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Implausible Fencing Powers
Good thing he dodged that.

"You gotta hand it to Justice, it takes balls to use guns, usually guns suck against swords."
YouTube commenter on Afro Samurai

In works where swordplay features, even if the setting is otherwise realistic, one will often find that Master Swordsmen will be depicted as being able to perform rather ridiculous feats with their swords. A few common variations include:
  1. Defeating opponents with firearms by deflecting/redirecting their bullets with the blade and/or cleaving their weapons with same. May involve Spin to Deflect Stuff.
  2. Being able to dodge bullets, close the distance and attack normally due to ridiculously high speed and agility.
  3. Embarrassing the opponent by swiftly cutting their clothing to pieces without cutting their skin.
  4. Attacking from a distance by slicing the air to create blades of wind, sometimes even full whirlwinds. If the setting isn't that realistic, the pretense of wind will be disposed of, and the sword will simply be able to cut things at a distance just for the hell of it.
  5. The Diagonal Cut, applied to tougher and thicker objects than could be easily cut in reality (or even that it's implausible for a sword to be able to cut at all), or performed many more times in rapid succession than should be "normally" possible.
  6. If the sword being used by said expert swordfighter is a BFS, pretty much the use of said BFS with anything approaching the speed and agility expected from expert swordsmen using less... exaggerated swords is quite implausiblenote . Bonus points for pulling off a Spam Attack or two with said weapon.
  7. Making impossibly paper-thin slices through things "so fast that it can't be seen," which then magically fall in half perfectly sliced — despite the slice being much thinner than the actual blade itself. This trope is especially common in anime.

The perceived superiority of swords over guns is probably based on a number of factors:
  1. Bullets can't be seen, and therefore can more easily be dismissed as popgun blasts.
  2. In reality, You Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight, and guns are obviously the superior weapons. Therefore, if the hero is using a sword against a bunch of guys with guns, the odds are against him. Sure, a steel sword can easily cut a lead bullet in half... but then you'll just get hit twice.
  3. Swords look more menacing and can create larger wounds than bullets. There is something in this. The survival rate from low caliber gunshot wounds is pretty high (10-20% mortality rate), and a sword can cause severe blood loss faster. With multiple gunshot wounds though, probable given a gun's range, the damage increases exponentially, and swords are much slower than guns. This impression has more to do with Pretty Little Headshots and Bloodless Carnage than the damage inflicted by real bullets.
    • On the other hand you have to consider that most people shot with bullets today have access to medical care based more on science than on leeches. While sword wounds tended to be fatal in times when swords were commonly used nowadays major trauma like being gored by a bull or impaled or lacerated by various hazards, while life threatening, has an equal or better survival rate to being shot.
  4. Swords are old-fashioned, and carry with them the impression of being more traditional and honorable than guns.
  5. Skill with a sword is visually much more impressive than skill with a gun; a skilled swordsman using his talent looks like a badass, while a skilled gunman using his talent looks pretty much the same as a rank novice — he just points the gun and pull the trigger, with the only difference being whether the bullet hits or not. (This is averted, of course, by practitioners of Gun Fu.)
  6. Swords are expensive, and are usable only for warfare. In order to afford a sword, you would have to be a professional, high-ranking soldier or a trained fighter, or have acquired it through some strange means (like finding it in a stone). Thus, the heroes in older stories always wield swords, while villains might wield daggers, hammers, or axes, all of which would have been more affordable.
  7. Strength valued above the inherent power of a weapon. In a lot of fantasy and sci fi settings, people are Made of Iron, and are tough enough to resist gun shot injuries, and strength with a melee weapon is the important factor. Of course, since not a lot of people have experience with weapons, few authors realize that swords break quite easily when you hit something hard with them, or that there are many armor piercing bullets that would allow a One-Hit Kill from a mile off.
  8. Above all, the Rule of Cool. Swordfights are viewed as exciting and honorable mortal combat, which necessarily puts the swordsman at risk; meanwhile bullets are typically a one-shot deal fired from a safe distance, and typical from hiding and cover, making them seem cowardly and dishonest— as well as boring since they're invisible; likewise, shooting a gun doesn't seem to require a great deal of skill other than aiming it and pulling the trigger properly, compared to a lifetime of expert discipline swordsmanship (key word: seem); likewise swords can vary in quality, while most guns seem rather equal ("seem" is the key word again). Dodging and deflecting bullets allows this trope to give some dramatic value to the lone warrior's courage and skill, as well as the superiority of his weapons, against simple gun-wielding mooks.

See also Katanas Are Just Better, Guns Are Worthless, Razor Sharp Hand, and Annoying Arrows. Often a form of Charles Atlas Superpower, as the implication is that simply becoming a skilled swordsman somehow allows the laws of physics to be violated as long as you're holding a sword. For information on how real swords are formed, behave, etc, see the Useful Notes page on Swords.

For the long-range version, see Improbable Aiming Skills.

