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Nerf Arm
The tube is civilization!

I am the foam of my sword.
Plastic is my body, and air is my blood.
I have ploinked over a thousand people.
Unknown to injury,
Nor known to realism.
Have withstood thumps to create soft weapons.
Yet, these hands will never hurt anything.
So as I play, UNLIMITED NERF WORKS.

Any logically less-than-lethal weapon which ends up being otherwise just as effective as its "real" equivalent. This could happen because the setting of the story (or the censor) does not allow a character to carry a "real" weapon.

In video games with changeable/upgradeable weapons, a Nerf Arm may be the weakest version of the weapon, but the only difference between it and its stronger alternatives is (usually) the number of hits needed to defeat the enemies.

Note that there can be some Truth in Television at work; A spud gun may not be a mortar, but it sure isn't Nerf, either. Simply being non-lethal is no indication of safety.

See also Improbable Weapon User, Statistically Speaking, Cherry Tapping. Closely related to- but not to be confused with- Nerf. Can overlap with Lethal Joke Character. A Subtrope is Wooden Katanas Are Even Better. Contrast As Lethal as It Needs to Be.

Usually done for the funny factor, whether the players are laughing as hard as the programmers depends on your sense of humor

Not to be confused with Numb Arm.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Motoko in Love Hina is one of many Kid Samurai whose wooden sword (bokken) is just as effective at dealing damage as a real katana, and sometimes more so.
    • Most versions of this are Memetic Mutations from Miyamoto Musashi, the greatest Japanese swordsman, using a wooden sword rather than a real one as a handicap so people wouldn't be afraid to spar with him. This sometimes ignores the fact that being hit with what's essentially an edged baseball bat still hurts. It's also less likely to break in combat, a common issue of the standard katana (though not so much in anime)
    • There is evidence that it was as much to keep his opponents alive so that he could then take them on as students as it was to show off his own skill. Only a handful of the duels he fought with bokken ended in death.
    • In one instance this was because he was answering a challenge held amongst a hostile clan, and wanted to get in and out inconspicuously to avoid a fight with the entire school. So he left without weapons, carved a bokken from an oar as he sailed there, arrived just as the challenger was expecting a forfeit, and killed him. Then ditched the wooden sword and slipped away on his boat.
  • Ranma
    • Likewise, Tatewaki Kunō's wooden sword is capable of cutting trees in half and shattering stone walls. But of course, any unarmed character can beat Kunō with their pinky finger...
    • In a later book of the manga, the "Kunoichi" Konatsu has to use a fake sword because he had pawned his metal sword. And he's deadly with it.
  • Twilight Suzuka in Outlaw Star also favors a wooden sword, and is capable of quite astonishing feats of mayhem with it, up to and including slicing an oncoming truck in half, though she describes that as "a mere feat of strength."
    • It does have one practical use: it's easy to sneak past metal detectors.
  • In Revolutionary Girl Utena, this is subverted because when Utena brings a bamboo shinai to her first duel, her opponent mocks her for it and cuts the sword down to a stub. She gets a real sword in the very next episode — but not before beating her original opponent with the broken stub of her bamboo sword. In The Movie, she manages a decent fight with a broom, although she doesn't actually win until she gets a real sword.
  • Rurouni Kenshin's Reverse Blade Sword (sort of; it doesn't cut anybody, but it's still akin to clobbering enemies with a steel rod). Plus at least two other members of his entourage, Yahiko and Kaoru, use wooden or bamboo training swords. Hell, Kenshin wins a fight with a beach umbrella.
  • Sakata Gintoki from Gintama wields his wooden sword Lake Touya, which is able to smash through walls and even break conventional swords at times, due to being made from an ancient tree that's said to be as hard as metal. It's also a mass-produced mail-order product, which lets him replace it easily after the numerous occasions where it's been destroyed.
  • The Tournament Arc in Mahou Sensei Negima! disallowed bladed weapons, so Setsuna improvised with a deck brush. It was still effective thanks to her Ki. Oddly, an earlier preliminary match by the Kendo captain showed that Bokken were allowed.
    • Wooden swords don't really have a cutting blade, they are mainly for practice. So he was still within the rules.
    • Of course, the latter would have clashed with her adorable outfit....
  • In Hayate the Combat Butler, Isumi gives Hinagiku a bokken made by Masamune. It works on demons and has the usual powers a wooden sword has in anime, which is to say it can cut robots in half.
  • In Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, the protagonist gets surrounded by a gang of mook girls armed with various weapons. The problem is that he Wouldn't Hit a Girl. Fortunately, in the last moment, Shigure comes to the rescue, but Kenichi wouldn't let her use sharp objects on the girls. So Shigure defeats them with a rice spoon.
    • She doesn't just beat them, she slices all their weapons to pieces with her rice spoon, and while she's at it she also cuts a series of lacerations into their outfits so that when they try to carry on the fight their clothing starts falling apart.
    • She later does this with a sword shaped videogame controller to the same group of girls, except this time the Clothing Damage was worse. She did remark on how much they had improved when their weapons weren't destroyed.
  • In Bleach, Madarame Ikkaku is told he's not allowed to carry a real sword while in the human world, so he uses a wooden one. He never cuts anything with it, but Ikkaku is anything but weak, and can still send someone flying with it.
    • It's a bokken (training sword) and those things are known to shatter bones and smash open heads.
  • Noir has one of the female leads snap off the leg of a mooks sunglasses before stabbing him in the brain with it.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Kaiba uses duel monster cards as throwing stars. He will knock whatever you're holding out of your hand with them.
  • Kill la Kill gives us Sanegeyama's shinai, which he uses to curbstomp Ryuko with in their rematch, when she has an Absurdly Sharp Blade.

