Follow TV Tropes


Blade on a Stick

Go To

"Till, bruised and bitten to the bone
And taught by pain and fear,
He learned to deal the far-off stone,
And poke the long, safe spear."
Rudyard Kipling, "The Benefactors"


A polearm — such as a poleaxe, spear, naginata, or any other weapon that's a long stick with something sharp and metal on one end—is often the province of hapless Mooks: city guardsman, honor guard, angry natives, 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 used to characterize calm and collected individuals, the Lady of War, or The Lancer (in most cases).

Polearms are extremely effective weapons, being among humanity's first inventions. The polearm has killed more people in the history of battle than any other weapon (although explosives are rapidly catching up), and are arguably the easiest one to wield for beginners. They are highly suitable for massed battles, much more so than the sword. This is due to their reach—an advantage either on horseback or on foot, as well as one which makes it possible for multiple ranks or files in formation to offend the enemy at the same time—and the fact that they're more effective at penetrating armor. In medieval combat, the sword was more like a sidearm, while the polearmnote  was used as the main infantry weapon on the battlefield (similar to how modern soldiers use a pistol as a sidearm, but generally some kind of automatic rifle as their primary weapon). The reason you may not have heard of the importance of polearms is that our cultural obsession with swords is at least a thousand years old.


This may be caused by the fact polearms are often Boring, but Practical. Many longer spears — and especially the pike — are not terribly suited for single combat or individual feats of heroism. A long, heavy shaft can be cumbersome, and a thrust can only threaten one opponent at a time, so a pikeman outside of formation is in danger of being outflanked. The stereotype of a polearm being the weapon of choice for stoic, collected individuals such as guardsmen likely comes from the discipline required to maintain formation in face of the apparent overwhelming odds.

In older or more primitive settings, early spears with tips made out of stone, bone, or obsidian will likely be seen in the hands of the Noble Savage. Due to the nature of these settings (where swords haven't yet been invented), the character wielding the spear is much more likely to be The Hero than a mook or supporting character. Primitive shortspears, such as the African Iklwa, evoke similar imagery as swords for the time period, and thus are often wielded in a similar way by The Hero.


When a hero uses a polearm, he'll generally wield it "open-fashion", swinging it around almost like a staff. Glaives and halberds — and even the Chinese spear ("Qiang" in Chinese), with its leaf- or dagger-like blade — are well-suited to it, but all of these are "individualistic" weapons, requiring a lot of space to be employed effectively and needing a lot of conditioning and experience on their wielder's part. Ordinary spears, and pikes as well, are better used in close formations, and can be used well by poorly-trained troops provided they don't break and run, and in the hands of skilled and disciplined troops, make a formation almost unbreakable in a head-on fight.

Spears may also be thrown, even if the weapon in question isn't exactly built for it unless magic is involved, but if this is their primary use, you're more of a Javelin Thrower. The lances of the Dark Ages were designed to be flung as well as couched, and one occasionally hears of lances being thrown as late as the 16th century. Javelins are light spears specifically designed for throwing — which are not very useful at all in hand-to-hand fighting.

Polearms are often preferred by a Lady of War, especially in Japanese media; the naginata was traditionally the weapon of a Yamato Nadeshiko while her samurai husband was away, giving it a "feminine" mystique; this was further amplified by several of those "housewives" becoming nigh-mythical warrior figures themselves. A House Wife in the west is more likely to be shown using a Frying Pan of Doom.

A really successful spear attack — perhaps as a Finishing Move — may leave the victim Impaled with Extreme Prejudice.

A weapon whose use is Truth in Television and truly Older Than Dirt as elaborated on in the Real Life folder, being probably not too far behind in use to humanity first picking up things off the ground to defend themselvesnote  - even in the age of guns, the weapon's concept lives on as the bayonet which is still taught to modern armies, even if only as a training aid for symbolizing and evoking aggression for new recruits with little expectation to actually use it in combat.

See also Harpoon Gun, X on a Stick, Boom Stick, Prongs of Poseidon, Devil's Pitchfork, Javelin Thrower, Jousting Lance and Telephone Polearm, for the giant-bladeless-stick version.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • In Annihilators, Ikon the Spaceknight wields a halberd that can discharge blasts of purple energy.
  • Aquaman:
    • Aquaman wields the Trident of Neptune, an ancient relic made by the first king of Atlantis. It allows him to command the sea, control weather, shoot energy blasts, and set up forcefields. The trident is also indestructible, and has even wounded Darkseid, who is virtually a god.
    • Aquaman's nemesis and half-brother, Ocean Master, gets a trident which boosts his already-impressive magic capabilities. It's given to him by the demon Neron, in exchange for his soul.
  • ElfQuest:
    • Unsurprisingly given the stone age setting of at least the classic series and the fact that they make good hunting weapons when you're not fighting anything else, spears see quite a bit of use.
    • One issue of Hidden Years deals with young chief Ember set on learning how to fight with a sword, like her father, until Redlance points out that that she has more talent when it comes to handling a spear and that, yes, a spear is a chief's weapon, too, citing among other examples Two-Spear. He goes on to train her, soon after drawing a comment from Pike that she was already better than himself.
    • When Rayek fights with a weapon it's with either a hunting spear or a dagger.
  • The original Grendel, Hunter Rose, fought with an edged weapon of his own design called the 'Devil's Fork', which most resembled a short-staffed naginata with two parallel blades, which could be briefly electrified to do extra damage. Christine Spar used Rose's weapon and costume (stolen from a museum) when she became the second Grendel, and Eppy Thatcher (the fourth primary Grendel) wielded a similar fork, additionally mounting remote controls for his high-tech accoutrements, generations later.
  • As Red Robin, Tim Drake added a retractable blade he can use in a desperate situation, like against the nigh invulnerable Goliath, to his Telescoping Staff.
  • The title heroine of Shi is descended from a long line of Kyoto sohei, and often uses the naginata, their favoured weapon.
  • In Sin City, an assassin named Mariah has a collapsible staff with twin prongs.
  • Shaolin Cowboy: In one issue, the main character attached a chainsaw to the end of a stick to create a polearm. He used this polearm to fight against a shark which held a head in its mouth. The head held a knife between its teeth.
  • Superman:
  • The Mighty Thor: Odin owns Gungnir, a mighty magical spear with which he channels his Odinforce powers. It's made out of the same starmetal as Mjölnir, Thor's hammer.
  • The Transformers: Combiner Wars: Afterburner and the Camien Security Force all wield giant spears as their primary weapons. Camien Society feels projectiles are wasteful, so melee weapons are the norm. In The Transformers: Windblade Chromia's primary weapon was a pole-axe, but as she was a Combat Pragmatist she switched over to using a gun quickly.
  • In Usagi Yojimbo, one of Usagi's most feared recurring enemies was Jei, a possessed monk who was extremely deadly with a spear. Several other bounty hunters, assassins, etc. have also carried Japanese-style spears. Although Usagi ordinarily just carries his swords, he uses a spear when one is available - particularly against horsemen.
  • In The Warlord, Nubile Savage Shakira wields a spear as her weapon of choice.
  • Wonder Woman foe Gundra possesses a magic lance that can kill with a touch.
  • Toyota from Y: The Last Man dual wields naginatas, which eventually ends up backfiring against her when the Action Girl defender (who was tied up at the time) gets a chance to swipe one and face her off in a duel.

    Comic Strips 
  • Axa: Matt has a bayonet tied to one end of a staff. He uses it in strip #14 to kill a giant spider poised to devour Axa. He then uses it to cut away the webbing that held Axa in place in strip #15, which gives a decent view of this makeshift weapon.

