Recurring Boss

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Barry: "[Lucia] knew when [the Tyrant] was nearby!"
Leon: Barry, they're always nearby. You got lucky when you only had to fight yours TWICE. Did you hear about Jill's? She lost count, Barry. She. Lost. Count."

—Opendork's Let's Play of Resident Evil Gaiden

The non-comic relief version of the Goldfish Poop Gang. A boss-type monster who you have to face several times (usually three) over the course of the game, though fortunately not in back-to-back battles.

Though, unlike the Goldfish Poop Gang, he is an actual threat each time.

Generally comes in one of three variants:

  • The boss flees when defeated, only to come back later (presumably after some Level Grinding).
  • The boss is unbeatable in his first appearance(s), and the players must either flee or survive his attacks; he can only be fought back and defeated in the final showdown.
  • The player(s) actually kill the boss, only for him to be resurrected later on by some means and come back for another go. (This isn't much different from facing distinct bosses, but may help refine the scope of the story.)

For the first two cases, the same tricks and tactics will usually work to defeat the boss each time—though frequently, the player will not be able to execute the required trick in the early appearances (especially if it's a Hopeless Boss Fight). Alternatively, the boss may announce during a later confrontation that he has gained an immunity to whatever beat him last time.

Any version can turn out to be the Final Boss in their most powerful form, depending on how the boss relates to the surrounding plot; alternately, the decisive final battle against this boss may be held back as a Bonus Boss.

In action games, they often take the form of an Implacable Man. He may end up suffering a Rasputinian Death.

Examples of Recurring Boss include:

Action Adventure

  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • King Bulblin from The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess. You have at least four encounters with the hulking brute throughout the game. After he is beaten the final time, he decides that he admires anyone tough enough to defeat him so consistently, and he simply hands you a key and walks off.
    • In Link's Awakening, A Stalfos miniboss in the Catfish's Maw dungeon is the first variety. After you've defeated him once, he seems to become terrified of you, despite popping up to fight you again and again. At one point he steals the dungeon treasure from its chest and leaves a note in its place. You have to kill him to get it.
    • The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword has you fighting both Ghirahim and The Imprisoned three times each.
  • Balrog in Cave Story, of the first type. He's mainly a comic relief character, but he is a challenge in battle. Well, except compared to every single other boss.
    • Worth noting is that three of the first four boss fights are against Balrog.
  • Similarly, Death is always a recurring sub-boss prior to kicking Dracula's ass back into the afterlife in Castlevania.
  • Reala from NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams does this as the first variety.
  • The DomZ Serpent in Beyond Good and Evil. While the method of beating it remains the same each time, its movement pattern changes each time to reflect the mobilty of your overworld vehicle. It's also one of the animals you need to photograph, but if you don't nab it in a fight, it isn't Lost Forever—the skeletal remains of one serpent are found in a cave, and you can photograph them.
  • Tablet of Graffiti Kingdom; he turns up in the middle of every other stage until he kills his father and becomes the final boss.
  • Orochi from Okami qualifies as a Type 3 - kinda. You fight him three times, first time in the present, second time in the past, and the third and final time in the Ark of Yamato. Now technically, Orochi's first and third battles are him being a Type 3 due to the fact that they are (chronologically) after Orochi's first defeat (his second battle - in the past). Another example is the Bandit Spider: An optional creature very similar to the Spider Queen (the game's first boss) fought three separate times in hidden grottos where Multi Mook Melee fights also take place.

Action Game

  • Montross from Star Wars Bounty Hunter.
  • Catwoman in Lego Batman: The Video Game is a Type 1 recurring boss. She appears several times in one level, and each time you more or less only have to hit her once. Harley Quinn is something of a subversion, in that she's actually a Recurring Miniboss.
  • Every boss in the original Devil May Cry is of the first variety, fought exactly three times. Most bosses are the first type, except for the final boss, who is the third type (and his fights are one after the other). The Evil Counterpart Nelo Angelo's fights are spaced out evenly along the plot, while the other three bosses each have their three fights in relatively short (though not immediate) succession. In addition, Nightmare has an attack which forces you to fight weaker versions of killed bosses, allowing them to recur more than three times. Devil May Cry 3 also has Vergil and Jester, who you fight three times each.
    • A puzzle in Devil May Cry 3 requires the player to defeat bosses from earlier in the game to advance. The puzzle element is choosing which bosses to fight, and navigating the area's Alien Geometries. This could count as Type 3, though no explanation is offered as to how these bosses came to be alive again. Presumably a demon did it.
  • God Hand makes heavy use of Types 1 and 3, as almost every boss in the game is fought at least twice. Of the four main villains, one is fought three times (becoming a type 3 in the last fight), one is fought twice (also becoming a type 3 in the last fight), one is first fought as a type 1 then is fought again fully later, and the final one is technically a type 3 but his normal form isn't fought. The game also features arena challenges, many of whom involve fighting bosses from the main story. (Including yourself.)
  • Ryu's Doppelganger from Ninja Gaiden III for the NES is fought twice. Once at the end of Act V and again in Act VI.
  • Darth Vader is every type in Lego Star Wars. In Complete Saga, first, there is a type three in the level "Darth Vader". In "Secret Plans", you have a type one Mini Boss battle against him. Third, in "Rebel Attack", there is a type two battle against his ship. Fourth, in "Dagobah", you kill his clone. Finally, in "Cloud City Trap", you have a true showdown with him, and then he escapes. In the DS Original trilogy, you just have three type one battles against him. Also, you get some type ones with Jango Fett, Boba Fett, and Count Dooku.
  • In P.N.03, Sonnenblume is a Type 2, first appearing in a Hopeless Boss Fight at the end of the first mission, then in beatable form at the end of the third. Orchidee, the robo-train/centipede thing, is a Type 3, later reappearing in upgraded form.