    Film 
  • Bugsy Malone. Miniature mobsters with pie-throwing weapons—that have made pies obsolete as weapons.
  • In the recent movie Shoot 'em Up, a mook gets killed with a frozen carrot through his eye.
  • The core heroes of Mystery Men have "superpowers" that are only mildly dangerous, like throwing silverware (but not knives), flatulence of doom, or being able to turn invisible if and only if nobody is looking at you. note  All of these become critically important in the endgame, of course.
    • Probably the most dangerous guy on the team is The Shoveller, then again shovels have been used as weapons since WWI.
      • Not to overlook the possessed flying bowling ball of vengeance.
  • In The Chronicles of Riddick, said Riddick kills using a teacup. Next, he implies that his next kill will be using what appears to be a disposable tin opener.
  • Jason Bourne once fended off an attacker with a rolled up newspaper.
    • Not to mention when he used a pen against an assassin.
    • There have in fact been cases of both items being turned into makeshift shivs in prisons. Newspaper would be dunked in water, then compressed as much as possible until hardened, then sharpened.
  • In Kill Bill Vol. 2, The Bride fends off Elle's Hattori Hanzo sword with - a broken TV antenna.
  • In the low-budget 70's movie Axe!, a group of gangsters bludgeon a man to death with a child's doll.
  • In Grosse Pointe Blank (which pre-dates the Bourne movie above), John Cusack's character uses a promotional gimmick pen (a Chekhov's Gun prop) to kill an assassin in a fight at his High School reunion. Complete with cool sword-drawing sound as he takes off the pen cap.
  • Tangled has Rapunzel carry around a Frying Pan of Doom that she clocks Flynn with a few times. It becomes this trope when Flynn later finds himself fighting soldiers with it, and not only does it work well, it works better than their swords. The end of the film reveals that all the kingdom's soldiers apparently now carry frying pans.

    Literature 
  • Death's harvest scythe in Terry Pratchett's Reaper Man is a Nerfed version of his preferred weapon, but that doesn't stop him from taking out the New Death with it when sufficiently provoked.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire both plays the trope straight and averts it in the same scene, featuring a sequence where swordsmaster Syrio Forel takes out three Mooks in seconds with a wooden practice sword. However, when he faces down an Elite Mook, who has plate armor protecting every possible weak spot (throat, groin, hands), immediately afterward, he's stymied.
    • Played straight in the Hand's tourney. The lances used for jousting are deliberately Nerfed and shatter on impact to prevent death, but Ser Gregor manages to impale a knight through the throat with one anyway. As the Hound remarked afterward, "Gregor's lance goes where Gregor wants it to go."

