The Sword of Damocles YKTTW Discussion

The Sword of Damocles
(permanent link) added: 2010-11-26 18:03:42 sponsor: wanderlustwarrior (last reply: 2010-12-02 12:20:56)

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I suggested this a year ago, but let it die, despite having good examples. Anyone remember any?

A weapon used as a deterrent, to sway people into acting in a certain manner. This comes from the second moral of the original story of The Sword Of Damocles, where "The value of the sword is not that it fall, but rather, that it hangs."

More often than not, the weapon is intended to have some type of height advantage, to more explicitly invoke this image. This can include launchable weapons that once off the ground serve that purpose.

The Kill Sat may easily be an example of this. The Weapon for Intimidation is a somewhat related, smaller scale version.


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
  • There is an airship base in Code Geass, named The Damocles, that serves this explicit purpose.
  • The power of Kira in Death Note, to instantly kill evil or unethical people, has limiting the world to good, obedient people as its intended consequence.

  • In Like Flint. Colonel Carter schemes to load a space station with nuclear bombs instead of a weather laboratory (under the code name Project Damocles) and launch it into orbit around Earth.
  • One of the songs in The Rocky Horror Picture Show is titled "The Sword Of Damocles". In said song, Rocky sings about how he's just been born and how he can already fear that something is about to go terribly wrong.
    Rocky: (Singing) The Sword Of Damocles is hanging over my head. And, I've got the feeling someone's gonna be cuttin' the thread.
  • Star Wars. The Death Star's laser is intended to be this. However, since it's large, noticeable and slow, it's not the most effective technique. The Stormtrooper occupying army is generally more effective.
  • In Austin Powers: Goldmember, this is the intended effect of Preparation H.

  • Robert A. Heinlein's Between Planets. The Circum-Terra space station has hundreds of nuclear missiles, enough to destroy any military force that threatened Federation control of Earth.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
  • Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Assignment Earth". The U.S. is about to launch an orbital nuclear warhead platform. Gary Seven's mission is to make it malfunction to scare other nations into not using them.

  • The Older Than Dirt trope namer, of course
  • Santa Claus. Or at least, his coal. He knows when you're sleeping. He knows when you're awake. He knows when you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake.

[[folder:Tabletop RPG]]
  • Dungeons & Dragons. The Forgotten Realms spell Blade of Doom causes a sword-like blade of force to come into existence over the target creature. When the target performs a specific act the blade drops onto the target, damaging it.

[[folder:Video Games]]
  • In Sonic Adventure 2, the Eclipse Cannon was intended to serve as this. This is why it was only fired as an example. No point in Dr. Eggman ruling an empty planet, is there?

[[folder:Western Animation]]
  • A bit of Viewers Are Geniuses in Justice League: Project Cadmus employs "Damocles Class Missiles", which were used to fire directly into the space based Watchtower of the League to preemptively start a war between superhumans. The use of them is explicitly because Cadmus could not trust the league to continue to protect the people of the world.
    • In a different episode, Vandal Savage attempted to use a space based rail gun to aid his world domination.

No Launching, please.
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