Driving Game

  • Initial D Arcade Stage has Takumi Fujiwara, the protagonist of the source manga and anime. You first encounter him as a Warmup Boss on Myougi (Version 1-3) or Lake Akina (4 and 5), then later as That One Boss on his home course Akina, and once more as a Final Boss on the last course of whatever game you're playing.

Fighting Game

  • Every. Single. Boss. in Namco X Capcom falls under the first type until their final death. Well, except for Druaga, Zouna, Grand Master Meio, and the final boss (who resurrects the first two in the Boss Rush final stage.)

First-Person Shooter

  • Desann, the Big Bad of Jedi Outcast, is the second variety. His Dragon, Tavion, returns for the sequel, Jedi Academy, as the Big Bad, proving to have been of the first variety. She is now much stronger, and when you think she's done for, you find she's got the tendencies of the third variety.
    • And she now has a Dragon of her own, who is the second type.
  • The eponymous monster of the Metroid Prime series shows up as a final boss in all three games, most often in its "Dark Samus" form. In Echoes, you fight Dark Samus a total of three times.
  • Anna and Gunther in Deus Ex are both Type II, with a few interesting twists. Anna's a Recurring Boss if you run away from her first boss fight, battling her for real later on. However, the fight's not really hopeless: You can stand your ground and kill Anna, and you never have to fight her again. There's also an earlier scene in which her usual NPC invulnerability is rescinded, though that's really only a boss fight if you opt to kill her while her guard is down. Note that Anna is a Skippable Boss all three times: You can simply not attack her the first time, you might get captured before the second (though there's no reason to do so intentionally), and you can learn a passcode that kills her instantly before the third.
    • Like Anna, Gunther can be a Recurring Boss. Like Anna's, Gunther's fights are skippable. Unlike Anna, Gunther really is a Hopeless Boss Fight in the first encounter: You either surrender in dialogue or get captured when he kicks the stuffing out of you. You can still use the "kill phrase" trick in the second if you make the right choices in game, though.
  • Heavyweight enemies in Zeno Clash. They're not the only boss, but they seem to be a good 75%.
  • Half-Life 2's love affair with Striders. Notably, while they're all exactly the same creature/mech, they fit different boss tropes pretty much every time.
  • The Makron in Quake IV is fought twice. The first time, he's unbeatable and captures you to be Stroggified.
  • The Warlord from Unreal is a Type 1 appears two times - once in a castle (from where he teleports before you get the chance to kill him) and the second time in a mothership. If you do manage to kill the Warlord the first time, nothing changes - he still appears later on. It was also planned to include him in one of the first levels as a teaser, where he flies away before the player could attack him.
    • In the expansion Unreal: Return to Na Pali, the Warlord appears once again, but it is explained that it's a different one.
  • In Halo: Reach, the Field Marshal, a Type 1, runs off and sends his Zealot underlings after you the first time you meet him in a cutscene near the end of Winter Contingency, later, you fight him for a moment after he kills Kat in New Alexandria, before he escapes again, only in the last mission is he beatable.
  • The Big Sisters from BioShock 2 were originally going to be a single enemy that runs off instead of dying when the fight's over, but playtesters complained that this was unsatisfying. The lack of any material payoff in a game where looting slain enemies is a core part of gameplay—especially considering how many resources it takes to bring her down—probably didn't help either.

Light Gun Game

  • Time Crisis has Wild Dog, a Type 3 who appears in every numbered installment of the series. Oddly enough, he's the only reoccurring character. Jakov Kinsky in the first act of the second game is a Type 1, attacking you several times throughout the stage, then you finally take him down in a proper boss fight at the end of the stage.


