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Blow That Horn

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Namor blows! (And summons a horde of sea monsters)
"And Joramun blew the Horn of Winter, and woke giants from the Earth."

Horns are among the oldest, and loudest, musical instruments. Their ability to be heard over the din of battle gave them a key role in many historical armies, and their descendant the bugle is still used in this way today. This association means that horns in fiction often have strong symbolic links to warfare, leadership, defiance, and destruction.

Horns in fiction tend to figure in three main ways: Horns of Summoning, Horns of Inspiration, and Horns of Destruction.


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Horns of Summoning:

These horns are used to rally demoralized soldiers, to bring people to a central meeting place, and when Gondor Calls for Aid. If the soldiers are too far away to be helpful, horns can call out the peaceful townsfolk to form the Home Guard. In fantasy settings, they may be Summoning Artifacts that unseal a Sealed Good, Evil, or Army in a Can.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Overlord (2012) the horn of the goblin general is a low-level single-use magic item that summons a small number of goblins who are loyal to the user. Ainz gives two of them to Enri as a gift since he is so powerful that the horns are a trash item to him. He is shocked when she later is forced to use the second horn and it summons a huge army of highly skilled goblins. Apparently, she accidentally met the conditions to unlock the horn's secret power, which Ainz didn't know the horns had.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: In the game of Duel Monsters, the card known as "Flute of Summoning Dragon" can be used to move two Dragon-attribute monster cards from the player's hand directly to the field. Name is actually something of a misnomer, as the instrument is not "played" like a flute but distinctly blown like a horn (even called a horn by Seto Kaiba in one episode when he plays the card).

  • The Birth of Venus (Cabanel): The use of horns and trumpets as heraldry for great kings and warriors is Played With in this piece. To announce the arrival of a queen of love, the trumpets used are tiny conch shells and the soldiers who blow them are little baby angels.

    Comic Books 
  • In his first modern-day appearance (Fantastic Four #4) Namor the Sub-Mariner has a horn that summons sea monsters.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Robert Browning's Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came (based on both the medieval Roland and on a nonsense line from King Lear) has a "slughorn" that he sounds at the very end of the poem, though what exactly this horn does is never quite made clear.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia:
    • Queen Susan's horn, gifted to her by Father Christmas, has the power to bring help to whoever blows it. Received by Susan in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the horn was famously used centuries later by the Telmarine prince Caspian to call for help during his war for the liberation of Narnia.
    • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: While on the island of Felimath, King Caspian is separated from both the rest of his landing party and the remainder of he crew still on the titular ship. After regaining his (metaphorical) footing, he uses his horn to signal the ship and formulate a rescue plan with his crew.
  • The Chronicles of Prydain: At the end of The Castle of Llyr Eilonwy gives Taran a silver-bound battle horn from Caer Colur. In Taran Wanderer the dwarf Doli identifies it as the work of the Fair Folk, with the ability to summon them if the correct notes are played upon it.
  • Lord of the Flies: Ralph and Piggy sound a conch shell to gather the boys together. The eventual crushing of the shell, alongside Piggy, symbolizes the boys' descent into savagery.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • Boromir uses the Horn of Gondor to rally the rest of the Fellowship to fight off an orc attack.
    • Merry blows the Horn of Rohan to call out the hobbit militia to fight off Saruman's men.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • There is the horn Dragonbinder, created by the Valyrians and acquired by Euron Greyjoy, one of the most evil characters in this Crapsack World. He claims he can use it to summon dragons, though when one of his men blows it they die from being burnt within.
    • In legend, The Horn of Winter was said to "wake giants from the earth", and Jon Snow initially wonders if that's how Mance Rayder recruited giants to his cause. However, the wildlings believe it to be a Horn of Destruction capable of destroying the Wall (see below).
  • The Song of Roland: Roland dies after blowing his horn so loudly that his brain bursts out of his ears. He succeeds in summoning Charlemagne, who's many miles away.
  • The Wheel of Time: The Horn of Valere is a Summoning Artifact that calls the great Heroes of the Ages to fight for its wielder.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In Norse Mythology, the Gjallarhorn is the sounding horn of Heimdall. He is fated to blow it during Ragnarok, in order to rally the gods to fight the invading giants.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Fraggle Rock: The Fraggle Horn is used to summon Fraggles to the Great Hall.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Horn of the Azure Sea. At night, while on the open sea, it will summon a ghost ship with undead monsters aboard it. One of them will obey the user.
    • Horn of the Barrier Peaks. If the user is in an area where giant eagles live, it can summon 7-12 of them within 7 minutes. They will attack the user's enemies or carry the user and his/her allies to safety.
    • Black Ivory Horn. It summons an ancient bronze dragonne that attacks the user.
    • Horn of Dolphins. Can summon all dolphins within 10 miles. The dolphins decide whether to help the user or not.
    • Horn of the Grey Waste. Summons 1-4 lesser tanar'ri (demons) or 1 greater tanar'ri (demon). They will obey the user for 1-6 hours.
    • Horn of the Sacred Grove. Can be used to summon the Wild Hunt, which will attack the user's enemies. Under certain circumstances it will summon the Ravenloft Wild Hunt, which will attack the user..
    • Horn of the Tritons. Can summon hippocampi, giant sea horses or sea lions (lion/seal centaurs) that live within a body of water.
    • Horn of Valhalla. Can summon berserk fighters to serve the user in combat.
    • Horn of the Vast Swamp. Summons 7-12 giant toads to serve the user.
    • Horn of War. Summons 10-200 quaggoths, who can be commanded to fight for the user.

