Only the Chosen May Wield
"Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of... THOR."In a fantasy story, or sometimes even a sci-fi series, there will be certain special items that only an attuned person can use. The most famous of these is the Sword in the Stone: Only King Arthur could remove the sword from the stone in which it was lodged, and thus proved that he was the true king of England. May be the first evidence of Because Destiny Says So or The Chosen One. Such an item may also be Loyal Phlebotinum. If the wielder also happens to be The Chosen Zero they might also be The Team Benefactor by virtue of providing access to it. A Sister Trope to Only the Worthy May Pass. Compare Situational Sword. See also Only The Chosen May Ride.
— Inscription on Mjölnir, The Mighty Thor
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Anime & Manga
- How the Digidestined received their Digimon and powerups (in the form of eggs on stone pillars) in Digimon Adventure 02. Also used at least once in Digimon Frontier.
- In a episode of Ranma ½, Kunō pulls the magic sword Wishbringer out of a stone. Subverted, as he was only able to pull the sword out because he was the one-millionth to try. However, once he claims ownership, Wishbringer will only listen to his voice.
- The Escudo weapons from Magic Knight Rayearth. If anyone else tries to wield them, Hikaru's catches on fire, Umi's turns into water and Fuu's gets incredibly heavy.
- Mai gets her CHILD in Mai-HiME by removing a sword from a stone... wall.
- Tessaiga was meant for Inuyasha and only allows Inuyasha to wield it. If its power is stolen that power will find its way back to Inuyasha as quickly as possible. Although it possesses a barrier that prevents full youkai from touching it, that barrier is a magical addition to determine who cannot wield the sword rather than who can.
- Tenseiga was given to Sesshoumaru and it only allows him to wield it. Even though he doesn't want the sword, the sword wants him. He even tried breaking the sword and throwing it away once. Tenseiga promptly reforged itself and returned to him - he can't get rid of this weapon even when he tries.
- Toukijin was an Evil Weapon so powerful it could even possess its own creator, and the Ultimate Blacksmith Toutousai couldn't even approach. Sesshoumaru was so powerful, it couldn't possess him, so it accepted Sesshoumaru as its wielder and true master. At least until Sesshoumaru's compassion finally became too powerful for the sword's hate and shattered the sword, that is.
- Ikki Tousen has five swords - the "Hyakuhekitou" - that were stuck in one stone. One Big Bad manages to free several of them at once by destroying the stone.
- In Soul Eater, all weapons are assigned to a particular partner upon enrollment in Shibusen, based on the interlocking personalities of the weapon and meister. Generally speaking, it is impossible for a weapon to be wielded by someone who isn't their partner because their inner natures tend to clash. Adult Meisters/Weapons appear to be free of this restriction, which is said to have something to do with the fact that wielding a Weapon is about how the souls of both meister and Weapon react to one another, and seems to rely on some level of mutual understanding and compromise - too much conflict spoils the resonance and people get hurt, or even fall flat on the ground if they happen to be up in the air when you start arguing. As such, it's implied that the Adults are much better at handling their composure, allowing for a wider range of partners. This isn't to say if an Adult pair start to argue they'll stop resonating, or that there are pairs that would never be able to work, just that that's never been depicted in the series. The fact that most Adults seem to have a preferred/assigned partner supports this.
- Excalibur is also present in the series and is the only weapon who averts this trope by being potentially able to be wielded by anyone: His numerous powers include the ability to adjust his soul wavelength to go along perfectly with anyone... Except his personality is so extremely obnoxious that no-one wants to get within two leagues of him.
- In Mahoujin Guru Guru, the magic sword of light, Kira Kira, can only be called upon by a true Hero.
- Several weapons in Silent Mobius are bound to specific bloodlines. Grosspoliner's connexion to the Liqueur blood is a plot point.
- Juushin Enbu has the Kenkaranpu, which can only be drawn by a "true hero". In the first chapter Taito was able to draw it but it was promptly stolen...
- Meta Knight's legendary sword Galaxia in Kirby of the Stars will shock (sometimes to death) anyone not powerful enough to wield it if they so much as touch it. It will also demand to know who they are and what they think they're doing.
- The Z Sword from the Buu Saga of Dragon Ball. It's stuck in a stone pillar on a planet in the afterlife, and Gohan has to go Super Saiyan 2 before he can pull it out. It's still incredibly heavy once it's removed, too - he can barely lift it without transforming. Then the good guys break it by accident while training, releasing the old Kaioshin sealed within it, who turns out to be a lot more helpful than the sword itself.
- In Rosario + Vampire, Moka's Power Limiter rosary can only be properly removed by Tsukune.
- In the Pokémon anime, it is stated that the Pokemon will only obey the original person that caught, trained, and raised it (and only if it considers him/her worthy). So care must be taken when loaning other people your Pokemon, or gifting them to others, or trading them to instruct the creature to "do whatever so-and-so tells you to do."
- SD Gundam Force gives us Musha Daishinshou, a semi-sentient Humongous Mecha that can only be controlled by The Dai-Shogun, surpeme ruler of Ark. It's stated that without the Dai-Shogun, Daishinshou would go on a rampage, so it spends most of the series locked up in a castle. Villain Kibaomaru thinks he can use Daishinshou, and looks for a means of releasing it. It's revealed that the one to use Daishinshou is the one who has the power to release it; his son, Genkimaru.
- One appears in UQ Holder, where Touta is naturally the one to pull it out. Turns out it was a gravity-controlling sword, and Touta was the only one to notice it had a switch to make it light enough to pull out.
- Certain cards in Yu-Gi-Oh! can only be wielded by a chosen duelist, including the Egyptian Gods, the Legendary Dragons/Knights of Atlantis, the Earthbound Gods, and the Signer Dragons.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh!: Capsule Monsters, a sword in the village of the fifth trial is like this. Yami has to lure the five dragons to said village before he's capable of lifting it.
