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A character falls in battle, and is buried by his comrades (or his enemies, if they consider him worthy). But for whatever reason, the grave isn't marked with a traditional tombstone, but rather with the slain character's weapon. Maybe circumstances didn't allow a regular marker, maybe it's just traditional (for the slain or the ones burying him), or maybe someone thought it would just be a poignant gesture.
Can be done with any type of weapon, although something with a blade will obviously be easier to stick into the ground. Regardless, this is almost always done in a way that the weapon is oriented vertically, rather than just laying on top of the grave.
This has been done sometimes in Real Life, with the most iconic modern example being a rifle with the boots placed near it and the helmet on top, but usually only as a temporary measure to serve as a grave marker for soldiers that were killed in the field and had to be buried close to the front lines; permanent headstones were brought in later, or the bodies moved, so the weapons wouldn't be wasted. Fictional characters often seem less concerned about losing weapons to permanent graves, for some reason.
Weapon Tombstones are often removed by the fallen's descendants or successors for actual use at a later date, especially if they're Ancestral Weapons or otherwise unique.
Anime and Manga
- The Band of the Hawk from Berserk are memorialized with an entire Field of Blades, each one forged by Rickert, the only member of the Hawks who wasn't there when the Eclipse went down. It is on this field that Guts comes face-to-face with the reincarnated Griffith for the first time.
- The eponymous warriors in Claymore have a tradition of using the swords of their fallen comrades for this. Any large burial ground will thus naturally be a Field of Blades.
- Undine uses a fallen friend's sword as her main hand weapon with her own in the other hand. She gets called out for not adhering to this trope during the last battle of the anime. Her response? "The dead don't need 'em!"
- The seven Claymore warriors who survived the War in the North but faked their death kept their swords. The absence of the weapons among the 17 swords of those actually dead clues in other characters that they're still alive.
- When Galaxy Express 999 stops at a planet where slaves are forced to fight for the amusement of tourists, Tetsuro is taken to an extensive graveyard with every grave marked by a rifle.
- Kamina's katana is planted above his grave in Gurren Lagann. His Badass Cape is tied around the hilt for good measure. More swords are planted alongside Kamina's in the series finale for the members of Team Dai-Gurren who had died by that point, along with Nia's Wedding Ring.
- Alexander Anderson in Hellsing gets a Weapon Tombstone -- technically a Field of Blades, but every weapon is his -- made from his bayonets.
- In Inuyasha, Mukotsu and Kyokotsu of the Band of Seven are briefly seen buried with their respective weapons.
- In Kekkaishi, Genta's weapons were used as his gravestone.
- Naruto: Team 7 plants Zabuza's weapon, the Executioner's Blade, in the ground above where he's buried. Later, Sasuke and Suigetsu go back to retrieve it.
- After the Marinford battle in One Piece, the graves of Ace and Whitebeard were marked with their personal effects, including a dagger and a hat for Ace and the trademark flag, Badass Longcoat, and bisento for Whitebeard. A number of other swords were planted in the ground surrounding the graves, too.
- Record of Lodoss War: Ghim's axe marks his grave.
- In Samurai 7 the graves of the samurai who died defending the village are marked with their katana.
- After Jigoro kills the last six King's Spears while protecting Balsa in the Flash Back arc of Seirei no Moribito, he uses their namesake weapons as tombstones.
- Inverted early in Soul Eater where a zombie actually uses his tombstone as a weapon.
- In Trigun, Vash uses Wolfwood's cross punisher as his gravestone. Considering its shape, it's very fitting.
- In the Comet Empire arc of Uchuu Senkan Yamato, Saito's men had their graves marked this way. When the Yamato swung back by the planet on the return journey he stops off for a memorial service (which is interrupted).
- Garth Ennis' The Boys has a variation on this in a Vietnam War flashback. After wiping out American troops armed with a crappy new rifle supplied by Vought-American, the VC leave the dead GI's weapons stuck in the ground with their helmets on top. However, the helmets aren't empty....
- In Hitman, Tommy gives ex-Para Bob a tombstone consisting of his gun, and a scrap of wood with "God is airborne" written on it.
- In the Sgt. Rock comics, the graves of fallen members of Easy Company were usually marked with their rifle and helmet. One of these was even the cover of the Between Hell and a Hard Place GN.
