. Subverted, as Heart is mortally wounded during battle with said Dragon Ascendant and isn't able to even carry out the battle.

    Video Games 
  • Advance Wars does this in its finale. Should you fulfill the requirements to bring Eagle to the game's finale, he challenges Andy to one last fight after the ending.
  • Azure Striker Gunvolt 2: If you have finished both Gunvolt's and Copen's storylines, replaying either save file's final stage will give you an extended story after the final boss fight where Gunvolt fights his rival Copen or vice versa.
  • BlazBlue: Central Fiction: After the final battle with Terumi, Ragna still has 2 other battles before the story reaches its end: one with his friend (and sister) Noel, and one with his rival (and brother) Jin.
    • The arcade modes from Chronophantasma also operate on this format. Whereas the first two games had set final bosses (Nu-13, Hazama and in most cases Ragna himself), the newer routes feature character specific final battles. This isn't just exclusive to this series either; franchises like Darkstalkers and Guilty Gear also strayed away from traditional final opponents in favor of personalized ones with their sequels.
  • ClayFighter
    • In C2: Judgment Clay, the final boss is your Evil Twin created by Dr. Kiln, who has a different palette and various modified moves.
    • Sculptor's Cut, the Updated Re-release of 63⅓, changes Dr. Kiln with the designated rival of every character as the final boss (Kiln stays as this for the characters who have him as rival).
  • In Dark Souls I, Oscar of Astora, the guy who dies in the tutorial after giving you the Estus Flask and telling you to Take Up My Sword and fulfill the prophecy of the Chosen Undead in his place, was originally supposed to survive. In an entire cut subplot, you would encounter him several times throughout the game and even team up with him on occasion. However, as it became clearer and clearer that you fit the criteria of Chosen Undead far better than him, he would become increasingly envious of you. He would have sided with whichever Primordial Serpent you didn't side with, and would have shown up after the Final Boss was defeated to duel you for the title of Chosen Undead.
  • Devil May Cry has done this a few times.
    • Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening ends with Dante and Vergil defeating the Big Bad together, then promptly turning their swords on each other to duke it out over who inherits their father's power.
    • DmC: Devil May Cry also has Dante and Vergil duking it out after taking down the Big Bad, though this time over whether to rule over humanity or not.
    • Devil May Cry 5 has Dante and a resurrected Vergil duke it out once again because by this point, that's just what they do. Nero finally gets fed up, one-shots Dante, and kicks the shit out of Vergil just to get them to stop fighting.
  • The arcade version of Double Dragon is the Trope Codifier in gaming. Billy and Jimmy Lee can join forces to save Marion, but only one of them can get the girl. So once Machinegun Willy is defeated, the brothers turn on each other and fight to the death over her.
  • Dragon Quest VI: As you prepare to fight the last of Mortamor's lieutenants, he reveals you're first going to fight Terry, who came to him looking to get stronger so he could find his sister (who's likely with you at the time). Unlike most examples, his being The Rival comes from a single arc in the game where he beats you to defeating a dragon to claim a Cool Sword. When defeated, he joins you (and of course suffers from Redemption Demotion, but having him lets you recruit a much better party member).
  • In the original Dynamite Cop, if you win the game on two-player mode with both players surviving to the end, the little girl you've just rescued will order you to fight each other to decide which of you she'll hire as her permanent bodyguard.
  • This happens in the Conquest route of Fire Emblem Fates, where after finally killing the long-possessed King Garon, who has caused most of the game's conflict, you will immediately have to refight the much more recently possessed Takumi.
  • In the GBA version of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, once Harry and Hermione reach the astronomy tower to save Sirius, Malfoy turns out to have been randomly lying in wait for them, and has to be defeated in order to reach Sirius.
  • The King of Fighters '97: If you beat Orochi in Story Mode with Team Japan's Kyo, his rival Iori will appear as your last opponent.
  • In the final mission of MechWarrior 4: Vengeance, you first need to take out the defenses of the palace and the dropship on which the Big Bad intends to escape. Once you're done, your lancemates leave, and you get a cutscene after which you have to take out your Puppet Duke cousin.
