Created By: donaithnen on September 15, 2012 Last Edited By: Koveras on January 30, 2013
Troped

Throw The Sheath Away

A symbolic action to demonstrate one's resolve to fight.

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Trope
He's probably better off without it.

Before a decisive battle, the character tosses away their weapon's (usually a sword) sheath to demonstrate that he will not back down from the fight. A darker implication of this gesture is that the character realizes that his chances to survive are slim and he won't have a chance to sheathe his weapon ever again.

Aside from the symbolic meaning, putting away your sheath has a purely practical rationale: the sheath usually gets in way when fighting, and the enemy can grab it to restrict your movement. Contrast Sheath Strike, however.

As mentioned, this works best with bladed weapons, since more modern ones, like firearms, lack an exact analog to a sheath. Throwing away a holster just doesn't look as dramatic.

Examples:

Film

Literature
  • On Gor, a Warrior carries his sword in a baldrick. While on the march it's slung over the right shoulder (assuming the Warrior is right handed) with the sword on the left hip, to give some security; but when preparing for battle it's slung over the left shoulder so it can be quickly discarded.
  • Not a literal example, but in The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (both the book and the movie), Aragorn unsheathes Narsil on the last ride to Mordor and vows that it shall not be sheathed again until the fight be over.

Music
  • From the Scottish folk song "Gallant Murray":
"His good sword he now has drawn it,
And he's flung the sheath away"

Video Games

Real Life
  • John Singleton Copley invoked this trope when talking about the American Revolution: "When the sword of rebellion is drawn, the sheath should be thrown away."
  • At the start of his (fatal) duel with Miyamoto Musashi, in a rage over Musashi's late arrival, Sasaki Kojirō supposedly drew his katana and threw the sheath away, possibly into the ocean. Musashi turned this around by observing that Kojirō must not be planning to win, because otherwise he would need the sheath when the fight was over.

Will go under Weapons and Wielding Tropes and Body Language.
Community Feedback Replies: 21
  • September 15, 2012
    TBTabby
    In Asura's Wrath, Augus throws away his sheath when he draws Wailing Dark midway though his fight with Asura.
  • September 16, 2012
    Koveras

    The frame around 0:44 could be used as a page image, perhaps?
  • September 16, 2012
    randomsurfer
    A sheath also gets in the damn way while fighting, and the enemy can grab it to restrict your movement.

    • On Gor a Warrior carries his sword in a baldrick. While on the march it's slung over the right shoulder (assuming the warrior is right handed) with the sword on the left hip, to give some security; but when preparing for battle it's slung over the left shoulder so it can be quickly discarded.
  • September 18, 2012
    TBeholder
    • Defied in The Silver Spike -- an Old Soldier doesn't follow with this when an excitable Nightstalker sergeant chose him for a "demonstration":
      He backed off, took a spear from one of the grays, removed the headguard, threw it aside. "Give him a spear." [...] I took the guard off the spear somebody handed me. I didn't throw the guard away. That bastard was serious. I wasn't going to play around and I wasn't going to give up a trick.
  • September 18, 2012
    Goldfritha
    A page quote:
    The time for war has not yet come, but it will come, and that soon; and when it does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard.
    --Stonewall Jackson
  • October 11, 2012
    Koveras
  • October 11, 2012
    AP
    Film:

  • October 11, 2012
    Chabal2
    Final Fantasy X: Yojimbo's awesome-as-hell Zanbato move has him slowly draw his sword, dramatically throwing away the sheath.
  • January 26, 2013
    Koveras
    I have updated the write-up and the examples list.

    @TBeholder: I didn't add your example because I couldn't figure out which part of it fits this from your description and the quote.

    @Goldfritha: That quote does, indeed, describe this trope, but so does the one from "Gallant Murray" and John Singleton Copley's from the OP's write-up. I have trouble picking one from among them...
  • January 26, 2013
    KZN02
    Contrast Sheath Strike?
  • January 26, 2013
    MiinU

    Video games

    • Tales of Vesperia: Yuri Lowell, typically does this at the start of every battle, by flinging the sheath across the screen, one handed, as he readies his blade.
  • January 27, 2013
    Koveras
    This is my next launch target. Please tell me how I can improve this YKTTW further or give me hats so I can launch it already. :D

    Personally, I think it's good for launch already: the tropability is established, there are enough examples, the title and laconic are clear, and there is even an image.
  • January 27, 2013
    AgProv
    Lord of the Rings, Return of the King, book and film: Aragorn, on the last ride to Mordor, unsheathes Narsil and vows it shall not be resheathed till the fight be over.
  • January 28, 2013
    Koveras
    Just one more hat and this one's going into space...
  • January 29, 2013
    GeminiSparkSP
    Compare to Lets Get Dangerous.
  • January 29, 2013
    Koveras
    ^ I don't quite see how it is directly related. I mean both precede major ass-kicking, but this one is about demonstrating resolve, while LGD is about the character suddenly turning into competent fighter.
  • January 29, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Is it me, or does that picutre not really show anything? All I see is a black square with a dotted streak of yellow towards the bottom. I can't see it well enough to know what I'm supposed to see.
  • January 29, 2013
    Koveras
    ^ Yes, I experienced that problem with some monitors. The contrast of that image makes is hard to discern on some displays. But my photoshop fu is weak... Ideas?

    For the record, the image comes from this trailer.
  • January 30, 2013
    Arivne
    Would the scene in Predator where the title creature takes off its Shoulder Cannon and face mask before fighting Dutch hand-to-hand count?
  • January 30, 2013
    Koveras
    I am not sure, I've never seen that movie in full. It does sound like a different trope, though, where two characters decide to discard their weapons and go at each other with Good Old Fisticuffs... which we don't seem to have at the moment, somehow.
  • January 30, 2013
    Koveras
    While I was making the YKTTW for the trope mentioned in the previous comment, I was given the fifth hat. I'd like to launch this one but I still haven't received feedback on the image contrast...
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