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I'm pretty sure I'll be the main character. The people with swords usually are.

In an RPG, the main character always uses a sword, or at least has the option of using a sword. Even if the character has no training. Even if there are more efficient/advanced weapons. Always.

And it's even rarer for the main character to be able to use both swords and non-sword weapons, but not start with a sword. Rarer still is the hero who starts with a sword and then moves on to something else.

Given that a sword is a fairly useful melee weapon with a wide variety of uses (and historically, pretty much everyone who could get a sword would have one) this makes some sense. Still, given modern society typically prefers ranged weapons, it looks out of place. This can lead to improbable weapons that take the coolness of a sword and combine it with the effectiveness of a weapon modern to the work's universe, such as "gunswords." This is more of a Justified Trope than one might think, since at the very least, bayonets are still used, both for their practical uses in close combat when bullets run out, but also because they are able to puncture body armor that bullets can't (according to a bayonet article, a prototype was able to pierce a punching bag covered with aircraft aluminium and a ballistic vest).

It's very often implausibly large. Or just very, very cool. Expect Implausible Fencing Powers.

The main antagonist often uses a sword as well, at least before he transcends his mortal shell.

Often this can be attributed to the knowledge that Katanas Are Just Better.

Compare The Gunslinger, Superhero Packing Heat.

We will kindly assume they are not compensating for anything.

For whatever reason, dissidents seem to cluster around firearms (and the modern sword, Handguns, in particular) and fighting barehanded. In fact, this trope is so widespread that it's probably more efficient to list examples that play with this.


Exceptions

Action Adventure

  • The Belmonts of Castlevania all use the same whip, the Vampire Killer, to battle Dracula. When it's a hero that isn't a Belmont, he usually has other types of weapons available, not just swords. Played relatively straight with Alucard, though, since he specializes in swords (though some of the things he wields are swords by a very loose definition).
  • Ark, the protagonist and only playable character of Terranigma exclusively uses spears, staffs, and similar weapons, though several other characters use swords.
  • Will of Illusion of Gaia uses a flute to attack. On the other hand, his arguably standard "battle form" is Freedan, a typical knight who wields a sword. On the other other hand, his "ultimate" form is Shadow, who is amorphous and attacks with tentacles.
  • Subverted in the NES classic Wizards and Warriors: Kuros is armed with the legendary Brightsword, but finds the Dagger of Throwing early in the game, and that is likely to be your primary weapon, until you replace it with the Battle Axe of Agor. Both the Dagger and the Axe are much more useful than the Brightsword. Played straight in the sequels though.
    • In the third game, a variety of weapons and powers are available to Kuros. It's just the one needed to kill the Big Bad and The Dragon happens to be a sword.
  • Kratos from God of War prefers his chainblades over the two "traditional" swords he gets. Before he got the blades, his favored weapons were the spear and shield of Sparta.
  • Averted in Shadow of the Colossus. Yes, Wander has a Cool Sword. He is probably the only main protagonist owner of a Cool Sword in video game history to have, judging by his animations with it, not an everlovin' clue what to do with a sword beyond "pointy end goes into the thing I want dead." The weapon he prefers is his bow, as one can tell by the fact that he can do feats with it that would make Legolas stare.

Beat Em Up

  • Two of the three playable heroes in the original Golden Axe use swords, but Gilius Thunderhead used an axe, because Our Dwarves Are All the Same. About half the villain Mooks use distinctively non-sword weapons, including Big Bad Death Adder, who wields the titular Golden Axe.

First Person Shooter

  • Inverted in Clive Barker's Jericho, as the heroic protagonists carried rifles. The sword-wielder was an anti-heroic Combat Pragmatist, who relied on stealth and Blood Magic.
  • In Team Fortress 2, the nine main classes each had a melee weapon suited to them. Oddly, none had swords when the game launched, the closes being the Spy's knife, Sniper's Kukri, and Medic's Bonesaw. Later on, the Demoman and Soldier both got access to true swords, at first a pair of Claymores, and later on a Katana
  • The Jedi Knight series is nominally a first person shooter, with a wide array of weapons... not that it matters, since unless the game forces you to, you'll never use anything other than your lightsaber anyway.


