Okay, so flinging pointy death from above
is all well and good, but what if you aren't adept at archery
? Never fear! Just grab your favorite knife
, deck of cards
, or anything else that's small and razor edged
, and start tossing.
Meaning "little arrow" or "dart" in French, a flechette is any pointy projectile - smaller than your traditional arrow or crossbow bolt - that can be thrown or fired with the intention of cutting, impaling and/or poisoning
your opponent, and most societies have their own brand of flechette projectile that can be used. Thrown or fired, just like a Rain of Arrows
, a veritable hail of these weapons are quite effective in cutting down large groups, and it's no surprise that most warriors specializing in thrown weaponry depicted in fictional media are able to create that tempest with a few simple tosses. If the flechettes are magical or infused with Ki, expect them to function like homing Reverse Shrapnel
. Since these projectiles are very sharp, they have a lower than average tendency to actually hit anything
, though they may well stick your clothing to the wall
Sometimes shaking out some loose feathers
works like this too.
A subtrope of Spam Attack
. Compare Storm of Blades
and Rain of Arrows
. On a smaller scale, it is very similar to a Macross Missile Massacre
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Anime and Manga
- Mobile Suit Gundam 00 hgives the eponymous Humongous Mecha things called "GN Fangs", which are small units that fly around independently of the MS that deployed them and attack enemies by stabbing them, either with their pointed front ends or Laser Blades that emanate from them. Later on, they get particle beam weapons, too.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! Spell Card Thousand Knives. Also, Winged Beast-Type monsters usually are depicted as having a feather-based variant.
- Also in the Tenth Anniversary Movie, this is how Malefic Truth Dragon's Kill 'em All effect works.
- Dio Brando from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, who tends to be portrayed as following up ZA WARUDO with a veritable hail of knives (then capping things off with a steamroller).
- Cinque of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, particularly at the end of her fight against Subaru, which has her launching all of her exploding throwing knives in a desperation attack.
- Mint in Ranma 1/2 tosses a flurry of knives at his foe as his opening attack. Usually enough to pin them against a wall.
- In the manga version of the Martial Arts Takeout Race, Cologne pulls this off against Shampoo in order to show off how skilled her great-granddaughter is (Shampoo, currently serving another table with her back to the wall, deflects all of the daggers and sends them right back where they came from, without once turning away from her customers or spilling their order).
- This is fundamentally Mousse's primary tactic in fighting, though he tends to use a rather ecletic assortment of projectiles.
- The vampire Caerula Sanguis of Battle Angel Alita: Last Order is able to write Chinese characters with a volley of knives. Well, one character, at least (Death).
- A minor character uses umbrellas to shower his enemies with poisoned homing needles. He pulls this out on Gaara during the chunin exams, but it doesn't work.
- Haku from the Wave arc also used ice needles at the beginning of his fight against Sasuke.
- Tenten can summon a rain of shurikens, kunais, needles, and any other sharp metal objects a ninja may carry with them.
- Sasuke can do a similar trick by continuously throwing shuriken and summoning more using seals he tied to his wrists.
- Itachi is a master of this, having successfully countered Sasuke's summoned arsenal of shuriken with his own, without breaking a sweat. He also broke the Rinnegan's shared vision link by blinding all of Nagato's summons with a barrage of projectiles.
- Sasori's Hiruko puppet, which had both as kunai launcher in its mouth and a senbon cluster bomb.
- The Third Hokage has a technique which can take a few throw shuriken and turn it into a full-blow Flechette Storm.
- Konan can make one of these using pieces of paper.
- Gaara could do this in his Shukaku form
- Naruto's Rasen Shuriken attack is a Fuuma Shuriken made of thousands of tiny blades of wind chakra, and is optimally used when thrown.
- Setsuna's artifact in Mahou Sensei Negima!, Sica Shishikushiro, which can be summoned as 16 flying daggers to attack a target with.
- Fate Averruncus uses a similar attack.. He's also seen using a Flechette Storm in the 1st Mou Hitotsu no Sekai OVA during the gateport battle, when he summons a group of small rock-spears and fires them forward.
