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That One Boss / Dark Souls
aka: Dark Souls II

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As you progress through the many difficult dungeons in Dark Souls and its sequels, it wouldn't be unreasonable to think that at the end of each of them, you'd be rewarded with not-so-difficult pushovers, becoming a textbook case of Hard Levels, Easy Bosses, right? Heh, well, that's certainly not the case for these guys. Unmarked spoilers ahead.

For the troublesome bosses in Bloodborne, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and Elden Ring, visit this page, this page, and this page respectfully. Difficult bosses for Demon's Souls can be found under its respective YMMV tab.

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     Dark Souls I 

  • The not-so-appreciated honor of the most hated boss goes to one of the first bosses of the game, the Capra Demon. The boss itself wields two very large machetes that have wide hitboxes and loves to slam both of them down on any unfortunate player that thinks they have a chance of blocking its attacks, occasionally starting the fight with this attack, which can kill you instantly. The two attack dogs that accompany it make the fight all but impossible until they're disposed of, and the brutal speed at which the boss charges at you with powerful attacks as soon as the battle begins, combined with the very small area you have to maneuver in mean many players will stare at the "You Died" screen mere seconds after starting the fight. The dogs and the arena are the biggest reason why this boss is difficult, which is a relief as you meet seven of them as respawning enemies on the way to Lost Izalith, with most of them tightly packed together making picking them off one by one a must. Good thing you can skip the fight via Sequence Breaking, or you can cheese it by bringing a lot of Firebombs and blowing it up past the fog gate, IF you know where the sweet spot is... Combine that with the fact that it's positioned at the end of the game's first true example of That One Level, the Lower Undead Burg, and it's not surprising that a fair chunk of the players who give up on the series do so at this exact point.
  • For as early as she appears in the roster, Quelaag is very likely to be this. She can be as early as the fourth boss you face (second, if you chose the Master Key as your starting gift), and she stands as a test of whether you've really mastered the game's mechanics or not. Often enough, she simply runs over to you to do several attacks with her sword, which does fire damage, typically a type that is never completely blocked by any shieldnote . However, one of her common attacks is for the spider to start spitting huge globules of lava, which sit in the arena for several seconds and become another obstacle for you to keep away from, but her most dangerous attack, which is only telegraphed by the pose her human body takesnote  and can be confused for the said lava spit, is a burning shockwave around her, much like the Force miracle, that can one-shot you even at full HP if you're standing beside her. As a result, anytime she stops and seems safe to run up to in order to start getting in hits could lead to this attack and seeing "You Died" in the next second after if the player doesn't look carefully. Thankfully, even if you're not online, you can summon Maneater Mildred just outside her arena if you defeated her phantom earlier, though she is likely to be stunlocked by any lava pools from Quelaag's spitting attacks.
  • Ornstein and Smough is where the game finally begins to demand mastery. They both hit like tanks (with Smough in particular punishing anyone who still hides behind a shield instead of dodging as his attacks are unblockable) and their movesets compliment the other’s perfectly and, especially if you decide to go it solo, the fight requires kiting them and capitalizing on the moments where the two are separated (thankfully the pillars are a massive help on that front). To add salt to the wound, they are also a sequential boss, in that if you kill one, the other will heal back to full health and get a buff- Ornstein will become giant, and Smough will add lightning to his attacks.
