"Standing before the sword you long sought after, I can only wonder at what thoughts must have passed through your mind as you learned the truth of its awesome, terrible power. Soul Edge's legacy lives on to this day. It most likely will live on forever, for humans will always desire the ultimate weapon."
— Tristy, Soul Calibur 2
There's always that one rule in fantasy worlds that no matter what other, more potent weapon types that exist, the sword is the one weapon type that is always held as the standard by which the others are judged, usually due to some ancient Infinity+1 Sword
that just so happens to exist. Yeah, that's right, even compared to a powerful Wave Motion Gun
or a crossbow shooting explosive shells, the fine blade always comes out on top. It becomes all the more persistent in a world where Heroes Prefer Swords
and corresponds with the main character being a sword user, in cases where the overall weapon type roster is of limited availability to characters.
This is mainly due to the Good Weapon, Evil Weapon
principle making it the norm to have the Infinity+1 Sword
or the swordly MacGuffin
be in the hands of the Hero, (because straight-edged longswords are considered heroic weapons
, and everybody likes to see the best stuff in heroic hands
), so the end result is that all Infinity Plus One weapons must be swords.
See also Katanas Are Just Better
for when it applies to, well, katanas
. Related to Rock Beats Laser
, with the sword being the rock.
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Anime & Manga
- Slayers normally plays this straight, but it's averted by the TRY season of the anime - the "Bow of Light" is the most powerful of the five Darkstar weapons.
- Dyrnwyn in the Chronicles of Prydain.
- In the Codex Alera series, high Lords, including the First Lord often wield a Flaming Sword when going into battle. Here, the sword itself is a typical sword, but their Furycrafting imbues it with fire.
- And in Jim Butcher's other series The Dresden Files, there are 3 Swords of the Cross. When wielded by the appropriate people, and doing God's work, they are well-nigh invulnerable and unstoppable, as seen in "Changes" when Karrin Murphy wielding one, takes down several high Red Court nobles who are nearly Eldritch Abominations in terms of power.
- Michael Moorcock
- Stormbringer in the Elric of Melniboné stories.
- The Sword of the Dawn in the Hawkmoon stories.
- Stormbringer returns to be wielded by Urlik Skarsol in the Phoenix in Obsidian series.
- Lightbringer in A Song of Ice and Fire However, it's a fake.
- Almost all Valyrian steel weapons in Westeros are swords, owing to the setting's High Fantasy roots. Each is considered an Ancestral Weapon to some family or other, so even if a newer, more efficient design came along, it's unlikely they'd have it reforged.
- As an example House Lannister lost its Valyrian steel sword Bright Roar some time ago when the then ruling lord when missing. Tywin Lannister has been trying to buy the swords belonging to impoverished houses but they hold the honour and prestige of owning a Valyrian steel sword higher than any amount of money offered by the Lannisters (and that's a lot).
- Justified in that in the real Middle Ages, the sword was the weapon of choice of the feudal nobility, and most ASoIaF characters are exactly that. The Valyrian swords are rare weapons, and no common knight or mercenary can hope to have one, unless that knight receives one as gift from a high lord (we're looking at you, Brienne of Tarth).
- Also Dawn, the ancestral weapon of House Dayne which is unique while Valyrian steel weapons are merely rare.
- The Sword of Truth. Besides being an Absurdly Sharp Sword, it's unbreakable, can under certain circumstances confer the skills of previous wielders on the current wielder, can act as a bit of a Morality Pet, and is also the counter to Chainfire and the key to Orden.
- Callandor in The Wheel of Time. The Sword That Is Not A Sword is a sword-shaped crystal sa'angreal, and one of the most powerful, though flawed. Surprisingly, it still functions as a melee weapon.
- True Heron-marked blades are all indestructible by dint of magic.
- The Dragon Reborn tries this with a sword made of fire. His enemies laugh at him for it, remembering his past life when he was a Person of Mass Destruction.
- Excalibur in the King Arthur stories.
- How Almighty is a sword that breaks during the first war it's used in?
- Also, the scabbard was mightier than the sword.
- While Caliburn made a lot more sense, back when Arthur was the leader of a band of warriors, not a King with a bunch of knights, Excalibur ends up being mostly symbolic. Pulling it from the stone (a common theme throughout the stories, lots of knights pull swords out of stones) represents him being King by Divine Right, and being handed the new sword by the Lady of the Lake... is mostly included to make the two versions coexist, but fits in with Merlin's arch. Point is, most combat from Malory on has knights fighting with lances, halberds, and other more knightly weapons, and Arthur not actually using the sword to often (he is King, not a knight).