    Live-Action TV 
  • An early episode of Chuck features a fight between Sarah and Casey using plastic forks and corn dog skewers.
  • In the short-running TV series Martial Law, a belligerent man says to the main character, "I hear that you can make anything into a lethal weapon. Prove it." He then proceeds to hand him a chalkboard eraser, which Sammo completely KICKS HIS ASS with.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The New World of Darkness Core Rulebook introduces the Weaponry skill with a short vignette about a young woman fending off an attacker...with an umbrella.
  • In the game Battletech, swinging the blown-off arm of an enemy mech can do more damage than firing a mid-grade or even high grade cannon, depending on your mech's size — for a lot less heat buildup.

    Videogames 
  • For most of the Destiny Island area of Kingdom Hearts, This is averted when Sora wields a wooden sword. It's so weak it doesn't even do damage to Shadows (the weakest enemies outside of Destiny Island). Oddly, when he takes up a wooden sword again near the end of the game, although it is much weaker than the keyblade he'd been using all along, it still is capable of dealing damage and even vanquishing the Heartless (Though they don't flinch when struck by it). Perhaps this is due to Sora being so very levelled up.
    • Ditto for the Struggle Bat Roxas uses in the virtual Twilight Town in Kingdom Hearts II.
  • The starting sword in the original The Legend of Zelda is made of wood. (Or bronze. The graphics and dialog are too vague to completely rule out bronze.) Link also uses a wooden sword in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, but for a significantly shorter period of time. The latter is almost certainly a Shout-Out to the former; other equipment you get in Twilight Princess by the end of the 'wooden sword part' include the Lantern (the first equipment you get in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past) and the Slingshot (completely pointless except as a Shout-Out to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time once you get the bow).
    • Anyone who knows swords will know that wooden swords will still hurt you good. Despite not being sharp, it can still cause really deep bruising and can probably break ribs if hit in the torso. This trope is not necessarily played straight with the wooden sword in light of this.
    • The slingshot was supposedly added at the last minute as means to quickly take advantage of the Wii's pointer function. Without it, players wouldn't use the ability at all until well into the first dungeon.
      • Except that near the end of the game the Cave of Ordeals, saw a resurgence. After all, with no arrow restocks, why waste them shooting down the Keese?
  • In Tales of Symphonia Lloyd's starting weapon is double wooden swords. (The apparent wonky grammar is due to Lloyd's pairs of swords each being a single item in the gameplay mechanics.) In addition, each character has an harmless-looking joke weapon that is a top tier weapon for them — Lloyd's is a pair of Paper Fan of Doom.
    • Lloyd can also get a title for only using the wooden swords until a certain point in the game.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines takes this concept quite literally, as you can find a severed human arm and use it as a melee weapon. Interestingly enough, it's not even the game's weakest weapon but instead quite the damage dealer early on.
  • The MOTHER series. Baseball bats have always been a staple of The Hero, and The Chick usually fights with frying pans. What's more, everybody can equip slingshots and yoyos, and the characters with lethal weapons (Lloyd and Jeff's guns, Teddy's blades) start the game with nerf versions (airsoft guns and a butter knife, respectively).
    • This carried over into the heroes' appearances in Super Smash Bros.. series, with their forward smash attack being a bat or stick, and the Home Run Bat being one of the slowest but most powerful pickup weapons.
  • The main character in Chrono Trigger can equip a mop, which is treated as just a really weak sword.
  • In Final Fantasy VII, you can find certain goofy weapons for your characters, such as a parasol for Aeris, a mop for Cid, a boxing glove for Barret, etc. They're the most powerful weapons you'll find for a while, but the catch is that they have no slots for Materia. If you use them regularly, you'll be gimping your magic in the long run.
    • In Crisis Core, Zack goes to Costa del Sol and fights with an umbrella rather than his normal sword. However, since all his damage comes from his base stats and accessories, it's just as powerful as the Buster Sword.
  • The main character in Tales of Destiny can also equip the deck brush he used to swab the decks in the beginning of the game, to the point where the Deck Brush has become his signature item (for example, used to create his costume transformation in Tales of the World: Narikiri Dungeon).
    • The Deck Brush has become a recurring joke weapon in later games, like Loni's Deck Brush in the sequel, which boosts the chance of failure for his 15-kanji hi-ougi.
  • Tales of Vesperia:
    • Judith can use two special joke artes by equipping the Deck Brush along with her maid costume. Both of them make her sweep the floor.
    • Estelle can get a cat teaser as a weapon, which replaces her standard burst arte with a joke one that makes her crouch down and start waving the cat teaser up and down as if to entice some invisible kitty. Each wave of the teaser will damage enemies touching it very slightly, and can actually combo some of them for a surprisingly long time, depending how much Estelle decides to wave it around. It's very likely to be interrupted if she's not using the invincible level four Overlimit, though.
    • Amusingly, this becomes a surprisingly effective way of damaging enemies in the PS3 remake of the game, thanks to the new Burst Keep skill, which makes Overlimit last until a burst arte finishes. Couple this with the fact that Overlimit level four is invincible and prevents flinching from almost everything and the fact that Estelle can play with the cat teaser forever if nobody makes her flinch, and Hilarity Ensues.
  • Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology takes it to levels even more ridiculous than the Ranma 1/2 example, if not as over-the-top. A wooden sword you can buy early on is a step up from your starter weapon if you're a warrior — said starter weapon being an enormous one-handed axe.
  • Pretty much everything used by the "ninja," Frank, in Shadow Hearts: From the New World is some ridiculous object attached to a sword hilt. His ultimate weapon is literally a giant shish-kebob.
    • And before that, Covenant had Joachim using such weapons as a large segment of pipe, a rolled-up package of textiles, a locker, the desk of a wrestling emcee, a miniature skyscraper with actual miniature people in it that scream when he swings it, and a miniature nuclear submarine that was not only a Stealth Pun to the name of the developer but also contained enough firepower to sterilize the Earth of life (but was never used to do so due to a gentlemen's agreement).
  • An entire game was based around this trope: Nerf Arena Blast. The game played exactly like Unreal Tournament (the Unreal Engine is used), but with licensed Nerf guns in place of UT's usual ones, with the exact same functions. Players disappeared when their health hit 0, and there was no fragging.
  • A cheat in Hitman: Contracts can grant you a "Cardboard Tube" (in homage to the Penny Arcade example below) which the description lists as being "constructed from five-star ultra-dense musashi cardboard". Hitting an opponent with it sends them sailing in a nearly flat trajectory, usually only stopping when they strike an obstacle. Awesome.
  • Dead Rising has a literal Nerf Arm as a potential weapon: the Mega Buster fires little Nerf-like balls that do virtually no damage. One in-game achievement unlocks the Real Mega Buster, the Infinity+1 Sword of firearms.
    • There's also the Toy Laser Sword, which, other than cool lighting effects and pushback, does no damage at all. Getting an in-game achievement (different from the one above) gives Frank access to the Z-Saber, which looks exactly the same, but is beam death.
      • That is averted in the Wii version, where the sword actually kills many enemies in one or two hits. But it does break faster than most melee weapons.
  • The Keystone Kops in Nethack wield garden hoses as whips and throw cream pies; the latter are much more useful than they sound, as they can be eaten or used to blind enemies.
  • In Eternal Fighter Zero, Rumi Nanase uses a wooden kendo sword. Interestingly enough, her attacks do more damage than Mai Kawasumi's, even though the latter uses a real sword.
  • Almost half of the weapons in the humorous MMORPG Kingdom of Loathing are of this kind. While most of the silliest weapons (tiny paper umbrellas, balloon swords, squeaky mallets etc.) are pretty weak, a powerful character can still do massive damage with them, and some silly weapons (e.g. potato guns and cardboard swords) are actually quite effective.
    • Plus almost all the magic based weapons are cooking utensils. (Iron pasta spoon, Gnollish pie server, etc.) The reason for magical utensils? The magic-using classes are known collectively as "Chef-Magi."
    • The Clown Hammer is the very embodiment of this trope. "You hit (the monster) for X damage. SQUEAK! SQUEAK! SQUEAK! SQUEAK! SQUEAK!"
    • Kingdom of Loathing is in love with this trope. Even some of the familiars fit the definition: Teddy bears, Volleyballs, Balloon Monkeys, Baby Gravy Fairies, etc. Beware the Levitating Potato!
    • Ranged weapons seem to have a higher tendency to be silly. Among the ranged weapons with power 180 or greater (max power is 200) are a recordnote , a bag of candy, a Slinky, a bag of snowballs, a paddle-ball, a beer-slinging catapult, a beer bong, a guitar, a sitar, and a didgeridoo.
      • Yo-yos have become common enough ranged weapons to get their own classification.
      • Then again, 200-power melee weapons include a stick the arm of a demonic snowman, a definitely-not-a-Keyblade, a halibut, a lawn dart, a sword made of velcro, and a shoulder blade, with the duct tape sword not far behind.
  • In Lego Star Wars, all weapons do the same damage (without extras on). This means you can slay Darth Maul with a teacup.
