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Trick Boss

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Not pictured: Real Fake Kraid.

At the end of an area, you think you've dealt with the real boss... but wait! You've merely taken out a stand-in; the real boss was waiting for you to get done with it.

Trick Bosses are usually suspiciously easy, the reason being that the game doesn't want you to screw yourself over on the fake guy before the real one shows up.

A different form of Trick Boss is the type that's actually a challenge... but is a Trick Boss by story definition, as the real boss just wanted to sap your power before moving in. Occasionally, a fake victory message would show up to catch you off guard.

Not to be confused with the boss you beat with a trick. Often overlaps with Sequential Boss. If the real boss takes down the fake one for you, it's a Bait-and-Switch Boss.

Minor spoilers ahoy.



  • One of the best examples appears in Zone of the Enders: The Second Runner when you find what you think is Anubis, the mech of the Big Bad, beneath an enemy installation. Oddly, it's missing its iconic wings. After beating it like a red-headed stepchild for a few rounds, you realize it's a fake being remotely piloted with your love interest Ken trapped inside it. Nohman promptly appears in the real Anubis, blows away Leo's Vic Viper and hits you with a Kill Sat, leading to the (very difficult) REAL boss fight against him.
  • Chrono Trigger has several of these. There's a fake Flea before the real one attacks in Magus's castle, and the Golem Boss (who never attacks the heroes at all) before battling Dalton on the Blackbird.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • The Vampire in Final Fantasy has 156 HP, which is less than some normal enemies you've faced by that point. In his case, he's a decoy for Lich, the first Elemental Fiend and a much bigger threat. The Vampire soon becomes a Degraded Boss.
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    • Final Fantasy IV has an example of the latter type of Trick Boss, with the Calcabrina in the dwarf castle. It's a particularly nasty example in the DS version, since Calcabrina can easily kill or seriously injure your characters with just one hit, and if Cecil goes into the following battle against Golbez with anything less than about half his health, that battle is Unwinnable. Another variant is Scarmiglione. He goes down fast, then tells you, "Ah yes, you've given me a fine death! A fine death indeed! And only in death can you know the true terror of Scarmiglione!" Presto, instant undead monstrosity.
    • In an odd instance in Final Fantasy V, Gilgamesh serves as both the trick boss and the real boss during one of the several battles with him. In this case, he starts the battle doing minimal damage, and essentially just letting you whack at him. Then, he fakes you out with what looks like an end-of-battle dialogue before casting protect, shell, and haste on himself and challenging you for real.
    • Final Fantasy VIII has the fake President Deling. Simple enough, low HP and attack. He bites to attack... okay, that's weird, but nothing to worry about. Then he starts convulsing and "morphs" into the real boss, Gerogero — a giant vomiting zombie that loves status attacks but really hates Ifrit. Your fire-tossing buddy with Boost can turn this into a Breather Boss. And Gerogero becomes even more of a joke when you realize that you can kill it with a Phoenix Down. They cost 500 Gil apiece.
    • A frequent occurrence in Final Fantasy XIII. The general rule of thumb is that if you find yourself saying "Hey, that was surprisingly easy." after a boss battle, it was probably the first stage of a Sequential Boss. The end bosses of Chapters 3 and 4 are typical examples. (For 3's, the fact that its Enemy Scan says it uses "powerful lightning based attacks" and it goes down before it uses any should clue you in, while 4's first form is essentially a tutorial on using the Saboteur role.) For the Warmechs in Chapters 7 and 9, you actually end up fighting two of them!
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Main Series:
      • Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels You fight a fake Bowser in world 8-4 before the real one. It happens once again in World D-4.
      • New Super Mario Bros. Wii has you fight Bowser in the final level, who's suspiciously easy for being the so called 'final boss', attacking just like he did in the NES days (there's Bowser on a bridge, that sort of thing). Until you realize that Peach is really Kamek in a Paper-Thin Disguise, Kamek sprinkles some magic spell on Bowser, and in a just like Yoshi's Island way, Bowser becomes about fifty feet tall and starts chasing you through the castle in a climactic escape sequence. New Super Mario Bros. 2 is very similar in that regard, except this time, the giant Bowser is a Background Boss.