- Many a Digimon character has such an attack, such as Renamon's Diamond Storm attack, Peckmon's Kunai Wing attack, Cherubimon's Thousand Spears, and Ice Devimon's Avalanche Claw. That's just a few — a complete list would be very long, especially if we include the characters who didn't appear in the TV series.
- Hanzo, the Koga ninja leader in the Ninja Scroll movie, throws dozens of shuriken at Tessai with enough force to break off thick tree branches. Unfortunately, since Tessai knows the D&D "Stoneskin" enchantment the shuriken just bounce right off and Hanzo gets his arms ripped off for his troubles.
- In Cardcaptor Sakura, Yue and Ruby Moon can conjure projectiles and magically throw them at opponents.
- In the early chapters of Blade of the Immortal, Rin uses a technique called "Curtain of Death", which is essentially a flurry of small knives thrown at the enemy. However, the limitations of using such a technique are remarked upon by at least one character, and eventually Rin stops using them altogether.
- Most of it comes form the fact she, 1) doesn't aim (in fact she doesn't look at the target at all) 2 yells out the name. She still somewhat uses it, as a last option.
- Tubalcain Alhambra of Hellsing does this with playing cards.
- Byakuya's Senbonzakura counts as this. Millions of blades in Bankai form. When As Nodt of the Vandenreich steals Byakuya's Bankai, he shows how downright vicious the potential it can be by tearing Byakuya to ribbons.
- The Privaron Espada Cirucci Sanderwicci's released form, which includes two wings each with five half-moon shaped blades. She can fire the blades at an opponent, guide them in flight and make them return to her if they miss.
- Karl's from Blood+ has an arm allows him to rapidly fire huge spikes from his hand.
- In One Piece
- Kaku uses a variation of Rankyaku where the projectiles bounce off the ceiling and hit the enemy like raindrops.
- Hody Jones' Yabusame attack, where he throws a barrage of water droplets at his enemy that pierce through them like arrows.
- In the anime, "Flower Sword" Vista does this using his swords and rose petals.
- This is the gimmick of several Marvel characters Bullseye and Ultimate Hawkeye, who can turn anything into a projectile. Also Gambit does this with the added bonus that he can make anything he touches go boom.
- Magnattack, a lower-tier Invincible villain, does this with the 88 metal plates surrounding his magnetized body. A bonus is that he can naturally recall them because of his powers.
- A demon tries to use this on Lucifer in the "Nirvana" miniseries, which works about as well as you might expect.
- Riptide of the X-Men villains The Marauders could spin at high speeds and fling out blades that could even pierce Colossus's skin.
- Used by Asakura in the prologue extension chapter of Kyon Big Damn Hero.
- In Naruto: Ramen Days Naruto learns Kunai Kage Bunshin. Whereas Kakashi used it to turn a single kunai into ten, Naruto overpowers it, turning a single kunai into "a solid wall of black". Kakashi then insists he never use that technique unless all allies are behind him.
- In Naruto: the Secret Songs of the Ninja, this is one of Keiji's tricks. He can throw his shuriken with an emphasis on high speed, insane accuracy, extreme range, or any combination of the three, but when he goes all-out on speed... well, there's a reason he carries several hundred shuriken on his person at once.
- Discworld's Sergeant Detritus wields a huge crossbow modified to fire a whole sheaf of arrows. On top of this, the bow is so powerful that the arrows tend to shatter into flaming shrapnel from the sheer stress of acceleration. It has, in universe, been nicknamed "The Piece-maker".
- Guns firing very small-calibre dart-like projectiles have been a staple of science fiction almost as long as the ubiquitous "blaster". In earlier works they're usually called "needle-guns" or "needlers", but flechettes entered the lexicon after their real-word use in artillery rounds, and speculative future firearm proposals. For example:
- Isaac Asimov's novel The Stars Like Dust.
- In Poul Anderson's Dominic Flandry series, Flandry regularly packs a blaster and a needler (often firing poisoned needles).
- Dan Simmons's Hyperion novels.
- William Gibson's Action Girl Molly Millions favours a flechette pistol ("fletcher") firing poisoned or explosive darts.
