Every story in an European setting is going to need a Knight In Shining Armour to rescue the Damsel in Distress and generally do heroic things. Unfortunately, knights don't come easy; this is the trope for how they're created. Originally, a knight was merely a warrior. As the constant warfare of The Low Middle Ages declined, and merchants began to acquire wealth and influence, a ceremony was developed to mark out the knights from the class of men who worked. All that was needed was the dubbing, but it elaborated quickly. Expect a formal ceremony in a Standard Royal Court with masses of witnesses. In Real Life, these were highly religious events that involved the new knight having a night vigil (sleepless time with praying) in the chapel, ritualized bathing for cleansing, wearing certain colours (white for one) and a final blessing from The Church near the end. You'll see little of this because we don't have time for that. The actual event could go on for days, so again this is often shortened for time. But keep in mind that the shortened version was also true, since in the middle ages, nobles and rulers occasionally had to promote commoners and squires in mid-battle to replace fallen knights. This is probably most well known in the public mind as the moment when a figure such as the true king, The High Queen or another knight taps the squire on the shoulders with the flat side of the blessed sword. Originally, any knight could make another. This power was slowly moved into the hands of great nobles, and then finally reserved to the Sovereign himself. The more formal a court, the fewer people will have the authority. Women did not in Real Life have the authority to dub a knight (not being knights themselves) until the authority rested in royal hands (in which case a woman could only create knights if she was the Sovereign; sometimes even then it was expected for a knight to place his hand over the Queen's during the act of dubbing). The final act in the dubbing usually involves the new knight swearing his loyalty to The Kingdom. Oftentimes, when someone is knighted, the superior giving the knighting punches him or strikes some other kind of blow, the last such blow that the new knight is expected to take without some form of retribution. A variant of this may happen during the dubbing, when the person is hit with the flat of the sword almost hard enough to be winded or knocked over. Again, you're not likely to see this in a given show. The ceremony is often followed by The Tourney. The ceremony is likely to appear even in works set in The Low Middle Ages, and the degree of elaboration tends to have only tenuous relationship to the alleged era of a work. Subtrope of Initiation Ceremony. Related to Awesome Moment of Crowning and Standard Hero Reward. It's tenuously related to white knighting, where a person acts to achieve the glory of being seen as a knight-like figure, not because of any personal chivalry, but because of the personal benefits it will bring.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Code Geass Suzaku is knighted four times in total.
- The first time, by Princess Euphemia, is a much-hyped event with all due ceremony and such. This is because it is as much a political issue as a personal promotion - he becomes personal guard to a princess, and her choice of him adds to tensions between Britannians and Elevens.
- Then by Cornelia, following her battle with Lelouch at the Viceroy's palace at the end of season 1. This is more ad hoc - she uses her fingers instead of a sword, because she didn't have one, and says "this is a little informal". This was more to give Suzaku her blessing and authority to catch Zero. It is also tied to her guilt over fighting with Euphemia over her choice, a fight they never had a chance to get over before Euphemia was killed.
- His promotion to Knight of Seven, which he requested it as a reward for a great deed in service to his emperor. This ceremony is not shown, but it can be presumed that there was one.
- His promotion to Knight of Zero is less ad hoc, but rather more unconventional because such a position has been created by Lelouch simply to place Suzaku above any other knight in Britannian history - and since the Knights of the Rounds are second only to the Britannian Imperial Family, this makes him practically royalty.
- Supporting materials and titles of address show that practically all of OZ's combat veteran officers in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing were given some rank of peerage prior the events of the series, though it's most obvious with "Lady" Une and "Lighting Count" Zechs. Presumably they came from the various shadowy royal families that are supposed to make up the Romefeller Foundation.
- In Mahou Sensei Negima!, after he rescued Princess Arika, she informally knighted Nagi while they were preparing for the epic final battle. He kneeled in respect, swore his loyalty and all that jazz. Cool scene considering he rarely ever acted seriously.