  • The Four Kings. The battle is essentially a damage race to kill each King as quickly as possible before the others spawn while surviving/avoiding their highly damaging magic-based attacks, which is easier said than done because of their Hitbox Dissonance, and the arena – a pitch-black, infinite, entirely featureless void with absolutely nothing to provide a frame of reference – is extremely disorienting. It gets worse in New Game Plus since the Kings get a considerable health boost making it that much harder to kill them quickly. Oh, and just to make the fight even harder, the Four Kings do no physical damage at all. It's all magic damage in varying flavors, so that 100% physical block shield that's carried you through the entire game now becomes a lot less effective.
  • Gravelord Nito becomes this if you lack any sort of useful divine weapon. He's not that powerful by himself, and most of his attacks are telegraphed. However, several smaller skeletons accompany him, and unless they are killed with divine weaponry, they respawn constantly until you defeat Nito. While you're busy trying to clear them off, Nito himself will start unleashing gravelord miracles at you or even try to take advantage of the situation by swinging his sword at you (even knocking off some of his minions in the process). Even worse, if you go too far into the boss room, you'll get swarmed by Giant Skeletons, adding to the smaller ones in case you haven't already killed them off with divine weapons. One of the most common hints left by other players outside his room is "Need Divine" for a good reason. To add insult to injury, you have to take a pretty big drop to get to Nito's arena, meaning unless you've equipped yourself with the "Fall Control" sorcery, you'll be taking a big chunk of fall damage just before the fight starts.
  • The Centipede Demon. You're fighting it in a room full of lava, with a small strip of rock near the entrance. The Centipede Demon has several alarmingly powerful attacks with excellent reach, meaning it can hit you from a good distance while you're helpless to do anything about it. Its bizarre anatomy (three big centipedes stuck together on a pair of legs?), obscene range, and tendency to jump around make it hard for you to get your bearings and not immediately obvious where you're supposed to aim at. Worse, you get the Orange Charred Ring, which you need to walk on lava, after you defeat the Centipede Demon. You can get it early, however, if you don't mind trying to cut the Centipede Demon's tail, which is often over the lava, or its long-reaching "arm", which has small attack windows. If you thought it would be easier on New Game Plus because you have the Orange Charred Ring already, you'd be mistaken, as it is one of two rings removed from your inventory at the end of each playthrough.
  • The Bed of Chaos. If there was one endgame boss that is absolutely hated by players just for how mind-boggingly frustrating the strategy to defeat it is, it's this monster. It's also despised for being full of Fake Difficulty in a game that usually avoids the trope, primarily because you can't actually damage it with your weapons in order to kill it – you have to run to and destroy three weak points, avoiding virtually-unpredictable and difficult-to-dodge attacks that instakill you by sweeping you into a bottomless pit. They become increasingly difficult to reach with the chaos that piles up throughout the boss fight (read: tree arms swinging around wildly, crumbling floor, fire scythes digging their way to you, and straight-up Firestorm pyromancies). The single shred of mercy this fight has in it is that the weak points don't regenerate if you die, meaning you don't have to start the entire fight from the beginning when you inevitably plummet to your doom. How annoying is this fight? Miyazaki at one point stated that the Bed of Chaos was his greatest regret.

