Black Swords Are Better
Fantasy trope, but can show up in other genres as well. Want to show that some kind of sword is cool, powerful, deadly, etc? Make this sword black. It can be simply blued, but sometimes it is made of some fantasy metal which is naturally black. Meteoric iron is often misrepresented as a naturally black metal. (It actually doesn't look all that different from terrestrial iron, once forged and worked.) This trope often overlaps with Evil Weapon and Artifact of Death, because the color black has connotations for being "dark" as well as "cool." Many examples of black swords are not only superior to boring gray swords, but also more dangerous for the user. If the sword's owner likes to Dual Wield, their other sword will often be white. Compare Thunderbolt Iron, Technicolor Blade, and Flaming Sword. Also note that black katanas are even better, wooden black katanas are absolutely better, and flaming wooden black katanas are downright awesome.
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Anime & Manga
- Ichigo's Bankai form of his sword is an entirely black tachi with a swastika-shaped hilt. His true Zanpakutō is completely white in asauchi form but in shikai becomes two jet black swords.
- The fourth movie set in Hell has the Togabito weapons, Kokuto's sword (pictured) and Muragumo's glaive, which are pitch black.
- One Piece has two black swords so far: Kokuto Yoru, the strongest sword in the world, owned by the strongest Master Swordsman Mihawk. The other one is Shusui, a long katana with an elaborate black blade currently owned by Zoro. Is listed as one of the strongest swords in the world, and Zoro even stated that it wouldn't bend even if a dinosaur stepped on it. Mihawk also demonstrates to Zoro that, by using Haki (spiritual power), any weapon can be made black and greatly stronger.
- Samurai Deeper Kyo has the Shibien, one of the four muramasa swords crafted by Muramasa. It apparently absorbed too much blood and turned black as a result.
- Saizo from Brave 10 has one. He calls it Maribouchou.
- Soul Eater
- Masamune is one and after Tsubaki defeats him she gains this ability as well. Slightly subverted when Tsubaki, during hers and Black★Star's battle against Masamune, claims that now that's black the blade has lost some of its original beauty.
- Also Ragnarok, being entirely made of "black blood". Since he's the Demon Sword, he's one of the most powerful weapons in the series.
- Black★Rock Shooter wields the black blade (the ★rock shooter part of her name is for her gun).
- In Yaiba, the Devil King Sword is black colored with white edges.
- In Sword Art Online, Elucidator, one of Kirito's two swords, is pitch black. In ALO, his sword is also black. In GGO, his sword is still black. And go on, guess what color his sword in Underworld is going to be.
- Worth mentioning that, as mentioned in the Dual Wielding example, in SAO his second sword is white...though only in the original light novel.
- And in Mother's Rosario Zekkennote , the only person to defeat him, has a black sword. Kirito also says that Zekken would have gotten the Dual Wieldingnote sword skill were he in SAO.
- In Magi – Labyrinth of Magic, Sharrkan's sword is pictured as this. Alibaba's new sword is subverted; the ones who have black color is its sheathe.
- In Campione!, Ena Seishuin's legendary sword Ame no Murakumo no Tsurugi is black.
- Fate/Zero has Arondight, Berserker's personal weapon. It's black, spiky, with crisscrossing chains on the hilt, and generally looks pretty evil. In fact, it's said to be as powerful a demonic sword as Excalibur is a holy one. Not only that, but using it gives Berserker a rank up in all his stats, raising him from 'fearsome' to 'borderline broken'. Black swords aren't just better, they make you better too!
- In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha INNOCENT, Lord Dearche can summon a storm of black blades with her Legion of Doom Bringer spell. When she first uses it to destroy every target in the game she's participating in one fell swoop, Arisa wonders if what she's using is still legal.
- The Black Knight's Ebony Blade from Marvel Comics. Another example of Thunderbolt Iron. It can cut through anything and fire energy beams, but if it's used "in an unworthy manner," it fills the wielder with an uncontrollable bloodlust.
- Inverted in Cerebus the Aardvark. Part of the layers of Elric parody in the character Elrod of Melvinbone is that his sword Seersucker is black because of rust. When Elrod tries to attack Cerebus with it, it shatters against Cerebus' sword.