  • An interesting example in Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time: After you've beaten the Elder Princess Shroob, you have to face Bowser again, after he accidentaly ate her remains. This can count as both a subversion and playing the trope straight; while you face Bowser, he gets his extra power from the Big Bad and her spirit is even a vital part of the fight.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, after Snake successfully puts an end to The Patriots once and for all, Liquid Ocelot takes him to a secluded spot on top of his battleship where the two juice each other up on nanomachines and have a final CQC fight.
  • Metroid:
  • In No More Heroes, after Travis defeats the #1 ranked assassin during the New Game+, his final opponent is his rival and half-brother Henry.
  • Pokémon
    • Pokémon Red and Blue: Team Rocket is defeated by Red, the Elite Four are trampled, and now his fight with the Champion begins... and it's his rival, Blue.
    • Pokémon Gold and Silver: At first subverted with the game's rival character, who shows up just before the Elite Four. Once you beat the Elite Four, you get to visit the Kanto region, and after defeating all their gyms the way to Mt. Silver is open where the Final Boss is waiting... The previous game's protagonist, Red.
    • Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon double subverts this. Through the late game, there is more emphasis placed on your rival, Hau, improving himself as a trainer than the original Sun and Moon, as well as his final battle outside the Elite Four building in the original games not being present this time. Once the player becomes the Champion, it then seems that In Spite of a Nail, they'll defend their title against Kukui, as in the original games, only for Kukui to then say "Just kidding", upon which he reveals Hau to be your final opponent.
  • Power Instinct
    • In Power Instinct 2, Kanji Kokuin is The Rival of Goketsuji sisters and his ending is canon, winning the tournament and later organizing his own in Legends.
    • In Groove on Fight, after defeating Bristol-D, the player has to fight with the character you defeated him against your partner to Earn Your Happy Ending.
  • Street Fighter
    • The first two games of the Street Fighter Alpha series operate like this, as the last fighter your character faces is often a rival of theirs instead of the Big Bad. M. Bison/Dictator (said Big Bad) isn't quite up to his level of prominence in Street Fighter II (since this saga is a prequel to the events of SFII), but a few characters (Charlie, Chun-Li, Guy, and Rose) have him as their rival.
    • Street Fighter Alpha 3 mostly avoids this, as Bison is the Final Boss for the majority of the cast (with other character-specific battles taking place at Stages 5 and 9). The lone exception other than Bison himself (whose Final Boss is Ryu) is Evil Ryu, who faces Final Bison as the Sub Boss before moving on to fight Shin Akuma at the end of his Arcade route.
    • Street Fighter IV inverts this slightly, as the player character's Rival Battle comes right before the real Big Bad: Seth. Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact and 3rd Strike before it followed a similar trajectory with the fights preceding Gill.
    • Street Fighter V's Cinematic Story Mode ends with Shadaloo defeated. However, after the credits there is one last fight, as Ryu and Ken have yet another rematch.
  • Tekken
    • Tekken 4: The Big Bad of the game is (who else?) Heihachi Mishima, but the last guy Hwoarang fights is Jin Kazama, his rival.
    • In the sixth game's Arena mode, Jin battles Azazel as his second opponent, running contrary to the latter being the Final Boss in every other scenario. Both Kazuya and Heihachi serve as his final bosses for that route.
  • This happens in the Yakuza series several times:
    • In Yakuza 1, after defeating Kyohei Jingu and his personal goons, Kiryu takes a moment to embrace his old flame Yumi and her daughter Haruka only for his Evil Former Friend Nishikiyama to come by and interrupt the scene, intent on getting the 10 billion yen and settling the score with Kiryu.
    • In Yakuza 2, after dealing with the real masterminds of the game Kiryu and Ryuji Goda lock themselves in an elevator with a giant bomb ticking down, intent on settling who gets to be the "Dragon" of the criminal underworld while both are on their last legs.

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