      • Both New Super Mario Bros. U and New Super Luigi U (which have the same final boss) have this in their own way. You come across Bowser standing on a bridge in the final castle. Once you break the bridge, drop Bowser, and leave, Bowser Jr. shows up in his Clown Car with Kamek attached and turns Bowser into a giant, who you fight by stealing Jr.'s Clown Car and bashing Bowser on the head with it.
    • Mario RPGs
      • Super Mario RPG has one of these in Barrel Volcano. You assume the Czar Dragon to be an arc-ending boss (it's even a Sequential Boss), but, when you try to claim your Plot Coupon from behind it, it's snatched away by The Axem Rangers.
      • In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, Bowletta (Cackletta's spirit inside Bowser's body) is the latter type of Trick Boss. She's not terribly hard, but your HP will be all but wiped out in the battle's aftermath, so don't use up your healing items!
      • Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time has the Elder Princess Shroob, who was sealed inside the Cobalt Star and got released from it after you beat the first Princess Shroob.
      • In Paper Mario 64, before you battle The Koopa Bros in chapter 1, you have to battle them in a very unconvincing Bowser mecha.
      • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door has Doopliss. He's actually at the physical end of the area, just like a boss would normally be. He turns into a shadowy duplicate of Mario in the middle of your fight with him. After you beat him, it looks like the normal end to a chapter, with Mario getting the Crystal Star and a recap of the events of the chapter... but then the scene returns to the "duplicate" Mario, who is actually the real one. The rest of the chapter revolves around Mario trying to get his body back from the enemy, including a boss battle against him in which he has all your partners on his side.
  • Metroid:
    • Metroid II: Return of Samus: After you've destroyed 33 Metroids, you'll need to traverse a looping tunnel and fight a Metroid in the middle in order to clear the lava blocking off progress. The Metroid in question is just a simple Alpha Metroid. After destroying it, the usual earthquake occurs, but upon returning to the main tunnel, you'll discover that instead of sinking, it has instead risen, trapping you in the looping tunnel. Backtracking to where you fought the Alpha Metroid, you end up having to battle the first Omega Metroid in the game before you can progress for real. This also happens in 'Metroid: Samus Returns'', only the Alpha Metroid is replaced by a Zeta Metroid and the lava is replaced by a toxic purple fluid.
    • Super Metroid has a tiny version of the boss Kraid in the room before you fight the real, two-TV-screens-tall Kraid. This is both an "easy" Trick Boss and a Homage to the original Kraid from the first Metroid game. Also, since (like real bosses, though not as much) he dumps large amounts of health and ammo when he dies, the fake Kraid also serves to replenish your strength for the real thing. There's also a fake Kraid wandering around the lower sections of Kraid's Hideout in the original Metroid. He can be taken out with a mere single missile and has a different palette, but otherwise looks the same as the real deal.
  • Castlevania
    • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night does a similar trick with the boss Scylla — at first pitting you against a giant serpent (complete with the room-sealing doors of a usual boss fight) before you reach the end of her lair and find it was just one of her hydra-like heads.
    • There's also one in the remake of Castlevania: Rondo of Blood: a single Water Hydra with the usual boss life bar threatens you, but when you kill it and climb above it, you find out it was just one head of the four-headed Hydra, and to take the monster out you must destroy its heart.
    • In Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, Paranoia is a reasonably human-sized boss that comes out of a mirror, throws knives at you, and occasionally retreats into his mirror to shoot well-reflected lasers. Beating him isn't very difficult, and you don't even have to draw a symbol to do it. In the next room, a giant mirror covers most of the wall, and you'd better believe Paranoia takes advantage of this for his sudden rematch.
    • Also in Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance, you enter the boss room, oddly with a single Peeping Eye enemy inside. After quickly dispatching it, you wander around the room for a bit... until a GIANT peeping eye boss comes into view, and the boss music kicks into gear.
  • In Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, the final boss of Sora's story, Marluxia, has you fight a double of himself before entering a vast room and mounting a large Nobody creature.
    • This is an inversion, as the fight with Marluxia by himself is much harder than the final fight against his big spaceship thingy. The remake of the game adds an additional form that lives up to its role as the final boss, however.
  • In Mega Man 3, the first Dr. Wily you face is actually a robot. He is also the main antagonist of the next three games; however, he doesn't show up until after you defeat Dr. Cossack, Dark Man, and Mr. X, respectively.
