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At last, we can fight as warriors. Hand-to-hand: it is the basis of all combat. Only a fool trusts his life to a weapon.
Gray Fox, Metal Gear Solid

You made it to the boss and you're going to use your most powerful weapon, thus easily defeating it, right? Wrong! Every weapon except your fist (or, depending on the game, your basic melee weapon) is either disabled, removed, or unusable, i.e. Duel Boss meets No-Gear Level. This can be a form of Fake Difficulty, particularly if it involves a Unexpected Gameplay Change (you never had to/have been able to use your fists before). Expect a speech or two about how Good Old Fisticuffs is the one true form of combat.

For a literal fisticuffs boss, see Giant Hands of Doom.


  • In the original Metal Gear Solid, after you beat both forms of Metal Gear REX, you fight Liquid Snake on top of REX. However, he's removed all your weapons, and your shirt. This also happened in Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons of Liberty, in which Raiden lost all his weapons except a sword before the final showdown, and in Metal Gear 2 Solid Snake, in which all of Snake's equipment catches on fire and must be discarded by the player before the final bosses.
    • A version with a twist appears in Metal Gear Solid, when Cyborg Ninja challenges you to a bare-handed fight. You're free to continue attacking him with your firearms, but he'll block most of them with his sword, and counterattack with lethal power. If, however, you remove your weapon and attack him with your fist, he'll drop his sword as well, making the fight actually easier.
    • Fisticuff Final Bosses are something of a tradition in Metal Gear. In Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, you box Gray Fox in a mine field, and burn your father with an aerosol can and lighter.
    • In Snake Eater the Final Boss doesn't need to be a Fisticuffs Boss, but since she has the bad habit of breaking your guns, it's generally better to do it that way, though she also has the habit of breaking arms.
      • The succeeding Cutscene Boss, Ocelot, is virtually a Fisticuffs Boss though as he drops all your gear into a lake and engages you in some fancy CQC.
    • And, of course, Guns of the Patriots has an old man's fistfight between Snake and Liquid Ocelot, on top of a truly huge precipice, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, on top of Outer Haven with the reactivated World War II-era Iowa-class battleship USS Missouri in the background.
    • The final boss of MGS2 is a true fisticuffs boss if you challenge him as Snake (either in the Boss Survival mode or in one of the Substance version's Snake Tales).
  • In No One Lives Forever, the player controls a female superspy said to have too slender a frame to carry dead or unconscious bodies around. At one point she is required to defeat a certain villain through fisticuffs. Said villain is much larger than her, very muscular and is said to be able to tackle several opponents at once in brawls.
    • Made even scrappier by the fact that the guy doesn't fight fair. He shakes the floor by punching it and throws sticks of dynamite at you.
    • This example can be seen as a Puzzle Boss of sorts, although the developers probably didn't intend it that way. Seeing how he is a Mighty Glacier to Cate's Fragile Speedster, your best tactic is to abuse your mobility advantage and jump on top of him while he ducks, then pummel away at him from above--his fists won't reach that high.
  • In the James Bond game James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing, Bond get cornered by the villain Jaws a couple times, and the player can only use Bond's fists for the duration of the fight. Not because he's lost his weapons, but because it's the stylish kind of thing that James Bond does. (It helps matters that Jaws is established in the films as being next to unkillable through conventional means, anyway...)
  • In Hitman 2, you start the 2 last missions with nothing but the fiber wire, while every enemy has a gun - and no spare ammo to loot.
    • The last mission is not so bad, the shed where you hide your weapons is not far from the mission entrance and the enemies didn't bother to loot it. Now getting to that shed...
  • Variation: In Tron 2.0, halfway through the fight against the Kernel, he says, "Discs only, program!" You are then unable to use anything except your basic Disc weapon. Different in that the Disc is generally more useful than many of the other weapons (or indeed fisticuffs).
  • In Red Steel, during every boss battle, your character puts away his vast variety of guns to instead have an honorable sword duel.
  • In Fugitive Hunter, the main character hunts downs and captures various terrorist leaders around the world. After mowing down their security forces via regular gunplay, the player throws away his guns and takes on each leader hand-to-hand, eventually leading up to a Kung Fu showdown with Osama Bin Laden.
  • In Okami, at the start of the battle with Yami, the lord of darkness and the game's final boss, he steals all of Amaterasu's brush techniques, and the player must earn them back one at a time by beating down on the boss. In an earlier battle in a "cursed zone" (and whenever she uses up all her ink), Amaterasu temporarily loses her godhood, stripping her of both brush techniques and weapons. The player then literally has to kick a demon to death, which may be the most absurd image in the entire game.