MMORPGs

  • Guild Wars
    • Of the ten professions in , only Warriors have any sword-based attributes or skills -- and even then, they can be just as good with axes or hammers. Swords have a more reliable (if lower) damage range and better defensive options than the other Warrior melee weapons, but that's pretty much it. And no, the katanas aren't any better.
    • Devona, one of the four NPC heroes featured in the first campaign, is typically shown in official artwork with a sword... in the game however, her preferred weapon is a hammer. A large one. In fact, of all the major NPCs in all three campaigns, only Prince Rurik wields a sword.
    • Two heroes, Koss from Nightfall and Jora from Eye of the North, default to using swords, although you can change their weapons.
  • Warriors in Runes of Magic, though they can wield swords just like any other melee class, are the only melee class that can use one-handed and two-handed axes, which do more damage on the average than swords. In order to wield axes as another class, you have to take warrior as a secondary class.
  • Frantz and Angela from Rusty Hearts, though they get axes and scythes respectively as secondary weapons.

Platform Game

  • Klonoa in Klona Heroes: Legendary Star Medal starts out wielding a magic ring that shoots wind bullets (which is his usual default, if not only, weapon in the series), but quickly acquires the "wind sword" which is featured prominently in the box art and commercials. These are only two of his six weapon types, though; his others include a (sensibly sized) hammer, a beam umbrella, a boomerang, and an Arm Cannon that shoots bombs.
  • In Mega Man X 6, X actually has a Z-Sabre from the start of the game in addition to his usual X-Buster. The sword itself is of middling usefulness, however, as it simply doesn't have the speed or power you'd see Zero using it with. Both of the armors featured in X6 emphasize X's sword usage, though.


