Cutscene Boss

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Sometimes, instead of allowing the player to face a Video Game boss directly in battle, the game will instead present the battle as a non-interactive sequence or cutscene. This has a few advantages, in that by removing the player's skill from the equation, the battle can achieve a specific outcome using strict choreography—fully rendered CGI cutscenes can ply their Cutscene Power to the Max, with the player and/or boss executing awesome acrobatic feats feats that would not otherwise be possible in an actual, in-game battle.

On the other hand, if the player was expecting to engage the boss directly, seeing the battle play out with no input from them whatsoever can feel very anticlimactic, even more so than a Zero Effort Boss.

This can be Downplayed Trope somewhat if the cutscene employs Press X to Not Die, allowing the player some interactivity even if they have no ultimate say in the battle's outcome (as in most cases, failing to hit the right button immediately fails the battle, forcing the player to try the sequence again).

Compare Coup De Grace Cutscene, where the Boss Battle itself was fully interactive, but a cutscene is used to depict the killing blow. See also The Unfought.

Examples of Cutscene Boss include:

Action Adventure

  • In Spectrobes: Beyond the Portals, at the end, you defeat Krux's two true dark Spectrobes - he then summons a larger true dark Spectrobe, which is defeated by the emergence of the Ultimate Spectrobe Tindera from its previously broken Geo. You then face Krux himself, who is absolutely pitiful, but still survives the battle.
  • In Alice: Madness Returns, Alice and the Hatter fnd themselves face-to-face with a steampunk Humongous Mecha. Hatter was swiftly caught by a hook and suspended in mid air off-screen, and the player expects a difficult boss fight alone against the mecha. Suddenly, just as the mecha was going to flatten Alice, a giant tea-pot falls onto it and destroyed the entire mecha. Then, the Hatter nimbly and unflinchingly lands in front of the carnage...
  • Bibi Love from Dead Rising 2. Like most bosses, she is a civilian who has survived the Zombie Apocalypse at the cost of her sanity. Trying to attack her will cause a bomb to be detonated, killing her Captive Audience - Cameron, Allison, and Juan - so you can't handle her that way. However, she mistakes you for a stage hand, and if you do what she tells you to - get her a drink, wear a tuxedo, and find 10 to 15 "fans" (as in, wrangle that many zombies and lead them to the stage) and then operate the lights for her performance - she will make a grand finish and then mosh-jump into the "fans" you brought, who of course, tear her to pieces.

Action Game

  • Natla dies in a cutscene at the end of Tomb Raider: Underworld after you disable her doomsday machine.
  • Arkham series:
    • Batman: Arkham Asylum has the Harley Quinn confrontation. After all the build up involving taking down an army of her Mooks, she was taken down in a cutscene.
    • Twice in the sequel, Batman: Arkham City. The most glaring and frustrating is Hugo Strange, since he's effectively the main villain of the story (or at least The Heavy). The other is The Joker, but that's not quite as bad, because by the time you find that out, you've already fought him - it just wasn't the real Joker. There are numerous borderline examples who are taken out with little effort, but whether they count - and whether the challenge of getting to them makes up for it - is a matter of personal opinion.
    • Ra's Al Ghul in Arkham City averts this - like The Joker, you actually did fight him much earlier in the story, but unlike the Joker's case, Batman was under the influence of an illusion manufactured by Ra's.
  • God of War III has three examples:
    • Hephaestus goes out this way after sending Kratos to retrieve the Omphalos Stone from Cronos, then trying to kill him using his ring after completing the Nemesis Whip, only for Kratos to kill him. His godly possession inadvertently lampshades this, as it unlocks a cheat that automatically completes quick-time events for you (which was present in previous games).
    • Helios dies this way as well. While aiding the minions of Olympus against Kratos and the Titans by throwing fireballs into the area, Kratos used a ballista to damage Helios' Sun Chariot, causing him to fly straight into the hand of Perses, who then crushed Helios and threw into the city. Kratos later finds him here, using a Cyclops to smash through a battalion of Olympus Sentinels that converged on the wounded god, and demands the location of The Flame of Olympus before violently stomping his head, ignoring Helios's pleas to stop. After finally getting the information he wanted out of him, Kratos then grabs his head, breaks his neck, and finally tears it off.
    • The worst offender in the game is Hera. After her champion Heracles tried and failed to kill him, Kratos finds a drunken and plague-weakened Hera in her garden; as he reaches the end of the garden, Hera goads Kratos by calling Pandora 'that little whore', causing him to lose control and snap her neck - all without any input from the player. Kratos then uses her corpse to weigh down several pressure plates and aid in his escape.

