It's like the Dead Man's Hand... But in reverse.
"52-card pickup is a staple of juvenile humor. But when the deck slices and dices, it's no laughing matter."
Many Card Sharps
may see their cards as useful tools, but this goes one step beyond that. Cards can, when thrown by the right hands
, become a deadly weapon.
How (and why) someone is using cards as a weapon varies: it can be some form of Applied Phlebotinum
, Magic, control of Kinetic Energy
, or even because the characters are just that good
. Or they're a Paper Master
and that's just what happened to be on hand.
May include boomerang powers
, and definitely causes Paper Cutting
. And don't forget that they typically carry a clip of 55 of them
(the 52 plus two jokers and the company card) in a case roughly the size of a pack of cards
Very often, overlaps with The Gambler
, for obvious reasons.
The user might be, but isn't necessarily, a Card-Carrying Villain
). Also likely to be a Card Sharp
(with sharp cards), so the use of such a distinctive weapon
may be the killer's Calling Card
(we can do this all day
). If they're so improbably good
that the full house won't shut up about it, they're The Ace
. (Yeah, we know, our card is marked. we can deal with it.)
No relation to Vlodemort's band
, Frank Frazetta
's helmeted, axe-wielding Badass
, or Underworld
's many vampiric assassins (Note: both franchises feature character(s) who share the same moniker), or
the Paranormal Romance
novel by Heather Graham Pozzessere.
Not to be confused with Arms Dealer
or The Aggressive Drug Dealer
. For cards that are a Portent of Doom
, see Dead Man's Hand
. If the cards themselves have power, it's Cards Of Power
. Note: This isn't real life but in an improbable situation it could be. Ricky Jaynote
can be seen here throwing a normal playing card hard enough to pierce a watermelon rind. Now imagine if that was somebody's neck... Well, actually, you don't need to; the MythBusters had a go at this one
, and came to the conclusion
that regular playing cards just don't have sufficient mass to cause any injury beyond a paper-cut. Of course, throwing a card at someone's face is going to make them flinch, but the same goes for a lot of things
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Anime and Manga
- Tubalcain Alhambra, AKA The Dandy Man, from Hellsing telekinetically controls cards and manages to slice several bystanders into pieces with them. They also explode. The cards themselves are magical, too, as Alucard cannot instantly regenerate his wounds when hit by them.
- In the Dirty Pair novels (and the Adam Warren comics), Yuri carries a self-propelled throwing card with razor edges — better known as the "Bloody Card". Its only anime appearance was in the movie Affair of Nolandia, where Yuri kills a *whole crowd* of mooks with it.
- Only use by Yuri. Madam Barr uses one (with similar results) in OAV #6. Yuri also used it on a single mook in 005 Conspiracy. Yuri also used it in the Dirty Pair cameo appearance in the Crusher Joe movie.
- Rozen Maiden has a live toy for this - a clown that throws cards just like shurikens - and they actually hurt the protagonist.
- Hisoka from Hunter × Hunter, an Ax-Crazy Monster Clown, kills people with thrown cards. It's implied that he gives them lethal force using Functional Magic.
- Wing shows that this is just a basic skill with good Nen control. Wing demonstrates this by giving a random piece of paper nearby the same piercing powers as Hisoka's cards.
- The characters of Yami No Matsuei will occasionally use magically enchanted hanafuda in battle.
- Kaiba disables a gun-wielding mook by tossing a card at him in an episode of Yu-Gi-Oh!. He does it again in a later episode to prevent a Rare Hunter from killing Anzu (using his Blue-Eyes White Dragon, no less...which disgusted Kaiba, who was hoping to draw a common card that so there'd be no risk of damaging ultra-rare onesnote ).
- Yu-Gi-Oh! GX:
- Judai once threw a card hard enough to destroy Titan's fake Millenium Puzzle.
- "Boy", a character from one episode of the second season could do this rather well.
- Shira from Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds has done this fast and hard enough to pierce a police helmet. Demack sliced through chains with a card.
- Qing Lang and his tarot deck from Innocent Venus.
- One of the main characters in Shin Hakkenden wields diamond-edged cards. Quite effective, and made uber-awesome when he actually activates his jewel ability...in the last episode.
- This is a big part of the Kaitou KID's schtick. He has a gun that's modified to shoot poker cards, which can apparently slice through metal.
- Rein from the Assault Team of Best Student Council uses cards as her Weapon of Choice. The two other members use a Killer Yoyo and a bokken. Seeing as they're in an Absurdly Powerful Student Council, these things are a lot less lethal than the grown-up versions, and are suitable for beating up some delinquents.
- Yomiko Readman from Read or Die is seen to be able to throw business cards with such force that they embed themselves in wooden ceiling beams, though this is less from her own strength than it is her ability to manipulate the matter of paper. It may not count if they're not actually playing cards in that scene, though.
- Meganoid General Edwin from Daitarn 3 in his Megaborg form looks like a stage magician.
- Friagne of Shakugan no Shana has a deck of exploding cards. Conveniently, they never run out and he can control them remotely.
- Miime of Captain Harlock usually uses her cards for fortunetelling, but there is an episode where she kills a Mazone by throwing a card through her.
- Yukari from Rosario + Vampire uses her (steel) tarot cards to this effect. Rather than throwing them, she levitates them with magic.
- Desert Apostle Cobraja from Heart Catch Precure uses autographed photos of himself as his weapon of choice.
- In YuYu Hakusho, minor villain Suzuka demands everyone call him "The Beautiful Suzuka". When Koto calls him "Suzuka", he throws a playing card at her. She ducks, and the card skewers the head of the demon sitting behind her, killing him.
- In Hayate the Combat Butler, Nagi takes down a Loan Shark by throwing a card into his head, flooring him with pain.
- Gambit, from the X-Men, uses his mutant power to turn ordinary playing cards into kinetic-energy-charged bombs. He can do it to anythingnote , but likes playing cards since they hold over 52 "shots" in such small packages, they're very easy to obtain, they explode with enough force just about equal to a standard grenade, and they're also stylish. In a nod to Real Life, they hardly ever slice cleanly through objects but embed shallowly in them... then explode after flashing the trademark pink glow.
- Casino is a villainess from The Solution in The Ultraverse who throws razor-edged metal cards.
- Daredevil villain Bullseye is partial to the ace of spades as a murder weapon. This is, however, a minuscule subset of his true ability to One-Hit Kill with anything that he can throw.
- The DCU has Double Down, a hard luck professional gambler who was cursed. Now he can turn his skin into razor sharp, magic playing cards, and speaks in gambling metaphors and puns.
- The Joker, sometimes. In his case, the cards are prepped with a metal edge, so they're both heavier and razor sharp.
- In one of his earliest Golden Age appearances, the Joker killed a man by treating a new deck of cards with Joker Venom. The poison was administered when the victim got a paper cut opening the new deck.
- In an issue of the Madrox miniseries, Jamie Madrox reflexively slits an enemy's throat with a playing card.
- In the City Hunter Live Action movie, a gambler character (Kao Ta) uses cards as throwing weapons.
- He also exists as a minor villain in the manga, using the same schick. Their standoff endis with a quick-draw, where the grip of his pistol is plated with the Ace of Spades.
- In Smokin' Aces, stage magician-turned-low-level-mafia-boss Buddy "Aces" Israel throws cards around so hard he imbeds one into the leather of a couch, and uses another as a weapon against his chief henchman.
- Deleted scenes from Tomorrow Never Dies had a techno-terrorist (played by Ricky Jay) throwing playing cards as weapons.
- As mentioned above, Bullseye uses a card as a weapon in the Daredevil film. He doesn't use it to actually kill anyone, but it does leave a cut on Elektra's throat and stuns her long enough for him to finish her off.
- In X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Gambit uses his kinetic energy manipulation powers to imbue cards with enough energy to knock Wolverine through a wall.
- Now You See Me: Well, not death, but Jack's card throwing skills look like they hurt Rhodes somewhat. Then there's his card...
- The Big Bad of Tim Powers' novel Last Call put out his son's eye with a thrown playing card near the start of the story. (He used magic to do it, as all the magic in the story has Tarot Motifs or modern playing-card motifs. He wasn't aiming for his son, though; Destiny took a hand.)
- In the Star Trek: New Frontier series, Burgoyne 172 learned this with normal playing cards and then upgraded to the rather harder isolinear computer disks used on Starfleet ships, taking out some Romulans with them.
Live Action TV
- MythBusters busted the "regular cards can be deadly weapons when thrown" part of this trope (with Ricky Jay once again making an appearance): even with a specially designed rig to throw the card faster than a human being, Jamie only reported mild discomfort.
- Jonathan Creek once took out a man holding him at gunpoint with a playing card to the face; it didn't do much in the way of actual injury, but it did make him flinch and let go of his Human Shield and give the police an opening to take him down. He was able to hide it from the guy because of his card-palming skills - because that's the bit that seemed implausible... although Jonathan receives a copy of Ricky Jay's "Cards As Weapons" (see below) at the start of the episode and is seen practicing the throws in idle moments, so it's not utterly implausible. Just, you know, very.
- Despite this apparent feat of accuracy, Jonathan later admits that he had actually been aiming for his balls.
- In the final episode of Kamen Rider Decade, Tsukasa pulls this one off against Apollo Geist; especially noteworthy since his cards are key elements of his Transformation Trinket. For bonus points, they came right back to him.
- Speaking of Riders, in Kamen Rider Gaim, in #3 Kaito once threw a card at a TV, shattering it! He tries to do this again in #15 to Ryoma Sengoku, but his assitant Yoko stopped the card mid-flight by throwing a pen at it.
- Kamen Rider Stronger villain General Shadow's schtick is cards. He throws 'em as weapons, plays card games with the other villains during downtime, and he escapes any losing battle by disappearing behind a zillion cards that he tosses into the air. More recent teamup movies with their improved special effects allow him to ''turn into a giant, spinning, razor sharp card."
- Tokusou Robo Janperson loves doing this as a sort of Dynamic Entry. His JP Cards (5 kinds, the usual being light-colored and proclaiming "Janperson — Dedicate Myself to Justice") are metal and sharp, and thrown by a robot on top of that, so they'll embed themselves in anything up to and including concrete pillars.
- Gregor Molotov, a villain in The Cape, is a master magician who uses this trick to kill off four of his informants, so they can't squeal to anybody else.
- A Monster of the Week from Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger had a gambling theme and made use of exploding playing cards. When the heroes transformed into the likewise card-themed J.A.K.Q. Dengekitai, the energy from their Transformation Sequence blew his cards right back at him...in an imitation of J.A.K.Q.'s opening theme.
- The first Victim of the Week in the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode "Last Woman Standing" is killed when his throat is slashed open by a thrown playing card.
- The cartomancer class in Noob, first seen in action in Season 3 of the webseries.
- Tabletop Games example: Card Shark, a major crime lord in the Dark Champions setting, has razor-sharp cards on his character sheet, and has killed with them several times.
- Blackjack from European Enemies has gimmicked playing cards that he throws as weapons.
- The Huckster Arcane Background in Deadlands uses this often. Can range from throwing one card with a magical razor's edge (card sharp), to throwing them in front of projectiles to stop ranged attacks (ace in the hole).
- Ogma in the Mage: The Awakening quickstart carries Mana-infused cards as a weapon. Possibly subverted by these being metal cards apparently designed for combat use.
- The Trickster Mage OCC from Rifts is an interesting case; he was introduced in an April Fool's edition of The Rifter and wasn't intended to be a serious OCC. A mage whose only abilities seem to revolve around levitating playing cards, the Trickster Mage's arsenal would be pathetic... if he weren't so creative.
- GURPS Supers supplement Supertemps. The super known as Dealer used a weapon that fired metal projectiles the size and shape of playing cards.
- Exalted: A few Thrown charms allow you to throw cards (and pebbles and coins...) as though they were shurikens. An Exalt with these charms are rarely unarmed.
- Roxis from Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis uses cards as his weapon, which he will either throw or chain together to form a whip.
- Dhana from Grandia III attacks her enemies from a distance with cards, and is the only one with a ranged weapon.
- In Sly Cooper And The Thievious Racoonus, the generic enemy Inkspot Jackson throws a fan of playing cards at Sly.
- American McGee's Alice - thrown playing cards are one of Alice's primary weapons.
- Sheena from Tales of Symphonia, though instead of throwing the cards long ranges she usually hits someone with them or has them swung around, floating in the air. Since there are supposed to be spells sealed on the cards, this may also fall under Paper Master or Onmyodo.
- Final Fantasy VI has Setzer the gambler and his thrown cards.
- They're also used in Final Fantasy Tactics A2 by the Trickster class, and surpass bows and guns for the greatest weapon range.
- Final Fantasy VII had an enemy named Death Dealer. The cards were semi-random, but the most dangerous one killed with a spell like Death.
- The Lady Luck dressphere in Final Fantasy X-2 uses a deck of cards for the standard attack command.
- Final Fantasy Type-0 has Ace who wields tarot cards.
- Luxord of Kingdom Hearts II uses a deck of cards that can change size as a weapon. He doesn't throw them but instead turns them into minions. He can also transform hero Sora into a card.
- In 358/2, he does actually throw them and use them to create a shield when he's Roxas' partner for the mission.
- Spider from Mega Man X: Command Mission. In addition to straight damage, the different suits each have a different effect (2 hits, hits all enemies or boosts money or experience gained upon kill) when he has at least 75% WE left. There's also the Joker, which has no minimum WE requirement but like the name suggests, it randomly uses one of the 4 effects mentioned above.
- In Mega Man and Bass, there's Magic Man, who throws two cards that look like they're shuffling themselves, and then it comes back to him like a boomerang. If he hits you, he steals some life. After beating him, you can do it yourself, but without the draining ability. You CAN pick up items and aim upwards with it.
- Oswald from King of Fighters XI. His LDSM even has fifty-two hits. And one of his DMs, ideally, hits 21 times (Blackjack!).
- Raccoons in Trickster Online, after classing up into the Card Master class,can (and probably should) be played like this
- Super Mario RPG has an enemy called "Jester" who can throw playing cards as an attack.
- Clowns and Gypsies of Ragnarok Online have the Tarot Card of Fate skill, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. It can inflict a variety of effects, including but not limited to a total debuff, stun, and instant death.
- Gambling assassin Twisted Fate from League of Legends.
- Some characters in Chrono Cross can use 'shot', which seem to be some sort of thrown bullet. They can also use the various 'Deck' weapons, which apparently fling cards at people.
- Genjuro Kibagami in the Samurai Shodown games can fling one of these as a projectile. These (as well as most of his theme) are from hanafuda, rather than the Western tarot-derivative deck.
- Ruby from Lufia: the Legend Returns .
- The Killer Clown soul in Castlevania: Chronicles of Sorrow lets you throw surprisingly powerful cards.
- Fortune Teller Lucia from Shadow Hearts II uses a deck of tarot in battle. Rather than fight with them directly, they are used for attack spells, buffs and debuffs.
- Dynasty Warriors: Zuo Ci uses cursed cards that hit harder than any sword.
- Technically, like Sheena, he is actually using paper seals infused with magic, but translation calls Zuo's weapon the cursed deck. Each talisman is longer than a regular card.
- British Badass Normal Black Jack from Freedom Force vs The Third Reich uses an acid-dipped ace of spades as his signature weapon.
- Kirby's Magician copy ability in Kirby Squeak Squad allows him to do this.
- Squashini in Kirby's Epic Yarn can strafe the stage with cards.
- The boss of the Italy house in the NES game 8 Eyes uses sharp-edged metal playing cards.
- Dorothy Albright from the Arcana Heart series is a young Stage Magician who uses playing cards with all of her special attacks.
- Magic Man from Mega Man & Bass attacks mainly by shooting cards. Made annoying by the fact that they also steal your health.
- This is Jackle's weapon of choice in NiGHTS.
- Inevitably, Exit Fate has a character who uses these. They're not a very good weapon, but they do full damage from the back row (and he gambles with them, too.)
- The Pierrot class series from Golden Sun: The Lost Age has card-based psynergies.
- In Pirate101 Bill Peacock follows up his pistol shots with a few thrown cards when he lands a critical hit and weasel gamblers/assassins throw cards as ranged attacks. Depending on the player's class these characters may join their crew.
- "Persona 3"and "Persona 4 Arena" has Elizbeth who uses tarot cards as her weapon and uses the tarot cards to summon her persona.
- "Persona 4" and "Persona 4 Arena" has the main character and the other playable characters use tarot cards to summon their personas.
- Blackjack from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe uses tricked out, weaponized playing cards as weapons, and dresses in a costume reminiscent of the Jack of Spades.
- Obligatory Whateley Universe example: Chaka threw some playing cards into a man's legs in the last chapter of Ayla and the Birthday Brawl. Regular playing cards.
- Not her first use, either. In an earlier Chaka story, she fights off an armed superpowered ninja with playing cards, before she gets out the fighting chain. We are talking about a mutant who can throw things like sewing needles with lethal accuracy.
- David Kintobor, one of David Gonterman's Author Avatars, possesses a Bloody Card that he got at a convention. It's soon updated to a Luna Card as a means to not kill any civilians in the ongoing battles.
- Some stores sell what's billed as playing card shuriken—metal rectangles, ostensibly sharpened on the edges, with pictures of a card on each one. Not quite the same as a real deck of cards. While they might not be quite as effective as actual shuriken, they still do the job better than normal paper cards ever could. And unlike real shuriken, the lighter weight and slimmer profile makes it possible to conceal more of them, and with greater ease. While a single one might not be that deadly (unless you score a lucky hit to the carotid artery or jugular vein), playing a game of "52 Pickup" with them could be rather...effective.
- Card manipulation specialist Ricky Jay is famous for his ability to throw playing cards at great speed. He has even written a book called Cards As Weapons. In his recorded special Ricky Jay and His 52 Assistants, he demonstrates his skills by embedding cards into the skin of a watermelon.
- As noted in another category of this trope, Jay appeared as a villain in the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies. Reportedly a scene showing his character utilizing Jay's card-throwing abilities was shot but the scene was cut.
- Professional poker player Chris "Jesus" Ferguson is also famous for this.
- This one (performed for the new Samsung Digital Camcorder H205 launch).