Role Playing Game

  • Mario, in the Super Mario Bros. RPGs. Since they aren't traditional RPG settings, Mario uses variations of his Goomba Stomp and hammer attacks.
  • Senel of Tales of Legendia fights with his fists, making him the only main character in the Tales series to dodge this trope.
    • Jude from 'Tales of Xillia likewise, uses his fists.
      • Yuri Lowell from Tales of Vesperia starts with a sword and continues to use them, but can also equip one-handed axes. One skit actually lampshades his weapons of choice, with Estelle and Karol discussing whether Yuri looks cooler with a sword or an axe.
        • Judith actually suggested that he use one in each hand.
        • Cless, the very first Tales hero, can actually equip halberd-like axes. Many heroes after him, like Stahn (though most people never ever change his starting talking sword weapon), can also do the same. The majority of their arsenal are still swords though.
    • If you're going for "but he can use this too" then about half of the protagonists in the Tales series fits in that category. Cless and Stahn can both use halberd or axe-like weapons. More than 80% of the time though, they are probably going to be using swords.
  • Averted in Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne, where the Demi-Fiend fights with no weapons other than his own fists. In the first two games, anyone could use the weapon they wanted: knives, hammers, a lotus wand, the Longinus Spear... as long as it didn't require a specific alignment or gender (Yes, only women can use whips).
  • Every main character in the first four Wild Arms games uses guns. In fact, most characters tend to use some form of firearm as a result of the series' Wild West theme. While sword-users do exist--Raquel in Wild Arms 4, for example--they're not leads and tend to be treated more like Improbable Weapon Users.
    • However, note that while Ashley Winchester of Wild Arms 2 technically carries a firearm, he only uses it as one during Limit Breaks; his regular attack relies on the gun's ridiculously over-sized bayonet.
    • Rudy Roughnight of the first game is also a bit of an odd case: presumably because every RPG protagonist did so at the time, he used a sword in the original, and only whipped out his gun for his skills. The remake changed it to using his gun for normal attacks as well, in the same manner as Wild Arms 3, which makes much more sense for his character.
    • And the main in Wild Arms 4 is only a partial exception in a different manner; he uses a shapeshifting gun that takes whatever form is most appropriate for the task at hand--including that of a sword for melee-range combat.
    • Wild Arms 5 manages to avert this completely by giving its main character a pair of handguns with tonfas on the handles for melee combat. The only one who uses a sword is the White Magician Girl.
    • Wild Arms 3 would be the king of subverter as it gives the ENTIRE character roster guns. And the main character is a female.
    • Played straight with Manipulative Bastard Janus Cascade. Starts out by having a gun/sword hybrid as long as he is tall, and is able to draw it as quickly as Virginia can with her tiny revolvers. Later, his One-Winged Angel mode uses a very large spear instead.
  • Final Fantasy has a lot of characters who are straight examples, but a lot of others who aren't:
    • Zidane in Final Fantasy IX uses knives, although he also has the option of using double-bladed lances -- including his ultimate weapon.
    • Final Fantasy X 2. Yuna starts out with guns (and wielded a staff in the previous game). She still has the option of wielding a sword but will go back to her guns during cutscenes and on the overland map.
    • In Final Fantasy XII, your characters lack preset main weapons and can learn to use a wide variety of melee and ranged weapons. Standard swords are a versatile but otherwise fairly generic set of weapons, much like in the real world. Yet, even here, the main character's starting weapon is a sword. Also, the main antagonist only uses a sword in certain cutscenes. His main offense is his fists.
    • The installments that use the job system both avert this and play it straight occasionally. While it is possible for Bartz or Ramza to use jobs that do not use swords, they have swords as an initial equip.
  • Planescape: Torment is unusual in that it's a high fantasy game setting with only two swords in the entire game -- and only one of those can eventually be wielded by the protagonist (if he's of the right alignment). This was a conscious choice by the designers. Of course, the game was certainly not designed around combat.
    • Considering even that one sword cannot be used as a sword and has to be "converted" to another weapon before the protagonist can wield it, this would count as an aversion...except that the other big weapons in the game were truly massive and often rather phallic. Long hard pole with a massive head on the end? It's a sledgehammer, of course.
  • Yuri Hyuga of Shadow Hearts, as befits his street-brawler personality, fights with his fists. The game's sword-wielder, Keith, doesn't appear until past the halfway point, and he uses a rapier as opposed to the standard flat blade.
    • In Covenant Yuri continues to let his fists do the talk. This time, the sword-wielder is Karin who also uses a rapier, beffiting her Lady of War Status.
    • In From The New World Kid Detective Johnny Garland wields an assortment of knives and daggers. It's Highly Visible McNinja Frank who gets the swords. And by "swords", we mean "anything that can be put on a hilt" ranging from a cactus to a bus stop and a dead swordfish. And not to mentioned his Infinity+1 Sword A hot pippin shishkebab!
  • In Xenogears, Fei uses his fists as weapons, as do Rico and Emeralda. Other characters use whips, firearms, and combat rods. The only playable character who gets a sword, Citan, gets it after the first disc, a good way through the storyline... instantly making a massive leap in combat power. Not that he was ever a slouch in that department, even barehanded.