    Fairy Tales 

    Fan Works 
  • A Crown of Stars: Empress Rayana is seen brandishing a naginata in a piece of fanart. She seldom uses it, though, since she is a very powerful sorcerer.
  • In Enemy of My Enemy, the Sangheili/Elite Rukth Kilkaree fashions himself a staff with bladed tips. He's extremely lethal with it.
  • Fate/Starry Night: In addition to being the weapon of choice for Lancers like Scáthach, Ritsuka uses a spear made by Proto Cú Chulainn to protect himself against a swarm of bladed wing worms along with Jack.
  • In Imaginary Seas, both Percy and Caenis have been given Poseidon's trident and thus access to his Authorities over earth and sea through his favor for them, Percy for being his favorite son and Caenis as an apology for raping her. This is also why Percy qualifies for Lancer, though he'd almost certainly kill his Master from sheer mana consumption before he got to do anything if he were summoned like this.
  • In Inverted Fate, Undyne still uses spears regularly, including several new types, despite the fact as the Royal Scientist she has created various weaponry to use against Frisk.
  • My Little Mages: The Nightmare's Return: Nightmare Moon's weapon of choice is a double-tipped spear.
  • The Night Unfurls: While spears and other polearms are commonplace weapons used in many armies, one of the notable users of such is Lily, who wields the Church Pick to replace her Saw Spear after her training.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Apotheosis Echo: Daniel Theisman's signature weapon is a crystalline swordspear reminiscent of his time spent in the world of Dark Souls.
  • In The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World, one of the many, many ways that C'hou is different than before is that the guards on the wall of the city of Tevri'ed wield pikes.
  • Rise of the Minisukas: All Minisukas are armed with miniature copies of the Lance of Longinus.
  • Robb Returns: Otherbane, the ancient spear of the Gardener Kings, found in Horn Hill's (House Tarly's keep) armory, is just one of the many ancestral weapons being rediscovered over the story.
  • In Under the Northern Lights most reindeer who travel during the winter do so on skis, and use a single ski-staff which has a spearpoint (used for Mundane Utility as well as stabbing enemies or monsters). The legendary hero Sampo is said to have owned a magical spear. The informed opinion is that he must have owned a spear, since he was a reindeer warrior-noble, and as such he might have had it enchanted, but nothing is known. The Kings of Tarandroland carry a spear that is said to be Sampo's spear, but is a modern replica. It is enchanted, but mostly with a bunch of redundant magical attacks that are described as less than useful.
  • Vow of Nudity: Haara's weapon of choice, albeit with the "blade" being the sharpened end of the stick.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Kick-Ass: One of the many weapons that Hit-Girl is shown to be proficient with is what appears to be a double-ended glaive.
  • In The Hidden Fortress there is an extensive spear duel between Makabe and Hyoe.
  • Daphne in The Gamers: Dorkness Rising wields a spear.
  • Hellboy:
    • In Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Prince Nuada Silverlance has two weapons: a curved short sword, and a namesake spear that can alternate between a compact length of a shortsword and a full length of nearly his height. The spear's regenerating tip is detachable when struck at a living target and will attempt to burrow deeper if removal is attempted. In addition to this, Nuada's spear is capable of inflicting lethal wounds on immortal creatures.
    • In Hellboy (2019), the Osiris Club wields massive, electrified spears as their weapon of choice for hunting giants. They also use them to literally stab Hellboy in the back, but when the actual giants crash the party, the spears don't do the humans any good and they're quickly slaughtered.
  • The Lost Bladesman, based on the life of Guan Yu, inevitably features Guan's iconic weapon, the Green Dragon Sabre, which he uses to cleave his way through hordes and hordes of mooks in numerous battle scenes.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Thor, Odin's spear Gungnir is the symbol of Asgardian kingship and is an appropriately-formidable weapon, being able to fire incredibly powerful blasts of golden energy as well as shrugging off hits from Mjolnir, itself being described as having no equal.
      • When Odin falls into an extended Odinsleep, Gungnir is passed unto Loki, as Thor had been banished to Earth. Later, Loki uses the spear to vaporize the frost giant king Lauffey, whom he double-crosses after having allowed him passage into Asgard.
      • Lady Sif also fights with a double-sided glaive.
      • In Thor: The Dark World, Odin's father King Bor uses Gungnir in battle against the Dark Elves millennia before the present age.
      • In Thor: Ragnarok, after Odin's death and the destruction of Thor's hammer Mjolnir at Hela's hand, Thor wields Gungnir briefly when he goes toe-to-toe with Hela at the film's climax.
    • In The Avengers (2012), Loki gets one from the Chitauri. But it has other powers besides stabbing, such as shooting energy bolts and mind control.
  • In Musa The Warrior, the reticent slave Yeo-sol turns out to be a master with a polearm, which he tends to swing in whirling arcs to hack off limbs and heads.
  • Troy shows use of spears as a very useful weapon, particularly in Achilles's duel with Hector.
  • Hero (2002): Long Sky uses a spear with a rather flexible metal pole in his duel with Nameless.
  • "Some folks call it a Sling Blade. I call it a kaiser blade. It's kindly a long, wood handle, kind of like an axe handle. With a long blade on it shaped kinda like a bananer. Mhm. Sharp on one edge, and dull on the other. Mhm. It's what the highway boys use to cut down weeds and whatnot."
  • Shaw Brothers examples:
    • The five titular heroes from Brothers Five all use varying types of weapons, but they are no match and have to band their powers together to defeat the film's ultimate Big Bad, whose weapon is a gigantic halberd named the Green Dragon Spear.
    • The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter: All the Yang Brothers use gigantic spears with ornate shafts to battle the Mongols in the film's opening sequence, although after Ng-long, the fifth brother, ends up as the Sole Survivor of the Downer Beginning, he forfeits his spear for a Martial Arts Staff instead.
    • Spears, pikes, halberds and the ever-iconic giant guandao are prominently featured in the final battle of Legendary Weapons of China, where all 18 of the titular weapons do indeed show up.
    • The Protectors has a prominent villain named "The Spear Prince". No points for guessing what kind of weapon he uses. His spear's absolutely massive shaft can also extenbd itself by a few feet when he triggers a switch on it's side, allowing him to execute sneak attacks.
    • Pursuit: Protagonist Lin-chung uses a silver spear with a massive shaft, while his friend Lu the Flower Monk uses an absolutely humungous two-headed halberd that slices mooks into shreds.
    • Chang Cheh's opus, The Shaolin Temple (1976), have the Abbot Hui Xian using a guandao in the final battle... to ambush and kill several Shaolin monks. Turns out that he's a villain and a member of Les Collaborateurs.
    • Five Shaolin Masters has this occuring between The Lancer and The Dragon; their duel starts with axes, and then flails, but when the dragon had both his weapons wrecked, he then grabs a long fishing pole, jams his ax-head on its tip, and turns it into an odd-looking impromptu spear.
    • The main villain of The Kung Fu Instructor uses a halberd as his preferred weapon, compared to his mooks who use swords or pikes.
    • Yueh Hua reprises his role as Lin-chung in the follow up movie, The Water Margin, where he had an extended spear duel with a Mook Lieutenant. Most Elite Mooks of the film use different kinds of spears as well.
    • The Heroic Ones: The 13 princes all uses silver-tipped spears in combat, with the hero, Li Chun-hsiao, using a double-sided spear. On the villain side, they have the bladesmen platoon, a group of 20 Elite Mooks who use gigantic halberds, but they all fall under Li's twin spear after a lengthy duel.
    • Vengeful Beauty: The titular beauty's preferred weapon is a small halberd with a fine, long blade at it's tip, which can be folded into three segments for compact purposes.
    • The second film from the Na Cha duology ends with a spectacular weapon duel between Na Cha, armed with his trusty Firetip Spear, and the villain Aoguang, wielding a massive halberd. Both combatants happens to be flying at the time of battle, by the way.
    • Flag of Iron: Spears, halberds and pikes of all sizes shows up throughout the entirety of the film, mostly being wielded by the heroes. There's good reason why it's foreign title is Spearman of Death, you know...
    • Master Gu, the deuteragonist of Rendezvous With Death, at first uses a metal staff in combat, but later reveals he have a triple-headed spear that he can attach to the staff, at which point he begin effortlessly killing mooks.
    • Hsiao the Wolf from Swordsman And Enchantress uses a massive spear made of black ebony as his weapon, whose blade is strong enough to cut through a stone wall. Although his spear ends up being hacked into half near the finale — at which point Hsiao reveals the spear's midsection is actually hollow, containing a hidden sword which he then switched to using for the ending battle.
  • Most, if not all, of the Spartans in 300. Those that didn't use swords about halfway through, that is.
  • Red Cliff: The spear is the preferred weapon of Zhao zi-long while fending off enemy soldiers, notably in the scene when he's rescuing Liu Bei's infant son, carrying the baby on his back while threshing his spear into waves and waves of mooks. The very same scene (battling scores of mooks with a spear while carrying a baby) is also a setpiece in another Three Kingdoms-era film released in the same year, Three Kingdoms: Resurrection Of The Dragon.
  • The killer's main weapon in Don't Go in the Woods is homemade spear with a machete-like blade.
  • Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings:
    • Aiglos, the spear of the Elven king Gil-galad, is inscribed with an elvish poem that boils down to: "This is Gil-galad, and he is kicking your ass."
    • The Rohirrim, who excel using spears in mounted combat.
  • Zulus versus Welsh in Zulu. Zulus used short stabbing Assegai which were their National Weapon. Welsh used the European variant.
  • Jill Valentine uses some kind of double-edged staff with retractable blades in Resident Evil: Retribution.
  • The Shredder in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) wields one in the final showdown with devastating efficiency.
  • In The Dead Lands, the inexperienced teenager Hongi arms himself with a spear.
  • Masked Avengers: The Masked Gang's standard weapon for Mooks is a trident.
  • In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Batman creates a spear with a Kryptonite blade to kill Superman with. It's later used by Superman to kill Doomsday.

