Unwinnable battles are battles the player is intended to lose, usually against bosses that hit so hard the player cannot survive, or bosses who are invulnerable to damage. Losing the unwinnable battle progresses the story and triggers the next scene. Sometimes the enemies from unwinnable battles are fought again later in a manner the player can win. Unwinnable battles tend to occur early in the games. Sometimes battles the player is not meant to win can still be won, but the games tend to still treat it as a loss for the following story scenes, and the player may not get any battle spoils.
Four Black Knights are encountered as a boss fight at the beginning in a battle that cannot be won. If the player wins through a cheat device, the NES version allows the player to progress as normal, but in the Dawn of Souls and subsequent versions, the player is sent back to the title screen. Black Knights later appear as regular enemies in Castle Palamecia.
Bahamut is encountered on Dragon's Peak towards the beginning of the game, but is too strong for the party to defeat. The player can visit Bahamut's Lair later after acquiring the Invincible to defeat and obtain him as a summon.
It is possible, through cheats or grinding, to defeat Bahamut at Dragon's Peak. This means the player cannot challenge him at Bahamut's Lair later, and so could only acquire his summon by buying it at the secret shop in Eureka. In the 3D versions, even through using cheats one can only defeat Bahamut using a one-hit kill cheat, as all other attacks only do one damage, and Bahamut will have killed the player long before the player kills Bahamut.
The Nepto Dragon is a virtually unbeatable boss who guards the Bay of Nepto. It is fought if the player enters the Enterprise before defeating the Giant Rat in the Nepto Temple, making it impossible to sail the seas of the Floating Continent until his rage is appeased. After the statue of the Nepto Dragon in the Nepto Temple is restored by retrieving the Nepto Eye from the Giant Rat, Nepto will cease to appear and the party is free to pilot their ship to Castle Argus.
Nepto Dragon's battle is similar to Bahamut's, so the player's only chance of getting out is running. In the NES version it is possible to "defeat" him by using the fully equipped Onion Knight strategy but defeating it does not get rid of it, and it must be faced again if the player tries to leave the bay of Nepto.
The Cloud of Darkness is fought twice, but the first time it is invincible and, after a few turns, it will use Particle Beam and defeat the party. The player must rescue the four Warriors of Darkness in the World of Darkness located in each of the four corners of the dungeon before facing it again in the center area in a battle that can be won. In the first battle with it the Cloud of Darkness is immune to nearly all attacks. In the 3D remake version, a Dark Knight's Souleater attack, a Bard's Requiem song, and a Ninja's weapon throw will deal regular damage to it. The battle will still likely end before enough attacks can be used to kill it as the Cloud of Darkness will deal full damage to the party.
Dragoon is an unwinnable scripted battle that takes place in Fabul's crystal chamber. Even if Cecil depletes all of Dragoon's HP, the victory will be overridden by the following cutscene. So, the Dragoon does not appear in the Bestiary.
In the first phase, the Dark Elf will attack the party with relatively weak physical attacks and magic spells for 3-4 turns, before casting Tornado on the party, reducing each character's HP into the single digits and ending the first phase of the battle. If the player did not get Whisperweed from Edward in Troia, then instead of using Tornado the Dark Elf will cast Quake, causing 9,999 damage points to the party and resulting in a game over. If the player wishes to "skip" the first phase, they can equip metallic equipment prior to talking to the Dark Elf to end with the player's party defeated upon the start of the battle and advance the story.
If the player has Tellah cast Reflect on the party, the attacks will simply bounce back onto the Dark Elf. After a few turns of this, the game moves to the cutscene, assuming the party has been defeated.
The Mysterious Girl is a recurring boss who frequently fights alongside an Eidolon.
When Palom and Leonora face her Mysterious Girl calls Shiva to defeat them. In Edge's Tale the Mysterious Girl again cannot be defeated as she eventually summons Ifrit, and the party will flee from her. In Porom's Tale
Porom will be assisted by the Elder of Mysidia, but the battle ends with the Mysterious Girl summoning Ramuh to defeat them. She is defeatable in the subsequent battles against her.
In South Figaro, Heavy Armor blocks various passages and will probably kill Locke since he is fighting alone. It is highly advised to avoid them and to flee if encountered by accident. However, the player can rarely steal an Iron Helmet from them, the most powerful helmet at the time. Even if Locke is killed, he is revived at the edge of town, and the player is free to return and try again, indicating the player is not intended to win the battle.
When encountered the first three times the boss Guardian is indestructible, and the player must flee or have their party killed. The player can first encounter the Guardian if they attempt to enter the Imperial Palace on their first visit to Vector. After the events in the Magitek Research Facility, a Guardian prevents the party from entering the city. Three Guardians accompany Kefka to Thamasa and prevent the player from leaving the village while controlling General Leo. In Kefka's Tower, the Guardian reappears vulnerable to damage.
