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Ace of Spades

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"Now, sad to say, poor Jock is dead.
The Ace of Spaces fell on his head.
That fatal card!"
— "Jock the Flea", Captain Beaky And His Band

Traditionally the highest valued card in many card games, the Ace of Spades (♠) has become symbolic of death or danger. Should a character find themselves drawing or otherwise receiving this card, they best start looking over their shoulders.

Subtrope of Playing Card Motifs. Commonly considered part of a Dead Man's Hand.

If you're looking for the video game, it's here. As for the Motörhead album, see here.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Hellsing, Death Dealer Alhambra uses an Ace of Spades as his final trump card against Alucard. In the fashion of this trope, Alucard splits the card in half, along with most of his arm, before killing him.
  • One Piece: The character Portgas D. Ace used to be captain of his own pirate group, the Spade Pirates before it was assimilated into Whitebeard Pirates. And he later becomes the first major character to die in the present.
  • The anime adaptation of Kaguya-sama: Love Is War assigned all the starting members of the Student Council a Playing Card Motif. Naturally, the perpetually depressed Ishigami -who spent most of the earlier chapters afraid that Kaguya was trying to kill him- was assigned the Ace of Spades.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Pinocchio, Honest John tricks Pinocchio into going to the dangerous Pleasure Island by giving him his "ticket", an Ace of Spades card.
  • During Woody's nightmare in Toy Story 2 centering around Andy discarding him due to his arm being ripped, all the playing cards are Aces of Spades. In fact, he ends up falling into one of the Spade symbols when Andy drops him.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Trouble for Two: Whoever draws the Ace of Spades in the suicide club card draw is the person who dies. Whoever draws the ace of clubs has to go along as the executioner.

  • The initially cordial man-pig dinner party at the end of Animal Farm ends in chaos when during a poker game, Napoleon and Mr. Pilkington simultaneously play an ace of spades. Most critics view this as Orwell's interpretation of the Tehran Conference, ostensibly meant to establish a unified front among the allies but in actuality setting up future conflict between the Soviet Union and the West.
  • A Line to Kill: Charles le Masurier finds an Ace of Spades on his car windshield. He thinks it's good luck but Anthony, the narrator, knows that it's "the death card." Sure enough, the next night Charles is murdered.
  • Whateley Universe: In Silver Ghost, Golden Angel (Part 3), used by Cardsharp:
    The card was the Ace of Spades, the Death Card. Cardsharp held before him, like a priest presenting a crucifix to a vampire. FEAR, mortal terror, primordial panic radiated out from the card, filling Kirk's mind with dread.
  • Baccano!: The Dreaded Professional Killer Claire Stanfield is sometimes associated with the Ace of Spades in its capacity as the "death card".
  • The Hollow: Just before doctor John Christow leaves his home for a weekend gathering with friends, his little daughter Zena insists on reading his fate from a card deck. She is shocked to draw the ace of spades as the final card, but he brushes it off. This being an Agatha Christie book, he is shot before the weekend is over.
    Zena: Oo — it's the Ace of Spades! That's usually a death — but —
    John: Your mother is going to run over someone on the way out of London. Good-bye, you two. Try and behave.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the I Love Lucy episode "Lucy Thinks Ricky Is Trying To Murder Her", Ethel has learned to tell fortunes with playing cards. She has Lucy draw two cards, only to become stricken with fright when she sees them. When Lucy demands to know what they mean, Ethel explains that the Queen of Hearts represents her and the Ace of Spades is death. This fuels Lucy's mistaken belief throughout the episode that Ricky is attempting to kill her.

  • Motörhead's song "Ace of Spades":
    Pushing up the ante, I know you gotta see me,
    Read 'em and weep, the dead man's hand again,
    I see it in your eyes, take one look and die,
    The only thing you see, you know it's gonna be,
    The Ace of Spades
  • In "Jock the Flea" from Captain Beaky and His Band, Jock is a strongman at a flea circus, who finishes his act by lifting a playing card. The song ends:
    Now, sad to say, poor Jock is dead.
    The Ace of Spaces fell on his head.
    That fatal card!

    Mythology and Folklore 
  • The Spades are derived ultimately from the Swords of the Tarot, and the associations carry over of tarot cards to the more "mundane" playing deck. The Ace of Swords is to do with cutting loose from old ways and habits, dramatic change, etc; badly aspected it can mean violent death or serious illness or an act of violence. (Interestingly, the Nine of Swords/Spades has a worse Tarot meaning: this is the one that can mean Death, or at the least, something unlucky or unfortunate...)

  • In act 2 of Carmen, the titular character draws spades during a fortune-telling game which she believes foretells her death. Sure enough, her former lover Don Jose kills her in a jealous rage.

    Video Games 
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, 10 of Spades is a member of the illustrious First Recon sharpshooter regiment of the NCR Army. When he first joined up, he sought to have "Ace of Spades" as his Call Sign, but his commanding officer thought he was too green for something that cool. Nevertheless, 10 of Spades voices his intent to raise his "rank" as he gains more combat experience (though he indicates there might be some skipping over down the line).
    I get a few more k-k-kills under my belt, he'll move me up to Jack. Jack of Spades. Sounds better right, right?
    I keep at it, eventually I'll make it to Ace. Think I'll skip Queen, though.
  • There is an exotic Hand Cannon known as Ace of Spades in Destiny, which serves as the weapon of choice for the Exo Hunter Vanguard Cayde-6. In the Forsaken campaign of Destiny 2, Cayde ends up getting Killed Off for Real by Uldren Sov using said hand cannon.

    Web Comics 
  • In Ruby Quest, Ace (whose signature is a single spade symbol) is the main "tangible" antagonist, having completely succumbed to the Eldritch Abomination's control months ago.

    Real Life 
  • During the Vietnam War, US soldiers would use the ace of spades as a form of psychological warfare, since the North Vietnamese allegedly feared the card because of the superstitions surrounding it as a harbinger of death. Scattering these death cards in real or suspected hostile areas reportedly caused the Viet Cong to flee. In addition, some American troops would leave a single ace of spades card on the body of an enemy kill to indicate "We were here" or "We're coming for you."
  • During the Second Gulf War, the United States distributed a deck with the 52 "most wanted" Iraqis with Saddam Hussein being the Ace of Spades.
  • Purported use of the Ace of Spades as a warning for traitors or informants during The Golden Age of Piracy may have inspired the original Black Spot in Treasure Island.