Adventure Game

  • Belial in Realms of The Haunting. The first time at least...

First Person Shooter

"A man chooses! A slave obeys! OBEY!"

  • The Prophet of Truth, the Halo series' Big Bad, is ultimately killed in the final game of the trilogy in a cutscene (he doesn't even put up a fight and is already dying by the time the main characters reach him). Even the climactic fight leading up to him isn't particularly notable (other than the Fuel Rod Cannon spamming Heavy Grunts). Of course, Bungie was never particularly good at handling boss fights (as Halo 2 can attest), so most fans consider this forgivable.
    • There's no real confrontation with the Gravemind, either.
    • The first two encounters with the Field Marshal in Halo: Reach. You get to fight it interactively on the final mission.
  • In Resistance, after hearing about the Angel for quite a while, you enter the room where one is being held... only to open it and blast it's brains out with a rifle in a cutscene.
  • In Unreal II the Awakening, the game ends with the player discovering that his boss, Sector Commander Hawkins, was the Big Bad all along. Hawkins gets quickly executed in a cutscene by a single pistol shot to the gut, although as an unarmed human officer it's not like he could have put up much of a fight anyway.
  • Goldfinger in Golden Eye Rogue Agent

Game Books

Mecha Game

  • Golg Boldoza in his appearance in Another Century's Episode 2. The entire final stretch of the game is dedicated to the climatic battle as seen in Do You Remember Love, and the final stage sees the player rushing through Boldoza's battleship for a final showdown. The player reaches the central core (courtesy of a Sekiha Tenkyouken from Domon Kasshu), and Boldoza... Simply screams "UWOOOOOOOOH!! PROTOCULTUUUUUURE!!" as the player and his wingmen unload their strongest weapons and attacks right in the face, killing him instantly.
    • The final battle of Macross Frontier, as depicted in Another Century's Episode: R, is just as bad if not worse. The original Macross finale was depicted in ACE2 as two stages of chaotic battle with the Zentraedi horde before the final stage as described above. Frontier's final battle is all one stage, consisting of three or four Rail Shooter sequences sandwiched between several long unskippable Cut Scenes that show the battle playing out almost exactly as it did in the original anime, complete with Alto finishing Big Bad Grace O'Connor himself. Overall, the impact of non-Frontier characters is entirely negligible, which is Comically Missing the Point of ACE (and its progenitor Super Robot Wars).


  • Toontown Online has 2; The V.P. falls off of the tallest skyscraper and the C.F.O. tries to run away, but gets hit with his own trains.
  • The third form of The Naughty Sorceress in Kingdom of Loathing is effectively a non-combat adventure that you either beat or lose to depending on whether you have the Wand of Nagamar in your inventory, made from a W, an A, an N and a D.

