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In certain stories, especially epic fantasy, there is a correlation between the weapon style characters or groups use, and how they are portrayed in the film.

Heroes' weapons generally have clean lines, such as longbows, broadswords, katana, a musket, Colt revolver, Winchester, etc. Unarmed combat is also a heroic trait. Although the rules change when zombies are involved. (don't ask why)

Villain armies typically have more oddly-shaped weapons, weapons with spikes, etc. While not a hard-and-fast rule (see the exception for hammers, below) blunt weapons, especially ridged maces, tend to be evil, possibly due to their lethal practicality, as a crushed shoulder, knee, or skull tends to be more complicated to heal than a clean cut.

An easy way to tell which Mook is just a Mook, is to look at their weapons: light blaster rifle, polearm? Standard Mook. Massive sword or really scary-looking gun? This is at least an Elite Mook, if not a member of the Quirky Miniboss Squad. Weapon that looks suspiciously like the hero's? Uh, oh...

Truth in Television to some extent: The Geneva Convention frowns on the use of certain weapons and certain kinds of melee weapons (such as knives with odd-shaped blades) that do not leave clean wounds.

Other stereotypes:

  • Multiple Swords: Badass but generally evil or Anti-Hero.
    • Hookswords: Run away. Now. Do not, under any circumstances, trust.
      • However, a dual-hooksword-wielding Michelle Yeoh happens to be doubly trustworthy.
    • Flame Patterned Sword (flamberge): Unless sufficiently elegant, run. These were intended to produce nasty wounds upon the victim ( though in reality they don't, ) so this is somewhat reasonable.
      • The flame pattern is actually a defensive measure: it was meant so that when the person with the flamberge parried with it, the attacker would receive a shock as his own weapon slid down the flame pattern and vibrated rapidly, numbing the attacker's arm. But since the goal of the design is to temporarily paralyze a limb, it still stands somewhat justified.
        • Only applicable on rapiers and similar swords designed for fencing / cut-and-thrust. Flamberge-style zweihänders were designed to break polearm formations by knocking the enemy weapons away and then snapping the shafts. More than anything, the flamberge simply looks meaner.
      • Similarly, stay the hell away from anyone wielding a serrated blade.
    • Single Weapon That Splits Into Multiple: Good. Although that is changing as recent works have seen more badguys using this tactic in their weapons.
  • Katana and Rapiers: Either way, but a favorite weapon of the Wicked Cultured, the Rival, or the Sixth Ranger. They're too cool for Mooks in any case.
    • Except the Cardinal's men in any Three Musketeer movie. And the other musketeers who sometimes side against the heroic trio because the king declares them traitors depending on the story.
      • As the rapier and smallsword were the common weapon of the time, both the bad guys and the good guys would have one.
  • Shamshir, Tulwar, Scimitar: Can go either way, If there's a single scimitar-wielder, he's probably a good guy. An entire society that favors scimitars is usually evil. Staple weapon of palace guards in Qurac and Sim Sim Salabim.
  • Dirk, Longsword, Etc: Sign of a Knight in Shining Armor. Heroic. If used by a villain, it will generally be a BFS.
  • Axes: Evil, unless used by dwarves or heroic barbarians.
  • Hammers: More likely to be good than axes due to not overtly spilling blood, and normally used by The Big Guy. Sometimes shows up in the hands of brutish bad guys, though.
  • Club: Either way; bad guys like to add spikes. Generally a sign of brutish, unintelligent characters.
  • Blunt, club-like found objects: Rarely used by good guys, except in a non-lethal manner. Totally reversed if zombies are in play.
  • Mace (metal club, often with ridges): Evil. Typically used by the Big Bad or The Dragon as maces were traditionally symbols of power and authority, only to be used by royalty or those in command. However, if the wielder is a priest, it has a much higher chance of being good (but can still be evil).
  • Flail: Evil. Always. Nunchaku can go either way.
  • Handguns: If guns are a mainstay, good. If not, dishonorable and evil.
  • Assault Rifles: Evil if it's a Communist AK-47, good if it's an American M16. Either way, usually not a main character.
  • Hand Cannons: Anti-Hero. Common in Film Noir, detective stories and cyberpunk.
  • Submachine Guns: Mainly used by mooks, antiheroes or villains.
  • Sawed Off Shotguns: Evil, or at least Anti Heroic, except when facing zombies.
  • Sniper Rifles: Sign of a villainous assassin, Villain Protagonist, or Psycho for Hire. Hero characters using one of these are usually in the role of the guardian angel, the guy whose role is to shut down bad guys trying to ambush another hero.
  • Machine Guns: Evil.
    • Exception made for soldiers in war movies who sometimes use them, although they are generally not the hero.
  • Gatling Guns: Badass (again, Arnold or his friend)
  • Dagger: Sign of the thief or traitor; generally evil.
    • Hooked/Curved Dagger: Usually the above, but sometimes treated the same as the scimitar.
    • Knife: Unless the hero is trying a last ditch effort to fight off a villain, wielding a knife is very, very evil.
      • Subverted in Dune, in which body shields stop anything moving above a few cm per second and mutually detonate (with kiloton force) on contact by lasers; knife fighting is the dominant form of close combat.
  • Any Poisoned Weapons: Always evil, save for some tranquilizer darts.
    • Early editions of Dungeons and Dragons made their use an evil act. While this was probably a game balance issue (since poison in 1st edition was almost always fatal), it was strange that hacking or bashing an enemy to death over the course of several rounds of combat was considered less evil than a quick death.
  • Chainsaws: Almost always criminally insane, except when fighting zombies or Deadites.
  • If the weapons glow or are painted different colors, Color Coded for Your Convenience comes into play.
  • Whip: Generally evil, with rare exceptions. The exceptions tend to be Adventurer Archaeologist Archaeologists, masked swashbucklers or vampire hunters. In Forgotten Realms it's also the signature weapon of the (good) goddess of love and the Rashemi Hathran sect.
  • Bows: Good for main characters, evil for Mooks.
    • Crossbows: Either way. Generally evil is differentiated by poison here.
    • Longbows: Generally good and usually wielded by The Stoic but when evil in the hands of a Cold Sniper. Often seen in The Kingdom's armies.
  • Staves: Usually good, unless topped by a skull or jewel from which magical/laser beams are shot. Unless Nanoha.
  • Spears: Good if used by named characters, evil if used by mooks. Non-named non-evil characters with spears will usually be Red Shirts.
  • Polearms: You don't see many of these outside of mooks, though more sophisticated warriors such as the Lady of War might use them.
    • Another exemption is any Chinese action film set in the Three Kingdoms period, as at least one of the main Generals favors a polearm.
  • Wrist blades/claws: Definitely well into dark Badass or antihero territory, if not outright Ax Crazy evil.
    • If they resemble animal claws more than artificial weapons, you're probably dealing with some sort of shaman or druid.
  • Torches: Mainly the preserve of antagonistic mobs, and villains. May also be used opportunistically by good guys in a pinch.
  • Flamethrowers: Usually in the hands of a villain who loves burning things a little too much. Again, more heroic if used against zombies. Or Nazis or Imperial Japanese in old war movies.
  • Scythes: Either villains or an Anti-Hero. Depends on how intimidating the scythe looks. Always scary.
  • Shields: Either supporting characters or Mooks, either way they're usually useless.
  • Laser Blade: Always Badass, specific alignment usually determined by blade color.
    • Attack of the Clones subverts this, as there are enough Jedi in the field at once for the lesser among them to count as Redshirts.
  • Martial Arts: Flowing styles and high acrobatics tend to be the domain of good guys and monks; Pressure point poking, open-palmed jabbing, and other "quick and to the point" styles are used by the Arrogant Kung Fu Guy or Evil Overlord. Good Old Fisticuffs are either way, unless the bad guy knows a style of any type, then it becomes the domain of the "everyman" good guy. She Fu is neutral, as it lends to catfighting between two parties.
  • Katars: Almost always Anti-Hero at best, usually the province of assassin or rogue characters, unless the assassin or rogue is Chaotic Good. Almost always subject to Dual-Wielding, at least for rogues in World of Warcraft and Assassins and Assassin Crosses in Ragnarok Online.
  • Unlikely Weapons: Good, if eccentric.