    • Chuggaaconroy refers to this as "Wolf Kung-Fu" and actually prefers this over the brush techniques.
    • Or, you could always bypass the kicking and use exorcism cards on Yami at first...
    • Similar thing in Castlevania Aria of Sorrow. The final boss removes all of Soma's Souls and concentrates it into three nodes. Each of them attacks differently and represents a different type of soul; killing one restores all Souls of that type to Soma.
  • The Turbo Grafx 16/Arcade game Bloody Wolf, AKA Battle Rangers, got particularly wacky when it came to Fisticuffs Bosses. First, the player's weapon would be destroyed by a boomerang thrown by the Big Bad, prompting a boss fight using only your knife and escape from the entire enemy compound. Later, a boss named Knife Guy would prompt the player to, with no explanation, drop his gun and begin brawling. The guns would, again, disappear in the final level. On the plus side, when Knife Guy reappeared in the final level, the player would keep his gun, letting him shoot the Recurring Boss just once to kill him. In another stage (Arcade version only), your character jumps on a raft and, inexplicably, decides for himself that the "raft is too small for gunfight. Better to use knives!"
  • Movie Example: the Street Fighter movie. Bison (Raul Julia) insists on meeting Guile (Jean Claude Van Damme) hand-to-hand, then cheats by using electromagnetic levitation.
  • In Zone of the Enders: the 2nd Runner, just before the second fight with Anubis, your Humongous Mecha Jehuty is heavily damaged, losing access to all its weapons and subweapons except for its basic blade.
    • Basic blade and the instantaneous teleport that is a Game Breaker against normal enemies.
  • Used several times in the Final Fantasy series
    • In Final Fantasy IV, there is an entire dungeon like this, in which having metal objects of most any type equipped causes you to be perpetually paralyzed in battle due to an intense magnetic field that the dungeon's boss generates because metal weapons are his Achilles Heel. It looks as though you'll have to fight the boss this way as well, until Edward uses an object he gave the party earlier to send music into the battlefield, which cancels out this power.
    • Rapps, one of Final Fantasy VII's many Bonus Bosses, is arguably an example, since you must fight him without the use of magic.
      • Depending on your affection value with Yuffie, that is. When the time comes for her to steal your materia, she'll leave one or two materia with you. Depending on your luck, this can mean a few decent Magic Materia, or, if you're really lucky, a Summon Materia.
    • In Final Fantasy VIII, you find yourself locked up in jail with all your weapons and equipment taken away. Which would be a problem, except one of the characters locked up is Zell, who fights hand-to-hand anyway.
    • There is a slight variation of this in Final Fantasy IX. An entire non-optional dungeon shows up pretty much out of the blue where the only weapons that can do any significant damage are the ones the characters started out with (many players would had sold them all long ago, after having milked them for their learned abilities. The designers factored this into the dungeon by conveniently providing copies of most of them near the beginning). There's also a dungeon that's covered by an anti-magic field, rendering over half your party (Garnet, Eiko, Vivi and Quina) useless.
    • In Final Fantasy XII, the playable characters have their weapons taken away and are thrown into prison. You must then fight some prison Seeqs using only your fists and magic.
  • There is a scene in Chrono Trigger, which defaults to a stealth mission briefly. Unless you have Ayla in your party who, like Zell, fights hand-to-hand (despite carrying a club in all artwork).
  • In the board game stage of Gunstar Heroes, if you land on the "no guns" space, you'll have to fight the boss "Curry and Rice" with no guns - your "shoot" button instead makes your character do a short-ranged, weak punch. Due to Curry and Rice's own range, this is a very difficult and annoying battle that most players try to avoid.
  • In Bioshock, after you get Peach Wilkins to let you into his hideout, you have to fight him and his men with nothing but your wrench and any plasmids you have equipped. Fortunately, there are also some nearby defenses that you can hack. Also, you can pick guns off the dead splicers.
  • In Lunar: Silver Star Story, there is a dungeon with a magical prohibition against using weapons - excepting the legendary hero known as the Dragonmaster. Since no one in your party has become Dragonmaster, you need to rely on barehanded attacks and magic.
    • Oddly enough, despite the fact that Alex CAN'T wield a blade that dungeon, he'll still pull one out of his ass if you have him use one of his sword techniques in battle.
