Best Final Bosses In Games

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Bosses are one of those staple things in gaming that’s been around from the beginning. The big bad that’s usually the final challenge that’s halting your progress in your journey, bosses make some of the most iconic moments in gaming.


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Considering how classic a staple they are, there are quite a few to choose from, new and old. Sometimes the best battles are against someone who has a deep connection to the protagonist, or maybe you’re just the only person who can put an end to them. Sometimes it can even be more abstract, but what matters most is how memorable they are.

Updated June 19, 2023, by Hilton Webster: Not all games need a big boss to cap off their finales. That said, there’s no denying the thematic awe of a grand spectacle of a final boss to finish off your adventure. From the smallest indie game to the biggest AAA release, you’ll find amazing final bosses spread around everywhere.

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25 Mario – Bowser

Mario jumps and kicks Bowser while Bowser tries to punch Mario in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

For as much as Mario’s smug face deserves to be pummeled, he is sadly the protagonist of the self-serving franchise after which he is named. Mario has an unsettling large media empire that spans so many mediums, but it always comes back around to his rivalry with Bowser.

It’s a wonderful trifecta — Mario, in love with Peach and saving her. Bowser, also in love with Peach so much he kidnaps her. And Peach, who simply wants to be left alone. So for as much as Mario and Bowser end up fighting at the end of most games, they really should just kiss and make up.

24 Minecraft – The Ender Dragon

Game art from Minecraft.

Minecraft came from wonderfully humble beginnings, a simple pleasure of surviving the night and building whatever your mind could imagine. Such a game getting a story was far from the first thing one would’ve expected for it, and yet it has since spawned multiple media projects that, yep, sure do have a story.

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Well, the game has a (admittedly simple) story of its own too that culminates in a humourously good final boss. After travelling to the aptly named End, you are met across the void with the Ender Dragon. After a climatic battle against the giant beast, she drops an egg and you get to see the credits. And people say Minecraft is endless.

23 Dragon’s Dogma – Grigori And The Seneschal

Dragon's Dogma the Seneschal walking in a misty area while glowing, and Grigori with his wings outstretched and roaring

Dragon’s Dogma is truly a one-of-a-kind experience, blending character action game elements with RPGs and a good ol’ tabletop party system unique to every player. All of that combined means no player has the same playthrough, and also that every fight is a tactile feast.

Ater chasing down the titular dragon, Grigori, he offers many revelations about the world (such as who you’re in love with). Takinmg him down is no easy feat, taking place across a massive, constnatly shfiting arena. Yet it doesn’t end there, as Grigori’s defeat leads to a post-game story that results in you fighting the Seneschal, caretaker of the world. This is a great experience in and off itself, but it’s actually in a new game plus when the Seneschal is another player (or even you yourself) that the thematic weight truly hits.

22 Fallout – The Master

Fallout talking to the Master.

Fallout is pretty hard to divorce from its modern vision now, a cynical icon turned into a piece of merchandise and a mascot that likely doesn’t quite understand its own themes and aesthetics, but the original set a standard. Released back in 1997, the original Fallout was isometric and jam-packed with writing that was more than a bit critical of its many inspirations.

Of course, it was also the game that helped revive RPGs in the west, and it exemplified that with its final Boss, The Master. Calling them a boss is interesting because it almost implies you have to fight them. That’s an option, sure, but you can just as easily use your silver tongue to simply convince them that their whole plan is wrong, actually, and doomed to fail. And really, when was the last time a game gave you the option to talk a boss to death?

21 Okami – Yami

Okami Yami Final Boss As A Ball with red lines Cropped

Have you ever thought about the fact that there are so few games that have actually attempted to recreate a Zelda-like experience, and how even fewer have succeeded? Okami is the answer to that, paying great homage to its inspirations while blazing a gorgeous trail of its own. The beautiful art of the game is enough to immortalize its legacy.

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The final boss feels like the perfect way of showing it all. Unlike most other bosses in the game, they’re more technological than folkloric, yet all the more threatening. Yami, in terms of pure mechanics, isn’t actually the greatest boss in the game. It’s how the whole world rallies around you in defeating them, how it demands you use all your powers, the same powers that are strengthened by the very people who praise you. It even manages to make Issun likable for a single scene.

20 Mortal Kombat – Shao Kahn

Mortal Kombat - Shao Kahn Walking Out Of A Portal

Mortal Kombat, despite being one of the goriest games ever in its earlier entries and leading to mass controversies, is also one of the most successful fighting games ever. It’s a massive franchise with storytelling that’s probably a lot better than you give it credit for. Yet most of the games share one common factor.

Shao Kahn. Despite only being introduced in the second game and serving as the final boss only periodically, he’s practically the face of the series. He has appeared as the final boss more than any other character and is known for being absurdly brutal. It was and still is a massive achievement to beat him considering he spends any moment where he’s not attacking you ridiculing you instead.