  • Similarly, Shion Uzuki in Xenosaga uses the MWS, a combination mechanical hand/energy cannon strapped to her arm. The other arguably main character of the series, Jr., uses pistols. In fact, the one sword user in the series doesn't even show up until the second game.
    • And of course, a couple of Shion's super attacks do project a sword blade from the MWS.
      • KOS-MOS can either change her arms into whatever weapon she desires (R-BLADE, R-DRILL, R-CANNON, a freaky cool sword thing...), but she can also pull them out of thin air whenever she wants (F-GSHOT, F-SCYTHE, that other thing she uses...). On top of that, in the third game she can shoot a ball of energy from some strange contraption on her chest.
  • Serge of Chrono Cross uses oar-like bladed weapons called Swallows, which feature two wide one-sided blades connected to the opposite ends of a single long pole. For one fight, he is forced to use his antagonist's scythe, but he never touches a conventional sword. In fact, very few of the 50 or so characters use a conventional weapon, with characters armed with such devastating weaponry as carrots, wooden spoons, walking sticks, and frying pans.
    • Worth noting is that right before Serge obtains the Masamune it turns into the Mastermune, a swallow. This is the closest Serge ever comes to touching a sword.
  • In Earthbound, most weapons are items such as baseball bats, slingshots, yo-yos, and lasers, for the Mad Scientist in the group. In fact, there's only one sword in the game, and it's the Infinity+1 Sword to boot. And its not used by the resident hero Ness.
    • This applies to all three of the games in the MOTHER series -- the only exception that comes to mind is Teddy from the first game, who starts out with knives and can eventually acquire a Katana.
  • In the original Breath of Fire, Ryu could equip boomerangs, instead of swords. They were slightly weaker than his swords, but made up for that by hitting multiple enemies. In fact, his Infinity + 1 weapon is the Tri-Rang, which hits every enemy onscreen, instead of just those in the weapon's arc.
  • Seiken Densetsu 3 has six different characters for you to select as your main character. While each could potentially be the hero of the story, many fans favor Duran simply because he's the only one who wields a sword as his weapon.
  • Averted in Growlanser II, in which the main character Wein Cruz uses a scythe instead of a sword because his ring (which turns into the scythe) decided a scythe was the perfect weapon for him. Also averted in Growlanser V, where the lead uses dual spears.
  • Atsuma, the main character of Enchanted Arms, fights with his fists and uses knuckles for his weapon.
  • The best weapons in the first Baldur's Gate game and its expansion are all swords. However, an enchanted war-hammer has them beat in the sequel; in Throne Of Bhaal, a constructable weapon called the Ravager halberd is, for sheer damage- and death-dealing capacity, probably the best weapon in the game. However, when you take it to be constructed Cespenar asks you if you're compensating for anything, so the designers were presumably aware that carrying around a great big pole has just as many phallic implications as a BFS.
    • It's actually straight when push comes to shove, though. Swords are still the best weapon for base damage output in the Baldur's Gate games when wielded by the appropriate class with the correct items, and the upgraded Carsoymr two-handed sword not only has the highest modifier (shared with the Ravager), but also quite possibly the best effects in the game. So really, what you do is: you get one tank that can wield the Ravager, and one that can wield Carsomyr, you kill everybody, and you win the game.
    • Dual-Wielding still produces the best damage by design and the enchanted war-hammer and lightning katana are still arguably the best in that department. When coupled with Improved Haste, everything but dragons and the toughest bosses drop instantly.
  • The Protagonist in Persona 3 is given a short sword before his first battle. However, he is able to equip other types of weapons, except Knives and Guns, which are exclusive to Koromaru and Aigis, respectively. The hero of Persona 4 uses swords, though he starts off with a golf club.
    • The PSP remake limits the male Protagonist to solely one handed swords now. The new exclusive female Protagonist however uses a more Lady of War-like naginata instead.
    • Maya, the protagonist of the 2nd half of Persona 2, uses guns.
  • Averted in the first games of .hack//, which gives protagonist Kite a pair of daggers. Who gets the honor to wield the absurdly large sword? Why it's the female (online and in real life) BlackRose, of course! Played straight in GU where one of Haseo's signature weapons is the huge chainsaw-claymore hybrid.
    • Arguably though, he starts off with twin-blades, and spends the majority of time with with chain-scythe in terms of cut-scenes.
    • In fact his sword is the only weapon that isn't used as a primary weapon in cut-scenes. His first form can only use daggers, his second unlocks the sword however he still uses the daggers in cut-scenes. His third form unlocks the scythe, which is his main weapon from then on. Plus Haseo's Infinity+1 Sword is a scythe.
    • And there's also his Dual Guns which he uses a good bit when he gets them.
  • Live a Live's many protagonists (one per chapter) include people who fight with their fists, robotic parts, and firearms. In fact, the only protagonist that uses a sword is Oersted, from the medieval chapter, and he ends up being the Big Bad.
    • Oboro-maru wields ninjato blades, but most of his attacks don't involve them.
  • Aya of Parasite Eve uses a gun and/or billy club, fitting her job as policewoman.
  • In Fallout, the only swords used before 3 were wakizashi, which used the same animations as knives (he series' melee weapon of choice was the Super Sledgehammer or Power Fist (with spears and knives early on) and though 3' had some more sword, most of the ones you find fit the setting: ceremonial Chinese officers' swords, either brought by Chinese spies or looted by Americans during the war in Alaska. The only other "sword" has to be crafted by the player, from a lawnmower blade, for the purpose of burning enemies alive. Non-sword weapons are still far more common.