- In the Sailor Moon manga and Sailor Moon Crystal, although the other Senshi can wield the Holy Sword, only Sailor Venus, as the destined leader of the Sailor Senshi, can actually free it from the rock that it's embedded in.
- In Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, Lilliluka steals Bell's "Hestia Knife" and attempts to sell it. However, the pawnshop will only give her about 30 vals for it, when a typical generic weapon is worth several hundred or thousands. He tells her the knife is dull and won't cut. After the knife is returned to Bell, the hieroglyphs inscribed on it immediately light back up, making her realize the weapon is only useful in his hands.
- The Witchblade in the comic of the same name was like this.
- According to Marvel, only a handful of beings have been able to wield the legendary hammer Mjölnir to date: Odin, Thor, Captain America, Storm, Wonder Woman (in a crossover), Spider-Man 2099, Thunderstrike, Beta Ray Bill, and Puddlegulp the frog (OK, he only has a sliver of Mjölnir but still). Its current holder is a mystery woman eventually revealed to be Jane Foster.
- Superman wasn't naturally able to use it in a crossover, but was "granted permission" so he could save the day. The general presumption is that being the weapon of a Norse god, "worthiness" includes a warrior component, which Wonder Woman meets but Superman doesn't.
- There was a random paramedic as well, but nobody thought to ask him his name before he left.
- One issue of Deadpool had him get the hammer, and all the powers contained therein. It all turned out to be an illusion created by Loki to mess with Thor's head. Shame...
- In one story, Thor becomes unworthy after becoming an Evil Overlord, but Mjölnir lets him use it again to save his son's life.
- In one issue of Power Pack, Mjölnir permits Zero Gee to use it when he catches it on the backswing.
- Beta Ray Bill's personal hammer, Stormbringer, has a similar enchantment, although the Skrulls were able to split it into a pair of axes and give it to a Super-Skrull during Secret Invasion.
- To add to the list of unlikely people: in Axis freaking Loki could wield it. It's unclear how much of that happened thanks to their own attempts at redemption or because they were under the inversion spell. Worth noting that since Original Sin no Asgardian was worthy, not even Odin, so whatever sin caused that, Loki was innocent of it.
- In an issue of What If? Don Blake's Love Interest Jane Foster finds the hammer instead of him and becomes Thordis.
- Another "What If" story involving Black Widow shows just how quickly one can change from "unworthy" to "worthy". Nat tries to budge the hammer during a fight, but can't. Then, still in danger, she shoots down a monster attacking someone else rather than defend herself. Boom.
- The White Lantern Battery in Brightest Day. Hal and Carol refer to it as the sword in the stone, to Sinestro's confusion.
- All Green Lantern Rings - and all the other colors - require a user to have a sufficient amount of the emotion that powers it, and be mostly free of the emotion that opposes it. The Sinestro Corps rings vary slightly in that they rely on their wearers' ability to instill fear in others. One of them tried to recruit Batman in the lead-up to the Sinestro Corps War, but he rejected it.
- In Wonder Woman, the Lasso of Truth can only be wielded by one who is worthy.
- Played in reverse in Justice Lords Beyond. Wonder Woman uses the Lasso of Truth to strangle/snap the neck of her Justice Lord counterpart for killing Lord Batman, and so she is no longer worthy and the lasso disintegrates.
- The Smurfs: The magic locket on Puppy's collar, which in the cartoon show says it contains "the key to all magic", could only be opened by one individual, as all others who try to open it are shocked or zapped with a lightning bolt. In both versions of Puppy's origin story, Baby Smurf is the one who succeeds in opening the locket to reveal its secrets.
Films — Live-Action
- Thor is exiled to Midgard (Earth) and stripped of his power. When he finds Mjölnir, his hammer, he can't lift it due to the protective spell his father placed on it that keeps anyone but the worthy from wielding it. After Character Development and a Heroic Sacrifice, the magic judges him worthy, and the hammer flies to him and restores his powers.
- Shortly after, Thor uses this to pin down Loki and keep him out of trouble by the simple expedient of laying the hammer on his chest. It's not that it's enormously heavy (or else it would have crushed him to death), it's simply that he can't move the hammer because he's not worthy.
- The Avengers (2012):
- Thor momentarily pins a Brainwashed and Crazy Hulk this way by having Hulk catch the hammer and bringing him down. Hulk lets go and slips away once Thor starts whaling on him, though.
- Originally, during the first meeting between Thor and Captain America, the plan was to have Cap lift Mjölnir, proving himself to be worthy and convincing Thor to stand down. This did not make it into the final cut.
- Avengers: Age of Ultron:
- Thor's hammer once again, with the Avengers trying to lift it in a drunken game. In a nod to his worthiness in the comics, Steve is able to shift it slightly.
- Tony in his traditional snark tries to shoot down the idea:
Tony: It's biometrics, right? Like a security code? "Whoever is carrying Thor's fingerprints" is, I think, the literal translation.
Thor: Yes, well, that's a very, very interesting theory. I have a simpler one: [lifts Mjölnir] You're all not worthy.
- Played for laughs later on when Thor is fighting Ultron, along with Pietro and Wanda. Pietro is fast enough to catch arrows and Steve's shield, and also fast enough to grab Mjolnir in mid-flight. Alas, speed does not make one worthy....
- After coming to life, Vision innocently, casually, and single-handedly passes Thor his hammer, instantly proving to the team (and the audience) that he's one of the good guys.
- In the 1997 version of Prince Valiant, only the rightful king of any nation (regardless of morality) can wield Excalibur. If anyone else tries to use it, it will embed itself into the ground and refuse to come out. King Arthur (Camelot) and Prince Valiant (Thule) can use it. The Viking King is unable to use it, much to his surprise. His second-in-command, who was unable to use it earlier, says it's because he's weak and incompetent, making him unworthy. He kills him, making him the new Viking King through Klingon Promotion, and gains the ability to use it.
