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->'''Jame:''' I don't like knives!\\
'''Dally:''' Well, you've got to learn how to use one anyway, unless you want every flash-blade in town picking on you. You can't take them all on bare-handed… \\
''[Jame tackles him bare-handed, disarms him, and pins him with his arm over his head.]''\\
'''Dally:''' …then again, maybe you can.
-->-- ''Literature/ChroniclesOfTheKencyrath''
%% One quote is sufficient. Please place additional entries on the quotes tab.

[[KnifeNut Knives are scary.]] A single glimmer from its profile has been known to launch a thousand screams of horror. They're eminently deadly and dangerously easy to use. In RealLife, pulling one in a fistfight is pretty much a GameBreaker.

Not in fiction, though, where they tend to be [[InverseLawOfUtilityAndLethality utter liabilities]] in a fistfight. In a WireFu movie, you should [[TitleDrop never bring a knife to a fistfight]], because fisticuffs is king. Knives, guns, and any weapon that would give the wielder an advantage in a fight, ''especially'' if they're blood-spilling and are used against an unarmed opponent, have the reverse effect. They make it likelier that they'll never land a hit (ClothingDamage or [[PaperCutting minor cuts across the cheek or torso]] notwithstanding), and eventually get [[BlastingItOutOfTheirHands disarmed]] or forced to [[ThrowAwayGuns throw away their weapon.]]

In a good old-fashioned {{western}}, any bounder who pulled a knife in a fistfight would get involved in a down-and-dirty rassle on the ground, then [[HoistByHisOwnPetard fall (or roll over) on his own blade]]. A descendant general rule of Hollywood remains that the first person to pull a knife almost always loses.

Much like all products of the InverseLawOfUtilityAndLethality, this applies equally to {{Heroes}} and {{Villain}}s, though villains are usually likelier to [[GunsAreWorthless pack heat]] or hidden knives. If someone ''does'' get stabbed, shot, skewered, or otherwise hit with the blood-spilling weapon, it was OnlyAFleshWound (though [[HealingFactor regenerators]] are [[ImmortalLifeIsCheap exempt]]). Often goes hand in hand with finding out that just like weapons, ArmorIsUseless. One way to exploit this trope is to make an immobilizing KnifeOutline, as the likelihood of fatally skewering someone [[CouldHaveBeenMessy becomes zero]].

Oddly enough, a dramatic death where someone gets skewered or shot aren't subversions, since they rely on the unlikelihood of such weapons actually killing for their dramatic punch; plus, the person shot usually lasts long enough to deliver an inspiring FinalSpeech and turn out to be NotQuiteDead afterwards. ''[[AnyoneCanDie Instantly fatal]]'' stabbings or headshots ''are'' subversions, though.

Note: This [[WhatMeasureIsANonHuman only applies to humans]]. In SpeculativeFiction, you can skewer and dismember as many golems, undead, MechaMooks or whatnot to your heart's desire.

A common variant of this trope is the inversion of the original saying 'NeverBringAKnifeToAGunFight': Fictional characters armed with guns will, more often than not, lose to opponents armed with knives. If the opponent is armed with a sword or other more fancy melee weapon, the gunman's doomed. This case is similar to GunsAreWorthless, except that there isn't necessarily a reason why the guns are weak. The opponent isn't ImmuneToBullets, he just gets PlotArmor to ensure the gunman never gets a good shot before being impaled, much like the knifewielder won't get a good hit in while the fistfighter beats him to a pulp. Since both weapons are lethal, this version is driven more by a simple RuleOfCool instead of the InverseLawOfUtilityAndLethality.

See also: GunsAreWorthless, ArmorIsUseless, BareFistedMonk, HeroesFightBarehanded, KnifeOutline, CouldHaveBeenMessy, and OnlyAFleshWound.