- Prior to this, every time she had addressed him as "my knight," he'd protested that he was a mage, not a knight. Perhaps she got annoyed and decided this would shut him up...
- In the third season of The Familiar of Zero, Saito, having proven many times how valuable an asset to Tristain he is, is presented with a title of knighthood by Henrietta, formally making him a noble.
- After an important battle in the Golden Age arc of Berserk, Griffith is knighted by the King of Midland. Shortly after that, his knighthood is stripped from him and he's thrown in the dungeon to be slowly tortured to death for deflowering the princess.
- In the K prequel novel Lost Small World (and subsequent manga and stage play adaptations), Saruhiko Fushimi's installation into the Blue Clan, Scepter 4, is shown, and it takes the form of a knighting. He kneels before the Blue King in front of all the troops, and swears an oath, after which the King taps him on the shoulders with the sword, and presents the sword to him. When he takes the sword, he receives his Blue aura and his new powers with it. During the ceremony, he thinks about how different it is from the Red Clan's installation, which involves taking the Red King's hand while his hand is on fire - you get in if you don't get burnt.
- In Harmony Theory Rainbow Dash gets knighted after helping defeat Nightmare Umbra. However this is done not as a reward, but as a political tactic to draw attention away from Star Fall's engagement to the prince. In this universe, knighthood is another form of nobility, and giving the knight an estate to manage is included in the ceremony.
- In Chrysalis Visits The Hague, this happens twice - first when Chrysalis makes her lawyer Estermann formally pledge loyalty to her in her jail cell, and later when Princess Luna takes the ICMP investigator Edith Saric (almost literally) under her wing as she is being booted out of the UN mission. The parallels are very apparent, particularly when the to-be-knight is told to kneel and hesitates.
Films — Animated
- Cars 2 has Mater knighted by Queen Elizabeth.
- In Shrek the Third, Shrek knights some unlucky dude with rather messy results (he didn't train the sword-tapping-shoulder part enough).
Films — Live-Action
- Austin Powers in Goldmember begins with Austin about to be knighted by the Queen of England. He gets depressed when his father doesn't come to the ceremony.
- Black Knight ends with Martin Lawrence's character being dubbed Sir Jamal "Sky" Walker, the Black Knight... just before the Queen shouts "clear!" and hits him with defibrillator paddles. It was All Just a Dream... or was it?
- In Braveheart, William Wallace gets knighted after the Battle of Stirling.
- In The Court Jester, one of the most famous sequences has the lead character taking part in a grand formal ceremony with elaborate marches and chants. However, the King becomes impatient and orders the participants to speed it up. Suddenly, everyone goes into double time with every detail and Danny Kaye's character can't keep up.
- His pants don't seem to be able to keep up either.
- Uryens (comedy name) knights Arthur in Excalibur, with Excalibur, because he can't surrender to a mere squire. Arthur later knights Percival, hurriedly, in the same fashion.
- In the 1937 Armada film Fire Over England, Michael Ingolby (Laurence Olivier) is knighted by Elizabeth I (Flora Robson); in The Sea Hawk (1940), Francis-Drake-Expy Geoffrey Thorpe (Errol Flynn) is knighted by the same queen (and the same actress).
- In Johnny English, the titular agent requests to be knighted at the end of the film, having thwarted the plans of the Big Bad.
- Kingdom of Heaven gives us Balian (Orlando Bloom) being knighted by his dying father Baron Godfrey of Ibelin (Liam Neeson, he seems to always die) and receiving a backhand slap to the face. Later in the movie, Balian does the same with every soldier defending Jerusalem (He only slaps the nearest one, else it could have got time consuming).
- In King Ralph, Ralph accidentally cuts the man he is knighting, nearly taking an ear off, because he is distracted. Later, after stepping down as king and being knighted himself, Ralph covers both of his ears while having the sword passed over him.
