This is similar to Personality Powers, but with weapons. Basically, in various works of fiction, characters tend to possess weapons that are either a direct reflection of their personality or the traits commonly deemed to their character type.
This is why you don't see ogres with rapiers or ninjas with clubs. The martial arts allow this trope to survive as Pastimes Prove Personality.
Anchors: A favored weapon for sailors and pirates. These come in two flavors: either swung from a chain, or used as a heavy bludgeoning weapon with a cool shape.
Axes: Proud Warrior Race Guys tend to get axes. This probably is due to the fact that Tolkien'sdwarves, one of the most prominent examples of the proud warrior race, favored axes. A favorite of the Ax-Crazy alongside with knives. Also a favourite of the big guy who doesn't have a club or hammer (see below), in which case it will be a simple, enormous, two-handed, double-bitted affair. The Berserker (who could be seen as the intersection between the preceding tropes) often favors an axe. Also favored by woodsmen due to having to chop wood constantly, and living in log cabins. Or policemen.
Baseball Bats/Lead Pipes — The preferred weapons of street fighters and urban brawlers from bad neighborhoods, especially in the US. (Cricket bats may also be used, but this is more likely to be played for laughs or be ineffectual, unless of course the setting is the UK or Australia). Is often something of a throwback to the image of a big angry guy with a club coming towards you. Also tends to be the weapon of choice when someone is caught in a surprise emergency (such as an armed burglary or a Zombie Apocalypse) and has to grab the closest thing to them they can use as a weapon. Thus it can suggest either brutal, simple, unsophisticated violence or the desperation of someone clutching one in a time of crises.
Blowguns: Usually a weapon of choice of tribesmen, though ninjas have also been known to use them.
Bows: Characters with composed personalities are archers. This again has roots in Tolkien, where the elves typically were depicted as being able to stay composed even in extreme duress. The Chick is just as likely to get a bow since, after they stopped being effective weapons, archery became a popular feminine sport in the 1800s. This lets girls fight without getting too close to the action. The Sniper Rifle and other firearms can be modern day equivalents although Bows can still be seen.
Crossbows: A favored weapon of The Hunter, particularly vampire and demon hunters. As opposed to their more classical counterparts, crossbows are not as strongly associated with elves and composed personalities and they exude a kind of professional air that ordinary bows don't; this might have something to do with the way they're used, being the closest you'll get to guns in most medieval settings. Regardless, anyone who totes one of these babies around is most likely going to be some variety of Badass.
Chainsaws: Chainsaws are a very intimidating weapon usually only wielded by those who are trulyAx-Crazy. But certain heroes have also made use of them, particularly those who fight zombies, demons and other nasties - if you're fighting something frightful, sometimes you need a weapon that roars and bites back.
Clubs/Hammers: Big and brash characters, like a giant Smash Mook or The Big Guy, just need the bluntest weapon they can muster: A giant club, mallet, or mace. Dwarves tend to like hammers, too; probably because they like forging so much. Size for size, hammers are heavier, slower, and harder hitting than axes. Smaller, more manageable versions are sometimes favored by paladins and priests; Dungeons and Dragons popularized this to the point where virtually all fantasy clergy are depicted with blunt weapons. Very large, possibly comically oversized warhammers are also favored by a number of Cute Bruiser types in roleplaying video games. If a hammer is a mundane utility hammer, then the wielder is almost always Ax-Crazy.
Curved Weapons: Hooks, sickles and other such things tend to belong to psychos for hire and similar characters. The same is true for weapons that are notably serrated.
Drills: Similar to the above, though with some different connotations. A drill's ability to bore through obstacles may reflect its wielder's determination, or may be something altogether more Freudian. Also makes an effective terror weapon for the same reasons, or due to invoking memories of the dentist's chair. There are two types of them. Triangular drill is often used by strong brutes while utility drills are used by Ax-Crazy people. A staple of the Super Robot Genre, in which it is often the domain of Hot-Blooded or Boisterous Bruiser heroes. The mechs may sometimes have a drill as an appendage, or convert an appendage between a drill and a hand.
Fists: Any person, sometimes the hero, who carries no weapon when everybody around him is carrying one is either cocky enough to believe that he doesn't need a weapon, or highly-skilled enough to know that he doesn't need a weapon. The two are generally completely opposite in characterization, with the cocky version generally being a braggart and a bit of an ass, and the other being contemplative and spiritual to the point of being a Martial Pacifist or a Warrior Therapist. Or they're just a Technical Pacifist, this might even include superheroes with a no-kill policy. Bonus points if they have Super Strength. Be warned, however, that the latter level of expertise may also contain the Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy, who really is as good as he brags about. However, some others...
Greaves: These are fighters from a martial tradition (almost exclusively Asian) who are nonetheless using "greaves," the metal shin guards worn by European knights. Such fighters use their feet as their primary attack options: what would be the point of wearing metal boots if you intended to punch someone? Technically, gauntlets and greaves are armor, not weapons... But since when has that stopped anyone?
Natural Weapons: Some characters have something better than fists. Claws, tails, talons, and so forth. These weapons imply a character is feral and savage, almost more animal than man... after all, if they weren't, they'd pick up a weapon and kill each other like civilized people.
Flails and other chain weapons: Halfway between a whip and a bludgeon, a big spiked ball on a chain can make for an intimidating weapon. As such, they tend to be wielded by equally intimidating brutes and other scary characters. Many more varieties of chain weapons exist in the east; nunchaku, kusari-gama, multi-sectional staves and the like. These are wielded by showy martial artists demonstrating their prowess, evil martial artists hoping to confuse the nice guy with a scary foreign weapon, or by Highly-Visible Ninja who should know better.
