Royal Rapier

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/zelda_rapier_8156.png

A type of Cool Sword with a long, narrow blade, the rapier is often associated with those of high class, or at least some suave character. If a character has one, you can expect them to be a noble, an elegant knight, or a high-born lady that knows how to fence. Even a common character can use a rapier if they have a certain flamboyance or sense of style that makes them seem nobler of spirit than their social class would suggest; charming rogues often get this treatment, such as the swashbuckling pirate and The Bard. If they're an Impoverished Patrician or Fallen Princess, they might hold onto a rapier as a remnant of the social status they once enjoyed.

If your characters are living in The Cavalier Years, and especially musketeers are involved, you can definitely expect them to use rapiers. In fact, you'll be lucky if you get to see fictional musketeers use the actual muskets they're named after even once, because Heroes Prefer Swords and guns are for cowards. Due both to their association with nobility, and their supposedly lighter weight making them easier to wield for those without massive upper-body strength, it's common for the Lady of War to use one. In actual fact, the rapier weighs about the same as other swords, since what weight its blade loses in being more slender it makes up for in being longer and having more mass in the hilt. If rapiers are associated with anything negative, it will probably be the craze for dueling that spread like a disease through the upper classes at the same time, as depicted in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. There's also the fact that many cultured villains and antagonists, such as Tybalt in that play, also use one.

Flynning and Slice-and-Dice Swordsmanship are common in fictional rapier fighting, despite the fact that the rapier is generally better at thrusting than it is at cutting. This is largely justified in stage fighting where the lack of masks presents a real danger of poking someone's eye out, and for dramatic reasons as well. Real rapier fights are more economical in movement, and tend to be over very quickly. That would be anticlimactic, difficult for the folks in back to follow, and the gory skewering at the end is more difficult to simulate and not kid-friendly. That last one is less of an issue in films, animation, and videogames, but people are still accustomed to the idea that sword fighting means waving your sword around because of The Coconut Effect.

Remember, don't just add an example because someone in a story uses a rapier. You have to explain how its form or the way they use it sheds light on the character's backstory, upbringing, and personality, and makes them look classy or noble. For more information about real rapiers, see Swords and European Swordsmanship. Also, don't use an example unless the sword is at least straight-bladed with two edges and a point; that disqualifies katanas, sabers, and the like. The best rule of thumb is whether it's called a rapier in-universe.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Bleach: Chojiro Sasakibe's zanpakuto has the appearance of a rapier in Shikai form. He's also an honorable man and anglophile, and his zanpakuto's appearance in Shikai is most likely to add to his Western look.
  • In Knights, whose setting seems to be The Late Middle Ages giving way to The Cavalier Years, most of the country's aristocratic knights dress like 17th century musketeers and use the fashionable swept-hilt rapier, which marks the protagonist Mist as old-fashioned for continuing to use the traditional longsword. Early on we meet Sir Leonard Scott, a rapier-wielding knight of the Church nicknamed "Knight of the Carpet" for having a greater reputation as a flirt than as a warrior. Nevertheless, he is very competent in combat and is impressed when Mist manages to defeat him. Sir Wilhelm, the "Wave Knight" is similar in looking like The Dandy but also being a Master Swordsman.
  • Jean Pierre Polnareff's Silver Chariot is an armored swordfighter who uses a rapier. Polnareff himself sees himself as a Knight in Shining Armor.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam, M'Quve's YMS-15 Gyan uses a beam saber in very rapier-like fashion. Given his aristocratic tendencies and cultured behavior, this makes a lot of sense.
  • Mobile Fighter G Gundam: George de Sand's GF13-009NF Gundam Rose uses a beam rapier. His family is wealthy and powerful, and he styles himself as a knight fighting to uphold the honor of Neo-France.
  • Berserk:
    • Serpico wields a saber during the Conviction arc, and later receives from the witch Flora a sword made of feathers infused with wind elementals that let him throw winds around. However, during his visit to Vritannis with Farnese when they had both left behind Flora's gifts, he uses an actual rapier to fight Guts in the hall of pillars. Serpico was born a street urchin, but is the illegitimate son of a nobleman and was given a position (and presumably an education) in his household at a young age, and so acts with the culture and sophistication of a young gentleman.
  • While it's technically a Sword Cane, a lot of Brook's fighting style is fencing with a thin blade mixed with quick-draws. Downplayed in that he is not high-class or suave— in fact his social skills have deteriorated from long isolation— but fits the "entertainer" mold mentioned in the description.
  • Fried Justine from Fairy Tail, who can even use it like a pen to write runes. He's usually very calm and collected, and is the leader of the Raijin Tribe. His rapier is most likely to complement his outfit, which resembles that of a French nobleman's.
  • In Log Horizon, Nyanta, gentleman cat and resident Supreme Chef wields dual rapiers and even asserts that "a rapier is a gentleman's weapon".
  • Elizabeth Midford from Black Butler is an expert fencer, and uses a rapier to kill zombies, and on a sinking Titanic expy, no less. For bonus points, there is Dual Wielding going on.
  • Perrine from Strike Witches, who is a Gallian (French) noble, sometimes carries a rapier in the series' promotional art. In season 2, it turns out that the rapier is the last family heirloom she has which she hasn't sold away. She also uses a different rapier in the same episode her rapier is brought up to defeat a golem.
  • The Caerula Adamas of Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! are the high-class members of the cast in civilian form and they each have a rapier as magical boys.
  • In Sword Art Online rapiers, notably her <<Lambent Light>>, are the weapon of choice for Asuna. Aside from coming from a well-to-do family, Asuna is also known for being fast and precise, making rapiers perfect for her fighting style.
  • Subverted in La Seine no Hoshi: the titular hero was trained in fencing by a nobleman (and is engaged to his son), but carries a similar-looking but much heavier basket-hilted straight-bladed cavalry sword. She did once fight a nobleman who had one... And broke it, as rapiers are not suited to block such a heavy sword.
  • Subverted in Rose of Versailles: Oscar is the daughter of a count, a formidable fencer and the bodyguard of the King and Queen of France, but carries the standard-issue sword of a French cavalry officer of the era.