     Dark Souls II 

  • Despite being a mere Dark Spirit and not technically a boss, Armorer Dennis in HD Scholar of The First Sin is excessively rage-inducing. He's basically a high-level sorcerer player with Sorceries like the standard issue Soul Spear, the fifty-mile-wide, roll-or-else Soul Greatsword and Soul Vortex, a storm of block-penetrating perma-stunning energy roughly the width of the area he's encountered. He's not even a Squishy Wizard as he has a high-stability shield and way more HP than any Dark Spirit of his level should have. Oh, and you first find the bastard in the Forest of Fallen Giants.
  • The Royal Rat Vanguard will make you realize that those rats are using every advantage the game provides to the enemies against you. First, you have to kill a high number of poisonous rats before the boss actually appears, who looks exactly like any rat except for his Mohawk, and that he inflicts petrification. Second, all the rats are smaller than you, so a lot of your attacks won't reach them; you will need a weapon that hits the ground, like a club. Third, there are statues all over the arena that cannot be destroyed, and every time you hit one, your weapon will bounce off, leaving you completely exposed. Fortunately, like the previous boss, this one is optional, and you can opt to ignore it until you have late-game equipment and can one-shot every rat to oblivion, unless you're trying to get the Rat King covenant at a low Soul Memory.
  • The Smelter Demon is a good candidate for a Dark Souls player's worst nightmare of the year. In addition to its metric ton of health, its Nightmare-esque BFS with immense range, speed, and damage, and its indifference to most physical damage, it's also the first boss to basically force players to either get a damn good shield, or else outright master the new, harsher dodge timings. As a cherry on top of the flaming, spiked iron cake, it has two traits that specifically punish most players' preferred boss strategies. One; shortly into the fight, it bursts into flames, slowly chewing through the health of players who like to stay close to punish its openings. And two; it frequently performs a large, telegraphed Sword Plant. It looks like an easily-exploitable opening. Sometimes it genuinely is. Other times, it isn't. It doesn't help that a glitch can trap you against the wall, making you easy pickings. The fight is technically optional, but the only alternatives are either trudging through the whole of the Iron Keep using one bonfire or blitzing your way through the Belfry Sol area, which leaves you at risk of getting invaded by Bell Keeper covenant members, so it's really a case of pick your poison. An oft-overlooked exploit is using Lucatiel of Mirrah (summonable nearby) as a distraction, while loading the Smelter Demon with poison throwing knives. While it by no means makes the fight trivial, it makes it significantly easier and keeps the Demon's focus away from the player.
    • It's telling that the Bonus Boss encounter for the Crown of the Iron King DLC is another Smelter Demon — this time dealing magic damage thanks to its blue flames.
  • Remember when the Capra Demon used to slaughter you within seconds of entering the fog gate due to the annoying attack dogs that made a perfect job at distracting you? The Flexile Sentry in New Game Plus gains two nasty minions that will keep you on the edge with toxic buildup. Way to put a roadblock through No-Man's Wharf in subsequent playthroughs, FromSoftware.
  • The Lost Sinner has quickly become one of the most hated bosses in Dark Souls II. Not only does she have swift yet powerful, long-reaching attacks, her arena is fought in the dark, meaning your lock-on range is terribly short unless you defeat another challenging optional boss, allowing you to light up the lamps in her room. What cements her status, however, is when you lower her HP to 60% in NG+, two black phantom pyromancers spawn, both of whom have access to some of the most powerful pyromancy spells in game. It's gotten to the point that both of their health and damage output were reduced in Patch 1.03 due to how frustrating this boss was to many; Scholar of the First Sin also makes it so that you no longer have to face the optional boss in the PvP area just to light up the oil lamps in her arena.
  • Velstadt, the Royal Aegis. While his attacks are easily telegraphed, what makes him dangerous is his serious case of Hitbox Dissonance; you'll be getting clipped for massive damage even if you rolled out of the way. He also has a crazy habit of mixing up his attacks; sometimes he'll string his attacks together, sometimes he won't, something which can throw your roll timing off if you think he's going into an attack animation. Blocking won't be much help either, since he hits like a freight train to your stamina. And once you damage him down to 60% percent, he'll begin to channel Dark Magic and start using Hexes. Which alone is bad, but it also gives him a massive boost in strength while also getting his defense buffed to the point your strikes are just Scratch Damage.
  • While Throne Watcher and Defender are like Ornstein and Smough, one is a Lightning Bruiser and the other is a Mighty Glacier. They are much more frustrating since you cannot use the arena to your advantage against these bosses, meaning you have to wait to find an opening to attack them. You also need to kill them both back to back, otherwise, they will revive each other.
  • The Fume Knight, the main boss of the Crown of the Old Iron King DLC, is universally considered to be the hardest boss in the game, packing a 93% winrate against players and surpassing even Sir Alonne, the Superboss he is meant to be guarding. On top of having endgame boss HP, damage, and resistances, the Fume Knight has a deceptively tricky and quick moveset, with lengthy combos that don't let up, delayed strikes that can easily catch mistimed rolls, and most famously, input-reads that punish you for trying to use healing items at the wrong time. Phase 2 has all of that and more, with devastating and hard-to-dodge projectiles, non-stop aggression, and extreme speed. The Fume Knight's combination of intelligence, moveset variety, punishing AoEs, and delayed strikes made him the definitive template for some of FromSoftware's hardest bosses going forward, with many of their biggest challenges taking a page from ol' Fumey.
  • The Burnt Ivory King, the final boss of the Crown of the Ivory King DLC. By himself, he's not too bad, although he does have a really nasty impale attack that can be very difficult to avoid and does a ton of damage. No, what makes this boss a nightmare is that before you can actually fight him, you must first fight your way through an army of charred Loyce knights, all of which are Demonic Spiders by themselves. And you have to fight them all again every single time in the likely event you die to the King. If you take the time to explore Eleum Loyce and free the uncorrupted knights, they will join the fight and freeze the gates to stop the charred knights appearing, but this doesn't make it much easier as the charred knights prefer to target you rather than their kin. And if you don't free the uncorrupted knights, you are in for a rough time as the charred knights never stop coming, even after the King joins the fray.

