50 Best Fighting Game Final Bosses from Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Tekken, and More

Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Tekken, etc. They all have their share of overpowered bosses, and we've ranked the very best of them.

50 Best Fighting Game Bosses: Rugal Bernstein, Dio Brando, Shao Kahn, M. Bison
Photo: Capcom, Namco, Warner Bros.

When it isn’t about rage-quitting against your best buddy sitting next to you on the couch, or some guy playing against you across the country, fighting games are all about beating the arcade mode. Doing so means defeating the pesky final boss.

We’ve fought so many final bosses over the last 30+ years. Whether they’re godly megalomaniacs or bloodthirsty loners out to prove they’re the best, there are pleny of cheap-ass villains standing in the way of character-specific epilogue cutscenes.

So I’ve decided to rank the 50 best final bosses in fighting game history. This ranking includes both default final bosses and special secret bosses, but they have to be the last guy you fight. That means characters like Goro, Cervantes, Apocalypse, Vega, and Antonov don’t count. I’m also not counting games like Street Fighter Alpha and Vampire Savior where there’s no real set boss and different people have different final opponents, which is why Jedah isn’t on the list.

Now let’s face it straight!

Ad – content continues below

Jinpachi Mishima from Tekken 5

50. JINPACHI MISHIMA

Tekken 5

I think this is the moment when Tekken’s story started going off the rails. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the lore of the series, but after doing a game about Heihachi vs. Kazuya vs. Jin, they decided to go further and bring in Heihachi’s dad. And he’s possessed by a demon because why the hell not.

But really, the reason he’s possessed is because otherwise he’s the one member of the bloodline who isn’t a jerk. That doesn’t make for a good boss design. In Tekken 5, he takes over the Mishima Zaibatsu and sets up a new King of the Iron Fist tournament ASAP just so somebody strong might be able to kill him before he completely loses control and wipes out all life on the planet. His ending cutscene even has him cry blood over this because he’s that hardcore.

The tragedy is that, in the end, he was killed by his great-grandson Jin, but Jin came out of it learning the wrong lesson. Jin, suffering from his own possession problems, went and took over the Mishima Zaibatsu and started a world war as part of an elaborate plan to commit suicide by putting a giant target on his back. It took two more games for him to finally get his head on straight.

SIlber from Buriki One

49. SILBER

Buriki One

SNK shamelessly ripped off Akuma, but at least the studio did it with style. Coming from the lesser-known fighter Buriki One, Silber is a Victor Creed-looking urban legend who is obsessed with increasing his power and challenging worthy opponents. At the end of the game’s big MMA tournament, when the player is ready to face his fellow finalist, your opponents’s busted carcass is instead knocked through the entranceway like a punted football. The mysterious Silber takes their spot.

Ad – content continues below

Win or lose, Silber’s response is to just quietly jump off and exit the arena. The endings are mainly about the winners being asked by the press what the hell that was even about. And if you unlock Silber and beat the game with him, he just leaves the press hanging by jumping off into the distance.

Silber also appeared as a hidden mid-boss in King of Fighters XI, but his fighting style lacks anything really bombastic. No fireballs or energy explosions or anything like that. Just brutal karate with his flashiest move being a flipping legdrop.

I do really get a kick out of how one of his King of Fighters intros has him throw a non-descript martial artist to the ground before jumping into the fight, like it’s his regular thing to kick some schmuck’s ass and take their spot in a tournament.

Shang Tsung from Mortal Kombat

48. SHANG TSUNG

Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat’s attract mode sold the game by going, “Yo, check out this huge claymation beast with his four arms and topknot! He will break you in half if you even blink!” But this unstoppable monster was actually second to some floating geezer. Surely, that at least had to mean that Shang Tsung was a special kind of threat in his own way.

Indeed he was. A shape-shifter was a fantastic gimmick for a final boss, especially since it jibed with his tendency to eat souls. Even though he was turning into other playable characters, the insinuation was that you were more or less fighting all the dead warriors from the years that he had absorbed into his being. Then Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa played the HELL out of him in the movie and his legendary status was solidified.

Ad – content continues below

While lesser on the totem pole in later games, Shang Tsung regaining his youth made for a good trade. It’s just too bad that once games were on discs and had loading times, Shang’s tendency to morph mid-match took a powder. As one of the final bosses in Deadly Alliance, it just didn’t feel the same. He was just some guy.

