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Till, bruised and bitten to the bone

And taught by pain and fear,

He learned to deal the far-off stone,

And poke the long, safe spear.
Rudyard Kipling, "The Benefactors"

A subtrope of Weapon of Choice.

A polearm--such as a poleaxe, spear, halberd, or any other weapon that's a long stick with something sharp and metal on one end--is often the province of hapless Mooks: city guardsman, honor guard, angry natives, and so on. Anyone who needs something long to cross over a portal to prevent someone from entering will use a polearm. When not in the hands of mooks, they are the weapon of choice for calm collected individuals, or The Lancer.

Polearms are extremely effective weapons, especially the halberd and naginata, both of which require considerable training. Those weapons are extremely effective in massed battles, much more so than the sword. This is due to their reach and the fact that they're more effective at mounted combat and penetrating armor. However, many longer spears -- and especially the pike -- are not terribly suited for single combat. In medieval combat, the sword was more a sidearm, and the polearm used as the main infantry weapon on the battlefield. The characterization of polearm being in the hands of collected individuals likely comes from how they were historically used in formations on the battlefield - and an effective formation requires disciplined people in it. The reason you may not have heard of the importance of polearms is that our cultural obsession with swords is at least a thousand years old.

In the hands of a hero, a spear is often swung around as a slashing weapon, in a flashy manner reminiscent of a staff. The effectiveness of such a maneuver is largely dependent on the type of spear; a pike isn't good for much other than stabbing, whereas the Chinese Qiang is effectively a knife on a stick, making slashing moves potentially effective. Naturally, the halberd, glaive, naginata and similar weapons are particularly well-suited for this style, due to the use of a slashing blade in place of a spear point. Of course, regardless of actual utility, the Rule of Cool dictates that simply 'poking' the enemy won't do by itself, even if that's the most logical and effective use of a spear. However, some martial arts do indeed teach staff-like and even slashing motions with the spear; it all depends on how the wielder is trained. Spears may also be thrown, even if the weapon in question isn't exactly built for it unless magic is involved.

Often the preferred weapon of a Lady of War; a Naginata was traditionally the weapon of a Yamato Nadeshiko Housewife while the husband was away, giving it a "feminine" mystique.

See also Harpoon Gun, X on a Stick, Javelin Thrower and Telephone Polearm, for the giant-bladeless-stick version.

Examples of Blade on a Stick include:


Anime and Manga

  • Kan'u Unchou from Ikki Tousen wields Guan Yu's trademark polearm: the Blue Dragon Saber. She doesn't fight with it during the tournament, though, since it would be against the rules; only in Dragon Destiny do we get to see her use it. [1]
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms: It's pretty much routine for any adaptation to hand out polearms to all the major characters. BB Senshi Sangokuden narrowly averts this by arming the action leaders with swords, the tacticians with fans... and that's about it.
  • Erio Mondial of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. His Intelligent Device, Strada, takes the form of a spear. Other polearm users include Zest and his Armed Device, and Nanoha and her Raising Heart's Excelion Mode. A Bardiche is a type of polearm too, and Fate's Device of the same name has this form in its basic combat form.
  • One Piece
    • Whitebeard wields a bisento as sharp as his mustache.
    • Also the weapon of choice for Alabasta soldiers.
    • Predating both of them is Don Krieg and his Great Battle Spear, which also explodes on contact. Once its blade is destroyed, Luffy dismisses the weapon as just a Bomb on a Stick.
  • Gunbuster: Jung Freud's Humongous Mecha has this, which she uses to stab...a lot. Made more apparent in Super Robot Wars Alpha 3.
    • Speaking of Super Robot Wars, one of the Elemental Lords Gaddeath/Goddess comes up with a trident called Gungnir. Though it's not used as much as a melee weapon (it's the weakest attack for that), but more of a medium to execute long range water attacks. That Gungnir is actually named after Odin's spear, Gungnir.
    • The BFGs of the Weiss Ritter and Wild Falken are named after the Oxtongue spear. Which is fitting, seeing that shooting someone is pretty much the descendant of stabbing them with a spear.
    • The "Sonic Javelin" wielded by KoRyuOh in the Alpha and OG series', which is primarily used to stab, although slashing attacks are also used in some games.
  • UFO Robo Grendizer: One of the weapons of the titular Humongous Mecha was the Double Harken, a stick with one moon-shaped blade on each end.
  • Bleach:
    • Madarame Ikkaku's Houzukimaru, which doubles as a three-piece nunchaku three section staff.
    • Lisa Yadomaru's Hagurotonbo is one as well and It's huge.
    • Sokyoku is a huge execution halberd.
  • Sailor Moon has Sailor Saturn and her Silence Glaive, which can cause The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Shizuru Fujino's Element in the Mai-HiME anime (she doesn't fight in the manga) is a large naginata whose blade doubles as a Whip Sword.
  • Atena from Kamui Den is a naginata master.
  • In Mai-Otome, Tomoe Marguerite gets a standard spear once she obtains her Valkyrie Meister Robe.
  • Of course, Neon Genesis Evangelion had the Lance of Longinus. Which is capable of transforming into a two-bladed BFS and can pierce AT-fields. In it's default form it's essentially a red two-edged bident light enough that in the first episode it gets used, Unit-00 chucks it into orbit with enough force to reach escape velocity.
  • Balsa the Bodyguard from Seirei no Moribito, who uses the superior reach offered by a spear (and not to mention that you can smack people silly without killing using the blunt end) to great effect.
  • Sumire Kanzaki from Sakura Taisen wields a naginata, both in and out of her Powered Armor.
  • Azumi Kiribayishi Real Bout High School, an Heir to the Dojo Lady of War with a Noblewoman's Laugh, wields a naginata. Well, okay, most of the time, she uses one with a wooden blade, but isn't averse to busting out a real one for "serious" fights.
  • Shiina from The Secret of Haruka Nogizaka studies the naginata.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia
    • Hungary has a spear as one of her Weapons of Choice, the other being her Frying Pan of Doom.
    • Also, a drawing by Himaruya has Greece as another spear user.
    • As a child, Finland possesses one of these as well.
  • Saint Seiya
    • The God Poseidon wields a Trident as his signature weapon. It can focus his divine power as damaging blasts, and is quite sharp. The Gold Cloth of Libra also has a smaller, shorter trident as part of its arsenal.
    • Poseidon's Shogun Chrysaor also wields an ornate spear, which he uses very effectively until Dragon Shiryu slices its head off with his Excalibur.
    • Pandora also has a spear as her preferred weapon
  • Ranma One Half
    • The Kinjakan and Gekkaja are matching weapons that can be used as keys to lock and unlock the waters of Jusendo.
    • The Kinjakan is a polearm with a detachable metal ring as its head, which can spin and zip around at lightning speeds with devastating force.
    • The Gekkaja is a polearm with a viciously sharp, crescent moon-shaped blade, which can flash-freeze anything it comes into contact with.
    • Also, when particularly irritated (or in the need for a weapon) the only weapon Soun Tendo will reach for is a yari-style spear. He may bring out a naginata when in full samurai regalia.
      • Actually, in one episode of the anime, at least, he is shown wielding a sword, and in at least one other he is shown with two sheathed swords at his hip. He's also used a bow and arrows in at least the manga as well.
  • In another of Takahashi Rumiko's works, Inuyasha, the leader of the Shichinentai, Bankotsu, wields a halberd named Banryu.
  • The eponymous Ryofuko from Ryofukochan wields one, even though it must be tough to handle for someone her size.
  • In Utawarerumono, Benawi is known for using a halberd in battle.
  • In the first Tenchi Muyo! movie, when Achika gets the Tenchi sword, it seems to extend to naginata-like lengths.
  • The Gundam multiverse contains a number of Humongous Mecha who utilize both mundane and Laser Blade versions of such things as spears and naginatas. To wit:
  • In Princess Mononoke, the people of Iron Town seem to favor naginatas. This probably stems from the naginata being a woman's weapon, traditionally.
    • In this case, the widespread use of naginata may also be serving as visual shorthand that the film is set earlier in Japanese history than the usual Warring States and Edo Period settings, as the weapon had been replaced on the battlefield by the yari long before (though women and lone wolf/warrior monk characters continued to wield them until the Meiji Period).
    • San also carries a spear at several points in the movie.
  • Tao Ren wields a guan do (a sort of chinese glaive) early on in Shaman King before he switches to a sword.
  • Daitarn 3: Daitarn Javelin.
  • Soul Eater: When wielded by his meister Ox, Harvar is the blade on a stick, a spear with the head shaped like a lightning bolt. Naturally, this grants him lightning-related abilities.
  • While the original Getter Robo and its successor Getter Robo G use a pair of hand-axes, most subsequent incarnations use some variety of poleaxe.
  • The Beast Spear in Ushio and Tora is actually a sword blade grafted onto a spear shaft. It's the least strange thing about the weapon considering it is also made of people and decorated with monsters.
  • Nadeshiko's naginata from Shugo Chara when she chara changes with Temari.
  • Aside from the section of forearm plating he often lengthens into a blade, Edward Elric of Fullmetal Alchemist's favorite weapon seems to be an ornate dragon-motif ranseur he transmutes from the ground butt first which is inevitably destroyed.
  • Lind's Weapon of Choice in Ah! My Goddess. Her idea of "practice" is to have someone throw boulders over a cliff at her, which she proceeds to smash with said weapon.
  • Kyouko from Puella Magi Madoka Magica wields a spear nearly twice her height, and it can also be broken up into multiple segments connected by chains.
  • Gamaran has many fighting schools that choose the spear as their Weapon of Choice. Furthermore the first Ryuu faced by Gamaran was the Tengen Ryuu (Heavenly Illusion School), which specialize in the use of the naginata. Their leader Baian even use a larger Bisento.
  • Several Knightmares in Code Geass are equipped with a lance.


