Carry a Big Stick
Bugs Bunny: I speak softly, but I carry a big stick!
Yosemite Sam: Oh yeah!? Well, I speak loud! And I carry a BIIIIIIIIGGER stick!! And I use it too!
(WHAM)Perhaps the first weapon that humanity has mastered (besides his own two fists), the good old-fashioned club simply consists of picking up a stick (or bone) and whacking something with it. Though the quality of these clubs has advanced over time, ranging from big logs to maces, the general principle of bashing something over the head remains. A sword might bounce off of heavy armor, but a well-designed bludgeoning tool will leave a sizeable dent and break any bones underneath. Nowadays, maces and clubs tend to find use with two main groups of warriors; big, powerful bruisers like The Big Guy or the Mighty Glacier, or Technical Pacifist types like High Fantasy priests and clerics who want something to defend themselves with without shedding blood (though anyone who's seen one of these in action knows that these weapons, particularly the heavier ones, are just as capable as bladed weapons of leaving a bloody mess, not to mention all the damage the force does to internal organs). The hammer is probably the most popular form of bludgeon; see Drop the Hammer for examples of those. Also compare the more finesse-oriented Simple Staff and the improvised Batter Up and Rolling Pin of Doom for other types of clubbing weapons. For literal cases of a ''big stick'', often used as a pole-arm, see Telephone Polearm. Combine it with Whip It Good and you get an Epic Flail. Putting a blade on the stick gives you, well, a Blade on a Stick. Not to be confused with Gunboat Diplomacy, which is a metaphorical Big Stick.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Shampoo's chúi in Ranma ˝. They're an obscure Chinese mace that looks like a basketball on a shortstaff, but despite being brightly painted the head is made of solid steel.
- Haruka from the Mai-HiME manga wields a big honkin' mace, which also shoots beams of light.
- The Apostle Wyald of Berserk wields a wood club and when he goes One-Winged Angel he uses entire trees as clubs.
- The Weapon of Choice of Ryuho Kibe the Silver Demon in Gamaran: is about 8 and half feet long, has sharp spikes on the edges and is formally called "Giant Steel Sword: Kokusosou (Black Clawed Comb). To cup it all, due to his immense physical strength Ryuho is capable of wielding the thing with only one hand should he wish or need so. Is realistically treated as a One-Hit Kill weapon.
- Goku from the Dragon Ball weapon of choice when he was a child was his Power Pole, a stick that could extend to unimaginable lengths.
- Fitting since Goku was based off of Sun Wukong and the Power Pole off the Monkey King's famous golden staff.
- In Kenneth Branagh's Henry V the Duke of Exeter (played in tanklike armor by BRIAN BLESSED) fights with a mace at Agincourt.
- Bors, Richard Boone's character in The War Lord prefers a spiked club.
- BRIAN BLESSED fights with a mace in Flash Gordon.
- The Peter Jackson film adaptation of Lord of the Rings had Big Bad Sauron wielding a mace big enough to knock half-a-dozen men into the air with every sweep.
- In Pale Rider, a gang of toughs grabs some axe handles from the general store and start to rough up some local prospectors. Clint Eastwood's character grabs one of his own and singlehandedly beats them all down with it before proclaiming, "Nothing like a good piece of hickory!"
- Vetinari in the Discworld series walks with the aid of a cane, rumoured by some to conceal a sword. He encourages these rumours, because "if people think your stick might be a sword, they forget that it's definitely a stick." There's also Arch-chancellor Ridcully, whose staff is dependable enough as a bludgeon that he seldom needs to resort to fireballs, and Igor (not The Igor, just a guy called Igor that runs a Bad-Guy Bar) using a club with several Weaksauce Weaknesses of the local beasties added on to it. For regular people, the fact it's a damn good club is usually enough.
- In The Lord of the Rings:
- Both Sauron and the Witch-King were fond of maces. The latter was upgraded to an Epic Flail for the film version.
- "Grond", Morgoth's "Hammer of the Underworld" in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion is a mace in some adaptations, a hammer in others. (It is not to be confused with the giant wolf-shaped battering ram named after it that features in Return of the King, despite equal massive smashiness.)
- Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit got his epithet from the fact that in the Battle of Azanulbizar he dual-wielded his axe and a large oak branch to defend himself after his shield was destroyed.
- In the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks and the RPGs based off them, monsters like Stone Golems and Crystal Warriors cannot be harmed by edged weapons and must be destroyed with maces or warhammers.