    open/close all folders 

Examples of Type 1 - Bullet deflection/reflection

    Anime and Manga 
  • In the first episode of the second Sakura Wars OVA Sakura manages to deflect a full barrage from a machine gun with her sword.
  • Goemon Ishikawa of Lupin III has this as one of his signature moves; he can not only block automatic fire, he can cut the bullets in half as well.
  • Motoko in Love Hina can cut pretty well anything if she tries hard enough. One of her attacks is explicitly named as a "rock cutter"; and in Love Hina Again, she carves up large metal gears. (No, not those ones.) In the manga, she does a Shout-Out to her attack's namesake when she quotes Goemon's Catch Phrase.
    • Setsuna in Mahou Sensei Negima!, who uses the same style as Motoko (Shinmei-Ryu), can also perform similar feats, such as cutting twenty-foot balls of solid ice and Humongous Mecha in half.
    • Negima also has Kurt Godel, who manages to cut Negi...while Negi is made of lightning.
  • Afro Samurai; evident in the first 5 minutes, and endemic throughout. Bullets are cleaved; memorably, the title character cleaves a bullet, and the shrapnel kills several of his opponents, leaving him unharmed.
    • Upon seeing this, the man who tried to shoot Afro quite rightly says "What the...that's impossible!"
  • Most of the accomplished swordsmen in One Piece are shown to be capable of this.
  • Ginji from Black Lagoon is fast enough to cut bullets in half with his sword, making him a more than equal match for any normal gunman. Revy, naturally, sees this as a challenge.
    • There's also Sawyer the Cleaner, who can deflect bullets with her chainsaw.
      • Her deflections are more like Improbably Lucky Fencing Powers compared to Ginji's. In the same episode, an apparent mook also deflected bullets shot by freaking Revy and Eda at point-blank range with his chaingun.
  • A strong example would be the samurai in Samurai 7, whose most notable trait in the anime is that they can carve up cyborgs, powered armor, even gigantic floating warships, with katana. Several times, shells are cleaved asunder and the most skilled of samurai are enabled to deflect Wave Motion Guns. Although, the last time, the samurai dies; his sword shatters, and a second shell impacts close enough to critically wound him. Ironically, of all the samurai, he most of all was given to the first two types of this trope.
  • During the second Earth arc of Gundam Wing Heero is posing as a student in Relena's school and gets into a fencing match with Dorothy Catalonia. The match ends with Heero breaking his foil against Dorothy's with a tip to tip clash and then buries it in her facemask, the broken blade stopping roughly an inch from her nose. To Dorothy's credit, she doesn't look shocked or even flinch.
    • Heero did the exact same thing back in the second episode, except that the victim there was a classmate of Relena's who obviously didn't like himnote ; he is not as good at keeping his composure as Dorothy is.
  • Princess Tutu's prince Sigfried shouldn't be taken lightly.
  • In StrikerS Sound Stage X of the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha series, the Mariage has no need for Deflector Shields since they can block a barrage of Magic Bullets with a single arm blade. This Sound Stage also had a scene that had Fragile Speedster Erio using Strada to deflect physical bullets fired by an Evil Poacher.
  • Shizu, in the Coliseum episodes of Kino's Journey, deflects bullets with his sword.
  • Chane Laforet from Baccano! deflects bullets with knives. Bullets fired from a pump-action rifle.
    • Very much rule of cool. In the novels, Chane's apparent Bullet Deflection was a fluke (pointed out in a monologue by Rachel who was observing the fight from behind Chane. (Ladd's perspective was obscured slightly by the smoke blowing back from the engine which a wind gust has pushed between them and he simply assumed she could deflect bullets and threw his gun away after the first first shot. The anime plays it up by adding extra shots, removing the fluke-nature, and removing Rachel from the scene (in the novel it's from Nice and Rachel's perspective), instead showing what one would guess is actually Ladd's recollection of the event (with his own embellishment).
  • Karman in Blood+ blocked a revolver bullet with his spear.
  • In Mai-Hime, Shizuru is able to deflect Natsuki's bullets with her naginata element at the start of their battle. In an earlier episode, Miyu is able to cut Duran's shells in half.
  • Stocking from Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt has impressive sword skills with her katanas, enough so that she can easily deflect bullets so that they disarm an opponent off of a ricochet. This often takes a backseat to Panty's pistol skills, however.
  • Van of GUN×SWORD practically eats this trope for breakfast, being able to, among other things, block fully-automatic machine-gun fire by spinning his sword like a propeller, which also cuts the bullets apart!
  • Sword Art Online: In the game Gun Gale Online, the lightsaber is considered a Joke Weapon because of its extremely limited range compared to every other weapon (which are guns). Kirito decides to use it regardless, and leaves everyone in GGO gobsmacked when he starts using it to deflect bullets (Kirito admits that Star Wars was an inspiration), close the distance, and slice people up. Slightly more plausible in that bullets' paths in GGO are shown to everyone beforehand, so it is possible to predict a bullet to some extent (still requires incredible reflexes), but Kirito takes it a step further and predicts the bullet lines, by carefully watching his opponents' eyes to see where they will aim.
    • And after moving back to ALFheim Online, he takes it Up to Eleven and learns how to cut through spells.

    Comic Book 

    Film 
  • In the Star Wars films, Jedi can use their lightsabers to deflect incoming blaster shots back at their enemies. Justified in that they are explicitly using the Force to predict the shots; ordinary people cannot manage it.
    • Even on a more general level, it's been stated that anyone who isn't a Jedi will have a massively difficult time mastering the lightsaber given how light the weapon is. Combine that with the blade's ability to shear through most substances and you've got a recipe for disaster on your hands...that is if your lucky to still have both attached to your body.
  • A lot of this shows up in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children to justify why anyone would have a sword when there are guns around. Other than the obvious reason.
  • Wade Wilson in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. How about, taking out an entire roomful of gun users with two swords, deflecting the hailstorm of fire at first by basically spinning them really fast as opposed to any lightsaber-type ultraprecision. Then the ultraprecision comes in, and you have him cutting a bullet into two halves which go on to kill two shooters behind him.
  • Babydoll in Sucker Punch. In an imaginary world which lives of Rule of Cool.

    Literature 
  • A Shadowrun novel, Steel Rain, was named for its heroine's use of this version in its opening chapter. Against machine gun autofire, no less.
  • Ia from Theirs Not To Reason Why parries not just bullets but lasers with her sword. Justified by her precognitive powers; she knows beforehand where the projectile is going to be, so she can put her sword in the way.

    Live Action TV 
  • This type was busted by the MythBusters, though it must be noted that with the right circumstances they shattered one sword with another.
  • Used in Due South by a middle-aged woman wielding a cutlass. She could do this because she was a Marine.
  • Power Rangers Zeo: In his rematch against Silo during the Super Zeozords' debut battle, Tommy blocks the missiles Silo fires at him with his Zord's sword.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the game Inquisitor, a spin-off of Warhammer 40,000 characters are able to take a talent called "Deflect Shot" which allows them to attempt and deflect any shots fired at them as long as they are armed with either a power weapon (a melee weapon surrounded by a matter-disrupting energy field) or a force weapon (which is psychically linked to its wielder). This is also demonstrated in the last book of the Eisenhorn trilogy.
  • In one Paranoia mission, two NPCs use their mutant power of Ridiculously High Agility to block/deflect laser blasts with their force swords.