  • In City of Heroes, one plot arc has you fighting the Envoy of Shadows (a powerful demon) multiple times. Even if you defeat him, he's still around after the mission. It's explained in-game that in order to send him packing for good, you have to learn his true name; after you manage that, his final Climax Boss defeat signals the end of the arc.
    • Also, over the course of the late game story arcs, you fight Nemesis several times. Curiously, most of the time your contacts act like you've actually killed him (despite the game being Never Say "Die" the rest of the time), but they always leave the bit of doubt that it really was Nemesis you killed. (And then there's the possibility that it really is Nemesis EVERY time, but his consciousness is spread out over many different bodies. Given that he at one point plans to take over the minds of the entire Rikti race, that's not as crazy as it sounds.)
      • One player theory is that the real Nemesis died a long time ago and it's just a bunch of robot duplicates running about, with occasionally one of them starting to think that it is the real one.
    • One story arc also requires that you fight Mary MacComber - and beat her, then the rest of her minions - ten times in a row. Might qualify as a Sequential Boss, too.
  • The Nemesis system in Champions Online means you actually get to CREATE your own recurring Boss, as well as determine his powerset, personality, minions, and the minions' power type. And if you finally defeat him for good, you get to create another!
  • World of Warcraft has the Lich King himself as this during the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. Players face him multiple times as they level through Northrend, culminating in a the single-player quest Tirion's Gambit, then the 5-player dungeon Halls of Reflection, and finally the actual raid encounter in Icecrown Citadel.
    • The Blood Prince Council consists of three vampiric Darkfallen players killed in quests or dungeons earlier in the game, reanimated and empowered by the Orb. Two of them have abilities reminiscent of their strategy from the first time (Fireballs and Shadowbolts for Taldaram and Keleseth respectively), but Valanar has bizarrely developed kinetic energy manipulation.
  • Nezikchened in Runescape is this, as you fight him three times throughout the course of one quest. There's also Sigmund as well, who is also fought three times throughout three different quests.
  • Jacoby Drexelhand from the introductory Korthos Island quests from Dungeons and Dragons Online, is a type 3. You first meet him as the NPC who opens the gate for you at Heyton's Rest, is revealed as the collaborator with the Sahuagin and the Devourer Cult in the instance appropriately titled The Collaborator, and after you dispatch him in that quest, he is brought back as an undead wight, who you have to kill again in the finale of Necromancer's Doom.

