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BFS
aka: Big Fancy Sword

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You know what they say about guys with big swords...note 
"It was much too big to be called a sword. Massive, thick, heavy, and far too rough. Indeed, it was like a slab of raw iron."
— Narration introducing the Dragonslayer, Berserk
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The melee weapon equivalent of a BFG.

A common trope to both video games and anime, a BFS is an unrealistically large sword most often owned by The Hero, The Chosen One, or whatever type the lead happens to be. To be a true BFS, it should be nearly as long as its owner is tall. It may or may not have other special qualities besides being humongous. If a BFS does possess other strange qualities, one of them almost assuredly prevents it from being used by other people, whether that be weight, a magical barrier, a direct link to its owner, or other means.

Usually no other character in a game or series is the possessor of a sword that is anywhere close to as huge. Sometimes, even when unusual swords and weapons are an everyday occurrence, characters are still surprised by the size of the lead's BFS, as it is a physical manifestation of its owner's potential power.

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The Rival or Big Bad will sometimes own a BFS, representing a significant hurdle and challenge for the protagonist to overcome. It is rarer for a secondary character, such as The Lancer or The Big Guy, to own a BFS, but if the lead character does not possess one, one of the others in their party likely will.

This trope includes any type of improbably large ("anime-sized") melee weapon. After the aforementioned big-ass sword, gigantic lances tend to be the most common. However, humongous hammers and titanic axes also appear from time to time, most commonly in the hands of The Big Guy (or, just for the absurdity of it all, a little girl).

An ancient trope. Oversized, unrealistic swords aren't unheard of in medieval or earlier fiction, poetry, and artwork. To make matters more confusing, most societies employing swords also made huge ceremonial swords for display, which laymen of later periods may mistake for actual war tools. Swords employed in combat or dueling were lighter than even the typical, non-BFS fantasy sword — which makes a lot of sense, if you remember it's about swinging one hundreds of times and quick enough — while the only purpose of a ceremonial or executioner's sword is to be carried along or make one strong cut respectively, there's not a lot of swinging around. Even the really big swords, such was the German Zweihänder, which were used for "fencing" with (batting aside or cutting) polearms or keeping multiple opponents at bay were much lighter (relatively speaking) than we are led to believe by most fictional portrayals.

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Compare Big, Bulky Bomb, BFG (as mentioned above) and Great Bow. May well be a Bigger Stick. May involve Hammerspace physics for storage, or some sort of strange magnetism. Almost always held casually resting on the hero's shoulder.

If it's being wielded with just one hand, it's a One-Handed Zweihänder. Compare Dual Wielding, Heroes Prefer Swords, and Infinity +1 Sword. May be used to create a Sinister Scraping Sound. Obligatory links to Freud Was Right and Compensating for Something are here for your convenience.

For the computer scientists reading this page, this page has nothing to do with breadth-first search.


Example subpages:

Other examples

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    Comic Books 
  • Red She-Hulk has a great sword named Savage Sword of She-Hulk, created by Iron Man and blessed by Odin.
  • In Marvel's Thor, the concept is taken to its logical extreme with the Odinsword, which is many times the size of anybody, human or Asgardian. Thor has successfully thrown it, but he could never wield it. Not least because drawing it from its sheath causes the end of the universe.
    • Unfortunately it was badly depowered in Roy Thomas' Celestial/Ring Cycle storyline, in which we learn its origin and that drawing it, rather than destroying the universe, will merely(?) bring on the day of Ragnarok. We also find out why it's that big: it's meant to be wielded by a giant-size Destroyer, powered by Odin and all the other Asgardians except Thor, when he defends Earth from the even larger Celestials.
    • Later, it reappears on a slightly more plausible scale during Fear Itself (though it's still about as tall as Thor and half as wide), when Thor wields it against his Evil Uncle, Cul, the Serpent.
  • Shinryuken in Gold Digger whose Colossal Blade, Size-mitar, is one big reference to Sanger Zonvolt, listed above.
  • Korvus' Phoenix Blade from X-Men. Unlike most examples, it's suggested that the lingering Phoenix fragment was what allowed Korvus (a Boxed Crook) to wield it with relative ease, and, theoretically, carve his way through any opposition. Unfortunately, the Shi'ar high official who had this bright idea, neglected to think it through: namely, one of the people he was sending Korvus after was Rachel Grey-Summers, a former host of the Phoenix. And, as she points out to a flabbergasted Korvus after she pulls off a Bare-Handed Blade Block, absorbing the Phoenix fragment, the Phoenix knows her and likes her.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): When Artemis returns as a demon hunter she's weilding a massive sword that with a blade that is at least five feet long. She's still carrying a bow as well, but it is no longer her primary weapon.
  • New 52: Deathstroke has a giant sword that is almost never entirely on panel.