    Video Games 
  • Cyborg Ninja, from Metal Gear Solid, has demonstrated the ability to cleave bullets in midair. However, since he has also demonstrated the ability to hold up a gigantic mecha by the foot temporarily, this is a fairly minor manifestation of his power.
    • In the second game, Raiden and the Tengu mooks get the ability to deflect gunfire after about two minutes of practicing with it against nothing, with no indication they've ever touched a sword before.
      • The sword description actually states it's magnetic, and would allow anyone to block bullets so long as they faced they same direction. However, it is still outlandish, and might as well have been coated in nanomachines.
      • To explain further, a magnetic field will induce eddy currents in nonferrous metal objects (like bullets) as the object moves through the field. The field will then repel the induced eddy currents. This is the principle induction coil guns use to shoot nonferrous projectiles. Of course, you need a staggeringly strong magnetic field to significantly deflect bullets this way.
  • In GUNZ Online, you can deflect enemy bullets with a sword. However, because the game is actually more balanced this way, this is an Acceptable Break From Reality. Besides, the entire game is about moving around a Badass Longcoat; you can't get any cooler than that.
    • You can similarly deflect and even reflect projectiles with melee weapons in Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict. However, it's based on player input, not automatic—among other things, this makes it ineffective against high-rate-of-fire weapons.
    • It is also possible to deflect rockets in Halo 3, either with precise (read: lucky) explosions from grenades or other rockets, or with precise swings from the gravity hammer.
  • In Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army, during part the final battle, Raidou can block cannon fire with just his katana held out in a defensive pose. If it wasn't just so Badass, it would be ridiculous.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Link can use his sword to deflect the magic attacks by the wizard Agahnim. Of course, it's a lot easier to do it with the bug-catcher's net.
  • Subverted in The Witcher, when the Professor comments that he's heard witchers can parry arrows in flight just before he shoots Leo with a crossbow. Later played straight when Geralt blocks a crossbow bolt, causing the Professor to remark, 'I guess it was true after all.'
    • In The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings you can get this ability by spending two levels in appropriate skill; you can even deflect arrows straight back at the enemy!
  • In Resident Evil 5, there's an achievement for using an army knife to cut a crossbow bolt out of the air.
  • Hakumen from BlazBlue can stop most projectile attacks with a well-timed slash from his BFS. It gets even better in the sequel; any time he hits a projectile, a void is created, which will stop all projectiles that hit it. Most of this has to do with Ookami's anti-magic abilities though.
  • Characters with Wired reflexes in Shadowrun can block shots from anything not explosive as long as they are facing the shooter, though it doesn't work against machine guns very well.
  • In E.Ψ.Ǝ.: Divine Cybermancy, the Facere Mortis and Damocles swords can be used to deflect/absorb bullets - even if you're being shot at by a guy holding a Sulfatum.
  • Just like in his anime and manga appearances, Goemon Ishikawa XIII pulls this off in Playstation 2's Lupin The3rd Treasure Of The Sorcerer King. Simply holding a button causes him to enter a weird sort of rapid slicing motion that allows him to deflect all incoming gunfire. Even though this trope is one of the well-known hallmarks of his character, this game is the only one to take advantage of his power.
  • Mitsurugi is seen deflecting a bullet with his sword in the intro of Soulcalibur II.
  • Hiryu will be doing this with laser blasts in the Strider reboot, thanks to his Cypher getting a new "Reflect" upgrade that lets him return shots back at enemies.

     Web Comics 
  • MAG ISA - Eman uses his implausible fencing powers to deflect bullets.
  • Ronin Galaxy: Somewhat averted, Cecil manages to block a bullet with his sword, but its quickly explained that it's not exactly skill that's responsible.

    Western Animation 
  • Demonstrated by a Monican soldier in Æon Flux. More details under Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?.
    • This was obviously a subversion of the incident in Raiders of the Lost Ark, since the swordsman was doing the same type of "sword-kata dance" as the Breen soldier readied his gun, smirking.
  • Samurai Jack is virtually invincible with his magic katana, occasionally deflecting all the bullets from several machine guns fired at him at once..
  • Snake Eyes from G.I. Joe: Renegades can deflect frickin' lasers with his swords.
    • Half-justified: they're lasers, i.e. light, and he takes very good care of his weapon which includes polishing it to a mirror finish. Now for how he gets it in place in time...
  • In Code Lyoko, Ulrich is practically the equal to any Jedi Master at doing this, able to use his katana to deflect the energy weapons of XANA's mooks with relative ease.

    Real Life 
  • Isao Machii, featured in Stan Lee's Superhumans, cut a BB gun pellet fired at him traveling at over 200 miles per hour at a distance of 70 feet. See here.
  • It is possible for a sharp blade to cut a bullet in half, if both the gun and the blade are at the right angle. If a sword in battle cuts a bullet in half by pure chance, the person will now have two bullet wounds instead.

Examples of Type 2 - Bullet dodging

    Anime and Manga 

  • Hei in the second season of Darker Than Black is capable of dodging a Franchi SPAS-12 wielded by another Contractor. May I remind you that he was up against a firearm that was designed to be used in close quarters combat and he was also caught off guard when he discovered his knife was useless against him at first.
  • Suzaku of Code Geass demonstrates this tropes all the time. Both when piloting a knightmare frame, and when not. In addition, throughout the entire series, only once did he receive damage from a ranged attack.
  • Zoro from One Piece dodged a bullet fired by the World Noble/Celestial Dragon/Tenryūbito Saint Charloss, and would have proceeded to slice him in half - if not Jewelry Bonney had intervened by knocking Zoro to the ground, sprouting ketchup over him and pretending the bullet had hit. She did this with good reason - attacking a World Noble will summon a Marine Admiral, one of the strongest people on the planet.
  • Jin from Samurai Champloo manages to defeat his Worthy Opponent's Evil Counterpart in this manner.
  • Demon Eyes Kyo from Samurai Deeper Kyo is shown to be fast enough to easily cut musket balls in mid-air and kill the gunmen in a single second.
    • Samurai Deeper Kyo is practically a showcase for every kind of Implausible Fencing Power in existence and then some. As the series progresses, it gets to the point where one of Kyo's regular sword swings has enough power to produce explosions that outmatch most modern-day artillery.
  • Vicious of Cowboy Bebop demonstrates remarkable agility at close range when dueling with Spike. Of course, it helps that both times the two faced off, Spike had already been shot by a mook, slowing him down and trashing his accuracy.
  • Hiryu does this in the original Strider manga, where he effortlessly dodges a barrage of bullets from around 3 machine guns (said to have perfect accuracy enhanced by a computer) while cornered against a wall, inside a small room. He then proceeds to behead all the gunners in short order.