- Honor Harrington features flechette guns as one of the more common small arms in the series. They're mostly used aboard ships and similar environments-the hailstorm of little darts that one flechette gun fires is entirely capable of chewing a whole group of humans into cat food, but aren't powerful enough to go through heavy armor, meaning that they're unlikely to rupture the hull of the ship. Pulser guns, the most basic small arm, also follow the same principle, rapid-firing a stream of hypersonic darts.
- In The War Against the Chtorr, the AM-280 rifle fires 18-grain flechettes at 3000 rounds-per-minute; a rate high enough to chew through the segmented bodies of the alien worms. With any other rifle they're virtually Immune to Bullets.
- In Lois McMaster Bujold's The Warrior's Apprentice Bothari is killed with one of these.
- So was Miles himself in Mirrordance. (He got better.)
- Just one of the many weapons used by the Howlers in one of the Animorphs books.
- And the Blue Meanies in the Remnants books.
- In Starfist, this appears to be the standard weapon for all human military forces outside the Confederation Armed Forces.
- There are a LOT of descriptions of this in Shadows of the Apt, particularly after the snapbow gets into general use.
- In some Star Wars Expanded Universe book or another, it's stated that Mon Calimari Cruisers have "bomb blisters" - bubbles on the hull that look like just another Mon Cal hull bubble, but explode for decent backblast and a hailstorm of starfighter-shredding shrapnel. Good tactic for a rebel/New Republic starfighter pilot: drag a squadron of baddies across this and have the cruiser set it off just as you pass out of range.
- Jarlaxle from the Forgotten Realms has a pair of bracers that are capable of summoning a dagger with a flick of a wrist, which he then throws with unerring accuracy. The good news is, one in three of these daggers is an illusion (or so he says). The bad news is, he is capable of throwing a stream of them faster than most archers shoot. More bad news, the D&D rules on illusions mean you're probably better off running for cover than taking 1 in 3 odds, unless you're feeling suicidally confident.
- The Darwinists in the Leviathan trilogy have among their biological arsenal creatures called flechette bats. The bats feed on metal projectiles which they unleash in a (quite literal, in this case) shit-storm of pointy death when signaled.
- In Good Omens, 17th century witch Agnes Nutter is described as having stuffed her dress with gunpowder and nails before being burned at the stake.
- In Gust Front, the conventional (if up-armored) tanks used to engage the US east coast invasion regularly used "beehive" rounds against the Posleen, firing a storm of flechettes from their 120mm main gun, although it's said they keep a round or two of their "silver bullet" anti-tank sabot rounds for nostalgia's sake.
- "They'll listen to Reason." Deconstructed though — though devastatingly effective at turning anything in its path into hamburger and/or tinfoil scraps, Reason requires a lot of power (in the form of what appears to be an RTG) and puts out a lot of heat (presumably a combination of said RTG and railgun plasma). It's also an Obvious Beta — the prerelease firmware crashes at a moment when Hiro needs it.
- Michael Moorcock's Jerry Cornelius is gifted with the manifestation of the Black Sword for the universe where he is Eternal Champion - the deadly Needle Gun that pumps out tiny, but soul-killing, black needles in large numbers.
- Contrast this to the Elric Saga story where Elric, in a time of great need, is surprised when the Black Sword calls upon the power of its millions of brothers and sisters, who answer the call and act as a mobile cloud of meat-mincing and soul-killing blades to the Big Bad that was threatening to overwhelm Elric.
- Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon:
- Villain Jade Fox brings us this in the form of poison darts, which she fires from a blowgun at a rate that rivals gatling guns!
- In the same climactic battle, Li Mu Bai kills Jade Fox by using the Green Destiny sword to shatter her own blade into a burst of steel shards that impale her.
- ''Film\Gravity utilizes this with the concept of Kessler syndrome: The destruction of one object in orbit creates a high-speed debris cloud that can destroy anything in its wake, slowly moving lower and lower until it enters the atmosphere and burns up.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- In AD&D2 and before, base rate of fire for throwing daggers or knives was 2x, darts 3x and shurikens (in Oriental Adventures) varying up to 4x per round. Specialized warriors, along with attack and damage bonuses, has rate of fire up to 5/round with knives or large shurikens and 6/round for darts and small shurikens.