  • Several examples in the Fighting Fantasy series:
    • Caverns of the Snow Witch: you can recover a spear from a hidden weapon stash, which you can use as a javelin to fight a Yeti later on.
    • Talisman of Death: You must obtain the Dragonslayer spear (described as a weapon with an ebony shaft and ivory tip) to defeat the final boss, a Red Dragon proud of tricks.
    • Beneath Nightmare Castle allows you to find the two halves (spearpoint and shaft) of the Trident of Skarlos, a blue dwarven trident (hence small enough to be held in one hand) which was made to slay undead and sorcerous creatures.
    • The Keep of the Lich-Lord has the magical Spear of Qadarnai, an ivory elven spear which does wonders against the Undead and was used to kill Lord Mortis, the titular Big Bad. You can recover it pretty soon and can use it to slay him for good.
    • Legend of the Shadow Warriors: midway through the quest, you're bestowed the Spear of Doom from the Horned God, it's a magical weapon which can heal you. You must use its healing powers to defeat the Final Boss.
    • Knights of Doom: You can choose both the spear or the lance as a secondary weapon of choice: the latter is a Knightly Lance useful for a though middle-book encounter with a mounted Chaos Lancer, while you get an Infinity +1 Sword in the form of a magic spear you must use to deal the finishing blow to the Big Bad Belgaroth.
    • In The Riddling Reaver it is stated that your characters may use a spear as their weapon of choice: unlike the sword or the mace, the spear has a chance of dealing only 1 point of damage instead of the usual 2 on a low roll, but can do 3 damage on a high roll, just like the axe.
  • GrailQuest, in the second book you can buy a spear as a secondary weapon (or as your weapon if you're unable to carry over Excalibur Jr). It's the most expansive weapon, but also the strongest, dealing as much bonus damage as Excalibur Jr. In the fourth book, set in Ancient Greece, you can find an armory where you can choose a spear as your weapon of choice: in melee, it hits with a 6 or more and deals 5 damage, but forces you to skip a turn, enabling the enemy to attack you twice, and you can also toss it (hits with 8 or more, but deals 10 bonus damage and leaves you unarmed for 3 turns).
  • Lone Wolf: During the course of the second book, Lone Wolf can get ahold of a magical spear before he finds the Sommerswerd. The possess of this weapons saves his life from an unescapable ambush from a Helghast.

  • The Adventures of Strong Vanya: The main character is armed with the Ironwood Lance, whose tip can shatter any weapon or shield upon contact.
  • Agincourt: The hero is an archer, but the knight whose company he joins to go off to the war cross-trains every one of his archers to use the poleaxe.
  • From Beowulf:
    Lo,praise of the prowess of people-kings
    of spear-armed Danes, in days long sped,
    we have heard, and what honor the athelings won!
  • It's mentioned in Terry Pratchett's The Carpet People of how a kitchen knife tied to the end of a pole is a popular makeshift weapon among impromptu civilian fighters.
  • A type of weapon exists in Chaos Fighters, but they tend to be at both ends of the stick.
  • In Elemental, spears are the weapon of choice for Mooks, but are also wielded by the fire Elemental, who serves as the resident Big Bad. Another interesting use of this trope is with Corah, who carries a scythe.
  • The Grey Angels of The Dinosaur Lords have as their signature weapon the soul reaper, which looks like a metre-and-a-half-long glaive blade on a metre-long stick.
  • A pike is the favoured weapon of Sergeant Colon in Discworld, as explained in Men at Arms: "The thing about a pike, the important thing, was that everything happened at the other end of it, i.e. a long way off."
  • In the Dragonlance novel Sellsword, the gnome Theodenes has a multi-purpose polearm... that can switch from one polearm to another and another and another.
  • In The Dreamside Road, over half of Kol Maros’ Liberty Corps shock forces are made up of spearmen. Ammunition is hard to come by after destabilization.
  • In David Eddings's series The Elenium and The Tamuli, the character Bevier uses a lochaber axe, which is constantly commented on as being a particularly nasty weapon. The fact that Bevier is the most pious and good-hearted of all the knights isn't lost on anyone either.
  • Fengshen Yanyi has several examples:
    • The fangtianji (Squared Heaven Halbeard), a long spear with a crescent blade attached to the side, like an axe on a western halberd, is used by several characters, such as Sun Quanzhong, Li Jing, one of the Mo Brothers and Prince Yin Hong, Crown Prince Yin Jiao and many other generals.
    • Spear users include the defiant Marquis Su Hu (whose lance is called "Fire Dragon Lance") and many other generals and warriors, such as Huang Feihu, Nangong Kuo and Deng Jiugong. Paopei spears do exist, two notable examples being Nezha's Fire-Tipped Lance and Yang Ren's Flying Lightning Spear.
    • The dao (glaive) weapon is seen used by a handful of characters, such as Hong Jin (wields a weapon called "Crescent Moon Glaive"), Yang Jiang/Erlang (the "Three-Pointed, Double-Edged Glaive, a bladed trident) and possibly King Zhou himself, who wields one described as the "General-beheading Sword" (as the term Dadao, great saber, can refer to both large curved swords and glaive-like polearms).
    • halfway through the book, Huang Feihu encounters three neutral warriors who eventually decide to join him on the battlefield: the first wields a several feet long trident, the second wields an eight-faced bronze hammer with a very long handle and the last one wields a silvery polearm with a set of five sharp claws on the head, like a rake.
  • The Hunger Games: Marvel's preferred weapon is a spear.
  • The Icelandic Sagas contain many references to warriors fighting with the atgeir (especially Gunnar Hámundarson from Njal's Saga) which definitely seems to have been some kind of polearm. Its precise nature is uncertain, although many English translations traditionally render it as "halberd".
  • Just about everyone in The Iliad uses a spear. The most badass example would be Ajax, who at one point protects the Greek ships from the incoming Trojans Dual Wielding two big-ass spears to keep them away. The Hero himself, Achilles, likewise wields a gigantic spear inherited from his father that no one else is capable of using.
  • In Journey to the West, many demons use spears or polearms as their weapon. Justified since it's set in ancient China, where polearms were used in martial arts. Most notable users include Erlang with his trident (who actually managed to defeat Sun Wukong), the Black Wind Demon (a black tasseled spear) and the Nine-Headed monster (either some sort of ankus or a guan dao).
  • Legacy of the Aldenata: The halberds used by the Swiss Guard, in The Tuloriad.
  • The Lord of the Rings gave mention to Aeglos/Aiglos, the spear of King Gil-galad. He fared about as well as the sword-wielding Elendil when they faced off against Sauron, which is quite well actually. It's only in the movie that they get rather unceremoniously killed. In the book, Gil-Galad and Elendil overthrew Sauron before dying themselves in a Heroic Sacrifice — Isildur just looted the body.
  • Martín Fierro: This is a Narrative Poem that narrates the war between Argentian Indians and Gauchos trying to Settling the Frontier.
  • The Mummy Monster Game: In book 1, during the challenge for the second arm of Osiris, the pharaoh Rameses is equipped with a spear as one of his three weapons. Later, during the final challenge, the player is given one as one of their three weapons for use against the three pieces of the monster Ammit, and it's used to destroy the first piece — the hindquarters of a hippopotamus.
  • In John Milton's Paradise Lost, Ithuriel is armed with a spear when he finds Satan. Being of "Celestial temper", its touch is enough to return him to his own shape.
  • Lady Cregga Rose Eyes of the Redwall book The Long Patrol carries an axepike, which is a pike with an axeblade at the top.
    • Otters carry javelins, which they use in close combat as often as they throw them.
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms: Spears and polearms of every sort were used by quite a number of characters. Perhaps the most iconic would be Guan Yu's (possibly anachronistic) guandao, a huge glaive-like polearm. Another famous one is Lu Bu, usually depicted with a fangtianji.
    • Bonus points for Guan Yu's weapon being granted the name Green Dragon Crescent Blade.
  • RWBY: Fairy Tales of Remnant: In The Warrior in the Woods, the Warrior first saves the hero from the Boarbatusk using a billhook that's attached to the end of a staff. She can fight with it in a variety of ways, from spinning the staff to using it to pole vault over the Boarbatusk and then use its reach to slice the creature while in mid-air. With every new appearance, the handle gets broken and worn down until she's left with only the blade itself.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Prince Oberyn Martell, the Red Viper of Dorne, uses a poisoned 8-foot spear during his duel with Gregor Clegane, "The Mountain that Rides", primarily as a way to counter The Mountain's long reach (Gregor uses a 6-foot long greatsword in one hand) and also because it's the signature weapons of Dornish warriors.
  • Jon-Tom's ramwood staff in Spellsinger has a long concealed blade in one end that turns it into a spear he learns to use quite effectively.
  • The Stormlight Archive:
    • The spear is the standard weapon of common darkeyed soldiers; swords are reserved for the lighteyed upper class. Particularly of note is Kaladin, who is so incredibly skilled with a spear that he managed to kill a guy who had one of the setting's resident big insanely sharp instant death blades, and Magitek Powered Armor.
    • And in the second book, Words of Radiance, his spren, Sylphrena, turns out to be an Equippable Ally, turning into quite possibly the first ever Shardspear.
  • In the Time Scout novel Wagers of Sin, Skeeter wields one of these as his final weapon in the Arena.
  • Tortall Universe:
    • Kel, from Protector of the Small, uses a glaive note  as one of her main weapons. Kel's bigoted training master wouldn't let her use it but her more liberal knight master did; the children who looked up to her asked her to train them to use one. Interestingly enough, people's acceptance of her weapon seems to represent their acceptance of her.
    • In the Trickster's Duet we're introduced to what is probably the most fantastical weapon in Pierce's books. As a raka freedom fighter and spy, Junai has to be more covert; therefore, Junai's "staff" sprouts foot-long blades at both ends when she twists the grip.
  • The Red Knight of The Traitor Son Cycle is gifted a ghiavarina (heavy spear) with an Absurdly Sharp Blade at the end of the first book, and it becomes his main weapon for the rest of the series.
  • Trapped on Draconica: Kalak and the other leondians wields halberds because he's from a nation of infantry.
  • In Tunnel in the Sky, Rod makes the colony's first spear by lashing his Bowie knife to a wooden shaft, literally making a blade on a stick.
  • Warhammer 40,000 loves polearms, and they feature in the game itself and related fluff no rarer than the ubiquitous chainswords. Of course, the lot of those spears are chainsaw too...
    • In William King's Space Wolf novels, the Spear of Russ, the ancient weapon of the Space Wolves' primarch. Prophecy says that when he returns, he will take it up to fight. Which causes real problems when Ragnor loses it, fighting against a revived Magnus the Red, their ancient enemy.
    • The funny thing is that, according to the Thirteenth Company, whom "modern" Wolves encountered during the recent Dark Crusade, Russ (who is, apparently, still alive and kicking ass in the Eye of Terror) doesn't put any real significance to the spear in question, and is greatly amused by the reverence Wolves gives to this ordinary (to him, at least) weapon. He only kept it around at all because it was a present from his father; he actually lost the thing several times himself, mostly when drunk.
    • In James Swallow's Blood Angels novel Deus Encarmine, the Spear of Telesto. Touching it briefly gives Arkio the appearance of their primarch Sanguinius, and he slowly develops with it into a glowing manifestation. One of its virtues is that it unleashes fire that does not harm Blood Angels, which is handy for the other side, when Arkio is fighting one in single combat.
    • Characters in the Grey Knights series have the halberd-shaped Nemesis force weapons as their standard issue melee implement. There are customised Nemeses, like force swords and force hammers both in the game and in the fluff like Ben Counter's novels, but it was the force halberd that is usually associated with them.
    • The archetypical weapon of the Adeptus Custodes, the setting's other brand of Super Soldier, are Guardian Spears, huge halberds with built-in rifles. In Watchers of the Throne, shield-captain Valerian wields one of these, a masterwork weapon called Gnosis.
  • The Wheel of Time:
    • Mat Cauthon, as part of his role as the inspiration for our tales of Odin, has his interestingly acquired ashandarei, which he naturally uses to kick ass and take names.
    • The Aiel from the same book wield spears with deadly skill... short spears, which are a bit too short for this trope, but still of a length with most swords and balanced for throwing.
  • In World War Z, Maori warriors are mentioned using their indigenous weapons, staffs with crescent blades on top, to great effect against the zombie hordes.
  • In Worm, a halberd is the signature weapon of Armsmaster.
  • Young Wizards: Ronan got a huge, glowing, magical, elemental spear forged by the Irish gods, from iron drawn directly from the heart of the sun, in A Wizard Abroad. Granted, it almost cost him his sanity to decide to finally use it.
  • Like much else from the books, it's generally been lost in the movie/TV/everything else adaptations, but Tarzan is an expert spear wielder and thrower. In each of the first two books, he uses one to save his cousin's life.