    Comic Books 
  • The protagonist of V for Vendetta (both comic and film) is capable of successfully attacking opponents wielding firearms while using only daggers himself. This is because Applied Phlebotinum, in the form of unspecified experiments performed on him when he was an inmate in a concentration camp, has given him superhuman reflexes, speed and endurance. During the final confrontation with the baddies, he is actually hit by bullets several times, but is still able to dispatch his enemies with his daggers. In this case the wounds are actually fatal, but his abilities enable him to ignore them for a while. (Plus, an iron vest hidden under his cloak.)
    • Made rather more believable in the comic version, as it's only two shots from a pistol, rather than ten full clips.
  • In fact, any non Nigh Invulnerable, non Barrier Warrior Super Hero who uses a melee weapon, martial arts, or Good Old Fisticuffs will display this when fighting gun-wielding enemies, examples including Daredevil, Batman, The Spirit, and Nightwing.
  • Miho from Sin City dodges bullets pretty easily while cutting down her foes with swords. Also from the same series, Wallace briefly takes out a gun-toting mook using a machete in Hell and Back.

    Literature 
  • Although not shown dodging bullets or fencing per se, Iorek in His Dark Materials demonstrates his ability to read human beings like a book by asking Lyra to fence with him. He doesn't flinch when she swings a stick within inches of his head but instantly dodges when she changes its trajectory very slightly so that it would actually have hit him. She tries for some time and is unable to land a blow on him. It pointed out that if she had attacked him with a sword he could have easily have dodged or deflected any blows without harm. Lyra then comments "I bet you could catch bullets".

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the pen-and-paper RPG Shadowrun, a character with a high enough Reaction attribute and enough ranks in Dodge taking the full dodge action has better than even chances of avoiding a bullet. Curiously, the rules make it easier for the character to dodge rounds from automatic weapons; so it is easier for a character to run through machine gun fire than to dodge a single pistol bullet.
  • In the pen-and-paper RPG, Exalted, a good combatant will have at least one charm that basically allows him to dodge anything. Including a football field-sized chunk of Earth falling on his head. One Martial Art track's first charm doubles the user's join battle dice (permanently), essentially causing them to have a very, very good chance of acting first in any situation.

    Video Games 

    Web Comics 
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja's Dr. McNinja is more than capable of dodging bullets, explaining that the wielder has to point the gun to fire at him, and he can see that, so he can dodge them.

    Western Animation 

Examples of Type 3 - Ridiculous Precision

    Anime and Manga 
  • Again, Goemon from Lupin III. Defeat by Modesty is a frequent cause of victory for him, and he can cut ropes and handcuffs away from trapped allies with single swipe and no sign of blood.
  • In an episode of The Wallflower, the main character makes a single leaping attack against her opponent, lands and sheathes her sword. Then the clothing of said opponent falls to pieces in a manner that suggests he had been attacked from all sides at once.
  • A staple of hentai anime, such as La Blue Girl.
  • Performed by Yaiba in a filler arc against a small band of Samurai.
  • King Bradley from Fullmetal Alchemist Cuts through Fu's headband and later cuts the wicks on the Dynamite sticks strapped to Fu's chest.
    • Both examples are subverted because he cuts skin, but it still shows ridiculous precision.
  • Gundam Seed's Kira Yamato is able to cleanly slice off mobile suit heads or limbs while leaving the chest area where the pilot is intact, typically in only the fraction of a second he's flying by them. Get's to almost absurd degrees in the sequel, where in the course of one episode he cuts off the Chaos Gundam's arms, legs and backpack boosters in one single downward slash without cutting the body of it (which at that angle should be impossible as the sword would have had to have gone through the body to hit both the arms and backpack.) and later with what looks like only two diagonal slashes shreds the Savior Gundam's limbs and head into what looks like at least 20 pieces, including what looks like taking only a tiny chunk of its V-fin and leave the rest still attached to the head. Chaos would have plausible with two slashes, but not only could he not have possibly done this without hacking away at it for a least half a minute, but it should have been physically impossible to pull this off from any angle or number of slashes.

    Film 
  • In the 1998 film The Mask of Zorro, Antonio Banderas' Zorro relieves Catherine Zeta-Jones' character of her night-dress with a few sword slashes. In all film incarnations of the character, leaves the classic Zorro Mark on a number of people, which only cuts their clothing and does no damage. Zorro is very good at killing cloth.
  • In Muppet Treasure Island, Captain Smollett (played by Kermit the Frog) deftly slices all the buttons and gold trim from Long John Silver's pirate coat. Subverted when Silver gets visibly bored and folds his arms, then says "Excuse me", distracting Smollett enough that the sword flies out of his hand.
  • In The Scarlet Pimpernel 1982 the title character (Anthony Andrews) deftly slices buttons and unties ribbons with his sword tip while dueling Chauvelin (Ian McKellen) in a sequence that contains just about every sword-fighting cliche known to man.
  • In Zatoichi, the ronin Hattori Gennosuke displays his katana skills to a yakuza leader by slashing the cord around his waist and then slamming the blade into the ground. The yakuza isn't impressed until he realizes that the Hattori's sword is perfectly embedded between two of his toes.
    • In Zatoichi at Large (1972), Ichi strikes in a general direction of four men, who wanted to attack him. After blink of an eye, boss Tetsugoro has assured male nude dancing.
  • This is how a teenage boy dispatches a Fake Ultimate Mook in 3 Ninjas.
  • In Revenge of the Sith, Anakin strikes the manacles off of Chancellor Palpatine's hands with his lightsaber while standing next to him. The chancellor flinches noticeably at this action.

    Literature 
  • In Tanith Lee's Piratica books, this is practically a signature move for Art and her pirate crew. Almost all of them are actually actors, and have only been trained in stage combat.
  • A pivotal scene in Homeland by R.A. Salvatore, novelist regent of the Mad Sword Skillz, though the aim is not humiliation.
  • In The Intercontinental Union of Disgusting Characters, while Sick Sword is fighting Omnion in melee, she uses her improbable weapon mastery skills to give Omnion a radial keratotomy.