Guns: In a setting where guns are rare, they will be mostly the province of The Smart Guy. In settings where they are more common, they take the place of swords, with the largest going to the hero and the most distinctive going to the Bad Ass. In any case, the protagonists are invariably impossibly good shots, while the Mookssuck. When guns aren't so rare, the type of gun often is a shorthand for the type of user, leading to Good Guns, Bad Guns in the West. The big list of Guns and Gunplay Tropes details more ways how the heat a character packs tells the audience who they are.
Handguns: The trusty handgun is a favorite of Gunslingers of all stripes. If the setting is one in which everyone uses firearms, The Hero and the Big Bad are the most likely to use these. Any Bad Ass who uses a pistol will double up for some kickass Guns Akimbo. Unless it's a Western.
Automatics: If it's not a war movie, then any sort of automatic weapon will be carried by the Mooks, due to their ubiquitousness and lack of style. (Semi-automatics will be the standard if technology is up to it, and will usually have impossibly large magazines.) The exceptions are Uzis and other sub-machine guns, which may be given to the Bad Ass (especially if they're dual-wielded), and the...
Machetes: The machete and related blades are used by characters who live wild, or have wild, untamed natures, calling back to its use in the wilderness. Usually used by an Anti-Hero, or an Ax-Crazy psycho killer. However, they can be used by anyone in a jungle setting, when used as a tool.
Magic Wands - Not so much a weapon for "beating them over the head" but rather "blow them up with a bigger fireball." More of a favorite with wizards, witches and such than staff, but they often combine them for the best of both worlds. Not necessarily always a wand, this covers any object used for spellcasting.
Pitchforks: The official weapon of the unruly mob, this is normally used by a farmer or small-town folk defending his home. Shotguns and hunting rifles can also fill this niche in a modern setting. You may also see some traditionalist infernals wielding pitchforks to prod the damned with.
Polearms: Usually, a polearm - such as a poleaxe, spear, halberd, or any other weapon that's a long stick with something sharp and metal on one end - is the province of hapless Mooks: city guardsman, honor guard, Spear Carrier and so on. Anyone who needs something long to cross over a portal to prevent someone from entering will use a polearm. When not in the hands of mooks, they are the weapon of choice for calm collected individuals. Occasionally an RPG will have a powerful weapon that happens to be a halberd (probably the best polearm design ever conceived, as it can stab, slash, thump, and trip) or spear (as it has all sorts of cool connotations of being "ancient"), but you're damned if you're gonna find any ancestral bec-de-corbins in any medieval-flavored fantasy novel anywhere.
Trident: The weapon of sea gods like Poseidon, Proteus and Nereus and merpeople is now the weapon of anyone associated with the sea or water. Not entirely contrived, as the trident was originally a fishing spear, hence its pairing with a fishing net in the hands of a retiarius (a type of Roman gladiator).
Knight's lances are often given to characters with such a theme. Historically only used for sport, fictional versions are often sharpened, drastically enlarged, festooned with various types of spikes or cutting edges and reinforced to the point where they can parry as well as any other melee weapon.
Slings: They're usually associated with peasants, children, halflings and primitive tribesman. Rarely an effective weapon in fiction, they are more likely to distract than cause real damage, David and Goliath aside. Historically, however, slings were very powerful weapons, more devestating and long-ranged than the bow, which was not well developed in some areas of the Ancient World. Some mothers in the ancient Balkans would not let their children eat bread until the child could sling their daily peice of bread off of the top of a stick, thus some slingers could not only hurl fist-sized rocks and thumb sized lead bullets at an enemy's face from hundreds of feet away, but could deliberately aim for specific parts of an enemies face and not miss.
Slingshots: Seen as a kid's toy (and for good reason, since slingshots are generally weak and difficult to aim, making them impractical for battle), these are generally in the hands of a mischievous child who wants to annoy rather than harm. If used by adults, it's because they're either improvising or something of an oddball.
Staves: Wizards and other wise characters that rely on talents other than brute force to deal with conflict still sensibly bring at least a staff for protection. This covers the White Magician Girl and the Black Magician Girl, both of whom typically use them. In the former's case, they'll typically be called Staves, while in the latter's case, they'll be Rods/Wands. It's a less lethal but still effective weapon often used by the Technical Pacifist, who needs to fight but doesn't want to use deadly force. Those trying for historical accuracy may have them appear in the hands of Robin Hood and his merry men, or other persons legally or practically barred from possession of edged weapons for their close-range fighting needs.
GunStaffs, for when you need the ability to beat things over the head and shoot people in a single package. Wizard's staves count here but it can also be a technological gizmo that shoots electricity, for defensive characters who DO want to use deadly force.
Strange weapons: If a character is just improvising and ordinarily goes unarmed, he's probably the Unlucky Everydude who just got caught in a fight (like most of the characters Jackie Chan plays). If someone regularly goes around with a weapon like this, they're not totally connected to reality — either The Ditz or the Cloudcuckoolander, or they're so Badass they can kill people without needing "regular" weapons. Or they have a need to go armed in portions of society that do not take kindly to the presence of actual weapons, and have adapted accordingly.
Swords: The heroic lead usually winds up wielding the iconic broadsword in the west. The katana often takes its place in the east. Meanwhile, the big two-handed blades, if they're not in the hands of the hero, usually go to The Big Guy. If they're trying way too hard to be cool, they'll use two swords, or a single really big one.