Comic Books

  • Y: The Last Man includes a rather ridiculous naginata duel in its Japan arc. "Ridiculous" in the sense that the attacker shows up Dual-Wielding two naginatas, which gives the defender a chance to swipe one and face off against her. (Real naginata combat also doesn't work anything like the way it's depicted.)
    • Well the people Toyota was going to use them against were strung up at the time...maybe she just wanted to see which blade was sharpest?
  • In one issue, the protagonist of Shaolin Cowboy attached a chainsaw to the end of a stick to create a polearm. He used this polearm to fight against a shark which held a head in its mouth. The head held a knife between its teeth.
  • The original Grendel, Hunter Rose, fought with an electrified cutting weapon of his own design called the 'Devil's Fork', which most resembled a short, double-bladed naginata. Christine Spar took up this same weapon when she became the second Grendel, and Eppy Thatcher (the fourth Grendel) wielded a similar fork, equipped with controls for his high-tech accoutrements, generations later.
  • Elf Quest:
    • Unsurprisingly given the stone age setting of at least the classic series and the fact that they make good hunting weapons when you're not fighting anything else, spears see quite a bit of use.
    • One issue of Hidden Years deals with young chief Ember set on learning how to fight with a sword, like her father, until Redlance points out that that she has more talent when it comes to handling a spear and that, yes, a spear is a chief's weapon, too, citing among other examples Two-Spear. He goes on to train her, soon after drawing a comment from Pike that she was already better than himself.
    • When Rayek fights with a weapon it's with either a hunting spear or a dagger
  • Marvel's Thor's father Odin often wields Gungnir, a mighty spear. Of course he does this in the ancient myths as well, so it has a reason.
  • The titular heroine of Shi is descended from a long line of Kyoto sohei, and often uses the naginata, their favoured weapon.
  • In Sin City, an assassin named Mariah has a collapsible staff with twin prongs.
  • In Usagi Yojimbo, one of Usagi's most feared recurring enemies was Jei, a possessed monk who was extremely deadly with a spear.


Film

  • Kick-Ass: One of the many weapons that Hit-Girl is shown to be proficient with is what appears to be a double-ended glaive.
  • In The Hidden Fortress there is an extensive spear duel between Makabe and Hyoe.
  • Daphne in The Gamers Dorkness Rising wields a spear.
  • In Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Prince Nuada has two weapons: a curved short sword, and a spear that can alternate between compact and full size.
    • The spear's tip is detachable when struck at a living target and will attempt to burrow deeper if removal is attempted.
  • In Disney's The Little Mermaid, Ursula's main objective was to get her hands on Triton's magical trident.
  • In Musa: The Warrior, the reticent slave Yeo-sol turns out to be a master with a polearm, which he tends to swing in whirling arcs to hack off limbs and heads.
  • William Wallace of Braveheart makes pikes, though he doesn't call them that, to counter King Edward's cavalry. The historical Wallace's army was armed almost entirely with them in every battle.
  • Troy shows use of spears as a very useful weapon, particularly in Achilles duel with Hector.
  • Hero: Long Sky uses a spear with a rather flexible metal pole in his duel with Nameless.
  • Most of the Spartans in 300 would qualify. Those that didn't use swords about halfway through, that is.
  • During the song "Topsy Turvy" from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Esmeralda actually uses a spear for part of her dance. Guess what she does with the spear?[2]
  • The killer's main weapon in Don't Go in the Woods is homemade spear with a machete-like blade.
  • In Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings Aiglos, the spear of the Elven king Gil-galad, is inscribed with an elvish poem that boils down to: "This is Gil-galad, and he is kicking your ass."


Fan Fic

  • In Enemy of My Enemy, the Sangheili/Elite Rukth Kilkaree fashions himself a staff with bladed tips. He's extremely lethal with it.


