His right arm transformed into a sword whose sonic-vibrations caused orgasms throughout Neo-Tokyo.
— Plan 7 of 9 from Outer Space
A futuristic bladed weapon that has Absurd Cutting Power
due to the fact that it vibrates. The idea is that high-frequency vibrations in the blade allow the weapon to cut through nearly anything, essentially making it an electric turkey carver turned Up to Eleven
. Often, this results in a humming noise and the blade of the weapon visibly blurring or even glowing
Bonus points if it cleans itself — rather explosively. Potentially has great Mundane Utility
: it is the descendant of real tools very closely related to the fast cleaner/washer/perfect blender. These weapons may be as dangerous to the user as the enemy. Often, the only thing that can stop a vibroweapon is another vibroweapon,
although that doesn't really follow if you think about it.
Compare Hot Blade
, which uses heat instead of vibrations to cut better than a mundane sword. A subtrope of Absurd Cutting Power
. For lower-tech cutting weapons with moving parts, see Chainsaw Good
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Anime and Manga
- Star Wars is host to all sorts of vibroweapons, with some even appearing in the movies. Pretty much any time you see what looks like a normal bladed weapon, it's actually a vibroweapon. Unless it's a "cortosis woven blade", because cortosis is one of the few materials that can stand up to a lightsaber.
- In Jedi Outcast, Luke mentions that cortosis is a very rare mineral, and Fyyar making a Power Armor out of it is considered to be a highly-expensive feat. On the other hand, everybody and their mother in KotOR has a cortosis-woven blade. This can, presumably, be handwaved by saying that it wasn't so rare 4000 years before the movies' timeline, but that would indicate that an entire galaxy's supply of a mineral could be mined out in a few millennia. Then again, it is never specified how much cortosis is needed for one blade to make it lightsaber-resistant.
- More conventional vibroblades of all shapes and sizes (ranging from small knives and "vibroknucklers" - think brass knucks, but with a vibrating blade at the front - to full-sized swords and spears) can be found in numerous Expanded Universe stories. Most Star Wars citizens are mildly creeped out by the concept of a "dead" blade, since by their standards it's tantamount to deliberately dulling a knife so it hurts more.
- Shatterpoint features vibroshields wielded by the Jedi's Chaotic Neutral Counterparts, the Akk Guards of Haruun Kal. Super-conducting metal shields with the edges sharpened and powered to vibrate so that they can slice and cut as well as block blaster-bolts, lightsabers and "slugs" (in our galaxy read: bullets). They're worn on the lower arms. Mace Windu comments that they're like twisted mirrors of Jedi lightsabers. He uses his sword as a shield, while these guys use their shields as swords. They also subvert the idea that only a vibroblade can stop another vibroblade. In the end, the vibroshield-wielding villain attempts to block another vibroshield by knocking its cutting edge away with the broad portion of his own. The edge goes right through his shields, takes off both his hands at the wrists, and goes a fair way into his upper torso.
- The Texas Vibrator Massacre, where instead of a chainsaw, Leatherface is equipped with an altered version of a vibrating power tool typically used in the laying of cement.
Live Action TV
- The Standard Giant Robot in Gekisou Sentai Carranger, the RV Robo, uses a scaled-up version of the Ranger's ViBlades. What makes this noteworthy is that this essentially makes it the only Sentai Robo that does not use a sort of "magical energy" for its sword-based final attack - it just starts the sword up, drives towards the enemy, starts spinning, and crashes through with nothing more than blunt kinetic force.
- Vibroblades appear in Robert A. Heinlein's 1940 novella If This Goes Onó.
- Used extensively in the world of Miles Vorkosigan by Lois McMaster Bujold, to the point that the eponymous character gets sarcastic comments for carrying around a blade that's just plain steel.
- Vibrobladed weapons are fairly common in Honor Harrington, though the legal requirement for weapons to include an alarm sound when activated (For safety reasons) limits their usefulness as a weapon. It's rather hard to stab someone in the back when your knife is blatting away like a demented alarm clock, which is why the (highly illegal) versions issued to covert ops units lack the noisemaker.
- In Robert Asprin's Phule's Company books, they are common, starting from 3rd book. Anyone who wants to look Badass has a vibroknife and one of characters even mentions it in retrospection of his hooligan childhood.
- The Eisenhorn books mention 'shivered' weapons, knocked sideways in space-time to produce a similar effect.