Rapier: Rapiers and short-swords typically go to swashbucklers and foppish characters.
Thrown Explosives and Incendiaries: Grenades and the like are usually associated with those with poor impulse control (in plain English, people who really like explosions). They may or may not also be Mad Bombers. They may also be associated with controlled and logical people, as a juxtaposition. This weapon most often occurs in more technologically advanced settings like Urban Fantasy or Science Fiction.
In Black Butler, the shinigami have a fondness for peculiar weapons that would fit in better in a garden instead of on the battlefield. There are 5 named shinigami whose weapons have been show; there's William T. Spears who wields Pruning Shears, Grell Sutcliff wields a chainsaw, Ronald Knox has a lawnmower, Eric Slingby has a normal saw, and Alan Humphries who has a Japanese Style Garden Slasher.
Nanoha has her magic staff, Raising Heart. (Still called Raging Heart by many. For good reason.) As the power of Nanoha's weapon improves, it increasingly comes to resemble a spear — which coincides with her increasingly sneaky and tactical note as in: "tactical nuke" fighting style.
The Wolkenritter align to this trope perfectly. Leader Signum wields a longsword, the wizardly Shamal thinks with portals using magic rings (wand-equivalents), and Cute Bruiser Vita has a hammer. That also turns into a rocket. And has a giant hammer/drill mode.
Madan Senki Ryukendo shows this trope in both showing the Madan Warriors' personalities through the weapons, and by giving the weapons themselves personalities. Kenji/Ryukendo, the title Idiot Hero, uses a sword. The sword itself, GekiRyuKen is equally heroic, but a Trickster Mentor. Fudou/Ryugunou and his blaster, GouRyuGun, calculate their strategies, making Fudou the intelligent balance to Kenji's Determinator. Koichi/Ryujinou is an interesting case. His ZanRyuJin becomes an axe and a bow. Koichi himself is powerful and dangerous, but does know how to fight controlled. ZanRyuJin itself is a wiseguy, only on good terms with his partner.
In Yoroiden Samurai Troopers, (Ronin Warriors in US), this trope partially applies to the heroes. The main hero has dual wield katanas that also connect into a single double-sided sword, The Smart Guy is an archer, and the one whose powers come from water has a trident. The other two of the Five-Man Band are anomalies: the weapon of the quiet, mature Sage is a huge greatsword, while big eating, hot tempered Big Guy Kento uses a sectioned staff.
Urusei Yatsura: Shinobu the super-strong lesser yandere is known for her use of heavy school desks as bludgeons and projectile weapons. Even in environments where there are no school desks such as Mendou's yard.
Tsukihime's protagonist Tohno Shiki only ever uses his knife, which has the symbols for '7 Nights' carved into it (the actual meaning of the characters is 'Nanaya,' it is an heirloom from his true family of demon-slaying assassins that was passed down to him.).
In the Mai-HiME/Mai-Otome universe, this is quite evident on the elements used by the main characters. The stoic loner Natsuki uses pistols or other guns, elegant Shizuru uses a naginata or a similar polearm, somewhat crazy Nao uses claws or wires, the Determinator Haruka uses a mace or a ball and chain if she has an element of her own but the original lead Mai has odd bangles/anklets with magatama beads. This is solved in Mai-Otome where new lead Arika has a double-bladed sword.
Guts, as The Hero, wields a greatsword, which he later upgrades to a BFS that is often compared to a "heap of raw iron," which is actually a subversion, since that implies a lack of subtlety and skill, whereas Guts is actually a master swordsman. At one point he refuses an enchanted axe, saying that his BFS is what he's used to.
Casca wields a smallish longsword whose size (if not style) bears a resemblance to Griffith's rapier; she has a serious case of hero-worship for Griffith. The weapon's light weight makes it perfect for her She-Fu fighting style.
Judeau, the Smart Guy and sneaky one, favors throwing knives and a shortsword.
Serpico, the bastard son of a nobleman and nearly as Bishōnen as Griffith, wields first a rapier and then an enchanted fan/sword.
Isidro, the small, sneaky Tagalong Kid, dual-wields first two knives and then a knife and an enchanted dagger with the power of fire.
Schierke, the group's caster, focuses her magic through a Simple Staff.
Shu from Now and Then, Here and There favors a simple wooden stick, reflecting his generally peaceable mindset. He doesn't want anyone to die and rejects knives and guns when they're offered to him or forced on him.
In Ghost in the Shell, Togusa, the only member of Section 9 who does not have any cybernetic implants and prefers to rely on good old-fashioned police work, carries a Mateba autorevolver (incorrectly transliterated as Matever) which the rest of the unit thinks is somewhat of an anachronism, much like he is in the franchise's setting.
Madoka uses a bow and arrow. Of the five magical girls in the series she is The Chick, the most reluctant to take up the Magical Girl mantle as well as the smallest physically. She still uses the bow and arrow in earlier timelines before Homura's wish and subsequent timelines made her more timid, though more as a fantasy-equivalent Friendly Sniper.
Sayaka uses rapiers for close-quarters hack-and-slash, befitting of both The Cape and the Swashbuckler archtypes she seeks to emulate as an "Ally of Justice".
Mami chiefly uses single-use flintlock muskets, each elegantly adorned and etched in their woodwork. Her ultimate Tiro Finale is essentially a huge gun about five times her size that delivers a world of pain to its target. She really likes to be the cool sempai to those she takes under her care (she is the oldest of the five), and is definitely The Big Girl of the group (if her chest wasn't a giveaway).