Literature

  • Kel, from Tamora Pierce's Protector of the Small, uses a glaive [3] as one of her main weapons. Kel's bigoted training master wouldn't let her use it but her more liberal training master did; the children who looked up to her asked her to train them to use one. Interestingly enough, people's acceptance of her weapon seems to represent their acceptance of her.
    • In Trickster's Choice we're introduced to what is probably the most fantastical weapon in Pierce's books. As a slave, Junai has to be more covert; therefore, Junai's "staff" sprouts foot-long blades at both ends when she twists the grip.
  • Just about everyone in The Iliad uses a spear. The most Badass example would be Ajax, who at one point protects the Greek ships from the incoming Trojans Dual-Wielding two big-ass spears to keep them away.
  • The Lord of the Rings gave mention to Aeglos/Aiglos, the spear of Gil-galad, the last Elven king. He fared about as well as the sword-wielding Elendil when they faced off against Sauron, which is quite well actually. It's only in the movie that they get rather unceremoniously killed. In the book, Gil-Galad and Elendil overthrew Sauron before dying themselves in a Heroic Sacrifice -- Isildur just looted the body.
  • Ronan got a huge, glowing, magical, elemental spear forged by the Irish gods, from iron drawn directly from the heart of the sun, in Diane Diane's fourth Young Wizards book. Granted, it almost cost him his sanity to decide to finally use it.
  • The Wheel of Time: Mat Cauthon of Robert Jordan's series, as part of his role as the inspiration for our tales of Odin, has his interestingly acquired ashandarei which he naturally uses to kick ass and take names. Also, the Aiel from the same book wield spears with deadly skill.
    • Short spears, which are a bit too short for this trope, but still of a length with most swords and balanced for throwing.
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms: Spears and polearms of every sort were used by quite a number of characters. Perhaps the most iconic would be Guan Yu's (possibly anachronistic) guandao, a huge curved blade on a stick.
  • Discworld: A pike is the favoured weapon of Sergeant Colon in the novels. "The thing about a pike, the important thing, was that everything happened at the other end of it, i.e. a long way off."
  • Warhammer 40000 loves polearms, and they feature in the game itself and related fluff no rarer than the ubiquitous chainswords. Of course, the lot of those spears are chainsaw too...
    • In William King's Space Wolf novels, the Spear of Russ, the ancient weapon of the Space Wolves' primarch. Prophecy says that when he returns, he will take it up to fight. Which causes real problems when Ragnor loses it, fighting against a revived Magnus the Red, their ancient enemy.
    • The funny thing is that, according to the Thirteenth Company, whom "modern" Wolves encountered during the recent Dark Crusade, Russ (who is, apparently, still alive and kicking ass in the Eye of Terror) doesn't put any real significance to the spear in question, and is greatly amused by the reverence Wolves gives to this ordinary (to him, at least) weapon. He only kept it around at all because it was a present from his father; he actually lost the thing several times himself, mostly when drunk.
    • In James Swallow's Blood Angels novel Deus Encarmine, the Spear of Telesto. Touching it briefly gives Arkio the appearance of their primarch Sanguinius, and he slowly develops with it into a glowing manifestation. One of its virtues is that it unleashes fire that does not harm Blood Angels, which is handy for the other side, when Arkio is fighting one in single combat.
    • Characters in the Grey Knights series have the halberd-shaped Nemesis force weapons as their standard issue melee implement. There are customised Nemeses, like force swords and force hammers both in the game and in the fluff like Ben Counter's novels, but it was the force halberd that is usually associated with them.
  • In the Dragonlance novel Sellsword, the gnome Theodenes has a multi-purpose polearm... that can switch from one polearm to another and another and another.
  • Used a few times in Discworld and other Terry Pratchett works. It's mentioned in The Carpet People of how a kitchen knife tied to the end of a pole is a popular makeshift weapon among impromptu civilian fighters.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, the Red Viper of Dorne uses a poisoned 8-foot spear during his duel with Gregor Clegane, 'The Mountain that Rides,' primarily as a way to counter The Mountain's long reach (Gregor uses a 6-foot long greatsword in one hand).
  • In David Eddings's series The Elenium and The Tamuli, the character Bevier uses a lochaber axe, which is constantly commented on as being a particularly nasty weapon. The fact that Bevier is the most pious and good-hearted of all the knights isn't lost on anyone either.
  • Posleen War Series: Take one Absurdly Sharp Blade, put it on a stick. What do you get? The boma blade, used as a secondary weapon by the Posleen, in John Ringo's series.
  • Lady Cregga Rose Eyes of the Redwall book The Long Patrol carries an axepike, which is a pike with an axeblade at the top.
  • In Bernard Cornwell's novel Agincourt the hero is an archer, but the knight who's company he joins to go off to the war cross-trains every one of his archers to use the pole-ax.
  • From Beowulf:

 Lo,praise of the prowess of people-kings

of spear-armed Danes, in days long sped,

we have heard, and what honor the athelings won!

  • The Stormlight Archive: The spear is the standard weapon of common darkeyed soldiers; swords are reserved for the lighteyed upper class. Particularly of note is Kaladin, who is so incredibly skilled with a spear that he managed to kill a guy who had one of the settings resident big insanely sharp instant death blades, and Magitech Powered Armor.
  • In the Time Scout Wagers of Sin, Skeeter wields one of these as his final weapon in the Arena.


Live Action TV

  • Practically too many Super Sentai members and Power Rangers to mention.
  • Highlander: Duncan beheads Kern using what the CCG calls a broad-bladed spear, using the weapon for sentimental reasons. It appears to have a heavier and longer blade than a normal spear, and he has to do a complicated wind-up and spinning swing to decapitate Kern with it.