    Live Action TV 
  • Hilariously averted in an episode of Scrubs. JD is using a circular saw to cut wood, then turns to an intern and cuts off his tie with it. A second or two later, the intern's chest starts gushing blood.

    Video Games 
  • The Super Robot Wars series has the skill "Sword Cut", which allows a mecha equipped with a melee weapon to cut missiles, grenades, and Attack Drones out of the air (it also lets you deflect enemy melee attacks). Making it even more implausible, some mecha like Daimos and members of the G Gundam cast don't use swords but their bare hands.
  • Scias in Breath of Fire IV demonstrates this after Empire agent Ursula joins the party: the group had her tied up after she was defeated, and Scias releases her by quickly cutting the rope without touching her.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 

Examples of Type 6 - Easy use of a BFS

    Anime and Manga 
  • This happens literally in Shigurui, where Kogan is almost bested by a young punk wielding a rapier.
  • Guts from Berserk wields the Dragon Slayer, a BFS that dwarfs most others and is made out of iron instead of steel. Despite the fact that it weighs at the very least two hundred pounds, probably well over three hundred, he's able to swing it so fast that battle-hardened warriors can't follow its path, as first evidenced in the third story of the manga, where he uses it to skillfully parry each of the demon-possessed warrior Zondark's very fast blows, which is when Puck (and we) realize that he is a Master Swordsman. This would make it ridiculously heavier than any real sword, of which the ones that were actually used weighed less than ten pounds. Leaving it an obscenely unrealistic weapon even by BFS standards, which at least are assumed to made out of proper materials.
    • This is possibly more an example of Charles Atlas Superpowers; he started training with full-sized swords before the age of 8. It's not as if he picked up a giant sword and started swinging it around one day; his swords get progressively bigger throughout his life. Which is a good thing, because although he's able to use this weapon against typical swordsmen, that's not REALLY what he's out to kill using it by present time. Also, he's not some scrawny little teen with spiky hair; Guts' physique kinda makes you think he could handle the ridiculously huge weapon.
  • In D.Gray-Man, after recovering from a Wrecked Weapon, Allen Walker's new and improved Innocence gives him the ability to turn his arm into a BFS, which he then wields with one hand. Possibly justified in that it is an Empathic Weapon, but it's still the size of a surfboard.
  • Bleach: Ichigo's sword is as tall as he is, yet he swings it around with one hand and flash steps all over the place while doing so. Though like the above example, it is an Empathic Weapon.
    • He doesn't use the BFS anymore; the small version is much more powerful. And looks cooler.
    • Not to mention the swords in Bleach aren't heavy to their wielders. They're made of Phlebotinum and only become heavy if hit by something like Wabisuke or held by someone other than their shinigami partner.
  • The manga and anime Claymore; the name is a dead giveaway. Partially justified by said great swords being wielded by half-demon Half Human Hybrids with superhuman strength
  • The Greatest Swordsman in the World, Dracule "Hawkeyes" Mihawk uses a massive sword similar to a Grosses Messer without much trouble, despite being longer than he is tall (he's 6'6"). He's been shown to make good use of its over-sized hilt.
  • InuYasha's Tetsusaiga. That is all. Granted, he is half-demon.
  • Sano from Rurouni Kenshin wields his zanbatou (from which he takes his nickname, although the broad blade more closely resembles a zweihander) with remarkable ease; semi-justified in that he's trained very hard to be strong enough to wield it virtually one-handed. Unfortunately, Kenshin is not only just about the best swordsman on the planet, he instantly recognizes the limitations of such a big blade and not only beats Sano, but breaks his weapon as well. Fortunately, all that strength and endurance training means he's also quite proficient at Good Old Fisticuffs...
  • In Sword Art Online, this is played with when Yui defeats a boss by cutting it in half with a sword taller than she is, which happened after she spun it in a circle in front of her. One wouldn't expect her to be able to pick up the weapon, much less swing it and hit something with it. Averted somewhat because it didn't happen in reality and she was hacking said pseudo-reality at the time.
    • In addition, this is averted slightly when characters mention how heavy weapons are supposed to feel in relation to each other, and the benefits and setbacks of wielding heavy swords.
  • There is Balgus from Vision of Escaflowne, who wields a giant sword that was probably meant for their world's mechas to destroy mechas on foot.

    Literature 
  • The Sword of the Rivan King is a massive claymore forged from meteoric iron. Despite this, it actually weighs virtually nothing due to the Orb of Aldur's influence. When the Orb is removed, the sword's weight is enough to stagger a full-grown man.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Most swords in Warhammer 40,000 are longer than their wielder is tall, and still can be used one-handed. Bloodletters are approximately eight feet tall, and use twelve foot swords. Then again, almost all of these people have super strength or access to incredibly light sword blade materials, so this might be a Justified Trope.
  • Justified in Exalted — even the more compact daiklaives are larger than any sword has any right to be, and the typical ones are like trying to swing an ironing board made of iron around one-handed. They only work like a sword when one of the Exalted attunes to them; everyone else has to resort to swinging them around like a big, clunky sharp thing (which is not entirely without its own advantages...).

    Video Games 
  • Cloud Strife of Final Fantasy VII is the current poster-boy of this trope and has been for about 17 years. His image is the one on the page for BFS.
    • To a lesser extent: Sephiroth, who wields a sword longer than he is tall. It is mentioned that Sephiroth is the only person in the world who can use that sword.
  • Ruca Milda from Tales of Innocence. Justified and lampshaded - "A scrawny little wuss like you is Asras reborn? Don't make me laugh!"
  • Siegfried of the Soul Series constantly totes a sword that couldn't possibly weigh less than the triple digits, but he spins and twirls it just fine despite being a normal human (and in the earlier games, a teenage boy). Nightmare does likewise, but he's a demonic manifestation of Soul Edge and it's safe assume he has supernatural strength to handle such weapons.
    • Soul Edge itself has built-in justification. Since it's an evil, sentient weapon, it doesn't matter what shape it takes; if it wants you wielding it —and it does— then you're going to be able to wield it without a problem.
  • In World of Warcraft the BFS classes (warriors, retribution paladins and death knights) deal much of their damage with instant attacks. Fury warriors can even Dual Wield BFS's.
  • Subverted by James Sunderland in Silent Hill 2, who can get his hands on the ridiculously huge Great Knife carried by Pyramid Head, but wields it about as well as you'd expect someone to swing around a 200-pound piece of metal in real life.
  • Dante in Devil May Cry wields BFS Rebellion with absolute ease.
  • Blademasters in Monster Hunter can wield weapons many times larger than themselves without effort. Even the dual blade weapons, some of the smallest weapons in the game would realistically take two hands to wield just a single one of the blades. Of special note however is the Longsword's Spirit Combo. Blade Spamming a weapon twice as long as you are tall like it was little heavier than a dagger just screams implausible.