- All Black the Necrosword, wielded by The Mighty Thor villain Gor the God-butcher. Finding the sword is what allowed a poor starving mortal to butcher gods. The sword grants power over darkness and turns its wielder into a Physical God.
- The two swords, Anguirel and Anglachel (later renamed as Gurthang), made by Eöl the Dark Elf, in The Silmarillion. These swords were made of meteoric iron, which is not naturally black, and The Silmarillion predates the popular concept of "meteoric iron is naturally black", so they must be blued. Confirmed by an early version of Gurthang in The Book of Lost Tales—it is black on the flat, with shiny edges. This, however, may be the origin of the black meteoric iron misconception.
- In Michael Moorcock's Elric of Melniboné series of novels, the two demonic runeblades, Mournblade and Stormbringer, the latter of which becomes Elric's iconic weapon, are black. This one is so iconic that it inspired three heavy rock songs - Blue Oyster Cult's "Black Blade", Deep Purple's "Stormbringer" and Hawkwind's "Chronicles of the Black Sword." If it were merely grey, would it have got this attention?
- C'threk Goru, the sword of the Dark God Torak in the Belgariad, is explicitly black, of unnamed material, and is the counterpart to Garion's Sword of the Rivan King, which is made of Thunderbolt Iron. In the sequel series the Malloreon, the sword is wielded again by a demon lord in the final confrontation.
- Chronicles of the Emerged World: Nihal's black sword is actually made from a mithril-like substance called "Black Crystal", which is a ludicrously hard crystal.
- Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain. The black sword Dyrnwyn is extremely powerful. It was used to kill not only all of the Cauldron Born but the Big Bad Arawn himself. It was originally a beautiful shiny sword until its wielder slew an innocent shepherd with it. The shepherd's blood stained the blade, turning it black.
- Nightblood of Warbreaker is a black sentient telepathic sword that suggests killing just about everybody. Also it can compel just about anybody to kill their companions and themselves; its most common use is being thrown into groups of enemies who end up killing each other off. Ironically it was actually created to destroy evil, but a sword doesn't know what evil is so it tries to get its owner to kill people just in case... Eventually, it is removed to Roshar and is given to the hands of Szeth-son-son-Vallano.
- One of the three magical swords of Memory, Sorrow and Thorn is black (Thorn). Another is silver and the third a dull, somewhat mottled grey.
- Blackwand of Dragaera, which is one of the seventeen Great Weapons, soul eating Empathic Weapons which can kill even the gods. Merely unsheathing Blackwand can cause an enemy battalion to break and flee.
- Kring from the first Discworld novel The Colour of Magic is probably a parody of Stormbringer. In concept, a jet black, magically sentient blade that can talk and grant the wielder combat prowess (even when they're not looking) is very cool. In practice, Kring's habit of droning on in a tinny metallic monotone that sounds like metal grinding over stone, not to mention constantly critiquing its owner, means that most warriors tire of it quickly.
- The title weapon of The Darksword Trilogy, which consumes magic.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, Valyrian steel is described as having a dark, swirling, smokey appearance. Weapons made from it are sharper, stronger and lighter than traditionally-made steel. Since it's of such high quality and nobody knows how to make it anymore, weapons made from it are extraordinarily valuable and typically owned only by wealthy nobles.
- Nico from Percy Jackson and the Olympians has a sword made from black Stygian Iron from The Underworld.
- The sword Dragnipur in The Malazan Book of the Fallen.
- The Sword of Leah from Terry Brooks' Shannara series. Once an ordinary sword, it was dipped in the waters of the Hadeshorn by the Druid Allanon, and then infused with a measure of the Druid's own magic. The result is an ink black blade with a liquid sheen, and pools of green swirling through it that devours any magic directed at the user.
- A Wizard in Rhyme: Matthew Mantrell wields a black diamond sword, at least for the first two books. Not much mention is made of it later in the series.
- The Rain Master's Flamberge, a.k.a. the Sword of Humanity and part of the same set as the titular artifacts in Diamond Sword, Wooden Sword is both very powerful and cursed. Its other name is the Black Sword.