Mythology

  • The Norse god Odin had the spear Gungnir, which always hit its target.
  • The spear of legendary Irish hero Cúchulainn, Gae-Bolg, sprouted dozens of tiny spikes when it hit its target. Not only did it sprout spikes, the spikes filled up the victim's entire circulatory system.
  • The Irish god Lugh had a spear which flew around and killed his enemies on its own, leaving his hands free to throw his sling. When battle was concluded it had to be kept in a bucket of cool water and and poppies to calm it down, so it didn't turn on his comrades.
  • Poseidon/Neptune and his trident may be the best-known mythical example of the trope.
  • Slovak folk hero Juraj Jánošík is usually depicted wielding a valaška, a Slavic axe on a walking stick.
  • According to some legends, the spear belonging to the Roman soldier Longinus, who stabbed Jesus in the side, gained supernatural powers. It is said that whoever owns this "spear of destiny" will rule the world.
    • During the First Crusade, a group of Crusaders claimed they had found the head of the Lance of Longinus. It didn't help much.
  • In Japanese Mythology, is said that Izanagi and Izanami pulled Japan and the other isles and continents out of the water using the Ama no Nuhoko (Heavenly Swamp Pike or Heavenly Jeweled Pike). After the creation of the world, however, the whereabouts of the spear are unknown.
  • In The Bible:
    • A plague began (during the 40 years of wandering, still) when people of the children of Israel were lured away to Moabite gods. One man, Zimri, even brought one of the women back to show her off. Phineas, however, took a javelin, went after them, and thrust it through both of them, killing them and stopping the plague.
    • Joshua used a spear in his attack on Ai (the attack that worked).
    • Goliath had a spear whose staff part was like a weaver's beam, and the iron spearhead weighed 600 shekels (possibly 15 pounds).
    • Once, while Saul was looking for David, he and his men made camp. While they slept, David and Abishai snuck into camp. Abishai offered to kill Saul, but David said no, just take his spear and water jug from beside his head, and let's go. So that's what they did, and they took it and called to the camp, and let the king know that he could have killed Saul, but did not.
    • After Abner anointed Saul's son Ishbosheth king rather than acknowledge David's kingship, there was a battle at Gibeon. Abner ran off, but Asahel ran after him. When Asahel wouldn't stop following, Abner struck him with the blunt end of the spear, so that it came out the back.
    • One of the giant's sons, Ishbi-Benob, thought he could kill David with a 7-1/2 lb. bronze spear. And David was faint at the time, so maybe he could've had not Abishai intervened and killed Ishbi-Benob first.
    • Among other things, Benaiah wrested a spear out of the hands of an Egyptian and killed him with it.
    • Perhaps the most famous spear in the New Testament, if not the whole Bible, is the Spear of Destiny. This was thrust into Jesus's side after He died, causing blood and water to come out. It left a mark which, after He came back to life, he showed to the disciples. According to tradition, the blood running down the spear touched the partially-sighted eyes of its wielder, the legionary Longinus, and cured his sight; he became a Christian as a result of this, and the spear is also called the Lance of Longinus.


Tabletop Games

  • The original Dungeons and Dragons had a comically large assortment of available polearms, including the glaive, the guisarme, the glaive-guisarme, the glaive-voulge, the guisarme-voulge, and the Bohemian Ear-Spoon. This has spawned numerous parodies.
    • Fortunately, they cut things down to a more manageable list in 3rd edition (along with the other swords, axes, and other antisocial devices). One of its Sourcebooks explicitly stated the intent to avoid making stats for weapons that are fundamentally similar. So far, this is carried over to 4th as well.
    • The lance in particular is the best melee weapon to use on an aerial mount. Dragonlance is named for a group of artifact weapons that are powerful against dragons and that can be wielded from dragonback.
    • One of the best examples of a polearm wielder in D&D lore is Gruumsh One-Eye, god of orcs and savagery, wields a great iron spear as his primary weapon.
  • In Warhammer 40000, the elite daemon hunting chapter of Space Marines, the Grey Knights, wield psychically charged Nemesis Force Weapons as their standard close combat weapon, the forms of which are generally halberds and glaives, though some are swords, axes and hammers. Halberds and glaives are the standard form for the 40k RTS Dawn of War.
    • The Adeptus Custodes (The Emperor's guardians) use a spear - before the end of the Horus Heresy, it had a bolter incorporated in it.
    • The Eldar are also fond of this - their Farseers and Warlocks can carry Singing Spears, anti-tank Blades On A Stick. The Avatar of Khaine also can bring a spear into battle.
    • Da Orks use pointy sticks to show off their collection of severed heads. Their combat Blades On Sticks are 'Uge Choppas, essentially two chainsaws back to back on the end of a pole. The forces of the Imperium or Chaos occasionally make use of similar chain-glaives, too.
      • Unique to the Orks, however, is the "buzzsaw on a stick" variant.
    • The Imperial Guard Rough Riders also have their own version - a single use lance with an explosive charge at the tip.
      • Surprisingly, this one is Truth in Television; the Japanese were short on antitank weapons in 1939, so they started putting tank-busting mines on the end of long poles. This was only slightly safer than slapping the mine on the tank by hand.
    • The Necrons also have a variant in the dreaded Warscythe, although it's more of a glaive than a military scythe, and is so deadly it can bypass virtually any defense, up to and including energy shields and massive sheets of armor.
    • The Tau's closest allies, the Kroot, use gunpowder rifles with curved blades on them, harkening back to the days before Kroot had access to guns and fought with bladed staves.
  • Warhammer of course has spears, halberds and lances as an option for many infantry and cavalry units in various armies, though different factions tend to have their own styles. Goblins in particular often have spears as their Weapon of Choice, while the Skinks make extensive use of javelins. Halberdiers are common in mercenary units.
    • Unique to the Dogs of War list (which is two editions old) is the pike, which as you'd expect functions much like a spear, only significantly more so. They were not popular with the cavalry-heavy Bretonnian Knights.
  • GURPS gives all polearms one skill but provides a dizzying variety of different ones in the Martial Arts book plus smaller dueling versions of the common ones.
    • GURPS's predecessor The Fantasy Trip includes several varieties of polearm. Because of the game mechanics relating to pole weapons, they're only so-so in a one-on-one fight, but are devastating as part of a team. They end up being a popular weapon for characters that aren't primarily fighters.
  • Exalted naturally has polearms and their super-sized artifact variants, the larger types gaining a damage bonus if used against a charging foe, or if used as a lance when charging. They also have the Reach tag, which allows them to attack enemies on higher terrain or those in high mounts (such as elephants) without penalties.


