It's well known that when it comes to fictional fight scenes, what looks exciting and cool is far more important than what would be effective in real life. That's where Weapon Twirling comes in, because Everything Is Better With Spinning. It's visually interesting and looks like it may be difficult to pull off, and is thus cool. It's also used when a character would otherwise be standing idly, since someone just standing around with a weapon isn't as interesting as that person doing fancy tricks with that weapon. In some instances, spinning weapons are used to block projectiles or create wind attacks. If the weapon twirling is being used show off before an attack, probably with the intent to intimidate, it's also Intimidation Demonstration. Can also overlap with Unorthodox Sheathing. Supertrope of Gun Twirling. Subtrope of Everything's Better with Spinning.
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Anime and Manga
- Soul Eater: Every single Meister in this series seems to love doing this. It may or may not aid with Soul Resonance or not, but it sure looks cool and eats up a few seconds of screen time. As Maka actually incorporates lots of this into her combat style, she is in fact sent into a brief Heroic BSOD when the Book of Eibon tries to use this to claim that if she (seemingly) cannot pull off the same moves with a regular broom, she is too weak to do anything but rely on Soul Eater.
- In Bleach the third seat of squad 8 tries to intimidate Chad with some quick swordplay, and just gets punched in the face.
- Just before Tousen unleashes bankai on Kenpachi, he walks forward, twirling his sword in his right hand.
- former squad 13 member Kian Shiba zanpakto shikai is activated by twirling his sword until it morphs into a large trident. then proceed to keep spinning said trident at a speed that he uses to smash the his opponent with it.
- The Disney comic "La cappa e la spada" has Goofy write a novel where one of the characters used to be a knight who loved to show off by twirling his swords (even lampshading that it's much more impressive than doing it with revolvers.) He stopped using physical weapons altogether after one stabbed his foot while in mid-twirl.
Film - Animation
Film - Live-Action
- Riddick does some knife-twirling in The Chronicles of Riddick.
- In The Fellowship of the Ring, Boromir twirls his sword a few times while waiting for the goblin horde to break into Balin's Tomb in Moria. Though, as the Real Life section points out, this is more likely a case of him stretching.
- The infamous scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where a swordsman does this to show off and Indy just shoots him.
- The lightsaber fighting in much of the Star Wars prequel trilogy involves lots and lots of spinning. There's at least one portion in Obi-Wan's climactic duel with Anakin that has both of them standing next to each other, spinning their sabers for a good three seconds before they actually attack again.
- It should be noted that most lightsaber combat is based on Japanese techniques, where the general better balance of weapons wielded by leaders (and therefore the type of people who were likely to write things down) encouraged a rather circular movement of the blade as being smoother to execute and harder to anticipate.
- Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, as well as many other wuxia films, have a ton of sword spinning for this very effect.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has a scene where the turtles come across some Foot Clan soldiers. One starts twirling some nunchucks. Michaelangelo then twirls his nunchucks. Then the Foot twirls his more elaborately, and so does Mike. Finally, the Foot does a really elaborate twirl, and then looks up in surprise - to see Mike spinning his nunchucks on top of his finger.
- Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. Max sticks a pistol in the face of The Collector, then shotguns off the fancy headdress of a mook who comes at him twirling twin knives. The mook slinks off with a pensive look and The Dragon moves in instead; Collector wisely signals everyone to back off until they can come to a more civilized arrangement.
Live Action TV
- Buffy twirls a stake after dusting a particularly troublesome vampire in "The Freshman", and has been seen doing this frequently in other episodes. Spoofed in the promo for the aborted Buffy: The Animated Series where Buffy hits herself in the head while twirling her stake.
- Whenever there are swords out on Merlin, somebody twirls one at least once.
- Elliot twirls every single weapon he manages to get his hands on at least Once an Episode.
- Game of Thrones. Played straight for the usual Bad Ass versions, but Sandor Clegane scoffs at Arya Stark's twirl-heavy waterdancing technique, saying that it's a recipe for getting herself killed. He then proceeds to demonstrate how.
- In Knights of the Old Republic, there is a "Flourish Weapon" ability mapped to a key, and can be used to spin blasters, swords, and lightsabers(!) around dangerously. Including the double-bladed lightsabers.
- Similarly, the later Dark Forces Saga games include some twirling of lightsabers. In Jedi Outcast it's mostly just the animations for activating or deactivating a lightsaber while standing stillnote , but Jedi Academy incorporates a lot of spinning and twirling into the fighting styles for dual or double-bladed sabers.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Link twirls the Master Sword before sheathing it after every boss battle. Lampshaded in one fight when he does his victory sheathe, but then notices that the boss is still barely alive; after finishing it off he quickly returns the sword to its scabbard without showing off. note
- In the same game, Link twirls his sword as an idle animation whenever he is locked onto an enemy.
- Final Fantasy
- Kingdom Hearts: In the original, at the Coliseum, Sora will imitate the victory dances of Cloud and Squall, this is the result.
- Chaos Rings II is rather fond of this trope.
- Units in Fire Emblem games will often do this before scoring a Critical Hit.
- Chrom from Fire Emblem Awakening does this after felling an enemy.
- Yosuke from Persona 4 does this while in battle and in the opening animation. It backfires when he nearly drops his dagger in both.
- In Kid Niki Radical Ninja, Kid Niki attacks by spinning his sword in front of him.
- In Tales of Vesperia, Yuri weaponizes it with his Shining Fang arte, twirling his weapon to slash the enemy multiple times.
- Anise Tatlin in Tales of the Abyss twirls her staff like a baton during spellcasting.
- Mages in Dragon Age II frequently do this, with their combat having evolved from the simple point-and-click casting of the first game, into a full-body form of Wushu that turns their Blade on a Stick into a veritable font of destruction.
- In Team Fortress 2, The Spy and Scout do this a lot with their weapons. The Spy opens and closes his Butterfly Knife this way (or spins it around his finger if it isn't a butterfly knife), and the Scout flips his bat before grabbing it. He also does this with the Crit-a-Cola and Bonk! Energy Drink (it looks like he's spilling it everywhere, but it works just fine).
- The Ravager skill "Round and Round" in Aura Kingdom, weaponising the spinning to deal continuous damage to all surrounding targets in a cyclone◊ for three seconds as well as absorbing some of that damage to restore health.
- This is Seren's pre-attack animation in Panel de Pon.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang is fond of doing this with his glider staff. Since he can use it to create wind attacks, it's also Justified.
- Beck nearly gives away his secret identity as the Tron imposter in TRON: Uprising to The Dragon by doing this with what appears to be the Grid's equivalent of a Swiss Army Knife.
- In the fifth season of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mikey gets into a competition with a golem to see who can do this better. The golem wins.
- Kevin of Captain N: The Game Master frequently does this after firing his Zapper.
- In Tangled, Rapunzel is justifiably pleased with herself after dispatching an intruder.
Rapunzel: Too weak to handle myself out there, huh, Mother? Well tell that to my frying pa—*clonk*
- Dreadwing in Transformers Prime kept spamming this move.
- In a Deleted Scene of BIONICLE: The Legend Reborn, which was to be an exact replica of the scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark, a bone hunter swordsman tries to intimidate Kiina this way, but she blasts him away with water.
- In fencing and sabre, spinning your sword is called a moulinet, and is used to move a parry to a circular cut, although you'll rarely see it used this way in fiction. It is also used to warm up before a match, which may be where creators got the idea.
- Spinning your blade is a good stretch for your wrist and reminds you of the heft of your weapon. Also, looks good for the ladies.