Homura is the only one whose Time Stands Still powers do not automatically confer weapons of their own. She must rely on non-magical weapons from outside sources, like homemade pipe bombs, pistols and shotguns stolen from the Yakuza, up to heavy machine guns and rocket launchers and actual rocket artillery stolen from the JSDF. It works quite well as a reflection of her very stoic, no-frills, no-nonsense attitude as well as her singular drive to accomplish her goal of defeating Walpurgistnacht and stopping Madoka from contracting and becoming a world-destroying Witchby any means necessary.
Homura uses a bow and arrow at the very end of the series, something she inherited from Madoka after the latter Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence and rewrote the universe. It still fits her personality, though, this time as a Cold Sniper in contrast to Madoka.
Subverted in Greg Rucka's Queen And Country. Secret agent Tara Chace is issued a gun for a mission; her contact comments, "Your file says you're a P99 girl," to which she replies, "I'm more of a stay-at-home-and-fancy-a-cuppa girl." As the series handles guns and gunplay very realistically, weapons are rarely issued, and when they are, it's usually a sign that Something Bad will happen.
And Michaelangelo, being the cool party guy, uses the coolest ninja weapon of the '80s: nunchaku. A flashback has him practicing with a manriki-gusari and complaining that he'd prefer using his "'chucks".
The supporting cast gives another example: Casey Jones, the Badass street-fighting vigilante armed with a variety of sports equipment: baseball bats, golf clubs, hockey sticks... he even produced a cricket bat in the first movie, prompting Raphael to mock him.
Raphael:Cricket? Nobody understands cricket! You gotta know what a crumpet is to understand cricket! Casey: I'll teach you! (wham) See? Six runs.
The role of the weapons also becomes clear in the 2012 series episode "Pulverizer Returns!" when Splinter orders the turtles to switch weapons. Michelangelo lampshades the trope when Leonardo is making a plan of attack:
Leonardo: All right. We’ll follow up on his lead and then bust the poor guy out of the Foot. Michelangelo: Excuse me! I’m the sword guy. I make the decisions here.
Later, whilst preparing for battle, it's discussed again:
Michelangelo: As the one with the swords, I say RETREAT! Leonardo Having the swords doesn’t make you leader.
When Captain America throws his mighty shield, all those who chose to oppose the shield must yield! (Although he used an M1911A1 from time to time.) His use of a defensive item as a weapon is appropriate for a character who takes up arms to defend freedom.
Damian Wayne, the fifth Robin, has a thing for katanas, befitting his past as an assassin and that he's more of a Blood Knight than other Robins.
The Huntress uses a crossbow as her signature weapon, although she has also been known to use knives, staves, boomerangs, guns, brass knuckles, etc. Not incidentally, at least with the Helena Bertinelli version of the character, the crossbow allows for sniping from concealment while also being extremely quiet, making it an ideal choice for an assassin.
Taken to extreme lengths in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer fic, I Am What I Am. Prior to the climactic battle, Xander forges custom magic weapons for every member of the group except Willow (at her request). Each weapon's name, type, and special powers are explicitly designed to complement their personality and fighting style, particularly because the weapons' powers will only function for their intended wielder.
Buffy gets a short sword named "Companion" that enhances her secondary Slayer powers (prophetic dreams, sensing vampires, etc.), and provides a mental link to Faith.
The free-spirited Faith gets a pair of tomahawks — "Tommy" and "Tammy" — that come back to her when thrown, and provide a mental link to Buffy.
Cordelia gets a greatsword named "Subtlety" that grants her minor healing powers, doubles as a lie detector, and is actually very light when in her hands.
The straitlaced Kendra gets a katana named "Honor's Grace" that allows her to stop time for a few seconds every time she draws it.
Angel gets a short sword, "Solitude", similar to Buffy's that can burst into flame, and will burn him up if he loses his soul.
Giles receives a rapier, "Wisdom" that enhances his casting abilities.
The D&D-loving, spellcasting Jonathan gets a staff, "Backbone", that enhances his spells and can heal others.
Jenny gets a pair of daggers — "Twilight" and "Dusk" — that enable her to turn invisible.
Oz's weapon was originally a bastard sword named "Cool Sword" with frost powers. However, it spontaneously transformed into a pair of Wolverine-esque claws that gave him some measure of control over his werewolf.
An amusing example in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure: When Genghis Khan finds himself in a shopping mall, his first stop is the sporting goods store where he swaps his signature club for a baseball bat. (He also dons the armor of the modern brute, a football helmet and shoulder pads.)
Susan, the mature, no-nonsense type, is given a bow and arrows.
Lucy, the youngest and not yet old enough to fight, is entrusted with the universal Magic Antidote and given a small dagger — just in case.
Edmund wasn't there at the time, so he didn't get a present from Santa — which is a pretty good point to remember. A musical stage version gives Edmund a mace.
The films show Edmund as very much a Combat Pragmatist when he steals a Telmarine crossbow and proceeds to kick all kinds of ass.
The Dark Tower: Badass Roland uses a pair of finely-wrought six-shooters, passed down from father to son for generations and said to have been made from the melted-down metal of Excalibur.
In the back story, Roland's constantly joking best friend Cuthbert preferred a slingshot to a gun. In a possible subversion, the quiet, intelligent, and psychic Alain got to use a machine gun at one point, and enjoyed it very much.
Hero Rand, being The Hero, uses a crystal sword that conveniently jacks up his magic powers to an insane degree — sometimes literally, for which reason he generally prefers more modest swords made from unbreakable steel or summoned fire.
