Created By: wbromke on December 21, 2011 Last Edited By: ccoa on April 24, 2013

Anachronistic Swordsman

A character who wields a sword as their usual weapon, even in settings where swords are wouldn't be.

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Trope
In fiction, the swordsman is a standard trope, which is understandable. Afterall, Heroes Prefer Swords and Katanas Are Just Better. Unfortunately, in a modern or future setting, this would seem odd, as swordsmen would be heavily obsolete. Likewise in a setting in the distant past, before the advent of the sword.

That's where the Anachronistic Swordsman comes in.

The swordsman may be a regular guy in the modern world who just happens to fight with a sword, a sci fi vagrant with a high tech laser blade or a warrior of justice who fights evil warlocks with a magical sword. Basically, a swordsman in a setting where there shouldn't be swordsmen.

Subtrope of No Such Thing As A Deprecated Weapon (note: still in YKTTW) and Heroes Prefer Swords.
Community Feedback Replies: 45
  • December 21, 2011
    blueflame724
    What does it mean when "swords are useless"? Cowboy Bebop's Vicious comes to mind, but he's shown to be an effective opponent for Spike(who is a fairly competent gunslinger).
  • December 21, 2011
    Unknown Troper
    You mean like light sabres in Star Wars?

    Maybe Inverted. With blasters firing lazers all over, the Lightsabers, being made of lazer too, can deflect them.
  • December 21, 2011
    EzzyAlpha
    Needs A Better Description

    If I may...

    In fiction, the swordsman is a standard trope, which is understandable. Afterall, Heroes Prefer Swords and Katanas Are Just Better. Unfortunately, in a modern or future setting, this would seem odd, as swordsmen would be heavily obsolete.

    That's where the Anachronistic Swordsman comes in.

    The swordsman may be a regular guy in the modern world who just happens to fight with a sword, a sci fi vagrant with a high tech laser blade or a warrior of justice who fights evil warlocks with a magical sword. Basically, a swordsman in a setting where there shouldn't be swordsmen.
  • December 21, 2011
    VincentGaribaldi
    From the Manga and Anime Hyper Police: Sakunoshin is a 16th century samurai who gets thrown into a cyberpunk future mostly populated by Petting Zoo People. He adapts surprisingly well though.
  • December 21, 2011
    jatay3
    What if it is useful in a specific niche? For instance if the character is a professional duelist in a Space Opera society?
  • December 21, 2011
    dalek955
  • December 22, 2011
    Noaqiyeum
  • December 22, 2011
    BlackDragon
    The Very Reverent Reverend Theo Forbius from Schlock Mercenary has been known to break out his fencing-foil on occasion, despite being part of a heavily-armed mercenary band in a future where anti-matter powerplants, gravity-control propulsion and plasma-based weapons are everyday fare. His justification, such as it is, is that his faith has prevented him from extensively practicing with guns, while he studied fencing in college for the sport. In the close-quarters situations that the mercs often find themselves in, however, his foil has even been known to come in handy - on occasion.
  • December 22, 2011
    TonyG
    Samurai Jack. Justified in that he's a Fish Out Of Temporal Water.
  • December 22, 2011
    Lumpenprole
    ^And that he has a magic sword that can slice through almost anything.
  • December 22, 2011
    CurlyJeffers
    I think that this is pretty well covered by the Heroes Prefer Swords tropes.