- Mackie Messer of Wild Cards can make his hands vibrate like this, essentially turning them into vibroknives.
- Kosall in The Acts of Caine combines this with Absurdly Sharp Blade. Its vibrating effect only triggers when a living hand touches the blade, but even quiet it remains absurdly sharp; one undead wielder exploits the fact he can wield Kosall without its distinctive rattling hiss to great effect.
- The Ur Example is almost certainly the Diskos in William Hope Hodgson's The Night Land. (OK, the circular blade rotates rather than vibrating back and forth, but the principle is the same.)
- In Fred Saberhagen's Book of Swords series, several of the Swords vibrate for various individual reasons, several of which are for cutting things (stone, dragon scales, weapons, armies, etc).
- In Lord Valentines Castle by Robert Silverberg, the group encounters and recruits a gigantic amazonian woman who wields a vibroblade.
- The Bright Spear from Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light was described as vibrating itself clean of gore before returning to the hand of its wielder.
- In Richard K. Morgan's Woken Furies, Takeshi Kovacs uses a "vibroknife" to cut the soul-containing cortical stacks out of the necks of his enemies (and one friend). They're already dead, though, and it's clear that the knife is a tool rather than a weapon.
- In Randall Garrett's Unwise Child, teenage criminals use "vibroblades" where the blade ejects and retracts into the handle from two hundred to two thousand vibrations per second. A defensive device can magnetically seize the blade part. The handle then tries to move instead, thus melting the motor.
- In The Culture book Matter, a drone vibrates a wire held by two knife missiles, cutting through the supply wagons of an army.
- School Shock's Bai Hua utilizes a rather large set of these. They cut really good, especially through her lover's chest.
Table Top Games
- SLA Industries, a futuristic role-playing game by Nightfall Games, actively encourages Players to undertake Melee combat through various means. One of these methods is to include a really cool list of powered weapons, ranging from a fairly humble vibroknife to a vibroboxing-glove and even a vibroSCYTHE. Which also has a retractable 'flick' blade. And can have a tazer built into it.
- GURPS has vibroweapons but their operational time is limited by weight. If they're made out of hyperdense materials their cutting power jumps to ridiculous levels but severely limits how long it works for.
- At least one version of Gamma World included vibroblades in the weapon list.
- Eclipse Phase has vibroblades as one of the available melee weapons. Slight subversion of the trope as it's actually a fair bit less effective than the good melee weapons (the Diamond Axe and Monofilament Sword) but it's more realistic in that when used for extended sawing, it is better than any other melee weapon (double damage and armor piercing when sawing).
- Shadowrun has various vibro blades in its arsenal.
- Cyberpunk 2020 too. For example, a vibrokatana.
- They're also favored weapons in Rifts. More like a necessity, given that everyone and their mother has body armor that can stop a tank shell. Strangely enough, depending on which book you look at (it's not terribly consistent) a vibro-blade doesn't actually shake the blade itself but surrounds it in a vibrating energy sheath, bizarrely invalidating it for this trope by making it a sort of Laser Blade with a solid core.
- BattleTech has vibroblades... usually used as practical tools, they do a fine job of carving up flesh, too, and some Battle Armor suits mount vibroclaws for hand-to-hand combat. There are also Battlemech sized vibroblades, but they're rarely seen outside of arena combat.
- Whilst Games Workshop is better known for their chainsaw-gasms, occasional characters in the fluff have had vibroweapons, including Tona Criid.
- The World of Warcraft table top roleplaying game features vibroweapons as a type of tech-mod that can be applied to swords and knives.
- Fading Suns has vibrating blades as artifact weapons, they don't do any additional damage but penetrate the setting's Dune-style Deflector Shields more easily.
- Hc Svnt Dracones has the "vibrox" enhancement that can be applied to any cutting weapon, it ignores armor of up to 50 hitpoints, which is pretty much everything in the rulebook save for some types of Powered Armor.
- BIONICLE, Toa Krakua, a Toa of sonics uses a sword that sends off sonic vibrations strong enought to shatter mountains.
- Spoofed by, of course, Kingdom of Loathing, where the "Vibrating Cyborg Knife" has + 20 damage, but 3 times the chance of fumbling and injuring yourself.