Platform Game

  • The final leg of the Next-Gen Bionic Commando builds up to two dramatic confrontations -- Groeder and Super Joe. Groeder lives up to the build-up... but You beat Super Joe in a cutscene after a neat Press X to Not Die sequence to get to him.
    • Similarly, earlier on in the game you enter a circle of statues that practically promises a boss fight. Instead, a cutscene boss is defeated, non-interactive, and the protagonist just walks away not having done any fighting during the level.
  • After going through the final stage in Ghostbusters II four times (one for each Ghostbuster), you are in front of Vigo... and automatically shoot him repeatedly until he goes down.
  • The final boss in Trine gets a lot of show, screaming at you and flying around as you try to climb a tower while lava advances, and various obstacles are summoned in your way. Then once you get to the top... the heroes separate, and The Knight hits the boss in the head with the hammer in a cutscene. Cue Where Are They Now? Epilogue.
  • Mirrors Edge has quite a bad habit of Anticlimax Bosses, with only one out of three presenting any prolonged effort. However the first one is 100% Press X to Not Die; he's a wrestler who comes charging at you with a pipe (in a cutscene), at which point you have a nanosecond to disarm him before he clobbers you and chucks you off a building (in a cutscene). When you finally get this right, you are treated (in a cutscene) to him falling off said building, catching the ledge, exchanging a few pleasantries with you and getting shot by a sniper.
  • In Psychonauts, despite being one of the main antagonists throughout most of the game Doctor Loboto is unceremoniously knocked off a cliff by his own weapon in a cutscene. You never get to go into his mind, either.
  • Bob the Goldfish from Earthworm Jim 2. In the first game, he was easy enough. In this game, you get up to him, his final defences slide away revealing his bowl, letters come down declaring "FIGHT,"... and then Jim eats him.
  • In the Colossus level of Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage!, you're told that you must kill a yeti that's been terrorising the inhabitants of the world. As soon as you step into its cage, it roars and stomps the ground...causing a statue to fall and crush it to death.
  • At the end of the Sega Genesis Ninja Gaiden clone El Viento, the final boss is neither Bishop Henry, leader of the evil cult, nor Hastur, the elder god they were trying to summon. Instead, once you kill the witch the cult was intending to sacrifice to summon Hastur, the cult's plans are foiled and Henry is shown led away in chains.
  • In Metroid: Other M, the final boss fight with MB takes the form of one very brief FPS segment - hit the boss one time and Federation soldiers storm in and finish the job.
  • The SNES Alien 3 builds up to a confrontation with the Alien Queen, but when you actually reach her there's just a cut scene of Ripley forcing her into a smelting vat. A Winner Is You!
  • The Joker is this in the beta version of Batman for the NES. After you defeat one of his cronies at Gotham Cathedral, you watch a cutscene of Batman punching the Joker and the credits roll. The Joker is upgraded to final boss in the final version of the game.
  • Bowser in Mario Is Missing.

Puzzle Game

  • One of the earliest Cutscene Bosses has to be "the Great Devil" of the puzzle game The Adventures of Lolo. You only get to see him during the ending cutscene, in which he is seen standing completely still and grinning like an idiot. Lolo shoots a projectile at him, encasing him in an eggshell. Lolo then shoots another projectile, and the egg goes flying off into the distance. Thus, the Great Devil is revealed to be a One-Hit-Point Wonder, and the day is saved. (The sequels avoided this by including actual boss battles with bosses that, you know, fight back.)