- In Excalibur, not only was Arthur the only one who could draw the titular sword from the stone, he pulled it from the stone again just to prove he could, since no one was around the first time. When he did something unworthy (using the sword's power to defeat Lancelot, who should rightly have won their duel), the sword broke, and when he repented it was fixed.
- In The Matrix Reloaded, it's a matter of this trope combined with Only the Worthy May Pass. Neo and friends follow The Prophecy of the Oracle to end the Man/Machine war by way of a stack of living and non-living Plot Coupons and Plot Devices that must be first discovered or destroyed, culminating with a minor character dying, passing on a key for Neo to open a door to the source of the Machines. It was all for nearly nothing, as all the protagonist's work is yet another way for the Machines to keep control. Despite that, Neo figures out another option in time.
- In Journey to the West, the Dragon King of the Eastern Ocean has in his armory a piece of magic iron that was used to measure the depth of the Milky Way. It is 20 feet long and as thick as a barrel. No dragon can lift it. Then one day it begins to glow, and soon Monkey arrives seeking a weapon. He picks up the rod and tells it to become smaller: it shrinks to fit him (but is still as thick as a rice bowl and weighs many thousand pounds — Monkey is quite a hero). He can get it to be any size he wants, and when not in use, he reduces it to the size of a needle and stores it in his ear.
- Only Gryffindors can draw Gryffindor's sword in Harry Potter. Or more precisely, someone with gryffindor 'qualities' such as bravery and valor.
- It has to be a true Gryffindor to summon the Sword through the hat, however. Not just someone who got Sorted into the house, but someone who truly upholds the ideals that Godric himself prized. In all the series, only Harry and Neville were confirmed to be able to summon the blade to their side.
- Another Harry Potter example: "The wand chooses the wizard". A wizard can use a wand not their own; wands are stolen, borrowed, or inherited fairly frequently. But magic channeled through another's wand will never be as easy or as powerful as when the wizard uses his own.
- Earth Abides, possibly the first viral apocalypse story developed this well. At the start, Ish (the protagonist) finds a hammer left by miners in the mountains he's walking in, researching his thesis and missing the end of the world. He takes it as an artifact of that time. It comes in handy, but he thinks little of it. Years later, when he's met other survivors and formed a tribe, he asks his son to get the hammer to fix something, and the son is shocked: he couldn't possibly touch such a holy object. At the end, as Ish dies, the younger tribesmen are pressing him to tell them who to pass the hammer to, and with it leadership of the tribe.
- Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain makes use of the Welsh sword Dyrnwyn. In the first book the protagonist is told it should only be drawn by someone of "noble birth". He arrogantly tries to draw it anyway and the flash of lightning from the blade burns him and knocks him out. At the end of the series, in desperation and without thinking, he draws it again - and this time it responds to him. It turns out that "noble birth" was a mistranslation and it should have really been rendered "noble worth," which the sword now recognizes in him.
- Also from the same story, only the 'rightful' Death-Lord can wear the iron crown of Annuvin. When someone else puts it on, it heats up like a poker and becomes impossibly tight and cannot be removed, burning through his skull.
- Subverted in Terry Pratchett's Discworld: It's mentioned that pulling a sword from a stone is not all that difficult, but someone who can put the sword through stone in the first place, now there's someone special. And of course, Carrot does just that at one point.
- The characters also theorize that the original example was a setup. Someone decided ahead of time who the rightful king was and had a dwarf inside the stone holding onto it with pliers. When the right bloke comes along he pulls the sword and all the peasants are suitably impressed.
- See also Pratchett's short story "Once And Future", in which time traveler and supposed wizard Mervin has placed the sword in an electromagnet, which he can switch off without anyone noticing.
- The characters also theorize that the original example was a setup. Someone decided ahead of time who the rightful king was and had a dwarf inside the stone holding onto it with pliers. When the right bloke comes along he pulls the sword and all the peasants are suitably impressed.
- In The Blue Sword (and the prequel, The Hero and the Crown), you have Gonturan, the titular Blue Sword, which can only be safely wielded by women and boys younger than 20.
- The hero of The Iron Dream is able to wield a large truncheon so constructed that only someone with the right genetic pedigree can even pick it up.
- In William King's Warhammer 40,000 Space Wolf novel Wolfblade, when Haegr tells Ragnor that he is marked for greatness, Ragnor is dismissive, saying he has brought great catatrosphe on the Chapter, losing the Spear of Russ. Haegr says that he wielded the Spear of Russ, which is evidence enough of greatness.
- In Graham McNeill's Warhammer40000 Horus Heresy novel Fulgrim, invading the temple of the Laer turns up a literal sword in the stone. Fulgrim draws it out. Justin "hears" a voice tell him to let Fulgrim take it, though it feels quite wrong.
- The three holy swords used by The Dresden Files's Knights of the Cross (outright stated to be Kusanagi, Durandal and Excalibur) respond strongly to powerful faith, hope, and love respectively. Further, it's revealed in Small Favor that all three of the most recent Knights have royalty in their ancestrynote , which strongly implies that Murphy has royal ancestry as well.
- Also there are the respective Mantles of the Summer and Winter Knights. Each Knight is selected for the position by one of the court's three Queens. In order of strongest to weakest, they are The Queen Who Was, The Queen Who Is, and The Queen Who Will Be. Now, while a Knight could be considered suitable by one of the Queens, if an older one deems the Knight unworthy, they can kill the Knight and claim the mantle to select a new knight.