    Web Comics 
  • Partially Subverted in No Need for Bushido: He can move his sword better than logically possible, but it's still VERY slow

Examples of Type 7 - Impossibly Thin Slices

    Film 
  • In Equilibrium, Preston kills The Dragon by slicing the front of his face off. The skin appears unbroken until a line much thinner than the sword he used appears. And there's a single drop of blood on the sword.
  • A classic — perhaps the classic — example of this comes from the 1940 film of The Mark of Zorro. Captain Esteban slashes the head off a candle; the languid Don Diego (aka Zorro) slashes at a candle, with no apparent result. Esteban laughs — until Don Diego lifts the top of the candle, which he has neatly and invisibly sliced in two.
  • In The Court Jester, Hawkins slashes at a set of candles, with no apparent result — until he blows on them, and they fall to pieces.

     Tabletop Games 

    Western Animation 

Examples of multiple types

    Anime and Manga 
  • The entire cast of Claymore.
  • Unsurprisingly, almost all of the major samurai in Rurouni Kenshin exhibit one or more of the variations at one point or another during the show.
    • Note, however, that guns are repeatedly and consistently shown as being quite dangerous, even to those with considerable skill with a sword. The first variation is almost nonexistent in the series (once a bullet was re-directed with a sword, but it was done with the cross guard not the blade, and was almost unintentional. The cross guard was destroyed.), and the second variation is reserved for those who are supposed to be well and truly AWESOME.
    • Averted with Sanosuke and his Zanbatou.
    • Also, the Kenshin movie is rather an aversion, as the guns from the imperial military are shown easily cutting down waves of sword-wielding rebels. Only a few of the rebels can even get close enough to swing their swords, and usually only while the soldiers are reloading their muskets (which is why muskets almost always have bayonets).
  • Gourry Gabriev from Slayers demonstrates all three variations on numerous occasions.
  • In Naruto, Madara Uchiha's Perfect Susanoo carries two gigantic katanas and the shockwave created by a casual warmup swing from just one of these blades can cut mountains into two.
    • Mifune's so fast with his sword he can blitz even seasoned Shinobi like Hanzo before they can even weave seals. And cut opposing blades in half with ease.
    • And then there are the Seven Swordsmen, which all have multiple types...
  • In One Piece, all competent swordsmen seem to be capable of cutting enormous objects, materials explicitly stated as being harder than their swords, creating Razor Wind and blocking bullets. No wonder Guns Are Worthless...
    • Dracule Mihawk, pictured above, takes this to its logical extreme by cutting a massive iceberg... from a distance! The rather few people who fought him without being lethally wounded after two seconds were either equally amazing swordsmen or had Devil Fruit abilities that prevented them from being cut (being made of sand, splitting into pieces, transforming into diamond). Tellingly, he's one of only a handful of major characters shown to have emerged from that battle royal of an arc completely unscathed.
    • "Foxfire" Kin'emon has them all beat for sheer impossibility. The man can cut explosions.
  • Many Badass Normals of Baccano!. One even catches a bullet between the jaws of a monkey wrench.
  • Samurai Deeper Kyo is guilty of all six, on a regular basis.
  • The manga Vagabond has a take on this when Miyamoto Musashi is able to close with Ueda Ryouhei before he can fire a matchlock pistol, after which Ryouhei dropped it and claimed that he didn't even know how to operate it and that it was probably broken anyway. On the one hand, Musashi was right there (so not as much distance needed). On the other hand... Musashi was right there.
    • Musashi's own Implausible Powers are his ability to judge distance and range ("seeing one's sword"), his incredible constitution, and his unheard-of strength. When he takes on the four senior disciples of the Yagyuu, one of them actually believes Dual Wielding to be Awesome, but Impractical... up until Musashi breaks another disciple's sword (held in both hands) with a one-handed slash. Musashi later manages to split Yoshioka Seijuurou in two (from the left shoulder to the right hip), sever Yoshioka Denshichirou's left hand, and knock back opponents with one-handed strokes.
  • One of the most classic examples is Samurai Goemon Ishikawa XIII from Lupin III. He is easily capable of doing everything in these lists, though as noted above he particularly stands out for his bullet deflection skills and is well-versed in causing Defeat by Modesty. For one standout example, in the TV Movie "Sweet Lost Night" he blocked every bullet from a helicopter's gatling gun, cut the helicopter and a train in half with one swing each, and then cut the clothes off both Zenigata and Fujiko. Zenigata got to keep his hat and underpants, but Fukijo was rendered completely nude without the ropes holding her to the helicopter being cut. Combined with his Absurdly Sharp Blade, he's managed to cut apart any number of guns, diamonds, cars, airplanes, helicopters, buildings, tanks, and lots of other things no ordinary mortal should be capable of. He's even been known to cut lightning, tornadoes, and shooting stars in half. Yeah, he's just that good.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena uses this trope a lot. For example, cleaving a row of approaching cars just by pointing a sword in their general direction! Swordfighting in Utena is highly symbolic and has nothing to do with reality.
  • In Fate/stay night, as an example that doesn't quite fit with the above, in a game that generally gives a lot of presumably accurate detail to swords, their craft, how to fight with them etc... you come across Assassin. Without the use of any magical powers at all and through sheer skill, he can refract dimensions to make his sword go in two different directions at once and then bring down a third so that it also lands at essentially the same time. Technically, the third strike isn't exactly simultaneous like the first two are.
    • And he reveals later that he's not even a real heroic spirit. Sasaki Kojiro, his supposed identity, never existed: he's just the spirit of a random guy who swung his sword a whole lot and eventually learned to break dimensions by doing so. Judging by the reactions of other characters, this is just as insane in-universe as it sounds to us.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, several stands are capable of doing this. The first one, Silver Chariot, combines the first two abilities, it is capable of skewering FLAMES onto its blade, cutting through solid rock, and slicing bullets in half, along with moving so fast it appears there are eight copies of it at once. At one point it even makes a functioning clock out of a table and his opponent's flames. A later Stand, Anubis, is nothing but a sword, which possesses its users. Naturally, it ends up possessing Polnareff, Chariot's user, for some Dual Wielding action.
  • Führer King Bradley from Fullmetal Alchemist is insanely accurate (Type 3) with his court swords, moving so quickly (Type 2) that he slices people into ribbons before they can even pull the trigger. When Ed tried to prove his skill by lashing out at him with a spear during their first encounter, nobody noticed Bradley had drawn a sword and bisected the spear until he was already walking away and the spear broke in Ed's hands.
    • And in a later arc, he first cut a tank's fired round out of the air (Type 1) and then destroyed the tank with only a sword and a grenade. Let me repeat that: On foot, with only a sword and a grenade, he took down A GODDAMN TANK. This includes bisecting a shell that the tank fired at him, which logically should have detonated the shell the moment his sword hit its tip; apparently he cut it so quickly that the detonator was destroyed before it could activate.
    • Played for Laughs in the first episode of the "Fullmetal Alchemist Yonkoma Theatre" where Bradley, instead of killing Issac McDougal within a blink of an eye as he did in the first episode of Brotherhood, he completely obliterates McDougal's clothes instead. Then he calls out for the police to arrest the "pervert"!
  • Sephiria Arks from Black Cat has demonstrated, among other things, the ability to juggle a filled wine-glass on the tip of her sword without spilling a drop, the ability to move her sword faster than the eye can see, the ability to create cuts with her blade that are thinner than the blade itself and, perhaps most impressively, the ability to hit something with her sword so hard it disintegrates.
  • Erza Scarlet from Fairy Tail has been shown to have cut through airspaces, redirect Evergreen's Flechette Storm, easily blocks bullets, uses feet to deflect/attack enemy attacks, she's also capable of Razor Wind, and easily wields BFS.
  • Shigure Kosaka from Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple EVERYTHING she uses in an Absurdly Sharp Blade, with said object she can cause massive Clothing Damage on multiple opponents without them noticing.
  • In Bleach, high-level characters have commonly been seen employing a combination of #4 and #5 to cut through buildings with just Razor Wind, or just #5 and even #7 at times. In Deicide, this is taken Up to Eleven when Ichigo obliterates a mountain with the shockwave of a parried blow, and leaves a clean cut.
  • In Dragon Ball Z, Future Trunks' ability with his sword is pretty unbelievable. In the fight against Frieza and his father he uses this trope as type 3, 5, and 7 along with a little bit of You Are Already Dead.
    • Dragon Ball Z Abridged pokes fun at this. According to Abridged Trunks, the delayed reaction slice trick took him three months to figure out. He also destroyed a dozen mannequins learning how to cut an enemy's armor into pieces without hurting him.
    Future Trunks: They really make that look a lot easier than it is.
  • The Weapon Types in Sekirei, in particular Karasuba and Miya. Expect to see them dodge bullets, deflect elemental attacks, slice through just about anything, destroy opponents' clothing without harming them, and produce Razor Wind with a swing of their weapons. Quite a few of them effortlessly wield weapons the same size — or larger — than them, thanks to Super Strength.

