Prongs of Poseidon

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Go ahead, tell him he's holding a fork.

Unless your story is set in Barbados, there are exactly four types of uses for tridents in fiction.

  • The first type is for anyone associated with the sea, particularly if you're a fisherman or a god. This isn't contrived; tridents have their origins as fishing tools, after all, and Poseidon was portrayed with a great big trident.
  • The second type is if you're extremely evil. Tridents don't go to ordinary villains, and certainly not to mooks; if you're wielding one, you're pretty much Satan, or his local counterpart.
  • The third type is if you aren't evil or have anything to do with the sea. Not to be confused with the much more mundane farmer's pitchfork, which unless it's being used to pitch hay is generally wielded in combination with a torch and a mob mentality.
  • The fourth type has tridents being used in warfare as a spear capable of disarming. They were also used in Ancient Rome in the Gladiator Games, in a parody of fishing - a fisherman (Retiarus) went after a fish (Secutor, whose helmet had a fish welded on top). So historical works set in Ancient Rome or Ancient Grome are justified in showing tridents, either in the games or in war.


Examples:

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    Type 1 

Anime and Manga
  • The shikai form of Shiba Kaien's Nejibana in Bleach, which is a water element zanpaktou.
    • Aaroniero Arruruerie also gets a hold of the exact same zanpaku-to after inheriting Kaien's memories, visage, and more by eating the Hollow that killed him before he became an Arrancar.
  • In Ronin Warriors, the Ronin member whose powers come from the sea, sure enough, wields a trident.
  • Neptune, King of the Mermen, and his eldest son Fukaboshi in One Piece. It also seems to be the Weapon of Choice of Neptune's Army. This include the captain of the New Fishmen Pirates Hody Jones, who is a former member.
  • Julian Solo becomes Poseidon's Soul Jar in Saint Seiya, and his armor has a pretty spiffy trident. Also qualifies as Type 2, since Poseidon is an evil god and Athena's rival, as well as the Big Bad of a rather long story arc (two, if we count the anime).

Comic Books
  • Aquaman is increasingly being portrayed wielding Poseidon's Trident.
    • His wife Mera occasionally is too.
  • Namor, the SubMariner, is often depicted with Neptune's Trident.

Film—Animation
  • King Triton in The Little Mermaid, unsurprisingly, as he's an obvious Expy of Poseidon. Or perhaps he is related to Poseidon. In the TV series, he once has a flashback involving "Uncle Neptune"...
    • In the Little Mermaid Broadway musical, Triton and Ursula are in fact the children of Poseidon. Which...is sort of weird, because it's later said that Triton and Ursula's father died. While Greek gods were killable, this seems like it should be a major plot point.

Film—Live Action

Literature
  • Drowned Wednesday (and later Arthur) wield the Third Key in Keys to the Kingdom, a trident. This has the double meaning of being the sea weapon and, as Wednesday is inflicted with the sin of gluttony, can also be used as a fork.
  • In Journey to the West, the great sage Erlang's weapon (used to subdued Sun Wukong) is a steel, bladed trident. Later, the hunter lord Boqin who rescues Tripitaka carries a similar trident with him, and uses it to kill a lynx.

Live-Action TV

Mythology
  • Poseidon, of course, as well as his Roman counterpart Neptune, is always portrayed with a trident.
    • His brother Hades wielded a bident (a two-pronged spear) though this is much more forgettable, as Hades tended to avoid open combat and wasn't portrayed with it very often so his helm of invisibility is much better-known. On the other side their brother Zeus, being god of the sky, got the much-cooler lightning bolt, which can have as many prongs as he pleases.

Toys
  • Kiina and Turaga Nokama have these in BIONICLE.

Video Games
  • In Golden Sun: The Lost Age, the Trident of Ankhol is the only weapon capable of breaking through Poseidon's shield.
  • Splash Woman of Mega Man 9 has this as her weapon, a Laser Blade version.
  • The weapon of Kaidou Jin's sea-themed LBX Triton in Danball Senki W is appropriately a trident.
  • In NetHack, a trident is one of the many weapons you can wield. True to this trope, it does extra damage to monsters in water. Additionally, if you transform yourself into a metallivore and eat a trident, you get the message, "That was pure chewing satisfaction!"
  • Similarly, The trident is a common spear in the Final Fantasy games, and it sometimes deals electric damage/extra damage to aquatic creatures.
  • In League of Legends, it's Fizz the Tidal Trickster's weapon of choice. His trident is somewhat unusual in that the prongs are placed in a triangle shape rather than in a line.
  • The Pokémon Prinplup, who already had two "horns", grows a third horn when it evolves into Empoleon, a reference to the trident, and Poseidon in general.
    • Just like Empoleon from Pokémon, Wave Man's (of Mega Man 5) face is adorned in three horns fashioned after the trident.
  • In ADOM, the rune-covered trident, an artifact which conveys the ability to breathe water among other benefits, can be obtained by performing a task for the water dragon Shyssiryxius, who is found in an underwater cavern. (Also, there is the Trident of the Red Rooster, which strangely enough has no particular affiliation with either water or evil.)
  • In Dungeon Crawl, when given a choice of weapons, Merfolk replace the "spear" option with a trident. Also, Gladiators have the same substitution for every race (as the Retiarius above).