- Of the strongest of holy magics, Soulfire, the thing He and His angels used to make Reality, can be given to a mortal to wield, but can only be done when Lucifer has acted first with giving his agents Super-Hellfire. Soulfire, when invoked, makes the magic or action have more substance, making it able to break through some mystical defenses that a foe might have. However, it eats at the soul of the user and if one uses too much, the person will not recover.
- Callandor in The Wheel of Time could only be taken from the Heart of the Stone of Tear by the Dragon Reborn.
- The jivatma in Jennifer Roberson's Sword Dancer series are attuned blades with magic powers which can only be used by the one who knows the blade's name.
- The Sword of Shannara of the Shannara series is an unintentional example of this. It was created with the intent of anyone being able to wield it, but everyone had come to believe that only a member of the Shannara bloodline could use it. Due to the changing, unpredictable nature of magic in the series, that genuinely became the case.
- Inverted in Secret of the Sixth Magic by Lyndon Hardy, in which Jemidon is the one person who can't handle an enchanted sword or pull it out of the ground. Turns out that this is a clue Jemidon is a metamagician: someone who can't personally use magic, but can enhance magical abilities in others and manipulate the rules governing magical effects.
- In the Deltora Quest series, only the king's heir can use the belt's powers.
- In The Odyssey, Penelope's suitors have to pass the test of bending Odysseus' bow in order to get her. They all fail. A beggar comes and request to try bending the bow, in which he succeeds, revealing himself as Odysseus.
- In Septimus Heap, the Dragon Ring grows and contracts and glows only for Boy 412.
- In The Saga of Hrolf Kraki, the prince Bjorn leaves his three sons three weapons struck into a wall of rock. When the sons later arrive to retrieve the weapons, everyone of them can only take the one weapon intended for him.
- The Orb of Aldur in the Belgariad can only be touched by a purely innocent person or by the true heir of Riva. It's even more impressive when it's fused to the Sword of Riva Irongrip, which was forged from a fallen star.
- Light And Dark The Awakening Of The Mageknight: The sword of the original mageknight can only be grasped by his successor. This is because only his successor has Ghost Sight, which is necessary to by-pass the optical illusion protecting it.
- The Adversary Cycle. In Nightworld the protagonists reforge a magic sword that's their last chance to defeat the Ultimate Evil who's causing The End of the World as We Know It. Repairman Jack is the obvious candidate to replace the aging Glaeken who's wielded it in the past, but Jack balks at an eternity of servitude to the Ally, and so offers everyone else in the room a chance. The sword fails to respond to them, so Jack bites the bullet and grasps it...only for it to fail to respond to him either. Turn out only the original hero (who hasn't died and therefore can't expect Jack to Take Up My Sword) is acceptable. After a millennia or so of service Glaeken definitely doesn't want to start all over again, but the sword rejuvenates him as the young warrior he was, and so Glaeken gets a chance to take out his frustrations on the Big Bad.
- In the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, the sword of the king of the Enchanted Forest is instrumental in choosing the next king, and only the rightful king can access its quite formidable magic, while to anyone else it's just an unusually durable and sharp sword. And because the king also has some influence over the magic of the Enchanted Forest, in a sense the sword also chooses who has the right to wield the kingdom itself. Furthermore, if the sword is taken out of the Forest, it will burn anyone who isn't a member of the royal family, or married into said family.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In season seven the Scythe is embedded in stone, and only a Slayer can pull it free. When Caleb tried to steal it, massacring the guards and priests of what he assumed was its hiding place, he found only a message that came very close to quoting the trope: It is not for thee. It is for Her alone to wield. He tries to get around this by having his Bringers chip away the rock around the Scythe, but fortunately Buffy finds it first and "King Arthur's" it from the stone.
- Camelot: Subverted Trope in the Showtime series. The sword is indeed stuck in a stone, but the problem with removing it is that it's at the top of a waterfall, covered in moss, and the ground is naturally wet (since it's, you know, submerged). It is indeed stuck, and anyone that tried to remove it previously inevitably loses their grip and falls off the waterfall to their death. However, Arthur (thanks to some contrary advice from Merlin) realizes that in order to free the sword, it must first be pushed into the rock, adjusted so that it won't catch, and then pulled out. It's heavily implied that anyone could have done this, they just didn't know it. Arthur also falls off the waterfall, but he gets better.
- House of Anubis: The locket. Despite everyone being able to actually wear it, only the Chosen One or the Osirian can actually use it for its real purpose. Also the Mask of Anubis, and the Cup of Ankh, two treasures that only the Chosen One can actually use. If someone who isn't Chosen or at least pure of heart wears the mask they get sucked into the underworld and only the Chosen One can put the Cup together.
- The Man From Uncle: Subverted Trope in one episode: a small European country had a legendary sword stuck in a stone, and the leader of a coalition of criminals arranged for a safecracker to secretly apply modern lubricants so he could pull the sword out and claim the throne. Amusingly, another criminal, who did a Heel-Face Turn and fought the leader, was named Artie King.
- Merlin: In the BBC series, Merlin magically embeds Excalibur in a stone, to keep it safe until Arthur is meant to wield it. In a subversion of the norm, Merlin's magic isn't empathic in any sense: the sword is impossible to remove by hand, and Merlin simply tricks Arthur into thinking he is the only person able to do it. Merlin loosens the blade with magic once Arthur is in the right mindset.
- Power Rangers Lost Galaxy: The five Quasar Sabers from the planet Mirinoi. The only Ranger born on Mirinoi, Maya, had already tried to remove one as a kid, so either she spent all that time trying to free the wrong saber or the sabers themselves have some say in when they're released. They're not one-to-one, either - two of them are passed on during the series.
- Revolution: In "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia", Miles' "lucky" Bowie knife, which proved to be less-than-lucky for Alec Penner (to whom Miles had gifted it some years earlier). So far it's credited with having saved the lives of three generations of Mathesons over a 75-year period. What are the odds Charlie will end up with it?