    Film 
  • Karl Ruprecht Kroenen in Hellboy is so skilled with his tonfa blades that he can cut through feet of solid material such as rock and steel and can kill gunmen by deflecting their fired bullets back at them.
  • In Star Wars, Jedi can use their lightsabers to deflect blaster fire. They can also cut through just about anything, though this due to the qualities of lightsabers rather than swordsmanship.

    Literature 
  • In Forgotten Realms novel Daughter of the Drow the trope was used straight (drow), averted (berserkers) and subverted when one met another. A drow warrior flaunts his awe-inspiring mastery of two-weapon swordplay to The Berserker in the battle rage wielding a really massive (and magical) blade. Fyodor ends up very amazed, Brizznarth ends up very dead: some things are too heavy to be stopped by fancy parries and some people are too arrogant to consider this. Another shot him at least five times with hand crossbow, but he was accelerated enough to parry all with a club.
  • Drizzt from the R.A. Salvatore novels deflects arrows and does a variety of amazing things with his scimitars.
  • This is the signature ability of metalcrafters in Codex Alera. Especially Araris Valerian, widely recognized as the greatest swordsman in the world. Talented metalcrafters can move their swords absurdly fast, slice through just about anything, and tell the location of an opponent's weapon with incredible precision; the setting doesn't have guns, but they can and do swat arrows out of the air. Covers types 1, 5, and 7 (type 6, too, if they can also use earth, and 2 and 3 are made possible/easier with windcrafting).
  • And then there's the Exalted. A talented Solar duellist can do pretty much everything on this page and then some.
  • Literature/Discworld's Death's scythe shows most of these traits. For example, it is so sharp that it, amongst other things:
    • Has cut the words on the page.
    • Has been sharpened on light.
    • Glows blue from the atoms splitting on it's edge.

    Live Action TV 
  • Doggie "Boss" Kruger in Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger can perform all three of these tricks with ease. In a minor subversion, though, it's learned in a Cross Over movie that an injury to his spine forces him to miss 1 out of every 200 attacks, until fixed by one of the crossover characters.