- William receives his sword tap at the end of A Knight's Tale by the prince himself!
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail: Bedivere is the first to be knighted by King Arthur on his journey, and the only one to be seen doing so.
- In A Brother's Price Jerin's grandfather Alannon was a prince, so Jerin's grandmothers had to wait until they were knighted (for heroism in war) to marry him, as mere commoners couldn't marry a prince. Apparently, their sense of propriety didn't stop them from keeping their husband a secret from his remaining family ... of course, since his branch of the family was executed for treason by the other branch, he didn't see much of a point in getting in touch with the family, either.
- In C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia books:
- Sir Apropos of Nothing — guess who?
- In Poul Anderson's A Midsummer Tempest, when Prince Rupert returns to King Charles, the king immediately knights the soldier who accompanied him. (He first asks him to swear loyalty to the throne — and then explains it's just part of the ceremony and not a doubt of his loyalty.)
- Occurs in the Tortall Universe. There's a vigil and a formal dubbing by the King—in between that, you get to be tested by the Chamber of the Ordeal, a sentient room that's somewhere between Face Your Fears and Psychological Torment Zone. Squires who are mentally unsuitable (or rotten human beings) are broken by it, and even those who pass come away with mental scars. Alanna of Song of the Lioness and Keladry of Protector of the Small both undergo the ceremony.
- In Christopher Stasheff's His Majesty's Wizard, the protagonist undergoes the full ritual, with vigil, bath, and an examination on the laws of chivalry; finally he receives his sword tap from the Emperor in the Mountain. He does not have to take a punch.
- Stasheff's A Wizard in Chaos has the 'any knight can make another' with Magnus Gallowglass, the son of two noble lines, but without any official title other than the knightly 'sir', granting it to the companion who has traveled with him throughout his last three adventures. Also includes the extra 'final punch' option.
- A Song of Ice and Fire uses a bit of both. After one major battle it's mentioned that so many people were knighted as a result it took ages for the three available knights of the Praetorian Guard to dub them all, and that those knights had stood vigil in roughspun robes at the church the whole night and then walked barefoot to the palace, leaving most if not all with bleeding feet (but they all still stood proudly). However, "any knight can make a knight", and the ritual of anointing a would-be knight with seven oils by a priest is just a formality.
- In an introspective mood, Jaime remembers how he was knighted by Ser Arthur Dayne, The Sword of the Morning. Dayne actually used his family's famed greatsword, Dawn to do the deed, and cut right through Jaime's tunic with even the lightest tap. He justified it, saying that 'blood is the seal of our devotion'.
- There is also the Brotherhood Without Banners, a band of Robin Hood types led by Ser Beric Dondarrion, a knight who uses this rule to promote his entire army, though few actually use the honorific of "ser" outside the band.
- Officially, the North does not have many knights because most northmen follow the Old Gods, and knighthood in Westeros is very much a product of the Faith of the Seven. Not that this makes them any less worthy of honor on the battlefield (and in practical terms, Northern heavy cavalry fills the battlefield role of the knight just fine).
- In the short story The Hedge Knight, the squire Raymun Fossoway volunteered to fight for Sir Duncan the Tall in the trial of seven. The problem is, you have to be a knight to do that, so he had to be knighted on the spot by Ser Lyonel Baratheon, just before the start of the trial. (And thus a new side-branch of his house, the Fossoways of New Barrel, was born.) Speaking of Ser Duncan, by the way, there is the strong implication that he was never actually knighted (because the knight he was the squire of passed away before he could do that), which seems to be reason why Dunk was reluctant to knight Raymund himself in the aforementioned scene...
- In the Discworld book Jingo Sam Vimes' status as a knight becomes very important, as it enables him to create his own military unit out of Watch members in a time of crisis. When a noble opposes his status he counters each argument, most notably the claim that a knight must spend the night watching his armor. It goes a bit like this.