    • In New Vegas, you can also get a "Bumper Sword", which is a crude replica of Cloud's Buster sword made from a car bumper.
  • In Arcanum, swords are a fairly common class of melee weapon, ranging from the delicate and magical Filament Sword to massive two-handed weapons. On the other hand, one could just use axes, daggers, or maces for the entire game. And that's without going into the bow, gun, or boomerang options.
  • Yuuto Kannagi (known as York Neely in the U.S. version) of Cross Edge uses guns. Apparently his father taught him jujitsu but he deemed that obsolete and instead went with science and the forces of firepower, so he probably would end up avoiding swords anyways.
  • Atelier Iris Eternal Mana is interesting in that not only does the protagonist, Klein, not use a sword (he uses maces and staves), he's both a mage-type and your party's primary healer.
  • Hilbert, the protagonist of Last Scenario uses a bow. In fact, for most of the game, the entire party consists of non-sword-users. The work consistently ignores a number of weapon stereotypes--for instance, the knife-wielder is a kindly old fellow and mostly suited for defense to boot.
  • Mega Man Battle Network - Mega Man's default weapon is still his arm cannon. And while sword chips do exist, shot chips are still quite good.
  • Mega Man X Command Mission has the hero X wielding an Arm Cannon. The Lancer, Zero, is the one who uses a Laser Blade.
  • Star Ocean - Here it is a Justified Trope. The main character comes from a high tech civilization but crash-lands on a primitive world, and there are laws about whipping out blaster pistols on such worlds. So he has his Matter Replicator whip up a sword. And by the time he gets an opportunity to switch, it probably doesn't matter what kind of weapon he's using anyway.
    • Star Ocean the Last Hope has two examples discussed in the story. Edge chooses a sword-type weapon because it was the only thing he could reach for to defend himself against a group of alien bugs. He noticed beforehand that blasters and laser guns were useless against them. Later on in the story, Edge is asked about it and says he's gotten used to using swords at that point. Reimi, Edge's best friend, intentionally chooses to use a bow and arrow over a gun, simply because it's something different and archaic.
  • Alter AILA, like Wild Arms 3, avoids this by giving every character some type of gun. (The main character's still comparatively "cool," however, as he's the only one who can dual-wield them.)
  • In Dark Cloud 2, Max uses wrenches as his main weapon. Granted, Monica uses swords, but she doesn't even enter the game until chapter 2; Max is very much the lead character.
  • A partial subversion in Odin Sphere. Though three of the five main characters, including the one you start with, use a spear, crossbow, and chain, the two male heroes do in fact both use swords.
  • Lenneth Valkyrie from Valkyrie Profile started with a sword, but could use bows as well, which even was better for collecting combo points. In the aftergame however polearm, bow, and katana users became utterly useless.
  • Charles Barkley, the protagonist of Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden fights using basketballs and other ball-shaped objects. Swords belong to Charles' Magic Knight sidekick Balthios.
  • About three-fourths into Sands of Destruction, the protagonist Kyrie wields twin daggers. In fact, his entire party consists of unconventional weapon wielders including a bow-shaped blade, a whip, pistols, and a chakram of all things. After Kyrie goes through a Heroic Sacrifice though, he gets reborn into a broadsword-wielding nut, playing this trope straight.
  • In "Sonny, the protagonist's starting weapon is a length of broken pipe, since that's the only thing he can find nearby when he's found aboard a ship. In the second game, Sonny also starts with a length of broken pipe which is lampshaded in the weapon's flavor text that reads "Me and the pipe, we go way back."
  • McDohl from Suikoden uses a bo-staff, and Ryou from Suikoden II uses tonfa. In Suikoden V, the hero uses a three-section staff... Suikoden IV plays it straight, though, with the main hero wielding not one, but two swords...
    • Suikoden III plays it straight in the fact that all three main characters wield swords. Hugo's is closer to a dagger/main gauche, since he's younger than the others and requires a smaller weapon. But still, a sword it is.
      • To top it off, Thomas, star of an optional secondary scenario, wields a sword too.
    • Of course, this doesn't even take into account all the other characters in the games, many of whom use swords.
  • The hero in Jade Empire can use a sword, but they aren't inherently superior in any respect, and you're probably most likely to be a bare-fist kind of fighter.
  • In The Last Remnant RPG, the main character is given a sword for the first battle, but after that can switch to any number of different weapons and combat styles. Rush happens to be the most versatile character in game, and so can wield practically anything.
  • The protagonist of Lunar: Dragon Song (Lunar Genesis), Jian Campbell, fights with his feet and all of his weapons are things like sandals and sneakers (although his character design has him wearing boots). His few magic spells are performed by spinning on his head. In fact, of the five playable characters, the only one who wields a sword is in the party for only a few battles; the other three use bows, claws, and umbrellas.
  • Subverted, the main character, Anebriate prefers a Blade on a Stick. Emma, despite being a warlock (and an Optional Party Member), is really the only one who uses swords.
  • Mass Effect 3 gives us the Omniblade, an extension of the Omnitool technology modified for close quarter combat. Sentinels are able to dual-wield, Infiltrators have an electrified version, while Engineers get one on fire. Its as awesome as it sounds.