    Video Games 
  • The Horn of Valhalla from Baldur's Gate is a magical horn that when played, summons fierce warriors from Asgard to fight for the player.
  • Get Amped: the Gjallarhorn gear is a giant horn that summons Jormungandr, the Norse dragon of the end times, to do your bidding. Said dragon also has poisonous breath.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games have horns that summons an animal companion. Which one you get and keep determines the terrain of one area (as it changes to accomodate the animal's mode of locomotion), but it's not stated anywhere in-game.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: Skull Kid summons and controls wooden puppets using a strange horn with four bells.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: Bokoblins sometimes carry horns, which they can use to summon other Bokoblins.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: Bokoblins, Lizalfos, and Moblins will often have one of their own as a lookout who will blow a horn to warn the others if it spots you. You can attack the lookout before it does so to keep the others ignorant.
  • Warcraft:
    • Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos:
      • An early mission has Tyrande get the Horn of Cenarius, which is used to awaken Furion. He in turn uses the horn to wake the druids against the Burning Legion.
      • At the end of the story mode, as Archimonde climbs closer to the World Tree, Malfurion blows the Horn of Cenarius and summons the wisps of the ancient forests of Mount Hyjal to defeat Archimonde.
    • World of Warcraft has quite a few equippable horns that summon robots or undead Vikings or whatnot to help players. Ironically, since item slots are limited and none of the summoned creatures are especially powerful.

    Web Animation 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: To summon the great dragons Ran and Shaw from their caves, the Sun Warriors blow on a massive curved horn larger than a man.
  • In the Buzz Lightyear of Star Command pilot movie, a little green man blows a horn to signal a worship gathering at the Unimind's chamber. After he blows it, several hidden staircases emerge from the ground.
  • Freakazoid!: The Huntsman can be summoned into town by a cop blowing the Horn of Urgency.
  • Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!:
    • In What the Hex is Going On?, Scooby uses a bugle to call the gang after he falls asleep on guard dog duties and his protectee has disappeared.
    • In "Spooky Space Kook," Scooby blows a bugle ("Mess Call," of course) to alert the others about the title villain's presence.

Horns of Inspiration:

Let's Get Dangerous!, in horn form. The non-verbal equivalent of the Rousing Speech; bonus points if it's the Charge Fanfare. They may signal the arrival of The Cavalry (often literally) and give Status Buffs. They're commonly played by The Bard.

These are In-Universe horns, sounded alone. Inspiring background music that features brass is a Theme Music Power-Up.

    Film - Live Action 
  • The Return of the King: When the forces of Mordor are on the verge of overtaking Minas Tirth, a peal of horns announces the arrival of the massive Rohirrim cavalry, helping to turn the tide.

  • The Lord of the Rings: The fort at Helm's Deep is called Hornburg, named after a horn, that the Rohirrim (or in the film, Gimli) blow before they ride out to attack the besieging Uruk-Hai.
  • These are popular among Northern and wildling armies in A Song of Ice and Fire, while Southern armies tend to use trumpets for the purpose. The Night's Watch have a signalling system involving warhorns.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In Judaism, the shofar is a ram's horn blown during the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services to inspire awe and repentance.