Soul Edge/Inferno from the Soul Series

47. SOUL EDGE/INFERNO

The Soul Series

As far as I’m concerned, the Inferno concept peaked in the first game. Cervantes was an evil dude, but he was still just a pawn. As shown at the end of that fantastic CGI intro that still holds up to this day, the swords were really running the show. So after taking down Cervantes, the swords came to life to fight you as a more powerful version of Cervantes with a flaming skull head.

The development of Siegfried wielding the Soul Edge and being transformed into Nightmare was a wonderful twist and selling point for the sequel’s storyline, but it made Inferno look a little redundant. The flame body was neat, but he was just Nightmare with a weaker design. Inferno never really had a personality of its own. Then Bandai Namco started having Inferno adopt random movesets, but there are like a dozen characters like that in SoulCalibur.

The concept of Inferno did translate well in SoulCalibur V where they showed that the Soul Calibur sword has its own counterpart in Elysium. It appeared in the form of a scantily-clad Sophitia in order to manipulate Sophitia’s son, Patroklos. Man, Inferno may be evil personified, but at least it didn’t try to seduce Siegfried by turning into his dad in a speedo.

Miss X from SNK Gal Fighters

46. MISS X

SNK Gal Fighters

Ad – content continues below

The Neo Geo Pocket Color game SNK Gal Fighters features an all-female roster in a comedic story about a mysterious Miss X putting together a Queen of Fighters tournament, with some kind of wish-granting talisman up for grabs. When you reach the end of the game, you discover that Miss X looks an awful lot like Iori Yagami wearing a mask and a dress. While many of her opponents aren’t fooled, nobody outright says Iori’s name, and Miss X insists she isn’t who they think.

But also, please don’t tell Kyo about this.

Of course, she still fights exactly like Iori Yagami and is flanked by Iori’s former King of Fighters partners Vice, Mature, Billy Kane, and Eiji Kisaragi. Miss X is REALLY committed to the act, but it’s never really explained why she’s created this whole disguise.

Miss X made a few more appearances too, including when Dimitri performs his Midnight Bliss attack on Iori in SNK vs. Capcom: Chaos and as a DLC character in SNK Heroines Tag Team Frenzy.

Sagat from Street Fighter

45. SAGAT

Street Fighter

As the boss of the first Street Fighter game – which nobody really cares about – Sagat being on this list is more of a courtesy. While a difficult opponent, Sagat’s position as a final boss isn’t really that memorable. If anything, he’s defined by his defeat here. It’s why he has that cool scar on his chest, why he suddenly has a Dragon Punch knockoff in the sequel, and it’s the crux for his redemption story and frenemy relationship with Ryu.

Ad – content continues below

Sagat’s spot as the original Street Fighter boss actually helps build up M. Bison and Shadaloo in general. He returns in Street Fighter II, scarred both physically and mentally, while physically stronger and more driven. Yet he is still only the penultimate boss, showing that this time he’s outranked by a big-chinned dictator.

Zeus from World Heroes 2 Jet

44. ZEUS

World Heroes 2 Jet

World Heroes 2 Jet doesn’t have any character-specific endings. Instead, the endings are based around Zeus, a jacked behemoth who watches your penultimate victory from a balcony, acts jazzed about finding a worthy opponent, then makes the grandest of entrances by flexing off his suit (revealing body armor underneath), walking down some stairs, and kicking the doors off the entranceway.

A regular old pain in the ass, Zeus’ reaction to his defeat is decided by how much health the player has left. If it’s a close match, he’ll berate you until realizing that it was a fun fight. If the player has half a life bar left, he’ll threaten to kill them the next time they meet. If the player has almost all of their health, Zeus will mope as his henchman Jack tries to cheer him up. He insults the player, then cartoonishly cheeses it across the image of a map.

What makes this so golden is the iffy English translations. Here are some of Zeus’ lines from his endings:

“Why you, you, YOU… YOU CRAZY FUNSTER! To think that you were this strong!”

“YOU FILTH, YOU SLIME, YOU LAWYER! To think you had such power… But, heh, heh, heh…it was a crazy, hip time!”