Former blacksmith Perrin uses a is torn between his symbolically-potent axe and hammer, eventually abandoning the former so as to use a tool from his more innocent past to kill people in more disfiguring ways.
Kull the Conqueror: Proud barbarian warrior Kull uses a battle axe as his main weapon. After he becomes king, his advisors make several attempts to civilize him, including training him in swordsmanship. He never quite takes to it, and goes back to his axe, showing he's truly a barbarian at heart.
Kel in Tamora Pierce's Protector of the Small Quartet is an exception to this trope: while she is the Hero, she uses a naginata (though she usually calls it a glaive for convenience) instead of the hero's traditional sword.
Reynard favors a rapier called Cut-Throat as his primary (right-handed) weapon, and wields a parrying dagger with his left. After he loses his left hand, he fights with a Blade Below the Shoulder called Left-Hand.
Hirsent wields a sword called Harrower. She thinks it's ridiculous that the weapon has a name.
Tiecelin, being an Archer Archetype, uses a bow, one of the only unnamed weapons of the protagonists in the series.
Tybalt strongly favors throwing daggers, but he also wields a sword named Catspaw.
Bruin, the team's Big Guy, wields an axe named Mauler.
Grymbart is one of the few characters that fights with a sword and shield.
Ghul, a Glyconese, is deadly with his pair of short swords. The Myrmidons of Glycon favor the same weapon pairing, implying that Ghul might have been a Myrmidon in training at some point.
Rukenaw fights with a morning star called The Fairlimb, a nickname she shares with her weapon because of her shapely legs.
Celia Corvino, and her henchman, the Baron Dendra, both favor poison.
Stormbringer, the Demon King, wielded a "soul-crushing" blade called Thunderclap, which went on to become a part of the royal regalia of the kingdom of Aquilia.
The Arcasians and Luxians seem to favor pikes, crossbows, and cavalry armed with lances when going to war, while their Calvarian adversaries wield javelins, sword and shield, and field superior archers as well as artillery.
In Star Trek: Klingon Empire, of the various Klingon weapons established in canon, Davok uses the qutluch, the signature dagger of an assassin. He throws it with fantastic accuracy even in close-quarters combat. He claims that he took it off an assassin who tried to use it on him. His leader Wol finds this claim to be dubious, but has no trouble believing that Davok would piss someone off enough to have them put a hit on him.
King Robert Baratheon's signature weapon is a giant two-handed warhammer, befitting his status as the Big Guy.
Arya wields Needle, a light fencing blade suitable to her small stature and stealthy nature.
Two of the most straightforwardly-heroic characters, Ned Stark and Jon Snow, wield swords named Ice and Longclaw respectively. Jon's is even a bastard sword.
Brienne of Tarth, another heroic character, also receives her a signature sword, called Oathkeeper to reflect her loyal and steadfast nature, from Jaime Lannister, who is reputed to lack these traits.
Ser Barristan Selmy discards his sword in favor of an epic staff, befitting his transition from general Bad Ass to Badass Grandpa.
Tyrion favors an axe in battle, a subtle gag as he otherwise has very little in common with Tolkienesque dwarves.
King Joffrey of the Houses Baratheon and Lannister, the First of His Name, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm, long may he reign, favors a crossbow, which is maligned in-universe as the weapon of weaklings and cowards.
In The Stormlight Archive, swords are considered upper-class weapons, meaning that Kaladin, who is lower-class, uses a spear as his Weapon Of Choice (toying in a minor but noticable ways with genre conventions). Heroic and villainous aristocratic characters use swords all the time as a status symbol, with the magical shardblades being the most prized. Anti-Villain assassin Szeth also has a shardblade, which both makes him even more Badass than he would be otherwise and, since he comes from an extremely pacifist society, using the most deadly weapon of all marks him as a disgraced outcast.
Death to the French: The Baker Rifle. The Rifle along with the green uniform is a highly visibile weapon and symbol that seperates a Rifleman from the common soldier armed with muskets.
Angus, the Knight of Earth, uses a mace, probably just because it's round, and they had to show boulders shooting out of it.
Firefly follows the trope with Western-inspired (of course) weapons. Mal, The Hero has a gun based on a six-shooter and an old-fashioned mentality to go with it. Zoe carries a custom 1892 Winchester rifle (and, unusually, a bulletproof vest, befitting a consummate professional who's ready for trouble). Jayne, the other badass, has an assortment but favours an assault rifle and a BIG knife. Inara, the mysterious woman, uses a futuristic bow (she also holds a stolen laser pistol, but it doesn't work). The rest of the crew make do with pistols and shotguns of varying accuracy. Though notably Wash uses a Mateba auto-revolver which considering their scarcity and quirky design fits his character quite well.
Rick uses a very large, nickel-plated Colt Python, showing that he's an idealist (nickel-plated = shining armor) field leader (pistols demonstrate leader, but the size implies he actually uses it. Very much contrasted to Shane's Mossberg 590. He stops using it when he starts going crazy, but uses it again when he starts getting his act back together.
Dale always has a scoped Remington 700 VLS in his hands, fitting since he is both the lookout, and the one who spends his time watching the others.
Michonne uses a katana, demonstrating her foreign nature.
Darryl uses a crossbow, representing his simple, country-folk nature.
In the TV version as well as others, The Lone Ranger always shoots silver bullets. Though it's really too soft for bullets, it symbolized justice by law and his vow to shoot to wound, not kill.
