Can't decide whether to Carry a Big Stick or Whip It Good? Well, Take a Third Option: a large, heavy object on the end of a rope, chain, or cable. The latter part of the Crusaders era was dominated by a number of armor-piercing weapons, including spiked or blunt flails. Two examples are the mace-and-chain and some varieties of morningstar. Sheer momentum made this a superb weapon for unhorsing foes, crushing helmets, smashing shields, and driving bits of armor into your foe's body. Not so hot for defense, though. It should be noted that the heads on these weapons were about the size of a softball. Flail/morningstar heads in fiction, on the other hand, are usually the size of the wielder's head, if not larger, and realistically would be far too heavy for a normal person to wield in real life (picture swinging around a bowling ball like that, or an Olympic Hammer Throw event and you get the idea). It's also a relatively dangerous weapon, because one false move could wind up either getting you tangled up in the chain, or smashing yourself with the business end of it. Either way, it requires balls of steel to use.
Think of a wrecking ball or something similar, but any bludgeoning-implement-on-a-string probably counts, such as the infamous nunchaku beloved of martial artists and ninja fans.
WHOOSH WHOOSH WHOOSH! Pretty scary, huh?
For the one specific type of flail: Nunchuku, see Fighting With Chucks. For just the chain, see Chain Pain. Sock It To Them is the improvised version.
Compare Everything's Better with Spinning, Killer Yo Yo. If the spiky part is not a part of a weapon, then these are Spike Balls of Doom.
Completely unrelated to Epic Fail, unless you've somehow smacked yourself in the head with it and maybe gotten the pointy bits embedded in your face. Also not that thing Kermit does when he's excited◊, nor is it that one Pokťmon battle featuring a MagikarpFlailing around and sweeping an entire team of legendaries.
∀ Gundam has a fight where Loran finds one, and uses it as a weapon. Due to its age it breaks apart at the end.
Later in the series (after more gear has been uncovered) Loran uses two of these at once to immobilise three opponents (using Turn A's engines, which appear to gradually upgrade their efficiency over time with the rest of the mecha, to pin the third).
In Super Robot Wars: Alpha Gaiden repeats this, but he keeps it as a primary weapon. However, it still breaks apart each time he uses it; he just apparently has a stock of up to eight of them at any given time.
The Turn A's SP Attack in Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2 has it swinging two flails around in circles. It also uses the flails in a regular attack that's good for clearing crowds.
Bolt Gundam from G Gundam uses one as well. It's attached by a laser that he can use to hold an enemy and deliver a massive beatdown.
Makes another comeback in Gundam SEED with the Raider Gundam's "Mjolnir" spherical breaker. Its existence was given a few justifications, such as saying that the head is super-dense in order to get around the impact-resistant Phase Shift Armor, and the wire is beam-coated so it can be used as an impromptu shield.
The Gundam Double X from Gundam X was planned to use one, but when the series had its episode count cut by ten, this was dropped. Now the only place it can be found is with the model kit.
Crossbone Gundam sequel Skull Heart has the Amakusa, a mobile suit designed by the Jovian Empire that uses a brain-clone of Amuro Ray as its "pilot"; its shield is equipped with a hammer weapon that splits in half when not in use.
In a recent arc of One Piece, Franky is confronted with a Giant Spider. He already has a pair of nunchuku strapped to his back, but he decides that that just isn't badass enough and finds a giant marble column to break in half and affix to the ends of his nunchaku to make a humongous super-flail. And if that isn't awesome enough already, he gives the spider the most epic "Bitch, please" face ever before dispensing a serious smackdown.
Also, Garp, who has a flail the size of a battleship, and throws it around like it's nothing.
At one point, Enel finds that being a rubber man, Luffy is immune to his lightning attack. So, Enel melted a huge chunk of GOLD on Luffy's right hand, forming a Giant Ball Made Out of Gold. Guess how Enel was beaten?
