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You know what the weakest point of a typical sword is? The wielder.

A flying weapon is a weapon capable of fighting without anyone touching it. It floats into the air, moves as if there were an invisible hand guiding it, and attacks freely. Some flying weapons will stay near a particular user, parrying attacks against them; others operate entirely on their own. Sometimes they're magical tools, or haunted weapons, or wielded telekinetically.

A flying weapon is very likely to be an Empathic Weapon, and may also be an Attack Animal (or even an Equippable Ally if it has a life of its own). Nearly always a Cool Sword. See also Attack Drone for the real-world high-tech equivalent. When it is a sword and used in large numbers, they may overlap with a Storm of Blades.

Also a valid way to summon a weapon to one's hand.

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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • When Fabia Crozelg of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Vivid accesses her Older Alter Ego, her Hell Gazer Device becomes a Flying Broomstick / Blade on a Stick hybrid that could propel itself towards a target to impale them with enough force to destroy a wall.
  • Orochimaru from Naruto can do this with his sword, the Kusanagi.
  • In Rune Soldier Louie, a man went around pretending to be a Master Swordsman and Knight In Shining Armor, but it turned out he had a "Dancing Sword", which did all of the fighting on its own, and he just held on. When faced against another Dancing Sword, he lost his grip, leaving the swords flying around as they fought each other.
  • In Soul Hunter, one of Chou Komei's strongest servants is a Yokai Sennin obsessed with swords and bladed weapons. In his true form, he's a grotesque double-sword with an elaborated arthropod-like handle and poison-coated blades which can move and talk on its own.

    Film 
  • The Black Cauldron: Taran's sword briefly flies out of its scabbard and moves on its own, which is enough to impress three witches into wanting to bargain for it.
  • Yondu Udonta and his yaka arrow in Guardians of the Galaxy, Volumes 1 & 2. With a specialized head fin, he can telekinetically manipulate it to fly around and pierce its way through anything he wants, from ship hulls and armor to the hearts of his enemies, while he watches from a distance whistling away.
  • In one scene of In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale two magi Gallian and Merick duel first with one flying sword each then many.
  • In Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, the Black Knight ghost does this with his sword, smugly quipping "Look, no hands!"
  • The Phurba from The Shadow is an apparently living dagger with a monstrous head and a pair of tiny hands set into the hilt which can fly around on its own in response to the will of its controller (although it also seems to have a will of its own). Attempting to wield it by force usually just results in it biting your hand, or dragging you violently around the room behind it.

    Literature 
  • Often used in many Wuxia/Xianxia stories. Most notorious being the flying sword, a weapon used by many Daoist Immortals, often in large numbers and organized in giant formations.
  • In the Conan the Barbarian story "The Sword of Skelos", the titular weapon is a sword enchanted with the four elements which can fly around and kill people when ordered.
  • In Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks, the first time Balveda appears, she is accompanied by a knife missile, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • The evil Black Sword in Michael Moorcock's The Elric Saga (and other) series occasionally self-propels its way to a target/victim in a manner not unlike flight. Wielded by the Hero Urlik Skasgol in Phoenix in Obsidian, the Sword celebrates its return to the hands of the Eternal Champion by leaping from Urlik's hand to take the life of a passing slave girl. Thrown off the back of a dragon in high flight by Elric, whose intention it is to lose the Sword in a deep sea several thousand feet below, Elric is later consternated to discover the Sword has flown back, under its own power, to take its accustomed place in the City Armoury. In one Elric story, the Sword flies away in a time of great danger, only to return with an uncountable number of its brothers and sisters from other dimensions - a cloud of Black Swords that make mincemeat of the enemies of Elric of Melnibone.
  • Magnus Chase is the demigod son of the Norse god Freyr and wields the same sword. There is some Cast From Stamina elements however as, while it can perform maneuvers well beyond his skills on its own, once it return to his hand he suffers fatigue as if he actually did perform those actions.
  • In The Wheel of Time, there are several occasions where a bubble of evil causes weapons (and sometimes other objects) to start flying around trying to kill their owners.
  • Xanth novel The Source of Magic. While going to a masquerade ball Bink is attacked by a flying sword sent by an unknown enemy. Luckily for him the sword is not very skilled at swordplay and he can parry its blows. He finally neutralizes it by getting it to stick itself into a gluebark tree.
    • The same sword appears again in a later book (set several centuries earlier). It's extremely skilled then, as well as faster, stronger, and more vicious. The implications being not only that Bink's talent was working heavily to protect him, but that the enchantment on the sword had faded far past its intended length of animation.
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    Live-Action TV 
  • In one episode of Charmed Paige's husband fights against a sword that was being telekinetically controlled by a British witch who wanted to produce magical offspring with Paige.
  • Early in Fantaghirò, the White Knight training her has her fight a flying sword, to teach her that the best defense is not, in fact, offense. The lesson is that defending yourself takes priority over attacking the enemy.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • In the Book of Genesis, God places cherubim at the gates of the Garden of Eden after banishing Adam and Eve, each accompanied by "a flaming sword which turned every way". The wording suggests the sword is doing this of its own accord.
  • In Norse Mythology, Freyr's sword can fight by itself.