Platform Game

  • Break Man who is actually Proto Man in Mega Man 3 is a type 1.
    • The Mega Man Killers are shaping up to be a type 3. They first showed up individually in each of the first four GB games. Then you fight all of them again in 5 GB. And now, after a long disappearance, they're, barring Quint, showing up in 10 as the Special Stage bosses.
      • In his first appearance, Ballade was a Type 1, having to be fought twice before the game ends. Interestingly, his second phase has been completely dropped in future games, with his battles using the second attack pattern, but his original appearance.
    • Bass in the Classic series. He's your Warmup Boss in 7, before you later fight him one-on-one in Dr. Wily's first castle stage, then he merges with Treble in the second stage. Then you fight him again in Wily's castle in Mega Man 8.
    • The Yellow Devil has been so recurring that he's even crossed over some of the sub-series. Along his classic series appearance in 1, 3, 8(as Green Devil), &Bass (ditto), V (as Dark Moon), Power Fighter series and Adventures (as New Yellow Devil); he's also a boss in X5 (as Shadow Devil) and the Zero series (as Rainbow Devil).
    • High Max of Mega Man X 6 is type 2 in the intro stage and requires two particular attacks in order to defeat him when you meet him again. (Unfortunately, you're also able to encounter him later without having acquired the requisite attacks, leading to a Hopeless Boss Fight that merely ends in a Game Over.)
    • In X5 there's Dynamo, a bounty hunter who is hired to stall the heroes as they try to prevent the Eurasia Colony from falling onto Earth. He teleports out when his health bar runs out, only to reappear a while later until he flees for good. He's also in X6, but only as an optional boss.
    • And of course, there's the infamous Vile, starting off as unbeatable in his first introduction in X1, only to be defeated in the Big Bad's final fortress. He shows up after being resurrected in both X3 and X8, fuelled by his hatred of the Hunters and X in particular.
    • Bit & Byte come back in X3 if you don't kill them with a specific weapon.
    • The X-Hunters in 'X2 are type 1, being fought a second time in the final fortress, two of three in their One-Winged Angel forms.
    • Colonel in X4 is fought twice in X's story path, his first battle being replaced by a cutscene in Zero's.
    • The Four Guardians from Mega Man Zero, also Type 1. Three of them are fought four times (the last time would be in their One-Winged Angel forms), while the fourth Guardian wasn't alive long enough to be seen with a OWA, and the third time he's fought, it was only as a Bonus Boss.
    • Shadow Man is a miniboss version of this trope in Rock Man 4 Minus Infinity. He first shows up in 3 of the Robot Master Stages. He makes his last supposed appearance in Cossack Castle Stage, riding a kite.
    • Doc Robot shows up as the mini-boss in the Eight Robot Master stages and two of the fortress stages in Rockman 6: Unique Harassment. He channels the power of various Mega Man bosses in order to defeat Mega Man.
  • The Dhaka in Prince of Persia: The Warrior Within is type 2; the only option is to escape until the very end, where it serves as the True Final Boss if you've achieved One Hundred Percent Completion.
  • Bowser Junior, in New Super Mario Bros., is the first type, while his papa is the third type.
    • Bowser himself is a recurring bad guy in many Mario games. You fight him three times in Super Mario 64 as with both Galaxy games.
    • Nearly every boss in 64, Sunshine and Galaxy appeared at least twice. And there's Topmaniac from the latter, who appeared FOUR times for no real reason (two normal battles, one daredevil run and one speedrun).
    • Also the Bowser 7 other kids appear in Super Mario Bros 3 and Super Mario World.
    • As well as Birdo in every level of Super Mario Bros. 2. In fact, two of the major bosses (Mouser and Tryclide) are also fought twice each.
  • The thug leader in Ratchet and Clank Going Commando.
    • ShellShock from Ratchet: Deadlocked is a type 1, requiring you to face him almost five times in the same level before he finally succumbs to you.
  • In most 2-D Sonic the Hedgehog games, Doctor Robotnik/Eggman is an extreme example of this. Not only is he a boss in every game, but the boss of almost every level therein; other bosses are the exception rather than the rule. As for type, he's a mixture of versions 1 and 3: he runs away after his vehicle is destroyed, and has a new one ready by the next encounter.
  • Big John, the T. rex-looking first boss from Viewtiful Joe 2, comes back at least twice as a Sub Boss. And wears a Paper-Thin Disguise as "Big Lee", who spends the better part of a minute denying he's really Big John before proving a Bait and Switch Boss.
    • Also Captain Blue in the first game.
  • Ridley serves in this capacity for the Metroid series as a whole. He's made in appearance near the end of almost every game in the franchise, and has even shown up twice in two of them.
    • The only games Ridley doesn't show up in some form are Metroid 2, Metroid Prime 2 and Metroid Prime Hunters. The only enemies/bosses to appear in more games are the eponymous Metroids. Strangely enough, if you count cameo appearances the only non-Metroid enemies that give Ridley a run for his money are Sidehoppers, which are fairly minor enemies and can be hardly considered to be iconic or anything (they appear as enemies in 4 games and have cameos in 2 others, while Ridley appears in 7 games in total).
    • You must fight Ridley 3 times in Metroid Prime 3: He harasses you while you're using Morph Ball to navigate between towers the first time, then you fight him while plummeting down a shaft, and finally when attacking the third seed, where he's powered up by Phazon and labelled 'Omega Ridley'.
    • SA-X from Metroid Fusion is the second variety. Some encounters are avoidable entirely as long as Samus doesn't expose herself, but the later ones always force you to run away. It can be stunned with Ice Missiles, but only briefly.
    • Other M has this flying anomalacris creature called the Rheodigan. Appears out of nowhere, fires seeker missiles at you, and all sorts of crazy shit. After the fourth fight, he finally dies and gives up the Seeker Missiles. In the end of the Playable Epilogue, you have an enemy rush before the final boss. THERE ARE ANOTHER TWO OF THE RHEODIGAN. Thankfully, they die there and then.
    • Nightmare, from the same game, is fought twice. However, there isn't a lot of action between the two battles, so some could say he's more of a Sequential Boss.
  • Crunch Bandicoot from Crash Bandicoot: Wrath Of Cortex is of the third variety, showing up about five times including the final stage.
  • Two of the bosses in Donkey Kong 64, Army Dillo and Dogadon, are fought twice each, their rematches giving more powerful and harder battles. Also, nearly all the bosses in Donkey Kong Country returned later, slightly faster / more difficult, but otherwise near exactly the same.
  • Deadeye Joe in Contra: Hard Corps, depending on whether the player chooses to pursue him at the end of the first stage or not.
  • Asha returns twice in Iji after you first encounter him; the second time you cross paths he teleports away without attacking you, but the last time he fights to the death. If you were hoping to nuke him again, too bad, he's now fast enough to dodge it despite the enclosed space.
  • Weasleby in Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure. He even has two different battle themes.
  • In Keith Courage In Alpha Zones, the first boss later reappears as a mook, Stitch and Baron Chairman return as a Dual Boss in Stage 5, and Mr. Roboto, That One Boss, recieves an upgraded Palette Swap for the Final Boss battle.
  • All of the bosses in the 2008 Prince of Persia have to be fought six times before they can be defeated for good.
  • Kurtz from Run Saber is a Type 1, serving as a Mini Boss in Stages 2, 4 and 5.
  • The first Strider has Solo as a type 1, being fought twice (three times if you can't defeat it the first one). The sequel has Solo reprise it as a Mini Boss in two stages (his first fight now being sequential), and has Hien become one in the PSX port exclusive Stage 0.
  • Midnight Wanderers has Balgoss and Dougar, Type 1 bosses being fought twice in stage 1/3 (respectively) and 5.
  • Tsubai in Panzer Bandit is a Type 1, having a Mini Boss fight with a smaller lifebar midway through Stage 5, which he serves later in a full-fledged Boss Fight. Add to that his third fight as part of the end-game Boss Rush.
  • The 2004 version of Sabre Wulf takes this to the point of exaggeration: you "fight" (or rather, run the hell away from) the titular beast at the end of every level as it chases you back to the start. It instantly kills anything besides you and it in the entire level, and runs much faster than you, but it can't turn around as fast as you can, so you can slow it down by repeatedly jumping over it. Incidentally, even if you trick it into falling down a hole, it'll be back again next level, no worse for wear.

Real Time Strategy

  • The Empress Bulbax in Pikmin 2. She's generally the first boss you'll fight at the start of the game; she reappears much later in two other holes. In your second and third encounters with her, she becomes a Flunky Boss capable of summoning the fragile-but-deadly (to your Pikmin, that is) Bulbax Larvae. While her "main" attack (rolling) remains the same, the addition of Mooks makes you change your strategy.