“Hey, you. Still can’t walk and chew bubblegum at the same time? Oh, nooooooo!”

Classic.

Ad – content continues below

Dark Kahn from Moratl Kombat vs. DC Universe

43. DARK KAHN

Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe

Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe felt like a joke someone made about Marvel vs. Capcom that someone else took as a serious suggestion. Quality of the game aside, the two worlds meshed well together, which is why we’ve seen the two parties meet up again a few more times. Mortal Kombat and DC, for the most part, didn’t so much match up as they complemented each other.

One pairing in particular matched up perfectly. Darkseid and Shao Kahn were both evil overlords, two peas in a pod. Rather than fight each other or team up, they did one better: they merged.

Dark Kahn isn’t exactly better than the individual characters but this modern Amalgam design still kicks ass. Darkseid’s stony flesh mixed with Shao Kahn’s skull face to create a lava beast who lives to blow up the multiverse.

Dark Kahn ISOUTSTANDING.

Mister Karate from Art of Fighting

42. MISTER KARATE

Art of Fighting

Ad – content continues below

Just because someone is designed as comic relief doesn’t mean they can’t have their moments of serious competence. See also: Deadpool, Mankind.

Mr. Karate started as the original Akuma type. In Art of Fighting, Mr. Karate was a mysterious mob enforcer who happened to look and fight just like protagonist Ryo Sakazaki, but with a different head and more damaging attacks. In another light, Mr. Karate’s tengu mask could be seen as silly, but considering how brutal he was, it was easy to see it as a threatening symbol of martial arts dominance.

After that game, where it was established that Mr. Karate was Ryo’s father, Takuma Sakazaki, who’d forced to work for the mob, he became a secondary character. He showed up in King of Fighters regularly as just Takuma, but became something of a joke. When he appeared in the Mr. Karate mask, he acted like a total goof and everyone rolled their eyes at his lack of self-awareness. But comedic or not, there were still moments here and there that made him look tougher than the rest of his family combined.

But it was SNK vs. Capcom: Chaos that revitalized him. Depicted as Akuma’s SNK counterpart, Mr. Karate was given both a silly base version and his “serious” boss alter-ego, who reminded the world of what kind of force he was in his Art of Fighting days. Right on.

Asmodeus from Mace: The Dark Age

41. ASMODEUS

Mace: The Dark Age

The Nintendo 64 was lousy when it came to compiling a fighting game library, so we had to do the best with what we had. Mixed in the shallow pile was Mace: The Dark Age, which was like if the guys who made Mortal Kombat were tasked with making a SoulCalibur game. The basic story was roughly the same: an insidious, medieval weapon of ultimate power falls into the hands of evil and everyone wants a piece. The difference was that while the Soul Edge brought demonic chaos in its wake, with its wielders just wandering around destroying stuff, the Mace of Tanis brought demonic order, as its wielder used it to rule Eurasia and its corrupt council.

Ad – content continues below

This created a conflict where everyone wanted a shot at holding the Mace. Not just the heroes, but also conniving members of the Council of Seven because they’re evil and power hungry. And wielding the Mace of Tanis? None other than Asmodeus. His name popped up in exposition dumps but he didn’t even have a pre-fight profile image. You didn’t get to see him until you actually faced him in the final battle and, all in all, he met the hype.

For all of the limitations of the Nintendo 64’s graphics, Asmodeus looked amazing. He appeared as a gigantic, reptilian demon so big that only his upper half was peaking out of a portal. His offense wasn’t much to talk about, as it was mostly just swiping attacks and pounding at his prey, but damn if he didn’t look like how a final boss should look.

Mukai from King of Fighters 2003

40. MUKAI

King of Fighters 2003

The 10th and 11th King of Fighters games released in the final days of the franchise’s classic art style, and included some great designs, like Oswald. But while the bosses in these games looked and moved exceptionally, they were mostly really lame otherwise.

Mukai from King of Fighters 2003 provided a great balance, though. He didn’t have much going on besides being the harbinger for lesser villains, but he looked totally sweet and his stone-based motif led to a fun boss fight that wasn’t too hard to figure out. Admittedly, I’m a sucker for the glowing lava design usually reserved for rock creatures, but making that classic design monochrome feels fresh and absolutely badass.

Too bad he died like a punk in a random cutscene several games later.

