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Knows the Ropes

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They did knot see that coming.
Whips and chains offer plenty of advantages in combat. Being able to hit your opponents from a distance with just a cool flick of the wrist is way too unrealistic to pass up.

Then there are characters who use ordinary rope or string — the most basic, unweaponized version of the above — in battle as a tool.

Sure, it might not be lethal, but you can use it to pull anything or anyone anywhere, restrict your opponent's movement or just get a hold on them, use tension or torsion to launch something, lay a trap for an unsuspecting foe... or just about anything else that can control the flow of a fight. Fiction allows for shenanigans like Variable-Length Chain and Instant Knots, so these characters can duplicate a Grappling-Hook Pistol to pull themselves around in settings that don't technologically allow for one.

Of course, rope can be applied in ways like Razor Floss and Choke Holds where it can be lethal.

Sometimes overlaps with Master of Threads. Characters like this tend to be along the lines of The Smart Guy, The Sneaky Guy, The Chessmaster, and the Combat Pragmatist thanks to the levels of complexity and deception that their rope tricks demand. This can also have several implications.

Blade on a Rope is a sub-trope of this if the rope has, well blades at the end of it. Not related to Wire Fu.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ayakashi Triangle: The rope fastening Matsuri's sword sheathe to his battle suit is much longer than it looks. He can quickly unravel it, swinging it around his opponents to tie them up, using the attached sheathe itself as a weight.
  • Decim from Death Parade is able to manipulate a seemingly infinite amount of strings as his power. Regular humans are unable to break them, and hes able to magically put someone to sleep with them. While he usually only uses them to carry people or restrain guests who become violent, hes also used them to hurl furniture at a coworker who angered him.
  • Vanessa Enoteca from Black Clover uses Thread Magic, letting her form magical string that's virtually invisible to entangle enemies, move them like puppets, and even seal wounds.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
  • One Piece: Paulie, one of the shipwrights of the Galley-la Company, specializes in using ropes in combat, in a style he calls "Rope Action". He uses it to bind and throw his enemies around, and occasionally turns his ropes into a net, either to capture his opponent or to help his friends.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman made frequent use of this fighting style prior to Batman (1989) and subsequent adaptations making the Grappling-Hook Pistol his Iconic Item. Particularly notable in 70's-90's era Batman, where a batrope attached to a batarang (combining this trope and Battle Boomerang) was used both to facilitate a Building Swing when required, as well as to entangle and ensnare Bat-foes as needed.
  • In Critter, Lasso Lass, a member of the superhero team The In Crowd, uses a high-tech lasso as her weapon of choice.
  • Firestorm (DC Comics) villain Slipknot fights with ultra-durable ropes, which he uses to strangle, grapple with, or immobilize his opponents.
  • In Judge Colt, Colt's part-time bailiff and travelling hangman Jesse Stone knows his way around a rope. In #2, after emptying his gun during an ambush, he pulls out his hangman's rope and uses it like a lasso: dropping the noose around the neck of one his attackers and choking him into submission.
  • Rulah, Jungle Goddess: In "Satyrs of Satan!" (Zoot Comics #13b), Rulah battles a Mongol princess named Zenpha who is an expert with the lariat.
  • Spider-Man:
    • The titular hero utilizes his webbing like this as much as he uses it to actually web things like a traditional spider. This is particularity noticeable in the video games, where it's often uses to make a flail-like weapon out of rubble or unfortunate mooks, as well as slingshots to launch Spider-Man at enemies at high speed.
    • Montana of the Enforcers is a straighter example. He's a cowboy-themed villain whose main weapon is naturally a lasso.
  • Wonder Woman's magical Lasso of Truth is her most iconic weapon. Her sidekicks Donna Troy and Cassie Sandsmark also use lassos of their own.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Day of the Evil Gun: When they are being pursued on horseback by the Apache, one brave lassos the Winchester out of Warfield's saddle boot, while another lassos his revolver out of his hand.
  • The kung-fu film The Deadly Breaking Sword has the plucky protagonist (played by Alexander Fu Sheng) being ambushed by several mooks armed with ropes. But he skillfully dodges all their attacks, and tricks his would-be captors to tie each other up instead.
  • In Ghost Town (1988), one the outlaws is hiding atop the windmill and expertly drops a noose around Langley's neck and attempts to strangle him.
  • Kingsman: The Golden Circle: The American Improbable Weapon User Agent Whiskey wields a lasso that can be electrified to shear through anything the rope touches.
  • The Establishing Character Moment of the 13th Prince from The Heroic Ones, when challenged by a Giant Mook (who had killed four of his men), decides to forfeit using his spear, choosing to use a rope in combat instead. In the subsequent fight, the Prince easily disarms his opponent, and had strangled him with said rope in a Curb-Stomp Battle.
  • No Retreat, No Surrender 2 has Yuri's mercenaries, a group of monks, who ambushes Scott and his group with ropes, easily tying up the trio within moments and would've captured the heroes if Mac didn't sneak a knife with him into the camp. Doubles as a Chekhov's Skill later in the finale; when outmatched by Yuri, Scott remembers the battle with the monks, quickly grabs a nearby rope, and ties up Yuri, turning the tide of battle around.
  • The second Once Upon a Time in China has Commander Nap Lan (played by Donnie Yen), who specializes in rope-based martial arts to constrict and strangle his opponents, and gives the hero Wong Fei-Hung one hell of a tough battle. Nap Lan's rope whip can even shatter a wooden crate in one scene!
  • In Phantom of the Mall: Eric's Revenge, the mall owner's son, Justin, harasses Melody's friend Susie; Eric kills him with a lasso pulled into the mall escalator.
  • Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean applies this attitude to the ropes and pulleys that hold together the ship's rigging. His Signature Move involves setting off a chain reaction in the rigging that eventually lets him grab a rope and pull himself out of an undesirable situation.
  • The heroine of The Thundering Sword (played by kung-fu queen Cheng Pei-Pei) has a lengthy fight scene, where she's not supposed to kill or hurt anyone, despite her enemies being armed with swords. So instead she grabs a long coil of rope, and expertly ties all of them together after a short fight.
  • The final shootout of Tiger on Beat has Francis being pinned behind a barricade by gunfire. Francis noticed a coil of rope nearby, so he instead tied the rope to his shotgun and... voila, a yo-yo shotgun which easily helps Francis take down half a dozen mooks without needing him to break cover.
  • The climax of the wuxia, Village Of Tigers has the hero Luo Hong-sun and his Love Interest and other half of the Battle Couple, Bao Ying-Hua, being ambushed by rope-swinging bandits who ties them up, until reinforcements arrive and slices the ropes.