Turn Based Strategy

  • Prince Ephraim in Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones uses lances, and the main character Micaiah of Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn uses light magic. However, both these characters (as well as axe user Hector from Blazing Sword, who isn't the main character, but comes close) share the limelight with other characters who do primarily use swords.
    • Also, two temporary main characters from Radiant Dawn use lances.
      • And one of the three main characters in Part IV uses his talons, because he's the king of the hawk laguz.
    • Hector, of the lords in Blazing Sword (the main character if you choose his mode) uses axes. This is in contrast to the other two lords (each one being the main character at one point during the "normal" mode) who use swords. However, upon promotion, Hector also gains the ability to use swords.
    • Blazing Sword also discusses and attempts to defy it briefly: Sain insists early on that "the lance is more heroic. A knight should look heroic, don't you think?" and so refuses to use a sword against the axe-wielding bandits they're fighting. It doesn't last.
  • Most Nippon Ichi Turn-Based Strategy games avert this simply by the fact that they allow your characters to arm themselves with any weapon they like, although promotional images and videos may associate them with a certain weapon, and/or they start with a certain weapon. That said, three of the four protagonists from Disgaea start with, and have proficiency in, swords, but Adell from Disgaea 2 Cursed Memories fights with his fists. Prier from La Pucelle Tactics is nominally shown wielding a baton, but she's just as likely to kick evil in the junk as she is to bash it upside the head. Ash and Marona from Phantom Brave are often shown not using weapons at all, although Ash again often plays it straight like Laharl. Nippon Ichi's first heroine, Cornet from ~Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure~ uses her namesake (A trumpet-like musical instrument). Revya from Soul Nomad and The World Eaters, who has no choice in weapon selection, wields a great sword that's also an Artifact of Doom.
    • Also, said games, specifically the Disgaea series, may tailor the characters specifically to wield a certain weapon even though the player still has a choice in the matter. Laharl usually has a much higher sword mastery, although he is fairly good with other melee-type weapons.
  • In the Super Robot Wars series, the Original Generation characters technically use Humongous Mecha, but some of these mechs utilize swords as their main melee weapon, and some don't.
    • Cybuster - Sword
    • Granveil - Flaming Sword
    • Gaddeath - Trident
    • Zamzeed - Bare (metal) fists
    • Gespenst - Beam Sword
    • Huckebein - Beam Sword
    • Grungust - Sword and Rocket Punch
    • Alteisen - Stake Driver; Weissritter - Carries a Beam Sword but is more of a Gunner.
    • R-1/SRX - R-1 uses knives, SRX a sword.
    • Grungust Type 2 - Sword and Rocket Punch
    • Huckebein Mk II - Beam Sword and Killer Yoyo
    • Huckebein Mk III Boxer - Energized Fists
    • KoRyuOh/RyuKohOh - Tiger form started with no sword (nunchucks and a spear), while the Dragon had one. By Alpha 3, the Tiger got the sword, and the Dragon uses a staff and magic instead.
    • Angelg - Has a sword, but it's main weapon is a bow.
    • Laz Angriff - Has a scissor-knife, but mostly uses guns.
    • Soulgain - Bare (metal) Fists. More non-convenient blades are located below the shoulders
    • Vysaga - Katana
    • Aile Chevelaire/Geant Chevelaire - giant beam saber
    • Excellence series - Varies.
      • Striker - Head- and Foot-blades, Claw
      • Gunner - Knife
      • Diver - Harpoon
      • Flyer - Beam Sword
      • Cosmo-Diver - Elbow-blades
      • Lightning - Beam Sword
      • Eternal - Bladed tails with convenient handles
    • Wild Wurger - Has a sword, but it's signature weapon is a scissor-like crusher.
    • Thrudgilmir, Grungust Type 0, Grungust Type 3, Dygengard - Piloted by a man calling himself 'The Sword That Cleaves Evil'. Take a wild guess.
    • Dis Astranagant - Scythe
    • Dairaioh - Its legs
    • Hyperion - has a combat knife, but guns, missiles, and piloting maneuvers are its signature weapon
    • Valhawk, Valguard, Valzacard - Beam Swords, Bare Fists, Wielding another mecha as a sword (or bow) respectively.
    • Gunleon - Giant wrench
    • Balgora and its variants - closest we get is a large rifle that has a bayonet built into it
    • Revius and its variants - all include a sword except for the Solverius Regina which uses a staff
    • Haken Browning of Super Robot Wars OG Saga: Endless Frontier actually uses a gun/stake driver/folding blade. His *ahem* girlfriend uses a sword.
  • Julio, protagonist of Gungnir, starts out fighting with swords but progresses towards primarily using the game's eponymous spear. Mind you, he can still equip and use swords, but Gungnir is so heavy it's pretty hard to find one light enough for him to carry while he's got it on, and Gungnir is generally much more useful.
  • Fellow Sting game Blaze Union features lance-wielding horseman Garlot as its lead character. He switches to using scythes towards the very end of the canon route of the game.
  • Averted in Resonance of Fate marketed itself as a Steampunk flavoured game with lots of guns. The heroes weren't limited to guns, though. They can still fight with grenades or fists - just no swords for them.