19 Hades – Hades

Hades Lord Hades sitting at his desk

Roguelikes and roguelites have been around since, well, after the release of Rogue in 1980. The premise is simple, but demanding: you lose portions of your progress, or all of it, upon death. It’s a genre that’s given birth to plenty of difficult games, but Supergiant wove the genre into an incredible storytelling tool.

Hades has plenty to love, from the too-attractive gods, to the seemingly endless dialogue. No game like this is complete without some good bosses to test your build and skills, and fighting actual Hades at the end feels great. Sometimes he’ll fall to your abilities with ease, other times he’ll have you thrown back down the Styx. He’s always a welcome challenge.

18 Metroid – Mother Brain

Super Metroid screenshot showing Samus shooting Mother Brain with a Hyper Beam

Metroid is a funny franchise, having begun back in 1986, yet some of its side-scrolling entries are soft reboots and remakes of the very first game. It’s a testament to a strong foundation, but also the endless allure of the open-ended nature of the games.

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With most of the games sharing so much, one then must acknowledge that the final boss is typically the same too: Mother Brain. In the original, Mother Brain is fought in a contained room with very accurate lasers, and then in Super Metroid gains a new form defeated with the help of the Baby Metroid. They feel like family with how much you have to see them, but at least it all ends with a good ol’ timed base escape.

17 Hollow Knight – The Hollow Knight And The Radiance

Radiance towering above the Knight in their cloud arena

Hollow Knight took the world by storm upon its release. It has fantastic hand-drawn art, a fantastical melodious soundtrack, and a truly endearing set of characters. It’s styled like a Metroidvania and brings plenty of new aspects to the genre too. It’s also noted, however, for its challenging combat.

While many called Hollow Knight a Soulslike for that difficulty, the comparison truly shows in how it develops its world. For example, the final fight against the Hollow Knight is incredible, but the true grief of the battle only shows through understanding. Better yet, that understanding is what can lead you to the true final boss: The Radiance. They’re no bonus reward, but a truly terrifying final encounter unlike anything else in the game.

16 Bayonetta – Jubileus

Jubileus awakening in Bayonetta

Character action games have always had a penchant for flashy battles. The early beginnings in Devil May Cry and its iconic bosses like Phantom, the pantheon of God of War, and of course the many gigantic angels of Bayonetta. Bayonetta in particular loves being more than a bit over-the-top, and its final boss lives up to the reputation.

Jubileus, the Creator is gargantuan, a deity befitting her stature. Her fight is no simple act of beating away at her face and limbs while standing on a single platform like many others would do it. Instead, you’re trapped inside a great dome, dashing about onto changing chunks of land while beating away at Jubileus. It actually makes her feel to scale, like her size actually matters.

15 Final Fantasy 6 – Kefka

Kefka Final Fantasy 6 faces off against the party one last time

Though Final Fantasy 7 is often remembered as the most successful of the Final Fantasy series, bringing the series to 3D, FF6 was the pinnacle of their pixel art. Having multiple prior entries behind them, Square Enix knew what they were doing, and created a masterpiece, and one of their most memorable villains.

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Kefka is a terrifying monster. Not born but created, Kefka yearned for nothing more than pure chaos and did it all in an unsettlingly whimsical manner. Seeking to destroy creation itself, his amazing theme of “Dancing Mad” feels fitting. Every part of him is a threat, from the music to the battlefield, and it’s all the more uncomfortable by his pure glee.

14 Bloodborne – Moon Presence

Moon Presence reaching towards the player with the red moon in the background

FromSoftware may have gained their most recent fame from the Souls games and their distinct combat, but the apex of their work is Bloodborne. It’s such a haunting world that feels like every aspect of it is built with the music, the weapons and the enemies all in mind. It’s not always a perfectly balanced experience, but one that feels so well-realised.

That’s why its final boss is so distinct. To even fight them in the first place, you need to find three obscure umbilical cords and eat them and defeat the already incredible boss fight that is Gehrman. Then, you can face the very embodiment of the moon. They’re quite an easy boss actually, despite being able to drain your health to a single point. They inspire such awe and dread, which feels fitting for an eldritch horror.

13 Twilight Princess – Ganondorf

Link and Ganondorf facing each other with their swords drawn at night in Twilight Princess

The Legend of Zelda laid the foundations for so many of the great aspects in gaming and even revolutionized them again with Breath of the Wild. After Ocarina of Time’s darker story and the more light-hearted nature of Wind Waker, people were ready for something grittier again, and Twilight Princess gave them everything they wanted.