- Note this meant a fighter specializing in darts did more damage per round than one specialized in two handed swords!
- D&D3 also had Prestige Classes for this type of fighting, including the Master Thrower, who specialises in throwing lots and lots of knives, and the Bloodstorm Blade, who specialises in throwing things very, very hard.
- The Rogue class in 4 edition of has a number of abilities which hurl a knife, individually, at every single enemy in a 15-foot-by-15-foot square. If you use a magic dagger, you even somehow manage to hurl the same knife at every one. One of these attacks even hurls said knife to such effect as to blind every victim with blood streaming into the eyes!
- Sorcerers in Exalted can learn a spell called "Death of Obsidian Butterflies." The sorcerer sends a cloud of glass shards covering an area 30 yards wide, 100 yards long and 10 yards high. This is a first circle spell.
- Cascade of Cutting Terror, which can be done with any thrown item, causing it to multiply hundreds of times to strike over a wide area (with the duplicates vanishing after hitting). For emphasis: ANY thrown item. Including daggers, icicles, coins, peanuts, tuna fish, peasants, elephants, etc.
- A recent GURPS supplement provided rules for a similar power. Except you don't necessarily need magic.
- Corvus Belli's wargame Infinity has the chain rifle, a flechette firing template weapon. The reasoning the game gives for it's existence is actually relatively plausible, and it functions (hence the name) by having a chain strip flechettes of metal from a steel block and then accelerates them to supersonic speeds. The result is the target being hard pressed to dodge the approaching wall of hot metal with small holes in it.
- Magic: The Gathering - there are a few cards using this trope.
- Warhammer 40,000:
- The Eldar of make extensive use of shuriken weaponry - a solid plasti-crystalline core of ammunition is sliced into molecule-thin shuriken, which are then catapulted out of the gun by magnets at a firing rate of over a hundred rounds per second.
- The Dark Eldar use similar "splinter" weapons, though they use an incapacitating poison, frozen into a crystal, that dissolves into the enemy's blood upon impact to allow for the easy capture of slaves/prisoners/toys.
- Tau vehicles are often equipped with a close-range defense system called a flechette launcher. If any enemy troops get too close then the launcher goes off and saturates the immediate area with high-velocity shrapnel.
- Paranoia has needle guns available at Blue clearance. Lots of damage in a hurry, but they also malfunction about as often as everything else in Alpha Complex, exploding in your hand or just jamming up.
- MechWarrior features the needler line of infantry weapons; though called pistols and rifles, they actually are more like smoothbore shotguns of varying size, and fire shredded, brittle shards of plastic designed to go right through clothing and armor and shred flesh, something they could do with frightening effectiveness. Their main downfall was a lack of range.
- BattleTech, the Humongous Mecha progenitor of the aforementioned Mech Warrior, features the LB-X series of autocannons, which fire fragmenting 'cluster' rounds instead of traditional cannon shells. While called a Battlemech-scale shotgun, they are never depicted firing the expected round buckshot-like projectiles implied by such a comparison, and the projectiles are more often described as slivers, fragments, or shards.
- Flechette rounds are a standard form of ammo in Shadowrun. They raise overall damage, but due much less damage against any sort of impact armor.
Live Action Television
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, when Willow develops skill at magic, she also learns to use telekinesis. When Glorificus drains her girlfriend's sanity, we get a glimpse of future "Dark Willow" as she attacks Glorificus after her first attack, which hurts her for the first time in the series, she telekinetically flings a bag of knives at the Hell-Goddess. Since she's a lot tougher than steel, this second attack didn't work so well.
- "Is that your bag of tricks?" "Bag of knives."
- In DC Universe Online, the Shuriken Storm move in the Martial Arts weapon style.
- The "Thousand Blades" Item Crash attack in Castlevania.
- The Pin Missile and Poison Sting attacks in Pokémon.
- And Spike Cannon, Twineedle and Icicle Spear...
- The Final Fantasy series has the cactuars and their 1000 Needles Fixed Damage Attack. Also the 10,000 Needles attack — often a One-Hit Kill.
- Sakuya Izayoi from Touhou uses this in combination with her stopping time, in a Shout-Out to Dio Brando.