Ad – content continues below

Kull the Despoiler from Way of the Warrior

39. KULL THE DESPOILER

Way of the Warrior

It’s disappointing to me when a ridiculous and/or stupid fighting game doesn’t have that final boss that just pushes it further into hilarity. I’d love to discuss ClayFighter here, but it’s not like N. Boss or Dr. Kiln were anything to write home about. Tattoo Assassins is a total trip, but there’s not much to say about its big bad Koldan. Death from Time Killers is just lame and ugly to look at.

Way of the Warrior is an extreme piece of garbage and sweet Jesus does that translate to its final boss, Kull the Despoiler.

This 3DO classic is one of several Mortal Kombat knockoffs that tried to cash in on digitized graphics and bloody violence. Other features included a White Zombie soundtrack, hideous backgrounds, a character who just a regular guy’s sprite but enlarged to look like a giant, and a couple boss characters brought to life by mid-‘90s CGI.

After the player has gone through the main cast and a CGI dinosaur named High Abbott (with another CGI dinosaur watching from a throne in the background), we take a trip to the citadel graveyard stage. There’s a memorial statue of the great warrior Kull that suddenly breaks apart to reveal that his living, 8-foot-tall skeleton is inside.

“Not even death shall keep my name from the Book of Warriors!”

Ad – content continues below

You must fight this silly skeleton warrior, who is armed with a bloody hammer and iffy voice-acting, all while the guy who made Devil’s Rejects is singing. A fitting finale for such a game.

Heihachi Mishima from Tekken

38. HEIHACHI MISHIMA

Tekken Series

In terms of pure power, Heihachi is one of the weakest boss characters in relation to his series. He’s played the final boss a few times in the Tekken series, but these fights are always less about him being the ultimate force of destructive evil and more about his importance to the story as a scheming bastard with the occasional redeemable moment as a human being.

It’s also about how he measures up to his son, Kazuya, the would-be protagonist who is ultimately more evil than Heihachi. The first game’s plot focuses on Kazuya as a vindictive monster who smiles at his father’s assumed murder, and Tekken 4 finally brings the three-way generational conflict between Heihachi, Kazuya, and Jin to a head for the first time. Then in Tekken 7’s story mode, Heihachi gets his final battle with Kazuya in a war that’s been ravaging the whole world.

Despite being hilariously unkillable in the past, Heihachi appears to be dead for real now and it’s solidified his true purpose as a final boss: to pass the torch to his son, who is both stronger and straight-up worse as a human being.

Athena from SNK vs. Capcom: Chaos

37. ATHENA

SNK vs. Capcom: Chaos

Ad – content continues below

If there’s anything resembling a story in SNK vs. Capcom: Chaos (not counting the completely bonkers Hong Kong comic adaptation), it’s that all the street fighting going on in the world has caused havoc on time and space. Beings from the past and future have ended up in the present. By the end, it gets so out of control that by defeating Shin Akuma or Serious Mr. Karate, you create a rift that sends your character to Heaven or Hell.

(Let’s rock!)

If you’re in Hell, you fight Capcom representative Red Arremer from Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins. If you go to Heaven, it’s SNK’s Athena, but not the annoying pop star from the Psycho Soldiers team in King of Fighters. It’s the original SNK Athena from the sidescroller where she’s a bikini-clad goddess. Funny enough, despite there being pre-fight dialogue specific to each pairing, none of the King of Fighters crew pay any lip service to this.

Rather than annoying you with constant screams of, “PSYCHO BAAAWWWWW!!!” this Athena uses lots of summoning and shapeshifting powers to get the better of you. If King of Fighters Athena brought out a giant baby chick to destroy her opponents, I’d probably choose her more often.

If you lose the fight, she transforms you into an animal specific to the fighter. If you win, you get to meet God. Either way, it’s a pretty eventful day.

Abyss from SoulCalibur III

36. ABYSS

SoulCalibur III

Ad – content continues below

I was thinking of putting Algol on this list before realizing that I have absolutely nothing to say about the guy. He was fine. Nothing especially memorable about him.