    • This is reversed in Mega Man V, where Dr. Wily is not the final boss, but rather Sunstar, an ancient weapon he found who attacks Dr. Wily so he can get a piece of Mega Man.
  • The 2004 incarnation of The Bard's Tale played this for laughs. After slaying a harmless cellar rat in one strike (and receiving a sarcastic congratulation from the Narrator), the Bard is immediately attacked and set aflame by a monstrous 12-foot tall, fire-breathing rat.
  • Balzack in the fourth chapter of Dragon Quest IV. He uses powerful magic, but is easily neutralized with the Sphere of Silence. In the PlayStation and Nintendo DS remakes of the game, he doesn't get the standard "boss music" treatment... his boss, Marquis de Leon, does, and your party has no shot of beating him at their current level.
  • Metal Slug:
    • The final boss in 2. After dealing enough damage to the Dai-Manji, it is beamed up into the Rugname Mothership... and subsequently used as a death ray by it.
    • At the end of Metal Slug 3, on defeating General Morden's Hi-Do helicopter, the General is revealed to be a Mars Person in disguise. You then have about a half-hour of playtime to go before facing the true final boss, Rootmars.
    • In the mostly unknown Metal Slug 3D, the first boss is a giant cyborg, Lugus. If you empty its life bar, it still shrugs off your bullets and blasts you to oblivion... or at least he tries the latter before its supposed broken "brother", Lieu, shows up and absorbs it, becoming the final boss and level.
    • The Invader Queen in the sixth game. You've made your way through hordes of evil aliens, saved your former enemies (the Mars People), even fought a Brainwashed and Crazy member of your group... but the Big Bad is enclosed in a sort of membrane-bubble-egg thing, can't move or attack, and can only summon fewer mooks, while you're armed with the titular tank and ex-enemy soldiers help you a bit too. The bubble bursts, the soldiers cheer you up, epic music plays... until the Queen's eyes glow insanely, shooting lasers that fry your allies, and the monster starts crawling towards you. Epic battle ensues.
  • Did GlaDOS seem suspiciously easy to defeat in the first half of Portal 2? Don't worry about that.
  • Several in World of Warcraft, such as Ingvar The Plunderer in Utgarde Keep. After you defeat him, a Valkyr will come and resurrect him as an undead, and you have to kill him again.
    • On Heroic mode, Lockmaw in the Lost City of the Tol'Vir becomes this. After he's defeated, Augh, who had previously harassed your party during the fight with him, steals the treasure and must be defeated before you can loot Lockmaw. Thankfully, you can heal yourselves and even try again without having to defeat Lockmaw again if you wipe.
    • In the Temple of Ahn'Qiraj, the final boss, the Old God C'Thun, appears as an enormous eyeball, floating above a glowing pool of shadow. When the eye is defeated, C'Thun’s true body rises out of the ground and starts eating people.
    • On Heroic mode, after defeating Cho'gall in the Twilight Bastion, the ground will collapse under the party, delivering them to the Sinestra.
    • And on Mythic mode for Highmaul, just when you've defeated Imperator Mar'gok, an alterate-universe version of Cho'gall shows up, kills Mar'gok, and attacks the party.
  • In Red's Scenario in SaGa Frontier, there is a rush in the final mission. You first kill the "leader" of Black X, which just turns out to be a pawn for Dr. Klein; you then fight souped up versions of the Story bosses over again under Dr. Klein's command, and after defeating them, the real boss shows up.
  • In Alan Dean Foster's 1984 novelisation of the game Shadowkeep, once the heroes have defeated the Boss, they realize that the giant statue at the back of the room isn't really a statue.
  • For Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, beating Lyon only released the Demon Lord. Path of Radiance showed a strange variant when killing Ashnard on Hard Mode only caused him to open up the Sealed Evil in a Can and become an even bigger, scarier final boss.
  • Gradius ReBirth's Stage 4 boss starts off as the Stage 1 boss with seemingly no difference. Once you destroy all the barriers guarding its core, it zooms forward, flies into the background, flips to show its other side, comes back around, regenerates its core barriers, and proceeds to fight you again, this time with more lasers and a nasty attack in which it fires two containment lasers and sweeps the screen vertically.