    Live-Action TV 
  • American Gods:
    • Odin's legendary spear Gungnir appears in the second season. Mr. Wednesday acquires the spear, but the shaft is broken due to a past conflict between Odin and Thor that ended when Thor broke the shaft with a strike from his hammer Mjolnir, and the blade has a major case of Excalibur in the Rust due to time and disuse. Mr. Wednesday and Shadow have to spend a good chunk of the season getting the weapon restored only to lose it in the last episode of the season thanks to Mad Sweeney.
    • One version of Mad Sweeney's backstory is that he was an Irish God King who was incredibly skilled with a spear. One of his nicknames at the time was "long handed", presumably because he wielded a spear as if it was a part of his own body.
  • On Chicago Fire the firefighters are called in to put out a fire at a prison and end up locked in with a group of violent prisoners who attack them. The firefighters hold off the prisoners using their fire fighting equipment including a pike pole which is essentially a spear with a hook attached.
  • Doctor Who: Some of the members of the Sisterhood of Karn carry what look like naginata.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • The climax of Season 4's "The Mountain and the Viper" has Oberyn Martell armed with a poisoned spear taking on Gregor Clegane armed with a BFS. He gets the better of the fight... until he gets overconfident. This trope form half of his House sigil along with The Power of the Sun.
    • Grey Worm, and the Unsullied in general, can kick some serious ass with their spears and phalanx formations.
    • Doran Martell's immense personal guardsman Areo Hotah wields an opulently bejeweled glaive.
  • Highlander: Duncan beheads Kern using what the CCG calls a broad-bladed spear, using the weapon for sentimental reasons. It appears to have a heavier and longer blade than a normal spear, and he has to do a complicated wind-up and spinning swing to decapitate Kern with it.
  • Several Riders in Kamen Rider use this type of weapon.
    • Kamen Rider Kuuga uses one of these in his Rising Dragon form, it being an upgrade to the Telescoping Staff he uses in his normal Dragon form.
    • Kamen Rider Agito uses a double bladed staff in his Storm Form.
    • Kamen Rider Leangle from Kamen Rider Blade uses a spear. Since each Rider in this series stands for a suit of playing cards, the blade on his spear deploys into a club symbol. Kamen Rider Lance, featured in The Movie, uses a regular shaped spear.
    • Kamen Rider Den-O: This is the preferred weapon of Urataros. When he fights on his own, he uses a double bladed stick. When he posesses Ryotaro and transforms into Den O Rod Form, the Dengasher turns into a spear that also functions as a rod. When Ryotaros son Kotaro gets possessed by Deneb, his New Den O suit uses a naginata, which resembles the aforementioned spear used by Den O in Rod form, albeit with a green tip.
    • Several characters in Kamen Rider Gaim use this type of weapon. The first is Kamen Rider Kurokage whose weapon looks like a simple spear with a pinecone motif. Another notable user of a Blade on a Stick is Redyue, one of the Inves Overlords. Her weapon resembles a green halberd with two Helheim fruits hanging from it. She can use this weapon to control Helheim plants. The same weapon is later summoned by Kamen Rider Ryugen, who uses a Deadly Upgrade that allows him to summon the weapons of the Inves Overlords. In The Movie, Kamen Rider Kamuro uses a spear with an ornate crest on its tip.
    • Kamen Rider Zi-O: Kamen Rider Woz uses a weapon that's able to transform from a Blade on a Stick to a Sinister Scythe to a Hook On A Stick.
  • Subverted in Legends of Tomorrow. While Season 2's Plot Coupon is The Spear of Destiny, it never gets used as an actual spear against someone (though it is used like a bat at one point). Presumably because it can be used to rewrite reality, and why stab someone when you can just erase them from existence? After its depowered, the Reverse Flash threatens to stab Sara with it, but gets killed by the Black-Flash before he can.
  • In Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, Jafar's Serpent Staff is not only a magic item, but is also tipped with a blade, which he uses to kill Grendel.
  • Spartacus: Blood and Sand The gladiator fighting style hoplomachus included a spear and a dagger. The length of the spear gave them a great advantage at a distance, but was obviously unwieldy in close quarters (hence the dagger). Barca and Auctus fought in this style to great effect. Nasir, though not a gladiator, also wielded a spear when he joined the rebellion.
  • The Jem'Hadar from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine have the kar'takin polearm, which is essentially an alien halberd with a point at the end to allow for both hacking and stabbing. A few Starfleet and Klingon characters get their hands on them in a few episodes as well.
  • Practically too many Super Sentai members and Power Rangers to mention.
  • The Mandalorian Din Djarin, is given a beskar spear by former Jedi Ahsoka Tano. He uses it to defeat a Dark Trooper and the evil Moff Gideon, while the latter is wielding the Darksaber.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Norse Mythology deity Odin owned the spear Gungnir. Gungnir was created by the Dwarves and obtained from them by the deity Loki. It had runes carved on its tip: its balance was so perfect that it could strike any target, even if its wielder was weak or not proficient in its use.
  • The Celtic Mythology hero Cuchulain was given the spear Gae Bolg by his combat instructor, the warrior woman Scáthach, who also taught him him to use it. When it pierced an opponent its barbs opened up inside, killing the victim. It could only be removed by cutting it out of the corpse.
  • Classical Mythology: Poseidon, the deity of the ocean, had a trident that was made by the Cyclops. If he struck the ground with it it could create a spring of salty water or cause shipwrecks, earthquakes, or drownings.
  • Hindu Mythology:
    • Shiva wields a Trishula, a trident; and was said to have used it to sever Ganesha's original head.
    • Durga is also said to have used one. As a standalone item it carries Rule of Three symbolisms. Like creation, maintenance destruction; past, present, or future; etc.
    • The war god Kartikeya (also known as Murugan), son of Shiva, owns the divine spear Vel.
  • Slovak folk hero Juraj Jánošík is usually depicted wielding a valaška, a Slavic axe on a walking stick.
  • In Japanese Mythology, is said that Izanagi and Izanami pulled Japan and the other isles and continents out of the water using the Ame no Nuhoko (Heavenly Swamp Pike or Heavenly Jeweled Pike). After the creation of the world, however, the whereabouts of the spear are unknown.
  • In The Bible:
    • A plague began (during the 40 years of wandering, still) when people of the children of Israel were lured away to Moabite gods. One man, Zimri, even brought one of the women back to show her off. Phineas, however, took a javelin, went after them, and thrust it through both of them, killing them and stopping the plague.
    • Joshua used a spear in his attack on Ai (the attack that worked).
    • Goliath had a spear whose staff part was like a weaver's beam, and the iron spearhead weighed 600 shekels (possibly 15 pounds).
    • Once, while Saul was looking for David, he and his men made camp. While they slept, David and Abishai snuck into camp. Abishai offered to kill Saul, but David said no, just take his spear and water jug from beside his head, and let's go. So that's what they did, and they took it and called to the camp, and let the king know that he could have killed Saul, but did not. King Saul is several times described as having a spear by his side, possibly at all times. Even at dinner with family and friends during a festival - when he threw it at his own son for siding with David (the second time he was going to kill his own son), he tried to kill David with his spear when David was in the throne room playing music on the harp to help Saul's affliction and ended up sticking it in the wall as David got away, he held a meeting with all his officials (and his spear) by his side under the tamarisk tree on the hill at Gibeah when he decided to kill the priests of God at the town of Nob for helping David. He eventually was buried under a tamarisk tree with a spear planted in the ground at the head of his grave. Old King Saul definitely had a thing for spears, spears and tamarisk trees and evil.
    • After Abner anointed Saul's son Ishbosheth king rather than acknowledge David's kingship, there was a battle at Gibeon. Abner ran off, but Asahel ran after him. When Asahel wouldn't stop following, Abner struck him with the blunt end of the spear, so that it came out the back.
    • One of the giant's sons, Ishbi-Benob, thought he could kill David with a 7-1/2 lb. bronze spear. And David was faint at the time, so maybe he could've had not Abishai intervened and killed Ishbi-Benob first.
    • Among other things, Benaiah wrested a spear out of the hands of an Egyptian and killed him with it.
    • The Four Gospels: Perhaps the most famous spear in the New Testament, if not the whole Bible, is The Spear of Destiny. This was thrust into Jesus's side after he died, causing blood to come out. It left a mark which, after he came back to life, he showed to the disciples. According to tradition, the blood running down the spear touched the partially-sighted eyes of its wielder, the legionary Longinus, and cured his sight; he became a Christian as a result of this, and the spear is also called the Lance of Longinus. It is said that whoever owns this "Spear of Destiny" will rule the world.

