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.
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 have several implications.
- 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.
- 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. She later develops the power of the red thread of fate, making destiny favor her companions to have them avoid attacks.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
- Joseph Joestar prefers to fight with rope and string in Battle Tendency when he's not relying on Improvised Weapon Confusion Fu. He first uses a network of string to manipulate Straizo into blowing himself up with a dozen grenades. Next, he outsmarts Esidisi by using a cut and restore rope trick to allow him to land the finishing blow, and lastly turns around a battle with Kars with another rope trick and plenty of misdirection. Joseph continues this trend in Stardust Crusaders when he gains the vine-like Stand called Hermit Purple.
- Also in Stardust Crusaders: Kakyoin's Stand, Hierophant Green, is able to unravel its body into long ropes. These ropes can function as normal bindings (like during the fight with Wheel of Fortune) or as spears (as Tower of Gray found out), but the fight with DIO reveals that Kakyoin can also use these ropes as tripwires that fire off powerful Emerald Splashes whenever they're touched.
- Jolyne Cujoh in Stone Ocean is able to use her Stand, Stone Free, to unravel her body into string. She's used this ability to create nets, bindings, and communication devices, to pickpocket other people, and to transport herself and others around an area. Fittingly, she also has a spider motif.
- 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.
- Spider-Man utilizes his webbing like this as much as he uses it to actually, web things like a traditional spider. It particularity noticeable in the video games, where's it's often uses to make Epic Flail out of rubble or unfortunate mooks, as well as slingshots to launch Spider-man at enemies at high speed.
- Slipknot of The DCU fights with ultra-durable ropes, which he uses to strangle, grapple with, or immobilize his opponents.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- In Critter, Lasso Lass, a member of the superhero team The In Crowd, uses a high-tech lasso as her Weapon of Choice.
- Percys ship control powers in Son of the Western Sea extend to controlling ropes with his mind which allows him to bind his opponents in ropes, toss them huge distances and make those same ropes immune to damage. Or he can just use them to lift things around the ship.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The titular character of The Phantom of the Opera uses the opera house's stage rigging to terrorize the main cast.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Legend of Korra contains a possible variant - the Metalbending Police use prehensile steel cables as their main weapon while on duty.
- 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.