  • Journey to the West: the novel's version of Prince Nezha has him wielding a demon-subduing rope as part of his six weapons. Much later, the two half-hulijing brothers Gold Horn and Silver Horn possess the treasure known as the Golden Canopy Rope, a magical golden rope which can tie itself around anything when ordered. Sun Wukong tries to use it against Silver Horn, but the demon is able to turn the tables on the Monkey King.
  • In the Malazan Book of the Fallen, an alternative name for the Patron God of Assassins, Cotillion, is "the Rope", which is his chosen weapon. The way its use is described in battle is reminiscent of a variably long whip, although him being the Patron of Assassins a garrotte is another possible use for it. Justified considering Cotillion is a Physical God and has shadow magic at his disposal to aid with his rope's efficiency.
  • The Mummy Monster Game: In book 1, during the challenge for the final piece of Osiris's mummy, the player is provided with three weapons, including the sacred knot of Isis. Used as a lasso, it's able to defeat the second piece of the monster Ammit, an enormous crocodile head, by forcibly binding its mouth shut.
  • The Phantom of the Opera: Erik travelled throughout the world after running away from home when young. During his travels, he visited India, where he learned to kill people using the Punjab lasso. The Punjab lasso that Erik wields is "curiously made from catgut"; the only way to escape it is to keep one's hand raised to eye level, thus preventing the loop from closing.
  • Redwall: Mariel fights with "Gullwhacker", a length of heavy rope with large, hard knots at the ends that make it an effective bludgeoning weapon. When she first washes up on the beach with Identity Amnesia and the rope tied to her, she uses it as an Improvised Weapon out of necessity, but later designs several other versions and even names herself after it.
  • The Three Musketeers: Porthos's servant Mousqueton is extremely adept Western-style roping, a talent he puts to good use when his master needs wine. Mousqueton lassos bottles of wine out of the cellar like an expert and hauls them back to Porthos.
  • In The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School, Antoinette Rowley Rayne is engaged in a complicated skipping routine when several of the prefects attempt to jump her. Rayne manages to take them all out with her skipping rope, without ever breaking step or deviating from her pattern.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Lassos do no damage, but, like other Entangling weapons, can snare their targets, rendering them unable to take any action other than try to free themselves. They're not common weapons, so characters need special training to wield them effectively.


