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Rival Final Boss

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Dante: Look at you. Making a big, dramatic entrance and stealing my spotlight.
Vergil: Well… you don't possibly believe that he deserves to be our main event, now do you?

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 it's 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.

Often overlaps with Post-Final Boss, in that this battle is usually less climactic than the (previous) final boss battle, but still potentially hectic. Often overlaps with the Duel Boss. 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.


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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 JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Steel Ball Run , 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.
  • If one views Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack as the Grand Finale of UC era Gundam, as it was originally intended to be, then Char Aznable, who fights his Final Battle with Amuro Ray in the film, is technically this.
  • 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. Both of them are also exhausted from the start of duel thanks to them giving their all during the war.
  • This is essentially what the final episode of s-CRY-ed boils down to. After being forced to team up to save everything they hold dear for most of the final arc, Kazuma and Ryuho decide to settle their score in one final brawl. Said brawl turns out to be ridiculously intense, the two of them effectively pulling out every superpower they have until we're left with the two of them slugging it out in the ruins of their fight... and, of course, we are never shown who won.
  • 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 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 
  • The Captain America films play this straight with its sequels.
    • 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.
    • Captain America: Civil War: Captain America and Iron Man were already at odds with each other regarding the Sokovia Accords, but it's Helmut Zemo revealing to Cap, Stark, and Bucky what really happened with the murder of Stark's parents that causes Stark himself to snap and go on the complete offensive against Bucky and Cap (the later credited for not telling Stark about what really happened despite knowing prior).
  • 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.

  • Master of Chaos: For most of the game, you're competing against Naas, a deadly assassin and the champion of the Dark Elves, in your quest for retrieving the Staff of Rulership from the evil wizard Shanzikuul. Follow the right steps and you will reach Shanzikuul first, and after defeating Shanzikuul in a battle to the death, you successfully retrive the staff, only to be confronted by Naas, the real final boss of the book, which you defeat in order to win.


    Live-Action TV 
  • Happens quite often in Cobra Kai, especially in the All-Valley tournaments.
    • Season 1 has Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso facing each other once again in the All-Valley finals, this time by proxy via their star students (Miguel Diaz for Johnny, Robby Keene for Daniel). Miguel and Robby just so happens to be rivals themselves: Robby to Miguel due to his envy for Johnny's treatment of him, Miguel to Robby due to his envy for Sam's treatment for him.
    • Season 2 has all of the rivals face each other in the Final Battle Brawl at West Valley High School:
      • Miguel vs. Robby
      • Tory vs. Sam
      • Hawk vs. Demetri
      • Mitch vs. Chris
      • Bert vs. Nate.
    • Season 3 has Sam facing off against Tory once again, who leads the Cobra Kais in their assault against the newly-formed Miyagi-Fangs at the LaRusso Residence. Johnny and Daniel later fight Kreese in the Reseda Cobra Kai dojo afterwards.
    • Season 4 has the All-Valley once again, with Sam (again) facing off Tory, this time in the All-Valley Girls' Final. The Boys' Final has a twist with Eli facing against Robby, the latter of which is responsible for shaving off Hawk's mohawk midseason.
    • Season 5 has Daniel and Terry Silver face off each other at the Cobra Kai dojo again, to which Daniel gives an exhausted Silver a Curb-Stomp Battle to finally put him down once and for all.
  • Done a few times in Kamen Rider.
    • Kamen Rider Gaim has Kaito become the final boss for Kouta to fight, once the dust settles and all the other contenders in the Big Bad Ensemble are dealt with. It overlaps with Big Bad, considering that he becomes a major threat for the final stretch 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 Sigma Circular. Subverted, as Heart is mortally wounded during battle with Sigma and isn't able to even carry out the battle.
  • Seven Star Fighting God Guyferd: The final foe of the first arc is Masato Kazama, Gou's older brother, who turns out to be Deathferd and to have some unresolved Sibling Rivalry issues.
  • Super Sentai also does this on occasion:

    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 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 their rival).
  • Cyberbots: G.O.D. is Jin Saotome's penultimate opponent. His final battle is against Shade, who he had fought once before at the very beginning and Jin then figures out from his confession as being the one behind his father's death.
  • In Dark Souls, 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.
    • Near the end of Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening, Dante and Vergil defeated the Big Bad together, then promptly turn their swords on each other to duke it out over who inherits their father's power.
    • The finale of 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.
    • The endgame of 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, backhands Dante, and personally beats Vergil just to make him submit and get them to stop fighting. In contrast to the vanilla version, playable Vergil's campaign mode changes the context of the Final Boss battle, where he and Dante proceed to fight without Nero's on-screen intervention.
  • 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.
  • In Dragon Ball Z: Legend of the Super Saiyan for the Famicom, if you unlock the Super Saiyan transformation for Goku, and Vegeta is still alive by the time you defeat Frieza, Vegeta will reveal that he unlocked the Super Saiyan transformation as well, and fight Goku as the True Final Boss.
  • 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.
  • Zenos becomes a one sided rival towards the Warrior of Light in Final Fantasy XIV during the Stormblood story. The first two fights end with the Warrior losing, but after the second fight, Zenos encourages them to become stronger since he sees potential in them and thus a challenge he has not felt in years. Towards the end of the story, the Warrior finally defeats Zenos in his Shinyru form and Zenos dies content. Due to Zenos having an artificial version of the Echo, he doesn't stay dead and starts trying to find where the Warrior of Light is so he can have a rematch and revel in high of fighting them. By Endwalker, he gets brushed off by the Warrior and everyone else since they have bigger problems to deal with, such as the Final Days happening all over the place. Zenos then goes out of his way to assist the Warrior when the fight the Endsinger so that when they help them save the universe, there won't be any distractions for them to focus on. Once the Endsinger is finished, Zenos fights the Warrior of Light one last time in an epic battle and dies happy when he loses.
  • 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.
  • Subverted in Kingdom Hearts. After beating The Very Definitely Final Dungeon you find your possessed rival Riku on Destiny Islands' beach. However, approaching him causes Ansem to mock him as he casts away that form and fights you as himself.
  • This happens in the Like a Dragon series several times:
  • 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 King 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 accidentally 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.
  • Mega Man: Maverick Hunter X: The final boss of Vile mode isn't Sigma, but a Dual Boss against X and Zero.
  • 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 Plus, his final opponent is his rival and half-brother Henry.
  • The Final Boss of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations isn't the Serial Killer Big Bad, or even their accomplice, but Prosecutor Godot, who turns out to actually be responsible for the murder in the final case in an effort to stop the aforementioned Big Bad.
  • Panzer Bandit: Kou's Evil Counterpart Jin is the final opponent.
  • 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.
    • Played with in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, where after entering the Hall of Fame, your rival appears as a Post-Final Boss.
    • 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.
    • This is also the case in the first Pokémon TCG game for the Game Boy Color. Unlike the other Pokémon examples, your rival is never available for a rematch.
  • 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.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • 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 (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 III: Averted in New Generation, as all characters have Gill (the Big Bad of this game) as their final boss, but all the other battles are random (including a chance of a Mirror Match taking place). Played completely straight in 2nd Impact, those that don't fight Gill at their final stage, fight him one stage before it. Inverted in 3rd Strike, as the rival battles are one stage before the final battle with Gill (similar to Seth in SFIV below.)
    • 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.
  • Sword of Paladin: In the true ending, Nade has to duel Zechs, who he shares a rivalry with due to them being the Paladin and Dark Knight respectively. This happens both because Zechs wants a rematch and because a clash of light and dark is needed to complete the Flotsam jewel in order to maintain the floating continents.
  • Tekken:
    • In the fourth game, the Big Bad of the game is (who else?) Heihachi Mishima, but the last guy Hwoarang fights in his story 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.
    • In the Death by Degrees spinoff, the main villain is Lana Lei, but the final boss is Nina William's sister, Anna.