- Sliders: One episode has the heroes end up in a world where magic is real. At the end of the episode, they are facing off an Evil Sorcerer, who has previously wiped out the Mallory clan of druids, as they are the only ones with the power to stop him. Guess what? Despite being from a non-magical world, Quinn Mallory can fulfill the prophecy just as well. A local woman (the sorcerer's former apprentice) tells the heroes that the sword hanging on the wall is the only weapon that can harm the sorcerer (who has turned into a dragon). Rembrandt runs after it, dodging flaming breath, but is unable to take the sword. She explains that the sword can only be wielded by a Mallory, which prompts an angry look from Rembrandt. Quinn is able to grab the sword and kill the sorcerer/dragon.
- Stargate SG-1: In the episode "Avalon", Merlin's cavern has a sword in the stone (which probably inspired the Arthurian legend in-universe), unable to be removed. After the team completes the tests, Mitchell is able to pull it out, and he discovers that it's a hologram. Only he can interact with it as if it was physical, and when he throws it to Teal'c, it just passes through him. It's also the only thing that can defeat the knight guarding the place. A second is later found on the planet Camelot, outside Merlin's house. This one is a physical object, but otherwise has the same rules.
- Supernatural. Gleefully spoofed in "Like A Virgin". Dean needs a sword that can kill a dragon; conveniently the local expert has one of the only surviving swords in her basement. Unfortunately it's embedded in a huge stone, both to prevent people stealing it and well, because it was fashionable a while back. Only a brave knight can remove the stone, so Dean rises to the challenge...and fails ignominiously as shown here. Time for Plan B, which involves cracking the stone with plastic explosive. It works, only for Dean to discover he's cracked the sword in half too.
"We're just going to have to get a little closer, that's all."
- On Once Upon a Time, Charming can't pull Excalibur out of its stone, but Snow White, the rightful queen, can. Subverted when Rumplestiltskin reveals it to just be just a normal sword; Charming stuck the sword in the stone himself and pretended to be unable to get it out. (The whole thing was a Magic Feather plot to convince Snow she could stand up to and defeat Regina.)
- In Prince Valiant only a member of the royal family of Thule can wield the Singing Sword and make it sing.
- Dungeons & Dragons has its share of magical items (even without their own minds) that will help only "worthy" users and usually are dangerous for everyone else.
- Intelligent swords in general tend to act like this. They will only fully function for characters of the same alignment as the sword and working toward the weapon's special purpose (if any). Some weapons and magic items only work in the hands of certain races or certain sexes or some other criteria. And usually try to harm and/or dominate any would-be wielders they don't approve.
- Blade-rite of Forgotten Realms elves, including two prominent groups of artifacts bonded with their wielders.
- Elfblades are regalia of high offices and prevent anyone who isn't up to the task or whom they don't appreciate from wielding them and thus from holding an office: "unworthy" claimants suffer harm, curse or instant death, depending on the blade and failed condition. Since claiming the Ruler’'s Blade was the only legitimate way to the throne, in Myth Drannor it caused a morbidly hilarious scene when hundreds of elves waited in the queue for their chance to raise on top of the tower, grab the pommel and get blasted into ashes in full view of the crowd... and then started a fight to get there faster.
- Moonblades were designed as a means to choose the single "best" clan as the royal family of their new realm. They kill all claimants who aren't "worthy" and of proper blood (namely, moon elves, hence the name—their creator was a moon elf, can you tell?), while growing both in powers and requirements with each generation until they're practically impossible to both claim and wield. Until they ended up with the King Sword that stayed unclaimed for years after the king's death, while members of the royal family were inexplicably plagued by either lethal accidents or sudden calls of adventure carrying them far away from the line to the throne.
- The Holy Avenger, Carsomyr, is an extremely powerful +5 two-handed sword that dispel magic with every hit. It can only be wielded by paladins.
- One chapter in a Changeling: The Lost sourcebook deals with legendary items infused with the magic of the Wyrd (such as the shears of the Fates or Bran the Blessed's cauldron). The fiction for the chapter has a lone changeling finding a magical sword and being somewhat disenchanted that it's still just a magic sword after all these years — mind you, in one concession to modernity, it's embedded in an engine block.
- The Matrix of Leadership from Transformers can only be opened and wielded by a Prime or his chosen successor, like Optimus Prime and Rodimus Prime. Galvatron and Ultra Magnus, who are roughly equal in strength to Optimus Prime, cannot budge it.
- And it's not a Prime who chooses his successor, it's the Matrix itself who chooses a Prime's successor, what makes it a quasi/sort of Empathic Weapon. Ultra Magnus was chosen by a Prime to be his successor, but he wasn't able to use it.
- Though just because it choses someone doesn't necessarily mean they're a good choice, as Nova Prime, Sentinel Prime, and Zeta Prime can attest. Not to mention the time Thunderwing, an extremely powerful Decepticon, got his mitts on it. Or Starscream, though at least in his case it soon started making Starscream good.
- Riffing off a mythological example given above, Richard Wagner in Die Walküre has Sieglinde tell Siegmund how an old man, whom she recognized as her father Wälse (who is really the god Wotan), thrust a sword into an ash-tree, declaring it would belong to the one who could pull it out. Siegmund proceeds to do this, naming it Nothung (from German Noth, "need, travail"); however, Wotan, convinced by his wife Fricka, betrays Siegmund and shatters the sword. It can only be reforged by a hero without fear — Siegmund and Sieglinde's son, Siegfried.
- The Master Sword in The Legend of Zelda games. Whenever the sword appears in the series, Link is invariably the only person who can pull it out of the stone.
- But only after previous quests to prove that he is the ancient legends' prophesied Hero. Before winning the symbols, Link will not be able to pull the Master Sword.