Video Games

  • Vagrant Story has spears, two handed axes, and two handed maces, and you can combine them to your hearts delight
  • Lots and lots of them in Dynasty Warriors. Justified because in the era of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, the spear is a much preferred weapon while on horseback, so almost everyone wields a spear. Examples here: Zhao Yun, Guan Yu, Zhang Fei, Ma Chao (though he switches into a bastard sword in DW6 Special), Jiang Wei, Wei Yan, Yue Ying, Zhang Liao, Pang De (dual wields), Lu Meng, Lu Bu.
  • Also in Samurai Warriors: Sanada Yukimura, Maeda Keiji, Honda Tadakatsu, Tokugawa Ieyasu, Azai Nagamasa. Maeda Toshiie also carries two spears on his back, but they're not his main weapons.
  • Again in Sengoku Basara: Sanada Yukimura (dual wields), Chousokabe Motochika (an anchor), Oichi, Matsu, Honda Tadakatsu, Maeda Toshiie, Tokugawa Ieyasu, Hojo Ujimasa
  • This seems to be a favorite weapon for Final Fantasy Dragoons. Examples of those who wield spears as their default weapon: Richard Highwind, Kain Highwind, Cid Highwind, Ward Zabac (Who combines this with Anchors Away), Freya Crescent, Kimahri Ronso, and Oerba Yun Fang. Because polearms are the only two-handed weapon type that does piercing damage, Dragoons in Final Fantasy XI have an advantage over flying enemies compared to other two-handers, and other monsters weak to that damage type.
    • Interestingly, in Dissidia, Cecil, who was primarily a sword-wielder in his own game, is now primarily a wielder of a Blade on a Stick. Probably due to a combination of variety, as everyone else is primarily a swordy-type, and as a Mythology Gag regarding early development of the character, who was initially conceived as using blades on sticks.
    • And in other installments that use a class/job system, spears tend to be available only to Dragoons. Often enough, a spear is also required for their iconic Jump attack, or at least makes it much more efficient.
    • Additionally, the strategy-oriented games in the franchise allow Spears and Polearms a two-panel reach. In Final Fantasy Tactics, the Javelin II is the game's strongest weapon, which is referenced by the Zodiac Spear in Final Fantasy XII.
    • Although there's no specific Dragoon-class character in Final Fantasy VI, Mog and Edgar can equip pikes and lances, and are capable of dishing out terrific amounts of damage with them when coupled with Dragoon boots (which enable the "Jump" command).
  • Obviously, the Lancer classes in Fate Stay Night and Fate/Zero come with these. In fact Fate/Zero Lancer comes with two, dual wielded no less!
  • Castlevania's Eric Lecarde wields the Alucard Spear. It's not known if Alucard actually specializes in spears out of all the things he wields; judging from his weaponry in Symphony of the Night, he likely specializes in swords (heck, there is even an Alucard Sword). When they appear as protagonist-usable weapons, spears tend to be slow and powerful with good range. Bladed sticks are also the weapon of choice for several villains, notably Isaac and Slogra.
  • One of the many available weapons in Silkroad Online.
  • Xaldin from Kingdom Hearts uses six lances in conjunction with his wind powers.
  • The Spear Master of Bloodline Champions, tellingly, uses one.
  • Kingdom of Loathing has the Bill bec-de-bardiche glaive-guisarme (yes, that's one weapon) as a weapon available to players.
    • Another is the halfberd. Get two of them, and you can make a wholeberd.
    • There's also the Plexiglass Pikestaff, one of the best weapons in the entire game. It's obtained by completing a Hardcore Oxygenerian run as a Seal Clubber.
  • This has also recently be a specialized weapon in the Tales series. In the past, polearms are like extensions to normal swords, Cless, Stahn and Reid may replace their sword with polearms if they want. Starting Destiny 2, however, specialized polearm users starts to appear:
  • Seung Mina from the Soul Series of games uses a polearm as her weapon of choice.
    • Soul Calibur 3 also featured the Lance, which appeared to be an oversized spear. It still ended up swung quite often.
    • Soul Calibur IV adds the new character, Hildegard von Krone, who wields a spear and a short sword.
  • The cows in Diablo 2's Secret Cow Level wield halberds bardiches.
    • The Amazon class can also wield spears and javelins, which can only stab, thus avoiding Slice-and-Dice Swordsmanship with a spear. Also, only Javelins can be thrown. The other polearms in the game, on the other hand, always slash.
  • The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind possesses spear weapons, most of which are most effective with a thrust attack, averting the 'spear slash' notion. Some spears like Naginitas and Glaives are different in that they are most effective with a slash effect. These are notably missing from the sequels, Oblivion and Skyrim, though.
  • One of the weapon types in Fire Emblem, the other being Swords, Axes, Bows, and Magic Books. Lances are stronger then swords and more accurate then axes, making them a Weapon Of All Stats. Lances receive bonuses when used against sword-wielding opponents (and penalties against axes), and are the main weapons of several fighting classes (Knights, Pegasus Knights, Wyvern Knights) and secondary weapons for others (Cavaliers and Falcoknights, who can use both swords and lances; Generals and Great Knights, who use both lances and axes). In general, Lances are the preferred weapon of mounted units.
    • Prince Ephraim of Renais (The Sacred Stones) is a Lord that specializes in this. He later gets the lance Siegmund, one of the Renais Sacred Twins aka the holy weapons of their country; his fellow Prince Innes later brings one of the Frelian Sacred Twins, another lance known as Vidofnir.
    • In Seisen no Keifu, two of the Twelve Crusaders (Dain and Noba) were lance users. Their sacred weapons, only avaliable to people of major Dain or Noba blood, are the lances Gungnir and Gaebolg. Dain's Gungnir is wielded by King Trabant of Thracia and his son Crown Prince Areone; Noba's Gaebolg is the weapon of Duke Cuan and later of Princess Altenna who, after her dad and mom's murders, is taken in by Trabant as his war spoil. When she finds out the truth (assuming you don't kill her in battle), she has a Heel Face Turn and joins your group, putting the Gaebolg to your service. And later, if you play your cards right, Altenna can convince Areone of becoming an allied unit (not under your command, but still attacking your enemies.), thus sorta giving your group the Gungnir too.
      • Even more. Dain and Noba were a Brother-Sister Team, whose destinies took a turn for the worse in what's known as "Tragedy of the Gaebolg", which ended up with Noba killing herself and Dain dying few years later. Cuan's wife Ethlin is thus very scared of handing Cuan the Bolg... and they're horribly killed by Trabant few after she does.
    • In Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn spear-wielding Soldiers/Halberdiers added a Third-Tier to become Sentinels. Notable spear users included Country Mouse and Shrinking Violet Nephenee, and Antivillains Bryce and Levail who both wielded the Wishblade an ungodly powerful lance that's one of the top ten weapons in the game. Levail's actually one of the few tough enemies you encounter during the last part of the second game.
  • In Odin Sphere, Gwendolyn's Psypher weapon is a spear with a crystal tip, with which she can use to slash and stab.
  • Ekei Ankokuji from Onimusha 2 and Onimusha: Blade Warriors carries a big friggin' spear
    • Well, he uses an edged spear, so the slashing thing is justified, but it's not really large. Also, from the same series we have Keijiro with a veeery large glaive, Jubei's Spear and Halbeard, Heiachi's Tonbogiri and all of Tenkai's Weapon set, which ranges from staves to clubs to Axe headed Halbeards
  • Nethack features a wide variety of bladed polearms. They are useful when you need to attack something without technically touching it (floating eyes, water-based monsters which attempt to drown you) but they are not generally used as primary weapons.
  • A common weapon available in many Nippon Ichi games, starting with Disgaea. In a subversion of the Slice-and-Dice Swordsmanship rule, nearly all attacks with them involve stabbing or throwing.
    • Something to note is that nearly all spear skills in the Disgaea titles move the user, making them perfect for literally jumping over and past most stages. Some have given the spear class users the Fan Nickname the Polevaulters for when they're used for the above-mentioned reason.
  • Polearms also exist in World of Warcraft, but the lack of polearms with a strength bonus means that the classes that actually hit people with two-handed weapons (warriors, death knights, and paladins) have little use for them. The only two classes that benefit properly from them are Hunters, who use bows or guns instead of fighting in melee, and druids, who shapeshift into cats or bears to actually fight. Consequently past the first levels before item optimization these weapons pretty much gather dust in a weapon slot, like a mage's sword.
  • In Warcraft III, throwing spears are the preferred weapon of the DarkSPEAR Tribe of trolls.
  • In the Defense of the Ancients series, Huskar uses throwing spears like Rambo, in the original of DOTA Huskar used the model of a Darkspear Berserker.
  • Gears of War 2 has its resident Dragon Skorge take this trope to its logical end: a double-bladed chainsaw spear.
  • Oddly, this was the weapon of choice for Serge in Chrono Cross; a two-ended glaive, basically, called a 'swallow' in the game.
  • Back to early games ... the halberd was one of the best mundane weapons in the first The Bards Tale game. And for some reason you could carry a shield while holding it.