Vimes: A man doesn't watch his armor around here he's got none left in the morning.Rust: In prayer.Vimes: Oh, yes. Not a night has gone by without me thinking, "Ye gods, I hope I get out of this alive."
- In Don Quixote, this is parodied; the title character insists that an innkeeper (who he thinks is a castellan) knight him after he has watched his armor in the castle chapel — that is, in the stable of the inn. (See also under Theatre.) This shows that Don Quixote may be mad, but he knows exactly how the ceremony must go.
- The appointment of Dominion Lords in The Sovereign Stone trilogy is largely drawn from this. New elements would probably be the magic armor and the gods descending from heaven personally appoint them.
- Honor Harrington has shown two short form knightings on page, once for Honor herself at the end of Honor of the Queen and again for Aivars Terekhov in Storm From the Shadows. Interestingly, both Honor and Terekhov had no warning, although it's unlikely either was really surprised in light of their actions at Yeltsin's Star and Monica, respectively. Also notable is that Honor also becomes a landed noble at the same time. While her holdings aren't located in the Star Kingdom of Manticore (it's a gift from the people of Grayson for saving their planet from nuke-happy religious fanatics), Honor's noble rank is given a Manticoran equivalent (countess) by a personal order of the Queen. That's definitely more of a surprise than the knighting.
- In Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, Simon is knighted atop the Stone of Farewell for his deeds in recovering the magical sword Thorn for Prince Josua. The ceremony is preceded by a night of fasting and vigil, and is used by Josua not merely to promote a young man who has served him, but to inspire hope in his ragtag band of refugees. Not long thereafter, Simon is forced to prove his knighthood directly by leading a troop of soldiers in a desperate battle to defend their home.
- In Chivalric Romance Guy of Warwick, after his love Felice scorns the notion that she would marry a lowly mewling squire — she would marry a great knight, mind you, without even asking his father's name — Guy is knighted before he sets out on adventures to become a great knight.
- In the Dresdenverse, the Knighting of the Winter Knight is... unusual to say the least. Mab screws him on a table in front of all the Fae after he kills the previous Knight in cold blood and drips his blood on said table.
- In Debra Doyle and James MacDonald's Knight's Wyrd, Will's knighting is one of the opening events of the story.
- In The Dinosaur Lords, after they distinguish themselves in the battle against the horde and save the day, all commanders of the Fugitive Legion are made peers of the Empire.
- In The Traitor Son Cycle, this is a Once per Episode occurence, as the Red Knight has a habit of knighting people before or after major battles as a show of trust or reward. It even involves the traditional "the last punch you'll ever accept" pat on the arm.
- In the Babylon 5 episode "A Late Delivery From Avalon", King Arthur knights G'Kar as the first of a new Round Table after the ambassador takes his side against a gang of thugs.
- Doctor Who:
- In the original series story arc "The Crusade", the Doctor's companion Ian Chesterton is knighted as "Sir Ian of Jaffa" (Jaffa being where the knighting took place) by King Richard the Lionheart.
- In "Tooth and Claw", the Doctor and Rose are knighted as "Sir Doctor of TARDIS" and "Dame Rose of the Powell Estate" by Queen Victoria... then immediately exiled.
- One episode of Kaamelott is centered around it, when King Arthur realizes that Perceval was never officially dubbed. Perceval also finds the word "adoubement" cumbersome and wish they would call it "knighterization".
- In Merlin, Uther is seen knighting some men. Then Emilia Fox shows up. The knighting of Lancelot is interesting, to say the least. Lancelot arrives to Camelot to try out for knighthood. He sees Arthur personally sparring with prospective knights, but each is holding back for fear of hurting the prince, much to Arthur's annoyance. Unlike them, Lancelot doesn't hold back and eventually knocks Arthur to the ground. Angry, Arthur gets up, walks towards him, tells Lancelot to get on his knees, grabs a sword in a menacing way... and knights him. Later, Lancelot renounces his knighthood by admitting that he's not of noble blood (a prerequisite).