- Draken-Korin, Big Bad of the original Riftwar quartet carries a black sword to go with his orange-and-black striped armour. Since his title is Lord of Tigers, this makes sense.
- In Mistborn: The Original Trilogy, Mistborn don't use metal knives because of their enemies' Selective Magnetism powers. Instead, they favor knives of obsidian.
- In Sound Horizon's "Moira," Elefseus uses two triangular black swords. Other characters, such as Sword Boy, also use a black sword. In almost all the cases the sword(s) seems to carry some sort of significance, linking the characters.
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- The game has weapons made of special materials. Most of them just allow the weapon to bypass a particular type of damage resistance (i.e. silver weapons work against werewolves), but weapons made of Adamantine are exceptionally hard to destroy, can cut through metal as easily as (equivalently thick) paper, and bypass a particular type of damage resistance. They're black.
- There's also the ninth-level Arcane spell, Black Blade of Disaster. It bypasses magic barriers, attacks on its own, and disintegrates anything it crits. Forgotten Realms only, sorry.
- The magus base class from Pathfinder has an optional archetype where they forge a bond with a sentient magical black sword. It is very Elric-y.
- Exalted has soulsteel - a pitch black metal made from the tortured, still-aware, souls of humans that can drain a persons essence and willpower away when used as a weapon. While not necessarily better than the other magic materials, it's still better than normal metals.
- In Ultima Underworld 2, the best type of sword is a black sword. Likely a callback to The Black Sword from Ultima VII.
- Shadow Warrior (2013) has the fully-upgraded Nobitsura Kage, which looks like the blade was forged from obsidian with lava-cracks running through it. It's the most powerful weapon you get and fires off one-hit kill slashes that cut through the crowds of enemies running at you, and has a high rate of fire.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, the Big Bad, Ghirahim, has a black rapier (and later, two) in the second phase of each fight against him. Turns out that Ghirahim himself is a sword, belonging to Demise, which resembles a black and bulkier version of the Master Sword.
- In The Elder Scrolls series of video games, Ebony and Daedric weapons (the best nonmagical weapons) are not exactly black, but close enough to count (ebony is a dark metal, while Daedric weapons are ebony weapons with the soul of a daedra bound to them and tend to be some combination of red and black).
- And there is also Umbra in Oblivion, though it's an eerie bone white in Morrowind.
- Black swords are a weapon category, above steel and below mithril, uncraftable.
- There's also Darklight, which was created when the sword Silverlight was coated in ichor while destroying the demon Agrith-Naar. It is stronger than the original Silverlight and is extra effective at killing demons.
- And then there is the Dominion sword.
- In Fable I, obsidian weapons are better than iron or steel ones, and second only to 'master' (grey metal with gold trim) among non-legendary weapons.
- The Infinity+1 Sword in Baldurs Gate Dark Alliance is jet black.
- In Jade Empire, the weapon of choice for Prince Sun Kin is a large black sword called the Demon Sword, which is also available to the Spirit Monk in the PC version. Death's Hand dual-wields a black sword in his main hand and a black dagger in his off-hand, as well. Considering that Death's Hand is really Prince Kin's soul bound to Sun Li's old armour, this is not a coincidence.
- Black Knight weaponry from Dark Souls, unlike other bladed weapons, is colored jet black. There is a reason for this though, as the lore says Black Knights were charred by a highly powerful magical flame such that they were burnt to ashes and their armor and their weapons went black from the heat. As for their power, the weapons (large sword, great sword, great axe, and great halberd) were not even originally meant to kill man, but gigantic Demons. Saying that they are powerful is an underestimation at best.
- The Cursed Greatsword of Artorias is a decent greatsword that is one of the few weapons that can permanently kill ghosts.
- Black Knight weapons return in Dark Souls II, though they seem to be a bit rusted due to age. Despite that, they are still very powerful weapons. The Crypt Blacksword, crafted from the Soul of the Old Dead One dropped by The Rotten on New Game+ which is heavily implied to be the soul of Gravelord Nito, is a jet-black BFS that is potentially one of the most powerful weapons in the game.
- In I-Ninja, the player regularly receives upgraded swords whose colors correspond to karate kyu and dan. In order of increasing superiority, the swords are colored white, yellow, green, blue, red, black.