Blue Bloods: In keeping with his Cowboy Cop attitude, Danny Reagan carries a noticeably different, silver pistol rather than the black Glocks used by the rest of the NYPD cast (other than Frank's ancient Fitz Special). IMFDB identifies it as a Smith & Wesson 5946, a pragmatic choice by the props department considering that the weapon, though not standard issue, is still allowed by NYPD regs in real life.
Stan Hansen and other cowboy wrestlers used to bring a bullrope to the ring, often with a cowbell attached to it.
Larry Zbyszko had a set of nunchucks during his martial arts phase in the 1980's.
Jimmy Hart would clobber opponents from behind with his bullhorn - when he wasn't verbally taunting them through it.
The various armies of Warhammer utilise different types and styles of weaponry in accordance with their culture and personalities. Even the designs of the same types of weapon vary in this way (for example, the spears used by High Elves are thin, elegant, leaf-bladed things with gentle, flowing curves, while their Dark Elf cousins use equally slender but jagged and spiked spears. Human spears tend to be a lot thicker and cruder, and Orc spears thicker and cruder still).
The iconic weapon of the Empire, which the majority of its footsoldiers use, is the versatile halberd, which fits with the Empire army being the most versatile in the game (interestingly most other armies only give halberds to elite units). They also use spearmen and swordsmen, especially from more rural provinces, and missile support comes from a mix of archers, crossbowmen and handgunners. Plus the Empire has large train of gunpowder artillery. There are also small numbers of young noblemen fighting on horseback with a brace of pistols, smaller numbers of engineers with experimental repeating handguns and plenty of classic armoured knights with couched lances or cavalry hammers. Their elite infantry use Zweihander-style greatswords, just like the German Landesknechts who form their major inspiration. Basically the Empire is defined by its use of a wide variety of real-world early modern European weaponry.
Orcs and Goblins tend to use crude hacking swords and cleavers (called Choppas) that are little more than a sharp lump of metal on a stick, a well as equally crude spears and daggers. For missile fire they rely on crude bows, cobbled-together trebuchets and small bolt throwers. Savage Orc weapons are just as crude, but knapped out of flint and bone, rather than pig iron. Orcs are basically low-tech barbarians with little time for art or craftsmanship, and their weapons reflect this.
Dwarfs, as peerless metalworkers, craftsmen and engineers, use sturdy, reliable and superlatively forged axes and hammers to fight with, paired with intricately carved round metal shields. They eschew swords, bows and wooden-hafted weapons as feeble, their preference for solid metal axes and hammers fitting with their blunt, no-nonsense demeanour. They also craft rifled handguns (or crossbows) and more technologically advanced war machines than the humans of the Empire, but being far more naturally conservative don't tend to go in for the same levels of steampunk insanity that Imperial engineers do. Their miners, as would be expected, use pickaxes.
The High Elves, as a graceful, skilled and artistic race, use slender spears, longbows and elegant dueling swords as their primary weapons - all with leaf-shaped blades, intricate artistic flourishes and curved, flowing lines. Most are encrusted with carved gemstones, and many hung with ribbons. For war machines they use similarly elegant bolt throwers, the bow-piece shaped to resemble the outstretched wings of an eagle and with a repeating mechanism to fire a hail of small darts. Their elites fight with larger, two-handed weapons - greatswords for the Swordmasters of Hoeth, halberds for the Phoenix Guard and woodsman's axes for the White Lions - but these are also very slender examples of their kind, relying on perfect balance and swing rather than brute force for their effect (and the elves that use them are trained so superlatively that they can use them as dextrously as a human might use a regular sword). The Sisters of Avelorn use magical bows that fire arrows of searing blue flame, demonstrating that High Elves are the most magical of the races.
The Dark Elves are a twisted, corrupted mirror of the High Elves, and use similar weapons but styled with ripping spikes and blades and jagged, discordant edges. Instead of bows they use repeating crossbows that fire a hail of barbed darts, and they supplement their armoury with vicious harpoons, hooked blades, whips and razor nets.
The Wood Elves favour the longbow, and fight with it almost exclusively, though they do have some spearmen and sword-dancers as well. Wood Elf weapons are made from the wood of living trees, and just as intricately carved and crafted as those of their High Elf cousins, and in the same style - albeit with virtually no metal components, blades being made from obsidian, flint or at best beaten copper. Wood Elves are intimately connected to nature, and thus prefer simpler, less industrially-produced weaponry.
The men of Bretonnia fight primarily as armoured knights, wearing a panoply of armour and using weapons drawn from the armouries of European knights from the 12th to 16th centuries - mainly lances and shields. Bretonnia, being a land of Arthurian chivalry and heroic adventure, could hardly be otherwise. Questing Knights, however, use greatswords instead of the lance, which they symbolically set aside to denote giving up their lands and duties in order to quest for the grail. The peasant men-at-arms in Bretonnia are a sorry lot, however, and use badly-kept spears, billhooks and halberds or wooden longbows, like much medieval peasant militia. The contrast with the wide range of weaponry used by the other human army in the game - the Empire - is quite deliberate, and emphasises the distinct cultures of the two nations - chivalric and knightly on the one hand, pragmatic and technological on the other.
The Lizardmen use stone, gold and obsidian clubs and spears in Mayan, Aztec and Inca style, with javelins and blowpipes for missile support. Their gear is well-crafted and intricately detailed though, in contrast to the crude weapons of Orcs or Beastmen. They also have access to ancient techno-magical devices that shoot laser beams or break open reality - the schizo tech juxtaposition of the lost technologies of the old ones and the barbarous state their lost children have descended into being a big part of the Lizardmen character and aesthetic.