The player battles Humbaba four times, but only two of these fights can be won. It is first fought alone by Terra when the player first visits Mobliz in the World of Ruin. Humbaba is invincible and cannot be killed and Terra will be knocked out. Even if the player uses the Vanish-Doom bug to kill Humbaba, it will be treated as a loss. After Terra falls, the player's party battles Humbaba in a normal battle, but it flees upon being defeated.
When the player returns to Mobliz after acquiring the Falcon and locates Terra, Humbaba will arrive for a third battle. When his HP is depleted he uses Humbaba Breath to remove two random party members and the battle ends. At this point Terra arrives and assists the player in the fourth and final clash with Humbaba and during this battle he is killed.
Weiss is fought as a boss twice at the end of Chapter 11. At first he cannot be killed, as it is extremely difficult to hit him and any hits do not affect his health. Phoenix Downs do not activate and as such, the player must lose. If the player managed to deal enough damage to him his health is supposed to be depleted, Weiss's health will never go below 1. If one hacks the game to make that happen, Weiss continues to fight but any attack will clip through him. Weiss is fought again in a regular battle once Vincent has been augmented.
X-ATM092 is a massive robotic spider that pursues the player party as they leave the Dollet communications tower. The party must attack it until it collapses and enters self-repair mode and then flee. The initial battle is scripted and X-ATM092 cannot be permanently defeated at this point, regardless of how many self-repair sequences it triggers. From then on, the X-ATM092 will chase the party; it is possible, albeit difficult, to avoid the encounters. If it catches up with the party, they are forced to fight it again. It is possible for the player party to defeat the robot during these subsequent battles, and doing so earns 100 bonus points in the SeeD exam report upon graduation.
Beatrix appears thrice as a boss and does not fall in battle even when her HP is supposedly depleted. The party must try stay alive until she uses an unblockable finishing move that knocks everyone down to 1 HP. She uses this when her HP hits 0, or after getting ten turns. If the party is defeated before Beatrix uses her finishing attack, it will be a game over. Beatrix has many good items to steal, but it is difficult to get all the items before she finishes the battle.
Geosgaeno is a geo-type fiend that appears on the Baaj ruins to threaten Tidus near the beginning of the game. After three turns, Tidus decides to flee. If the monster is killed (only possible through use of a cheating device, such as GameShark, to alter Tidus's stats), the cutscene will play as if the battle had ended normally. Later on, once the party has gained control of the Fahrenheit, the ruins can be revisited, and the party can attempt to defeat the boss and enter Baaj's Chamber of the Fayth.
When Snow fights a group of soldiers in Lake Bresha the player doesn't get a game over for losing and the following cutscene is the same either way. The battle is not hard to actually win however, so the player is not necessarily intended to lose.
Hope takes on an Ushumgal Subjugator alone in Palumpolum. It is impossible to win as Hope alone, and after his health is reduced to 1 HP—or a certain amount of time has passed—Lightning and Fang join and the proper boss battle begins.
A level 142 Nimbus is fought during Chapter 3's Operation MA Demolition. It is impossible to win as even if one whittles his health to 1%, it will stay there until he tires of the fight. Although the battle will end normally if all party members are KO'd, it is also possible to avoid Nimbus's attacks for three minutes until the battle ends. This strategy is required to obtain an S rank for the mission.
Some bosses are very hard to win against and intended to be won in New Game Plus playthroughs, but the battles are still winnable with skill. Shinryu Celestia in Chapter 5 during The Battle of Judecca can be won via Class Zero's efforts alone, but the intended way for the player to get through it the first time is to let the cadets die and then summon Bahamut ZERO. The battle against Gilgamesh at the end of Chapter 6 mission The Clash on Big Bridge is winnable, but the player can lose it and still continue, as Gilgamesh is strong and durable; the player gets a different cut scene depending on if they win or lose.
If the player chooses to become l'Cie in Chapter 8, during the Invasion of the Rursus mission, they will fight infinite waves of Rursan Reavers with each wave five levels higher than the last until the player is defeated and gets the bad ending.
The first battle against Asmodai takes place at the top of Yggdrasil, and the first two parts are scripted. The first part of the battle cannot be won, as Asmodai will use Corrupt Miasma to render himself invulnerable. When he uses Upheaval, the battle ends. The second part is also scripted: Gramps fights Asmodai on his own and the player cannot lose. With his immunity gone, the party battles Asmodai for real.
If, at the beginning, the player answers that they are a "Dissidia expert," they will face the superboss version of Feral Chaos as a level 1 Lightning in an unwinnable battle. If the player wins by using cheats the game will start with the 000 story available outside the final gateway with just a level 1 Lightning. The moogle acts as if the player lost.
- In Final Fantasy XII the party is attacked by Ba'Gamnan's crew in the Lhusu Mines in a battle that the player is told to flee from (by Lamont), but the battle is winnable and shows a different cutscene where Ba'Gamnan gives up trying to defeat the party. Even if the player wins Lamont keeps running on ahead at each zone transition as though the party was still running from Ba'Gamnan.