- Fallout: New Vegas has an unusual example in that it's black ARMOR that's better. The Veteran Ranger Combat Armor, 200 year old riot gear that serves as the main armor for the NCR Veteran Rangers and also called the black armor, is the game's iconic armor, appearing in nearly all promotional materials. The fact that it has the highest defense of nearly every armor short of Powered Armor reinforces this. This is taken Up to Eleven in Lonesome Road, which has the Advanced and Elite Riot Gears that provide special effects alongside the high defense.
- Pokémon X and Y: The shiny coloration for the possessed sword Aegislash is black and red.
- The Final Fantasy series has seen the Dark Knight class in various entries, which can arm Dark Swords. In Final Fantasy III, the Dark Sword is the only weapon that can permanently kill otherwise regenerating enemies.
- Final Fantasy IV gives Cecil a black sword called the Deathbringer for his final weapon as a Dark Knight. Not only is it black, it has a chance to cause instant death on whatever it hits.
- Might and Magic VIII has Glomenthal, the Blade of Dark, which has a blackish brown blade. It's one of the best artefact blades in the game. It's also completely bereft of any restrictions on the morality of the user.
- In Bravely Default, the Infinity–1 Sword of the Swords category, the Night Emperor, is black with white trim.
- When sufficiently upgraded, Corvo's balisong sword in Dishonored becomes black.
- In Odin Sphere, Oswald the Shadowknight's Belderiver is a jet-black sword that is considered the most fearsome Psypher ever forged. Oswald's own foster father Melvin sold Oswald's soul to Queen Odette of the Netherworld to empower it, though this is offset by the sword being powerful enough to fight off Odette's agents the Halja, meaning they can't actually collect on the deal until Oswald drops the Belderiver in a bout of despair. In gameplay, the sword's power grants Oswald his Shadow form.
- In Phantom Brave, Sprout once wielded the Sacred Sword. After his family was killed by Sulphur, he went mad with grief and lived only for revenge. He decided to fight darkness with darkness, and absorbed dark energy from the various monsters he encountered. Eventually, his once beautiful Sacred Sword became a pitch-black blade of darkness, Shiva.
- In Umineko no Naku Koro ni, both Willard H. Wright and Bernkastel have black blades. Given in Umineko, colour is incredibly important, the colour of these weapons is far more than just cosmetic, giving them powers to attack ideas and metaphysical concepts directly. Oh, and fitting Bernkastel's personality, her black blade takes the form of a Sinister Scythe that can reap miracles.
- In Goblins, Minmax permanently turned a property-stealing sword black by touching it to a hole in reality. It has a few powers due to this, primarily that it appears to bypass damage resistance.
- In Dungeons & Dragons, cold iron weapons are especially effective against demons. In The Order of the Stick, they're black; examples include Hinjo's awesome katana.
- Homestuck features the Regisword, and various other weapons combined with it. It appears to be a ceremonial piece, though most of the characters using it are skilled enough to use it effectively anyways.
- In The Red Star, the Grim Reaper uses a black scythe.
- SCP Foundation'': SCP-076-2 can summon bladed weapons made of a mysterious non-reflective black material.
- In Noob, Omega Zell eventually upgrades to weapons that are not only a pair of katanas, but a pair of black katanas. He actually points out the color to another character some time after getting them.
- Many blades designed for modern military use or survival are painted black or blued so they don't give away their owner's position by reflecting light. The bluing also prevents rust.
- The sharpest manufacturable blades are made of obsidian, which is a black glass (they have an entry under Absurdly Sharp Blade).
- A steel cutting tool (such as a knife or machine tool head) with a layer of Titanium Carbonitride deposited upon it will have a glossy, very dark gray finish. It'll also hold its edge longer and much more resistant to corrosion and wear by way of a bonus.
- At one point, civilizations capable of creating the much darker steel (from which the term blacksmith came from) is this trope, especially if their neighbors were using the comparatively inferior bronze weapons.
- Damascus steel, while not black, is much darker than normal steel, and thanks to unique impurities in the metal is also far stronger than any other form of steel humans were capable of making up until the industrial era.