- A very heartwarming example happens in late season 3 when Arthur knights Lancelot, Elyan, Gwaine, and Percival to thank them for remaining loyal to him. Though this knighting is technically unofficial since Uther would never sanction commoners as knights, Arthur ends up taking over shortly thereafter and officially removes the "noble blood" prerequisite.
- Parodied in a short Morecambe and Wise sketch when Ernie received a knighthood from the Queen and, as she tapped him with the sword, it pulled off his wig.
- On The Odd Couple a princess/queen one of the titular couple was romancing was allowed to give out x number of knighthoods a year, but they didn't mean anything since she was an in-name-only leader of her country. She used her last one of the year to knight a homeless man.
- In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Worf's reward for helping Gowron at the beginning of the Klingon Civil War to finally have his discommendation revoked in a simple formal ceremony.
- Parodied in the song "Knight of the Woeful Countenance" in Man of La Mancha. Don Quixote insists that an innkeeper (who he thinks is a king) knight him.
- In The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged), God tells Abraham that give him his foreskin will establish a covenant between them: "You will be a knight in my army. I will dub thee Sir Cumcision."
- In Camelot, the first act culminates with Arthur's investing of the Knights of the Round Table, including his favorite Lancelot, under the sword Excalibur. At the very end of the show, when Arthur knows his own battle is lost, he knights a boy as Sir Tom of Warwick and tells him to run off so he can live to tell the tale.
- Frog/Glenn gets knighted in the ending cinema of Chrono Trigger. And his theme is playing throughout this, making it even more awesome.
- Elincia knights Ike in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance.
- Pelleas appoints Micaiah as General of the Daein Army in Radiant Dawn, but the ceremony (and the result) is much the same.
- Princess Nyna trusting Prince Marth with the Fire Emblem in Fire Emblem Akaneia could be seen as this.
- The PC of Neverwinter Nights 2 is hastily knighted to avoid being extradited to a Kangaroo Court. Notable in that the vigil is actually shown, though most of the other steps are skipped. A companion shows up and you get attacked by bad guys as well, naturally.
- At the end of Mitsumete Knight, the Asian (aka the player character) gets knighted by the King of the country he fought for as a mercenary, in recompense for winning the war. The Knight Title he gets depends of his Level and number of Medals : from highest title to lowest, there's Holy Knight, Silver Knight, White Knight, Black Knight, Red Knight, Purple Knight, Blue Knight, and Semi-Knight.
- Mass Effect has the Spectre induction ceremony, complete with rousing music and stirring speeches. Getting reinstated (both times) is much more underwhelming. It's notable because Shepard is the first human to be inducted into the organization, and various diplomats stop what they're doing to watch the ceremony.
- In Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, Sora gets this in Country of the Musketeers from Princess Minnie, being named a Royal Musketeer officially at the conclusion of that world's story. That said, given that it is in the King's past, but nonetheless still in the Sleeping Worlds, whether or not this title was actually given in that time period is uncertain.
- In the beginning of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Darth Vader knights Starkiller with his lightsaber as he officially acknowledges him as his Sith Apprentice.
- In the ending of Dragon Quest III, The Hero receives the title of Loto/Erdrick, revealing said Hero you've been playing to be the Famous Ancestor of the prior two games' heroes.
- Symbolically, Leo knights Gawain near the end of Fate/EXTRA.
- Celestian Tales: Old North has its six main characters start out as squires (knights-in-training). The last part of the game features their knighting ceremony.
- The first story mission in For Honor ends with the player being knighted by Holden Cross and recruited into the Blackstone Legion for winning the Combat by Champion.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the first recoverable memory shows Zelda "knighting" note Link as a member of the Champions and as her personal bodyguard in a ceremony on the suggestion of the Goron Champion Daruk. Though she is so somber because of her own insecurities and jealousy of Link's apparent ease in meeting his destiny during the ceremony that Daruk admits that she's "making it sound like we've already lost" against Ganon.