  • Played with at the end of Sonic Advance when you first face Robotnik piloting the bosses from the first levels of Sonic 1 and Sonic 2, which are obviously very easy, before he takes you on in the real final boss. Obviously this is a homage to the earlier games.
  • Star Fox:
    • The pilot of the Meteo Crusher pretends to surrender in Star Fox 64. The trick doesn't fool a lot of players, considering that the ship still has half its shields when the pilot "admits defeat". There's also Spyborg in Sector X, which has you drain its lifebar, then refills it for its second form. Though the savvy player will catch onto its lifebar immediately emptying when it reaches half-health.
    • The original has Phantron, the Venom Guardian of Path 1. In the second fight, it is VERY easy to beat. Then, you beat it, and take a good look at the health bar and notice that sliver of remaining health. Phantron then grows legs and the music starts over with a Scare Chord... needless to say, Phantron becomes Path 1's That One Boss at this point.
  • Mr. X in Streets of Rage 3's 5th stage. After wasting his minions, the top half of him burns off to reveal that it's a robotic clone of Mr. X. The real Mr. X lies in stage 7, having been reduced to a brain.
  • Henry Hatsworth and the Puzzling Adventure has one of these. Unlike the Weaselby fight in 4-6, Weaselby in 5-6 is incredibly frail. It's only then that Weaselby loses his top, so to speak, reveals that Cole is the Man Behind the Man (little crybaby), and then Cole breaks out The Machine to show his teacher that he is more than capable of handling himself.
  • Zuma's Revenge! has this with the final boss. He has 10 or so hearts, and hitting him takes them all away and begins rolling the credits in a rather bland manner. Then they get interrupted by the real final boss. Turns out, the guy you just "fought" was only his chef.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass has Dongorongo. The battle is fought with Link and Gongoron, in which Link is stuck on one side of a sand pit, and Link has to wait until Gongoron knocks the boss over to attack. After you defeat it, the door leading to the pure metal opens, a bridge appears, and Gongoron leaves to get the pure metal for you. After you cross the bridge, the boss gets up. Cue the second phase of the battle.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword has Levias, who is revealed to be controlled by another creature known as Bilocyte. The former is presented as a huge threat during the first phase of the battle, but once the latter is exposed, the rest of the fight is about killing it to cure the infected character. It helps that both have Boss Subtitles.
  • Pokémon:
    • In Pokémon Colosseum, after you defeat Nascour, your team is fully healed, and you have to face Evice, AKA Mayor Es Cade.
    • It should also be noted that Evice's Pokemon are abnormally high leveled compared to all of the past enemies, as all of the enemies before only hold Pokemon up to the level 40 range. Nascour's Pokemon are in the level 50 range and Evice's Pokemon are on the level 60 range. To make things worse, he will actually attempt to Skill Swap Slaking with Slowking which can easily cause him to wipe out the entire party, and his Salamence is nothing to laugh at.
    • Despite the name, the Elite Four actually consists of five bosses, the last of whom is the Pokémon League Champion. You have to defeat all five in a row to beat the game. Particularly in the first generation, the existence of a fifth boss was a surprise, revealed only after you defeat the first four. The Champion is always someone you've met before, but it was a particularly big deal in the first generation because the Champion was The Rival.
    • In Pokémon Black and White, you already know who the Champion is before you enter the league. Then you find out N beat him, forcing you to face SEVEN bosses instead of the usual five. Of course, you're not supposed to defeat one of them. And then as soon as you've beaten N, the real Final Boss and Team Plasma leader, Ghetsis, comes at you. A Trick Boss who replaces another Trick Boss (who was also a Bait-and-Switch Boss).
  • In The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge, there's a type-2 twist. You end up going through what appears to be The Very Definitely Final Dungeon (complete with death-traps, a fight against the Quirky Miniboss Squad, AND a mid-level duel with a Giant Spider), and then take on Oogie Boogie himself in his iconic casino. Surprise! It's really his Living Shadow there to keep you distracted while he works out a plot to kill Sandy Claws and take over all the holidays. (Although the fact that you haven't used all the Holiday Doors yet is a clue-in.)
  • In Viewtiful Joe 2, Alastor (after taking care of Big John) has way less life than you'd expect for the difficulty level you're playing on. And once defeated, the Black Film powers him up for another, harder, go.