    Film - Animation 
  • Peter Pan: Captain Hook fights using a narrow rapier with a dish guard. Besides being a swashbuckling pirate, he is quite The Dandy and vain about his appearance.

    Film - Live Action 
  • The Princess Bride: both Inigo Montoya and the Man in Black wield them. Inigo Montoya is the simple son of a swordsmith, albeit a relatively cultured and well-spoken one. The Man in Black, on the other hand, is a dashing pirate.
  • The Crow: Top Dollar is the king of crime in his city. He's not interested in mere financial gain, however. He and his sister live a bacchanal of evil and want to spread discord purely for its own sake. He dresses in fine, outdated outfits and has a whole wall of various swords. His weapon of choice is an ornate rapier. Interesting trivia: his rapier is the Six-Fingered Sword from The Princess Bride
  • The Three Musketeers (1973), and The Four Musketeers (1974), and The Three Musketeers (1993), and really, most adaptations of the novel. Both the Musketeers (royal guards, many of them of noble blood) and the Cardinal's Guard (the high class soldiers of the Church Militant) use them.
  • Used in the latest adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo. The titular Count is taught the steps and thrusts by a philosopher and commander who was imprisoned for refusing to reveal the location of a priceless treasure. Skill with the weapon is explicitly mirrored with improving one's mental faculties. "Speed of hand. Speed of mind." It's portrayed fairly accurately, as well: toward the end of the movie, his noble rival Albert takes advantage of the blade's flimsiness to break the Count's own rapier in two with his own similar, yet more durable blade.
  • In most adaptations, the weapon of choice of Zorro is a Spanish rapier. Zorro's Secret Identity is Don Diego de la Vega, back when the title "Don" was still reserved for the nobility as opposed to crime bosses.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, the sword Will Turner forges for Norrington on the occasion of his promotion to Commodore isn't actually a rapier, but it's of a similar shape and is clearly meant to bring one to mind. Norrington is an upper class naval officer, betrothed to the daughter of the governor. Moreover, the sword seems tied to his career: During the period he was AWOL, the sword was kept by Lord Beckett, and returned to him upon his return to the fold and promotion to Admiral. After using it in his heroic sacrifice, Davey Jones keeps it and uses it to kill its original creator. It's contrasted by numerous other kinds of swords used in the films, each likewise reflecting their owners' fighting styles and personalities.
  • In By The Sword, fencing is portrayed as a refined art. Villard's father's rapier is displayed in a glass case in his fencing school. He later uses it in his duel against Suba during the climax of the movie.
  • Casanova: the title character, a dashing rogue who runs amok in well-heeled society, is flung a fairly fancy fencing foil hidden within a cane.