A SubTrope of the InverseLawOfUtilityAndLethality. Works where this is in play are anathema to the KnifeNut. Similar to RockBeatsLaser. Contrast NeverBringAKnifeToAGunFight. Compare NeverBringAGunToAKnifeFight.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* In ''Manga/FistOfTheNorthStar'', Kenshiro can easily disarm weapon wielding [[{{Mook}} Mooks]] effortlessly, be it knives, or [[GunsAreWorthless guns]], and he lets them [[HoistByHisOwnPetard taste what they brought]]. There is only one outcome if you decided to [[DirtyCoward play dirty]] and [[TooDumbToLive pick a fight with Kenshiro]] with a weapon: YouAreAlreadyDead.
* In ''Manga/SamuraiHaremAsuNoYoichi'', when Yoichi has an early fight with Washizu, it starts out as a fist fight, which the former enjoys despite getting hit rather hard. Then Washizu pulls out a weapon (in the manga, a knife. In the anime, a [[FamilyFriendlyFirearms ridiculously oversized pair of boxing gloves resembling a spiked mace]]). In both versions, Yoichi destroys the weapon and berates Washizu for relying on those things instead of his own strength, and promptly [[CurbStompBattle beats him in one blow.]]
* In ''Manga/OutlawStar'', resident [[ActionGirl ass-kickers]] Suzuka and Aisha seem to regularly wipe out rooms of gun-wielding foes with nothing more than a [[NerfArm wooden sword]] and bare hands, respectively.
** Aisha, at least, has the excuse of being a naturally bulletproof catgirl berserker. Suzuka, however, can do this despite being human because of her CharlesAtlasSuperpower and ImplausibleFencingPowers.
* ''Manga/OnePiece'' has some fights when fist fighters defeat weapon users and viseversa. Zoro and Sanji constantly fight each other, but both of their skills and strengths are so equal that the fight quickly ends in a draw.
* Most of the fights the protagonist of ''Manga/VinlandSaga'' loses are to unarmed opponents. Likewise his father was a master at this trope when fighting a horde of mooks, beating them all without drawing his sword.
* Something like this was used in the first episode of ''Anime/TransformersVictory''. Fist, Star Saber defeats two gun-wielding Decepticons using only a sword. Later, when the Dinoforce fights the Brainmasters, Goryu criticises one of his underlings for using a gun; said underling immediately switches to an [[AxeToGrind axe]].
* In ''Manga/RanmaOneHalf'', every martial artist is skilled with [[ImprobableWeaponUser numerous weapon styles]], even those that fight barehanded. So, nobody berates the dedicated bladed-weapon users (Kodachi, Kuno, Mousse, Mint) for their choice... but their weapons never strike home anyway. Most JustForFun/{{egregious}} of all is Mousse, whose typical assault consists of tossing various weapons (some blunt, but mostly piercing and slashing ones) from his sleeves and ''[[InstantKnots tie up his opponent in the ropes attached to them]]'', instead of actually skewering anyone. But let him have a morningstar, a club, or even his own hands and feet, and he'll tear into a foe like it's nobody's business.
* Subverted in ''Anime/FullMetalPanicFumoffu'', when Sousuke is challenged to a duel by the karate club. Nobody thinks to tell him that things like guns, tear gas, and hand grenades aren't permitted. HilarityEnsues
* Used in ''Manga/ThoseWhoHuntElves'' to show how serious the dark elf queen is. When squaring off against Junpei, she ''throws away her sword'' because it would just slow her down.
* In ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'', Ku Fei manages to defeat a number of armed opponents using only her martial arts skills.
* ''LightNovel/{{Baccano}}'', as quoted above. Firo doesn't even have to mess up his [[NiceHat nifty new fedora]] while handing the knifer his ass.
** Ironic, considering Firo later uses a knife to disarm (literally) and defeat the BigBad.
** {{Justified|Trope}} because the knife cuts off some fingers... which immediately reattached due to Firo's HealingFactor. The thug is too stunned to do any more damage after that.
** While the anime glosses it over, the Martillo Family are actually all expert knife fighters, which they view as more honorable combat then using guns (circumstances allowing), and all the capos must display a high level of proficiency at knife fighting in order to be promoted to an officer position (including knowing how to avoid knife based attacks). Firo happens to be one of the best out of the bunch, having been trained by Yagulma (who also taught him several martial arts), Ronnie and Maiza. Firo just tells Dallas he shouldn't pull a knife in a fist-fight unless he's seriously willing to suffer the consequences.
* A full chapter in ''Manga/{{Holyland}}'' (16, if you want to fast-forward) is devoted to [[ShownTheirWork demonstrating how to disarm a knife-user in a street fight]]. The narration also states that it only works here because the knife-user was an amateur and the unarmed warrior was an ex-professional kickboxer and karate black belt.
** What it amounts to is basically what was described in ''Series/BurnNotice'' quote below - Izawa grabs the punk's knife arm and beats him senseless. Though the narrator also notes that, unlike what some self-defence books say, one should focus on hitting the enemy rather than obsess over wrestling the knife away. Chapter 34 also notes that opponents might steal weapons away from an inexperienced user and turn them against him.
** Later in the series, Izawa attempts to defeat a [[WoodenKatanasAreEvenBetter kendo user]] bare-handed, by using a pair of brass knuckles to block the sword before going for a surprise AlphaStrike. [[spoiler:It fails due to a GameBreakingInjury, and with the element of surprise lost he is defeated. Yuu takes up the fight and eventually manages to force a win.]]
* In ''Manga/DetectiveConan'':
** In one of the murder cases, it turns out the victim was actually [[MuggingTheMonster attempting to assault the "culprit"]] with a knife. Said intended victim was actually a master of Brazilian Jiujutsu and reflexively reversed the attack. In other cases, threatening Ran Mouri/Rachel Moore with a weapon is a bit of a gamble depending on whether or not she remembers her black belt in karate.
** Also, in the museum case, the victim was literally ''pinned'' to the wall with a sword.
** In ''Anime/LupinIIIVsDetectiveConan'', bumbling detective Kogoro Mouri is charged by a failed assassin with a knife- his response is to snort dismissively, tuck his hankie into a chest pocket, and then effortlessly judo throw the assailant to the ground.
* An example of this trope happens early in ''Manga/KenichiTheMightiestDisciple''. A minor Ragnarok thug assaults Kenichi with a knife and he freaks out because bladed weapons are naturally intimidating. To help him overcome his fear, the masters have [[LadyOfWar Shigure]] train him in armed combat... that is to say, she spends the whole day assaulting him with everything from rolled-up newspapers and spoons to actual weapons. Later Kenichi encounters the same thug, who draws the knife again... but Kenichi just laughs creepily and asks "What's that puny thing" and blames the thug for putting him through today's TrainingFromHell. Cue beatdown. That all said, the series does tend to treat a person carrying a bladed weapon as more dangerous than one who is not, and only martial artists of superior skill are able to take on an armed enemy while unarmed themselves.
* Subverted in ''Manga/DragonBallZ'' when Future Trunks shows up wielding a sword and effortlessly destroys Frieza and King Cold, as previously weapons proved rather useless in the series. Later played straight when Trunks gets beaten up and his sword broken by the androids.
** Using a weapon in the ''Manga/DragonBall'' franchise as a whole doesn't make much of a difference, as the winner of a fight will usually be whoever has the highest power level rather than who is most skilled, faster, and/or experienced. Pretty much the only character whose fighting strength relies on a weapon is Yajirobe, and even then he's implied to be pretty tough on his own.
** A [[ExactlyWhatitSaysOnTheTin direct]] example of this trope is in Goku's 3rd Tenkaichi Tournament, during the fight between [[spoiler:Cyborg Tao]] and Tien. When [[spoiler:Tao]] realises he's [[CurbStompBattle getting his ass handed to him]], he pulls a super-sharp knife. [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome Which Tien promptly snaps.]]
* ''Manga/RurouniKenshin'': In Sanosuke's debut, he fights a large drunk who strikes him with a hidden knife. But as a testament to Sano's MadeOfIron nature, not only does the knife fail to injure Sanosuke, the drunk's arm breaks.
* In ''{{LightNovel/Durarara}}'', several people hold a knife against Shizuo Heiwajima. This includes [[ManipulativeBastard Izaya]], Seiji and an army of possessed people. The latter two manage to cut him quite a bit. This is all pretty much irrelevant when he starts fighting. It's not that they lost because they brought knives. They lost because they're trying to fight ''Shizuo Heiwajima.''
* At the end of the first season of ''LightNovel/SwordArtOnline'', [[spoiler: Sugou Nobuyuki fights Kirito outside of the hospital where Asuna just woke up from using a combat knife. Kirito easily defeats him using his skills from the video games, and he is later arrested.]]