- Excalibur, the sword(+scabbard) King Arthur got from the Lady of the Lake never breaks. It's the sword he pulls from the stone (often called Caliburn) that breaks by itself because King Arthur is about to use it against the code of chivalry.
- The best recurring weapon in Avernum (and usually the Sword of Plot Advancement) is the greatsword Demonslayer, both because of its high damage, and because a lot of the nastier boss monsters are demons. On the other hand, there are occasional one-off weapons that are more powerful (like Bloodthirster, a spear made by Lizard Folk that does bonus damage to humans.)
- The Disgaea games have had a bad case of this. There's always a long list of weapons available, with a variety of advantages and disadvantages, but swords always stand out as the best one way or the other. It was particularly bad in the first game, where the most powerful sword available (The Yoshitsune) had more attack-power than the most powerful axe (so much for being considered raw power) AND had a range of 5 panels, far more than any other non-ranged weapon with none of their handicaps. On top of that, the sword's special-moves cover a wide variety of areas - from large fields to long lines - making them useful in a wide variety of situations (meanwhile, axes only have range-1 single-target specials). Later games tried to balance things. By the third game, it would be fair to say that swords aren't ahead by MUCH.
- As far as video games are concerned, both Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy helped codify this concept to a T, right down to having swords be the weapon type that helps strike down the Big Bad (alongside some Last Disc Magic, of course).
- In ''The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind' the best weapon in the core game is between an Easter Egg long sword (the normal powered version is good too though), the main quest important hammer (which requires a special glove be worn with it so it doesn't kill you and drains your fatigue even if you have the glove) and a dagger that does 1.5 the damage of either, but needs to recharge after 11 hits. The limitations make the sword the best choice.
- The first expansion pack ups the power by giving you 2 unique uber swords that have 20-75 damage (plus 30 fire damage) and swing fast but no other high end weapons (oh and one of the swords belonged to your previous incarnation). The 2nd expansion pack gives a spear that is blatantly inferior doing only 40-60 damage with some gimmicky enchantments that often backfire thanks to the reflect on high level foes (and is a two handed weapon!) that isn't very fast to attack with.
- In a somewhat meta example Fate/stay night has the Saber class of Servant noted as being the strongest and having the best record in previous iterations of the Holy Grail War.
- Falchion, Durandal, Sol Katti, Ragnell, and Alondite in Fire Emblem. All legendary weapons, only usable by one character each, and (often) the only weapon that can damage the final boss.
- In Hamumu Software's Kid Mystic, the Armageddon Sword is the strongest weapon you can get despite the fact the main character's Weapon of Choice is a staff that shoots fireballs.
- Kingdom of Loathing intended to avert this, placing clubs as the premiere weapons. The best available melee weapon over the course of a typical ascension will be a club. Though updates in recent years have added many swords comparable to the best clubs, they can't take advantage of the most powerful weapon skills — unless the player has a special skill that enables them to grab them by the blade and wield them as clubs.
- Neverwinter Nights 2 allows your character to use a wide range of weapons, but in the end you are stuck with the Sword of Plot Advancement, even if you are a mage (thankfully the sword gives abilities more along the lines of "boost intelligence" and "more spells" if you are one).
- In Secret of Mana, the only weapon that can be infused with Mana Magic and therefore the only weapon that can harm the final boss is the sword.
- In pretty much every game in the Shining Series, the weapon with the most attack power is always a sword and only the hero (provided he's promoted to his Hero class) may wield it.
- Averted in the Shining Soul editions though, where the main character can be multiple classes.
- The Soul Series has Soul Edge and Soul Calibur. The plot of the games is driven by the swords and those who seek them out. While Soul Edge and Soul Calibur can transform into other weapons to suit their wielders, their default forms are swords.
- The Material Blades in Tales of Symphonia.
- In season two of the Jackie Chan Adventures, guess what weapon is the symbol of the Immortal who originally defeated Shendu? Go on, guess! Hint: It's the same kind of weapon that, when properly ensorcelled, Jackie used to both exorcize the demon from Valmont, and re-banish him to another dimension.
- ThunderCats (2011) treats the Sword of Omens as one such weapon. The Evil Weapon the Sword of Omens was forged to fight against is also a sword, namely the Sword of Plundaar.