  • Captain America and the Avengers:
    • Red Skull is ridiculously easy to deal with, but once you deplete his lifebar, "he" turns into a huge robot with a vast array of attacks that battles you while the real Red Skull watches cackling in the safety of an impervious (until the beaten robot falls onto it) glass dome.
    • At the end of X-Men, Magneto seems to be a pushover at first, but it's actually Mystique in disguise; once you defeat her, you have to fight the true Magneto, in all his glory, and he is a terror. (Especially if Mystique tricked you into using your Mutant Attacks, which are in limited supply, especially since you likely used a lot of them in the Boss Rush in the final level.)
  • The second-to-last Soviet mission in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3. In the first part of the mission, you are supposed to backstab the Allies' forces coming to the peace conference, which is, by all means, suspiciously easy for a late game mission. After you wipe out the Allies, however... Cherdenko decides that You Have Outlived Your Usefulness and wishes to get rid of you because you know too much.
  • WarioWare Twisted has an epic version of this for Kat & Ana's boss. You are a spaceship shooting fingers to pick (and destroy) noses (picking noses is a staple for the series). The boss appears to be a giant nose with a set of eyes above it. Destroy this nose and the pupils will fly out of the "eyes" and the "eyes" will move down, revealing that they were just nostrils for an even bigger nose.
  • Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter has a pirate-version of an average mook as the first boss. You can simply kill him in one hit, just like you did to all of his comrades earlier. Well, guess what? His ghost (who is three times your size) appears and sends small armies of ghost mooks your way. Good luck.
  • In Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams, Fortinbras appears in giant snake monster form and Soki has to fight him in full on Black Oni mode. Normally, this would be the end of it, until Fortinbras reveals he was just messing with you to get rid of Soki's ace in his sleeve, appearing in human form for the real final battle against the entire cast, which is way harder.
  • The NES Godzilla Creepypasta has Not-Ghidorah replaced by a Dorat which gets taken down by two slashes from Solomon. Then Chimera shows up.
  • The battle against the Queen of Hearts in American Mcgees Alice. Turns out the boss you thought was the Queen was just a puppet... that the real Queen was wearing on one of her tentacles.
  • ALLTYNEX Second pulls a monster of a switch in the final stage. The game pits you against ALLTYNEX, the Big Bad rogue Master Computer. After defeating it, it then summons the true Final Boss, Satariel, from an Alternate Universe.
  • In the Xbox 360 mode of DoDonPachi Saidaioujou, you fight both Hibachi and Inbachi. Once you defeat Hibachi, she will suddenly get shot down by a laser from behind and you will fight Inbachi shortly after.
  • House of the Dead 4's final boss, The World, transforms into its Type Gamma form after its initial lifebar is depleted.
  • At the end of Triggerheart Exelica's second stage, the Boss Warning Siren sounds and a large ship appears, but the boss music doesn't start yet, hinting that this is not the real boss.
  • In Quake II, after defeating what appears to be the Makron, you find that it was just his Humongous Mecha, then the fight with the real Makron begins.
  • Resident Evil 2 has this in the A scenario's second fight with G. After defeating its easy initial form, it transforms into a six-legged Lightning Bruiser with More Teeth than the Osmond Family, becoming That One Boss.
  • Resident Evil – Code: Veronica has a similar example where you briefly fight Alexia's first form a second time before she completely goes One-Winged Angel.
  • Dark Cloud has Toan's ally Osmond (a space astronaut/engineer) create a colossal military cyborg to combat the terrifying Dark Genie, who actually takes the form of a funny-looking fat monster with an immature personality to boot. It effortlessly beats the Genie up, shrugs off its strongest attack, then fires a laser that instantly kills it... oh wait, that "Dark Genie" was just a mouse that absorbed some of the real deal's abilities! The real deal is an immortal shapeless deity that uses its power to just tie the cyborg up and blow it away...
  • PN03:
    • In Mission 9, after beating Orchidee II and taking the elevator down to the next room, the boss's remains drop from the ceiling and reform into a Spider Tank.
    • In the final mission, upon depleting Löwenzahn II's lifebar down to a third, in case you didn't notice, it breaks down and falls into the central pit like the first one, only to rise from the ashes as a robotic phoenix. Luckily, unlike Orchidee II, its life bar doesn't refill for this form.