Role-Playing Game

  • Final Fantasy is quite fond of these:
    • Perhaps the most notable example is Gilgamesh from Final Fantasy V, whom you fight a grand total of FIVE times, though usually as a gag battle. Each appearance involves humorous dialogue, followed by Gilgamesh making some sort of excuse for leaving and at one point leaving his sidekick to "deal with" your party. During the fourth battle, he whips out the piddly Excalipur, which he'd mistaken for Excalibur, causing Exdeath to send him to the Void. Later, in the void, he recognizes your characters during the fifth encounter and even sacrifices himself to save your party from a later boss.
    • In Final Fantasy I, you must fight the four fiends again in the final dungeon.
    • In Final Fantasy VI, there's Kefka, who started as a joke battle in Sabin's scenario, then a boss battle in Narsche, and finally the final boss as a god.
    • Ultros is fought four times - once in Lete River, once in the Opera House, once in the Cave on Crescent Island, and once in the air.
    • In Final Fantasy VII, there's both The Turks, who you are forced to fight once, but there are three optional boss fights with them. The Ultima Weapon is also fought several times, but is a Bonus Boss.
    • In Final Fantasy VIII, there's Biggs and Wedge (who are fought twice), Fujin and Rajin(also twice), Edea(twice) and Seifer(four times)
    • Beatrix in Final Fantasy IX is of the second variety.
    • Seymour from Final Fantasy X is of the third variety.
      • FFX also features the second variety in an optional boss fight (for the second optional summon), although the fight mechanics are completely different.
    • In Final Fantasy XIII, the Proudclad (piloted by Rosch) is fought twice and Barthandelus is fought three times.
    • The new reigning king of this trope in Final Fantasy is Final Fantasy XIII-2's Big Bad, Caius. If one counts Paradox Endings and his transformations as well as the battles with him as his normal self, he is fought no less than eleven times.
  • Rhapthorne from Dragon Quest VIII. Counting the different people he possesses, you fight Dhoulmagus, then an upgraded form of Dhoulmagus, then Jessica after she's been possessed, then Sir Leopold. And though Marcello resists Rhapthorne, he's still using Rhapthorne's staff against you, so he counts. Then you finally go fight the man himself in tiny baby mode, and then battle two different stages of him in the final boss battle. All told, that's having to beat him eight times before he finally goes down.
    • From the same series (but this game originated on IOS, there's Dragon Quest of the Stars. After defeating a boss, it's not unusual to face a palette swap version of them in the future, which are stronger or at the very least have different abilities from their counterparts.
    • Robbin' Hood has the prestigious honor of being the first chapter boss to be fought twice without any palette swaps. His abiities are somewhat different from his first encounter but his choice of weaponry remains the same - an axe.
  • The Rival in near-every Pokémon game.
    • Including the leader of The Syndicate in each of the Pokémon games and a few protege trainers.
    • N in Black and White is unique in that his party is assembled primarily from Mons that can be found in the nearby areas, and completely different every time.
  • It's a tradition of the Tales (series) to have at least one recurring boss in each game.
    • Tales of Phantasia has you fight Dhaos a total of three times (Five if you count his additional forms in the final battle).
    • Tales Of Destiny 2 has you fight Barbatos Goetia three times in the story, and two more times as a Bonus Boss.
  • Tales of Symphonia:
    • Yggdrasil encompasses all of these elements. He's unbeatable in his first appearance, leaves during his second, and transforms during his final appearance. He can be beatable in his second fight, but you have to be max lvl and do it really fast.
    • You must also fight Kratos thrice and Botta twice, who either don't care if they win or lose or just plain won't stay defeated. You can also face past versions of Kratos, Yuan, and a young form of Yggdrasil again in the PS3 version of the game in a bonus dungeon.
    • Pronyma and Sheena. The Sword Dancer is faced three times, but he's an Optional Boss.
    • The sequel has Alice and Decus, each of whom are fought first individually, then later act as one of the penultimate bosses as a Dual Boss.
  • Tales of Vesperia features Zagi, who uses the first and third forms. You fight Zagi a total of five times throughout the game. (Six if you include the "Sidequest dungeon".) And no matter how many times he's tossed off a boat or had his arm blown up, he just does not back down.
    • Lampshaded by Estelle and Judith, who, by the final time he's encountered, tell him "Stop bothering us!" and "...Don't you ever die?"
  • Van from Tales of the Abyss. Even though you defeat him in battle two-thirds into the game, he comes back as the Final Boss.
  • Hades from Kingdom Hearts II is a type 2. When you first meet him, he is impervious to your attacks and you're forced to flee while he hurls fireballs at you.
    • In Chain of Memories, numerous members of Organization XIII are fought numerous times. At least in Sora mode - You fight Vexen a third time in Riku mode, and Zexion and Lexaeus are fought only once.
    • Birth By Sleep has Vanitas who's probably a quarter of the bosses in the game. In Aqua and Ven's paths he's fought 3 times each, including both of their final boss fights. Terra only fights him once, but as a Dual Boss with Xenahort.
    • Hades is practically a recurring boss throughout the entire series; one of the few villains who continuously pesters Sora (and the keyblader users for that matter) besides Maleficent and Pete. But if bosses who're fought multiple times in the series count as a Recurring Boss, we'd be here all day just reading the examples.
  • In a meta direction, Darkside in the Kingdom Hearts series is the only boss fought at least once in every game.
  • Subverted in this GCC strip, where the main character laments about having just realized he will need to fight his rival again and again.
  • In Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean, Giacomo and his crew appear several times as bosses, even forcing two difficult fights subsequentially (to the annoyance of many gamers). They've even got their own theme music, "Chaotic Dance."
    • Giacomo also appears several times in Origins (complete with a remixed "Chaotic Dance"), though he's rather less threatening and stops showing up near the end of Disc 1.
    • It also features outer dimensional worm creatures which break through where reality is weak, or something along those lines. Also, one of the supporting bad guys turns into a crotch-eyed abomination which gets mirrored in one of the optional sidequests in the desert.
  • In Baten Kaitos Origins, the heroes have to face one boss, the Lord of the Lava Caves, three times in about ten minutes of game. Notable because the (otherwise serious) heroes hang lampshades all over the encounter, complaining bitterly about how difficult the boss is and how annoying the repetitive fights are, and even stomping spitefully on his corpse when he goes down for good.