In terms of end bosses wielding both the Soul Edge and Soul Calibur, Zasalamel’s final form, Abyss, is where it’s at. Mainly because Zasalamel is one of the last great SoulCalibur characters (along with Grizzled Owl and Harley Quinn Gollum). He’s a fantastic neutral warrior who ironically uses a Grim Reaper scythe despite being cursed with immortality and wanting a permanent death.

After Zasalamel is transformed into Abyss, you actually begin rooting for Zasalamel to come through. This is his chance to put a stop to his endless cycle of resurrection, but it’s unfortunately turned him into an uncontrollable demon.

In the end, Zasalamel comes out of it better. During the experience, he sees a vision of the future (our present), and after reverting to his normal self, he goes from, “I must use the two swords to kill myself for good!” to “I have to prevent the two swords from ever killing me because the future looks fun as hell!”

Which reminds me, where’s my Zasalamel in Tekken, Harada?!

Onaga from Mortal Kombat: Deception

35. ONAGA THE DRAGON KING

Mortal Kombat: Deception

Ad – content continues below

After Shinnok disappointed Mortal Kombat fans, Midway decided to introduce a new final boss who was a Shao Kahnier Shao Kahn. Fortunately, Onaga worked.

Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance made an effort to clean the slate and start fresh, removing Liu Kang, Shao Kahn, and Goro from the board. Having Shang Tsung and Quan Chi share the final boss spot went against that attempt for freshness, but Midway made up for it by planting the seeds for the sequel.

The whole plot was about introducing the Dragon King – the most Mortal Kombat villain name possible – who ruled Outworld before Shao Kahn. They built up anticipation through the game’s lore without showing him or even outright naming him, and we just knew the heroes were on a collision course with something monstrous. Reptile’s ending, in which his body was possessed and mutated by the Dragon King’s soul, made it definite.

Deception revealed that Shang Tsung and Quan Chi defeated the heroes, but it didn’t matter. Onaga was back and he made the two look like jokes. Things were already dire after the good guys lost, but now there was also this 10-foot-tall tank covered in scales with gigantic dragon wings just sauntering around.

Unfortunately, he got stuck being archenemies with Shujinko and that dude straight-up SUUUUUCKS!

Necrosan from Primal Rage 2

34. NECROSAN

Primal Rage 2

The holy trinity of almost-to-completely-finished fighting games that didn’t get released are Thrill Kill, Tattoo Assassins, and Primal Rage 2. Primal Rage 2 is a fascinating unreleased game that not only had action figures, but a novelization that I would love to read one of these days. It’s always crazy expensive on eBay, though.

The first Primal Rage didn’t have a final boss, but legend has it that Atari Games originally planned to introduce Necrosan in an updated version. Instead, the studio saved him for the sequel, and while the game never saw the light of day, he simply rules too much for me to ignore. Much like King Ghidorah, Necrosan is an alien invader in a world of Terran kaiju. An extremely well-animated winged dragon skeleton coated with muscle tissue, Necrosan looks metal as hell. His backstory complements his look too: he singlehandedly kicked the asses of all the beasts from the first game.

Also cool is the twist that the big meteor that caused the first game’s post-apocalyptic origin was actually an egg housing Necrosan who planned to conquer the planet for his race.

Krizalid from King of Fighters '99

33. KRIZALID

King of Fighters ’99

After spending several years doing the Orochi storyline, King of Fighters finally moved on to something different: mad scientists. The NESTS Cartel was a neat idea in theory, but the further the story went, the more they revealed themselves as dorks. In other words, don’t expect to see Zero or Ignis on this list.

Krizalid had a great look…er, well, his first look. That coat with the fur top covering his jaw was great. The more flexible S&M garb from when he burns it away, not so much. He made for a great first threat in this new story, especially due to how the endings painted him as a tragic figure and made NESTS look like bigger dicks because of it.

For all his posturing, he’s just a deranged clone, pitied by the heroes and exterminated by his bosses at the first opportunity. Then again, maybe they were also annoyed that he got rid of the coat.

Shinnosuke Kagami from Last Blade

32. SHINNOSUKE KAGAMI

Last Blade

The Last Blade games are some of the most underrated titles in the SNK library. Despite only having two installments, the series features plenty of interesting moments, including a redemption arc for its initial villain, Kagami. Originally guard of a portal to evil and darkness, the high-and-mighty Kagami lost his faith in humanity and decided to use that portal to wipe out life on Earth and purge mankind completely. Using his refined swordsman skill and ability to wield flame, he killed a lot of people to help pull off his scheme.