  • The climax of the original Aliens vs. Predator game, in the Predator missions, involved doing battle with an Alien Queen in which all of your plasma weapons were disabled. While it's possible to kill her with the speargun, you usually end up running out of ammo - and being reduced to your claws.
    • Strangely enough, the Marine's final battle, also against a Queen, simply has none of his weapons do any damage to her. You are forced to avoid her attacks and use the environment to kill her, making the Queen more of a Puzzle Boss.
      • This battle is meant to be an homage to the ending of the second Alien movie.
  • In Scarface the World Is Yours, Gaspar Gomez' head of security must be confronted in hand-to-hand. Subverted in the Fidel's Records mission and various other Lead missions, where the target that has to be fought in melee can be softened up first with firepower; however, keeping true to the intent, gunning the victim down leads to failure and the final blow must be delivered by hand.
    • Sosa is also much easier to beat this way. In fact, he won't defend himself at all, making him an Anticlimax Boss.
  • In the game True Crime: Streets of LA many of these will pop up and when you try to shoot the guy Nick will respond with a one-liner explaining why he won't. Examples: Nah. I'd rather beat ya senseless., Guns are overrated... Sometimes., Let's do this honorably.
  • The Batman Doom Game Mod has its final battle with Bane in the ruins of the Batcave, and your weapon for the battle is a special gauntlet that you only get on the level. Switching to any other weapon gets you a message saying "You failed to fight Bane with your fists" and locking out all your weapons with a mocking "Is that your best?" from Bane, making the game essentially Unwinnable unless you restart the level.
  • The last few levels of Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith are like this. All your guns flatly refuse to work and you are left with only your melee weapons. Given that one of those is a lightsaber, feel free to decide if the loss is significant.
    • In every other episode of the series, each boss encounter turns into this. While you have other weapons, clumsy blasters and random explosives are no match for a good lightsaber in your hands. Perhaps the only real exception is fighting Boba Fett in Jedi Academy; you have to bust out the sniper rifle. THEN saber him to pieces.
      • The penultimate boss of Jedi Knight: Dark Forces 2 can be beaten by using explosives on him from a place he can't reach, as opposed to the intended lightsaber fight.
      • In fact, most of the bosses in Jedi Knight could be disposed of in such a manner.
  • The final boss in Dead Rising's Overtime mode is a Special Forces officer who you fight on top of a main battle tank in the middle of a sea of zombies (Oh, yeah). While trying to fight him normally is quite difficult, his AI has an easily exploitable bug that makes him jump up to the turret if he's hit while jumping down. Delivering a series of jump kicks in this manner is an easy win.
    • Or if the player so chooses, he's also extremely vulnerable to the somersault kick to roundhouse kick combination
  • In the first Alone in The Dark game, there was a pirate midboss. Throwing an item or firing a projectile weapon simply caused him to do a graceful flip over the projectile. Ultimately, you had to defeat him with mélêe weapons.
  • The final boss of Bully is a one-on-one fisticuffs fight with Gary. By this point your hand-to-hand fighting ability is way better than his, making this an Anticlimax Boss. It should be noted, however, that pretty much every boss in the game is a Fisticuffs Boss.
  • In the middle of the fight against Puzzle Boss Konishi in The World Ends With You, she takes away your ability to use any pins. The only way to deal damage to her is to stay in her shadow to clear the clones from the top screen to give your partner a fighting chance.
  • Variation: Link loses his Master Sword at the start of the battle against Ganon in The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time, forcing you to use your other weapons. Except not really, because you still have the Biggoron's Sword.
  • God Hand may be less of an example because your character doesn't really use any weapons throughout the game.
  • In Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne the RPG style Orc quest has a fight where you are forced to fight without "any magic toys". Sadly for your opponent by that point in the game you can summon a half dozen animal minions to tear him limb from limb.
  • Iji's Asha the Assassin is only vulnerable to the most basic weapon, the Shotgun... because anything else will make him teleport away, and the Shotgun is the only weapon he deems too weak to be worth bothering to dodge.
    • He doesn't dodge the Buster Gun either, but it's basically a rapid-fire shotgun anyway.
    • He dodges kicks, too, it should be noted. So much as he may feel like a Fisticuffs Boss, actual Good Old Fisticuffs are ineffective.
    • To disable Iosa the Invincible's force field, you must first kick her into a wall to stun her.
  • In the fight against Brad in Sin and Punishment, only your sword does damage to him. Since it's the same button (and device) as your gun, you might not notice.