    If it does get through though, then:
    • The Operative in Serenity wields a sword, though he mostly uses hand-to-hand combat.
  • December 22, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Marvel Comics: The Black Knight (the one who was a part of The Avengers) and his Evil Counterpart The Swordsman. Both use swords in the then-modern US. The Black Knight is a Legacy Character; his uncle the previous Black Knight was a bad guy.
  • December 22, 2011
    DAMartin
    He-Man can justify his use of a sword in Masters Of The Universe due to the medieval elements in the otherwise futuristic Eternia, but when he moves to the wholly Sci-fi planet Primus in The New Adventures Of He Man, he still keeps his sword among the Galactic Guardians and their futuristic weapons.
  • December 23, 2011
    RedneckRocker
    Would Gray Fox or Raiden from Metal Gear Solid count?
  • December 23, 2011
    Koveras
    • Genji from Black Lagoon fights with a katana in a modern day setting where everyone else uses guns. His reasons are probably something like old-blood yakuza honor but the real reasons are obvious.
    • Yajiro from Grenadier also fights with a katana in a Steam Punk setting that has almost completed a transition to universal firearms usage. His reasoning is more philosophical: he believes that people killing with guns don't feel the weight of the lives they take, while sword-wielders do all the way.
  • December 23, 2011
    randomsurfer
    How about Power Rangers? (The Mighty Morphin' ones anyway.) (And by extension the Super Sentai show it was made from.) Their Humongous Mecha regularly pulls out a sword to defeat the Villain Of The Week.
  • December 23, 2011
    TBTabby
    In Outlaw Star, Suzuka uses a wooden sword to great effect.
  • January 7, 2012
    arromdee
    I would change the laconic to say "even where swords are normally useless" because this type of character almost always uses the sword effectively.
  • January 7, 2012
    jbrecken
    The big tough bad guy with the scary scimitar in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" learns this lesson too late.
  • January 7, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Swords aren't 'useless' in most of these, it's just that we have guns now. A sword'll still kill you if someone pokes a hole in you. The only way they'd be useless is if they were used In A World where everybody had imprevious skin.
  • January 7, 2012
    reub2000
    You mean like Goemon from Lupin III? Or everyone from Kill Bill?
  • January 7, 2012
    jatay3
    Klingons in Deep Space Nine use Bat'lithes not just in dueling but in actual warfare. Mainly because it's cool.
  • January 7, 2012
    Rytex
    Final Fantasy VII. they've invented guns, and two characters even use guns to great effect. And yet, no one told Cloud, Sephiroth, Zack, Angeal, Genesis, and the entirety of SOLDIER. Then again, they are pretty badass with them.
  • January 7, 2012
    Ckuckoo
    Needs A Better Description, support Ezza Alpha's

    • Blade from the eponymous comic/film trilogy wields a sword against vampires in the modern day. This is somewhat odd as he also wields a variety of much more high-tech weapons. In the first movie, the anachronism is highlighted by the fact no-one seems to think it odd he walks around in a modern city street with a huge sword sheathed on his back.
  • January 7, 2012
    Amaryllis
    Richard Stallman wields Katanas in xkcd, as do RIAA/MPAA goons. One would think it would make more sense for them to use guns. Justified do to Rule Of Cool and Rule Of Drama though. Which are generally the reasons this trope is used.
  • January 7, 2012
    randomsurfer
    @reub2000: Dunno, not familiar with either work. (Ass/u/ming that your comment was directed at me.)
  • January 8, 2012
    NoirGrimoir

    I don't like Ezza Alpha's description. I submit this one:

    A sword isn't exactly a common or practical weapon in the modern day, but the Anacronistic Swordsman doesn't care, he uses one anyway. Reasons for this range from straight up Rule Of Cool or nostalgia purposes, to a sword being one of the best weapons to use against the type of enemies the character is up against (such a certain supernatural beings), or the sword itself is magic in some way and provides additional benefits to the user. Unless there's a justification better than "I thought it was cool," an Anachronistic Swordsman in a modern or futuristic setting can get eyerolls for being impractical, out of place, or be accused of being a Mary Sue or Escapist Character. Seeing a guy cutting in half robots however tends to be pretty convincing in it's own right, though.

    Compare Heroes Prefer Swords and Katanas Are Just Better. Subtrope of Master Swordsman.

  • January 8, 2012
    BlackMageJ
    In Space Usagi, Samurai still use swords, despite numerous high-tech weapons being available. In this case, it's because the future society is still heavily based on feudal Japan, and as such there's a great deal of ritual and tradition attached to swords. Plus, Katanas are stated as being the only weapons capable of being adapted to 'surge mode', which temporarily surrounds them with a lightsaber-esque energy field capable of doing massive damage.
  • January 8, 2012
    TiggersAreGreat
    Video Games

    • Septerra Core: Corgan and Selina use swords, even though most of the other characters use guns. One character named Dugan says that Corgan's people are an anachronism that he's been trying to eliminate for years. Ironically, sword-wielding characters seem to inflict more damage than gun-wielding characters!