Role Playing Game

  • The first Dark Cloud. In a game featuring several important cutscenes requiring timed button presses, it may come as a surprise when the main character uses the Moon People's Sun Giant to take on the Dark Genie entirely without player interaction. And shortly before discovering that you were just Fighting a Shadow, with the real Dark Genie about to return the favor.
  • At the end of Lunar: Dragon Song, you've gone three rounds with The Dragon and finally killed him, avenging a party member he killed earlier. It's time to fight the powerful Big Bad and save Lucia. And after a dramatic cutscene with him... earthquake! Ignatius falls down a pit and that's all she wrote. The Dragon was the final boss, which is why he was so persistent.
    • At least those bosses you actually got to face. Poor Ephidel, the apparent Dragon, from Fire Emblem 7 lived just long enough for you to meet his boss, Big Bad Nergal, before getting offed in a cutscene. Every other high-ranking Fang gets faced at least once (except for the one that does a Heel Face Turn), but Ephidel, who canonically is probably Nergal's second-most powerful morph, gets killed by a cutscene, pathetically screaming for Nergal to help him.
  • Saren from Mass Effect 1 is potentially a cutscene boss. If the player's persuasion skills are high enough, he can be convinced to commit suicide during the cutscene that takes place before the boss battle, completely avoiding the second-to final battle.
    • Amanda Kenson from Mass Effect 2.
    • Vido Santiago on the Renegade path through Zaeed's loyalty mission.
    • The massive backlash against the ending of Mass Effect 3 was partly caused by the entire series being ended this way. There is no fight at all. The main antagonist simply gives up and offers no resistance to being disposed.
  • In the Japanese version of Final Fantasy VII, three WEAPONs are released, and two are killed in cutscenes. In the International version, a fight against Diamond WEAPON is added to the game (as well as two more optional WEAPONs that can be fought by the player), but Sapphire WEAPON is still killed in a cutscene.
  • Roxas in Kingdom Hearts II. Later upgraded to That One Boss in the Updated Rerelease, not that we english speaking types get to enjoy it. Additionally there was Captain Hook in 358/2 Days as well as The Queen and Lady Tremaine in Birth by Sleep.
  • In Final Fantasy X-2, immediately following a two-part Warmup Boss battle as Lightning against Chaos Bahamut, you're treated to a Cutscene Boss fight against Big Bad Caius, with some a few quicktime events thrown in.
  • Admiral Alfonso and Empress Teodora in Skies of Arcadia, with both being a part of The Empire and all. You actually fight Alfonso in a ship fight and two of his more dangerous Mooks, but given that he's a Smug Snake and can apparently fence judging from the cutscenes, it's infuriating to see him die during the Rains of Destruction via crushing by a pillar. It's more implausible with Teodora because she never actively does anything.
  • Sebastian LaCroix in the ending of Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines after you kill his dragon the Sheriff: He simply isn't much for combat, and first tries his Compelling Voice on you, and when that fails, falling to his knees comboed with whining and simpering. Depending on your ending, the main character may take this opportunity to give LaCroix a physical evaluation of his management style. You don't get to kill him in the end: Either Ming Xiao or Strauss takes him away for execution, or the contents of the Ankharan Sarcophagus does him (and potentially you) in.
  • At the end of Dungeons & Dragons: Warriors of the Eternal Sun, you don't kill the Burrower that had driven Duke Hector Barrik and his people insane. You just have to reach the Burrower's lair and use a scroll to summon the Immortal Ka the Preserver and he kills the Burrower. Justified in that Burrowers are pretty much invincible by any other means.
    • The real final boss of this game is the pyrohydra that your party fights just before the Burrower. The pyrohydra itself can be a bit of an Anticlimax Boss despite being able to spam attacks that reliably hit characters of maximum armour class due to the amount of space in the dungeon it's fought in.
  • The Adephagos in Tales of Vesperia.
  • Dias in Radiant Historia.
  • Alakazam's team in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon.
  • Gestahl in Final Fantasy VI - you're going to fight him? Nope, Wham! Episode. The -real- Big Bad does him in in a cutscene.

Sports Game

  • In Tony Hawk's Underground, if you play through Sick difficulty after beating the story mode on Normal, the cutscene leading up to your ultimate showdown with archrival Eric Sparrow is itself the entire battle. No, seriously. You smash his face in and take the tape, you did it, you won, no skate-off. Admittedly, this is kind of a fitting way for a guy like Eric to go down.

Stealth Based Game

  • Tenchu: Fatal Shadows had a boss who could either be fought normally if you finished the level through one door, or who you killed in one hit in a cut-scene if you finished the level through a different door. Considering the boss is That One Boss who continually spams attacks which knock off a good portion of your health, being able to kill him in a cut-scene was a relief. (Although it earned you less points.)
    • The original Tenchu had the corrupt minister. Ayame would insult him then proceed to fight him normally, but if you were playing as Rikamaru, he'd convince the minister to seppuku die with honor.
  • In the endgame of Beyond Good and Evil you shoot down General Keck's spider ship, defeat his bodyguards, and get ready to confront him - only to find him dying in the cockpit of the ship.