    • This is repeated in the sequel when Isa loses his gun while fighting Deko Gekisho. Except now you're handcuffed to'em and the only advantage you have is flight and slightly more flexible juggle ability, while he has a far more varied moveset, the handcuffs stun you if you try to roll away too far and he'll pull you in with them if you spend too much time far away from'em.
  • In Fallout 2, you can join different dojos in San Francisco. Matches for these dojos are strictly hand-to-hand combat with no other items, except when fighting Lo Pan. Though underhanded, Lo Pan is Genre Savvy enough to draw a gun when he starts losing.
  • There is a subversion of this trope in nearly every Kirby game. No matter what skill you're carrying (or sometimes, not), Meta Knight won't even give you the time of day until you pick up that freakin' sword.
    • Not true. At least in Kirby Superstar on SNES, if you wait long enough the battle against Meta Knight will begin without taking the sword. With the right power (say... rock?) this can make that fight almost too easy.
      • Note that he's waiting for you to pick up the sword while in a battleship that's falling from the sky. It's understandable that he'd lose his patience eventually.
    • The whole Kirby Mass Attack is this, as at the beginning of the game Necrodius splits Kirby depriving him of most of his abilities, most notably his trademark Mega Manning. The flock of Kirbies has no other way to fight than ganging up on enemies and wrestle them until they die.
  • Legend of Legaia brings us secret boss Lapis. While the characters do use weapons, they use them as a part of a martial art, and none of the powerful Arts skills actually rely on them. Your boon is magic. Then Lapis turns up, always makes the first move, and uses it to make an attack that drops the maximum MP of everyone in the party to a flat zero.
    • In the fighting arena, you are not allowed the use of items. The mid-tier tournament also takes away your ability to use weapons and armor, and the upper-tier tournament further takes away the ability to use magic, meaning that you must rely on basic attacks, arts, and guarding.
  • Assassin's Creed II plays the trope to the hilt for its final boss fight, down to Ezio telling his opponent that they should settle it like men. The HSQ is still off the charts because the man he's challenging to a fistfight is the frickin' Pope. This is less annoying than other examples in that fighting unarmed is not too different from fighting any other way, and you're punching the hell out of the frickin' Pope.
  • Villain example in Largo Winch. Then final boss approaches your team with a machine gun, then throws it away and engages in a meele fight.
  • In Super Paper Mario, after Dimentio insults Luigi, he gets angry and urges Mario to go on, and for Luigi to fight Dimentio himself. Not that bad. Just a Duel Boss after all. Bowser and Peach did just a couple of minutes ago in fact. Then you find out YOU CAN'T USE YOUR PIXL'S (which are like the weapons in the game) and that's completely ridiculous as even Bowser and Peach could use their pixls. Luigi can only use his jumping and "Super Jump" attacks.
  • In Fable, there is a subquest revolving around these and each arena has a boss. There's even a pre-quest boast that works this way.
  • Somewhere in the middle of the final boss of Nie R, Grimoire Weisse, your sentient Spell Book is taken from you, forcing you to fight the Shadowlord with your weapons only.
  • Some servers in Team Fortress 2 feature Sudden Death matches where you are locked into your melee weapon; others further restrict it to one class (for example, an all-Heavy Weapons Guy boxing match).
  • Nefarian, a classic World of Warcraft boss, has call outs to particular classes which cause specific things to happen to those classes and some of them are a lot like this. Druids are forced into the fragile, melee-oriented Cat form for the duration of the spell (especially annoying for both offensive and healing magic-oriented druids). More straight, all Hunters get their ranged weapons broken. However, since Hunters can't really do any damage in melee, they will generally lug around several extra bows or guns just in case - and it's also possible to avoid getting your weapon broken if you unequip it on time.
  • In Destroy All Humans!: Path of the Furon, the final boss locks out all of your guns, leaving you with only your PK abilities, as he spits explosives and breathes fire, cold, & green gas at you. Fortunately, you regain use of your guns after destroying the tubes that attach the boss to the ceiling. You do this by freezing time before one of the explosives hit you and using Temporal Fist to send the explosive into a certain glowing tube, one at a time.
  • For a non video game example, the Fighting Fantasy book Seas of Blood ends with a fight against a cyclops who snatches away your sword, forcing you to fight bare-handed.
  • Not a boss, but an example takes place in Xenosaga Episode I. Your party loses their equipment and has to fight two guards before finding it again. Since your battle android is not around, the resident fist-user, chaos, fights them on his own. If he can even be hit by the enemies, it is very rare to actually happen, so this is basically a battle you cannot lose. One wonders why the cyborg with the built-in switchblade doesn't help though.