  • Shin Megami Tensei IV:
    • The "Dance of the Dead" quest. You're just going around destroying Macabre hordes, and you get down to the last one. Save your game before fighting it, because when you defeat it, Fiend David shows up to tear you a new one.
    • "Corpse Disposal" has you fighting Corpses in Shinjuku. All of them go down without incident, but upon killing the last Corpse and triggering quest completion, a Hunter shows up to discover that you've finished the quest for him. He gets furious and takes a Red Pill, transforming him into the demon Dullahan, who fights you immediately.
    • The final Terminal that the Terminal Guardian is protecting: At first, he dispatches Barong and Rangda. Once those two are down, longtime Megami Tensei fans will realize why he picked those two specific demons: Because he then leaves and comes back with Shiva (the series-traditional result of fusing Barong and Rangda), who you fight next.
  • Shin Megami Tensei II: Like how in the first game you fight Michael on the Chaos route, Asura on Law, and both on Neutral and the Final Boss(es), this game has them replaced with Satan and Lucifer, respectively. However, as is well known by now, neither are the Final Boss. After getting past whichever you have to fight, you must fight YHVH, AKA the SMT version of God Himself.
  • Darius II has you fight the Japanese World War II ship Yamato at the end of the Earth stages. Destroy it to reveal the true endboss of the current stage: A giant hermit crab.
  • Shovel Knight has Tinker Knight, whose first phase is easy, especially if you one-shot him with a Mobile Gear. Once defeated, the ground collapses and you enter a new boss arena, where Tinker Knight is now driving a massive juggernaut called the Tinker Tank. He also repeats this trick during the Boss Rush in the penultimate level.
  • The second level of the Jaleco shmup EDF has you perform a Battleship Raid on an Airborne Aircraft Carrier, only for the real boss to launch afterwards.
  • In Silent Scope's Highway level, after taking out Cobra and saving the President's daughter, he gets back up and hijacks a semi truck Terminator style.
  • In Super Contra's last stage (Stage 6 in the NES version), you fight an apparent Final Boss accompanied by epic music and victory fanfare. But that was just the warmup for the real battle with Urania Devil Gaba/Jagger Froid, who is much tougher.
    • The NES version does not have the victory fanfare music after you defeat the fake boss.
  • In stage 3 of Contra 3: The Alien Wars, you fight a pair of robots at the end of the stage. After you beat them, the game becomes suspiciously silent then the true boss, Big Fuzz rips open the wall and the boss music begins to play.
    • If the player defeats the final boss Brain Organism Searle in hard mode, it will reassemble into Six Man Feromedos and reassume its attack until it is killed as well.
  • In Contra: Shattered Soldier, after you destroy the Relic of Moirai at S rank, it will explode and an escape scene will play, in which it will become into a Composite Character of its human, frog and jellyfish forms, making it the true final boss and resume attacking until it too is killed.
    • Neo Contra's final boss acts in a similar manner; If you get S Rank on stage 6 and defeat Project G, his remains will appear when you are descending to earth and attack you, and technically this is where the true fight against it starts, as the Project G of stage 6 simply requires you to cut all of his life support within 30 seconds.
  • Fallout 4: One of the very first missions has you don a Powered Armor and wield a Minigun to take down a bunch of raiders, including their leader Gristle. Gristle is stronger than the raiders, but he can't hurt you much thanks to your armor and falls quickly to your Minigun. Shortly after that, a much stronger, faster, and tougher Deathclaw pops out of the sewers and serves as the actual boss (and your only warning that this will happen is an optional conversation with Mama Murphy).
  • In The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth, the battle with the DLC's Bonus Boss, Hush, is set up like this. You first have to fight a boss that acts and fights in every way like the Blue Baby from the Chest. But upon taking this boss apart, the gigantic true boss emerges and "Morituros" starts up, setting the stage for one of the most Bullet Hell-tastic battles of the entire game.
    • The Game Mod The Binding of Isaac: Antibirth does a similar thing with Mom in the Alternate Route once you collect the three knife pieces. When you defeat the boss and use the completed knife to open the fleshy door that appears, you have to fight a buffed version of Mom's Heart, but this time it has attacks that are even more of a Bullet Hell. Let's hope you didn't lose too much health on the first boss...