    Video Games 

    Western Animation 
  • Subversion: On Hoppity Hooper, Fillmore blows a bugle...but not very well.

Horns of Destruction:

These horns are bad news. In fantasy and mythological contexts, the horns themselves cause destruction and death when sounded. In more realistic settings, they cause dread to those who hear them. There's some overlap with the first type of horn, though—a horn that successfully rallies an army means the other army isn't likely to fare so well. Compare Musical Assassin.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • The Chronicles of Narnia: In The Last Battle, Father Time emerges from Underland at Aslan's command, and the blowing of his horn begins the destruction of the world of Narnia (a highly elaborate series of events whose description is among C.S. Lewis' most vivid).
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: The Horn of Winter is said to have the power to bring down the continent-spanning Wall that keeps the undead Others from attacking the realms of the south.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible:
    • The probable Trope Maker is the destruction of the walls of Jericho in the Book of Joshua. By God's command, the Israelites marched around Jericho sounding their trumpets, and the power of the horns and the wrath of God sent the walls tumbling down.
    • In the Book of Revelation, seven horns are to be played by angels at the end of days, calling down fire and destruction on the world.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Horn of Amplification. When the user yells, it does 2-20 Hit Points of damage to everyone within up to 50 feet away.
    • Horn of Blasting. It can have one of two effects when blown: (a) damage, stun and deafen anyone within the area of effect OR (b) damage all constructions in the area of effect as if they had been hit by a catapult missile.
    • Horn of Collapsing. If used properly, it can cause the ceiling (indoors) or roof overhead (underground) to collapse on opponents.
  • The Conch Battle Horn in Res Arcana. Its first power creates a bunch of Death essences, and its second poewr can destroy any one of your artifacts.

    Video Games 
  • Darksiders: The Earthcaller is a mystical horn capable of knocking enemies back.
  • In Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Lord Fredrik, leader of the Snowmads, has a magical horn that shoots ice, which he uses to plunge Donkey Kong Island into an Endless Winter as he conquers it.
  • In Patapon, Megapon are special Patapon armed with large horns which they use to play destructive music against their enemies.
  • in Riddle Of The Sphinx, one of the inventory items is a long metal trumpet which, if placed in a set of supports and blown, will shatter the mosaic panels of a chamber's walls. This reveals a tunnel (if the horn faces one way when sounded) and a device needed to disarm the threat in the tunnel (if it's facing the other).
  • Shovel Knight has the War Horn, which deals heavy damage to enemies in range, but costs a lot of Magic to use.
  • Stronghold Legends has Sir Bedivere's horn of Camelot, which tears down all walls in its area of effect.

    Real Life 
  • The German Stuka dive bomber in World War II was equipped with a piercing siren called the "Jericho Trumpet" that sounded as the bomber dove towards its target. The Stuka was perhaps the most effective weapon of the war's first year, and its terrifying sound was key to the demoralization of many Allied forces.



  • The Horse and His Boy: Features a number of horns that don't obviously fall into any of the above categories.
    • In the city of Tashbaan, capital of the empire of Calormen, booming horns are blown every day at sunrise and sunset to signal the opening and closing of the city's gates.
    • As an exhausted Shasta hurries to warn King Lune of an imminent attack on his stronghold, the sound of hunting horns alerts him that he has found the king's party.
    • As the army of Narnia marches to King Lune's aide, the announce their arrival with horns described as "clear and sharp and valiant."

    Western Animation 
  • Frozen Fever: When Elsa attempts to blow the bukkehorn to celebrate Anna's birthday, her cold causes her to sneeze into it instead, sending out a gigantic snowball along with the horn's deep peal.
  • The Midnight Gospel: When Clancy wishes to exit a simulation, he blows on a shofar, after which a third eye appears on his forehead and he is transported back to the Ribbon.
  • Work It Out Wombats!: In "The Treeborhood Harvest Day," Kit blows a horn to let the Treeborhood know when it is Harvest Day, since the date changes every year.


Video Example(s):


A Call for Aid

To meet with the Archdragon of the Sea, Ezran and Zubeia must first send out a signal.

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