- Her predecessor from the PC-98 era, Yumeko, also a Ninja Maid, does this with swords and minus the timestopping. Too bad no one remembers her.
- Yoshika Miyako in Ten Desires also uses this, with kunai-like bullets.
- A lot of other characters use a lot of knives or swords in their attacks, too, such as Ran and Yukari in their boss fights (whose non-spells are 100% kunais).
- Wizardry VII had "Blades" spell good for shredding a group of low-agility opponents (bad Missiles resistance), such as plant or Squishy Wizard types, "Whipping Rocks" is blunt variant of the same.
- The Hunters from Half-Life 2, firing hails of flechettes infused with Dark Energy. Why not pick up a object to absorb the darts and throw it back at them for extra fun?
- The Ice Blast powers in City of Heroes resemble flechettes made up of shards of ice.
- The Ice Needle spell in the Tales Series, which fires a minimum of three shards of ice depending on game. Sometimes the mage simply throws them, but sometimes they form directly above the enemy's head and drop. And yes, the archers in the series naturally have techs for this.
- The Limit Break of Cat Girl Nano-Nano Pudding's Cool Ship in the Galaxy Angel gameverse is the aptly-named Needle Flechette, which impales surrounding foes with ship-sized needles made out of Nanomachines.
- Ibuki in Street Fighter III has a special move in which she does this by throwing a dozen of kunais at the opponent.
- One of several types of firearms Alph in Luminous Arc can use in place of casting spells is the Flechette Gun.
- In Command & Conquer: Renegade, Havoc gets a Tiberium Flechette launcher. It rips all non-mutant units to shreds.
- All of the three or so enemies you encounter after getting it, that is...
- Quake and the infamous Super Nailgun, a man-portable minigun that fires these.
- The aptly named Needler weapon from the Halo series, which shoots guided explosive crystaline needles.
- The also aptly named Mauler, Spiker and Spike Grenade weapons from Halo 3 fire long red-hot metal spikes in a buckshot-like spread, automatic spray or cone-shaped blast respectively.
- Actually the Mauler uses fairly standard shotgun pellet analogues, no heated spikes involved.
- Sheik's neutral B move in Smash Bros is the aptly-titled Needle Storm.
- True Assassin in Fate/stay night. As the limits of what people can carry are actually fairly realistic, he only throws a total of around 40 dirks, a kind of special throwing dagger. However, he does unload them all in a matter of seconds when he wants to. Not that he ever manages to do any good with them but...
- The Rogue class's Fan of Knives ability in World of Warcraft, inherited from the Night Elf Warden hero unit in Warcraft III's expansion.
- Rogues in NetHack have the unique ability to throw several daggers in a single action. The number they can throw at once increases with experience.
- The Medic of Team Fortress 2 can shoot a rain of needles filled with a mysterious substance at the enemy, and can even earn an unlockable that allows him to absorb the damage as health. Demonstrated here.
- Vergil from Devil May Cry 3 can shoot a stream of magical swords. After summoning them around himself, he can make them fire even faster.
- As Nelo Angelo from the original game, he was also quite fond of summoning those swords around Dante as well before cutting loose.
- Dante's Lucifer devil arm from Devil May Cry 4, which can be used like this.
- In Dissidia: Final Fantasy, Ultimecia has her "Knight's Sword" attack, which consists of a rapid-fire stream of blades fired at the enemy. She also has Knight's Arrow, which branches into Rain of Arrows.
- Persona4's version of Alice's Die For Me! attack features kunai attached to cards raining down from above.
- Super Mario RPG is full of enemies with such attacks
- Unreal Tournament has the flak cannon, which fires superheated shards of metal in shotgun fashion. Its alternate mode shoots out a flak bomb that, upon contact with a physical object, explodes into said shards.
- Flechette rounds are available for shotguns in Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel. Incredibly effective against unarmoured targets, especially when used with an automatic shotgun, but nearly useless against anyone with decent armour.
- And on the other side of the line, flechette rounds are available for shotguns later on in Jagged Alliance 2 v1.13 (which is perhaps the poster child for Gun Porn). Much more expensive than traditional buckshot or slug rounds, flechettes can tear through armor and whatever's behind it, making the shotgun a viable close/medium range weapon in the endgame.