- A variation in Adventure Time when the Nice King (the Ice King) makes Finn and Jake his "nice knights".
- Parodied in the Bugs Bunny cartoon Rabbit Hood. Bugs has conned the Sheriff of Nottingham into thinking he's the king, and that Bugs is going to knight him.
Bugs: Arise, Sir Loin of Beef! *strikes Sheriff over the head with his sceptre* Arise, Earl (oil) of Cloves! *strike* Arise, Duke of Brittingham! *strike* Arise, Baron of Munchausen! *strike* Arise, Essence of Myrrh! *strike* Milk of Magnesia *strike* Quarter of Ten *strike*
Sheriff: (dazed, slurred) You're too kind, your majesty.
Bugs: (to audience) Got lots of stamina!
- There's an aspect of Accidentally Correct Writing here, in that the "taps on the head" weren't always just light taps; historically, they were often hard enough to hurt. A noble warrior might not have been surprised to have the knighting taps hurt, any more than it would be surprising to someone in a fraternity hazing. But it doesn't seem as if Bugs Bunny knew any of this.
- There were two knightings in Gargoyles. Princess Katherine used a dagger to dub Tom "Guardian of the Eggs". King Arthur used Excalibur to knight Griff.
- In the Hello Kitty's Furry Tale Theater episode "Sleeping Kitty" (a spoof of Sleeping Beauty), the servant Sam fails to stop Princess Kitty from falling into the enchanted sleep. The King draws his sword and Sam assumes he will be executed for his failure, but the King instead knights him and charges him to protect the realm as he and his Queen choose to join their daughter in the enchanted sleep. Eventually, Sam realizes that in knighthood, he qualifies as a prince, and he breaks the spell by giving Princess Kitty True Love's Kiss.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Princess Celestia does the typical shoulder-tap to Twilight with her horn before she and her friends run off to retrieve the Elements from Discord in the second season opener.
- The Simpsons: Krusty the Clown was nearly knighted by the Queen of England herself... but then he got a call about the problems with Kamp Krusty.
- In Star Wars: Clone Wars, Anakin was knighted by Yoda and the Jedi Council with a lightsaber. It was to sever the "Padawan Braid" that Anakin had, which was delivered (secretly) to Padme, which symbolized the attainment of Jedi Knight rank.
- This is the same method used for all Jedi Padawans upon ascension to Knight-hood.
- Star Wars Rebels: "Shroud of Darkness" brought the Jedi knighting ceremony described above back into canon, when Kanan is knighted by the Sentinel. It even uses the same wording as Clone Wars, sans "Knight of the Republic" because this is after the Republic has fallen.
- Sean Connery showed up for his knighting in full Scottish regalia (i.e., a kilt). Since he's Scottish, it's not surprising but still shows the formal ceremony thing.
- Stephen Colbert was knighted by the Queen of Jordan ... with Andúril. (Note that knighthood as such is unknown in the traditions of the Arab monarchies; note also that Queen Noor is a half-Swedish, half-Syrian American, and the whole thing is so cool nobody should give a damn.)
- Terry Pratchett, upon hearing that he would be awarded a knighthood, decided that a knight ought to have a sword, and made his own ... out of meteoric iron.
- Sir Patrick Stewart mentioned on The Graham Norton Show episode on 27 January 2012 that when he was knighted, he was very scared because Queen Elizabeth II seemed to produce the sword out of nowhere. Add to that, she looks like a frail old woman holding a large, heavy sword right by his neck.
- He also wrote elsewhere that before the knighting ceremony, he thought to himself, "What would Spider Jerusalem do?" and came up with "Headbutt Prince Charles". As such, he couldn't hear what the prince said to him after the ceremony, as he was using all his willpower not to headbutt him.