  • As pictured, Jr. Troopa appears multiple times in Paper Mario. He's actually a fairly difficult and ingenious foe, adjusting his weaknesses with each encounter, but Mario and his companions don't take him seriously at all, and he's often the butt of jokes. In the final dungeon, he actually prevents another boss (The Koopa Bros.) from recurring in order to get in another shot at you.
    • Another recurring Paper Mario boss is the "Invincible" Tubba Blubba, a Type 2 (until you find and defeat the real boss his heart, after which Tubba himself is a Curb Stomp Battle).
    • Similarly, Popple is fought four times in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, though only once by himself. Bowser is fought four times as well: once as a Tutorial Boss, twice as "Rookie" alongside Popple, and once when possessed by Cackletta.
    • Lord Crump is your first battle in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, and is fought thrice later, twice in a Humongous Mecha. (The second Humongous Mecha is basically an upgraded model of the first one, making that a Recurring Boss as well.)
      • From the same game, there's Doopliss, a Type 2 whom you have to fight over and over again as you run back and forth from Twilight Town to Creepy Steeple.
    • Midbus fulfills this role in Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, being fought three times total. This is also how many times you fight Bowser, which is strange when you consider that he's one of the playable characters. One of those times is as a Bonus Boss, however.
  • One of the bosses on Ellen's path in Persona 2: Eternal Punishment is a recurring vision of her "stalker". He attacks several times, becoming more and more damaged and bandaged up each time.
  • Belome in Super Mario RPG.
    • Croco in the same game as well. Type 1.
  • The Wild ARMs games use this constantly, with the third game being the worst contender (practically every significant boss is fought at least three times). The fourth game is the only one that avoided this trope, by giving the main antagonists so many members you only need to fight each of them once; on the other hand, this made half of them immediately forgettable.
  • Fassad/Yokuba in Mother 3. He crosses paths with you about four times, though you only fight him twice.
  • Jin and Takaya, of Persona 3, after the fight against them before fighting the Hanged Man, proceed to jump off a bridge. They come back. It's never quite elaborated on if this is Type 1 or Type 3 of this trope.
  • Darth Sion is fought once as a Hopeless Boss Fight before you have to defeat him numerous times before he finally dies.
  • Saturos and Menardi in Golden Sun. The first encounter is a Hopeless Boss Fight. Next, you fight just a weakened Saturos on the Mercury Lighthouse[1] Finally, you have to fight them both on the Venus Lighthouse. After being defeated at the Venus Lighthouse, they merge to become a big-ass dragon (and, no, there was no prior indication that they could do this).
  • The Breath of Fire series has several examples:
    • Breath of Fire I has the Knight and General bosses being fought atleast twice, and then one more time in their One-Winged Angel form. Other bosses who are fought twice are Ruga X, Mothra and Cerl. All of which are Type 1, except for Motrha who's Type 2.
    • Breath of Fire II has Barubary/Barbaroi (Type 2) and the Goldfly (Tpe 1), fought two and three times respectively. Final Boss Deathevans works as a Type 2, his first fight being just a Zero Effort Boss.
    • Breath of Fire III has the "Horse Brothers" Balio and Sunder, a Dual Boss who are both the first and second kind: the first battle against them is unwinnable, the second can be won (but can also be lost without getting a Game Over), and it's in the third battle where you finally get rid of them for good. Garr as well, being fought twice (the first of which is also unwinnable).
    • Bosch in Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter. Including his dragonized form, he is fought at least three times.
  • Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny has Chaos, The Rival with the twin to Felt's sword.
    • Despite being optional, Punis Taro, Jiro, and Kichi in almost every Atelier game are of the third variety.
  • Both Bola and Claymore from Mega Man Legends 2; you have to face each boss pirate twice throughout the game.
  • Ramirez from Skies of Arcadia is not only a type 2 boss, he is the final boss, with two One-Winged Angel forms that fit the Console RPG Cliches list perfectly. Depending on who you talk to, Galcian also counts.
  • Harbinger in Mass Effect 2 blurs the line between this and Elite Mook due to his near-constant use of Villain Override. Any battle against his mooks that drags on long enough will have him "assuming direct control" of at least one of them to personally make you his bitch.
  • In the Rockman.EXE games (Mega Man Battle Network), every game after Battle Network 2 had Forte (Bass) as a 2nd-to-last boss OR as a secret final boss. In Battle Network 2, you would have to fight him before you fight Gospel, and later, you fight his real version in the secret area, which you cannot "jack out of" until you get back to the point where you entered it. In Battle Network 3, you fight him before Alpha, as well as in yet another secret area where you actually help fund his recovery in a bug frag trade machine. In ,4 he appears in Undernet 5 after beating the game about 3 times and disturbing his "statue". In 5, he is in yet another secret area called the Nebula Area after completing what they call a "liberation mission" in area 6 and getting a time between 25–40 seconds busting the navis in that area. In 6, he appears in the Undernet (where he is in a stone monument) and then a harder form in the Graveyard area, then a supercharged version in the Underground area, in which he sports a Gregar (Or could also be Gospel, as they were both made from bugs, much like the Bass from Network 2) head or a Falzar head depending on your version.
  • Bradley in Dubloon. The first time you see him, he's a Hopeless Boss Fight, but on subsequent encounters, he escapes before you can kill him, and then he moves up a rank.[2]
  • When you play Lufia series, expect to fight Gades at least twice. In the first time, you can't beat him (not without doing way too much grinding anyway.) The second time is when you fight and beat him thinking he's final boss, there's also likely the third time where he's resurrected and fight you in the final dungeon as a part of a Boss Rush.
  • Solt and Peppor in Chrono Cross are the first type. Your first several fights with them serve primarily to teach you about the combat system as they make horrible tactical mistakes. Eventually, you fight them in a sidequest and they're actually almost difficult.
  • The Asylum Demon, Stray Demon, and Demon Firesage in Dark Souls are practically identical, though the Stray Demon and Demon Firesage add powerful fire attacks to their repertoire.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles, you fight Metal Face/ Mumkhar a total of four times throughout the story as a type 1 and 2.