In the end, he was defeated by the hero character Kaede and banished himself into the portal to be tormented. But was resurrected to fulfill his original role as guard of the portal as well as help take down Kouryu, a former victim of his whose reanimated body was possessed by evil from within the portal. This made Kagami second guess his role in the initial adventure, deciding that humans aren’t bound to evil after all and may even be good.

I always liked how he’d have a normal stance in the first round, but after taking a loss, he’d levitate half a foot off the ground. It’s just ominous enough without having to completely change his style.

Superman from Injustice: Gods Among Us

31. SUPERMAN

Injustice: Gods Among Us

“Evil Superman” has been done to death. It can be used well, but a lot of the time you just end up with Brightburn. Injustice: Gods Among Us did a decent enough job by taking an interesting episode of the Justice League cartoon and leaning harder into it. The main difference between the two Supermen was that, while the animated version was driven, he wasn’t as mentally cracked as his video game self.

The animated Superman still had Metropolis and Lois, but Injustice Superman lost them both at the hands of the Joker. As shown in the better-than-it-has-any-right-to-be comic book tie-in, Superman began his reign of terror by killing the Joker in a fit of anger, and bitterness, time, and betrayals caused him to become obsessed with order and a world where there was no war because he said so. It didn’t help that so many of his superfriends sided with him.

Superman is so regularly pushed as the top guy at DC that it’s not that surprising he’s the final boss in a DC fighting game. In fact, the only way to beat him was to get the good version of Superman to do the job.

Nu-13 from BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger

30. NU-13

BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger

When I played through BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger’s arcade mode, I made sure to use Ragna the Bloodedge last. The fact that he was the protagonist, yet very rarely appeared as an opponent for everyone else’s arcade mode path made him seem special. This ended up being the right way to play the game as his dialogue with Nu-13 hit me like a train.

BlazBlue’s plot of, “Wait, I think I understand, but… No, you lost me,” means I can’t fully explain what Nu-13’s story is but the gist of it is that she’s some kind of experiment gone wrong and she’s showing up around a portal that’s messing with the time-space continuum. Everyone comes across her in arcade mode and she usually greets them with extremely dry robot talk throughout the boss fight. When she meets with Ragna, she suddenly acts like an excited schoolgirl who has been pining for this guy and writing his initials in her diary. It’s extremely off-putting and unexpected.

As a boss, she’s a great fit for the game, which takes place about 200 years into the future, but Nu-13 is the only one truly diving headfirst into the futuristic look. Even the game’s resident cyborg Tager comes off lacking compared to all the crazy sci-fi shit Nu-13 has going for her.

Karnov from the Fighter's History series

29. KARNOV

Fighter’s History Series

There is a holy trinity of ’80s video game asskickers who are remembered fondly due to a mix of genuine nostalgia and internet irony: Abobo, Mike Haggar, and Karnov. The latter fighter is a fascinating bloke. Not only did he star in his self-titled platformer game, but developer Data East also decided that this dadbod adventurer should just show up in several of their games like a mascot. This is why Fighter’s History is treated as a sequel to the original Karnov game in which the bored treasure hunter holds a fighting tournament with lots of his money on the line.

Fighter’s History is such an obvious Street Fighter II clone that Capcom tried suing Data East. The game’s only real saving grace is the use of Karnov as the carrot to lead you to the end. And while the sequel/update of the game is just the same cast with the bosses playable, Karnov looks completely different. In the first game, he’s completely jacked, albeit extremely short. In the next game, he’s taller and fat with a nasty stomach scar and has moves that allow him to morph his body like Jake from Adventure Time.

I suppose if it wasn’t weird, it wouldn’t be Karnov.

Pyron from Darkstalkers

28. PYRON

Darkstalkers Series

When the gimmick of your game is that all your characters are Japanese takes on classic monsters, it’s only logical that the biggest threat is extraterrestrial. Pyron is far from the best alien in a video game, but he does the job here as both Silver Surfer and Galactus wrapped in one.

Seriously, look at his ending. If he can turn as big as the sun, he probably could have saved time by leading with that. But what do I know? I’m just a human who hasn’t been murdered by a vampire with stupid hair.