Survival Horror

  • The first encounter with Krauser in Resident Evil 4 plays out entirely with a Press X to Not Die cutscene of a knife fight between the two of them. It's actually done fairly well, and you get a proper battle against him a little later on.
    • Similarly, Resident Evil 5 has you do essentially the same thing against Wesker after you hitch a ride onto his bomber, only this time, there are two characters and potentially two players, which means more potential for one of you to Have a Nice Death.
  • Dead Space 2 does this for several of its human antagonists. Stross, after he goes insane, is killed in a single button mashing sequence, while the battle with Teidemann requires you to mash twice before Isaac kills him in one shot with his own Javelin Gun.
    • More interactive and unbelievably cooler is the action sequence that follows reaching Daina at the end of Chapter Five. Wham - she's a Unitologist who wants you to build Markers for her. Wham - Gunship blows out the window and gibs her! Button mash or get Thrown Out the Airlock! Air Vent Passageway escape! Then a giant Necromorph shows up, more than capable of squishing you in seconds! It starts shredding the scenery! Shoot it in the weak point For Massive Damage! All you did was piss it off! Run away! Gunship again, windows blown out, no handholds so out the airlock you go! You latch onto the gunship - and so does Necromorph Kong! Shoot the Fuel Tank! Then you ride the blast back into the station, dust yourself off and walk away. Whew. Isaac Clarke is a monster truck that walks like a man.

Third Person Shooter

  • WET's final boss battle with Tarantula and Pelham turns out to be just a series of quick-time events. A sad departure from the intense gameplay of the rest of the game, and a serious letdown considering the Roaring Rampage of Revenge that Rubi was pretty much on for much of it.
  • Mercenaries 2 has the main bad guy of the story, Ramon Solano, military dictator of Venezuela, who betrayed and attempted to kill you after you helped him by staging a coup that puts him in power, hide in a heavily fortified bunker that requires a tactical nuclear weapon to pierce, after which you go straight to an ultra lame boss battle that requires a bunch of Quick Time Events that destroy the helicopter he's in and that's it. Considering how the first game had you take on the best of the best of the North Korean Army, fighting massive waves of tanks and helicopters before defeating the top North Korean General, the boss battle in Mercenaries 2 is a major disappointment.
  • Red Faction II has one that is kind of similar to Bioshock but with less symbolism. You play as a soldier whose squad defects to the rebellion to take down the dictator Sopot. When you finally get to him it turns out that Authority doesn't Equal Asskicking. In fact he's unarmed. In the cut scene the protagonist holds him at gunpoint and escorts him to a catwalk under a launching rocket. Then your commanding officer reveals that he only wanted to overthrow Sopot to take his place and now you have to fight your way to him to have a real boss fight.
  • In Winback, the Big Bad Kenneth is killed in a cutscene by The Starscream Cecile a couple levels before the end.
  • General Randall is the leader of Blackwatch, the Government Conspiracy behind all of the mayhem in Prototype. When Alex Mercer finally catches up to Randall, he delivers a brief tirade and then consumes the general effortlessly. Which makes sense, given that Alex is able to take on entire batallions or infected hordes singlehandedly and win, and Randall's a middle-aged, one-armed man.
  • The final fight in Uncharted 3 is an interesting example, as it's primarily a series of quick-time-event mini-cutscenes, but they're context-sensitive and mixed into a normal gameplay fistfight (basically every 2 or 3 punches triggers a QTE cutscene). It's like they took the final fight from Metal Gear Solid 4 and made it even more QTE heavy.

Wide Open Sandbox

  • True Crime: New York City has two ending paths. In the "good" ending path, you don't even fight the Big Bad, you just chase him through a subway car until a cutscene plays of him dying in a train wreck.
  • Sheffield from Scarface the World Is Yours seems to be a tough opponent when he is introduced from a distance, armed with a bazooka whose power players probably are well-acquainted with. However, when Tony confronts him proper, he gives in without resisting.
  • Dante parody Helter Skelter of No More Heroes is killed by Travis in the intro. An E3 demo did feature the actual fight, and the sequel starts off with a fight against his brother, Skelter Helter.
    • Letz Shake is also killed by Henry before you get to fight him, though he returns in the sequel for a proper fight.
  • We get Bane and Strange in Batman: Arkham City, though the latter defiantly wouldn't have stood a change against Batman in a fight.