- The Hammer of Ironfist in Neverwinter Nights 2. To top it off, it only allows the use of its full power when the user is wearing The Belt of Ironfist and The Gauntlet of Ironfist, so it is also a reference to Mjǫllnir.
- Keyblades in the Kingdom Hearts series. In the first game, it looked as though Sora was the only chosen one, with a brief tug-of-war for control with Rival Turned Evil Riku. Then King Mickey was revealed to have one at the end, and it's become The Chosen Many since then.
- The Mani Katti blade from Fire Emblem: The Blazing Sword. It's sort of an Arthurian thing... Lyn successfully removed it from its scabbard after the level boss failed. Of course, she had to kill him to get it done.
- The Holy Weapons of Fire Emblem Jugdral are tied to specific bloodlines and require "major" Holy Blood to wield.
- The Falchion of Fire Emblem Awakening is tied to the Ylissian royal family and is fairly picky even among them, even if Lucina has Grimleal blood.
- The Falchion is an interesting example because, technically, anybody can use it. The blade just becomes too dull to be any good for fighting if it's not in the hands of a royal family member.
- Walhart has a battleaxe known as the Wolf Berg, of which only he can wield.
- The Rusty Sword in Secret of Mana, which is revealed to be the Mana Sword after handing it over to a dwarf every now and then.
- This is actually a variation: only the chosen one (the Boy) can remove the sword from the stone it's been left in, but once that's done, anyone can use it as a weapon, as the Girl and the Sprite are able to become quite proficient with it. However, during the final battle, only the Boy can wield the true Mana Sword.
- The Moon and Star Ring of Nerevar (The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind), that legends say could only be used by the reincarnation of the Chimer king Nerevar ( this is you). It's never demonstrated if this actually true or not, and some moments imply it may be a myth and that anybody can wear the ring, as people are less eager to claim to be Nerevarine if they believe there's a magical artefact that can kill them.
- Certain other moments implies that being the Nerevarine is more a matter of becoming than something you are born as — if you fulfill the requirements to be the Nerevarine, and follow what the prophecy says the Nerevarine is supposed to do, then you are the Nerevarine, and so can wear Moon-and-Star. In other words, only the Chosen may wield, but the Chosen is partly self-chosen.
- The Crusader's Relics (and weapons) can only be wielded by the Divine Crusader in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion expansion Knights of the Nine. In addition, if the wielder gains two points in infamy then the artifacts cannot be used until the pilgrimage is undertaken again.
- The amulet of kings can only be worn by someone of the royal line. If you try to equip it you are given a message that it simply slips off your neck.
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim reveals that Deadric artifacts function this way. While the artifacts themselves aren't sentient, just really really strong the deadra who created them can be really picky about who uses them. Hircine, not liking a werewolf who uses his ring removes all control the man has over his transformations (though if you attempt to help the werewolf Hircine will make the ring work correctly for you) while one necromancer spent decades working defects into Azura's star to remove her control over it so he could live forever using it.
- Subverted in Fable I. The Sword of Hewn doesn't need any special requirements, you just have to be physically strong enough to get it out of that rock - a hard feat indeed. This is then beautifully subverted again in the fact that you don't actually pull the sword out of the rock; you actually pull the sword and the rock out of the ground.
- In the extended cut version, The Lost Chapters, this is how you get the sword Avo's Tear. In the core game's original ending, if you opt to forsake the evil option and cast aside the Sword of Aeons, you are deemed worthy and noble enough to wield Avo's Tear.
- A hidden weapon weapon in the recent Castlevania parodies this: you get the Sword, which, unfortunately, is still in the stone. At least the Stone makes a nice bludgeon.
- More importantly, the iconic weapon of the series, the magical whip known as Vampire Killer, can only be used by members of the Belmont clan or their close relatives. In anyone else's hands it's just an ordinary old whip, and even though relatives of the Belmonts can make use of its magical power, doing so will kill them or at least noticeably shorten their lifespan.
- Something similar happens in Shadow Hearts: From the New World, Frank can obtain the Legend Saber, a mystical sword still sealed in its stone, with an extra hilt stuck on it to match all the other Improbable Weapons in his collection.
- Divine Divinity has a sword in a stone in northern area of Dark Forest. The sword is sealing a demon, and if you get that sword out, the demon will come out and attack you. Killing it will only send it back to the stone, which it would come out again. Not sealing the demon away after it retreated and left the map will result in the demon killing all NPC in the map. Don't take the sword!.
- Althena's Sword in Lunar, weapon of the Dragonmaster, which can only be claimed by the strong and pure of heart. Spends most of the first game as a decoration in a stone monument.
- In WarCraft III, the crazy-powerful sword Frostmourne can only be broken out of its floating chunk of ice by someone who promises to bear any curse it can throw at him/her.
- Good news: Once you get it, Frostmourne is indeed the thing that can turn the tide and drive out the invaders, etc.
- Bad news: Frostmourne is excellent at coming up with curses, which may include killing your best friend, literally eating your soul, and making it so you don't even WANT to repel the invaders anymore and end up joining them instead. Just go with a regular drop. Way safer.
- Uther Pendragon from Fate Nuovo Guerra uses a sword that is technically the Trope Namer before he put it in the stone.
- Subverted in Wild ARMs 2 with the Argetlahm, which was used to save the world from a great evil in ancient times. There's even a ceremony near the beginning of the game where newly recruited "heroes" take a shot at drawing the sword. Sure enough, the main character fails his first attempt... But after being possessed by a demon shortly afterward, touching it causes them to cancel each other out and seal the demon inside of him. The sword itself disappears, and he was still never "chosen" until the final battle, when he's trapped inside his own soul and uses The Power of Friendship to draw the sword and kill the demon.