    Gamebook 
  • In the Fighting Fantasy book Magehunter, if you decide to rush Mencius as he casts his spell, you will find yourself wearing regal red clothes and armed with a fancy rapier when you recover. spoiler 

    Literature 
  • Played straight in The Colour of Magic, the first Discworld novel where it is used to reinforce Rincewind's perpetual incompetence. Rincewind is challenged to a sword fight; his opponent wields a rapier, while Rincewind is stuck with a short sword that looks more like a shovel.
  • In The Riftwar Cycle, the rapier is the Weapon of Choice for Prince Arutha. At the end of the first series, it gets infused with a magic-repelling artifact, which lets it harm demons and other supernatural foes. Arutha's popularity causes rapiers to become much more widely used in the Kingdom during and after his reign.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Braavos has an indigenous fencing style called water dancing that uses rapiers. True to the weapon's real life history, the city-state is filled with street-fighting bravos. Westeros favors knightly longswords, but Jon Snow has a slender sword made for Little Miss Badass Arya Stark that resembles a rapier. She receives lessons in the water dancing style. Her swordmaster, Syrio Forel, really is as cultured as his Weapon of Choice implies (it's unknown if he's of noble blood, however), but the other bravos seen are little more than street thugs in fancy clothing.
  • In the sequel to The Elenium, Emperor Sarabian begins to use a rapier after the arrival of Queen Ehlana and the Church Knights. It's a sign that he's beginning to take control of his own country.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe had a Laser Blade version of a rapier, called a lightfoil. It was invented by a Sith sect called the Mecrosa Order and adopted by the nobility of the Tapani sector; the latter modified it to be slightly weaker than a more usual lightsaber, but much easier to use for a Muggle.
  • Subverted by Zorro, of all people: he uses a Spanish cavalry sword (that, in all fairness, could be mistaken for a rapier, with whom it shares the sidesword as a common ancestor). Justified as he would fight both unarmoured and armored opponents (a rapier of his time couldn't handle the latter) and both on foot and on horse (a rapier was just not made to fight on horse, while a cavalry sword, while made mainly for mounted fighters, could work in both situations).
  • Averted by Richard Sharpe; an infantry officer of his rank is normally expected to carry a small and lightweight sabre that's effectively a slightly curved rapier. Being the sort of fellow he is, Sharpe instead totes a whacking great heavy cavalry blade which many lesser men would struggle to wield while dismounted. And before he acquired said sword, when he found himself drafted into a Boarding Party while travelling home from India on a Royal Navy warship in Sharpe's Trafalgar, he developed a certain fondness for the cutlass.
  • In The Chronicles of Narnia, Reepicheep (perhaps the most chivalrous character in the series, an excellent fighter, and incidentally a talking mouse) uses one. The narration explicitly identifies it as a rapier in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

    Live Action TV 
  • In the Firefly episode "Shindig," the local nobility like using these in duels. High-Class Call Girl Inara shows a little proficiency too. And Working-Class Hero Mal shows little. He thinks that Flynning with his means he's winning the fight, not knowing his opponent is just toying with him.
  • Played for Laughs in one episode of Blackadder I, Prince Edmund challenges Lord Dougal MacAngus to a duel. Edmund produces a rapiernote  and flourishes it about extravagantly, but MacAngus effortlessly snaps it in half with his longsword. This is most definitely not Truth in Television.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 the rapier has the distinction of being one of the most effective weapons to which the Weapon Finesse feat can be applied, making it a perennial favorite of the sort to favor speed over brute force.
  • In Warhammer Fantasy has Sigvald the Magnificent, whose trademark weapon is rapier. He may look like a flimsy pretty boy, but he can slice you to ribbons with it, plus he's the mortal champion of Slaanesh.
  • Shadowrun features rapiers as available weapons, notably for Street Samurai who were more inspired by Errol Flynn than by samurai movies. 5th edition's Horizon-Flynn rapier is a viable alternative to the katana, having equal accuracy, reach, and armor penetration with slightly less damage, for half the price.