    Video Games 
  • The weapon chosen by Katherine in Broken Puppet is thread and needles. The needles serve as anchor points for the thread only. Once two needles are thrown, connected by the thread, Katherine can make the thread pull tight with a simple hand move. Most enemies are defeated by directly pulling a body part off or out, but the boss needs to be hit with dynamite first, which is also done by means of the thread.
  • Roxie, the boss of Babel Tower in Crusader of Centy, is a rope-like monster. Upon entering the boss room, all there is is a rope to climb that, as it turns out, hangs from nowhere. It then falls down and forms the outline of a silhouette, which is Roxie. Any physical attack performed by Roxie is therefore a rope-based attack.
  • Kirby's Epic Yarn has Kirby becoming a living yarn construct due to a curse put on him by the Big Bad, Yin-Yarn. In this adventure, Kirby has to use his yarn body to solve puzzles in the yarn-and-cloth-ified world, frequently by turning them into ropes that interact with things, or turning his body into various shapes.
  • Destiny 2: The Strand element, introduced in the penultimate expansion Lightfall, focuses on using green chords that connect everything in the universe for its abilities. Titans shape it into claws for cutting, Hunters into rope darts for acrobatic attacks, and Warlocks use it to create minions, but all of them can also use it to swing around the battlefield or pull them toward enemies.
  • Sam Porter Bridges from Death Stranding uses ropes to parry attacks and bind enemies; useful, since every dead body summons a Beached Thing that can quite literally annihilate cities.
  • Knights of Pen and Paper 2: Implied by the Taste of Power character:
    *sigh* I forgot to equip my Lasso of Anti-Rage Quit. There goes my XP.
  • One of the non-summon items found in Legend of the Ghost Lion is a rope. It is used in battle and binds a single target for duration of combat, preventing them from attacking. Of course, it doesn't work on bosses.
  • Sion in Melty Blood wields, along with a pistol, the Etherlite. The thread is invisible to the naked eye but virtually indestructable, and she can use it as a Mind Probe to read other people's minds. She can use it like a whip or trip up or pull the opponent in combat.
  • Arizona from Them's Fightin' Herds uses a lasso as part of her moveset, which is used for special attacks or to wrangle opponents closer.
  • Wario World: One of Spideraticus' attacks is to spit Glue Globes out on his web-lines trying to get Wario stuck, and then suck them back in. Doing so allows Wario to get close enough for a Ground Pound.

    Western Animation 
  • When Mary joined to Knights in King Arthur & the Knights of Justice, Merlin gave her a Rope of Strength in case anyone needed to be pulled from the mud. She did just that, but also used it for combat purposes by halting the arm of the Boulder Basher.
  • The Legend of Korra contains a possible variant - the Metalbending Police use prehensile steel cables as their main weapon while on duty.
  • Like her pony counterpart, Applejack of My Little Pony: Equestria Girls is prompt to use a lasso when needed. She keeps it with her in Hammerspace at all times, even in a formal dress.
  • Rope Girl from Teamo Supremo fights using a jump rope. Depending on the situation, she uses it as a whip, lasso, binding material, and the like. It's also used for the team's Transformation Sequence.

    Real Life 
  • One of the traditional weapons of Hapkido is the Pho Bak, a length of rope or a belt.
  • Hojōjutsu is a traditional Japanese method of restraining an opponent with a single piece of rope, often paired with grappling techniques in Jiujutsu schools. Knots are avoided due to the shameful connotations of being bound in public.