- Humorously parodied in the fourth installment of Heroes of Might and Magic. Upon locating a giant slayer sword on the world map and picking it up, a message comes up concerning its completely unrelated to the game play recovery. A hero stumbles upon a sword in a stone, and having heard the legend of weapons of such power being lodged in rocks, yanks at it with all his strength. This results in the sword not budging an inch. So he spends the next hour or so with a hammer and chisel to retrieve it. Played straight in the campaign "The True Blade". The Gryphonheart blade can only be drawn by a member of the Gryphonheart lineage. Sir Worton tries to wrest control over the little kingdom of Palaedra from its founder Lord Lysander (who had previously refused to be king because of his loyalty to the Gryphonheart line) by drawing a forgery of the blade from its scabbard. Lysander did not trust Worton and went on a quest to seek the true blade. During the final battle, Lysander without thinking draws the true Gryphonheart blade from its scabbard, proving that he is actually a descendant of the Gryphonhearts.
- In Magicka, this is a possible weapon. However, since your character is not the true King, you end up taking the stone along with the sword, which functions as a hammer now.
- Suggested, but not altogether proven, for the Shield of Albion in Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords, which is an heirloom of the player character's family.
- Played with in many ways in Solatorobo:
- The amulet chooses who may use it in the next Rite of Forfeit to seal Lares. Naturally, Red blunders upon it and it picks him. Poor Red.
- Escaping the Human Sacrifice that the amulet tries to pull when sealing or super-powering Lares is only possible for Hybrids. Lucky for Red, he happens to be one even though he never knew it.
- While anyone could presumably use Dahak as a normal Mini-Mecha, only Red is capable of wielding its full potential by using his Hybrid abilities to fuse with it.
- Lares and Lemures can be controlled from the inside, but at the cost of the wielder's Life Energy. However, if you're immortal like Elh and Béluga, the Titanomachina won't kill you; it'll just take your immortality away. Ah, well, Who Wants to Live Forever?
- In the "Zenithian Trilogy" of Dragon Quest, only the chosen hero can wield the legendary equipment required to advance the plot. In V's case, you are not the chosen hero, but your son is.
- Dual Blade in Lufia resonates with spiritual power. Sufficiently powerful beings can make it ring, unleashing its full power, and all of these beings are gods, until Maxim comes along.
- Aegislash (a Steel/Ghost royal sword pokemon) from Pokémon X and Y can detect the qualities of leadership. According to legend, it can recognize those destined to become king.
- All heroic spirits in the Fate/stay night-verse (which includes Fate/Zero) come complete with a "Noble Phantasm" — their own private "swords in the stone": Weapons, armour or other tools that are as much a part of their legends as they are, and which only they know how to use properly (which includes the Trope Namer, as King Arthur is a heroic spirit). The two big exceptions are the Archers of the Fourth and Fifth Wars who possess copies of Noble Phantasms that belong to other legends.
- Merodach is stated to be the "prototype" of Caliburn and Gram, meaning it was the very first sword that could only be wielded by the chosen King. Caliburn and Gram are derivative copies, and so inferior in comparison.
- Gilgamesh is the only person who has ever owned Ea, the Sword of Rupture. Even Archer and Shirou who can copy any weapon they see are unable to replicate its divine composition.
- Arthur, King of Time and Space, obviously. In the baseline arc, it's done straight (and straight out of T.H. White); in the space arc the Excalibur is the flagship of the British fleet and can only be activated by a Pendragon bioprint.
- Played with in Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic. The wizard proposed a variant of this with an axe, as an alternative to the tourney open to all nobles. Beat Panel ensues.
- In Girl Genius, only one of the eponymous family can control Castle Heterodyne. The castle itself mentions that many times over history, the Heterodynes have disappeared, and many people have laid claim to the family name. Some were delusional, some were puppets of greater men, and some were honestly wrong. But all non-Heterodynes that were tested for control of the Castle were summarily executed, and their skulls are used to pave a floor in the Castle chapel.
- Shelly of Wapsi Square is able to pull a literal sword from a stone. What qualifications she has that allowed her to do it have not been revealed yet, but it is implied that many people have failed in the past.
- A guy in Oglaf finds a sword in the stone with a sign that reads "Draw the Sword from the Stone and be a King". This being Oglaf: guess why the sign changes to "Draw the King from the Stone and win a Sword".
- Homestuck has Caledfwlch in it - but it isn't drawn from the stone, but instead snapped out by Dave.
- In Dragon Mango, the condition, according to the sign is Royal Blood.
- There are several Excaliburs in Sinfest, only one so far has actually been a sword. One was a Legendary Pimp Cane.
- In Kubera, the Sword of Return sits in the Temple of Chaos, waiting for people to attempt to draw it. In fact, the temple was built around the sword. The thing is, the sword has been successfully drawn before, multiple times. There is an annual test where hundreds of people arrive from across the world to try and pull it out; the temple had to institute various tests of strength just to try and weed out the crowds and make the process go faster. Once the sword has bonded to an owner, only that individual may use it, and the only way to give it up is to die (at which point it returns to its resting place in the Temple of Chaos). While the sword was designed to fight sura, ironically most sura can draw it out quite easily. The problem is, the same properties that make it a nightmare against sura (it inhibits Healing Factor) apply to the owner as well, whether they are currently holding the sword or not.
- This is a core plot element in Erfworld. The Arkentools, powerful magical artifacts, only dislay their full powers when they 'attune' to a character. Possessing an Arkentool does not mean that it will attune, but many characters want to try.
- In Rusty and Co., parodied. Maddie is told that only the worthy can draw the "enchanted weapon" (a pitchfork) from its haystack. It is however magical — because Maddie can make a weapon magical by thinking it is.
- Open Blue's Backstory has Belramus, a sword said to have been forged from a tooth of the Iormunean Imperium's goddess, Iormunea. Only the leader of the Imperium's Praetorian Guard (who in turn must be descended from the original leader) can/is allowed to wield this. The other blessed weapons used by the Imperial Templar also count.