* Depending on if he's fighting FacelessGoons or recurring villains, {{Wolverine}} can go from messily skewering everything that moves to barely managing to nick the bad guy's costume.
** Particularly bad in the cartoons, because unless he's fighting a robot his entire battle strategy has to revolve around body checks.
* Franchise/{{Batman}} uses this a lot, since he often faces thugs armed with knives, but one particularly obvious example is the fight at the end of ''[[WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries Mad Love]]'', when a very enraged Joker attacks Batman, and seems to be giving him more trouble in a fistfight than he usually does... until he pulls out a knife, and Batman instantly knocks him off the train.
** It's then averted in their [[spoiler: final]] battle in ''Return of the Joker''. The Joker actually manages to stab Batman in the leg; an injury that apparently (along with old age) forced Bruce Wayne to use a cane later in life.
*** In Batman's defense, he probably spent a very long time researching ways to take down armed opponents, since after his ContinuityReboot he's been solidly against any sort of lethal weaponry. When you're aware that you'll be spending the next few decades of your life using your bare hands against knives, guns, and lunatic clowns armed with either or both, you try your best to be ready for such.
** He uses this so much that it's made into a gameplay mechanic in ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamCity'': once you unlock Knife Counter Takedown, you can instantly defeat any mook that attacks you with one once you figure out the timing for it, including the armored ones.
* Subverted in ''ComicBook/SinisterDexter'' when a crime lord brings a nuclear warhead to a meeting, knowing it will end in a gunfight.
* The ''ComicBook/SinCity'' one-shot ''Family Values'' showed Miho beating down a knife-wielding mob enforcer with kicks and flips. When she gets bored, she does eventually [[spoiler: slice his throat with a shuriken and kick his head off]].
* Often played straight in ''ComicBook/TexWiller'', as whenever Tex is engaged in a knife duel he has the habit of disarming his opponent, throw away his own knife (ostensibly to keep the duel fair), and then beat him senseless with his bare fists, or, if he feels the enemy needs to be humiliated, throw away his own knife ''first'' and then beat his opponent senseless without bothering to disarm him. Indeed, the times Tex actually kills someone in a knife fight are extremely rare.
** {{Averted}} when it comes to guns, as they're consistently shown superior to the bare fist and meelee weapons. Indeed, the only times someone armed with a gun gets taken down by knife-wielding or unarmed opponents it's when he's either ambushed at short range or [[ZergRush overwhelmed by sheer numbers]], and even then he's likely to kill at least one of his opponents.
* {{Averted}} in ''ComicBook/{{Diabolik}}'', as the title character is an extremely skilled KnifeNut who can rightly boast that anyone hit by his thrown knife will die instantly (the only exception only proves it more, as he was using a ''paper knife'' and the victim ''still'' went down mortally wounded), and nobody in his right mind is stupid enough to take on a knife-wielding Diabolik or a gun unless armed themselves (in fact, the rare times someone charges at Diabolik unarmed they're distraught by having just seen their friends or allies killed by the King of Terror).
** That said, it's sometimes played straight, as Diabolik can throw his knives faster than someone can draw or train a gun on him and tends to rely on ambushes anyway. Also, one memorable occasion saw [[SympatheticInspectorAntagonist Ginko]] punching out a knife-wielding Diabolik, but [[JustifiedTrope there's a good reason]]: they had both turned corner and Ginko threw his punch at what he believed was a normal gangster so fast he didn't realize it was Diabolik until ''after'' the King of Terror hit the ground.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* In the ''Film/{{Dredd}}'' fanfic [[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10489971/1/Aegis Aegis]] the [[KnifeNut knife nut]] Judge Rawne is goaded into this error by the hero. Although the fight starts as a textbook [[KnifeFight knife fight]] (with the more-skilled Rawne getting the best of Cornelius) Cornelius manages to [[spoiler:trip Rawne and crush his windpipe with an elbow drop]].