Compare Weapon of Choice. See Good Guns, Bad Guns for the more detailed gun version.

Examples of Good Weapon, Evil Weapon include:


Anime and Manga

Comic Books

  • X-Men: Gambit with a Staff? Good. Gambit with a knife? Bad. Warpath, Multiple Knives. Good. Spiral, Multiple Swords? Bad. Katana? Evil Samurai. Dual Wielded Katana? Deadpool.

Film

  • The crazy Japanese girl Gogo Yubari wields a meteor hammer in Kill Bill.
  • In Lord of the Rings Elves use light curved blades and Alliance humans prefer medieval broadswords while Orcs sport crude, angular slabs and Easterlings are armed with polearms.

Literature

  • A rare exception to "Only villains poison weapons": Sadi, a eunuch on the side of the heroes in the Mallorean, uses a poisoned dagger as his primary weapon.
    • Justified in that one of the two defining characteristics of the Nyissans is an extensive knowledge and ... creative ... use of pharmaceuticals. (The other one is a positively astounding ability at being devious and conniving.)
    • And from the same series, there's the Ulgo knife, which is generally described as one of the most unpleasantly mutilat-y weapons in the world. The Ulgos are good guys.
  • A partial exception to Poisoned Weapons is The Demon Princes: the hero uses them and is better than most of the villains.
  • In The Lord of the Rings Sauron is depicted using a mace, and his lieutenant, the Witch-king, swings an Epic Flail. His ancient teacher, Morgoth, fought with a warhammer.

Tabletop Games

  • Chaos Space Marines typically wield weapons that look similar to their Loyalist counterparts with the addition of lots of spikes and studs and skulls. Their Terminators also use maces and axes in addition to the standard Power Fist (which they add spikes to anyway), and they have an entire unit type which uses chainsaw axes.
  • In Dungeons and Dragons, Good-aligned Clerics traditionally wield maces or other blunt weapons. Evil clerics and fighters often carry flails or other spiky things. The game claimed this dated back to the Middle Ages where the Clergy were allowed to join in battle, but because they were forbidden to "spill blood" they were restricted to using blunt weapons. Because you can totally bash somebody's head in with a mace and not get blood everywhere. Though the idea that warrior priests used maces to not shed blood may have been a misunderstanding of the actual events, and were more likely symbols of authority.
    • This trope most likely came from Bishop Odo of Bayeux, a kinsman of William the Conqurer, who was trying the game the system (at that time, clergy was not allowed to participate in combat -- to this day, for obvious reasons, the Catholic Church frowns VERY HEAVILY on it, and "warrior monk" orders like the Templars, Hospitallers and Teutonic Knights no longer function as military religious orders)by wading into combat during the Battle of Hastings in 1066 with a weapon that was less likely to shed blood on the rationalization that that made it OK.
  • In Warhammer, Priests of Sigmar tend to fight with two-handed battle hammers, and lead armies from the front. Since Sigmar is a god of war and his symbol is a hammer, this is all justified. Priests of Sigmar tend to be a bit overbearing and have Knight Templar tendencies, but are generally good guys.

Theatre

  • In Shakespeare's Othello, heroic Claudius uses a sword. Its implied that his attempted assassination may have been done with a knife.

Video Games

Web Comics

Western Animation

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