- In Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Cloud uses his Buster Sword, which had previously belonged to Zack, as Zack's tombstone, or at least to mark the spot where he died protecting Cloud outside Midgar. In AC Complete, he has a change of heart, cleans the sword, and hangs it in the remains of the Sector 5 slums church, where he (and Zack) met Aerith.
- In Highlander, Heather's grave was marked by her husband's claymore. Slightly unusual (though no less effective) for the trope, as she wasn't a warrior herself. This may have symbolized that "Connor MacCleod" died there too, as he casts off his previous life with her.
- In King Arthur the warriors stuck their blades in to act as tombstones; this is where Arthur get Excalibur.
- Mulan: When the commander--who also happens to be Shang's father--dies, Shang buries him. In the absence of anything else that hasn't been burned or destroyed, he marks the grave with his father's helmet, placed on his own sword.
- Saving Private Ryan : After the paratroopers killed near the radar station are buried, Capt. Miller marks their graves with their helmets and M1 rifles. He removes the trigger assemblies from the weapons so they can't be used by the Germans.
- In Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai the four samurai who died are remembered this way. Possibly an Ur Example for film and katana examples in particular. The peasants who died in the fight have spears stuck in theirs.
- The Hobbit. When Thorin Oakenshield was buried under the Mountain, the Elvenking laid Thorin's sword Orcrist on his tomb.
- Sabriel places one very early on in the first volume of The Old Kingdom, for some soldiers killed by a Mordicant. She realizes too late that magically cremating the bodies destroyed the dog tags, though.
- When Milton Caniff, creator of Steve Canyon, died, the last Steve Canyon strip to run was a tribute including a panel by Bill Mauldin. This showed Mauldin's World War II soldier Willie sticking a rifle-sized pen into the ground while Steve, in flight suit, set a pilot's helmet atop the pen. (The rest of the tribute was the signatures of twenty or thirty other cartoonists.)
- Dario's grave in Chrono Cross is marked with his sword, the Einlanzer. Party member Glenn can retrieve the sword after some Character Development and use it as his main weapon. Given that Chrono Cross deals with an Alternate Universe, that this is actually the SECOND Einlanzer for him to gain, leading to Dual-Wielding two identical legendary weapons..
- In Final Fantasy VII: Before Crisis, Zack uses crossed swords to mark the grave of his fallen buddies Essai and Sebastian. The crossed swords and grave show up again in Crisis Core as one of the DMW memories with Tseng. As noted in the Advent Children example above, his sword was later used in the same way.
- Final Fantasy X subverted this trope: the unattended weapons may give the wrong impression, when combined with the opening piano and somber narration.
- In Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance Greil, Ike's father, is killed by the Black Knight and his axe Urvan is left at his grave. Later in Radiant Dawn the weapon is retrieved and becomes the game's Infinity Plus One Axe.
- God of War: Ghost Of Sparta: The Arms of Sparta become Deimos's tombstone.
- Near the end of Grandia II Mareg's grave is marked by one of his battle axes. Oddly enough Mareg's body isn't under the weapon and it wasn't the weapon he was using at the time.
- The live-action trailer for Halo 3: ODST features the 'Helmet, boots, rifle' field burial with the equipment updated appropriately.
- In Kingdom Hearts II, there is a room in The World That Never Was that houses graves with pictures of the weapons that each Organization member used.
- The Keyblade Graveyard in Birth By Sleep. Rows upon rows of Keyblades, magical and ethereal weapons, all stuck haphazardly into the ground as makeshift tombstones for the thousands of Keyblade bearers that died in the aptly-named Keyblade War.
- A variation occurs in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, where Link constructs a grave for Mikau out of his guitar, or his "axe," as it were.
- Lunar: Silver Star Story: Dyne's Monument has his sword stuck in it. Eventually, Alex pulls it out and uses it to become the Dragonmaster once again.
- Almost done in Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater: The Boss gets an unmarked grave and Snake places her signature "Patriot" machine gun against her headstone. As of Guns of the Patriots, it's still there.
- Bunny Kill 4 ends with Snowball marking Ruby's grave with the double-bladed staff that she used as her primary weapon.
- In Girl Genius Agatha Clay's grave got a pile of stones, some remnants of a mechanic monstrosity and death ray stuck in.