    Eastern Animation 
  • The Estonian animation Suur Tõll gives the towering leader of the second horde one. He towers over every one but the giant eponymous character, and his sword is as big as he is.

    Fan Works 

    Manhwa and Manhua 
  • Percer from Id has an absurdly large sword that he manages to use single handed.
  • Batu and Yuda from Shaman Warrior both employ these.
  • Sando's sword from Shin Angyo Onshi is bigger than she is.
  • Lu Xiao from Infinity Game creates a sword out of magic that is at least twenty feet tall. She weilds it one-handed.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Older Than Dirt: In The Epic of Gilgamesh "They cast great daggers/ Their blades were 120 pounds each/ The cross guards of their handles thirty pounds each/ They carried daggers worked with thirty pounds of gold/ Gilgamesh and Enkidu bore ten times sixty pounds each."
  • Former adversary and later vassal of King Arthur, Osla Big Knife, carried Bronllavyn Short Broad, a sword whose dimensions are never completely specified. However, it is stated that it was large enough to be used as a bridge and that Osla himself died when the sword fell out of its sheath, allowing the sheath to fill up with so much water that he was dragged under and drowned. Osla appears twice in the Welsh Mabinogion, with the earliest text he appears in dating back to 1160 or thereabouts. This constitutes one the trope's few non-Asian and non-Asian-influenced appearances.
  • Beowulf wielded a giant sword when he fought Grendel's mom. Justified in that it was in fact made by giants.
  • In The Bible
    • After killing the giant Goliath, David cuts off his head with the giant's own sword. Considering that Goliath was about 9.5 ft tall, his sword must have been rather large compared to David.
    • Later, when David was on the run from Saul, he is without a sword and is given the sword of Goliath from a temple. Some images have him continue to wield this BFS for his entire reign. A BFS in this time period would be the size of a normal sword by our standards, as the iron age had just started around this time.
    • In Deuteronomy 28, and Ezekiel 14, one of the punishments of the wicked is to be by the sword. In chapter 21 of Ezekiel, God wields that sword, and the description of it makes it seem rather huge, deadly, and quite awesome, if not terrifying. That same huge sword is in St. John's Revelation, used by the rider of the red horse. Such a sword is said to be symbolic of war and violence.
  • While Thor was known for his hammer, his wife, Sif, carried a BFS, being every bit a badass as he was.
  • Muslim esoterica has Zulfiqar, the story of which is rather odd. The historical Zulfiqar was a sword, and a very large one at that, possibly with two points. It was captured in a raid in which both the prophet Muhammad and his younger cousin/foster brother/son-in-law Ali participated; when time came to divide up the booty, Muhammad gave the sword to Ali, and it became an heirloom of Ali's line. This would all be some minor trivia if it weren't for the fact that some Muslims decided that Ali and his line were the rightful successors of Muhammad in his role as political and spiritual leader of the Muslim Ummah (nation); this group became the Shia branch of the faith, and they represent 15-20% of all Muslims today. As a result, the sword has been mythologized substantially among the Shia: rather than being simply two-pointed, Shia legend would have Zulfiqar be more extensively or completely bifurcated, and be so great and imbued with divine power that when used, it requires an angel be around to catch it, for if it fell, it would cleave the Earth in two. Non-Shia Muslims—and a fair number of Shia ulema (clerics/jurists)—think this story is nonsense, but it remains pervasive, and as a result Zulfiqar (and variants) remains a common name among some groups of Shia (particularly the Ismailis of Pakistan, who produced the Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto).
  • The Irish Ulster Cycle has Fergus mac Roiche's greatsword, Caladbolg ("hard sheath"). That thing could dispatch an army with a single stroke. Not that it gets to do so against Conall Cernach's forces, since a peace agreement had been arranged (even if he tore up a lot of his soldiers with Caladbolg at less than full force). Nonetheless, to show that his side won't be taking intrigues lying down, Fergus uses Caladbolg to cut the tops away from three hills, with one stroke each. Because of close cognates in Welsh legends, some scholars believe that the stories of Caladbolg were the template for Excalibur. Maybe that's why Arthur's reign persisted for so long in the stories.