  • Castlevania: Curse of Darkness takes the cake for having its very own section, along with one extra joke weapon in each normal category which include floating cartoon bombs, boxing gloves, a badass-looking electric guitar, and of course...A deck brush, classed as a pole weapon, whose final charge attack is instead of a flashy attack or quick stabbing motion, involves Hector dash-sweeping in front of him for as long as you mash the triangle button. Not only a handy attack but a handy mode of transport, and with good aiming a great way to break open all those candle stands. Also the sweeping attack does almost as much damage as a normal attack, so with a familiar who boosts strength you can actually kill the wyvern boss by cleaning his back. Ooookay.
  • Soul Calibur 2 featured an entire class of joke weapons, one for each character. In addition to having bizarre effects and, in some cases, just looking completely ridiculous ("Link has a butterfly net, LOOK OUT!"), they also cause bizarre sound effects whenever they hit, turning every life or death battle into a laugh-fest.
    • Raphael's joke weapon, the Cane, actually produces cheering and applause when he successfully hits with it.
    • The above mentioned "Link has a butterfly net" may be homage to the SNES game A Link to the Past, In which it is possible to reflect Ganon's attack with said implement, and it actually HAD MORE RANGE THAN THE MASTER SWORD.
      • Within that same vein, you could reflect projectiles back in Ocarina of Time for both Phantom Ganon and the real McCoy with a freaking BOTTLE!
    • Joke weapons are more or less a staple of the Soul Calibur series at this point. They appear in the fourth game as well as the second. They also appear in the third one, but must be unlocked. Weapons such as a broom and dusters and the like.
  • World of Warcraft has brooms, pitchforks, broken bottles, rolling pins, and even fish as weapons. There don't usually have any stats on them and do very weak damage, but putting a fiery enchant on a broom and running around hitting stuff with a flaming broom of death is entertaining.
    • Though there was a long period of time where the best weapon for a rogue was the Barman's Shanker, essentially a smashed liquor bottle.
    • there are also this, this, and this.
      • On that last one, there's a whole subcategory of fishing poles in World of Warcraft. It has to be equipped to fish with it, but sometimes bored PV Pers would equip it just so they can say they beat someone to death with a fishing pole. Mostly rogues, because it's the only two-handed weapon rogues can equip, aside from a Wrath of the Lich King weapon entitled "The Fire Extinguisher."
      • If you are fishing for any length of time while waiting for a queue to pop, expect to realise at some point that the reason your DPS is so low is because you have forgotten to re-equip your sword after entering the dungeon.
    • There is also the Mug o'Hurt and Hurley's Tankard. Probably the best item especially for Dwarf Rogues in the 40s for demonstrating Drunken Master brawling.
  • Subverted with Fallout Tactics. One of the weapons you can find? A water pistol. And then you start finding jars of acid in your travels through the Wasteland.
    • Further subverted with the Rock-It Launcher in Fallout 3, which allows the player to use all the clutter they've found in the wasteland as potentially lethal projectiles. Clutter such as forks. And plates. And books. And teddy bears.
  • Mabinogi has a number of these as regular and event-specific weapons and armour. The regular ones are merely household implements like small hatchets, cooking knives, and musical instruments; but also include intentional weapons like large hatchets and wooden swords. They are weaker than your open-hand damage; but can be upgraded to do a reasonable amount of damage (although nowhere near as much as a regular weapon). Event-specific items often include cutesy weapons like the recent toy bow and arrow set and "cat paw club", a big furry cat paw on the end of a stick; and similarly cute armour and accessories, such as panda paw gloves, and various costumes. In most cases, they're of only average or worse effectiveness; although in a few (such as the cat paw club), they're fairly powerful. They typically come with limitations, however, in that they cannot be upgraded, enchanged, or repaired (all items wear out with time and use).
  • In Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, each member of the Organization can equip 1-2 comical but nonetheless effective "joke" weapons. These include a sandwich, a broom, light bulbs, pizza, and a giant soup ladle.
  • Illusion of Gaia's protagonist uses a flute as his sole weapon. (Not counting his ability to change into a buff armor-clad, sword-toting knight after travelling into space.)
  • Team Fortress 2. Scout has both an aluminum and a wooden baseball bat (and an equally effective fish). Soldier has a shovel. Demoman has a liquor bottle. All are quite effective.
