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Sinister Switchblade

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Switchblade knives are for evil people.

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
Owlorange1995 on Dec 10th 2017 at 1:24:14 PM
Last Edited By:
Owlorange1995 on Dec 17th 2017 at 12:59:53 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

When it comes to planning out the weaponry of a story, Good Weapon, Evil Weapon never fails to display itself. That said, the switchblade gets a particularly bad rep. The small size, concealability, and razor sharp edge make sit almost impossible for the poor weapon to be seen in a positive light. This is especially the case with "stiletto" switchblade, named for the similarly shaped dagger. Gangsters scare their targets with a single flick of their blades, and assassins slit the throats of unsuspecting victims who barely have time to hear the Click sound given off by the weapon.

A Sub-Trope of Knife Nut. See also Sinister Scythe and Sinister Shiv, which are also bladed weapons associated with unsavory people.


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     Anime & Manga 

     Films - Live-Action 
  • The murderous Swinburne's first appearance in Bedknobs and Broomsticks has him threaten the main characters with a switchblade. Later on, his boss the Bookman orders him to shoot someone, and Swinburne that he'd rather use his switchblade.
  • The final confrontation in Blackboard Jungle involves a delinquent with a switchblade. It's deconstructed in that one of the protagonists takes advantage of the weapon's fragile lock to snap the blade off the handle.
  • A Clockwork Orange has the gang leader Billy-boy pull a switchblade in response to Alex's challenge to a brawl.
  • Most of the knives carried by the Joker in The Dark Knight are switchblades.
  • The primary weapon of Henry Bowers in It (2017) is a switchblade. His fall to madness is punctuated by him killing his father with it.
  •  The Rocky Horror Picture Show has the song Eddie's Teddy invoking this.
    Chorus: You knew he was a no-good kid, but when he threatened your life with a switchblade knife...

     Literature 
  • "The Cross and the Switchblade" is David Wilkerson's account of his evangelism work among gang members. 
  • Switchblades are very common among the gangs in The Outsiders.
  • In the Sonja Blue series, antihero and part-time monster Sonja Blue has a silver switchblade as her favorite weapon. Silver to help fight other monsters, and a switchblade because she's just that brutal.

     Live-Action TV 
  • The close-range weapon of Al Capone's gang in Deadliest Warrior is a switchblade, referred to a "stiletto."
  • There's an episode of The Pretender where Miss Parker uses one as a letter-opener.

     Video Games 
  • Played with in Life is Strange. When Frank is introduced, he threatens Max and Chloe with one, but he quickly proves to be something of a Paper Tiger, and that he tends to Bring A Knife To A Gunfight means his switchblade marks him as a bit pathetic. Indeed, the worst that can happen is that Max and Chloe accidentally kill him in self defence in episode 4). In the prequel his much more dangerous friend Damon threatens Chloe and Rachel in a similar scene, but uses a much scarier looking combat knife to make it clear that he's much more of a threat.

     Web Original 
  • The Jon Tron video Love Is Like Drugs characterizes a drug dealer as evil nigh instantly by having him open a switchblade in front of our main characters, which sends them fumbling to find a magical analogy to get them out of the situation.

     Other 
  • Note that a lot of countries ban or severely restrict switchblades, flick knives and similar weapons such as butterfly knives. These weapons have such a bad reputation that even countries who allow more conventional knives to be carried without restriction have laws against them. The actual effects of the legislation range from prohibiting the use of switchblades to anyone outside the military (Hungary) to banning all switchblades with blades longer than a few centimeters (Japan) to banning the sale, use, or transport of the knives altogether (The Netherlands).

Feedback: 10 replies

Dec 11th 2017 at 1:23:52 AM

  • Corrected punctuation (added periods at the ends of sentences).
  • Blue Linked some TV Tropes page names.
  • Examples section
    • Added the word "Examples".
    • Added [[foldercontrol]] .
    • Replaced garbage text characters (caused by a non-standard text character) with a standard text character.

Dec 11th 2017 at 6:06:34 PM

Note that a lot of countries ban or severely restrict switchblades, flick knives and similar weapons such as butterfly knives. These weapons have such a bad reputation that even countries who allow more conventional knives to be carried without restriction have laws against them.

Dec 11th 2017 at 7:28:45 PM

Literature: "The Cross and the Switchblade" is David Wilkerson's account of his evangelism work among gang members. Live-Action TV: There's an episode of The Pretender where Miss Parker uses one as a letter-opener.

Dec 11th 2017 at 7:41:32 PM

Possibly also note that the most common switchblade style to appear in gangster fiction is the "stiletto" switchblade named for the similarly shaped dagger.

Dec 11th 2017 at 8:16:28 PM

From The Rocky Horror Picture Show:

When Eddie said he didn't like his teddy
You knew he was a no-good kid
But when he threatened your life with a switchblade knife
What a guy, makes you cry, und I did

Dec 12th 2017 at 4:16:11 PM

  • The Jon Tron video "Love Is Like Drugs" characterizes a drug dealer as evil nigh instantly by having him open a switchblade in front of our main characters, which sends them fumbling to find a magical analogy to get them out of the situation.

Dec 13th 2017 at 2:19:30 PM

  • In the Sonja Blue series, antihero and part-time monster Sonja Blue has a silver switchblade as her favorite weapon. Silver to help fight other monsters, and a switchblade because she's just that brutal.

Dec 15th 2017 at 10:08:34 PM

I think it might be worth mentioning that Switchblades are illegal in some countries or in provinces/states in countries, which could contribute to switchblades having a sinister nature. Here's a link on the other wiki for details

Dec 17th 2017 at 8:04:21 AM

  • Played with in Life Is Strange. When Frank is introduced, he threatens Max and Chloe with one, but he quickly proves to be something of a Paper Tiger, and that he tends to Bring A Knife To A Gunfight means his switchblade marks him as a bit pathetic ( indeed, the worst that can happen is that Max and Chloe accidentally kill him in self defence in episode 4). In the prequel his much more dangerous friend Damon threatens Chloe and Rachel in a similar scene, but uses a much scarier looking combat knife to make it clear that he's much more of a threat.

Dec 17th 2017 at 12:24:19 PM

Added an example under "Film".

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