    Podcasts 
  • In the Cool Kids Table game Creepy Town, Walter insists on adding a claymore to the hillbilly torture shack room, regardless of how incongruous that is with the haunted house the teens are trying to set up.
  • Marche naturally gets to wield his Judge Blade when Jory plays as him in Interstitial Actual Play.
    • Inverted with Tagdegx. They wield the Buster Sword, which is huge for them, but their tiny body means it's only about as big as a dagger for everyone else.

    Theatre 
  • The three brothers in Princess Ida carry incredibly large swords in many productions.
    • In Ruddigore Dame Hannah appropriates one when confronting Sir Ruthven.

    Toys 

    Visual Novels 
  • A few appear in Fate/stay night:
    • Assassin in has a nodachi with a blade length of 150cm, or roughly five feet. Not terribly notable except the game specifically points out this is more the length of a lance than a sword and is unrealistically large. The 'actual' Monohoshizao had a more modest 90cm blade. Only Assassin's obscene skill can wield such a long sword, apparently. And it's still only suited for one-on-one dueling, and not for large-scale battle.
    • Berserker's axe-sword, which is a giant hunk of stone that looks somewhere between, well, an axe and a sword. It looks almost normal sized in relation to Berserker, who's about 8 feet tall. However, when Shirou uses it in Heaven's Feel, it's as big as he is. And to top it off he uses it one-handed.
    • Saber surprisingly enough uses a fairly normal sized sword that spends much of its time invisible, but is by far the shortest and smallest Servant, so it looks much larger in her hands. However when she fires off Excalibur it takes the form of a giant sword made of light
    • Expanded universe materials have featured even more of these, especially in the hands of Sabers. Siegfried's Balmung is about as tall as he is, and he's already a giant of a man. The Saber version of Frankenstein carries a ridiculously bulky weapon that seems to weigh more than her. Musashi carries regular ol' katanas, but her Limit Break causes her sword to become about a hundred times her height. And then there's Okita Alter's Purgatory Blade, which is a nodachi around eight feet long, and ends up poking comically far above her model.
  • Yo-Jin-Bo has a giant katana wielded by Ittosai; it's nearly as long as he is tall. Villain Nobumasa has a Big Freakin' Spear as well.
  • In Eien no Aselia, despite the premise of super powered cosmic swords all trying to kill each other, most of them aren't that unrealistically huge. But Karma? It's bigger than the guy wielding and that guy is pretty big.
  • Yumina The Ethereal is full of BFS, but one character can turn herself into a BFS that is capable of destroying anything in a single strike.
  • In Marco and the Galaxy Dragon, Gargouille’s sword Coelacanth has a large blade. Yuuko, meanwhile, wields a nodachi almost as long as she is tall.