    Roleplay 
  • Severance from Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues is a flying spear that is telekinetically controlled by Harriet. If she isn't commanding it to move, then it hovers silently besides her.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Module S1 Tomb of Horrors. One room had swords mounted on the walls. If any attempt was made to escape, the swords flew off the walls and attacked the escapees.
    • Dancing Swords were also a magic item available for general use in earlier editions.
    • Molidei demons have flying two-handed axes as their standard equipment.
    • The Hero-Deity Kelanen Prince of Swords in the Greyhawk setting. While wielding a normal sword, each minute of combat he can create another sword (to a maximum of nine) that flies through the air and attacks his enemies.
    • Spells:
      • A number of spells create weapons that attack the caster's opponents, such as Mordenkainen's Sword and Spiritual Hammer/Weapon.
      • In the 1st Edition Oriental Adventures'' supplement the Dancing Blade spell would cause a non-magical sword to attack an enemy on its own.
    • The Basic Dungeons & Dragons supplement The Book of Marvelous Magic had the Bone of Bruising. Once launched it would constantly attack the victim, doing 1 Hit Point of damage per round and can't cast spells or use magic items that require a command word to activate.
    • The homebrew Telekinetic Bladestorm has this as its central power.
  • "Mobile" weapons in In Nomine Satanis / Magna Veritas. Holy/unholy relics behave as very powerful mobile weapons that can cast spells. Both kinds count as a power.
  • In Nomine supplement Superiors I: War & Honor. Dominic's angels can gain a Servitor Attunement called Heavenly Judgement. If they encounter someone guilty of murder or a greater crime, a luminous sword appears and attacks the guilty party.
  • The Psychic Armory archetype for the Pathfinder Soulknife has this as it's central mechanic.
    • Several characters in the setting have weapons that can function on their own for various reasons, from a demon lord who uses them to buy him time to cast spells to the Runelord of Sloth who's just too lazy to fight on his own.
  • Shadowrun: While it's easier to find robots that have a open weapon port there are rules for adding propulsion methods including flight to your weapons.

