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Great Bow

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Whoever wields them is a great person too.note 

"Ahh, this Greatbow? I shan't need it, with no dragons to hunt. I know not if a human could even operate it, but here, thy need outweighs mine."
Hawkeye Gough, Dark Souls

When you take Bigger Is Better for bows, you get the Great Bow, a type of bows so large that it almost towers over the wielder. It often requires an Anchored Attack Stance to be used, and is capable of firing abnormally huge projectiles designed for shooting down large beasts or opening a hole on a wall.

Generally speaking, these type of bows can fire more powerful projectiles than ordinary bows, and using them against humanoid targets is often comparable to firing a ballista bolt toward a person. Whoever gets hit by the huge arrows would get knocked flying, or be reduced to a pile of mincemeat, if not get killed in one hit.

Due to their immense size, sometimes they can be used as melee weapons.

Compare BFG for big guns, Hand Cannon for big one-handed guns, and BFS for big swords. For bows that look great in aesthetics rather than size, see Impossibly Cool Weapon, although depending on how big said bow is, the two can overlap.

In order to be qualified as this trope, the bow has to be as tall as the wielder, and it has to be a portable weapon. Stationary ballistae not carried by anyone don't count as this trope, that belongs to Siege Engines. However, if a character wields a ballista as a handheld weapon, it still counts as this trope, although will definitely need some Super-Strength or have to be some sort of giant.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach: Uryū Ishida starts off wielding an Energy Bow called Kojaku, and can increase its size at-will to make it larger than he is tall. During the Arrancar Arc, he upgrades to a ridiculously massive spider-web shaped bow called Ginrei Kojaku, which can fire thousands of arrows in a single shot.
  • The Dainsleif Rod from Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans is an illegal weapon fired from a bow-like launcher that is taller than a Mobile Suit, firing ranged projectiles capable of penetrating Nanolaminate Armor. It is commonly attached onto a Graze variant, costing the left arm slot to equip the bows.
  • In Sailor Moon Rei is sometimes seen exercising with the yumi, Japan's traditional (and enormous) bow. As Sailor Mars, her most powerful attack Mars Flame Sniper involves a yumi made out of fire.
  • In Gamaran, Arata Nakaizumi, one of the largest and best muscled men in the series, makes his return wielding the large daikyu Reigetsu (lit. Dark Moon), a bow as tall as he his (and, as previously mentioned, he's one of the tallest guys), thick and squared, it's openly mentioned that only the true masters of the Nakaizumi School can use it, and Arata does, to shoot special arrows strong enough to rip arms off their sockets and smash castle gates open.
  • Symphogear. Chris Yukine's Relic, Ichaival, can manifest a variety of long range-projectile weaponry, mainly bows (including some bigger than her), though due to her violent imagination she can also manifest things such as gatling guns and missiles.

    Comic Books 

  • Discworld:
    • Detritus uses a ballista firing six-foot-long iron arrows as a crossbow (although as a troll, the massive weapon is just barely bigger than he is). He later upgrades it to fire sheaves of arrows that catch fire from air friction and tend to spread out, to the point where just about the only safe place to be when he fires is right behind him. It's called the Piecemaker.
    • Pyramids has a brief mention of the "punt bow" (based on the real world punt gun), described as "a fearsomely complicated invention which at considerable risk to its operators could turn a slough full of innocent waterfowl into so much floating pâté".
  • Princesses of the Pizza Parlor: Princesses Don't Do Summer School has Gwenevrael holding a silvery bow that is about an inch taller than her in-universe, based on measuring her vs. the bow.
  • Redwall: One hare is known for a bow so huge the arrows are the size of javelins.
  • The Odyssey: Odysseus makes himself officially known to his wife when she declares she will marry the man who succeeds in stringing her husband's huge bow. Odysseus is the only one to succeed... which leaves him holding a loaded weapon in front of the men who've been abusing his island's hospitality.
  • The Stormlight Archive: There are supernaturally powered swords known as Shardblades and armor known as Shardplate. Large bows are referred to as "Shardbows", not because they have any supernatural abilities, but because you need Shardplate to wield one. Rock manages to use one to take down Amaram in Oathbringer, notably without using any shardplate at all.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones Series 4, 'The Watchers on the Wall', the Wildlings launch a massive attack on the Wall, supported by a couple of giants riding mammoths. One of them wields an enormous bow (not that big comparative to his size, admittedly, but still a full-draw longbow) which, when the Wildlings' puny arrows fail to reach the top of the wall (700 feet), he demonstrates to terrifying effect. His first shot smashes through the one of the shelters the Black Brothers stand in at the top of the wall; his second hits one poor sap square in the chest, sending him rocketing into the air high above the wall before plummeting all the way down to the ground on the other side. If he was lucky, he was dead before he hit the ground...