  • In the Touhou series, the character Shanghai wields a razor blade tied to a stick.
    • Considering she's a doll, she can practically use any weapon - the razor blade on a stick is a popular rendition, as are medieval swords. Alice (the wielder) generally prefers Beam Spam, though.
      • ...As does pretty much every character in the series. There are other two characters who use spears as well; Remilia Scarlet, who wields a red energy lance made from her danmaku named after the legendary spear of Odin, called Spear the Gungnir (which is treated interchangeably as the real deal or not), and the relatively recent Toramaru Shou. Remilia is only shown using it in the fighting games, and only throwing it (it's pretty large and wicked fast though), and Shou has never been seen using hers yet.
  • Persona 3 features spear weapons, usable by the protagonist and Ken Amada. The protagonist mostly uses it as a stabbing weapon, while Ken uses it as a combination stabbing/slashing weapon, and a pole around which to swing his body for a couple of crazy kicks. In an interesting justification, Ken uses a spear, which is at least twice as long as he is tall, because he's so short, and he needs to use it to increase his range. Which isn't really an issue, given his attack style.
    • The female protagonist in the PSP remake exclusively uses a naginata, although it is a different weapon type that does slashing damage compared to Ken's spears.
    • Back in the first Persona, we have Hidehiko Uesugi (or Brad) as the resident spear user. Interestingly enough, his Arcana is the same as Ken's (Justice).
    • In Persona 2: Innocent Sin, Hitler wields the Spear of Destiny. It has been told, for the past 2000 years (give or take) that a wound caused by this spear will not heal... which becomes a plot point when Nyarlatothep manipulates Maya Okamura into fatally stabbing Maya Amano with it, therefore leading to the events of Persona 2: Eternal Punishment.
  • Dragon Quest VIII allows the protagonist, who happens to be a former palace guard, to use spears. He can also equip shields at the same time, and the animations actually show that he uses it intelligently when spearing things.
    • Dragon Quest IX also had spears as one of the weapon types available (notably the Paladin can wield a spear but not a sword). Like the hero of the previous game, they use their spears correctly, with both their main attack and most of their special attacks being thrust attacks. Earlier games in the series also have spears as available weapons, but rarely had anyone specialize in them.
  • In the Avernum series, the slithzeraki traditionally use two-tined spears.
  • The Gerudo from The Legend of Zelda series seem to like little blades on big sticks when they're not dual-wielding scimitars.
    • Ganon uses a trident reminiscent of the devil.
  • Terranigma, wherein the hero Ark builds up a whole arsenal of weapons during the course of the game, most of which are staffs or variants of a blade on a stick. Or just a really sharp stick, in some cases. In fact, he doesn't use a proper sword at all (the closest he gets is a few spears).
  • Spears/halberds are the most powerful melee weapons in Aion: the Tower of Eternity, usable only by the melee-specialist Gladiators. They swing them in enormous arcs capable of knocking opponents clean off their feet.
  • Plenty of magic Blade Onna Sticks in the Baldur's Gate games including the single deadliest weapon in the series, the Ravager, a + 6 vorpal halberd.
  • The later Wizardry games have a fair number of polearms, which are mainly associated with the Valkyrie class-the Maenad's Lance is one of the top weapons in the series.
  • Guild Wars associates spears with the Paragon class, though they're better classified as javelins and are thrown in combat.
  • Naturally, a few of these show up in Samurai Shodown. Kyoshiro's naginata in the second game is VERY unfair to others. And then Gaoh's spear as an SNK Boss in 6.
  • Yamatoman from Mega Man 6 uses a yari with a throwable head. The head's not shaped like any of the real ones, from what you can tell from the graphics.
  • The Fallout games feature a small assortment of spears that can be useful in the early to middle parts of the game, before getting completely eclipsed by various quality melee weapons, guns, and grenades. Still, dropping a fleeing mook by hurling a spear through his back is far more badass then just shooting him.
  • In Mount and Blade, many kinds of polearms are used quite effectively. Those that are more lance-like can do "couched lance" damage, which is often a One-Hit Kill. Strangely, some polearms, like bardiche, is considered as two-handed sword type weapon.
  • In The Legend of Dragoon, Lavitz and later Albert, combine this, and Everything's Better with Spinning to be two of the most powerful characters for a long while. The latter is almost too fast to control though.
  • Halo: Covenant Honor Guards usually wield huge ornamental spears ('huge' as in, longer than the 8+ -foot alien wielders are tall); the Honor Guards seen in Halo Wars cutscenes can be seen wielding versions that more closely resemble Lochaber Axes (Of course, thanks to the trio of Spartans, these weapons end up killing more Elites than they do humans).
    • Though with the notable exception of the Halo Wars cutscene, the Honor Guard never actually use their ceremonial spears in combat. When danger threatens, they drop their spears and equip plasma guns and energy swords.
  • Dwarf Fortress has a representative selection of spears, pikes, and halberds. Most of them are too large to be wielded by dwarves, but a steel pike in skilled hands can comfortably One-Hit Kill a dragon. Spears are distinguished for being simultaneously lethal and clean by damaging enemy internal organs rather than lopping off limbs, which add to on-screen clutter and can mess up a player's precious FPS. On the other hand, it makes them rather less useful against enemies who don't have internal organs, like the Undead.
  • Undines and knights wield them in Yggdra Union and it's spinoff Yggdra Unison. The former use tridents, and the latter fights with a humongous lance.
  • A Spear is Eoaden's primary weapon in the Lord of the Rings game Lord of the Rings The Third Age. Though this might be because he's the last character you get and all the cool weapons (Sword, Bow, Axe) have already been taken.
  • In Majesty, City Guards and Royal Guards get halberds while heroes will wield bows, hammers, or swords.
  • In God of War series, Kratos had two Blade on a Stick type weapons, including the Spear of Destiny (which is partly made of purple crystal, can stretch and fire explosives shards) and the Arms of Sparta (Spear and Shield combination). it gives the latter to his brother Deimos in order to fight Thanatos.
    • Also Poseidon wields a giant Trident, and many Satyrs wield large spears
  • Spearmen and pikemen are common early-game units in the Civilization series, traditionally with bonuses against cavalry.
  • Though you can't buy or equip them, Ezio Auditore of Assassin's Creed II can disarm elite seeker guards carrying a spear or halberd, and use it against them in combat. Their use makes for some pretty spectacular kills, as he's a solid, unapologetic Combat Pragmatist.
    • The spears/halberds can also be thrown with deadly accuracy.
  • In Warlords Battlecry 2, the Human faction has the pikeman which can get upgrades twice, making them as effective endgame as in the early minutes of play.
  • Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 3 has (parallel world version of) Musashibo Benkei and his naginata. Which also has good chances of being historically accurate...
  • Probably said best by Xin Zhao of League of Legends.
    • "Here is a tip, and a spear behind it!"
    • A spear is also used by Pantheon, a Stanpar.
  • Nobumasa of Yo-Jin-Bo uses a really big spear. A bad ending may see him shishkebobbing the heroine and her bodyguard.
  • Mages in Dragon Age II wield these instead of the staves seen in Dragon Age Origins.
  • Shogun: Total War and Total War: Shogun 2 feature naginata-armed troops, which allow them to equally fight calavry and infantry, although their only advantage is versatility, as it is preferrable to use yari (spear) troops against cavalry and katana troops against infantry. Cavalry charging a line of braced yari troops is less likely to survive than cavalry charging a line of naginata troops.
  • Dacia Ultan in Rift wields a halberd.
  • Spears are avaible as weapons in Drakensang, and a spear user can learn the useful "Death Strike" (a powerful stab attack that deals up to three wounds and lots of damage). The most notable spear user is Ancoron the elf.
  • Arkantos and Ajax of Age of Mythology are both spearmen.
  • In Maple Story, spears are equip-able weapons for the Warrior tree of classes. One of these is the "Pike on a Pike", a trident with a fish stuck at the end.
  • World of Mana games with blade-on-a-stick weapons:
  • The spear weapons in Dark Souls from plain old spears to halberds. They're quite useful, what with their allowing you to attack while defending. Of course, so can the enemies who use them.
    • Ornstein the Dragonslayer wields a huge spear that he frequently charges with lightning. You can forge said spear with Ornstein's soul. Ornstein also drops a unique ring that improves the counter damage of piercing weapons like spears.
  • Kharad from Evil Islands carries an unique spear that throws lightning bolts towards his opponents.
  • Kirbys Return to Dream Land features the Spear ability, an ability that is also used by Bandana Waddle Dee. It's used mostly for stabbing, but can also be thrown rapidly as a highly effective projectile.
  • Deimos from Dungeons wields a poleaxe.