  • One of the witches in Seawitch enters the battle with a shield and a polearm.
  • The clockwork Minotaur golem in Sinbad wields a long halberd.

  • Janus from the Cool Kids Table game Small Magic can fight with a polearm, though he prefers using his fists.

  • In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, Harriet's superpower allows her telekinetic control over a crude-looking spear called Severance. She can control it to slash or ram into opponents, or she can instead inflict illusions or Sensory Abuse by having Severance cut them.
  • Both Lancers from Fate/Nuovo Guerra, naturally. One of them is somewhere between this and a Sinister Scythe, though.
  • Polearms are occasionally assigned in Survival of the Fittest, and when a character needs an Improvised Weapon they usually either make a shiv or a spear from available materials. Examples of characters who made spears include Niniko Kishinawa and Daniel Brent.
  • Kytheus Rhavenfell, the PC and protagonist of There is no GATE; we did not fight there, takes after his father in wielding spears in battle. He also wields Skyfall, a glaive forged by a a dwarven Master Fuser Smith out of a lightning-blackened piece of the Cloudpeak Ironwood Heart, complete with a twisted piece of Tyrant horn.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons had a comically large assortment of available polearms, including the glaive, the guisarme, the glaive-guisarme, the glaive-voulge, the guisarme-voulge, and the Bohemian Ear-Spoon. This has spawned numerous parodies.
    • Fortunately, they cut things down to a more manageable list in 3rd edition (along with the other swords, axes, and other antisocial devices). One of its Sourcebooks explicitly stated the intent to avoid making stats for weapons that are fundamentally similar. So far, this is carried over to 4th as well.
    • The lance in particular is the best melee weapon to use on an aerial mount. Dragonlance is named for a group of artifact weapons that are powerful against dragons and that can be wielded from dragonback.
    • One of the best examples of a polearm wielder in D&D lore is Gruumsh One-Eye, god of orcs and savagery, wields a great iron spear as his primary weapon.
    • In the 1st Edition Deities and Demigods Cyclopedia.
      • Norse Mythology deity Odin. His spear Gungnir is a plus 5 weapon, can point to the strongest opponent in a group of enemies, and when he holds it aloft all enemies within twenty yards are affected as if seeing a Symbol of fear. Anyone allowed to touch it gains the protection of a double strength Prayer spell. Any opponent who does so will either be polymorphed into an ant or lose 50% of their original Hit Points.
      • Celtic Mythology hero Cuchulain. His spear Gae Bolg is a plus 4 weapon and does 4-40 Hit Points of damage, and while holding it he can't be surprised. Only he can wield it. In battle it shines with a light so bright that his opponents can't look at him and take a penalty to hit him.
      • Classical Mythology deity Poseidon. His trident is a plus 5 weapon that does 4-40 Hit Points of damage. Each round of combat it can reflect a spell back at the caster.
  • Exalted naturally has polearms and their super-sized artifact variants, the larger types gaining a damage bonus if used against a charging foe, or if used as a lance when charging. They also have the Reach tag, which allows them to attack enemies on higher terrain or those in high mounts (such as elephants) without penalties.
  • GURPS gives all polearms one skill but provides a dizzying variety of different ones in the Martial Arts book plus smaller dueling versions of the common ones.
    • GURPS's predecessor The Fantasy Trip includes several varieties of polearm. Because of the game mechanics relating to pole weapons, they're only so-so in a one-on-one fight, but are devastating as part of a team. They end up being a popular weapon for characters that aren't primarily fighters.
  • Magic: The Gathering: A common weapon among Soldiers and creatures with First Strike. Notable examples include:
  • Pathfinder has everything from tridents to glaive-guisarmes and subdivides them into two groups of weapons: "spears", loosely defined as stabbing weapons on sticks, and "polearms", comprising pretty much any other kind of weapon with a long haft. Some are usable one-handed, some need both hands, and some are long enough that they threaten the next ring of spaces out from the character instead of the immediately adjacent spaces. A wide variety of feats and build options exist to take advantage of them.
  • In Rocket Age the Martian Maduri have traditionally used the fork spear, a flexible weapon which can mount with several different kinds of blades for specific combat situations. Although it often has a trident layout, most consider it to simply be a polearm similar to those used on Earth in the Renaissance.
  • Warhammer of course has spears, halberds and lances as an option for many infantry and cavalry units in various armies, though different factions tend to have their own styles. Goblins in particular often have spears as their weapon of choice, while the Skinks make extensive use of javelins. Halberdiers are common in mercenary units.
    • Unique to the Dogs of War list (which is two editions old) is the pike, which as you'd expect functions much like a spear, only significantly more so. They were not popular with the cavalry-heavy Bretonnian Knights.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The elite daemon hunting chapter of Space Marines, the Grey Knights, wield psychically charged Nemesis Force Weapons as their standard close combat weapon, the forms of which are generally halberds and glaives, though some are swords, axes and hammers. Halberds and glaives are the standard form for the 40k RTS Dawn of War.
    • The Adeptus Custodes (The Emperor's guardians) use a spear - before the end of the Horus Heresy, it had a bolter incorporated in it.
    • The Eldar are also fond of this - their Farseers and Warlocks can carry Singing Spears, anti-tank Blades On A Stick. The Avatar of Khaine also can bring a spear into battle.
    • Da Orks use pointy sticks to show off their collection of severed heads. Their combat Blades On Sticks are 'Uge Choppas, essentially two chainsaws back to back on the end of a pole. The forces of the Imperium or Chaos occasionally make use of similar chain-glaives, too.
    • Unique to the Orks, however, is the "buzzsaw on a stick" variant.
    • The Imperial Guard Rough Riders also have their own version - a single-use lance with an explosive charge at the tip.
      • Surprisingly, this one is Truth in Television, though it's usually been used as a naval weapon or a mine-clearing device over the course of history.
    • The Necrons also have a variant in the dreaded Warscythe, although it's more of a glaive than a military scythe, and is so deadly it can bypass virtually any defense, up to and including energy shields and massive sheets of armor.
    • The Tau's closest allies, the Kroot, use gunpowder rifles with curved blades on them, harkening back to the days before Kroot had access to guns and fought with bladed staves.
    • The Ethereal caste of the Tau carry Honor Blades, which are mostly ceremonial.
    • With the 6th edition, regular Imperial power weapons now include Power Lances and Power Spears alongside axes, swords, and mauls. They give special benefits in charge scenarios but are not as effective as the others when locked in a prolonged melee.
  • WARMACHINE has numerous characters with weapons of this type, largely due to the proliferation of the Reach ability. Notable examples include Victoria Haley and her sister Warwitch Deneghra