Pyron gets by with his design, which looks absolutely beautiful in that mid-‘90s Capcom arcade animation. The rippling energy waves of cosmic flame almost make you forgive him for what he was like on that terrible Saturday morning cartoon show.

Master Hand from the Super Smash Bros. Series

27. MASTER HAND

Super Smash Bros. Series

Chucking a bunch of Nintendo icons into a game and trying to make a narrative out of it is a fool’s errand. Luckily, Nintendo didn’t overthink it too much and just decided, “They’re figurines or something having an imaginary battle.” It’s Lego Movie meets Secret Wars.

And after so many dream fights like Mario vs. Link and Kirby vs. Yoshi, who would be at the top of the ladder to threaten the heroes? Bowser? Ganon? Andross? King Slender?

No. It’s a hand. Just a big, disembodied glove dead set on crushing the player. I suppose Nintendo didn’t need to have a recognizable final foe. The four-way Nintendo slugfest was enough. So why not have a big hand that can do silly big hand attacks? It’s just the bizarro icing on the cake at this point.

I love how random Master Hand is. It’s a boss fight version of the Toy Story toys revolting against Sid the bully. With every new game, Nintendo had tried to add needless context, and this has caused Master Hand to expand into transcendent final boss concepts like Crazy Hand and Tabuu. That’s just a special kind of weird. Imagine creating a giant hand as your villain and then in each sequel thinking to yourself, “How do we build on that?”

Kronika from Mortal Kombat 11

26. KRONIKA

Mortal Kombat 11

Despite rebooting the series’ winding and convoluted storyline, Mortal Kombat 9 ended on a low note. Sure, Shao Kahn was dead, but so were most of the heroes just as Shinnok was preparing to make his own move. Meanwhile, Mortal Kombat X, while not having the happiest ending, culminated with most of the major threats taken off the board. Kahn was still dead, Quan Chi was dead, Shinnok was just a head, and Onaga’s resurrection was prevented. Things were looking up for once!

But in Moral Kombat 11, a cosmic Tilda Swinton appeared as not just Shinnok’s mother, but as a meta representation of video game designers at odds with the story. Kronika wants good and evil to war with each other on equal enough footing forever. The status quo doesn’t allow enough juice for what she wants, so her plans include bringing back dead characters with a hand wave, reverting characters who have developed farther than she cares for, and even rebooting the franchise itself.

Even her kind, the Titans (higher up on the chain than the Elder Gods), play into this. Scorpion’s ending shows that reality simply won’t exist without the backstory that his wife and child were killed, all because the Titans deemed it so. These games are getting dangerously close to the fourth wall.

Meta or not, Kronika is a fantastic addition to the Mortal Kombat mythos. That endless time-reverse Fatality of hers is one of the highlights of that game’s many kills.

Ultron Sigma from Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite

25. ULTRON SIGMA

Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite

Despite its huge roster, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 didn’t have much in terms of Capcom-based villains. Plus, the big boss was Galactus. Where do you even go from Galactus in a sequel? For Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, bringing Galactus back was a no-no due to Disney being stingy with the Fantastic Four property at the time.

But Capcom had a pretty good solution. First, introduce Sigma from Mega Man X into the world of fighters. Second, bring in box office superstar (at the time) Ultron. Third, take a page out of Dark Kahn’s book and merge the two into one being. They’re robots. Robots love that shit.

For the record, the most hyped I got for this game was the stinger on the announcement trailer where they showed a shadowy Ultron sitting on a throne with Sigma’s glowing eyes appearing on his torso.

Not only do you get each meatbag-hating robot on their own and in merged form, but then there’s the over-the-top design of their final form. Transforming into a nightmarish and gaudy final form is Sigma’s MO, so it’s nice to see Ultron just go with it.

Yeah, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite didn’t have staying power, but it did have a giant Sigma head with Ultron’s body sticking out…as well as that head-scratching plot point where Thanos made a gauntlet powered by Ryu’s inner evil for the sake of throwing fireballs at Death. See, that’s why you need arcade mode endings in games like these. Let your crossover freak flag fly.

Victor Ortega from Ring of Destruction

24. VICTOR ORTEGA

Ring of Destruction

Saturday Night Slam