    Video Games 
  • Prince Enrique from Skies of Arcadia uses one. His precise and slightly stiff fighting style expresses his status as a crown prince in self-imposed exile with more booksmarts than battle experience, especially when it's contrasted against the other sword-wielding character in the party, career Loveable Rogue Vyse, who uses a more aggressive and forceful slashing style with dual cutlasses.
  • The Prince(ss) class from Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City initially uses Rapiers. So do Buccaneers, which combine traits of Musketeers and Pirates.
  • Estelle from Tales of Vesperia can wield these as well as staves. She also wields a shield, and has the highest defense stat by default among your characters. However, she doesn't have many combat Artes, being a better mage than a fencer (although very capable in expert hands).
  • Richard in Tales of Graces wields these and is a prince.
  • Saleh from Tales of Rebirth wields one. It's fitting for a suave Smug Snake like himself.
  • Noblewoman Phiona in Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume, while a member of the series' Heavy Warrior class, goes with a giant rapier as her weapon of choice, regardless of how little sense that makes.
  • Sima Shi, Yuan Shao, and Liu Shan in Dynasty Warriors 7 and subsequent games. All three of them are nobles and are quite skilled with this weapon.
  • In the most recent Final Fantasy games, the rapier became the weapon of choice of The Red Mage job, a class of suave fencers with a pimp hat skilled in both black and white magic. Notably, the Joyeuse became a recurring weapon and is always a fencing sword.
    • Larsa from Final Fantasy XII wields one (quite fittingly for a prince of the empire).
    • In Tactics Advance and A2 rapiers are used by the Red Mages, Elementalists, and Fencers, all three of which are Viera only classes.
  • One of the weapon types available in Dark Souls, used for quick, repeated thrusts. There's even a unique one dropped by the Undead Prince Ricard, Ricard's Rapier. You can actually find two of them in Dark Souls II for dual-wielding purpose.
  • Lady of War Selvaria Bles in Valkyria Chronicles wears one at her side, but she's so powerful as to never need it. In the anime however, it sees frequent use, and is made especially deadly via her inhuman speed.
  • Fiora, the Grand Duelist of League of Legends. Her lore stated that she used to belong to a family of nobles that has fallen from grace due to her father doing some sort of foul play. A frustrated Fiora defeated her father and set off to beat down everyone she comes across with her rapier to restore her family's honor. Oh and she is extremely smug at doing so, berating her opponents for having "such unrefined style" in combat, what with her fluid and calculating fighting style.

    Webcomics 
  • Elan the Bard of The Order of the Stick, who became able to use it more efficiently after taking a level in his prestige class, Dashing Swordman, allowing him to add his charisma modifier to his attack rolls instead of his dexterity if he delivers quips and puns during his fights.
  • Ever So Slightly: Resident Rich Bitch Eliana Harrison has a rapier with a sapphire blade allocated to her strife specibus. She also has seven other rapiers.

    Web Original 
  • In RWBY, Weiss Schnee wields Myrtenaster, a rapier that doubles as a magic wand. It has a revolver-style chamber in the hilt, and she can change the kind of dust she uses by spinning the revolver. She's also the heiress to the Schnee Dust Company and a Rich Bitch until she goes through Character Development.

    Real Life 
  • Look at a hundred formal portraits of male aristocrats from 1500-1800. You will find that a very large proportion of them are wearing a fashionable rapier or smallsword.
  • Museums throughout the world including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Wallace Collection, the Royal Armouries, etc. have hundreds, even thousands of rapiers that were made for rich clients with the greatest artistry. You can search their collections online.
  • King Gustav Vasa of Sweden (14961560) was apparently fond of them. According to an inventory of his possessions made in 1548, he owned no less than twelve rapiers.
  • King Henri IV of France (15531610) was another notable rapier fan. When he married his second wife Marie de Medici in 1600 he was presented with a magnificent matched rapier and dagger etched, blued, and gilt, and inlaid with pearls. Napoleon Bonaparte took this same sword with him on campaign as a good luck charm. Dueling reached epidemic proportions among the nobility during Henri's reign, and while he made edicts restating the ban against duels he favored them in private and tended to undermine his own laws by issuing a lot of pardons. When the Marquis de Crequi asked leave to fight Philip of Savoy, he supposedly said "Go, and if I were not a King I would be your second!"
  • Charles V is known to have had at least a couple.


Alternative Title(s): Regal Rapier

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RoyalRapier