    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • DSBT InsaniT: Alex has powers over spears. He can make them explode too.
  • The King of Town's Knight from Homestar Runner is often seen carrying a spear with him. He's first seen using it in the episode "The King of Town's Very Own Quite Popular Cartoon Show!!". His skill with it is less to be desired, however.
  • Pyrrha of RWBY uses a Swiss-Army Weapon spear that can also take the form of a sword and a rifle. Ruby also wields a polearm in the form of a Sinister Scythe that can change shape from a normal farmer's scythe to a glaive-like blade and a sniper rifle. Spears and polearms are also common weapons for the Mooks of the show, and in Volume 5, Cinder creates a javelin out of glass and impales Weiss with it.

  • In El Goonish Shive, Ellen is portrayed wielding a spear in a fantasy panel talking about a jungle movie.
  • In Girl Genius, Oggie the Jaegermonster uses a triple-poleaxe. Mostly as a weapon, but also as a springboard for his fellow Jaegers to jump off and a pole-vault so he can follow them.
  • Void in L's Empire started off with a spear and a shield. He later upgraded to having "Spear" as his Semantic Superpower.
  • The Order of the Stick
    • While he never manages to acquire one, Roy memorably attempted to purchase a polearm in this strip.
    • "That Guy With A Halberd", a nameless Azure City Red Shirt with a rather rabid fan following.
    • Haley shows she's quite good at impromptu use of a recently acquired double-pointed spear in strip 721.
  • Angelika's weapon of choice in Our Little Adventure, though it's kind of subverted in that it's mostly for show. Her real weapon of choice is magic. She gets rid of it later for a magical morningstar.
  • Madeline the ditzy paladin from Rusty and Co. wields a hoe she thinks is a Holy Avenger. And is still deadly with that.
    • She eventually upgraded. To a "vorpal halberd". Which looks unsurprisingly like a spade, of course. But works surprisingly like a vorpal halberd. When Madeline swings it with closed eyes, anyway.
  • Princess Raeka from Samurai Princess uses a naginata. A notable weapon for a female samurai.
  • Sleepless Domain: Spears of one variety or another are a weapon seen often enough in Magical Girls that there have been at least two incarnations of "Team Spear" within two decades. Heartful Punch's mother was a member of the earlier incarnation as "Moonlight Spear". She wielded a naginata while her teammates, Sunlight Spear and Starlight Spear, used a halberd and guandao respectively.
  • Sweet Home (2017): Hyun's weapon is a broken mop handle with a knife attached to it. Dusik Hahn upgrades it to also conduct electricity.
  • Haruna in Tsunami Channel has been shown to have a high proficiency in naginata, and she is quick to pop one from Hammerspace whenever she needs to use it. Strangely, this is used to point how much of a traditional Yamato Nadeshiko she is.