Non-video game exceptions:

Anime and Manga


Comic Books

  • Averted hard in issue 4 of Jennifer Blood, in which the eponymous antihero easily dispatches three ninja assassins by shooting them. When questioning the leader of the ninja, she actually says how ridiculous it is to be using a katana in an age of automatic firearms. She then pretends to let the ninja leader go, but then decapitates her with her own katana as she (the ninja leader) turns to leave. She then says that she actually is impressed that the sword could take a person's head off with a single blow, but that it's still silly to use one in modern times.

Film

  • Han Solo believes that hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side. This helps establish him as The Lancer and Luke The Hero.
  • For the final duel between Brian de Bois-Guilbert and Wilfred of Ivanhoe in the 1952 movie adaptation, both are given their choice of weapon. Neither man chooses a sword for this fight; instead, Bois-Guilbert picks a morning star and Ivanhoe a battle axe (both of which are realistically better choices than a sword against a heavily armoured opponent).
  • The trope is played with, then discarded in A Knight's Tale. William starts out being more skilled with the sword than he is with a lance, and is champion of the sword in his first tournament. He never enters the sword ring again, officially because the prizes and prestige are better in the joust, and unofficially because he wants to beat Count Adhemar and impress Jocelyn.
  • Films taking place in Ancient Greece often correctly portray the hoplite preference for spears, using their shortswords only as a backup.
  • In The Crow, the main villain Top Dollar is a swordsman, while the hero Eric fights him off with a lightning rod. He does briefly use one of the villain's katanas during the big mook brawl, however.


Forum Role Play

Literature

  • Literary exception: In the The Dark Tower series by Stephen King, guns are the most respected weapons in the world, and gunslingers -- who once composed a knight-like class before their country's destruction -- are generally honoured far above normal men. However, this is at least partly because guns are so rare. Interestingly, the main character is a distant descendant of his world's version of King Arthur, and his guns were made using the melted-down metal of that world's Excalibur.
  • Averted with ancient Indian mythology, where the standard heroic weapon is the bow. In The Ramayana, both Rama (The Hero) and his brother Lakshmana (The Lancer) are archers. Ditto Arjuna of The Mahabharata (famous in the west for his role in The Bhagavad Gita).
  • Funnily Deconstructed and reconstructed in the Inheritance Cycle. The dragon riders have swords made of Thunderbolt Iron. They are way superior to any other weapons, so it makes sense to always use them. But the smith make a long lecture lampshading how stupid it is, always using the same sword. Even if you may have a favorite weapon, using the same regardless of the kind of battle is far from optimal.
  • Fitz, hero of parts of Robin Hobb's Realm of the Elderlings sequence, uses swords when he must but is only decent with them. He much prefers battleaxes, with which he is devastating.
  • In Harry Harrison's Deathworld 3, Jason states he can kill a man with a single strike of a knife, with a hand tied behind his back, no matter how the man is armed, even with a sword. Subverted, since Jason is aware he has little chance against a spear or a club. Fortunately, the referees take the bait, and arm the opponent with a sword.
  • The Night Lord Talos provides a potential subversion of an inversion the concept: although he and his legion are Villain Protagonists ten thousand years after their original Face Heel Turn, he himself is Noble Demon to the core, and wields a golden power sword stolen from the loyalist Blood Angels.
  • In the "Dunk and Egg" short stories of A Song of Ice and Fire, Dunk prefers axes and maces to his sword, apparently because his strength plays a bigger part in their use.
  • The Iliad portrays the heroes prefering their spears and resorting to their swords only as backup. Several heroes are better known for their archery than hand-to-hand fighting.