  • In X Kaliber 2097, the battle with the fourth boss, Dr. Blast, starts with you against a very slow, old scientist who fires slow, short-range, bouncing pellets that do the lowest amount of damage in the game. After you get two or three hits in, Dr. Blast pauses, drinks a potion, and his health refills and he turns into a man-sized, flying scorpion, which you fight as the actual boss.
  • In Dark Souls II, if you go to the Throne of Want when you're supposed to, which is after obtaining the Giant's Kinship, then after defeating Dual Boss Throne Defender and Throne Watcher, the Final Boss will enter the arena through the fog wall and start the battle with you immediately. For this reason, many players opt to take care of Defender and Watcher first, to avoid two boss fights in a row. Of course, if Scholar of the First Sin is installed and the right conditions are met, the True Final Boss pulls this after the Final Boss regardless, leading to a possible three boss fights in a row. Mind you, this is possibly a subversion as the Watcher and Defender are arguably much harder than what follows.
  • Kirby:
    • In the "Revenge of Meta Knight" subgame in Kirby Super Star, one level's boss appears to be Whispy Woods, the classic Warm-Up Boss who was already fought in "Spring Breeze". Once you trounce him again, the floor gives away to bring Kirby to the real boss: Twin Woods, a fight with two Whispys that drop more dangerous projectiles.
    • In Kirby's Dream Land 3, the final boss is Dark Matter, who only has one form this time around. Upon defeating Dark Matter, Kirby is attacked by Zero, Dark Matter's boss, who has very... interesting attacks.
    • In Kirby Super Star Ultra (the DS remake of Super Star), one of the new Boss Rush modes, "Helper to Hero", ends with a fight against Wham Bam Rock, the Final Boss of "The Great Cave Offensive". Once it's beaten, Wham Bam Jewel, the actual Final Boss of the mode, appears.
    • In Team Kirby Clash Deluxe, the final boss appears to be Dark Taranza. After he's defeated in only one phase, he summons the Black Mirror, which summons King D-Mind. Afterwards, King D-Mind immediately turns against Dark Taranza and kills him, replacing him for the rest of the battle.
    • Kirby Star Allies:
      • The game first pulls the same trick as Super Star; the boss of Falluna Moon is made out to be an autumnal recolor of Whispy Woods (who is the first boss of this game as well), but after beating him, the camera pans away to lead Kirby to Yggy Woods, an Upgraded Boss version of Whispy with stronger attacks.
      • The boss fight against Kracko on Gabbel Moon, who divides in two after an unusually quick first fight. In the extra mode "Heroes in Another Dimension", Parallel Kracko mixes it up by starting as two weak clouds before combining into a stronger giant one.
      • One final example is during the penultimate fight of the game against Hyness. For a maniacal cult leader, he fights fairly tamely, attacking with predictable shadow orbs and a few elemental moves. Then you empty his health bar and knock off his hood, revealing his bizarre face; this causes him to go berserk and start the second part of the battle, where he drains the life of the Three Mage-Sisters and uses them as puppets, leading to much stronger and crazier attacks.
    • In Super Kirby Clash, Parallel Nightmare appears to be defeated in The Final Battle, but he gets up and summons a dimensional rift. As he laughs maniacally, the being he summoned, revealed to be the Aeon Hero, cuts down Parallel Nightmare, seemingly killing him. Aeon Hero then replaces Parallel Nightmare's Revenge for the remainder of the battle.
  • In Shantae and the Pirate's Curse, you may think you've defeated the Cyclops Plant when it explodes, but that was just the first phase. Then the eyeball bounces wildly around the room, only stopping to fire its Eye Beam.
  • In Noitu Love 2: Devolution, the boss of Level 3 starts as a Dueling Player Characters situation, where you fight Rilo Doppelori if you're playing as Xoda Rap or Almond, and you instead fight Xoda if you're playing as Rilo. The battle only lasts until the boss character's health bar is half-empty, at which point the Sea Serpent robot (a mini-boss from earlier in the level that fled after its protective mask broke) interrupts the fight by launching the fighters onto a water wheel spinning down a river; it proceeds to blast away the character you were fighting, leaving the Sea Serpent as the real stage boss. Notably, the rival fight is much more difficult than the Sea Serpent rematch, so the half-health interruption works to balance it out.