    Web Original 

    Web Video 
  • In High Rollers, Jiǔtóu Zhìjī Jīng wields a guandao as her weapon of choice.
  • Mahu: In "Frozen Flame" prince Arius finds an ancient elven spear to wield alongside his musket.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Older Than Dirt: Spears tipped with stone, bone, and antler points are among the first weapons ever used by humans, going back thousands of years to the Ice Age. It has recently been theorized that the spear appeared as a weapon before blunt-force ones like clubs or war-clubs (Although the knife or hand-axe probably came first).
  • This is a pretty good illustration of the many varieties of Blades on a Stick that have existed in real life, though the examples are limited to European polearms.
  • This was useful in real combat, for footmen and both for and against cavalry. Thus, you get weapons like pikes, glaives, and bayonets, which are blades on a stick where the stick is a gun.
    • Universal in practically every ancient and medieval battle. The most common hand-to-hand killing weapons in most armies before massed black powder weapons were variants of blades on sticks. Swords were primarily side-arms. The Republican and Imperial Roman are exceptions, where the primary weapon of their front-line troops was a gladius, but they still had two pila (variants of javelins) and the auxila and triarii did have spears. (Note that these statements are generalities, and there will be nuanced, numerous reasons for the choices made by every culture and time period.)
    • Spears were the common weapon of hoplite armies.
    • Spears (yari) and naginata were the dominant hand-to-hand battle weapons of samurai, with the sword a side-arm used when not kitted up for war.
    • Swiss pikemen.
    • It also helps that it is relatively easy to train someone to use a spear effectively, as opposed to weapons like swords.
    • This for many raises the question of why the sword had such cultural prominence if the spear was the main battle weapon, and the answer is simple; remember that for every moment spent in battle, months or years were spent out of it. If you had to simply walk around town, or stand a long guard shift, you may opt for the thing that is easier to carry at your side (your sidearm). Carrying around a blade on a stick is a pain in the rear. Thus, if your society deemed you high status enough to carry a weapon around in the first place, and if you weren't expecting pitched battle any minute now, you probably would be much more inclined to carry the thing that is easy to carry. This held true in multiple cultures from East Asia, Central Asia, and Europe.
    • Furthermore, in eras where the pike dominated among polearm users (e.g. mid 14th to late 17th century Western Europe), most polearms would have necessarily been purely formation weapons with no real capability of personal use (other polearms that were effective in personal combat like halberds, bills, and partisans were also used, but pikes were by far more common than all other types combined). This mattered because there was a minimum number of troops required to form an effective pike square (generally considered several hundred men). If you didn't have enough men to do so you'd drop your pike in favor of your sidearm - which, for almost all troops varying from pikemen to knights to musketeers, would be a one-handed sword (e.g. broadsword, rapier, saber, arming sword). Now remember that the majority of battles were relatively tiny skirmishes and personal combat, with pitched field battles between proper armies being exceedingly rare (for example, in the English Civil Wars there were 588 engagements involving fewer than 250 casualties in total, with an average of 69 fatalities per engagement; accounting for nearly half of the conflict's combat deaths; meanwhile there were only 9 major pitched battles which in total accounted for 15% of casualties). You can see why swords remained so embedded in collective memory despite being sidearms.
    • Additionally, the belief that a polearm is useless if your opponent gets inside it is nonsense, as demonstrated by Matt Easton of Scholagladiatora.
  • The Ancient Greeks used the dory for their phalanxes of hoplites; later the Macedonian phalangites under Philip II and Alexander the Great used the sarissa, a double-length version. Hoplites along with the spears and large shields made for their tight formations were impossible to beat head-on, except against other hoplites, causing hoplites to dominate Greek battlefields for hundreds of years - battles amongst Greeks at this time generally took place on open ground and had few casualties, tending to essentially end after one side's formation wavered and broke ranks, who would then flee en-mass.
  • The Spetum, also called the Corseca or the Rawcon, had all the additional fun of multiple blades on a stick- one long, double-edged swordlike blade in the center, and at the base a crescent or v-shaped blade about half the length of the center blade. The spetum was very efficient in combat: the center blade was great for slashing and piercing at a distance, and the bladed projections at the base of the main blade were used to slash and chop off feet, ankles, wrists and necks, in addition to functioning as a hand-guard and hook to trap the opponents' weapons.
  • Ranged skirmishing tactics, such as with throwing javelins, arose to counter the hoplite's steady advance, which led to changes in doctrine, equipment, and newfound heightened-coordination with other types of military forces (pioneered by the Macedonians under Philip II) that lessened the importance of the hoplite, though the spear-and-shield-style of the hoplite would not die out entirely until much later. Philip II and Alexander the Great used the larger sarissa spear and smaller shields, for their main advancing infantry phalangites, but their hypasists were equipped like classic hoplite and guarded the right flank of the phalangites whose longer sarissa made them much more unwieldy against enemies attempting to flank them.
  • A favoured weapon of the Roman Army, with the preferred model changing with time:
    • At the start the Romans fought with the phalanx (introduced in Italy by the Greek colonies in the south), and in that time the preferred model was the hasta, a normal spear. This took advantage of the spear's deadliest potential, creating a veritable wall of sharp points that, when combined with shields, were key to pinning down an enemy while the cavalry outflanked them, and, to increase said potential, slowly lenghtened the hasta until it reached two meters of length.
    • However, after fighting the Gauls and the Samnites, the Romans came to realize that while the phalanx might have worked well in Greece, with its high, impassable mountains surrounding low valleys, and in the flat plains and plateaus of the East, the slow and cumbersome formation would often lose cohesion in the hilly-but-not-mountainous terrain of Italy. The Romans thus switched to the shortsword (and eventually the gladius) as the main weapon. In this period the hasta was initially kept by the hastati (the youngest soldiers) and the triarii (the veterans), but eventually restricted to the latters.
      • The "orb" formation did remain in their arsenal later on. The Roman legions would form a tightly-clustered round formation, with their shields on the outside, spears poking through the gaps, and perhaps a few soldiers with bows in the middle. This formation was a very useful weapon against light cavalry, so much so that it stayed in the British Army's book during the Napoleonic Wars.
    • In the Republican period the favoured blade on a stick became the pilum (pila is the plural), a distinctive javelin of Etruscan origin with the small bur sturdy spearhead being at the end of a long iron. Each legionary carried two or maybe one) javelin(s), and they would unleash a short but intense barrage on the enemy right before melee to soften them up while disarraying their lines, with one additional surprise: the distinctive construction gave them formidable piercing power, while at the same time (either due the long iron behind the spearhead being untempered or one of the nails connecting it to the shaft being replaced by a fragile wooden pin, depending on the model) the javelin would bend, making it near-impossible to remove from the shield which was thereby made virtually useless and prevent enemies from throwing the pila back.
    • Before the Marian Reform (that unified all types of Roman infantry), the velites skirmishers carried multiple veruta, essentially lighter pila. They were extremely effective, to the point that, at Zama, they were used successfully against elephants.
    • Roman citizen cavalry (decimated in the Second Punic War and abolished by the Marian Reforms) would also use a spear, either the short doru (used in combination with a shield) or a longer thrusting lance, depending on the individual cavalryman's preference (they had to buy their own equipment).
    • During the early Imperial period the auxilia (troops raised from non-citizen subjects integrated in the regular army) would have skirmishers equipped with lancee, normal javelins, and cavalry equipped with both javelins and short spears.
    • In the late Roman army the pilum ended up being replaced with the spiculum, a hybrid between the old javelin and a spear of Germanic origin that was a much better thusting weapon (for better use with the resurrected phalanx-like formations) while still keeping some of the pilum's potential as armour-piercing javelin.
    • The equites cataphractarii (lit. “completely armoured horsemen”), originating in the early Imperial period as an auxilia unit and later integrated as citizens, was a type of heavy cavalry copied from the Parthians, and would carry the contus, a long thrusting lance. They were effectively the predecessors of the medieval knights, with specialized saddles allowing them to replicate the same devastating effect (see below) before the invention of the stirrups.
  • Samurai are no different, contrary to their association with the katana. The main weapon of war was always some sort of polearm, including the bow when fighting from horseback. The katana was more of a backup weapon.
    • Japanese spears are known as yari. The yari was a popular weapon for large formations of samurai and ashigaru during the Warring States Era. It was the rising prominence of the ashigaru during the wars of the Nanboku-chō period that saw a widespread usage of the yari. Naturally, there were also a lot of variations, including the omi yari with its massive, extra-long spear blade, the cross-shaped jumonji yari, and the crescent-shaped tsukinari yari, among many, many other types of yari.
    • Women from Samurai families were expected to have a functional naginata as part of their dowry. The naginata was also the favoured weapon of the sohei Buddhist warrior-monks. Many variants of naginata existed, mainly the tomoe (thicker blade with a pronounced curve) and shizuka (the blade is narrower, pointier and less curved) types, as well as the tsukushi naginata (the blade is attached to the shaft like a bardiche), oonaginata (battlefield naginata with a larger-than usual blade, sometimes almost as long as the shaft like a nagamaki sword) and even naginata blades with ornated back ridges like certain chinese polearms. Naginata were often employed in war, though they were unsuited for thight formations. The widespread association with women came with the Edo and Meiji periods, after the end of the civil wars.
    • Since polearms still had to use the same low-quality iron like the katana, the same process as they used for their blades. If they broke, it was entirely possible to remake them into a katana or other weapons like the tanto.
    • In ancient times, the hoko yari was a simple, short-bladed spear made to thrust and used in tandem with shield formations. Smaller variants known as "teboko" (hand spear) did exist, sometimes with a knife-like blade.
    • Other from Japan include the torimono sandōgu, or tools of arrest. This includes the sasumata, the sodegarami, and the tsukubō; they were types of mancatchers that restrained criminals and suspects through various means.
    • While the Nagamaki (a japanese sword resembling a long katana with a handle as long as the blade) is often considered a polearm, it's actually closer to a greatsword in origin (started as a easier-to-handle variant of the nodachi with a longer hilt), composition (unlike yari and naginata, it has a very long tang like a sword) and use (the handle was gripped with hands in a fixed position, like a nodachi).
  • The Swiss mercenaries of the 15th century deserve an entry of their own. For a long time, it was an established truth that the only force capable of beating Swiss pikemen was an equal or greater number of Swiss pikemen. The first national army to ever beat a force consisting only of Swiss mercenaries was a French army that outnumbered the Swiss force 15 to 1... And had a formidable (for the time) artillery support.
    • The oldest active military guard, the Pontifical Swiss Guard, continues the heritage of the Swiss pikemen as both ceremonial and conventional bodyguards of the Pope. They still hold and can wield their halberds.
  • Mixed units of pikemen and musketeers ("pike and shot") were the standard armed force of the 16th and 17th centuries until the invention of the bayonet turned every gun into a spear.
  • Pikes were manufactured for use in combat as late as in 1942, when the War Office produced about 250,000 pikes for the British Home Guard after accidentally misinterpreting a letter from Winston Churchill saying that "every man must have a weapon of some kind, be it only a mace or pike". Churchill meant that they had to step up arms production, but they misinterpreted it as "start producing melee weapons". Though early on in the creation of the Home Guard, this would have made sense, as there weren't enough rifles to equip everybody, by 1942 this equipment shortage had been somewhat solved - several people in the Home Guard and parliament pretty much went What the Hell, Hero? towards the War Office. By that time, the Home Guard and those serving in it expected better equipment - but it would be amusing to think of what had happened had the Germans invaded in that very moment. Thankfully, they never did.