     Dark Souls III 

  • Holy Knight Hodrick, the very first NPC encounter in the game and one of the toughest to boot. Encountered at the Dilapidated Bridge bonfire in the Undead Settlement, Hodrick is ridiculously good at parrying, and will almost always succeed when he tries, setting you up for a ripe riposte. If you try circumventing this by attacking him while he two-hands his Flamberge, he'll just hyper-armor his way through your attacks and slaughter you. Finally, if you somehow whittle down his monstrous health and his supply of Estus, he'll cast Warmth to start healing himself again. The secret encounter with him as part of Sirris' questline is largely the same, except you have half the healing and you have to make sure Sirris lives through it — if she dies, you have to try again.
  • The Crystal Sage is this for pure sorcerer builds. For anyone with some brawn, it's an obnoxious but not overly hard boss whose spam attacks can be tanked and who loses big chunks of health to every swipe of your trusty sword. But if you sank all your points into Intelligence and Attunement (and you kind of have to if you want to have a viable sorcerer build), have fun trying to dodge the barrage of differently-moving spells coming from four different directions while knowing that any mistake will likely be your last because you just don't have the armour and health to survive more than one or two hits. And you'll have to do it for a very long time, because the one sort of damage you're proficient at dealing out is the one sort of damage the Crystal Sage has a ton of resistance to!
  • Abyss Watchers, while an awesome boss, let you know what kind of game you’re in for. The bosses before them are fairly easy, but the Abyss Watchers throw you in for a heavy test on how well you’ve learnt the game’s mechanics. You are immediately met with a fast and aggressive foe upon entering the arena, who can gap close to you incredibly quickly. Then another one enters the fight! You then have to manage two of these foes until the third one arrives, one who can still damage you, but who attacks the other two enemies, evening the odds. And if you don’t kill the first Abyss Watcher on time, a new hostile Abyss Watcher appears! The fight demands you to know how to manage multiple enemies at once, on top of being a test of dodge rolling and finding openings to attack during. You kill the first Abyss Watcher, thinking you’ve done the fight… only for Phase 2 to begin, a souped up Abyss Watcher with the same aggressive and fast moveset, but one that leaves devastating fire AoEs after every greatsword attack, demanding fast reaction times and very well timed dodges to avoid getting clipped by the fire after-effects, as well as good Estus management from the first phase to claim victory.
  • High Lord Wolnir sounds easy on paper, but can be frustrating in practice. The battle requires you to smash the three gold rings on the boss's wrists, which causes him to die instantly. The issue is that Wolnir surrounds himself with heavily damaging poison clouds. While this isn’t too bad, Wolnir will sometimes keep his left arm in the poison so you can’t hit it, or, worse, will charge at you and corner you into these poison clouds. He also constantly spawns skeletons to help him too, as if this wasn’t annoying enough. The boss isn’t challenging, but offers very little visual clarity and a weird moveset that a lot of the time does nothing, but sometimes will kill you in a way that just leaves you puzzled.
  • Pontiff Sulyvahn has two incredibly strong elemental swords that he likes to spin around with wild abandon, along with summoning a shadow clone when he reaches half his health that he likes to combo his obscenely powerful attacks with. He is fast, agile, and extremely aggressive, allowing scant opportunities for healing. He can also extend the reach of his swords with magic, purposefully delaying his sword strikes to punish quick dodge rolls off the floor, and having little to no tells on his sword lunges and backhanded sword strikes that he tends to use immediately after you attempt to punish his moves. The only small concession is that he's vulnerable to parrying, but if you can't get the tricky parry timing down, be prepared for a hell of a fight, as he will mercilessly punish any player mistake. If you are not good at dodging – particularly at dodging into combos to avoid them – then heavy fire and magic resistances are pretty much mandatory.
  • The Dancer of the Boreal Valley isn't too difficult to start, but once you get her health down enough, she pulls out another sword and gets a completely different moveset where she constantly spins around and never shifts her attention. Getting caught in her spin combo is pretty much certain death, especially in NG+. It doesn't help that her swords have an extremely long reach by themselves (and often an even longer reach due to Hitbox Dissonance). And if you killed Emma and fought her earlier than you should, every aforementioned thing above is One-Hit Kill.