* The ''Film/CharliesAngels'' [[TheMovie movies]] did away with the Angels' guns due to [[WriterOnBoard Drew Barrymore's personal beliefs]]. The Angels rely on WaifFu against a number of enemies with guns, and rarely suffer more than a nick.
* In an early scene in ''Film/ButchCassidyAndTheSundanceKid'', Butch's leadership of the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang is challenged by Harvey Logan. Logan produces a large knife; Butch tricks his dimwitted opponent into momentarily letting his guard down by discussing the "rules" for the fight, kicks him in the crotch, and knocks him out cold.
* ''Film/EscapeFromAlcatraz'': Frank Morris asks how another con wound up in "The Rock":
-->'''English''': I was in a bar in Tennessee. Then these two dudes start hassling me. That was their first mistake. They pulled knives. That was their second mistake. They didn't know how to use them. That was the last mistake they ever made.
* During the alley fight in ''Film/ShaPoLang'', Ma Kwan manages to beat the knife-wielding assassin Jack bloody with his steel baton, but is unable to finish him until Jack manages to strip him of his baton. When Jack attacks the unarmed Kwan, [[spoiler: Kwan grabs his knife, twists it around, and guts Jack like a fish.]]
* In the final battle in ''Film/FistOfLegend'', the Japanese BigBad is losing the fight, then pulls a katana and gets his ass handed to him even worse. Finally Jet Li uses his ''belt'' to kill the villain with his own sword.
* In ''Film/SecondHandLions'', [[BadassGrandpa Uncle Hub]] gets in a squabble with a group of rowdy teenagers. After Hub fends off the their initial attacks, they fall back and pull out their pocket knives. At this point Hub scoffs at them and delivers a [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome major beat down.]] Hub even corrected the first attacker by telling him he wasn't holding the knife properly. The attacker corrected and Hub still beat him down.
* The SoBadItsGood action movie ''Film/BloodAndBone'' has this in it's climax that after the FinalBattle against a ProfessionalKiller in hand to hand, he fights the BigBad in front of the BiggerBad, the BigBad has a [[KatanasAreJustBetter Katana]] and [[MeaningFulName Bone]] had ... the sheath. He beat him, dropped the sheath, beat him some more, made him drop the katana, and then beat him some more, and then when nearly attacked lethally, [[SubvertedTrope picked up the katana he was given initially and chopped off the Big Bad's hand]].
* In ''Film/IpMan'', Jin finds himself getting thrashed by Ip Man, so he gets his sword. It doesn't help him much. The films also avert it, however, as Ip has no qualms against using {{Improvised Weapon}}s to even the odds.
* In ''Film/RoadHouse'', starring the late Patrick Swayze, Jimmy, TheDragon of the film, tries to kill Dalton with his gun, and fails.
* Never bring a knife to a fistfight with Creator/ChuckNorris: he will boot it off your hand in a sec, as seen in ''Film/TheDeltaForce''.
** In the sequel ''Film/DeltaForce2TheColombianConnection'', Norris's character kicks the knife from TheDragon. ''Twice''
** Then again, [[MemeticBadass never bring *yourself* to *any* kind of fight with Chuck Norris.]]
** However in ''Film/ForcedVengeance'' the first thing Chuck does on realising he's in trouble is get himself a gun. He kicks plenty of ass barehanded, but he's still a CombatPragmatist.
* Averted in ''Film/KickAss'' when [[spoiler: Dave tries to fistfight muggers and finds himself on the stabbing end of a knife.]]
** Averted again later TWICE, although [[spoiler: in both cases we just see the guy drawing his knife, but he doesn't get to use it.]]
* Played straight in ''Film/TheBourneSeries'', in both ''Film/TheBourneIdentity'' and ''Film/TheBourneSupremacy'' where Jason Bourne's opponents are often the ones wielding knives and other deadly close-combat weapons. Bourne himself is never given the advantage of having a knife to use against his adversary. However Bourne, being the better fighter (as well as the main character and therefore having ContractualImmortality), is able to disarm and defeat them using his fists and any improvised weapon he can get his hands on, up to and including a bathroom.
* The katana vs. screwdriver fight in ''Film/{{Serenity}}'' is something of a subversion. The Operative was winning before they drew weapons and he was still winning after they drew weapons--he only lost because he counted Mal out of the fight too early. The gun Mal pulled at the beginning was 100% straight, because the Operative has bulletproof armor.
* Both used and averted in ''Film/TheExpendables''. The team regularly uses pistols and melee weapons in CQC to devastating effect, but mooks who try to do the same don't fare nearly as well. In the sequel, there is an extended fight scene where a large number of knife-wielding Mooks attack the bare-fisted Yang (played by Jet Li). Guess who wins?
* The mooks in ''Film/{{Taken}}'' are constantly getting defeated by the unarmed main character.
* ''Film/{{Batman}}''. When he fights the Joker's goons, there's a dramatic fight with one using two Samurai swords. Because he's, well, Batman, he manages to outmaneuver him and then punch him into submission. (Of course, in this continuity, his costume is at least partially armored.)
* In ''Film/JackReacher'', Jack tosses his gun aside for some mano-e-mano fisticuffs with TheDragon. Midway through the fight, the guy draws a knife, but gets quickly disarmed and shortly thereafter defeated.
* Film/TheRaid: Rama does take on his (similarly armed) opponents with a knife and nightstick, but drops both eventually, and goes bare-fisted from then on. At one point he takes on a gang of 5 Machete wielding antagonists, unarmed, and drops all of them. The leader of the gang loses his machete near the end of the fight, and in doing so manages to hold his own a lot better against Rama until he rearms himself and gets taken down.
** Played with in the sequel; the assassin is the first to draw knives in his duel with Rama and does eventually lose, but because it was a pretty even fight before he drew them and he knows how to use them, he manages to do a lot of damage.

* Creator/TerryPratchett regularly notes that a weapon you don't know how to use well is worse than no weapon at all, either because you're going to hurt yourself with it, or your opponent is going to take it from you, ''then'' [[IncrediblyLamePun hurt your self with it]].
* The titular skeleton of ''Literature/SkulduggeryPleasant'' wields a gun (revolver, of course), although since many of his enemies are super powered monsters, it rarely does any true damage, so he uses fire magic instead. One particular exchange came in the second book of the series...
-->'''[[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast Baron Vengeous]]:''' ...only a [[CombatPragmatist heathen]] would bring a gun to a sword fight.
-->'''Skulduggery:''' And only a moron would bring a [[AwesomeButImpractical sword to a gun fight.]]
* In the ''Literature/GauntsGhosts'' novel ''The Armour of Contempt'', some Hauberkan soldiers try to attack Hark over his execution of their CO. One uses a knife but is quickly taken apart, while another one uses a [[ChainsawGood chain]] [[PowerFist fist]] to little better effect. Then again, Hark has an [[ArtificialLimbs augmetic arm]], so he's hardly baseline human himself.
* This general idea is explicitly written into the Martian [[ProudWarriorRace honor code]] in the ''Literature/JohnCarterOfMars'' books, albeit on a larger scale- if someone attacks you, you meet their attack with an equal or lesser weapon, so using a knife on someone who attacks you with his fists would be incredibly dishonorable (as would pulling a gun on someone who attacks with a blade). In the second book, a scene where Carter prepares to attack a Thern (White Martian) who'd been releasing deadly wildlife against him with his sword, and the Thern's response is to ''immediately'' go for his gun, is a major indicator as to [[AlwaysChaoticEvil what]] the Therns are like.
* In ''[[Literature/XWingSeries Starfighters of Adumar]]'', Wes Janson turns a [[ImpossiblyCoolWeapon blastsword]] duel into a NoHoldsBarredBeatdown by disarming his opponent. First, he blocks the incoming attack with his own blastsword and proceeds to eventually knock the blastsword from his opponent's hand, breaking it in the process. Then, after Wes throws away his own blastsword (to Wedge standing behind him), the opponent goes for his knife, which Wes proceeds to kick out of his hand. Justified in that Wes Janson is well-schooled in hand-to-hand combat; the opponent is a noble who knows only the stylized form of [[CoolButInefficient blastsword dueling]] and nothing of [[GoodOldFisticuffs real fighting techniques]].
* The novel ''Cain'' by James Byron Huggins at one point features a Jesuit priest, with no combat background of any sort, going unarmed against a highly-trained cult assassin who has a sword. The priest absorbs an absurd amount of damage, bleeding profusely, while trying to talk the assassin down. Finally, he gives up and just grabs his enemy in a bearhug and squeezes until the assassin's spine snaps.
* ''Literature/TheIronTeeth'' web serial’s forests are haunted by many different types of dangerous monsters. Blacknail almost died in a brawl with a older hobgoblin there. he only survived by stabbing the hobgoblin with his knife while his opponent was trying to throttle him.
* A regular occurrence in the ''Literature/MatadorSeries'', largely due to the main characters all being world-class martial artists, and their opponents not being quite up to that level.
* Caine from ''Literature/TheActsOfCaine'', all the time. All he has are his fists, maybe a dinky knife and you've got... a sword? A spear? A gun? ''[[HandicappedBadass Not being paraplegic?]]'' Don't expect any of that to save you.
* Literature/{{Parker}}, the VillainProtagonist of a series of novels by Richard Stark, is arguably more dangerous without a weapon than with one.
* Literature/JohnRain prefers to rely on his martial arts skill (knives are messy, after all) but a couple of near misses against knife-wielding opponents, and the realization that his skills are fading with age, causes Rain to start carrying a knife regularly after the first few novels.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* Averted in ''Series/{{Smallville}}'' of all places, where Lois Lane is fighting a security guard - after a period of inconclusive barehanded fighting, the guard get mad, pulls out a knife, and succeeds in stabbing her.
* Played pretty straight in ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' - although all sorts of fancy weapons crop up, it's pretty much expected for them to go flying and the fight to degenerate into gratuitous unarmed combat. This is probably for reasons of fight choreography.
** It's also cheaper on the special effects department. Since nobody ever actually seems to ''bleed'' after getting the stuffing beaten out of them in most Joss Whedon shows, taking knives out of the equation means that the producers save a fortune in makeup and fake blood.
** And flip-flopped in one episode of ''Series/{{Angel}}'', when Faith pulls a knife on Angelus. After one initial hit, he's able to avoid the knife for a few seconds, and then knocks it out of her hand... and she then hits him in the face, catches the knife, and cuts him several times with it. Of course, since he's a vampire all this does is hurt a whole lot -- but then, she is trying to lose.
* Entirely subverted in the ''Series/BurnNotice'' episode "Old Friends": when an assassin pulls a knife on the unarmed Michael, none of the strikes land, but Michael's too busy trying not to get cut to do any real damage of his own, and promptly flees the scene when a second knife appears:
-->'''Michael:''' The key to a good knife defense is to control the knife hand and strike with everything you've got. Fighting is often about tactical retreat--like running away from two knives.
* The final episode of ''Series/{{Torchwood}}'' Series 2 inverts this: Ianto and Tosh run into three creepy religious fanatic types in medieval robes and scythes (not the smartest weapon in a confined space) and finish them off quite easily with gunfire.
-->'''Religious Fanatic Mooks:''' Devils, blasphemers, pray to your heathen God while in the Lord's name we cast you out.
-->[''Tosh and Ianto shoot them'']
-->'''Ianto:''' There we are then.
-->'''Tosh:''' Sorted.
* On ''Series/{{The 100}}'' Clarke picks up a knife in her fight with Anya, but can't get a cut in before Anya disarms her, takes the knife, and starts cutting ''Clarke'' up. It's then Clarke's turn to disarm Anya and [[ImprovisedWeapon bash her in the head with a human skull]].
* ''Series/{{Arrow}}'': In "The Climb", Oliver fights a duel to the death against Ra's al Ghul. Oliver uses a pair of swords. Ra's choses no weapons, announcing instead that he will take a blade off Oliver and kill him with it. [[spoiler:He does.]]

* A song by Stan Rogers, "Harris and the Mare", includes a fight between an unarmed man--formerly a conscientious objector--and a man with a knife. The man with the knife is winning until the unarmed man lashes out from the ground and the knife ends up in the knife wielder.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/{{GURPS}}'' strikes a middle ground in averting this. A person with a weapon tends to have a great advantage in damage and range but skill is ultimately the factor of a match up (ties going to the one with a weapon).
* Both averted and played straight in ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'': it's fairly common for people with [[{{BFS}} 6-foot-long]] [[ChainsawGood Chainswords]] to be torn limb from limb by someone else with their bare hands. Of course, that person's "bare hands" are often either wrapped in PowerArmor or attached to a [[SuperSoldier genetically modified killing machine]] or [[FragileSpeedster ridiculously agile]] or NighInvulnerable alien. In most cases, however, equally-powered fights will typically be decided by who has the biggest (or fastest-attacking) weapon.
* In ''TabletopGame/SpiritOfTheCentury'', whether you're better off fighting with a weapon or barehanded is solely a matter of training; the weapon itself makes no difference. Some later versions of the Fate system do diversify weapons by giving them at least some individual stats; conversely, some others go even further in erasing the distinction by no longer using separate skills for armed and unarmed combat. Justified in that the rules explicitly ''set out'' to emulate fiction.

* Jud in ''Theatre/{{Oklahoma}}''
* ''Theatre/AViewFromTheBridge'' is an old example: in the final scene, Eddie Carbone pulls a knife on Marco, and is pretty much instantly killed as the knife is turned against him. For some bizarre reason, only after he's been lethally wounded does his family step in...
* Exception: In the play ''Theatre/WestSideStory'' the violence between the Jets and the Sharks becomes more horrific as it escalates from fistcuffs to knives to a gun, leading to the violent deaths of several major characters.

[[folder:Video games]]
* [[CombatPragmatist Dark Types]] in ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}'' specialize in dirty tricks; they even have a move called Beat Up which lets every Pokémon on the team get in an attack. They are weak to Fighting Types. A special trait called ''Justified'' boosts some Pokémon's attack whenever they're hit with a Dark-type move.
** Even more with the type advantage the Fighting type (whose pokemon and moves got a heavy martial arts influence) has against the Steel type (That includes a lot of bladed pokemon)
** Pawniard and Bisharp are literally made of sharp blades and their Dark/Steel typing gives them a ''double'' weakness to Fighting attacks.
* Subverted in the ''Franchise/DevilMayCry'' series: Although the second fight with Vergil in ''[=DMC3=]'' starts with him using the Beowulf gauntlets and greaves, he pulls out his Yamato katana ''after'' he finds that having the hand-to-hand weapon isn't stopping Dante from kicking his ass. Beowulf (acquired after victory in said fight) and the Ifrit gauntlets in ''[=DMC1=]'' are the strongest weapons damage-wise, but Dante never uses them in cutscenes, sticking to his sword(s).
** Both Dante and Vergil can and are skewered by all manner of unpleasant edged objects without any lasting harm, may have something to do with this.
* Subverted in just about every beat-em-up video game ever made. Most of the time it's fist-against-fist combat, but when an enemy shows up with a weapon, that enemy will, nine times out of ten, be much stronger than his companions. Bosses, likewise, are usually always armed. By the same token, disarming a foe and stealing their weapon will give you a massive advantage, [[BreakableWeapons until the thing falls apart.]]
** This is doubly true in ''VideoGame/{{Lugaru}}: The Rabbit's Foot''. While weapons are just about as deadly and easy to steal as in any other beat-em-up (when in use), if somebody's dumb enough to try and run away, an auto-aimed thrown knife landing in their back is often an instant kill.
* Blunty averted in ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedI'', where switching to your fists in a sword fight against multiple foes is a quick way to an asskicking. Attacking soldiers with your bare hands is effective only when there's one of them. It also takes a little longer, with the upsides being that they can't parry, and it's also [[CherryTapping quite humiliating.]]
** Played straight in the [[VideoGame/AssassinsCreedII sequel]], where Ezio can counter-attack with his fists. Doing so causes him to steal the opponent's weapon and then turn it against them. In addition, fist attacks are never blocked by spear-wielding Seekers, which are otherwise at least a mild pain in the ass. There's even a metal cestus you can buy that makes your fist fighting all the more effective.
** Strangely exaggerated in ''[[VideoGame/AssassinsCreedRevelations Revelations]]'', where landing an unarmed 4 hit combo after dodging a [[EliteMooks Jannisary]] will take him out when it can take up to 3 armed combos to do the same.
** Averted again in ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedIII''. Though you can disarm enemies, taking on the sword-wielding Officers and Jagers with fists without disarming first will lead to them countering Connor and cutting him to bits.
* ''VideoGame/SuperSmashBros'' has an JustForFun/{{egregious}} subversion of this, intended or not; though [[Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda Link]] isn't regarded as high tier, [[FireEmblem Marth]] and [[VideoGame/{{Kirby}} Meta Knight]] certainly are. Young/Toon Link has come under fire as a possible subversion of the trope too.
** There's also the items, such as the beam sword and the laser gun, which can give an otherwise unarmed character an advantage in range and power.
** Ganondorf ''has'' a sword, and even brings it to the battlefield, but never uses it outside of {{VictoryPose}}s (Melee) or taunts (Brawl). This aspect of the character is a significant source of SnarkBait.
* In ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoIV'', it is easy to disarm an opponent attacking you with a knife while you have nothing but your fists.
** Definitely not the case in ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoV'' where knife attacks are fast and [[HPToOne bring you down to a sliver of health at full health]] or [[OneHitKill outright instant kill if you have any prior damage]]. There is also no disarm ability and the barehanded counter attack is bugged against knife wielders which makes it easier for them to stab you.
* Averted in ''VideoGame/TheGodfather: The Game''. If one of the enemy gangsters about to attack you brings out a baseball bat, lead pipe or other melee weapon, you'd better switch to grabbing him and taking him out fast, because the hooks and jabs of the unarmed mobsters are relatively small fry compared to the beating you will receive from the weapon-user.
* ''VisualNovel/AceAttorneyInvestigations'' example: [[spoiler: Manny Coachen brought a knife to a surprise attack on a 72-year-old man and he ''still'' lost. Alba's a BadassGrandpa.]]
* In ''VideoGame/CallOfJuarez'', Juarez pulls out a knife after being beaten in a fistfight by Billy. [[spoiler: [[SubvertedTrope He still loses, but only because Reverend Ray draws a gun and shoots him.]]]]
* ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamAsylum'' subverts this. Enemies with weapons are significantly more dangerous than unarmed enemies, and even require different dodging/countering tactics. If a mook finds a gun, you'd better make him your priority, or you will be one dead Bat.
** Both played straight and subverted in ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamCity'': enemies with stun batons still require you to hit them in the back and there's new shielded and armored enemies that require a specific method to damage them, but anyone wielding a knife can be defeated instantly with a specific counter attack as stated above and enemies with guns give you the option to quickly drop a [[SmokeOut smoke bomb]] when they spot you. Batman also has a special attack that destroys any weapons the targeted mook might be carrying so he or others can't pick it back up afterwards.
* In ''VideoGame/ModernWarfare2'' [[spoiler: General Shepherd]] defeats Soap when the latter tries to knife him.
* Sam Fisher in ''VideoGame/SplinterCellConviction'' seems to love this trope when it comes to close combat situations.
** To be specific, he defeats an officer attacking him with a knife, with the knife ending up being stabbed through the officer's hand.
** Then there is this incident where another person attacks him ''with an American flag''. The person ends up with a bit of flagpole in his shoulder.
** Of course, he is not above shooting people in the head as part of his [=CQB=] regime. And, to be frank, he basically beats up everyone no matter what they're armed with or even not at all.
* Regularly happens in the fights in ''VideoGame/Yakuza0'', but the main example is Miss Tatsu's introduction cutscene. She's going after a lowlife that owes money, who pulls a knife to attack her with. By the end of the [[CurbStompBattle 'fight']] she's entirely unharmed, and the lowlife has two broken arms.
* The first two times Link confronts Ganondorf in ''Videogame/TheLegendOfZeldaTheWindWaker'', he has the Master Sword while his opponent relies on his fists. He gets beaten down both times for his trouble. [[spoiler:When Ganondorf's plan is truly and utterly foiled, he pulls out a pair of katanas for a final attack and gets impaled through the head by Link.]]
* One of the final upgrade in ''VideoGame/MadMax'' is the shiv reversal, which makes Max parry an attacker with a knife, kill him with the knife and add it into your inventory. One of the animation has Max twisting the attacker's arm so he slits his own throat.