  • Something similar happened in Japan as they prepared for an Allied invasion in 1945 - they tried to arm everyone, even if that meant using pointy sticks. They took their standard rifle bayonet (which aside from minor revisions to simplify it for more rapid mass production, was unchanged since 1897), simplified it even more, and mounted it on a bamboo pole. They also manufactured cheap ceramic grenades to go with them, which were unused due to the war ending and eventually ended up in the hands of the Yakuza.
  • The Battle of Flodden Field (9 September 1513) was decided in a brutal confrontation between infantry armed with contrasting polearms. The Scots advanced with the pike, to be met by Englishmen armed with the bill, which was (alongside the much more famous longbow) the Medieval English weapon of choice. The military bill was developed from the bill-hook, a hedging tool widely used in Europe at the time (and listed in tool-catalogues to this day as the "brush axe" or "brush hook"), by adding a thrusting point to the tool's hooked chopping blade, and extending the shaft to around six to eight feet. A foot-soldier armed with this versatile weapon could thrust with the point, use the hook to pull a knight from the saddle, and deliver powerful chopping blows with the edge of the blade.
  • Though in history as in fiction, polearms are more famous as mook weapons, the poleaxe was probably the most popular weapon for dismounted knights to use, particularly in the Wars of the Roses, where the knights fought dismounted an awful lot. Why did they use poleaxes? Have you ever tried to get through plate armour with a sword? The poleaxe (also known as pollaxe; there is still much dispute about whether its name actually referred to the fact that it was on a pole) was one of the most versatile melee weapons ever seen. The whole darn contraption was a weapon. You practically get an axe, spear, hammer, can opener, and hockey stick for the price of one. Its head had either an axe blade or a hammer on the front, a spike on the top, and either a hammer or a second (often hooked) spike on the back. Depending on the variant, the main tactic was to either chop with the axe blade or crush the enemy's armor (preferably his helmet) with the hammer. The top-mounted spike could also be driven into the weak points or armor, or used to kill a downed opponent before they could get up. Poleaxes sometimes also had another spike on the bottom of the shaft. The version with a hammer rather than an axe head at the front is sometimes known as the Lucerne hammer, after the Swiss city that popularized it. Oddly, despite being both effective and impressive-looking, poleaxes are rarely seen in fiction.
  • In at least one manuscript on personal combat from the Middle Ages the author listed weapons in a sort of Rock–Paper–Scissors fashion. The halberd was listed as the best weapon of all and no surprise, all polearms combine several ways of hurting people (facetiously described by one historian as 'prodding, slicing, hacking and thumping') with a 6-foot reach, halberds combine all of them into one nasty package.
  • The halberd is often considered the greatest polearm of all time. They had an axe blade on one side, a spear-like point on top, and a hook on the back. They could dismount cavalry, trip an opponent, hook a gap in their armor to cause a painful wound, pull away their shields, and had all the functionality of a battle-axe and a spear into the bargain. You might notice the similarity to the poleaxe described above; the biggest difference is that halberds have longer shafts, and lack the hammer function that some poleaxes had. You may also notice that the similarities to the English bill (which also featured a blade, a pint, a hook, and a long shaft); the difference was in the shape of the blade, and the differences were fairly small (many Swiss regions made no real distinction). This versatility let the halberd hold out or win against any type of weapon, from the sword to the pike. Additionally, they were inexpensive to make and therefore an ideal weapon for foot soldiers.
    • One interesting note about the halberd is that historically, the axe-head of the halberd was curved inward toward the wielder, or was even concave. This was most common on the later versions of the halberd, as older halberds had traditional axe-heads. The reason for this is that the most common way to attack with a halberd was for the infantryman to thrust with the spearhead, and then if the spearhead failed to hit a target or was blocked, the soldier could then simultaneously step back and chop with the axe-head or pull with the hook in a single quick motion, with the added benefit that the blade or hook might be able to hit a more lightly armored part of an opponent, such as the back of their neck or shoulder, the inside of the elbow, or the back of the thigh or knee. Meanwhile, if the halberd was swung like a traditional axe, the long spike could interfere with the blow and the length of the polearm itself could cause chaos in one's own ranks.
  • The spear was a weapon of great value to the Incas and they held their own variant of the halberd as the weapon of the nobility instead of swords, which were not known yet (hence why the Incas are often depicted as holding one in tandem with a rectangular shield).
  • The Chinese had a large variety of polearms. Students of Chinese martial arts are generally encouraged to start with the staff and spear when learning weapons, as they are considered to be the best for training body coordination, since a practitioner must utilize all parts of their body in equal amounts of complexity in order to properly wield the weapon. Some schools may go as far as making them compulsory before learning other weapons.
    • The most eponymous are the usual longspear (fixed with a tassel behind the blade which, in expert hands, can help distract the opponent and interfere with his/her ability to judge where the point is going, as well as preventing blood from running down the haft and making it slippery)
    • The Guan Dao, a large single-edged, curved blade fixed to the business end a long pole. A simpler variant closely resembling a Naginata was also used, known as Méijiandao(Brow-edged Blade), or more famously "Bisento" in Japanese.
    • Halberds were also commonly used in war, ranging from a simple addition of a blade fixed on a right angle to the main blade to as many as 4 crescent-shaped blades fixed just below the main blade.
    • Double-ended weapons are also commonly taught in martial arts schools, like a double-ended spear, double volgues, and a unique weapon sometimes called the Monk's Spade.
      • The last weapon has a spade-like or axe-like blade fixed to one end and a crescent-shaped blade on the other.
    • There's also a weapon known as Bandit Sword which is like a Guan Dao with a much shorter pole.
    • The Ge, or Dagger-Axe, is an inconsistently depicted but apparently quite effective weapon, issued en masse to infantry. It is best described as a spear with a pointed blade coming out perpendicular to the main shaft head, with a second smaller point on the opposite side of the blade. It was was used as both a thrusting and swinging weapon because of its points and edges, and could be used to trip enemies or pull horsemen off their mounts. Because it was a polearm, a good swing would allow the perpendicular blades to punch through armor. The Ge is sometimes called a halberd, but the Chinese term "Ji" denotes their version of a halberd (far right), mentioned above.
    • The Chinese have a variant of the spear known as the 'snake spear,' due to its wavy blade shape. Apparently used against lightly armored or unarmored foes, the snake spear's design philosophy is similar to a flamberge, to inflict wounds that were difficult to heal and that did not close up easily.
    • While described less as a blade and more as a horrific collection of pointy bits on the end of a stick, the wolf's-tooth club combines a surplus of sharp protrusions and edges with the weight of a mace to create a weapon that could quickly penetrate armor and cause a large number of deep wounds in one blow.
    • The Nine Dragon Trident deserves some kind of award for having a double digit blade count. Three hooked blades project out from a straight blade that in turn projects out from a horizontal metal bar that reportedly could also be sharpened into another cutting edge. Four such bars are set at right angles to each other, and at the tip of the weapon is a trident. The weapon weighs twenty pounds and could, depending on sharpening preferences, boast anywhere nineteen and twenty-seven cutting edges.
    • Accurately called the Hunting Tiger Trident, this variation on your typical trident was notable because it was designed primarily for, well, hunting tigers. A hunter wielding this would go into the wilderness, with the intent of killing perhaps a man-eating tiger, and when he found it, the tiger would often charge at him. The trident would be held forward, and the tiger would impale itself upon it. The prongs on the sides would keep the tiger from sliding farther onto the spear and swiping at the hunter. To strengthen this, the wielder would often dig the back end of the spear into the ground for extra bracing against the rampaging animal.
    • Another rarely seen weapon was, essentially, a double-edged, simple sword blade on a stick, exactly like the below-mentioned swordstaff. For the looks, think of the Beast Spear from Ushio and Tora.
  • Crossing over with Mix-and-Match Weapon is the Swedish svärdstav, or "sword staff" which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin; an arming sword and guard mounted mounted on a long pole. It is a very versatile weapon that combines the techniques of a sword with the reach of a spear, making it the European counterpart to the yari.
  • The russian polearm Sovnya can be considered an actual "western naginata", used by muscovite cavalry until mid 17th century.
  • Some sadistic Fleming comboed this trope with Carry a Big Stick to create the goedendag: a pole several inches in diameter, reinforced with iron bands or studs, and with a spear or pike point on top. The idea was to spear your opponenent off of his horse with the pike, and then bludgeon him to death with the pole. All the effectiveness of a halberd or poleaxe, none of the extra manufacturing time.
    • An important design feature was that the point was smaller then the shaft. Thus you can stab a horse and easily recover your weapon. Boar spears have sort of a sidebar design under the blade for the same reason. The tactic for boar hunting consists of letting a big furious animal with mean tusks charge at you full speed, catch him on your spear, pull it out and quickly kill or immobilize it before it rips your bowels apart. If your only weapon is the one you're using to stop charging horses with, you need a decent chance of being able to use it against the angry knight in full armor that's sitting on said horse. A simple pointy stick or point on a stick will likely get stuck deep in the horse.
    • The name of the goedendag is interesting: some say it comes from a phrase meaning "good dagger". Others say that it literally means its literal translation from Dutch, "good day": you went down the street saying, "good day," and anyone responding in a French accent got the pointy end. (Flemish revolts against the French are innumerable; they were particularly common in Bruges, as France kept occupying it.)
  • The Knight's lance, while often just a metal-tipped sharpened stick, and thus missing a "Blade" completely, is still technically this trope, knightly lances were designed not for thrusting, but simply keeping it "couched" in the armpit of the knight, put his entire weight into the blow, and through the saddle, stirrups and such, put the horse's weight into it as well. Needless to say, a sharpened metal-tipped stick with that much weight and speed behind it is all but unstoppable, and the use of it and it's unstoppability was the basis for medieval warfare.
  • The Mexican Lancers were feared by the American forces during the incidents of the separation of Texas and the Mexican-American war. Americans left written accounts of the skill with which these mounted lancers handled their weapon, particularly the battalions of Jalisco and Aguascalientes, which served with distinction in the defense of their homeland, despite facing unsurmountable odds.
  • It's a common joke nowadays to have a setup with two people talking. One discusses his ultimate weapon: a knife taped to a stick, which he calls a "knifestick".

    Other Friend: You know that's a spear, right?
    First Friend: DENIED!!
  • Walking sticks can have small blades inside, activated by a button.
  • An interesting variation is the Zulu Iklwa invented by King Shaka in his military reforms to complement the traditional Assegai. Because it was a shorter weapon, it freed up a hand to use a shield and was effectively used like a rapier or a gladius.
  • The Māori taiaha is an example that is made from wood or whalebone. Most of the time, it's used to bludgeon enemies to death, though the pointy end (dull as it is) is still usable as a thrusting weapon and it can still be thrown.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Spear, Polearm


Lindworm Lances

They don't call Xaldin "The Whirlwind Lancer" for nothing.

How well does it match the trope?

4.8 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / BladeOnAStick

Media sources: