Top 7 video game bosses you don't actually fight

The ultimate showdown--or not

That big brute of a monster/super-soldier/evil scientist just destroyed that town/ancient artifact/restaurant, and it's up to our favorite plucky cartoon mascot/brooding antihero/relatable everyman to stop them. This singular confrontation is 20 hours in the making and you are finally ready to take them down once and for all.

Except... the opportunity never comes. No, for whatever reason, that big bad that's been hounding you the entire game either gets unceremoniously killed off in the lamest non-fight ever, or flat out doesn't fight you at all. So it is with excessive levels of pent-up, unrealized aggression that I bring you seven of the biggest boss fights in games... that never actually happen.

7. Dr. Loboto (Psychonauts)

Summer camp can be brutal what with all the sunburns, mosquito bites, and brain thefts going on. Dr. Loboto has been absconding with the gray matter of the various children and counselors of Whispering Rock Psychic Summer Camp, and Raz is the only one perceptive enough to figure out what's going on.

After spending most of the game learning mind-bending super-moves and terrorizing the psyche of giant fish, you finally end up in Dr. Loboto's lair, ready to rescue your imprisoned friends. Instead of some twisted boss battle, Raz simply solves a couple of puzzles and activates a laser, launching Dr. Loboto out of his tower and sending him plummeting to his demise. Uh, victory, I guess? Then why do I feel so hollow inside?

6. Thorne (TRON 2.0)

Future Control Industries wants Encom's secrets (their digitizing technology, specifically), and executive J.D. Thorne has a way to access it for them in exchange for untold riches. Of course, we all know how this will turn out--the process goes haywire, and before you can say "end of line," Thorne winds up transformed into a 12-foot-tall rampaging computer virus. It's up to you to go all McAfee on his ass--and you won't need a computer science degree to do it.

You spend the course of TRON 2.0 hunting down Thorne, and when you finally reach his inner sanctum, you witness him being mercilessly slaughtered by the computer's average-sized ICP Kernel (no, not that ICP--it stands for "Intrusion Countermeasure Program"). And now that the Kernel's done with him, he starts attacking you. Who knew that the machines that help us play Doom could be so violent?

5. Harry Flynn (Uncharted 2)

Harry Flynn reminds me a lot of old-timey screen legend Errol Flynn. They share similar names, they're both dashing rogues with a witty repartee, and they both double-cross their friends for a Russian warlord. Wait, what was that last one again?

Ever the thorn in Nathan Drake's side, Harry Flynn is a constant reminder of what he could have become. He hounds Drake at every step of his journey, even giving him a nearly fatal gunshot wound and leaving him for dead. But by the time Drake reaches him at the end of his adventure (and you're jacked up and ready to give him a good thrashing), Flynn plays his final hand--a suicidal grenade attack. There might be no honor amongst thieves, but it would have been really nice to kick his ass a bit before he offs himself.

4. The Panther King (Conker's Bad Fur Day)

The Panther King's table is a bit wobbly--turns out it's missing one of its legs, and it keeps falling over and spilling his milk. His genius solution? To find a rodent (a red squirrel, specifically), and use him as a stand-in for one of the table's wooden supports. And wouldn't you know it--Conker fits the bill perfectly. Finally captured near the end of the game, it looks like Conker is about to finally partake in the feline butt-kicking he has been waiting for.

Or he would have if a xenomorph didn't just randomly burst out of The Panther King's chest. Yeah, a xenomorph. Like the one from those Alien movies. Looks like The Panther King's resident scientist had some tricks up his sleeve, and now we have to fight this blood-thirsty beast from outer space instead.

3. The Illusive Man (Mass Effect 3)

Built up over the course of two whole games, The Illusive Man isn't just a villain, he's a malignant presence constantly skulking in the shadows, attempting to use the Reapers to put humanity at the forefront of galactic society. He's a powerful force to be reckoned with--which makes the final confrontation with him all the more disappointing.

After overcoming all odds, Commander Shepard finally confronts this elusive man (oh, now I get it) and engages in a battle of really long-winded monologues. Regardless of what you say or do, the Illusive Man ends up dead--whether at your hand or his own. Come to think of it, the entire ending is one big let-down, with no real showdown or satisfying conclusion to speak of. I wonder if anyone has mentioned this to Bioware?

2. Songbird (BioShock Infinite)

BioShock Infinite's teasing of the hulking Songbird goes all the way back to its first gameplay videos, released back in September, 2010: nearly three years before the game actually released. As Elizabeth's protector, Songbird doesn't take kindly to your constant rescue attempts, and whenever you start to think you can take a relaxing breath, along swoops Mecha-Polly, flinging you off into the distant reaches of the floating city of Columbia.

Your urge to seek vengeance reaches a boiling point, but relief never comes. While you do gain control of the Songbird in the final act for an especially frustrating battle against the last few citizens of Columbia, you never get a chance to actually fight it. At least let me punch it in the beak--I deserve that much.

1. Vaas (Far Cry 3)

Vaas' explosive entrance in Far Cry 3 has the force of a megaton bomb--and his exit is a fizzling dud. Considering he kidnaps all of your friends, kills your brother in front of you, and informs you multiple times of the Oxford English Dictionary's definition of insanity, you'd expect to be able to get revenge in the mother of all boss fights. If only that were true.

Instead of the brutal mano-a-mano showdown that a character like Vaas deserves, you end up in a trippy dream sequence that makes Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas feel lucid. A jaunt over some television sets here, a button prompt or two there, and suddenly Vaas is lying dead on the ground in front of you. Not exactly a fitting end to one of video gaming's most unhinged villains.

What's the video game equivalent of blue balls?

Unfulfilled rage sits in your gut like a greasy fast food combo meal. There's nothing worse than being denied an opportunity to have your virtual vengeance--especially if your foe runs off or dies in the most anticlimactic way possible. Have you missed out on an opportunity to give your favorite villain the ass-whooping they deserve because of dumb things like "plot twists" or "narrative development?" Let me know in the comments!

Need to channel your wrath into something else? Check out this list of some of the creepiest characters in perfectly normal games. Or why not soothe your anger with some shredding metal guitar covers of your favorite video game tracks?

David Roberts
David Roberts lives in Everett, WA with his wife and two kids. He once had to sell his full copy of EarthBound (complete with box and guide) to some dude in Austria for rent money. And no, he doesn't have an amiibo 'problem', thank you very much.