[[folder:Web Animation]]
* Animation/{{Pucca}} often bests ninja, Texan RV-bots, sharks, and other foes with super weapons and katanas with nothing but her bare hands and [[ViolentlyProtectiveGirlfriend righteous anger at her beloved being harmed.]]

* Averted in the ''[[Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick Order of the Stick]]'' prequel "On The Origin Of [=PCs=]" where [[spoiler: we first meet Belkar as he sits in jail charged with fatally stabbing several people in a bar brawl. He argues that they shouldn't have brought fists to a knifefight]].
--> [[spoiler:'''Warden:''' "It wasn't a knife fight until you started stabbing people!"]]
--> [[spoiler:'''Belkar:''' "Exactly!"]]
* ''Pirates Vs. Ninjas'': Subverted in [[http://piratesvsninjas.smackjeeves.com/comics/464878/chapter-1-page-32/ this comic.]]
* Completely and utterly averted in ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'', at least whenever Oasis and Kusari around. They're almost never seen fighting without knives, small scythes, or other sharp implements in their hands, and their enemies usually have quite a few stab wounds when all's said and done.
* Played with in ''Webcomic/{{Juathuur}}'': both Bivv and Mijuu [[spoiler: try to disarm Rowasu, the latter succeeding, but his use of a sword is actually a ''handicap''. They both die soon after.]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Subverted in ''Roleplay/SurvivalOfTheFittest'', when Ric Chee and Bobby Jacks fight with GoodOldFisticuffs. When Bobby realises that, conversely to his expectations, he is getting beaten down mercilessly (by a guy with no combat expertise whatsoever) he pulls out a knife (well, scalpel) and [[spoiler: immediately fatally stabs Ric.]]
* In [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUEFxSOVd6A the brutal pilot]] of ''WebVideo/CauseOfDeath'', the slob grabs a steak knife out of the kitchen drawer. The killer is not amused. Well... he's amused a little. And then he pulls out [[spoiler: a granola bar, with deadly results.]] Yeah, you read that right.
* WebVideo/NyxCrossing, with Frank and the leader of the natives.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheBoondocks'' episode "...Or Die Trying" features a fictitious film sequel called ''Film/SoulPlane 2: The Blackjacking'', a movie where terrorists take over an airline jet run by African Americans. One of the terrorists pulls out a knife in mid-flight and tries to announce his superiority... right before a half-dozen passengers tackle and beat him down.
* ''WesternAnimation/ConanTheAdventurer'' demonstrated [[FridgeLogic what a poor blacksmith Conan's father was]]. Any edged weapon he forged from star metal turned out to be little more than a metal club. The only exception were Jasmine's throwing stars, which could cause OnlyAFleshWound. Still, the heroes use them anyway, since star metal is the potent WeaksauceWeakness of SnakePeople they always fight.
* BigBad Shredder of ''TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles'' had claws as part of his costume, yet he never really does much shredding with them.
** In the cartoon, yes. But in the original comics he put them to good (read: bad) use.
* Played with in ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender''. Iroh is threatened at knife point for his money. Instead of using his phenomenal ass-kicking powers, Iroh pushes him down. Then he shows him a better fighting stance, which was the mugger's real problem. [[CoolOldGuy And then he makes some tea and encourages the thug to follow his real dreams.]]
* In the ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'' episode [[Recap/BatmanTheAnimatedSeriesE25TheClockKing "The Clock King"]], Fugate fights with a SwordCane against an unarmed Batman. Guess who wins?

[[folder:Real Life]]
* There are actually several martial arts that have moves specifically designed to disarm a weapon wielding opponent, however, they're often nowhere near as flashy as in fiction. They're normally simple, disarm the attacker as quickly as possible. For the most part, experts tend to advise a much simpler move when facing an opponent with a knife; run.
** An interesting example is Escrima. This is one of the few martial arts where the novices ''start'' with knives and then move to unarmed combat after they have mastered the knife techniques. Needless to say practitioners know how to disarm a man.
* Real life: [[http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20091221/us-storm-snowball-fight-officer/ This guy]] brought a gun to a SNOWBALL FIGHT. Doesn't seem to have ended well for him either.
* [[http://www.boiseweekly.com/CityDesk/archives/2011/12/09/skinhead-knocked-out-by-victim-now-faces-hate-crime-sentence#.TugtO1YcKfw.facebook This]] neo-Nazi held up a black man at knifepoint. Too bad he didn't read the man's shirt, which said "[[MuggingTheMonster Spokane Boxing Club Champion]]."