Webcomics


Web Original

  • Polearms are occasionally assigned in Survival of the Fittest, and when a character needs an Improvised Weapon they usually either make a shiv or a spear from available materials. Examples of characters who made spears include Niniko Kishinawa and Daniel Brent.
  • A type of weapon exists in Chaos Fighters, but is recent titles they tend to be at both ends of the stick.
  • In Elemental, spears are the weapon of choice for Mooks, but are also wielded by the fire Elemental, who serves as the resident Big Bad. Another interesting use of this trope is with Corah, who carries a scythe.


Western Animation

  • In an episode of the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, Donatello's bo staff was cut by a Karai bot with a naginata. After the Turtles defeat the Karai bots, Donatello is seeing carrying the nagitata on his back.
    • The 2012 series has replaced his ever-present bo with a naginata, as well, if the preview trailer is anything to judge by.
  • In Kim Possible "Mad Dogs and Aliens", Warmonga has a high-tech one.


Real Life

  • This was useful in real combat, both for and against cavalry. Thus, you get weapons like pikes, glaives, and bayonets, which are blades on a stick where the stick is a gun.
    • Used in practically every peasant's revolt ever, being quite effective against mounted nobility (horses are scared silly of anything resembling a pointy stick), so it's up to the Torches and Pitchforks. Most polearms are derived from converted farm implements or household blades stuck on long poles. They are easier for The Blacksmith to produce in a hurry: if pitchforks aren't enough, set a scythe blade on top of a straight stick, and you got some sort of glaive.
    • It also helps that it is relatively easy to train someone to use a spear effectively, as opposed to weapons like swords. To give you some idea, a decent spearman can be trained in six weeks. A half-decent swordsman would take a minimum of six months.
    • Ironically, when measuring the time taken to master the sword and spear, it's generally accepted in the martial arts community that mastering the sword takes less time. Strange. But spear tactics were much simpler in numbers.
      • That's because martial artists use spears differently than soldiers do. A martial artist trains to fight one-on-one or several-on-one battles, under which circumstances a spear is an awkward weapon; it's tricky to manipulate and is useless if your opponent gets inside it. A soldier trains to stand in line, obey orders, have discipline and not have to defend himself from more than one direction--unless his formation has crumbled, at which point he's got much larger problems than the fact that he doesn't know how to use his spear in single combat.
  • The Ancient Greeks used the dory for their phalanxes of hoplites; later the Macedonian phalangites under Philip II and Alexander the Great used the sarissa, a double-length version.
  • Roman legionaries carried two javelins, but these were thrown to soften up the enemy before using the gladius shortsword in close combat. The spearheads were at the end of a long iron part left deliberately untempered, in the hope that it would pierce a shield and then bend, making it near-impossible to remove from the shield which was thereby made virtually useless.
    • Like the Greeks and Macedonians, the Romans at first made good use of the phalanx formation, which took advantage of the spear's deadliest potential: that of creating a veritable wall of sharp points that, when combined with shields, were key to pinning down an enemy while the cavalry circled round to them. The reason Romans eventually switched to the gladius as a primary weapon for infantry was that on rough terrain phalanxes (which were slow and cumbersome for all their defensive capabilities) were easily overwhelmed by the more mobile guerilla forces which they ended up fighting more often than not. The spear thus fell out of favor as the primary weapon for military.
    • The "orb" formation did remain in their arsenal later on. The Roman force would form a tightly-clustered round formation, with their shields on the outside, spears poking through the gaps, and perhaps a few soldiers with bows in the middle. This formation was a very useful weapon against light cavalry, so much so that it stayed in the British Army's book during the Napoleonic Wars.
    • The romans never fully gave up the spear. Until the Marian reforms the final line of defense in their column was the Triarii, Veterans who could afford the best equipment and who used a spear as well as a shield.
  • Women from Samurai families were expected to have a functional naginata as part of their dowry. The naginata was also the favoured weapon of the sohei Buddhist warrior-monks.
    • Naginata blades were made using the same costly and laborious process as katana blades, but were often made longer, or at least had longer shafts. So if they broke, they were re-made into katana/wakizashi/tanto depending on how much blade was left.
    • Although the sword was "the soul of the Samurai", the naginata was actually their primary battle weapon for much of their history; along with the bow when fighting from horseback. At the peak of the Samurai's power, the sword was used predominantly for dueling rather than warfare.
    • The naginata wasn't the only spear available to the Samurai. Popular amongst Samurai and Ashigaru (peasant levies) alike was the yari spear. Longer than the Naginata and with a shorter blade, the Yari ranged in size (from about 3.3 feet to 20) and was a popular weapon for large formations of Samurai and Ashigaru during the Sengoku Jidai era. Samurai tended to wield shorter versions of the Yari: Ashigaru wielded the longer varieties. The Yari became popular because of the Mongol invasion of Japan; in the brief clashes, the Mongols and Koreans advanced in tight formation. The Japanese learned the lesson.
  • The Swiss mercenaries of the 15th century deserve an entry of their own. For a long time, it was an established truth that the only force capable of beating Swiss pikemen was an equal or greater number of Swiss pikemen. The first national army to ever beat a force consisting only of Swiss mercenaries was a French army that outnumbered the Swiss force 15 to 1.
  • Mixed units of pikemen and musketeers ("pike and shot") were the standard armed force of the 16th and 17th centuries until the invention of the bayonet turned every gun into a spear.
  • Pikes were manufactured for use in combat as late as in 1942, when the War Office produced about 250,000 pikes for the British Home Guard after accidentally misinterpreting a letter from Winston Churchill saying that "every man must have a weapon of some kind, be it only a mace or pike".
    • At the time Churchill wrote the memo, they were expecting a German invasion any week; there weren't enough rifles to equip all the Home Guard fast enough. Something similar happened in Japan as they prepared for an Allied invasion in 1945- they tried to arm everyone, even if that meant using pointy sticks.