    Web Original 
  • These sometimes appear in Survival of the Fittest, where Danya sometimes puts medieval swords on the list of weapons to be assigned. Such swords include a 55-inches-long Claymore, a 6-feet-long Zweihänder, and a Grosse Messer.
  • Kuar in Tech Infantry is only somewhat huge, but a world with werewolves, vampires, and other supernaturally strong characters facing off against supernaturally-tough enemies who may be Immune to Bullets, big honking swords are commonplace.
  • Kings of Power: 4 Billion%: one of the characters has a very prominient BFS.
  • MSF High Forum: Sam wields one of these. A large claymore to be specific. So does Mercurius.
  • During a Champions game, one player claimed that a 40d6 killing attack was not excessive for a photon torpedo because "That's only as much damage as 25 sword hacks." That, combined with a healthy dose of Star Fleet Battles, gave us Buccaneer!, whose sword was so huge it did the equivalent of 25 sword hacks.
  • Black Knight in Marvels RPG sports Excalibur, which on top of being a BFS is also an Absurdly Sharp Blade able to release lightning shocks and instill Primal Fear just by being wielded.
  • The Ask A Ninja Ninja describes something called an "Extremely Extremely Broadsword," which is so big that "it can slice TEXAS in half!" He also notes that there are only a few things in the universe that can even lift it, and since none of them are good guys.
  • Uncommon but still present in RWBY. Yatsuhashi and Sage both wield conventional large swords, and the base form of Qrow's gunscythe is a folding one. Perhaps the most impressive example is the one that belongs to Yang's mother Raven Branwen, which is a nodachi as long as she is tall and has a revolving dust mechanism in the hilt similar to Weiss' rapier (which speaking of wouldn't be a shabby example as it's got to be three feet in length).
    • And in Volume 4 Jaune upgrades his long sword, Crocea Mors, so that it can combine with its sheath to turn into one of these.
  • Dreamscape: The Master of the Dammed's minotaurs carried huge swords.