  • Olios in Yureka wields an enormous bow with arrows so large that they're compared to spears.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons features a number of these as exotic weapons:
    • The Greatbow, a slightly upgraded Longbow, is described as being at least 6ft tall while strung. While Composite Longbows can be used while mounted due to being less cumbersome than the regular variety, Composite Greatbows cannot.
    • The Bone Bow, a similar weapon crafted from the bones and sinew of mammoths, explicitly has a spike for bracing it in the ground while shooting. Shooting a Bone Bow without proficiency takes the user's entire turn, in addition to the normal accuracy penalty.
    • The Footbow is a raptoran-made bow so powerful that it requires both hands to draw, meaning it can normally be used only while the wielder is flying and gripping it with their feet.
    • A number of "handheld ballistae" also exist, including the Icechucker (which shoots javelins or icicles) and the Great Crossbow. Neither come in repeating varieties, however.
  • The Long Powerbow in Exalted is an artifact version of a longbow, with a bowstave made from one of the Five Magical Materials, and can easily approach sufficient size to qualify.
  • Warhammer: Tomb King Ushabti wield Great Bows, which are as tall as the Ushabti, while the Necrolith Colossi can be upgraded with the even bigger Bow of the Desert, also about as tall as the Colossus. Both constructs can draw and fire these massive creations, which hit as hard as some War Machines of other factions.

    Video Games 
  • In Age of Empires II, the Britons' special unit is the longbowman, a deadly infantry archer unit that when fully upgraded can outrange the defensive fire of a castle structure, theoretically letting a group of longbowmen destroy a stone bulwark through a Death of a Thousand Cuts. Unfortunately, the Britons lack the "Thumb Ring" technology upgrade that improves archer accuracy, as a form of Competitive Balance.
  • Arknights: Erato uses a massive bow shaped like a harp, and Typhon wields a gigantic compound bow that is bigger than she is tall and shoots massive harpoon arrows that she can rain down on her target.
  • Although Juris of Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk usually wields a machete and a small, foldable crossbow, he summons a bow that's taller than him when performing his Finishing Move, Grand Slam.
  • The "Ballista" skill in Armory & Machine. On use, it deals a huge amount of penetrating damage along with regular damage. Its drawbacks are that it costs 30 steel bolts as ammo per use, and it has a very long 30 second cooldown.
  • The Wolf Clan's Ballistamen of Battle Realms wield siege ballistae as personal weapons, carrying them into battle on their backs and then firing it without taking it off. The ballista fires twenty pound logs in place of regular ballista bolts and is bigger than the ballistaman, who needs to stand still and anchor himself before being able to fire it. They can also use it to fire large totems with the blessing from a Druidess.
    Ballistaman: This thing needs wheels!
  • In the video game adaptation of Brave Merida starts out a regular bow like the ones she uses in the film and can eventually find several new (and larger bows) that fit the trope, the final one being not only taller than Merida but wider by two shoulder widths! May be justified as the bows are implied to be magical in nature compared to Merida's starting weapon.
  • Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead has 198cm-long Greatbows, which are useless unless you have an extremely high strength stat.
  • Dark Souls:
    • The Trope Namer is the Dragonslayer Greatbow from Dark Souls, a bow so large that it towers the wielder, to the point it requires an Anchored Attack Stance to be used. Naturally, due to its immense size, it can fire lance-sized projectiles made for hunting dragons, and the Silver Knights are more than happy to knock you down from the roof of Anor Londo with their bows and arrows. Hawkeye Gough, a predecessor of the Silver Knights, has his own homemade bow that is heavier, bigger, and he uses it to shoot down Black Dragon Kalameet despite being blind himself.
    • Dark Souls II has the Alonne Greatbow, a type of Greatbow brought by the Alonne Knights from the Far East to entertain the Old Iron King. Another one is the Possessed Armor Greatbow, carried by the Possessed Armors, who wield a bow and a sword at the same time. There's also the Twin-Headed Greatbow, which is somewhat harder to master since arrows are nocked and fired slightly higher that normally, it is also to date one of the heaviest Greatbows and also has one of the highest strength requirements overall.
    • Dark Souls III
      • The Millwood Knight Greatbow, which comes with a Weapon Skill that creates a shockwave when the arrows land onto the surface, knocking down anyone nearby. There's also a giant living at Undead Settlement, who shoots anyone next to the white branches all over the world. He's actually trying to help you, should you have the Young White Branch given by him in your inventory, he helps you to shoot down your enemies from a far distance.
      • One of the weapons that Aldrich, Devourer of Gods (through Dark Sun Gwyndolyn, whom the former has taken control of as the latter is slowly eaten) uses against the Ashen One is the Darkmoon Longbow, a bow that can create a flurry of bows out of sorcery; the bow can be transposed by Ludleth of Courland and accessed in exchange for the Soul of Aldrich.
  • Elden Ring also features greatbows, from greatbows tall as the person wielding it to colossal bows wielded by giant animated statues that fire arrows the size of a bus. A new addition is the crossbow equivalent, the Hand Ballista, which as the name suggests is a siege weapon you carry on your person. Even mages can get on the fun with Loretta's Greatbow, a spell that conjures up a magical bow to fire a powerful magic bolt. Or three.
  • The Elona Game Mod Elona Plus adds ballistae as ranged weapons that use the Crossbows skill. Despite being extremely heavy (although that depends on their material), you can wield them like any other weapon with no problems as long as you carry less inventory to make up for it.
  • Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City has the Arbalist class, who wield humongous crossbows almost as big as they are. Said weapons can also shoot element-imbued arrows, namely those based on the Fire, Ice, Lightning trio.
  • Almost every bow in Monster Hunter is taller than the hunters carrying it. Granted, the bows are made for slaying monsters as large as a house. Despite their size, they are treated as fast, weak-hitting weapons.
  • Ishtar in Fate/Grand Order has the "Heavenly Boat Maanna", which is not only an airship but an enormous bow, composed of two crescent-shaped objects connected by rope that floats alongside her. It uses planets (the distilled concept of the planet Venus, if you want to get technical) as ammunition - gods in the Nasuverse really don't mess around.
  • Snipers from Fire Emblem apply, at least in the GBA games.
  • In Medieval II: Total War, the English faction, true to history, specializes in longbowmen. Their weapons outrange and out-damage every other archer unit, and longbowmen can also set sharpened stakes in the ground in front of them during the deployment phase, which instantly kill any cavalry dumb enough to run into them. The Kingdoms expansion's "Brittania" campaign adds the Welsh and their longbowmen.
  • Red Alert 3: Archer Maidens wield technologically advanced bows capable of hitting aircraft (and are the Empire's first Anti-Air weapon) and can also fire a volley of arrows for less damage across a wide area. When bunkered in a multigunner turret/IFV, the default weapon is replaced with an even bigger version of the bow.
  • Rimworld: Greatbows are one weapon option, and the single best weapon one can get when it comes to low-tech options. It manages to compete with revolvers by sheer dint of damage done and good accuracy, and it has very good range as well. Their exact size is never specified, however.
  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice:
    • Genichiro Ashina's secondary weapon is a massive and rather thick bow, with which he is able to rapidly fire arrows from with ease.
    • Okami archers wield traditional yumi bows that are longer than they are tall. Truth in Television, as real life yumi were designed to surpass the heights of their wielders.