    • In the Japanese case, they took their standard rifle bayonet (which aside from minor revisions to simplify it for more rapid mass production, was unchanged since 1897), simplified it even more, and mounted it on a bamboo pole.
  • The Battle of Flodden Field (9 September 1513) was decided in a brutal confrontation between infantry armed with contrasting pole-arms. The Scots advanced with the pike, to be met by Englishmen armed with the bill, which was (alongside the much more famous longbow) the mediaeval English weapon of choice. The military bill was developed from the bill-hook, a hedging tool widely used in Europe at the time (and listed in tool-catalogues to this day as the "brush axe" or "brush hook"), by adding a thrusting point to the tool's hooked chopping blade, and extending the shaft to around six to eight feet. A foot-soldier armed with this versatile weapon could thrust with the point, use the hook to pull a knight from the saddle, and deliver powerful chopping blows with the edge of the blade.
  • Though in history as in fiction, polearms are more famous as Mook weapons, the poleaxe was probably the most popular weapon for dismounted knights to use, particularly in the Wars of the Roses, where the knights fought dismounted an awful lot. Why did they use poleaxes? Have you ever tried to get through plate armour with a sword?
    • The poleaxe (also known as pollaxe; there is still much dispute about whether its name actually referred to the fact that it was on a pole) was one of the most versatile melee weapons ever seen. Its head had either an axe blade or a hammer on the front, a hook on the back, and a spike on the top. Depending on the variant, the main tactic was to either chop with the axe blade or crush the enemy's armor (preferably his helmet) with the hammer. A secondary tactic was to hook the enemy (preferably between the plates to cause a painful wound) and knock him to the ground, then use the spike to kill him before he can get up (as the weight of his armor would make that difficult to do). Many poleaxes also had a second spike on the bottom of the shaft. Oddly, despite being both effective and impressive-looking, poleaxes are rarely seen in fiction.
      • The whole darn contraption is a weapon. Heck, you get an axe, spear, can opener, tripping hook and hockey stick for cross-checking at price of one. Small surprise knights favoured this thingy while fighting on foot.
  • In at least one manuscript on personal combat from the Middle Ages the author listed weapons in a sort of Rock-Paper-Scissors fashion. The halberd was listed as the best weapon of all and no surprise, all polearms combine several ways of hurting people (facetiously described by one historian as 'prodding, slicing, hacking and thumping') with a 6-foot reach, halberds combine all of them into one nasty package.
  • The Polearm was so effective, halfswording was invented so that a sword could be wielded like a very short spear. Though the technique didn't afford the benefit of the spear's length, it did give the sword the spear's superior point control and thrusting capabilities, which were very useful against armored opponents.
    • Half-swording is also much faster than using any polearm and the thrusts can be made with much greater accuracy and precision.
    • This troper has found half-swording to be the most effective greatswords technique to fight against an opponent with sword and shield.
  • Oda Nobunaga's favoured weapon on the battlefield was the nagamaki, which is similar to a katana with a handle as long as the blade, apart from it counts as a polearm, not a sword.
  • The halberd is often considered the greatest polearm of all time. There two main types- they shared an axe blade on one side and a spear-like point on top. The difference is the other side- for dealing with unarmored opponents, it had a hook for tripping the opponents or pulling away the shield. For dealing with armored opponents, it had a hammer for smashing armor and crushing helmets. This versatility let it hold out or win against any type of weapon, from the sword to the pike.
  • The Chinese had a large variety of polearms. Students of Chinese martial arts are generally encouraged to start with the staff and spear when learning weapons, as they are considered to be the best for training body coordination, since a practitioner must utilize all parts of their body in equal amounts of complexity in order to properly wield the weapon. Some schools may go as far as making them compulsory before learning other weapons.
    • The most eponymous are the usual longspear (fixed with a tassel behind the blade which, in expert hands, can help distract the opponent and interfere with his/her ability to judge where the point is going, as well as preventing blood from running down the haft and making it slippery)
    • The Guan Dao, a large blade fixed to the business end a long pole.
    • Halberds were also commonly used in war, ranging from a simple addition of a blade fixed on a right angle to the main blade to as many as 4 crescent-shaped blades fixed just below the main blade.
    • Double-ended weapons are also commonly taught in martial arts schools, like a double-ended spear, double volgues, and a unique wapon sometimes called the Monk's Spade.
      • The last weapon has a spade-like or axe-like blade fixed to one end and a crescent-shaped blade on the other.
    • There's also a weapon known as Bandit Sword which is like a Guan Dao with a much shorter pole.
  • Some sadistic Flemming comboed this trope with Carry a Big Stick to create the goedendag: a pole several inches in diameter, reinforced with iron bands or studs, and with a spear or pike point on top. The idea was to spear your opponenent off of his horse with the pike, and then bludgeon him to death with the pole. All the effectiveness of a halberd or poleaxe, none of the extra manufacturing time.
    • An important design feature was that the point was smaller then the shaft. Thus you can stab a horse and easily recover your weapon. Boar spears have sort of a sidebar design under the blade for the same reason. The tactic for boar hunting consists of letting a big furious animal with mean tusks charge at you fullspeed, catch him on your spear, pull it out and quickly kill or immobilize it before it rips your bowels apart. If your only weapon is the one you're using to stop charging horses with, you need a decent of being able to use it against the angry knight in full armor that's sitting on said horse. A simple pointy stick or point on a stick will likely get stuck deep in the horse.
  • Older Than Dirt: Spears tipped with stone, bone, and antler points are among the first weapons ever used by humans, going back thousands of years to the Ice Age.

Notes

  1. So does his Expy with the same name (Aisha) in Koihime Musou.
  2. Polearm dancing.
  3. Really a naginata, since she spent several years in the fantasy version of Japan while her parents were ambassadors there
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