- Sunflash the Mace in Redwall, as his name indicates. It's in fact a big branch he used as an Improvised Weapon and has stayed with him since. But as a friend points out, if he called it a mace instead, no one would argue the point.
- Ma Jong in Judge Dee uses a club more often than his sword.
- In P. G. Wodehouse's Psmith, Journalist, Psmith uses his walking stick to fend off a group of New York City thugs. When one of the thugs shouts, "He's got a big stick!" Psmith mutters to himself, "I am become Theodore Roosevelt."
- The i said, i've got a big stick is one of The Culture's Cool Starships.
- In The Hunger Games, Katniss describes a previous Games where the only weapons available were heavy spiked maces, so the remaining tributes were forced to bludgeon each other to death.
- Wayne from The Alloy of Law fights with a pair of dueling canes, which have sword-style grips and are made for a very dense wood, and in skilled hands are easily capable of breaking bones.
- These were also frequently used by nobles in Mistborn: The Original Trilogy, the series to which Alloy Of Law is a sequel.
- Garrett from the Garrett, P.I. novels usually defends himself using a heavy wooden nightstick with a pound of lead embedded in its business end. TunFaire has laws against civilians carrying swords, and Garrett doesn't like to kill people if he can help it.
- According to Dave Barry Slept Here, President Theodore Roosevelt always carried around a big stick, which he used to beat monopolists with when they leaned closer to hear what he was speaking very softly. The stick is also why nobody asked him exactly what he meant by "bully pulpit."
- In The Baroque Cycle, one of Jack Shaftoe's sons kills a Master Swordsman by using a large, crude club.
- In Rides a Dread Legion, Sandreena and the other Knights of the order of Dala use maces; the Technical Pacifist explanation (that everyone deserves a chance to yield, even up to the point of death, and spilled blood can't be returned) is mocked when she notes that anyone who believes it can't have seen what a mace does to the human body. Later on in the book, she accidentally kills several people with her mace — not that they didn't deserve it, but she wanted a prisoner to question.
Live Action Television
- According to most Classical stories and vase paintings that involved him, this was Hercules' Weapon of Choice, making this trope Older Than Feudalism.
- The Japanese Oni spirits are also usually depicted with tetsubos (or kanabos as they're also called), large, metal-reinforced clubs. Strangely, they are also known to be wearing tiger-skins, just like the lion-skin of Hercules. See Real Life entry below.
- Rostam, hero of the Persian epic The Shahnameh, used a mace when he wasn't wrestling people to death. Most Persian heroes used maces, as far as that goes.
- Ditto Russian Mythology and Tales. The Bogatyrs were famous for their maces. Here's a bit of Russian Humour about it: Ilya Muromets and D'Artagnan are going to fight. D'Artagnan takes a piece of chalk and draws a cross on Ilya's breastplate. "What is it for?" asks Ilya. "I shall pierce you with my rapier at this point!" answers D'Artagnan. "Alyosha, cover him whole with flour", says Ilya. "I'm going to fight with my mace".
- Hanuman from the Indian version of Hindu Mythology uses a mace as his Weapon of Choice.
- The Jade Regent RPG Actual Play podcasts from RPGMP3 feature a weapon called Oathtaker. During their travels, the adventurers stumbled across this magical tetsubo (a huge Oriental bludgeoning weapon). Apart from its obvious uses, it can also force people under a Blood Geas. It's currently wielded by Harold Shinken, who discovered that the Viking women of the Linnorm Kingdoms were very impressed by the weapon's... craftsmanship.
- In Dungeons & Dragons, maces and morningstars are generally favored by the Cleric class. In early editions this is because they are considered bludgeoning weapons and clerics are forbidden by religious law from drawing blood. In later editions, it is because they are "simple" weapons. The Ruby Rod of Asmodeus and the Wand of Orcus are two of the more powerful weapons in the game's catalog.
- 3rd Edition (and by extension, the 3.5 update) maintained the tradition of "Clerics with Maces" in a novel way. Weapons were placed into generic classes, with different character classes have access to different weapon classes. "All simple weapons" includes maces. Of the 11 core classes, the martial classes (Barbarian, Paladin, Ranger, and Fighter) got martial weapons, which are numerically better than maces (typically by having better/more frequent critical hits). Monk, Druid, and Wizard got a specific, short list of weapons, with monk and druid having specific standouts that were slightly better than maces (fists and the scimitar, respectively), while the wizard's list was deliberately awful except for the quarterstaff. Bards and Rogues received a few more weapon proficiencies than Clerics, motivating them to use the short sword, or possibly whip. As a result, despite the generic weapon groupings, Clerics were the only class motivated to actually use a mace as a primary weapon.