  • Jagganoth from Kill Six Billion Demons uses a gigantic composite bow in Breaker of Infinities. Given that Jagganoth is canonically thirty feet tall, the fact that the bow reaches from his feet to over his head while in a firing stance suggests it has a span of at least thirty-five to forty feet.

    Western Animations 
  • That hopeless coyote from Chuck Jones' Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner cartoons has tried a few times using a huge bow to catch his prey. Mostly, the fool tries using himself as the projectile. His 0% success rate remains intact.
  • A jury-rigged version of this trope (combined with a bit of Bifurcated Weapon) is used in Craig of the Creek's "Capture The Flag: Finale", where both Green Ponchos: Omar and Michelle, combine their bows together (via taping the remains of Omar's broken bow to Michelle's bow and make it larger) so they could use it to launch Kelsey as the arrow, to finally defeat Maya.

    Real Life 
  • The Yumi is a type of Japanese traditional asymmetrical bow with a length that towers most of the European bows, and the grip is located at about two thirds of the distance from the upper tip. While it can't fire lance-sized projectiles, its range is still impressive. There's also the Daikyu note , with an even longer bow length than the Yumi.
  • The English longbow was often taller than the average man of the time (up to 2.1 m in length) and fired 0.8 m-long arrows at 300+ m range. They required such well-developed back muscles that the skeletons of archers that have been exhumed from battlefields show evidence of what would qualify as deformities in the modern day. An English proverb goes as such; "To train a longbowman, start at his grandfather".
  • As far as toy bows go, the NERF Dude Perfect Signature Bow is gigantic. At over a meter long, it's more or less the size of a proper bow, hence being definitely big for children, which it's still partly marketed towards. This could explain why its original form, the Platinum Bow for the Rebelle line aimed towards young girls, had ultimately never been released.


Video Example(s):


RavenHooves' Bow

If Daniel finds enough chalices, RavenHooves the Archer will loan him his fabled bow for his quest.

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Main / GreatBow

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