- The Sword Of Good instantly kills anything evil it touches. The Ork Wizard slowly bleeding to death should have been a clue. In the end the so called Big Bad touches the sword to make sure he really deserves ultimate power. However, it is a Subversion - the Sword can only be used by those who truly wish to do good, without taking their actions into account. As The Hero warns the Big Bad, the sword is not an absolute judge of a course of action, simply a judge of character.
- In Red vs. Blue, only Tucker can wield the Great Weapon. If anybody else holds it, it turns off and won't turn on until it is returned to Tucker.
- Thunder Cats
- The Sword of Omens can only be held by somebody with good intentions, and only properly wielded by somebody pure of heart, like Lion-O, Jaga, Snarf, and Queen Willa. If anybody evil tries to use it, it will embed itself in the ground and not come out. And when Lion-O himself tries to use it for hunting, the sword embeds itself into the ground and refuses to harm defenseless animals.
- Another episode features Excalibur, which Mumm-ra used to defeat the Sword of Omens by taking Arthur's form. Once Mumm-ra took true form, it got planted into the ground, he learned that the sword was just as resistant to being used by evil ones, and it refused to come out, spelling Mumm-ra's defeat once again. It is then recovered by Merlin and returned to the Lady of the Lake.
- In ThunderCats (2011), the Sword of Omens is enchanted against "being touched by the hands of evil" and can only be properly wielded by those it has chosen as the King. It marks those who are worthy by giving them visions or "Sight beyond sight."
- One episode of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show was a parody of King Arthur, involving a golden plunger that only Mario could pull out of a toilet. The legend went that whoever pulled the plunger would defeat Koopa and become the king of Cramalot, but that didn't stop Mario from getting cold feet and passing it on to the wizard.
- The White Wand can only be used by Timmy Turner, The Chosen One, in The Fairly Oddparents.
- In SpongeBob SquarePants, the titular character was able to pull the golden spatula out of the ancient grease in a museum (when no others can). King Neptune shows up and challenges Spongebob in a patty-cooking competition, promising Spongebob godhood should he win.
- In the Arthur episode The Return of the King, the title character was able to pull the sword out of the stone following his class' competition defeat by another class taught by Mr. Ratburn's former teacher.
- In King Arthur & the Knights of Justice, each Key of Truth can only be touched by the knight to whom it corresponds. The tie-in Super Nintendo game also has Arthur needing to prove he's worthy of wielding Excalibur.
- An interesting subversion occurs on the Dilbert episode "The Takeover", with Dogbert becoming the new CEO after drawing a golf club from a bag.
- "Wow, first guy who tried... just like the other times."
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has the "Mane" six and the Elements of Harmony; as indicated in the Season 2 premiere, only they can wield their power. Celestia and Luna once wielded the Elements, but they have now become more attuned to the mane six. The Mane Six were briefly unable to wield the Elements when Discord corrupted them, but regained the ability when they shook off his influence.
- This occurs in one episode of Kim Possible. While any who possess Mystical Monkey Power can wield the Lotus Blade, only one whose heart is pure can call it. Fanon likes to expand on this.
- Artifacts of the Thirteen Primes in Transformers Prime can usually only be wielded by a Prime. The Star Saber, sword of Prima, has the same restriction, with the added effect that it can't so much as be moved by a non-Prime. When Megatron found it stuck in a rock, he not only couldn't pull it out, he couldn't even break the rock around it; the sword actively protected the rock to make it impossible to remove. He had to have his ship lift the entire (sizable) rock just to transport it. After losing the Star Saber to Optimus, Megatron transplants the arm of a deceased Prime onto himself to bypass the restriction.
- The Forge of Solus Prime has this restriction for using its ability to create almost anything from raw materials which is why Megatron grafted the arm of a Prime onto himself. For anyone else who can lift it, it's a big slaggin' hammer that packs quite the wallop.
- Quest for Camelot plays with this. The Big Bad Ruber is able to wield Excalibur and his hand even merges with it in the final battle. Then the heroes trick the villain into thrusting Excalibur back into the stone. Since King Arthur is the only one able to pull the sword from the stone, Ruber is stuck. Then the stone's power obliterates Ruber, leaving Excalibur free for Arthur to reclaim.
- Naturally, this applies to Mjölnir in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes. When Thor gets (not really) killed by Ultron, his hammer is left on the ground. None of the Avengers can do anything about it.
Wasp: Should we, I don't know, move it? Hulk, maybe—Hulk: Can't move it. Can't even pick it up.Wasp: But why?Hulk: Because I'm not Thor.
- In the same show, Beta Ray Bill shows up. He is able to lift Mjölnir as well, much to all the Asgardians' shock.
- Excalibur appears in Ben 10: Omniverse. The leader of the Forever Knights tries to cheat by using Doctor Jekyll's Super Strength serum. He fails. He then tries forcing Ben to pull it out for him. Ben (who is hardly "king" material) can't do it either. Hilariously, when he turns into Humongosaur he lifts the sword and the stone.
- In the first season Ewoks episode The Land of the Gupins, Gupins need to open the Juniper Chest for their renewal celebration, in order for their shapeshifting powers to be renewed for another season. Despite their king being convinced he can do this, only Mring-Mring is capable of it, even after the key has been broken.
- Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel: Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor and The Incredible Hulk have their powers drained by Dr. Doofenshmirtz's power-drain inator. Phineas and Ferb try to duplicate the lost powers but a mix-up caused by Candace makes Iron Man receive powers made for Thor. Despite this, Iron Man can't use Mjolnir because he's not worthy.
- In Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, only Atlantean royalty can wield the Trident of Poseidon. Anyone else who tries to hold it gets electrocuted.