Live Action TV

Tabletop Games

  • Justified in In Nomine, where swords routinely outperform guns in combat, to where a blade-wielder with sufficient Strength and skill can be deadlier than an M-16. Angels and demons often prefer to pack a blade, especially if it can be a Flaming Sword. Some angels even have the ability to sheathe a sword in thin air until it's needed.


Toys

Web Comics

  • MAG ISA -- Eman and Claudita are the protagonists and they prefer these weapons.
  • In Homestuck, John Egbert wields hammers, if only because they were the first weapon he could find. (And due to the video-game like system the universe uses, it's difficult for him to change his Weapon of Choice once he chooses it.)
    • His vastly cooler friend Dave Strider, however, uses swords, starting out with a katana. But John's The Hero and Dave's The Lancer, so it's definitely an exception to the "main character uses swords" rule. Later it breaks in half, making this a full aversion for the heroes as Dave continues to use the half-sword.
    • Most of the other characters just take this trope and avert the hell out of it. In fact, the only major character to actually use a normal sword at this point is the Big Bad until he gets the power to basically blow planets up at will.
    • Vriska uses a sword in Ancestor Mode.
    • Bro, being Dave's older brother, uses a sword. As does his post-scratch self, Dirk. Of course, he's not the hero, but an Obi Wan.
  • Averted in Guilded Age. Byron uses two axes named after his adoptive fathers.
  • Fighter in Eight Bit Theater really likes swords.
    • In fact, it's pretty much all he ever talks about.
  • Parodied in College Saga. The Hero, college student Mark Leung, gets his sword from a dorm room.
  • Rosemary Ripley in The Mansion of E prefers to use a sword, since that's what she's been trained with (off and on) for much of her life.
  • In Order of the Stick Roy Greenhilt, the party leader uses a sword.


Western Animation

  • Subversion in Re Boot. During the show's RPG parody, Bob is not content to play as a thief and wants to take Mike's sword. Bob's hand passes right through the handle and he gets frustrated about being stuck in his role.

Real Life

  • This trope may stem from the fact that in ancient times, swords were seen as weapons almost exclusive to the nobility, knights and warrior kings. Poorer soldiers would use axes, bows, or spears, whatever was more useful at the moment. The reason that the sword came to be known as a weapon of nobles is because it's one of the only "archtypical" ancient weapons that is only useful for waging war. In times of peace, an ax is useful for chopping trees. A spear is useful for hunting, and so is a bow. Back then, when most people had to spend the vast majority of their time and effort merely gathering enough food to stay alive, only nobles were rich enough to consider buying a tool which is only useful during a war.
    • Paradoxally, sword is always the sidearm, never the primary weapon. Even knights used lances while mounted and poleaxes while on foot. The sword comes really on its own in confined spaces or when the melee breaks down into a confused mess of duels.
  • Sword was the primary knightly sidearm in the Medieval Europe. Not because only it is a weapon, but also its symbolism: hilt, quillons and blade form a cross.
  • At the Battle of Agincourt, Henry V used a sword to fight the French men-at-arms, despite the fact that a war-hammer or axe would have been more effective against their plate armour. His trope-invoking reason was that the sword was a more noble and heroic weapon.
  • Col. Jack Churchill fought in WWII with a sword and a Longbow. He even once said, "Any man who goes into battle without his sword is improperly dressed.". Once, using nothing but his broadsword, he took 42 German soldiers and a mortar crew hostage, all in the same night.
  • Bullfighters tend to use swords and spears, since guns would be (even more) unfair.
  • Samurai in their earlier stages were an exception. In warfare, samurai were mounted soldiers who relied just as much in bows and spears, using their swords only in the closest of combat. Only later, during relatively peaceful times, did samurai develop the reputation for being wandering swordsmen.
    • Japanese officers carried their swords into field in WWII. While the vast majority of them were crude Pattern 97 swords, which were little else than slabs of steel ground into shape, some carried katana or tachi which were centuries old heirlooms.
  • Even today, sword is the part of an officer's dress uniform in each and every military around the world.
    • Of course, it modern battlefield it is dead weight to carry it in anything BUT formal occasions.
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