The Libra Cloth also comes equipped with triple-section rods and nunchaku, two of each. And a minor enemy, the Silver Saint of Cerberus, wielded a vicious morningstar which could multiply into dozens of flails as well as extend and retract just like the Andromeda Chain.
Haruka Armitage of Mai-Otome wields a large flail, in line with her...rather impulsive personality.
General Yeegar in D. Gray-Man used massive chains with spikes on the end as weapons.
In Change 123, a young kunoichi uses a very practical and disguised variation of a rope dart or a kusarigama - a keychain with heavy and sharp keys attached to the end of a retractable wire.
Later it gets shown that her mentor uses a similar, although more primitive, weapon: a stone wrapped inside a cloth strip.
The most epic flails of all time popped up in Transformers Cybertron, in which Primus turns his own moons into a pair of flails to lay the smackdown on a planet-sized Starscream.
Baldorias S. Fanghini, Number VIII of the Chronos Numbers in Black Cat not only uses a flail to pound his enemies to a pulp, but additionally attaches remote-controlled rockets to it to add to the epicness.
Go-Go Yubari in Kill Bill wields a mean ball-and-chain meteor hammer in her battle against the Bride.
The Witch-king in Lord of the Rings: Return Of The King used a truly huge flail to fight …owyn at the Pelennor Fields. The reason that the producers picked a flail may have been to avoid comparison with Sauron's big two-handed mace from the beginning of "Fellowship of the Ring" despite the fact that the Tolkien book described him as wielding a mace. The special features even point out how difficult it was to lift; in the scene where the Witch-king first lifts the weapon, there was actually a person lying on the ground underneath and pushing it up from below. It started off as a relatively normal-sized flail, but Peter Jackson kept telling WETA Workshop to "make it bigger." They finally made one that they were positive was going to be "too big". That's the one that made it on screen. Jackson himself thinks that it still could have been bigger.
Braveheart: After losing his hand at the battle of Stirling, Campbell, Hamish's Badass dad, wields a spiked flail during the battle at Falkirk, and ends up receiving a mortal wound while he's busy swinging it overhead. Later, Wallace rides into Mornay's bedchamber, uncoils a long-chained flail, and crushes the treacherous lord's head like a watermelon with one great swing.
Megatron in the 2007 Transformers briefly uses one to smash apart his prison chamber in Hoover Dam, and later the rooftop pillar Sam Witwicky is clinging to, in a likely homage to the above. Barricade also appears to wield one in his fight against Bumblebee, one with spinning blades.
In Ivanhoe, Bois Guilbert (George Sanders) chooses to wield a flail in the climax duel against the eponymous hero, who manages to turn it to his advantage.
In Shanghai Noon, Chon Wang (Jackie Chan) improvises one with a horseshoe and rope against a bunch of bounty hunters.
In The Court Jester, our hero faces off against a knight who selects a mace and chain as his weapon.
In Thud!, a volunteer had a pair of nunchaku, in this universe called numknuts. Vimes tried swirling one of them, and promptly hit his elbow.
In a previous book, Nobby gets ahold of a huge flail, and starts swinging it, and the narration muses that nobody was quite sure which was orbiting which, Nobby or the flail.
Several generic opponents in Gladiator use large flails, though they're only effective when used right at the start of the fight; as soon as the gladiators themselves get clear of the exit their swords win easily.
Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger has Gokai Yellow's signature trick fitting this trope. Each ranger has a gun and sword all but Red tend to swap weapons around so that they're either going Guns Akimbo (Green and Pink) or Dual Wielding (Blue and Yellow). Yellow uses the grappling wires in the base of the swords to swing them around when she wants to take out large numbers of mooks, hence this trope.
Humongous Mecha-sized flails appear in BattleTech, used in the gladiator battles on Solaris 7, as they're a very showy weapon. They aren't used outside the arena, and their only real bit of notability is that they're one of only a couple of weapons that it's possible for the attacker to hit himself with.