    Trading Card Games 

    Video Games 
  • In Atelier Iris 2, the final boss uses not one, but sixteen of these things at once, resulting in some horrible combo attacks.
  • A common enemy in Castlevania series:
    • Played straight in the Sword Companion, and the flying swords in Lament Of Innocence.
    • Subverted in the Hunting Girl, Vandal Sword, and Azaghal: the swords turn out to be wielded by invisible swordsmen.
    • True examples in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night include the Spectral Sword and Poltergeist enemies, where a larger central sword seems to control a host of lesser weapons and armor that attack the player. Also the Cloaked Knight, who has two blades which circle him and strike, and of course the sword familiar.
  • Vergil of Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening has his summoned swords. which he throws magically as his ranged attack as both boss and playable character.
  • In Diablo II there are haunted scimitars. These may drop a normal scimitar when defeated, or merely shatter.
  • Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest: Kleever, which is a giant living cleaver. It is the boss of Crocodile Cauldron.
  • In Dragon's Lair there's a room where you're attacked by a flying sword. Then a flying morning star. Then a spear. Then by a whole ''anvil''.
  • In Drakensang 2: The River of Time, the Final Boss will always summons a threesome of floating magical swords to aid him in his battle.
  • Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup features the spell Tukima's Dance, which will temporarily animate an enemy's weapon into a Dancing Weapon, which will float around and attack on its own (previous versions had it animate the user's weapon instead). There's also the Hall of Blades and Tukima's Studio sublevels, which are full of flying weapons.
  • Dynasty Warriors has Zhong Hui, who is one of the few characters who completely screw over realism by using a set of telekinetically controlled blades referred to as "Flying Swords".
  • This trope appears on occasion in the Final Fantasy series:
  • Golden Sun:
    • In the fist game, Isaac's unique single-target spell is the Ragnarok, which crashes a giant sword made of Venus psynergy into the enemy. In the second, it's upgraded form is Odyssey, where two large swords pin down the enemy before a sword the length of the entire screen stabs it.
    • The Gaia Blade has the Titan Blade unleash, where a really big sword drops onto the enemy point-first and keeps going. It has an Evil Counterpart with the cursed Darksword and its unleash, Acheron's Grief.
  • Granblue Fantasy: Sandalphon uses floating swords (which are as tall as him) during combat. In his playable version, he has two of them which strike the enemy, following his single sword slash upon dealing a double or triple attack. When he uses his Charge Attack, Sandalphon summons four, which also act as Wave Motion Guns that fire lasers from their tips.
  • Black Blade programs in Grid Warrior are dark-elemental broadswords that fly around and try to slash the player. On higher levels, they also inflict a virus on attacking the player.
  • In Guild Wars 2 one of the classes of enemy that infests the dead land of Orr are the Spectral Weapons, which come in a variety including longbow, sword and shield, sword and off-hand dagger, dual-wielded torches and hammer. Ironically, the enemies don't actually match the designs of the collectible Spectral weapons you can acquire, instead being based on the 'Dragon's Deep' weapon set.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • In Kingdom Hearts II, two of Sora's Drive Forms have him do this with his Keyblades. In Master Form he holds one Keyblade in his right hand while levitating the other with his left, while in Final Form both Keyblades follow his every movement, flying around to strike enemies even when he's not actively attacking.
    • As a successor of sorts to Final Form, when Sora enters his Ultimate Form in Kingdom Hearts III he wields numerous blades of light in this manner.
    • Likewise, Aqua from Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep can do this with her Keyblade when in her Spellweaver command style. Ventus's Wingblade style also summons swords of light that he brandishes without holding them.
    • Xaldin of Organization XIII uses his mastery over the element of wind to carry and wield six spears in tandem.
  • The Final Boss of Knights of the Old Republic II fights using three lightsabers at once, levitating at least two. While lightsabers are not autonomous storywise, each acts pretty much independently.
  • Irelia in League of Legends owns four of these.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, there is a miniboss that seems to be one of these, but its body is actually invisible.
    • One of the minibosses in The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games is a huge knight with an invulnerable shield who throws his sword at you and catches it when it returns. The trick is to pull a High-Speed Missile Dodge when it's coming back. Once the sword and shield destroy each other, he tries to run into you, but is now vulnerable to regular attacks.
  • In Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals you will encounter enemies called the Cursed Sword and Cursed Armor, of which the former is one of these. If you kill them, there is a chance of getting the same item as a drop.
  • Mabinogi has a whole class of Flying Sword monsters.
  • In Neverwinter Nights, the Swords of Never guarding a tomb are supposed to be these. In fact, the designers cheated a little- you're actually fighting human warriors with 'null' character models, so only their swords are visible. To interact with them, you still need to click where the person holding the sword should be.
  • Honedge, Doublade and Aegislash from Pokémon X and Y are swords (or two in the case of Doublade) that move around thanks to being possessed by an ancient soul. Despite floating, they do not have the Levitate ability.
  • RuneScape has Magic Axes, floating axes that attack on their own, as well as Possessed Pickaxes, their more mining-oriented cousin.
  • Secret of Mana has two enemies that are this: The Doom Sword and the Evil Sword.
  • Most likely Exor from Super Mario RPG. It doesn't move as much in battle due its size, but it doesn't have anyone wielding it and flies during cut scenes like the game's intro.
    • Comes up again in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door: During the third phase of Mario's fight against Cortez, Cortez lets go of his weapons—a cutlass, a bronze sword, a hook, and a rapier—and allows them to float in the air, each of which can now attack Mario independently of each other.
  • The living sword family of enemies in Tales of Symphonia are also floating swords. Also very notable: Talesof Graces has Malik with the bladearang which moves around as he directs it like an orchestral conductor.
  • Terraria: There are three enemies that fit this: the Cursed Hammer from the Corruption, the Enchanted Sword from the Hallow, and the Crimson Axe from....guess. There�s also one, the Flying Knife, which the player can use which follows the cursor, can be deployed indefinitely, moves erratically and slashes at the target as it waves back and forth.
  • Warcraft III: On arriving at Frostmourne's vault, the sword breaks free of its icy covering and lunges out to kill Muradin. He gets better by World of Warcraft. It doesn't show this capacity again.
    • In World of Warcraft Blood Death Knights get an ability called Dancing Rune Weapon, including the parrying bit.

    Webcomics 
  • Sir Bryce's sword in Crimson Flag, which really comes in handy when he finds himself without hands thanks to a Baleful Polymorph.
  • The Blade of Sigmr Ch'k in Kagerou, which is implied to take different forms for different wielders. For Kano, its hilt is covered in sharp teeth, making it necessary for him to use his telekinesis to wield it.
  • In Tower of God, swordsman Hatsu dual-wields a flying sword, 'The Sword That Flies Higher Than Any', alongside a more conventionally-wielding blade.

    Western Animation 
  • Gargoyles: Thailog in the episode "Genesis Undone" had a laser rifle that could fly.
  • The magic sword in Kim Possible could fly when called like a dog, but only for and to Ron Stoppable.
  • Quick Draw McGraw - El Kabong ran into an opponent who knew how to do this by technique, they ended standing by watching their rapiers duel for a while.
  • Scaramouche from Samurai Jack is a Musical Assassin with a flying scimitar... that he controls by Scatting.
  • There was an episode in the original ThunderCats series where Mumm-ra disguised himself as King Arthur, claimed Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake, and sets out to pick a fight with Lion-o. At a point during their duel, both swords fly out of the hand of their owners and begin fighting in mid-air.

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