  • Aldrich, Devourer of Gods is a weird case. Most of his attacks are very easy to dodge and punishable. His soul spears are telegraphed from a mile off, his magic orbs around him do minuscule damage, and when he does a melee attack, it’s not only easy to dodge but he generally lies flat on the ground for ages after, allowing you to unload your stamina bar into him easily. He also has a tiny HP pool and a heavy weakness to Fire. So why is he on here? Aldrich’s arrow attack is one of the most dangerous attacks in the game, capable of one-shotting players at high HP who don’t dodge on time, lasting for an eternity and generally making any kind of counterattack completely impossible. And that's phase one! In phase two, he sets himself on fire alongside the ground around him, gains increased damage, and guess what? His arrow attack is now arguably the strongest attack in the game! It now follows you around the arena, lasts longer than before, and forces you to run away lest you get pelted by arrows – all while he is sending other attacks at you – and will still kill you almost instantly if you get caught in it. He doesn’t usually cast his arrow move if he’s close to you, and his weak melee attacks make sticking to him very powerful… which would be great, expect for the fact that he loves to teleport away all the time, and if he starts drawing his bow when you get close to him, you have to now run away for dear life lest you get quickly pelted to death by arrows. If you're not cheesing his attacks with Vow of Silence (or don't know that the miracle can stop several of his attacks), get ready for pain.
  • The Twin Princes. In the first phase, Lorian (the big one) charges you with minimally telegraphed attacks. However, he teleports, courtesy of Lothric (the small one), and gives you a barrage of Sword Beams of both light and fire. After the painful one-on-one with the first Prince, Lothric comes to the rescue and revives Lorian (that being said, he has less health with after each revival). Here comes the second phase, aka the most painful experience of RNG. There are at some points where they teleport less, or teleport incessantly to the absolute extreme. While the attacks are pretty much the same, though Lothric's magic intervenes with the battle, the worst aspect of the second phase is the fact that if you kill Lorian first, Lothric revives him, again!!. The design of the boss's hitboxes makes it sure that there is at least one bloody revive from the Princes. Good luck maintaining your estus till the end!
  • If you have any intent on going through the Untended Graves for one of the three endings, you have to get through the Beef Gate with extra beef that is known as the Champion Gundyr, who Took a Level in Badass from the Warm-Up Boss that was the game's tutorial boss, Iudex Gundyr. He manages to prove such a huge threat to the player by hitting way harder than he before (to the point he can outright one-shot you if you're sufficiently underleveled or just lacking in HP), his combos being far longer and far more aggressive overall, and keeping you constantly on your toes by virtue of having several fake-outs and false moves to punish you with. The saving graces to having to fight this monstrosity are twofold: for one, he thankfully doesn't have the corrupted Abyss form the Iudex Gundyr fought you with, but he still Turns Red and busts out even more aggressive combos that'll likely catch you by surprise and send you to a quick death. The second saving grace and in a weird subversion of a Bonus Boss, is that he's completely skippable... but if you intend on getting the End of Fire Ending, he's flat-out mandatory to beat the game, as an item you need to get for that ending is kept beyond him, with no way around. Either way, he still counts by virtue of getting in the way of you beating the game, and if you're expecting an easy boss fight like the Iudex Gundyr, expect a total Curb-Stomp Battle with you at the receiving end.
  • The Deacons of the Deep are easy on a first playthrough (especially for melee builds), but on NG+, they become much more aggressive and love to launch their attacks one after another, and it's incredibly easy to get boxed in by them and become impossible to dodge their attacks. They're also a pain for magic builds in general, since it's extremely hard to target them with spells; so anyone used to cheesing bosses with magic will be in for a surprise.
  • Sister Friede's first two stages aren't too difficult to deal with, it's the third and final stage of her fight that becomes a true challenge. She pulls out a second scythe, and her attacks are now imbued with black flames, greatly increasing her damage output (by the endgame, each hit from her will likely take out one Estus-worth of health). She's also far more aggressive than in her previous stages, attacking and covering ground quickly, leaving little time to heal and even less room for error.

Alternative Title(s): Dark Souls II