  • Might and Magic VI: The final quest is to destroy the reactor in the Kreegan hive. It can defend itself using ranged attacks and it does take quite a few hits, but it is entirely possible to snipe it and avoid retaliation in realtime battle mode by remaining behind the entrance, leaving the impression the real boss was the hordes of Kreegan you killed to get to the reactor. They you destroy the reactor and instantly get teleported to the middle of the large, open room the reactor was in, with walls sliding up to reveal the real final boss, the Kreegan Queen, and a veritable horde of lesser Kreegan...
  • Hollow Knight's Soul Master goes through a spectacular death throes sequence and leaves behind an upgrade pickup, only to return in full Turns Red mode.
  • In Persona 5, the battle against Junya Bael Kaneshiro starts by having him fight on foot and the mid-boss theme "Keeper of Lust" plays. He is also quite weak in this form. Then, after you beat him, he unleashes a giant piggy bank robot called "Piggytron" and the real boss music "Blooming Villain" plays.
  • The first three bosses of Persona Q2 New Cinema Labyrinth are basically trick bosses. This is basically three out of the five bosses in the game.
    • The first boss you fight is Kamoshidaman, a superhero figure resembling the well-hated rapist teacher in Persona 5, but isn't a rapist, instead a pure-breed bully. After the party executes their heist to remove the statue that acts as his power source, he beocomes so weak the the P3 female protagonist can just trample on top of him and his attacks do a pitiful 1 damage. When you think everything is over, he suddenly pulls off a pair of carrots, surrounds himself in a Battle Aura made of films and transforms into a monstrous wererabbit One-Winged Angel form. This form not only resists everything until the carrots that he uses as BFGs are removed, the carrots have ridiculous amounts of HP and can kill a party member instantly. After all of them are removed, he will have a Fire weakness which he will shield if he is downed and will use physical attacks that can still OHKO party members.
    • The second boss you fight is Yosukesaurus, a herbivore dinosaur that has been driven into despair by his comrades and transforms into a carnivorus dinosaur resembling Shadow Yosuke. Defeating Yosukesaurus does not end the battle and he will continue attacking as long as the other Herbivore Dinosaurs are alive.
    • When the party explores the third Labyrinth, they will fight a robot Commander resembling Shuji Ikutsuki which appears to be the ruler of the reality. After he was defeated, the Commander continues to broadcast that irregulars are going into a rampage, and it turns out that he was nothing other than a puppet, and The Man Behind the Man was an AI resembling a hologram Ikutsuki head, and that is the true governor of this reality.
  • Mushihime Sama:
    • The first game's True Final Boss, Aki, explodes and rewards a point bonus at the end of his main phase, but then a new music piece, "Requiem of the Sky", starts up and the boss unleashes his final Bullet Hell assault.
    • Queen Larsa from the sequel is much worse, having three full life bars and a final attack that makes the first game's TFB look like child's play.
  • In the arcade version of Double Dragon II, the second fight with Burnov has him dematerialize and leave his mask behind like with the first fight, only for him to rematerialize for one more round. In the NES version, he does this in all of his appearances.
  • At the end of Axelay, similar to the aforementioned Contra examples, upon initially defeating the Final Boss, the Stage Clear fanfare plays, but the boss is Not Quite Dead, and the fight continues while escaping the Collapsing Lair, accompanied by a Boss Remix of the weapons select/stage clear theme.
  • Despite its incredibly bare plot, NeuroVoider still manages to have this in its final battle. Once you defeat the Master Neurovoider, there are several items to pick up, like in every other boss fight. FAT.32, the game's tutor, proceeds to steal its main body and attack you.
  • In Ori and the Will of the Wisps, when Shriek's life meter is nearly depleted, it disappears and she feigns a retreat, only to return and completely destroy the arena platform, starting the battle's final phase where Ori must continually Bash off the storm of projectiles to avoid falling into the abyss.
  • In Rigid Force Alpha's second stage, you encounter a CORE Plasmoid, which flees after its life bar is depleted, then you fight the stage's actual boss, Project Behemoth. During the rematch with the Plasmoid as the Final Boss, it apparently explodes in defeat yet again, only to gain a new life bar and start growing in size, increasingly limiting the player's room to move.
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