  • In Nethack, once you Either kill the Wizard of Yendor or perform the Invocation Ritual, the Wizard of Yendor will, even if you kill him, every number of turns, be able to resurrect, and is guaranteed to reappear on the Plane of Earth.

Shoot'Em Up

  • Big Core in Gradius. It's the boss of Stages 1–4 in the original, and comes back every now and then in subsequent installments for Boss Rushes. By Gradius V, it's become nothing more than a medium-sized regular enemy.
    • The Gradius series in general seems to thrive off the Recurring Boss concept, as many come back in theme if not outright in a Boss Rush of subsequent games. The original Big Core is still the Recurring Boss champion, rivaled only by Tetran from Salamander.
  • All but one of the R-Type games has included Dobkeratops as a boss. Gomander and its invincible Outslays make frequent appearances as well, as does Gaines, the human-shaped robot with a BFG who seems to exist to get killed halfway through the first stage.
  • Battle Garegga has Nose Lavaggin (Stage 1 boss) and Mad Ball (Stage 2 boss) appear again in Stage 5. And then the endboss of Stage 5, Black Heart, makes a second appearance in Stage 7. And in the Spiritual Successor, Armed Police Batrider, Black Heart not only appears in its original form, but also a second time within that game in its mk. II form!
  • In 19XX: The War Against Destiny, you encounter and battle a black stealth fighter in nearly every stage, culminating in him launching nukes at your hometown and docking into a larger stealth bomber.
  • Several bosses in Touhou come back with different bullet patterns, either in the same game or in later games, but the prize for most recurring boss goes to Rin Kaenbyou, who shows up in Subterranean Animism as the stage 4 midboss (twice!), stage 5 midboss, stage 5 boss, and stage 6 midboss.
    • Another recurring boss is Nue Houjuu, who is the Stage 4 midboss, Stage 6 midboss, and Bonus Boss of Unidentified Fantastical Object, and the Extra Stage midboss in Ten Desires.
  • Save the Final Boss, all other bosses in Legendary Wings are simply just variations on one another, with later ones having more cannons.

Simulation Game

Stealth Based Game

  • Liquid Snake in the original Metal Gear Solid and Sons of Liberty serves as a mix of the second and third varieties. He is defeated in a Hind D, Metal Gear Rex, fistfight, and Jeep before finally succumbing to FOXDIE, and in Sons of Liberty, he is reincarnated as Revolver Ocelot's new arm.
    • In addition to Liquid, the player must fight against Sniper Wolf and Vulcan Raven twice in the original MGS. A more subtle example is Revolver Ocelot - he flees after the fight and later returns to tortures Snake.
    • Ocelot is fought in 1, 3, and 4. Oddly enough, despite his importance in 2, you never get the chance to fight him.
    • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty also has Vamp, who comes back from a cutscene death, his Harrier being shot down, a firefight, and a sniper duel in that order.
    • Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker has the titular Peace Walker mech, which is fought a total of three times in the game, although the third encounter is a Zero Effort Boss.
  • Tenchu has Onikage, who started life as a Type 1 in the first game, being fought a total of 3 times in Stages 6, 9 and 10. He returns in 2 and Wrath of Heaven, serving as a boss twice in each one.
    • Tenchu 2 also has Genbu of the Four Lords of the Burning Dawn, which Ayame fights twice.