    • The Soldier's "shovel" is an army entrenching tool, which is built to have a secondary use as a crude and deadly battleaxe. These tools have killed many people, especially in Vietnam. While always a weapon of desperation rather than choice, that thing is made to clobber heads and some troops train in using it to do so. That's not this trope. A bottle is frequently used as an Improvised Weapon, and it can and will do serious harm, so it is also not this trope. Ditto the bats, the medic's bonesaws, and quite a few other melee combat items; they aren't designed as weapons but could obviously be lethal. The fish is this trope, since you shouldn't be able to do a tuna damage and make your opponents flounder just by smacking them with a sole.
    • The Scout seems to get a lot of these in regards to melee weapon options. A candy cane? A tube of wrapping paper? A severed arm? All are viable weapons (to an extent). The devs seem to treat the melee weapon slot as the go-to for bizarre/unexpectedly lethal options, since things such as winter mittens, mail boxes, and icicles have also made appearances as reasonably dangerous implements.
      • In real life, Scout's bats are about as dangerous as Soldier's entrenching tool. Bats will shatter the skull or the long bones in limbs because they are functional clubs. It may be an idiosyncratic choice, but see Real Life, below.
  • In Assassin's Creed 2, due to a quirk or easter egg in the weapons system, you can knock someone down, pick up their broom from the ground, and use it just as effectively as any other one-handed-mace in the game.
    • The creators picked up on it too; in Brotherhood there is an Achievement for killing a guard with the broom.
  • The tool with the highest attack points in Rune Factory is... your watering can. They lampshade this in the sequel, in which your strongest tool is your fishing rod. Also, the Back Scratcher in Rune Factory 2.
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas featured a purple double-ended dildo (which can be found the Los Santos Police Station Showers among other places) as a surprisingly strong melee weapon.
    • And it can be given as a gift to your girlfriends. Same with a secret silver vibrator that can be found in the northern most town of Boone County.
  • Saints Row: The Third sees GTA's entry and raises Up to Eleven; the Penetrator is a three foot long purple jelly dildo with a bat handle. And Jiggle Physics.
  • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind gives us the Fork of Horripilation, which not only is the worst weapon in the game, but drains 200 magicka. It's useful for an interesting side-quest though. There's also the miner's pick, which is rather heavy and not much more effective (and not quest related...).
  • Persona 3 has a joke weapon for each weapon type, but some of them (the Toy Bow especially) can be acquired early enough that they're not jokes at all, and can serve well for a long stretch of the game. Less nerfy, but still somewhat in the spirit of this trope, are the starting weapons in Persona 4, like the protagonist's golf club, Yosuke's wrenches, and Kanji's folding chair. The protagonist can also get some Awesome, but Impractical baseball bats, which have high power but terrible accuracy.
    • In Persona 4 Arena, most of the characters use their proper weapons (Yu's katana, Naoto's revolver, Akihiko's fists, etc) but Kanji still uses the folding chair. His attacks are still some of the most damaging in the game. In the sequel there's also Rise, who has never fought before and doesn't even have a Persona with combat abilities, but can stand against the others with a microphone stand and J-pop.
  • In the first Sengoku Basara or Devil Kings the strongest weapons are also the joke weapons. So you can get things like Toshiie impaling mooks with a swordfish, Shingen hammering people with a giant party fan and Mitsuhide maiming soldiers with oversized cutlery. Each game has his set of joke items, making this option possible.
  • Discussed in Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard when enemies from a Nerf-like game have broken into the game you're in. Matt asks why he should be scared of people with water guns, until his Voice with an Internet Connection points out that it's going to hurt just as much because they still do hit point damage. When Matt takes their water pistols, they function like this against enemies... except against the ones from said game, which invert which weapons are considered the Nerf Arm.
  • Kain can replace his Soul Reaver with a cardboard tube in Legacy of Kain: Defiance, through the use of a cheat code. When entered, Kain says "Fear the tube." While it was initially suspected to be a reference to Penny Arcade, it was revealed to be a coincidence.
  • League of Legends: As a sort of Self-Imposed Challenge, Jax is armed with a brass lamppost. He lampshades this in his joke emote:
    Imagine if I had a real weapon!
  • The Disgaea series tends to have these crossed with Lethal Joke Item. There are some ridiculous looking weapons available such as brooms, fish, tambourines, tennis rackets, etc. However, they can be quite dangerous because A) each joke weapon contains a specialist found nowhere else that can do things like cause status ailments or never miss, and B) the Item World system means that pretty much any item can become an Infinity+1 Sword with time and effort.