Flails are usable weapons in Dungeons & Dragons, available in both one-handed and two-handed. You can also use a Dire Flail, which is basically a flail on either end of a long stick, just so long as you can avoid thinking too hard about how that's meant to work.
Some combination of this and Whip It Good are generally how the Spiked Chain of 3.5 was depicted.
In 4th Edition, the Three-Headed-Flail (based on a real weapon) is possibly the best weapon in the game.
While possessing the same stats as its rival the Bastard Sword, and more accuracy than its more damaging axe and hammer counterparts. The Triple-Headed Flail suffers from lack of support in terms of feats and magic item options. Regulating it to use by those who want to standout from the crowd.
Stat-wise, the triple-headed flail is essentially a stock flail with an additional +1 to hit...and an attached 'feat tax', because as a superior melee weapon it's not something most (if any) classes are going to be proficient with by default and so that proficiency must be bought the 'hard' way. If you don't know how to use any kind of flail and want to spend a feat on doing so, this one is arguably the one to spring for; but if you already have proficiency with martial melee weapons and thus regular flails as a class feature, whether the tradeoff is worth it becomes more debatable. (And of course, classes not proficient with the general martial melee weapon category will generally reap fewer benefits from investing feats in learning how to use more weapons because their focus in combat tends to be elsewhere in the first place.)
There's also the monster known as the Flail Snail, a giant snail with four mace-like growths in place of feelers.
Present in both Warhammer and Warhammer 40000. In the former, it's a weapon commonly used by crazed Empire Flagellants and Chaos Marauders, and the Skaven like to mix their flails with a chemical weapon dispenser, while in the latter, they're a standard armament of arco-flaggelants.
On the other hand, the Orks used to have the Splatta Kannon, which fired what was basically a rocket flail.
The Night Goblin fanatic gets a very special version: it weighs several times the goblin holding it. Without madcap brew, they wouldn't even be able to lift it.
Necromunda has a weapon combining a flail with a flamethrower.
Necromunda comic hero and special character Klovis the Redeemer uses one of these, the "mMrtifier", like a church censer - except where those are filled with scented incense, the Mortifier burns ferociously with a fuel that spills over and ignites any target it strikes.
In GURPS the two handed flail is one of the most powerful weapons available. Its damage is exceeded only by the Chainsaw and Force Sword, parrying it is difficult and it doesn't take much strength to use.
The background materials for The Dark Eye feature the Thundercrack, which is a mix of a flail and a cat o' nine tails: A flail with nine balls. It is incredibly hard to control, and the inventor smashed his own skull in on the first tryout; accordingly, any suggestions how to turn this into a usable weapon for players contain heavy penalties.
Bulletstorm has the Flailgun: it doesn't just fire explosives, it fires two remotely detonated, sticky bombs attached to each other with a chain. If they flail around while wrapping around a target or an obstacle, they can shear an enemy in half. Using an unfortunate target as a walking bomb or kicking him back into his friends sometimes gets the protagonist to say "epic flail"
Our hero Mike from Star Tropics starts his quest with a measly Yo-Yo, but upgrades to a flail called Shooting Star in chapter 3, and then ultimately the epic Super Nova in chapter 7.
The X-Hunter Violen in Mega Man X 2 uses this as his primary attack. In the rematch, there are disappearing blocks which can sometimes help block his attack, although the chain doesn't obey the same game physics and can pass through, so you need to exercise cautious judgement. Hilariously, his weakness in the rematch is Charged Bubble Splash (Not the Shoryuken, which can only be obtained two stages later.)
Knight Man in Mega Man 6 also uses a mace, although to far less effectiveness in range and power.
In NetHack you can get punished with a ball and chain. Bummer, but you can pick up the ball and swing it around as a weapon because The Dev Team Thinks of Everything. Aside from the ludicrous weight, it's actually a pretty good weapon.
Also handy because you could pick up the ball and throw it. Which would then cause you to fly over several squares as the chain lost its slack and took you with it. It was one of the only ways to "jump" the sections of water.
In Original Generation 2 Arado is given a Boost Hammer for one mission, as it was the best weapon to suit his fighting style the designer could come up with on short notice. If you perform well enough with it, you get to keep it.
Baran Doban still reigns as king of this trope, in the SRW community if not in total, however, purely due to his ultimate attack, the Daifunsai (literal translation: Great Pulverization). If a Super Robot-sized wrecking ball smashing you upside the face faster than the speed of sound isn't the purest definition of Epic Flail, I don't know WHAT is.
Soul Series had two Nunchaku users, Maxi is the current Epic Flailer, replacing Li Long. The latter taught the former how to use the weapons.
Ivy has a flail as an optional weapon, but it's heavy enough to slowly drain her health.
The opening video for Rock Band 2 features a microphone-flail. Power Metal indeed.
The sequel reverted it back to an axe but gave Dong Zhou (Formerly a serrated broadsword) and Cao Rhen (Formerly a... buckler-blade thing) more modest ones.
Alundra has its titular character used a blunt flail as one of his standard weapons, later upgrading it to a big spiky one which he can spin around his head.
The Wii Game Gundam SD: Scad Hammers takes advantage of the Wiimote controls and has the player controlling various Gundams armed with a ball and chain.
Axl Low from the Guilty Gear series uses a modified Kusari-Gama (see below), only with a scythe-blade on both ends. He still throws the blades out like the weighted end would have been, mind, so maybe they're heavy enough to act in the same way.
Odin in Odin Sphere uses one of the "huge spiked ball" variety. And we mean huge- Odin himself is about 20 feet tall and his weapon, the Balor, is bigger than the entire bodies of any of the playable characters!
Castlevania, anyone? Okay, its most prominent weapon is actually a whip, but some games allow it to upgrade it to sort of a whip-flail thing.
This is actually featured in nearly every game. You start with a whip, which becomes a flail, which becomes a morning star. Some games even take it up a notch by including a whip/flail that is either covered in flames or outright shoots fireballs.
Kingdom of Loathing has the ridiculously overelaborate ninja weapon, a 3-handed...weapon. It has an increased critical chance, but like all 3-handed weapons a huge multiplier to fumbles as well.
"Well, it's definitely a weapon of some sort. It consists of four long blades, three wooden poles, six steel chains, and an assortment of spikes. You have absolutely no idea how to use it, but it looks totally badass."
On a more mundane note, there's also the Legendary Epic weapon for Turtle Tamers, the Chelonian morningstar. The KOL Wiki suggests it could be an 'epic flail'. Defeat your Nemesis and it becomes the Flail of the Seven Aspects. The game has other flails, too; depending on the dev team's mood, it may be a melee or ranged weapon.
Ratchet: Deadlocked has had the Scorpion/Leviathan Flail. It is, however, so heavy the head scrapes along the ground when he's carrying it. It may not be the most powerful weapon in his arsenal, but it's certainly one of the most fun. The fun part? It has its own shockwave.
Baldur's Gate II features a magical flail you can reassemble. It's got three heads, with different elemental powers. It's...very handy against trolls. Which is lucky, because the place you find it in is swarming with the bastards.
Subverted in World of Warcraft. Not a single flail to be seen anywhere in the game, and the Morningstar weapon is just a spiked mace. This is probably due to the limitations of the graphics.
Though oddly enough, it was a feature weapon in Diablo 2. Not much was more fun than seeing a Zealadin in action.
Bowser from Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars can equip a spiked mace and a chain that he throws as one of his weapons. Also, he can equip Chomps, which work on a very similar basis.
The game Whiplash combines this with Chained Heat, with the two main characters being Spanx, a maniacal weasel and Redmond, a Nigh Invulnerable rabbit chained together attempting to escape the Mega Corp that have been using them for tests. Spanx swings Redmond around like a weapon and Redmond can occasionally go into an Unstoppable Rage where he wantonly smashes thing by himself.