Visual Novels

Web Comics
  • The Troll Feferi Peixes in Homestuck, who lives under the sea, carries one of these; a legendary double-trident called the ΨDON'S ENTENTE.
    • Her ancestor, the Condesce, also uses a trident, as does her pre-scratch counterpart Meenah Peixes.

Western Animation
  • Teen Titans had a villain named Trident (and his many clones), and his weapon of choice was, yep, a trident. Yet for some reason, Beast Boy didn't what the weapons are called ("Fork Thingie" doesn't have the same ring to it), and had to be correct by Aqualad.
  • AndrAIa in ReBoot used a trident as a weapon after she grew up.
  • Voltron from Voltron Force, when in the Blue Center configuration, gets the Titanic Trident. True to the trope, this configuration is best for underwater, and the Blue Lion's den is underwater.

Real Life
  • In the Roman gladiator games, the Retiarius was a gladiator with a fisherman theme; he wielded a weighted net, a trident, and a holdout dagger.
  • The Trident and Poseidon submarines nuclear missiles.
  • The motto of the United States Naval Academy is Ex scientia tridens. Translated literally, it means, "From knowledge, a trident." This is totally meaningless until you realize they mean "trident" as a metaphor for "seapower."
  • Brittania, the National Personification of Great Britain, wields a trident, representing British sea power (~Rule Brittania, Brittania rules the waves!~)

    Type 2 

Anime and Manga

Literature

Live-Action TV

Mythology
  • Satan is often portrayed as carrying a trident, though in modern culture it's often mistaken for a pitchfork. Early Christians tended to demonize the classical gods, included giving Satan attributes of them, such as Poseidon's trident and Pan's cloven hooves and horns.

Tabletop Games

Video Games
  • Ganon loves to use a trident, using it in all but The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess of his appearances in his monstrous form. He's never used it in human form, though, with the exception of the 3DS version of Hyrule Warriors.
  • In Brain Dead 13, the giant statue at the end of the maze has a giant one that can impale Lance if he's not quick or careful.
  • Nue Houjuu from the 12th Touhou game wields one, however she is a subversion.
  • MediEvil's Zarok uses a trident instead of the more traditionally wizardly staff.
  • Dungeon Crawl gives us the Demon Trident, a superior version of the basic trident, as one of the three demonic weapons that often show up in the hands of powerful demons and hell knights.
  • Asgore from Undertale wields a huge red trident (inspired by the one from Homestuck) and even uses it to destroy the MERCY option. The trope is actually Played With since Asgore is revealed to be a Gentle Giant who doesn't wish to kill the player at all, but feels duty-bound to do so despite his own regrets.

Web Comics

Western Animation
  • In Winx Club, Tritnnus, the main villain in season 5, uses a trident to blast his enemies and brainwash people. As a mermaid, he's also connected to oceans.

    Type 3 

Anime and Manga

Comic Books
  • The DC Comics superhero Blue Devil uses a gadget-filled trident as a weapon, in keeping with his 'devil' theme.

Fan Fiction

Literature
  • In one book of the Dragon Lance world, the main characters are stopped by a huge Ogre Knight armed with a large trident.

Video Games
  • Xing Cai in Dynasty Warriors wielded a two-pronged fork (which was an actual weapon in ancient China and doesn't have the devil/sea associations) and a small shield before discarding it for a sword in her net appearances.
    • Jiang Wei also wield a traditional trident in most of appearances.
  • The Javelin is one of the weapons you can get in Secret of Mana, though its number of prongs vary depending on what level you've forged it to with the Ultimate Blacksmith; it's used as a throwing weapon.
  • Toshiie Maeda's weapon of choice in Sengoku Basara is a large trident.
  • One of the possible weapons as a fighter in MapleStory is a trident with a fish stuck on the end...a Pike on a Pike, as it were.
  • You can find and use a trident in ''Drakensang 2.

Web Comics
  • In Level 7 of Rusty and Co., Dame Madeline Goodlaw receives a +2 Trident Of Warning from Zar the psion just before returning to Reality.
  • Zukahnaut's protagonist is unusually fixated with obtaining a trident from his first appearance. In the course of his attempts he makes several references to the comic book character SubMariner, who is often depicted with a trident in Type 1 fashion, and of whom Zukah is later shown to have a poster displayed in his home.

    Type 4 

Film

Literature
  • In the second Time Scout book, Wagers of Sin, Skeeter tricked his captors into outfitting him with a trident and lariat, the two weapons he was actually best with, by pretending to be bad with them.
  • In The Hunger Games, Finnick Odair wins his Games fighting as, essentially, a Retiarius, with a trident he received form his sponsors and a net he wove from vines.
    • Also interesting to note is that Finnick is from District 4, which is the fishing district, so he could maybe get an entry in type one, too.

Live-Action Television
  • Spartacus: Blood and Sand featured the fighting style known as Retiarius, in which gladiators were armed with a trident, dagger, net, and shoulder pads. The weapons were based on those that a fisherman would have. Other gladiators tend to mock it, as the lack of armor and net called for more evasive tactics than strength.


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