    Webcomics 
  • Penny Arcade's "Cardboard Tube Samurai" strips recast Gabe as a wandering samurai in feudal Japan... only, instead of a katana, he wields the titular cardboard shipping tube.
    • Yoshimitsu gets it in a special alternate costume in Tekken 6.
  • The webcomic Sluggy Freelance had a storyline where alien invaders with Bizarre Alien Biology were violently allergic to Nerf toys, both weapons and non-weapons. Their world domination strategy started with the infestation of Santa Claus, who the aliens mistook for Earth's biggest arms dealer.
  • In Adventurers!: The dreaded newspaper.
  • In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, the Doc mocks his parents' story of their family's origins, pointing out the ludicrousness of using frozen shamrocks as shuriken. Needless to say, he himself must resort to using the very same against some pirates later in the story.

    Web Originals 
  • There's always a few gag weapons such as this in Survival of the Fittest, though with some of them it is possible to kill an enemy with some creativity.
    • A kill was made in v3 by smashing an ocarina in the victim's face, then stabbing him in the neck with a broken shard and knocking him off a cliff.
  • In Nuklear Age, during a D&D parody arc featuring the main characters lost in a mall, three characters are forced to take up arms to defend themselves against hordes of small, toy-crazy children. Their weapons of choice? A foam ax for the berserker, a kid's magic kit for the acting mage, and a foam shield and sword for the leader.
  • Demise, the super-assassin from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, once used a paperback book and a rubber band to kill one of her targets.
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd sometimes uses a Zapper as if it were a real gun.
  • Invoked by Linkara's "Arsenal of Freedom" which is made up entirely of toys and prop replicas; handwaved in that they turn out to be enchanted to work like their "real" counterparts.
  • SCP Foundation's Mobile Task Force Omega 7 Incident Log mentions that SCP-076-2, being The Juggernaut that he is, once broke a man's jaw with a Nerf sword when he got bored without a fight.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, one weapon is a giant nerf pointing hand, with which one pokes people. In one fight, the "hand" was pulled off of its handle, only to reveal an actual sword. Despite this, the party holding the sword declared himself to be defenseless and jumped off the whale/ship.
  • Similar to Flapjack example, Johnny Test had an episode where wooden swords had Audible Sharpness when used against metal ones.
  • South Park spoofed this trope in the episode that mocked Steven Spielburg's decision to replace guns with walkie-talkies in his re-release of ET. Here, the cops shoot weapons that look and sound exactly like walkie-talkies...and which have the same effect on that which they're targeting.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door had an episode where Numbah 1 was being targeted by the rest of the KND and he didn't have access to the regular 2X4 technology so he substituted with whatever was lying around. Most notably his mail, like an actual letter in an envelope.
  • In Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, The Joker has the choice to fight the Phantasm with either a giant, menacing, kitchen knife or a processed Bologna log. Guess which one he chooses.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, we have the episode "Over A Barrel", In which pony settlers fight off a stampeding herd of buffalo... with apple pies. The pies apparently hit with enough force to knock a charging buffalo flat.
  • An episode of Dexter's Laboratory focusing on Dee-Dee involved her paper route running into competition from ninjas. Rolled-up newspapers were used as sword analogues, complete with a failed ninja committing seppuku at the end by whacking himself in the face.