Selphie from Final Fantasy VIII uses a particularly long set of nunchaku for fighting, although her combat discipline mostly lies in Confusion Fu. Her use of this weapon marks their first appearance in the game since the very first game. And like in the Soul Series, she is forced to use a tri-rod in the UK version.
Reuben in Final Fantasy Mystic Quest makes use of a morning star as his sole weapon. As far as weapon weaknesses in the game are concerned, it's an axe equivalent.
If we're going to count kusarigama, then Earthquake out of the Samurai Shodown series should be here. With a justified reason why the blunt head at the end of the chain is as big as a normal person's head—so are his fists. Meanwhile, Basara has some..weird spinning bladed thingy on a chain that he can toss around, too.
In Runescape, there are two different flails. The Verac's Flail looks like any other flail (despite being able to occasionally hit through protection prayers), but the Ivandis Flail is on an enchanted staff made of silvthril (silver + mithril) and has a blessed silver sickle in place of a spiked ball. It's worth mentioning that the latter is used against the Vyrewatch, creatures that would otherwise be able to predict your exact movements and dodge your attacks. It's the flail's unpredictable nature that counters this.
The 1987 2D side-scroller Black Tiger featured a knight using a flail and shield.
The first boss of Sonic the Hedgehog is Dr. Robotnik flying a small hovercraft armed with a giant wrecking ball on the bottom.
Diablo 2 has Khalim's Flail. It is a quest item that you get to make into a relic/artifact by transmuting/fusing it with its previous owner's brain, eye and heart. The resulting weapon had three chains attached to its handle, with metallic spiked skulls for the hammers. All in a day's work.
Grenades in the Gears of War series are attached to a stick by a length of chain. Epic Flail indeed.
Also, the Locust Mauler is a Giant Mook that carries a huge shield and uses a flail once it closes in.
Suika Ibuka of the Touhou series. Those ball/pyramid/cube and chains attached to her aren't just for show, and she also uses her sake gourd as one.
The Russian indie game Hammerfight is all about this, being a game that focuses entirely on centrifugal force. Aside from the selection of hammers, axes and swords, you have a large selection of flails and flail like weapons, such as the "colossus", a sawblade on a chain laced with spikes. That is, the chain itself has spikes coming off it. It should be pointed out that the head on each of these flail weapons is larger then a human being. Also, if you are so inclined and are skilled enough, you can use two at once.
Tomba!'s weapon of choice. Later in the game it can be morphed with a grappling hook.
In Sengoku Basara 3, Kuroda Kanbe has his wrists permanently cuffed to a huge iron ball, which he swings around as a weapon. As an added bonus, it's possible to hold the normal attack button and keep spinning around, essentially letting inertia take over (though he'll get dizzy after a while).
SD Gundam Scad Hammer is all about throwing and swinging hammers. Appearantly, Tem Ray has been smoking something and has disabled all the other weapons for the Gundam.
The rematch against it in level 13 is a different story- it can now extend its wrecking ball to toss up rocks from the ground, making it a lot harder to avoid damage this time round.
In The King Of Fighters, Korea Team regular Chang Koehan uses a ball and chain from his time as a prisoner as his weapon of choice.
In League of Legends, Sejuani the Winter's Wrath wields a giant flail with a head apparently made out of a large chunk of ice wrapped with spiked metal bands. Her alternate skins change the head to a heavy piece of wood studded with massive, curved thorns, or a rough lump of jagged crystal.
A semi-recurring weapon in the Dragon Quest series. It is usually classified as a type of whip for the purposes of the game, being able to hit groups of enemies at once, though it is its own weapon type in Dragon Quest VIII.
Dark Castle has one at the bottom of the Trouble area, used to knock out the guard who blocks the keys to escape the dungeon. Beyond Dark Castle and Return to Dark Castle allow you to take it with you.