Ogres use crude clubs, hefty iron-banded bludgeons and pit-fighting fist spike gauntlets made of beaten iron. They also sometimes steal and re-purpose small cannons to fire a spray of debris (and larger cannons stolen from giants to spray cannonballs!). Ogres live in harsh, mountainous terrain, and know the value of self-sufficiency and scavenging (they're not too technologically capable either, but know a good idea when they see it). Pretty much everything they own is taken violently from others and repurposed.
The Tomb Kings of Khemri use bronze spears, wooden bows and bronze Kopesh swords of various sizes and ride chariots, in keeping with their Bronze Age aesthetic. They also use sinister trebuchet catapults lashed together from bones, because when you're undead it's just something you have to do...
The Vampire Counts themselves tend to use baroque medieval and early modern swords and daggers (when they're not fighting with bare claws and fangs), and their skeletal servants wield rusty, notched versions of the same, occasionally spears. Most zombies and ghouls fight with their bare hands, though zombies sometimes have the odd rusty knife or battered farm tool. Wraiths, however, wield gigantic reaping scythes, in keeping with their grim reaper imagery. The Vampire Counts army is more a magical force of nature than a proper military force, and decent equipment is rarely on their agenda - it's what you were buried with or nothing. They have no missile weapons at all.
The Skaven, as chaotic scavenging rat-men, use thin, nasty-looking blades, spears and cleavers for the most part, usually notched and rusty and dull. They also have a variety of warpstone-powered mad science weapons such as warpfire throwers, ratling guns and glass globes of poisonous gas used as grenades. Clan Eshin, the oriental clan who fight as ninjas, use traditional ninja weapons, such as throwing stars, fighting claws and flat-bladed ninja swords. Clan Pestilens, the Plague Monks, use poison gas censers as makeshift flails!
Warriors of Chaos generally use hefty axes, swords and hammers, as well as chain flails and large two-handed weapons. A fair number, especially those devoted to Khorne, use two weapons and eschew shields. They are no-nonsense born warriors and boisterous vikings, so close combat is what they're all about. They also have no traditional missile weapons beyond the odd throwing axe or throwing spear. Most of the weapons used by the Warriors of Chaos are forged by Chaos Dwarf smiths, and thus tend to be of high quality, and occasionally intricately detailed. Some of their heroes wield sentient weapons possessed by daemons.
Beastmen tend to use the same kinds of hefty axes, cleavers and bludgeons as their Chaos Warrior fellows, though the scrawny, feeble Ungors use crude spears and shortbows instead to emphasise their sneakiness and lack of prowess.
Most Daemons of Chaos, being otherworldly spirit-entities, do not use weapons beyond their natural claws, teeth and hooked appendages, but some use eldritch versions of swords and axes - classic weapons that inspire myths and archetypes, because daemons assume forms derived from myth and archetype when they manifest. The martial daemons of Khorne, in particular, use nasty-looking blood-dripping Hellblades, while the sensuous, seductive daemons of slaanesh sometimes use barbed whips and lashes.
Vulcan Raven had the M61 Vulcan he ripped from a downed F-16 to show he's an effin' giant.
Dynasty Warriors. Simple one-handed swords are generally popular with the leaders of major factions and calm individuals while large polearms are fairly common with the tougher but not necessarily nuts enforcers. Women tend to get weapons that most men wouldn't dare carry. Lu Bu, the game's most feared character, tended to wield a halberd as if it were a one-handed sword. Dynasty Warriors 6 however changed things up a bit, as before that everyone had more or less always used the same weapon.
Chrono Trigger has this as well. The hero, Crono, has his trusty katana (and starts, like all good swordsmen, with a bokken/wooden sword). Marle, instead of a staff, finds herself with a crossbow. Lucca, the mad genius, gets the guns of the game. The knightly Frog takes to Western weapons (oddly, the game's Masamune is this style and not a katana). Ayla, the primitive woman, gets her bare fists (cutscenes show her with a club). Robo uses robot parts. Finally, gothic and anti-hero Magus gets... yes, the scythe.
Despite having four (or five to six depending on the game) types of melee weapons, Fire Emblem manages to do this; most axe fighters are obsessed with fighting in one way or another (and Keiran in Path of Radiance/Radiant Dawn, who takes "Proud Warrior" to an extreme is an Axe Knight), all but four (all but one of whom play second fiddle) of the lead characters use swords, and ALL thieves and assassins in the series use knives (at least in battle sprites). On the flip side only two archers in the series qualify for the listed personality and spear wielding units are just as competent as the other ones. It also subverts this slightly with weapons effective on certain types of foes (such as a large mallet being good on armored units) though.
Also of note that there are two different classes that wield swords. First is Mercenary/Hero (the sprites in the GBA games were broadswords regardless of sword used), the other being Myrmidon/Swordmaster (the sprites here used Eastern-style katanas). Swordmasters also generally get a specialized sword late game called the Wo Dao (which in the later games just is a Katana). Heroes are generally more manly and romantic-male-lead-ish when it comes to looks. While the majority of Swordmasters are females, or males that are very pretty, the animations for the Swordmaster attacks seem very graceful compared to the straight power of the Hero (graceful is badass). The rapier weapon (appears in most games) is usually usable only by the games leading character (who is always royal, giving them a proper societal weapon). The exceptions are Lyndis (Blazing Sword) and Ike (Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn). Lyndis has her own legendary katana, and Ike isn't actual royalty (and all his animations would fit way more with a Broadsword than a rapier).