- In Arc Rise Fantasia, Serge's Excel Trinity, Million Regret, has him throwing (ostensibly) a million knives, made of ice, at the enemy.
- The level 3 final animation of the Thousand Kill Combination Attack in Agarest Senki 2.
- Gambit's Royal Flush in the Capcom vs. Whatever series.
- One of the many ways to die in Haunting Ground is a very messy version of this trope.
- If Hawkeye undergoes a light class change in Seiken Densetsu 3, his level two weapon technique, the 'Flying Swallow Toss,' has him using multiple throwing knives against his foes.
- In the fights against Ghirahim in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, he can conjure a flurry of red diamond-knives at Link. To counter this, Link can slash them right back at the source.
- In Mickey Mousecapade, Pete's primary attack is a near-constant storm of homing daggers.
- Subverted in the X-Universe. The game's two flechette weapons are almost universally ignored by players since the flechettes rarely actually hit anything.
- The "almost": Players sometimes pair Cluster Flak Arrays with Ion Disruptors because the latter gun jumps between targets, and can use the flechettes produced by the former to do so.
- Gale, the ranged weapon of El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron combines this with Dance Battler.
- Zer0 of Borderlands 2 has an end-tier skill called "Death Bl0ss0m, in which he tosses explosive kunai while in Decepti0n mode.
- Shadow Man does this as the Bonus Boss of Wily Stage 4 in Rockman 4 Minus Infinity.
- Of Orcs And Men has Styx's Flying Daggers and Rain of Blades attacks.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender : Used by the show's resident Knife Nut, Mai. This is also a waterbending move involving icicles. A fully realised Avatar can do this with earthbending.
- One Jackie Chan Adventures episode had a Death Dealer Mook who could do this.
- Tom and Jerry has one episode where Jerry throws a bunch of knives at Tom by pulling the knives - at an infinite supply, supposedly - from a thought bubble.
- The Brits had a go of this trope in World War One. They built a type of fighter airplane called the Blackburn TB. It was a twin-fuselage long-range anti-Zeppelin floatplane. Allegedly. The Blackburn TB, in addition to having the unfortunate tendency to explode, had a maximum speed of 85 mph, which is slower than some Zeppelins. Compounding the TB's difficulties was the sheer impracticality of its means of attack: it was unarmed, save a mere 60 pounds of exploding darts and had to climb over the Zeppelin, somehow evading its anti-air guns, and drop the flechettes on top of it. Which is somewhat difficult, considering that Zeppelins flew at nearly four times the TB's maximum altitude. The 9 TB fighters built never so much as CAUGHT a Zeppelin, much less destroyed one. Not surprisingly, the TB is regarded as a total failure of an airplane.
- There are canisters that when detonated, scatter flechettes over a wide area. The flechettes were designed to attack infantry in the open and light armored vehicles. The modern variant of this uses a modern cluster bomb The CBU-107 loaded with flechettes of various sizes. These are used against power stations and antenna farms as they cause minimal collateral damage compared to explosives.
- There is a round for Artillery called a "beehive round" for the buzzing sound masses of flechettes make as they fly through the air. The original round was fired from a leveled 105mm Howitzer. Some recoilless rifles also fire this shell. Israeli tanks can carry Flechette shells.
- It was fairly common on ships if they ran out of cannon balls before they ran out of gunpowder would resort to stuffing anything into cannons, including nails, knives, and glass. The effectiveness of this strategy however, as shown on Mythbusters, varied wildly on a given material.
- The most well-known use of this tactic was probably by Napoleon Bonaparte in the Royalist rebellion of autumn 1795. A rioting crowd assaulted the Tuileries palace, and Napoleon "cleared the streets with a whiff of grapeshot," starting Napoleon on the road to political success and eventually his place in history.
- In the U.S. you can purchase flechette rounds for shotguns. They're made by replacing the buckshot pellets with little razor sharp steel needles. They're remarkably effective in their stated purpose.
- Used by suicide bombers to increase damage.
- The Steyr ACR, a rifle designed for the Advanced Combat Rifle trials, fires flechette rounds.