Much of the game centers around the Twilight Realm, of Midna and Zant and the darkness seeping into Hyrule. Ganondorf is never far behind though, revealed to be the true orchestrator of events. The final battle on horseback across Hyrule Field and culminating in a one-on-one battle against the Dark Lord is a moment few can forget.

12 Kingdom Hearts 2 – Xemnas

Xemnas in his zebra-pattern coat with electricity in both hands in Kingdom Hearts 2

Kingdom Hearts is one of those series that is incredibly daunting to get into, even if every game is actually quite easily accessible now. That said, it relies so heavily on nostalgia, both on our childhood and also the love of older Disney works. It starts drifting from that pretty quickly with the sequel, but Sora always feels at heart like the childhood you remember.

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The final battle of Kingdom Hearts 2 feels like something almost thought up by a child as some epic final showdown. You jump across skyscrapers, cut them in two, duel against Xemnas with lightsabers, deflect millions of lasers at once, fly all over the place and defeat giant monsters. And in the end, you defeat him with the power of friendship.

11 Pokemon – Cynthia

Pokemon Diamond Cynthia Battle

Everyone has their own memories of Pokemon, whether they began way back with Gen One, or only started with the latest entries. The one generation that holds a special place in many people’s hearts is Gen Four, Platinum in particular. Beautiful music, iconic Pokemon, and gorgeous areas. Perhaps most memorable though, is Cynthia.

In typical Pokemon fashion, you meet her plenty of times before she reveals herself as champion, though it’s not much of a surprise. To this day though, she is remembered as one of the most difficult. Her theme is heart-pumping, her Garchomp the destroyer of many teams. She even appears in other games too, in case you thought you could escape her.

10 God Of War (2018) – Baldur

Baldur God Of War final boss. Kratos and Atreus fighting Baldur.

God of War has always been a well-known series, the eponymous god of war Kratos being just a pure killing machine. In the latest game though, he’s a softer figure, someone wanting to leave all that bloodshed behind. But he could never just drop something like that so easily.

In the land of Norse myth, Kratos encounters the Stranger Baldur who becomes something of an unkillable rival, until the very end when he finally feels pain again, and can actually die. The fight is bombastic, throwing you across the stage all while Baldur and Freya try to lay waste to you. It’s almost a reflection of Kratos’ own past, and as such gives Baldur a more merciful passing than he would’ve in the past.

9 Nier: Automata – The Final Boss Rush

A2 and 9S preparing to fight in the tower

Nier Automata is a much-loved game, with characters that tell you they’re logical beings of perfect precision breaking down into something more…human. It’s a world so detached from ours, yet with constant parallels. And amidst all that emotional turmoil, is a beautiful combat system that makes each battle a joy.

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It can almost make you guilty to take glee in such a good system against so many enemies that just want to exist, and the ending of Automata has you fighting so many. Ko-Shi and Ro-shi with two characters, the Red Girls, and then the final confrontation where you must pick a side. Even if the combat is great, you won’t come out unscathed, at least emotionally.

8 Undertale – Omega Flowey

Undertale - Flowey giving advice on how to get the best ending to the game

There’s nothing that quite matches the impact Undertale had on internet discourse. Though it takes plenty from older games like Earthbound, and plenty of other games have existed with surreal reputations, Undertale almost feels like a game with prophetic knowledge of how it would be played.

For example, Flowey. That happy but kind of pushy tutorial guide that seems just a bit demented. They’re also likely the first final boss most players will encounter, just as something… quite different. Flowey doesn’t look like Flowey when you fight them, but instead some ungodly chimera of photoshop editing. It’s quite the twist and one that isn’t easily forgotten.

7 Assassin’s Creed 2 – The Pope

Assassins Creed 2 Rodrigo Borgia

There’s a lot that can be said for the direction of Assassin’s Creed, but Assassin’s Creed 2 is heralded by many fans as the highlight of the series — a massive structure built upon a limited foundation of the original.

With a story taking place over almost 40 years, players truly grow to care for Ezio and his quest for revenge. His own motivations twist and turn to be something more altruistic by the end. Because by the end, he doesn’t even want to kill this man who ruined him, the literal pope. Instead, he offers him a simple fistfight, a way of showing him that they’re all equal on earth in raw terms, that the pope is not some being above others.

Senator Armstrong In Metal Gear Rising

Metal Gear is a series that has never played strictly by the rules. It’s always been an incredibly meta-narrative with a constant awareness of its surroundings, and its bosses are no exception, stretching from more typical bosses with heavy theming to bosses that can be literally aged to death.

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Metal Gear Rising though is a character action game, and despite its stealth roots, feels quintessentially like Metal Gear. And Senator Armstrong is a strong villain, literally and figuratively. That final showdown in Rising where he just kicks you around while ranting maniacally as you shred each other to bits is so damn adrenaline-pumping.

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