Wild ARMs 3: sunny heroine gets pistols akimbo (with flowery holsters). Wise, composed, always suggests best course of action science guy has the sniper rifle. Impulsive ditz gets the sawed-off shotgun. Badass amnesiac loner gets machine gun and ammo bandoliers.
The characters in Persona 3 openly state the reasons for their specific weapons, whenever it isn't obvious. The Hero can use anything, though he unsurprisingly defaults to a one-handed sword. Junpei uses a two-handed sword that he holds like a baseball bat (which is to say, improperly). Yukari, a member of the Archery Club, uses a bow. Mitsuru, the rich girl, uses an "elegant" one-handed sword. Akihiko, star boxer of the school and a bit of a Blood Knight, uses his fists. Aigis, a Robot Girl, uses attached guns of various types. Koromaru, the team pet, uses a small knife held in his teeth, presumably to avoid actually biting the monsters. Ken, a Wise Beyond His Years ten-year-old, uses a spear to even the playing field between him and larger enemies. Shinjiro, the tough dude with issues, uses an axe or mace. In FES, Metis, Miss Exposition, also uses an axe, due to its power.
Although they don't state it outright like in 3, the heroes of Persona 4 use weapons that reflect their personality. The Hero uses broadswords, Kung-Fu loving Action Girl Chie has leg greaves, Yamato Nadeshiko Yukiko uses fans, delinquent Kanji just hits monsters with a heavy blunt object, be it a shield or a school desk, Teddie the 'bear' has claws, and Naoto has a gun since he or rather, she, is a detective. Yosuke's dual knives are the only odd man out, but then again knowing him he might be Dual Wielding just for Rule of Cool.
In Innocent Sin: Tatsuya goes with swords because they're there (okay because he's a silent protagonist but still). Eikichi is the kind of person to think an assault rifle disguised as a guitar case is ridiculously cool (and a practical disguise since he's a musician). Maya is not-so-secretly a hugedork who just loves how flashy she looks with dual pistols. Meanwhile, Lisa already practices martial arts thanks to her father, and Yukino had used razors and thrown blades once upon a time as a former delinquent. Jun throws flowers that are somehow as damaging as bullets and blades, possibly as a magical leftover of his time as the Joker.
Zero uses a katana and a wide array of weapons in Mega Man X8 to demonstrate his Person of Mass Destruction legacy, and the cocky, sneaky Axl gets a pair of pistols. There are two notable subversions, with the pacifist X being equipped with a powerful buster cannon and a massive array of weapons and armour, and the Big Bad Sigma using a sword in many of his boss fights - which makes sense he used to be a good guy.
Cloud uses broadswords. Ridiculously large ones. Before you make the joke... yes, he is compensating for something. Not that, but crippling self-doubt. It also serves as a memorial for his best friend.
Dota 2's heroes use many types of weapons based on their main attributes. Strength heroes are melee weapon-users, Agility heroes are either bow or gun-users (some are melee), and Intelligence heroes use their staves. Weapons are also very popular as cosmetic items. Some examples:
The core heroes in The Wonderful 101 each have different Unite Morphs associated with them and their personalities.
However, when Dave's katana breaks thanks to his trouncing at the hands of Bro, his Specibus was automatically changed to 1/2bladeKind, which now only allows him to use broken swords. That is, until he decides to Screw Destiny and build a Morph Weapon that he keeps as a broken sword in storage.
Bro Strider is the only Guardian with a confirmed Specibus, also using bladeKind. While not officially one of his Specibi, he does seem to enjoy using Lil Cal for combat.
Jade Harley, the series' resident semi-prophetic, weird girl has the Riflekind Abtractus, reflecting her distance from the rest of humanity.
Jane Crocker utilizes spoonKind, but owns a device which allows her to switch her Specibus between spoonKind and forkKind at will.
Sollux Captor doesn't feel the need to allocate his specibus because he's got Psychic Powers.
Neither does Aradia Megido for the same reason, but she used to allocate whipKindbefore her death.
Caliborn and Calliope also use the STRIFE SPECIBUS, each of them wielding a dual-object: Calliope's is a magic wand that turns into a pistol, while Caliborn's is a pimp cane that turns into an assault rifle.
He doesn't have a STRIFE Specibus, but Jack Noir is an expert with bladed implements of all kinds. His personal preference is for knives.
The title character in 'Schlock Mercenary uses a (lately archaic, but still highly effective) Strohl Munitions BH-250 Plasma Cannon far more than any other weapon (except possibly himself, since he's nigh-unkillable), since it is effective as both a weapon and a form of transport, and because it can be used to threaten as well as kill (a half-pressed trigger results in an "ominous hum" sound and a glow emanating from the barrel). As one person so threatened put it, "I can see a glow at the end of the barrel, and I'm not feeling ready to walk towards the light."
In Harkovast a lot of the characters fit into this trope, such as the (usually) peaceful Chen-Chen fighting unarmed and the giant nameless wielding two long chains.
To illustrate their Character Development, some characters have come to lose their weapons. For example, early on, when he was just the thick-headed male figure, Sokka retained a war club. Then of course, there's the symbolic ending of the season three premiere episode, in which Aang burns his staff. On the reverse, as a sure sign of his growing into a capable leader, Sokka has come to receive a straight sword.
Then the Grand Finale has Sokka losing both of his weapons, and Aang never using his staff. This indicates that, indeed, it's all finally over.