Survival Horror

  • In Resident Evil 1, The Tyrant pulls a Back from the Dead version, appearing as both the penultimate boss and final boss - unless you burn his body after the first time.
  • In Resident Evil 2, William Birkin (aka "G") is a type 3 who transforms from a simple overdeveloped humanoid in his first form to a hulking, deformed monster in his last form (for a total of 5 fought forms). Mr X is also encountered several times, but you're only forced to fight him once.
  • In Resident Evil 3: Nemesis: Nemesis, you usually have option of fighting or running from the titular Nemesis. If you defeat him in one of the various optional ways, you can acquire two useful weapons, but running doesn't cost anything if you're fast enough. You only have to actually fight him three times: in the middle of the game, near the end of the game as the penultimate boss, and as the Final Boss.
  • Resident Evil Code: Veronica has another Tyrant pulling a Back from the Dead (fought twice) and Alexia (also fought twice).
  • Resident Evil 4 has two odd examples. Saddler is fought twice, but in different scenarios (he's the final boss for both Leon and Ada). Krauser is also fought twice: once in a QTE sequence and then several times in succession in chapter 6-2. He then proves to be Not Quite Dead in Separate Ways. Dr. Salvador is a type 3; if killed, he'll respawn somewhere else later.
  • Resident Evil 5 has Wesker, who is fought four separate times.
  • Silent Hill 's most famous monster, Pyramid Head, must be fought several times. The first time, he will leave after either A) a predetermined number of bullets are unloaded into him, or B) a predetermined time limit runs out (shooting him makes the clock run down faster). The second time, you must escape him by running down a very long hallway, and you can slow him with bullets but not kill him. The third time you see him, you just have to run around him in a giant maze. And, as the ultimate slap-in-the-face, in your final battle with him (and this time, he brings a friend), he kills himself before you get to finish the job.
  • Carlito in Dead Rising in so much as, if you want the good "best" ending, you have to fight him three times.

Turn-Based Strategy

  • Wiegraf in Final Fantasy Tactics is both the first and third types: the first time you fight him, he runs away; the second time, you mortally wound him and he makes a Deal with the Devil to keep on living; the third time, he's been completely taken over by the demon, and the first part of the battle is a Duel Boss in which you have to defeat his human form before he drops his disguise.
    • Also in Final Fantasy Tactics, Gaffgarion is fought three times; the first time, he turns on you in the beginning of the battle, the second is a normal fight, and the third time is a pseudo-Duel Boss (you have can still use allies in the fight, but they're trapped in another area until you use a switch to open a gate). In War of the Lions, Argath (Algus in the PS 1 version) appears a second time late in the third chapter. Most of the Temple Knights, Elmdor, Celia, and Lede are all also fought twice.
    • Celia and Lede are fought three times. Well, if you count their first apperance (Castle Rooftop) a 'fight'.
  • Llednar Twem from Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is of the second variety.
    • Klesta from Final Fantasy Tactics A2 is of the first variety.
    • Illua, who is fought a total of three times. Both times are pretty much a Type one.
  • Pretty much every boss apart from the final bosses in the Super Robot Wars Original Generation is an example of type 1, though you can shoot them down before they retreat if you reduce their hit points to just above the point where they'd retreat, then use a really powerful attack.
  • Gharnef in Fire Emblem is present on the stage once, and you must simply survive him because it is a Hopeless Boss Fight without Starlight. The second time, you can fight him for real after finding the real Gharnef amongst the Doppelgangers.
    • And, in fact, he can be skipped. In the original Fire Emblem, this can result in the game becoming Unwinnable, but in the remake, if you skipped it and don't have Tiki, then Nagi will join the party
    • The Black Knight from Path of Radiance appears on the map a total of three times throughout the game, but you don't possess the means to damage him until the third. The first two, he must be avoided, as he can easily kill anyone who steps into his attack range. In the sequel, Radiant Dawn, he appears as an enemy twice, and can be killed both times, though doing so the first time is both dangerous and pointless, since there is no reward for defeating him and you will be unable to recruit another character later in the game if you do.
  • Selvaria in Valkyria Chronicles is a type 2. The first two times you encounter her, she's invincible on account of her Valkyria powers. The third time, aptly named "Selvaria's Last Stand", she decides to fight you as a mortal woman. That doesn't make her any easier.
  • Unknown Rival Vyers, the Dark Adonis Mid-Boss from the first Disgaea is fought a total of five times. Though he's treated like a Goldfish Poop Gang in-story, he's actually a legitimate threat every time.
    • Disgaea 2 has Axel, the Dark Hero. He is not, as his name may imply, a vicious murdering bastard, but a former rock star. Mid-Boss also makes an amusing optional cameo.
  • Several bosses in Tactics Ogre, depending on which path you go through.
    • Let us Cling Together:
      • On the Chaotic path, Oz, but this fight with him is a bit out of the way. In the neutral path, he doesn't escape.
      • Ganb is type one, but you fight him throughout the entire game, with an optional way to recruit him in Chapter 4, along with several of his monsters.
      • Martym is a type one in a sidequest. He dies for real around the final boss.
    • The Knight of Lodis:
      • Nichart is type one played fully straight. You see him several times throughout the story and you know you'll have to fight him... but then you finally do, while he taunts you with a nice spear during the fight. Except that when you beat him... he doesn't drop it, and he runs off with it. You do face him for real later on, but by the time he drops it, you might have had something better by then.

Wide Open Sandbox

  • Inasmuch as a game like Endless Ocean has bosses, the second game features a few different head-to-head encounters with the maneating king of the great white sharks, Thanatos.
  1. No, really, he's explicitly weaker than normal - the Mercury energy of the Mercury Lighthouse interferes with Saturos's Mars Psynergy.
  2. Or at least he's supposed to be.