    Real Life 
  • Miyamoto Musashi. In 1612 he fought a duel with a bokken he had carved from an oar while waiting for his opponent — and killed him very shortly.
    • Don't underestimate the power of wood. There is a reason why the Australian Aborigines make weapons from it. Oh sure, you might laugh at those small wooden ones that come back after you throw it but otherwise wouldn't do much more than stun a rabbit — but then there are the other kind that don't come back. On account of being stuck in someone's ribcage.
      • The same reason bows are usually made from wood. Wood usually combines high tensile strength with a certain amount of flexibility (how much depends on the type of wood). This also explains why trees are usually still standing after heavy storms that utterly devastate human constructions (which are insufficiently flexible). When trees fall down it's either because they got uprooted, or because the forces exercised on them were greater than that particular tree could withstand (which may mean the tree was in a bad condition in the first place).
  • Baseball (and cricket) bats generally aren't this trope. They are a club by any definition; just because they're not labeled as one, doesn't mean they're not exactly identical to any historical weapon of war in functionality. In particular, the aluminum baseball bat used in North American college and lower baseball/softball is perhaps the most deadly club ever designed: it's very strong, extremely lightweight, superbly balanced, and easy to be lethally used by anyone older than about 8. There's a reason that carrying a bat towards the pitcher's mound is an extremely serious offense in organized baseball, resulting in instant ejection and a possible ban. Not to mention that use of one in a crime is considered a "deadly weapon", putting it on par with a sword or other weapon of war.
    • Perhaps most importantly, with respect to this trope, is that an opponent wielding a baseball bat will immediately be recognized as a threat, and taken seriously, and thus, is not this trope.
  • The tessen — better known as an iron fan, or Japanese war fan — was given metal rods instead of wood or bamboo ones. However, it was always made to look like any old fan. Several legendary warriors of Japan were said to be so skilled in using them, that they could fight a samurai armed with a sword or spear and win. Not only that, someone skilled in Tessenjutsu, the martial art of wielding fans created for tessen, can use a regular fan as a lethal weapon. It's said that people would learn it so they could be armed in a place where weapons weren't allowed. Seriously, who'd take an old man's fan away on a hot day?
    • A samurai's wife would also be taught to wield a tessen... In case she couldn't take her trusty Blade on a Stick, that is.
  • Cane-Fu.
  • US Army Rangers have a small shovel as part of their kit. While it's an ordinary (if well-made) shovel, they can chop a man's head in half with it.
    • The military Entrenching Tool has a long and proud history as a close quarters weapon. Several WWI and WWII-issue models were designed with edges that could be sharpened, producing a crude axe with better reach than a knife but more close-quarters utility than a fixed bayonet.
      • In 2010 they still make them, they still issue them, and infantrymen still sharpen the edges in order to be able to use it as a makeshift battleaxe in CQB. And infantry training, at least in the US Army, still includes systematic training in its use as a melee weapon.
      • It all started with Roman legions...
    • Humble Lobo... We heart you so...
  • Many boffer LARP groups have strict regulations on weapon crafting. Materials like wood, metal, and some kinds of plastics are banned because of the risk of them breaking and piercing through the foam padding, possibly into someone and resulting in injury or death. The most popular materials instead are PVC, bamboo, and graphite fiber rods.
  • The vast majority of injuries in fencing are due to folks crashing into each other or twisting an ankle. The only reason jackets are worn is because blades on very, very rare occasions snap (and also because being poked repeatedly with stiff bits of metal hurts). If this happens, it's often user error. It also results in a very jagged piece of metal which can wound or kill an opponent. Historically, the methods of nerfing (back then, they called it "foiling") lethal swords was remarkably unreliable. Plenty of foiled weapons accidentally or "accidentally" killed someone.
  • "Less-Than-Lethal" or "Less-Lethal" weapons can and have caused deaths due to bad luck, bad design, or improper usage. Rubber bullets and blanks can both be deadly at close ranges, tasers and stun guns can unintentionally cause heart attacks, people can have very nasty reactions to tear gas or knockout gas and so on. Hence the Insistent Terminology.


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