- In Metal Gear Solid 2, Raiden has a Vibroblade katana which, like an actual Katana, only has one edge. It can be flipped to be used as a non lethal weapon. All of the swords wielded by the various Cyborg Ninja in the series (Raiden included) are vibroblades, which helps explain their ridiculous cutting powernote .
- JauntTrooper has vibra-knives, vibra-swords, and vibra-lances.
- Fallout takes this a bit too far into Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot realm as the description for the Ripper states that it is a vibroblade chainsaw knife. It's strange, but there are no other Vibroweapons, though the setting has a wild collection of melee weapons and it's a veritable Portable Power Feast (in FoT, a single mission can give enough Fusion Cells to burden 6 PCs to a crawl). Fallout3 retreats from this and makes the Ripper just a chainsaw knife.
- It is of course entirely possible that 'vibroblade' was just used because it sounds cool, not because it actually does. In-universe marketing speak, effectively. The description of the weapons just claims that they're chainsaw knives, and makes no mention of any vibrating effect outside of the name.
- Being based on the Star Wars universe, the Knights of the Old Republic series features vibroswords as low-level melee weapons. Like most anything else, these usually become obsolete once you're able to get your hands on a lightsaber, though. The sequel has things such as the 'Sith Tremor Sword' and various Echani vibroblades which are only a little less potent than a well engineered lightsaber, even at the very end of the game.
- If the Sith Tremor Sword has all the top-tier upgrades in it, then it's on par with lightsabers, not even including the bonus Sonic damage which makes it even better.
- If the player has access to Yavin Station in the original, the Baragwin Assault Blade is actually stronger than any lightsaber. Even ones powered by the uber crystals one can buy there.
- UFO: Enemy Unknown's palette switch writ large, Terror From The Deep, has three of these. The first weapon is called the VibroBlade and does what it says. The second two can be built using alien tech research and are called the Thermic Lance and Heavy Thermic Lance. Those heat up the "drill" to cut through armor like a hot knife through butter. Neither of the three look particularly like ordinary bladed weapons, however.
- Perfect Dark Zero has the Viblade, which also has a Deflector Shield function.
- This is how gunblades work in Final Fantasy VIII according to the Ultimania guide. Whenever the wielder triggers a round, it sends a wave of kinetic energy down the blade, adding an extra "kick" to their swings. The blades are notoriously difficult to use as not only do you need a good sense of timing, it's difficult to keep the weapon under control once it starts ringing like a bell.
- In 8-Bit Theater, Red Mage made Fighter use his swords as chainsaws - he was too stupid to realize this was physically impossible, and used it to make short work of a bunch of dragons (which exploded).
- In Pay Me, Bug!, Amys has several vibroknives. They work just as well when thrown as when wielded normally.
- Justice League Unlimited: After taking over The Flash's body, Lex Luthor threatens to use his super speed to vibrate his finger through a man's head if he doesn't comply with the villain's wishes.
- In Centurions, one of John Thunder's weapons is a Vibro Knife.
- In the 80s The Transformers cartoon, Computron is able to stop the combiner Abominus by using intense vibrations to separate him into his Terrorcon componants.
- In reality electric bone saws vibrate back and forth very quickly as a safety feature — the rapid vibration will saw through bone easily, but a person's flexible skin will just jiggle back and forth and remain uncut. Similar saws may be used to remove plaster casts.
- Accidents do occasionally happen and demonstrate why the vibration is necessary: The blade can make a long, clean cut.
- Craftsman now has a vibro-hammer, that basically lets a person press a nail into wood.
- As a step in the one-upmanship in the razors and blade wars, Gilette made a razor with five blades. That vibrate.
- Harmonic scalpels use vibration to both cut and cauterize tissue. Many medical instruments that are sensitive to extreme conditions are cleaned by vibrating the contaminants off.
- Not just sensitive instruments, but even glassware in labs can be cleaned by putting it in an ultrasonic bath.
- This might have to do with the constant g-loads placed on the object. Anything not part of the object will eventually be dislodged as it's constantly accelerated, decelerated, then accelerated again.
- After a duel, one alien visits the other in the hospital, dismayed at only injuring his foe rather than honorably killing him. He spies his foe in bed and begins this conversation:
Alien 1: I see they have tended your wounds.
Alien 2: With difficulty. You inflicted grievous injuries upon me. What was that laser you sawed me with?
Alien 1: That was no laser. That was my knife.