- Paizo Press' update of the system, Pathfinder, changes this trope. In all versions of 3rd Edition, each deity has a "favored weapon" that manifests in a number of ways, but Clerics aren't proficient with by default (though Favored Souls are). Pathfinder makes Clerics automatically proficient with their deity's favored weapon, so most combat-oriented deities have Clerics who are better armed than those of more pacifistic deities, who still Carry A Big Stick.
- As they don't have as much blood spilling around as swords, huage iron banded clubs are used by the Crab Clan against the monsters of the Shadowland in Legend of the Five Rings.
- Warhammer 40,000 has power mauls available to Space Marines and others with access to power weapons; while they lack the armor penetrating power of a power sword or axe, they do provide a nice strength bonus, good for taking on weaker units.
- Maces are a rare BattleMech weapon in BattleTech. In exchange for doing ludicrous amounts of damage (under the Tactical Handbook, a 50-ton 'Mech using the weapon deals 20 damage where a hatchet would deal only 10, putting it on par with some of the largest BFGs), it is inaccurate and inflicts penalties to its hit numbers and skill rolls for recovering from inevitable misses.
- Golden Sun's maces can be wielded by three people: Isaac and Garet, both warrior types, and Mia, resident White Magician Girl and healer. Each character has a unique sprite for each weapon type, so while Mia gets a small studded metal sphere, Isaac gets a flanged version and Garet gets a classic big ball o' spikes the size of his head on a stick we all know and love. In the sequel, Sheba (a Squishy Wizard) uses them. Staffs are used by Mia, Sheba, Ivan, and Jenna.
- Mountain Giants in Warcraft III can rip entire trees out of the ground and use them as clubs. Ogres also use maces and/or big wooden clubs, Faceless Ones use nasty-looking spiked maces.
- In World of Warcraft one-handed maces (the weapon class which includes hammers) are often designed for healers, playing off the old equation of maces with priests. Although there remains no circumstance in the game beyond about level 10 where a priest could possibly ever want to actually hit someone, since even if they have no mana left a wand is still more damaging. Rogues tend to actually use one-handed maces to hit people, as do some shamans and death knights. Two-handed maces live on in with paladins and druids, warriors, and death knights who often use giant maces. Before some of the later Burning Crusade raids went live, this was considered one of the best weapons in the game for retribution paladins.
- Arcanum, from the guys who brought us Fallout, has a variety of hammers and maces available. They had the special effect of dealing Fatigue damage, which meant that they could knock enemies unconscious and effectively drained Mana from mages. Oh, and they could also be used to open locked doors and chests without being damaged (Axes are another option for this).
- Speaking of Fallout: the first two games had several bludgeoning weapons, but the series really gained its own place in here when the third game brought in the Behemoths, mutants so large they use fire hydrants as melee weapons. Then New Vegas gave the player the Rebar club: a long rebar pole with a huge chunk of concrete at the end. The DLC's add the Nuka Breaker, which is a rebar club with a Nuka Cola sign in place of the concrete, the X-2 Antenna, which inflicts EMP damage on machines, and Old Glory, a flag staff capped with a golden eagle.
- The War Mace powerset in City of Heroes.
- Kronk the caveman carries a large white club in Ballz
- Dwarf Fortress features several varieties of mace and war hammer, which compared to slashing or piercing weapons trade a reduced One-Hit Kill probability for a better chance of causing knock-back; high-level mace- or hammerdwarves can launch enemies into nearby walls with enough force to reduce them to Ludicrous Gibs.
- Rock from SoulCalibur has taken to using a mace in more recent games. Originally, he favored axes, but this got switched in later games to differentiate him from fellow axe-user Astaroth.
- In the Dynasty Warriors series, Diao Chan, Taishi Ci and Huang Gai are often depicted wielding clubs of various types.
- In Final Fantasy VI, Umaro's weapon of choice is a massive club carved out of behemoth bone.
- In the Baldur's Gate games, the Cleric class is only able to use bludgeoning weapons.
- While the weapon Saix uses in the Kingdom Hearts series is referred to as a claymore, it's actually closer to a mace.
- Age of Mythology has Hercules, wielding his trademark wooden club. The Cyclops and Mountain Giant myth units also wielded clubs. In The Titans we have the Atlantean Katapeltes infantry, who wields a mace.
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, maces and warhammers are differentiated from other weapons; they do the most damage per strike but have the slowest swing speed. They also have the potential to circumvent a percentage of a foe's armor when struck.
- In Mabinogi, among its blunt weapons, something of note for taking this trope literally is called the Broad Stick. It's a stick. A broad one. And you hit things with it. That's about it, though to its credit, its very cheap to repair in a game of extremely expensive repair systems, and earlier on it can do significant damage.
- In Armored Core V, you get the Mass Blade which is the mother of all big sticks. It's really a concrete pillar with some I-beams and a spiked wrecking ball stuck on one end and a few rocket boosters strapped on for good measure.
- In RuneScape, Dungeoneering boss Rammernaut Hoskins is a huge, heavily armoured warrior that definitely like this trope, requisitioning first a "Big mace", takes it Up to Eleven by receiving a "Bigger mace" note , and tries to take it Up to Eleven with "Biggest mace" note .
- Demons Souls and Dark Souls have weapons that run the gamut from simple, small maces to very large hammers crafted from the setting's World Tree and another weapon that amounts to a severed teeth of an Everlasting Dragon. Some of the larger weapons are ornate and are used by "Holy" warriors, like Demon's Souls' Bramd and Dark Souls' Grant.
- Dark Souls II maintains the tradition by keeping "archtree branch" and "dragon's tooth" smashers from previous game as well as adding new ones like "boulder tied to a tree", "the top half of a dragon's skull", and "anvil on a stick". The Crown of the Old Iron King DLC currently tops them all with Smelter Hammer, formrely a giant axe, now melted into misshapen iron lump about as large and thick as your character's entire body.
- Pokémon has Cubone and Marowak's bone clubs and the held item Thick Club, which boosts either species' attack stat.
- And also the Timburr line, which wield huge logs (Timburr), girders (Gurdurr), and concrete cylinders (Conkeldurr).
- Oddly averted in Guild Wars, one of the few RPGs not to feature clubs or maces of any kind. At least, in the traditional sense. Two-handed warhammers are a warrior weapon, and there are truncheons and canes in the game — but they're actually classified as one-handed wands for magic-using classes. Using one in battle would simply toss a weak magic projectile at your enemy.
- Mount & Blade has a variety of bludgeoning weapons, the most primitive and weakest of which are the wooden stick, club, and cudgel. The variety of dedicated maces available is much greater, and most of them are viable blunt weapons, which can deal significant damage right through heavy armor and will render foes unconscious as opposed to dead, so that they can be captured and sold for ransom.
- MOTHER 3 has Flint, who uses a 2-by-4 as his weapon of choice. He uses it to beat the stuffing out of everything in his way. When he goes into an Unstoppable Rage over his wife's death, Lighter has to whack him in the back of the head with it to knock him out. It was the only way to get him to stop attacking the other villagers as they try to comfort him and reign in his fury.
- Maces are just one of the many melee weapons melee types can wield in Diablo III. In addition, the very first boss, the Skeleton King, wields a powerful two-handed one — which you can later grab for yourself.
- Several clubs are among the weapon options in Dragon Quest IX, though they're considered part of the hammer skill line. Smash Mooks like trolls and cyclopes use spiked and non-spiked versions.
- Faceless Void from Dota 2 uses a club, smaller than the usual big like the ones in the example, but there's a reason why he's one of the more dangerous carries in the game. A swing from his club can lock down the enemy in one place, or he can stop the time to ensure a lot of club-beating time. Build up a lot of damage or attack speed items, and suddenly, a club is deadlier than a sword.
- Heroes Of Thantopolis: the main character, Cyrus, uses a summoned mace
- Homestuck: Clubkind is the first strife specibus used by Gamzee Makara; he personally favours juggling clubs and never uses anything else. He abandons it after sobering up in favour of Jokerkind.
- Waterworks: One of Connie's first weapons is a mace (more specifically a morning star)... obtained from a can of Mace
- In Princess Chroma, the main character prefers to fight with a mace.
- Sockbaby: Chub Chub.
- Todd in the Shadows, reviewing Flo Rida's "Club Can't Handle Me":
Todd: Now, maybe it's just me, but if the club can't handle him right now, my only conclusion that they're using the wrong club. Now, *lifts a club* this is MY club. It is an authentic replica of a war club used in battle by ancient Greek soldiers, and trust me: It CAN handle you right now.
- Hawkgirl from Justice League fights almost exclusively with a large, electrified mace. It has energy-disrupting and AntiMagical properties that make it a very versatile smashing tool.
- Elite Skrall are armed with Thorny Clubs in BIONICLE.
- The Mighty Mightor had a magical club that changed him from his Secret Identity into his heroic form and could shoot various forms of energy (as well as beating up villains).
- Captain Caveman had a club that doubled as a Flintstones-tech gadget-filled Swiss Army Weapon.
- In ThunderCats (2011) The Dragon Grune has a huge, spiky kanabo that's also a Morph Weapon, turning into a BFG Lightning Gun. He wields a more ordinary round-headed mace in flashbacks prior to his Face-Heel Turn.
- The countries of the UK, as well as Australia, Canada, and the US all use "ceremonial maces" as symbols of power within parliament; the US version can even be symbolically brandished at Congresspersons who are disrupting the proceedings. It is, quite literally, the carrying of a big stick for the sake of speaking softly. Actually walloping an elected representative upside the head with it is depreciated these days, of course, but it has happened on occasion. Gavels are a related item.
- King Henry VIII possessed the Holy Water Sprinkler, a combination mace and gun.
- When swords fell out of favor as part of a gentleman's standard outfit, walking sticks replaced them. Being about three feet of sturdy wood and topped with a metal handle, they made excellent clubs in a pinch. The British art of Singlestick and French art of Canne De Combat were martial arts based around walking sticks, using many of the principles of fencing.
- In 1856, Preston Brooks beat his fellow congressman Charles Sumner into unconsciousness with his walking stick on the floor of the Senate. Sumner had made an impassioned speech against slavery, comparing it to the "rape of a virgin" and worked the names of two Southern congressmen into the analogy, and fellow Southerner Brooks felt that retaliation was in order. Although his deed was lambasted by the North, he was hailed as a hero in the South and gifted a number of replacement walking sticks for the one he broke on Sumner's head. A number of these canes were engraved with the words "Hit him again!".
- The Filipino art of Eskrima/Kali features fighting sticks as one of their primary weapons, usually with one in each hand.
- The Kanabō, also known as the Tetsubō, was a popular weapon in feudal Japan. It consisted of a long, heavy wooden stick — typically straight with an octagonal cross-section — covered with iron studs or spikes over at least half of its length. There was a kata (fighting technique) — Kanabō-jutsu or Tetsubō-jutsu — specifically devoted to its use. Some later versions were completely clad in, or made entirely of, iron. In Japanese folklore, it was the favoured weapon of the Oni. According to The Other Wiki, there is a saying in Japanese: "Like giving a kanabō to an oni" — which means to give an extra advantage to someone who already has the advantage (the strong made stronger).
- The Flemish goedendag (good-day) combined Carry A Big Stick with Blade on a Stick. Essentially a very thick, iron-banded or studded pole topped with a spear point, the idea behind the goedendag was that you hauled a man off of his horse with the spear, and then bludgeoned him to death with the pole. It supposedly took its name from a shibboleth used during the Revolt of Bruges in 1301, in which anyone who replied to the Dutch greeting "goedendag" in French or with a French accent would promptly be killed with one.
- And then there is the Chinese weapon know as the Wolf Tooth Club◊, which is in fact every bit as Badass as it sounds, with a pointy bit on one end and a head full of spikes on the other.
- The Irish shillelagh is a club made out of a big stick, usually with a large knob at the end. It's become a symbol of Irish culture, but also a symbol of Irish violence.
- Those Ancient Russian warriors who were strong but poor and couldn't afford for sword or flanged mace sometimes wielded an oslop - a huge, two-handed club, usually wooden and reinforced by iron, rarely made of iron. Weighting up to 12 kg (average 6-8), oslop is considered by some to be the heaviest practical melee weapon ever. With two-handed grip providing enough leverage, a single hit from such monstrosity, even if blocked by shield, was guaranteed to knock the opponent off his feet.
- The word "oslop" was later turned into "ostolop", meaning a stupid man, referring to the fact that the oslop didn't require any skill to use, just strength.
- The knobkerrie is a traditional club of the Nguni-speaking peoples of South Africa and environs (e.g. the Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, Swazi...), coincidentally rather similar to the shillelagh. These days, it is usually used as a walking stick. Crossed knobkerries currently appear in the coat of arms of South Africa and a crossed knobkerrie and assegai formerly showed up on the flag of Lesotho.