    Web Video 

    Real Life 
  • Large, two-handed swords have been made and used in a wide variety of cultures throughout history. Some are made purely for ceremonial purposes and are impractical to use, while others are quite serviceable in the type of warfare they were created to be used in.
  • See here for a man using, or rather attempting to use, a real-life replica of Cloud's buster sword that he made himself, which weighs 20.9kg or 46 lbs. As a Cracked article noted, the victor in this case is neither the pallet nor the smith wielding the sword, but rather the laws of gravity and physics which make such a weapon absurd in the first place. It cannot even be properly swung: He has to lift it up and let it drop down on the target under its own weight. At least he deserves major points for effort. He later got a strongman to attempt to swing it, and even he's only able to strike the wooden pallet by letting the blade fall. The original smith revisited the video seven years later.
  • Tony on this episode of Man at Arms also recreated Cloud's Buster Sword, which even when made of aircraft aluminum with a steel cutting edge inserted was guessed to probably weigh 75 or 80 pounds. Tony wrecked his back and arm just from lifting it, and since it was too heavy to swing the only way to cut anything with it was to have two men lift it into place above the target and let it fall down like the blade of a guillotine. Besides this, Tony creates many other huge replica weapons on the show, as do the Stagmer brothers in the Reforged season.
  • Pretty Hate Machining made a 123 lb. Buster Sword out of inch-thick AR500 steel. As seen here, two-time World's Strongest Man finalist Robert Oberst needed help to lift it onto his shoulder, and could only drop it rather than swing it.
  • Practitioners of Baguazhang, a Chinese internal martial art, train with oversized swords to build strength and so on. It's relatively easy to find daos almost five feet long and weighing around 5 lbs. The guy in the bottom pic of the Wikipedia page on Baguazhang is training with an oversized dao that looks like it could give the Buster Sword a run for its money!
  • History tells of a Frisian pirate and rebel by the name of "Grutte Pier" ("Big Pier") who rose to prominence during the early sixteenth century. He was reported to be an enormous man, and strong enough to bend coins one-handed with three fingers. Some sources estimate his height to have been at least seven-feet tall, based around the length of the two swords reported to be his—both seven feet in length. However, these swords reputed to be his were probably ceremonial bearing swords that were incorrectly identified as combat weapons in later times and ascribed to him through romantic speculation. According to legend, Grutte Pier was strong enough to behead multiple men in a single blow. Unfortunately, the sword was proven Awesome, yet Impractical when he drowned after the sheath filled with water.
  • The ōdachi or "great sword" (also known as a nodachi or "field sword") is most easily described as a larger version of the katana or tachi, and was intended to be used by foot soldiers against cavalry. Typical examples were over five feet long, which is longer than the typical Japanese man is tall. However, it's speculated that many or perhaps even most ōdachi were never used in combat. Forging one was proof of a swordsmith's skill, and owning one was a status symbol for a samurai wealthy enough to afford it. However, polearms (such as the naginata) were cheaper to build, easier to train people with, and all-around more useful in the hands of a skilled soldier. There are also styles of using the nodachi in a very aggressive manner to defeat polearms, by essentially advancing toward a foe with polearm and using multiple rapid downward cuts to batter the enemy weapon down and cut the head and shoulders with the sheer weight and momentum of the blade.
  • A specialized version of the ōdachi was known as the zanbatou or "horse-cleaving sword" (derived from the Chinese zhanmadao with the same meaning). It supposedly differed from the ōdachi mainly by having a ricasso approximately 12-18 inches long (similar to the German Zweihänder), allowing it to be used as a short polearm as well as a sword against cavalry. Unlike large nodachi and ōdachi of which we have some surviving examples, it is more doubtful whether the zanbatou ever actually existed or would have been a usable weapon if it did.
  • This mind-bogglingly enormous ōdachi is 377 cm (over 12 feet) long, and is the largest sword of its type known to exist in Japan. However, it was made not for use in battle, but to test a particular forging technique. Other examples, though none of quite that magnitude, can be found on the linked site.
  • When you're trying to arm a giant, sometimes a normal sword just won't do. Peter Francisco (also known as the Virginia Giant or the Virginia Hercules) was well over 6'6" and joined the patriot cause when the Revolutionary War broke out. Since most weapons were designed at at time when the average man was 5'8" George Washington decided to arm the man with a specially made sword that measured 5' long, longer than some of the soldiers in the army were tall. This sword proved useful. At just the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, he killed 11 British solders with it.
  • Civil War officer Heros von Borke was another larger-than-usual man who needed a larger-than-usual sword. An immigrant from Prussia, the 6'4" dragoon officer became a Confederate cavalryman. And he bought his 42" German made Solingen sword to fight with.
  • The Scottish two-handed claymore, while not quite as huge as the Zweihänder and nowhere near as big as fantasy examples, was quite large. They were typically around 140cm of length and weighed less than 6lbs, and are numerous existing examples in museums.
  • A two-handed sword said to have been owned by Scottish hero William Wallace is 5 feet, 4 inches long (163cm), and weights 6 lbs (2.7 kg). However, it is at the very most a composite creation put together long after Wallace's death and may or may not contain any parts of Wallace's real sword.
  • The Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh houses a claymore—admittedly ceremonial—that is at least seven feet (a bit more than two meters) long in total. See for yourself.
  • The German "Zweihänder" was up to 6 feet long, weighing up to 7 lb. (3 kg) and used in both hands, allegedly to break up pike formations. While heavy, it is still agile and flexible if wielded properly. Two-handers are included in the iconic image of the Landsknechts (hired foot soldiers, often not of noble origin). Those who actually used two-handed swords were called "Doppelsöldner" (double mercenary) because they received double pay for their services.
  • Pepin the Short's sword was about 1.83m (little over 6 feet) long. The most remarkable thing is that Pepin himself was 1.37m (under 4 feet and half) tall.
  • The Italian Spadone (sometimes called Spadone a due mani, Great Sword in two hands), and its relative, the Iberian Montante (See a training example here) were very large swords, frequently exceeding five feet in length. The montante was usually used against other weapons, while the Spadone was used in the same fashion, but also used in duels. They averaged 5-6lbs, and were quite maneuverable.
  • The Chinese Dadao isn't especially long (the blade is usually 2-3 feet) but it's very broad and blade-heavy. And in the Second Sino-Japanese War, the dadāo was surprisingly effective against Japanese soldiers in hand-to-hand combat, used by the famous "Big Sword" shock troops. It helped that most of the soldiers who made up Big Sword brigades were ex-warlord mercenaries, who had a lot of experience in furiously hacking other mercenaries to death.
  • The whole premise of the Discovery Channel show, Big Giant Swords. And other giant weapons.

 
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Alternative Title(s): Big Fancy Sword, Big Fucking Sword, Ridiculously Huge Sword, Big Freaking Sword

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Artorias' Greatsword

Great Grey Wolf Sif weilding Artorias' Greatsword.

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