    Video Games 
  • The first and second types appear in Devil May Cry. In the third installment, Dante attempts to shoot his brother Vergil with his handguns. Vergil spins his blade to apparently catch the bullets. As if that wasn't bad/good enough, Vergil lays them out on the ground in a neat row and then sends them back at Dante with his sword. Dante then cuts all three of them in half. With one slash.
    • Vergil's blade-spin move is even more powerful in-game, where he can stop armour-piercing sniper rounds and rockets with it.
    • The DVD Book, Raising the Devil, shows footage of Dante knocking bullets away with the help of the time-slowing Quicksilver style in the battle against Lady.
    • All playable characters of the games demonstrate moves where they advance fast enough as to blur briefly, enabling them to cross distances fast.
    • Although Dante doesn't use his sword at this point, he is shown while fighting Lady (and Deadpool in Marvel vs. Capcom 3) using his automatic pistols to deflect bullets shot at him by sub-machine guns, by shooting them...
  • Travis Touchdown of No More Heroes can do anything and everything with his beam katana, even blocking a Wave Motion Gun and a full uzi clip. But if the battery dies, he's screwed.
  • The Compilation of Final Fantasy VII contains many different examples, especially in the more recent installments:
    • Using BFSs with impossible speed and precision — Cloud and Sephiroth are the most obvious examples.
    • Bullet deflection and dodging — e.g., Zack in Crisis Core and Last Order; Cloud in Advent Children. It even might be a semi-standard skill for the more talented SOLDIERs.
      • In Crisis Core, Zack ups the ante on this trope by cleaving missiles in two with his blade. In a minigame, no less.
      • In Dirge of Cerberus, when Vincent and Weiss first meet, Weiss is fond of knocking away the former's bullets with both his swords AND his arms. Somewhat justified in that Weiss has enough mako energy pumped into him to power a small empire. Later on, Vincent uses the Death Penalty to fire a freakin' death laser thing at Weiss. Weiss responds by promptly spinning his blades, which somehow disperses the blast. Furthermore, Vincent is consistently able to deflect bullets and missiles using a swift attack from his metal arm or shoes.
    • Wind blades and/or shockwaves — e.g., Sephiroth in his fight with Genesis in Crisis Core atop the Junon Cannon; Cloud's use of his Limits in Advent Children.
    • Diagonal cuts, impossibly thin slices, etc. occur repeatedly during the climatic fight between Cloud and Sephiroth in Advent Children, with both combatants casually chopping up massive chunks of concrete and debris much larger than themselves or their swords.
    • Sword throws and catches — the extended re-release of the Final Fantasy VII movie Advent Children features Cloud arriving at the Midgar EDGE battle by hurling one of his swords several hundred feet, where it flies in a wide lateral circle and slices through three monsters along the way before he catches it. Not only does he throw it, it splits in two in mid-flight. And he catches the second sword with the blade of the first one. Yes, he's just THAT good with his swords.
  • Any weapon-using character in Dissidia: Final Fantasy. Full stop. In fact, considering some of the moves in that game, you have Impossible Fencing Powers.
    • Squall uses the Gunblade's recoil to flip himself around to attack again lightning fast.
    • Sephiroth creates a Sword Beam with every swing of the Masamune. Actually, he doesn't make just sword beams: he creates sword wind. In addition to that, a single hit from his blade will do at least three hits of damage.
    • Tidus throws his sword and it comes back to him after spinning in place at a set distance.
    • Zidane takes pretty much every impossible, flashy sword technique you could imagine and runs away with them—there's throwing your sword, and then there's plain and simple levitating your sword.
  • League of Legends offers a good amount of champions featuring this:
    • Most notable is Riven, being able to wield a BFS that, as her lore states: "was heavier than a kite shield". Her skills also include swinging it around like crazy and her ultimate which allows her to cast Wind Slash. Three guesses what it does, the first two don't count.
    • There is also Jax, a champion so masterful with a sword that he instead fights with a lamppost as a Self-Imposed Challenge. He still swings it around as if it were made of bamboo.
    • Jarvan IV can wield his BFL (Big Freakin' Lance) with 1 hand. This lance is as tall as he is (he towers above every other character except Nautilus by about 3 feet) and with only a couple of items he can swing it twice a second. There´s also the mystery behind the fact that Jarvan can slam the earth so hard with it that the surrounding ground forms a ring without any visible damage to it, though it is implied to be made of dragon bones.
  • SaGa Frontier - Many of the more advanced sword attacks fall into this trope, but most notable is the swordsman Gen who, early in T260G's storyline, cuts a rope using a lead pipe. When T260G comments on the impossibility of this, Gen tells him not to worry about it.

    Web Comics 
  • Bob and George: Mynd
  • Girl Genius: General Goomblast can disarm a sword-toting goon and send the dropped sword careening into another one's chest, in two flicks of his rapier. Funnily enough, the rapier's about toothpick-sized for someone as big as he is.
  • 8-Bit Theater: Fighter uses his sword to block the planet Earth while falling at terminal velocity.

    Web Original 
  • Enriqueta-2856 from v4 of Open Blue was a Little Miss Badass Distaff Counterpart of King Bradley, having been trained since three via The Spartan Way, which included an expy of him as her sword instructor.
  • Able from the SCP Foundation uses a justified form of this. He has super speed, strength and toughness along with the ability to pull swords out of the air. He is baffled by the fact that anyone would use guns instead of closing to use swords. This is probably just because it sounds less fun.
    • SCP-572 is a katana which makes its wielder think that they have Implausible Fencing Powers. Not only does it not grant its wielder any powers whatsoever, it's poorly balanced and barely sharp enough to cut butter.

    Western Animation 
  • Snake Eyes from G.I. Joe: Renegades, being a ninja with a very heavy anime influence, effectively combines examples of type 1 and 2, with a bit of 5 and 7.
  • Six from Generator Rex, appropriately the sixth deadliest man on the planet, shows types 1, 2, 5, and 7. And it is awesome.


Chainsaw GoodAbsurd Cutting PowerMagic
Iaijutsu PractitionerSword TropesKatanas Are Just Better
Crimefighting with CashStock SuperpowersImprobable Aiming Skills
FlynningFight SceneSingle-Stroke Battle
FlynningSword FightReverse Grip
Innocuously Important EpisodeAction Adventure TropesImpossible Mission Collapse
Master SwordsmanMaster of the IndexMulti-Ranged Master
I Have the High GroundRule of CoolImpossibly Cool Weapon
Excalibur in the RustWeapons and Wielding TropesInverse Law of Sharpness and Accuracy
Honor Before ReasonMartial Arts MovieImprovised Weapon
Hypno FoolJustForFun/Tropes Examined by the Myth BustersImpressive Pyrotechnics
Go Out with a SmileImageSource/Anime & MangaInelegant Blubbering

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