Carmageddon II has a spiky ball and chain power up called the "Mutant Tail Thing". Usually more of a hinderance than a help, but skilled usage grants extra style bonuses.
In Transformers Animated, Bulkhead can turn his fist into a wrecking ball that he can also shoot as a projectile. This is awesome. Jazz has energy nunchucks; if you're wondering how they stay together, well, Rule Of Cool. The Decepticon Oil Slick has a weapon that's basically two halves of a barrel connected by a long chain. The Dinobot Swoop also has a flail-in common with the weapons of the other Dinobots, it can burst into flames.
Bulkhead takes this trope further in "Three's a Crowd": his wrecking ball gets stuck on Mixmaster's hand, so he uses Mixmaster's entire body as a flail.
By using his grapplers to wield his ax, Optimus Prime can do this as well. (It also is partially made of energy and somehow manages to keep its un-connected solid portions in place. Like Jazz's energon nunchuks, it runs on Rule Of Cool.)
Panthro of ThunderCats has his cat-themed nunchucks (spelled in various inconsistent ways). The twist was that, when thrust like a whip, the blue side fired projectiles and the red fired energy blasts.
The Tracker, of W.I.T.C.H. fame. (Well, he may not be well-known enough to call it fame, but it's awesome.)
The Simpsons. Homer chasing Bart down the sidewalk with a flail: "I'll mace you good!"
Used in Voltron Force, when the yellow lion forms the head of Voltron.
Several times in The Venture Brothers music video of the Shallow Gravy song "Jacket". The lead singer, Dermott Fictel, has a set of microphone nunchucks; when he isn't singing, he's using them as nunchucks to badass effect.
In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ninja Tribunal acolyte Adam McKay uses a ball and chain as his original weapon of choice, before replacing it with a hammer.
Agricultural flails - with metal spikes attached - were popular infantry weapons in the Middle Ages. The 15th century Hussites took that to extreme.
Medieval knightly "ball and chain" flail. Requires skill, but it can strike behind the opponent's shield.
A famous eastern weapon is the Kusari-Gama, a chain with a weight on one end, and a hand-held scythe on the other. Like the nunchaku, it was developed from a weaponized tool (that being the sickle itself). There is also the similar Kyoketsu-Shoei, which was a knife on the end of a long cord.
Mine flails are large cylinders attached to the front of tank-like vehicles *
Indeed the first were converted tanks
and are used to clear mines by intentionally detonating them. Heavy chains of fist-sized metal balls are attached to the cylinder. As the cylinder spins, the chains whip around and strike the ground repeatedly, detonating any mines beneath the surface. Massive shields block the the rest of the vehicle from the blasts. This method of mine clearing was invented just before the Battle of El Alamein.
There are also poi, which are small weights attached to roughly arm-length strings, cords, or chains. They are then whirled around the body at highly improbable speed. Look here, here, and here for some examples.
Similar to poi -perhaps they even come from them- are cariocas, often seen with ribbons attached or on fire. Like poi, they are not offensive, but any trainee juggler can tell you that you do not want to get hit by one. Particularly if you're male.
There are also weapons called Meteors which are long cords with weighted ends. Wrapping them around the body is used to generate speed, and power. Some performers use fire pots on the end for special effects, these are called Fire Meteors.
Crossing with Improvised Weapon: gang warfare between high school teenagers in Indonesia often employ motorcycle disc brakes◊ on the edges of belts. The gears being sharp enough to injure, swinging them at high speeds would result in grave injuries and wide availability of both motorcycle spare parts and belts as well as their effectiveness lends to their ubiquity. Of course, fights will always devolve into flailing contests between two massed groups of teenagers and look extremely silly.
Certain Ankylosaurs had a bony club at the end of their tail, which could easily break an attacker's bones. Most predatory dinos would be in for a hard fight because of that, not to mention its natural armor.