    • Daikatana: Played with. Hiro can use the sword Daikatana to fight enemies, even though a number of them have guns. It helps in conserving ammunition at least! However, the final bosses in the game pretty much force you to use guns to win!
  • January 8, 2012
    reub2000
    Goemon is a samurai who joins Lupin III whos task is to cut up whatever needs to be cut up, usually with extreme swiftness and precision. As in blink, and he's cut of his enemy's cloths, or the barrel of their guns. Lupin III takes place mid to late 20th century.

    Kill Bill is a bunch of westerners swinging around Absurdly Sharp Blades.
  • January 9, 2012
    Arivne
    Anime and Manga
    • Hanaukyo Maid Tai. Chief Security maid Konoe Tsurugi has a sword as her only weapon even though firearms are in common use.
  • January 9, 2012
    Chabal2
    Nemo in the film version of the League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
  • January 9, 2012
    Maklodes
    Literature: Hiro Protagonist in Snow Crash.

    Would ceremonial swords like the mameluke swords worn by US marines or daisho carried by Imperial Japanese forces in the 1930s/1940s count?
  • January 9, 2012
    arromdee
    I'd think they only count if the character uses the sword when everyone else wouldn't.
  • January 10, 2012
    Cider
  • January 11, 2012
    Lumpenprole
    Suggest changing "useless" to "obsolete" in the laconic.
  • January 12, 2012
    Hadashi
    Laconic doesn't matter enough to bother changing, but it is true that swords aren't useless. A modern soldier carries a bayonet for this very reason. Swords don't run out of ammo (as the saying goes).

    Film

  • June 22, 2012
    ccoa
    This looks abandoned, so I'm going to pick it up.

    As discussed in the TRS for Heroes Prefer Swords, this is one of the splits we'll be doing.
  • June 22, 2012
    lu127
    Alright, I've got the Swords Are Heroic one.
  • April 22, 2013
    Eaglelander
    Might as well call Metal Gear Rising "Anachronistic Swordsman: The game!" Despite taking place Twenty Minutes Into The Future, all the major characters prefer swords or similar bladed weapons. Most mooks still carry assault rifles but even they are equipped with machetes that they actually make MORE use of. Justified by a combination of asymmetric warfare, close urban combat environments, and the proliferation of carbon-nano-tubing cyborg technology. With most conventional weapons made vastly less effective against a sufficiently enhanced cyborg, weaponry mostly comes down to whatever the person in question is most comfortable with.
  • April 23, 2013
    Surenity
    Michonne of The Walking Dead uses a katana during a Zombie Apocalypse, which actually is quite effective since it doesn't require ammo.
  • April 23, 2013
    Lumpenprole
    Michael Carpenter and the other Knights of the Cross in the Dresden Files stories. Granted, their swords are used almost entirely for their holy properties against supernatural enemies.

  • April 24, 2013
    Eaglelander
    By The Sword starring Eric Roberts and F. Murray Abraham revolves entirely around this trope. Villard treats his fencing school the same way a master of the renaissance would; a way to show the world how good he is through his students. As well as practices with his deceased father's rapier. His nemesis Suba, who just got out of prison for killing Villard's aforementioned father is similar. How did Suba kill the man? In an actual duel with real weapons. Both main characters definitely feel like they were both Born In The Wrong Century.
  • April 24, 2013
    GilvaLepista
    Most of the characters in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles use traditional Japanese-style weapons despite the presence of both laser guns and real guns in their world.
  • April 24, 2013
    unluckykillerchibi
    Kind of a major part of the Gintama storyline - after the Amato invaded Japan, traditional weapons like Katanas were made illegal - so Gin uses a wooden sword while everyone else uses [[Gunslinger guns]], umbrellas, barrels, Bazookas, bombs, and Demon lords

    It's also a pretty common occurrence in Fish Out Of Water / Fish Out Of Temporal Water Plotlines.

    Kirito in Sword Art Online during the Phantom Bullet Arc uses a sword even though the GGO (Gun Gale Online) world leans more heavily towards using guns, Not that that stops him too much

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

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