Officer Lou: It's called a baton, son.
Bart: Oh. What's it for?
Officer Lou: We club people with it.
Call them truncheons, coshes, billysticks, billy clubs, nightsticks, prods or what-have-you. Shorter than a Simple Staff, different enough from a generic club to be distinct, the baton is the melee Weapon of Choice of cops, guards and their ilk.
Depending on the portrayal on the police force, a baton can be:
- A heroic weapon (for truly righteous cops)
- A standard issue Red Shirt weapon (especially against heavily armed crooks or supernatural menaces)
- A symbol of fear (especially when wielded by a Dirty Cop - or a whole army of 'em)
Sometimes used to perform a Tap on the Head; however, modern UK training discourages it due to the possibility of fatal injury. They're not used quite as much as they once were now that more sophisticated less-lethal options are available, but they do still have their uses; pepper-spray can rebound on the user in a confined space or if the wind's against you, and tasers are a lot more likely to do permanent damage than a solid whack on the elbow with a big stick.
The Old-Fashioned Copper trope in general also tends to invert the brutality aspect of the trope, since the "no-nonsense" versions prefer guns (in works set at the time when British officers could sign them out of the armoury without much trouble), while the amicable Dixon of Dock Green types prefer old-fashioned truncheons. American officers (at least of the uniformed variety; plainclothes detectives won't be carrying them) will tend to have the tonfa-derived side-handle nightstick on their belt. In feudal Japan, the jitte (basically a metal truncheon with a prong for hooking the opponent or immobilizing a sword before the user can use it) was strongly associated with officers and served as their badge of office.
In more modern times, some police departments have dispensed with batons, replacing them with big heavy flashlights, which can be just as effective for melees, while also giving a less-threatening appearance. In addition to serving as a flashlight, of course.
- One Piece: Marine Captain/Commodore/Vice Admiral Smoker wields a Big Fancy Jitte tipped with Seastone to better fight Devil Fruit users.
- In Cyber City Oedo 808, the three Boxed Crook protagonists (who are working off their sentences as "special" officers) all carry collapsible red jitte. In the second OVA, Gogul even uses his to identify himself as law enforcement.
- In Patlabor, the Ingrams used by the cops of SV2 are armed with electromagnetic batons that can disable hostile Labors when thrust into the right spot.
- Ex-cop and brutal vigilante Americop in the Captain America comics carried a baton as a major part of his arsenal.
- This was the entire schtick of Nightstick and Daystick, a pair of thuggish vigilantes from Joss Whedon's run on Runaways. As their names suggest, they wielded batons.
- Sleepwalker had a supporting character named Nightstick, whose gimmick was a pair of batons strapped to his forearms.
- Judge Dredd carries a daystick as part of his standard equipment. He's an expert with it, with one rookie noting that when she was failing her Applied Violence course, she found every single video clip of Dredd armed with a daystick she could find in order to brush up. In more recent years, it's been upgraded with a titanium core to counter perps wielding chainsaws.
- While he was working for the Bludhaven PD for his day job Nightwing relied on his baton in situations where every other cop on the force would consider it suicidal to use anything but lethal force. Of course he's been fighting gun wielding criminals in this way since he was twelve even if the baton is a little different from his preferred escrima sticks.
- Red Fire, Red Planet: Among the accoutrements of Ensign Kate McMillan, a Starfleet Security officer stationed at Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards, is something called a "stunstick" (a cross between a police baton and a Static Stun Gun).
- Seven Days Survivor: Midori Komaki often carries a police tonfa under her shirt, even to school. Unusually for this trope, she holds no real attachment to them, as several have broken on her over the course of the story, and she simply gets a replacement.
- In This Bites!, Smoker gives Cross one in Loguetown. In Chapter 35, Usopp upgrades it with a Thunder Dial, turning it into a Taser Baton. Unfortunately, it's destroyed in Chapter 42.
- Lupin III: Crisis in Tokyo features Inspector Zenigata keeping a Jitte as part of the shrine to his police officer ancestors. He later uses it to arrest the movie's villain.
- In Like Flint. General Carter's Z.O.W.I.E. guards use expandable batons to fight Flint in the document incinerator room.
- Police Academy
- In the first film, Leslie uses a police baton to beat on the guys who had been harassing him prior to becoming a cop.
- In Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol a nebbishy rookie cop (played by Tim Kazurinsky) uses his police baton to totally destroy a trio of gangbangers.
- In Police Academy 7: Mission To Moscow, Tackleberry uses one in a demonstration where he complains that most of his methods are considered "excessive force".
- The protagonist of The Raid uses a nightstick and combat knife to deadly results.
- Inspector Ma from Sha Po Lang uses a telescoping baton, in a rare heroic example.
- In Demolition Man, in the future city of San Angeles, the police are armed with batons... which can discharge electric currents.
- In Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, the police force is used mostly to control the ape slaves and all carry big sticks to beat recalcitrant apes with.
- In both the 1973 original and 2004 remake versions of Walking Tall the sheriff carries a wood stick as an improvised baton and uses it as his primary weapon.
- One of the weapons used by the Precops in Minority Report are Sick-sticks. They're retractable batons that can also cause the target to uncontrollably vomit upon contact.
- The Provost's Guard in the Beka Cooper books use short, sturdy batons because they lack the lethal implications of edged weapons.
- In The Iron Dream, truncheons are the favourite melee weapon in Held. Feric Jaggar, their leader chosen by fate, wields the Steel Commander.
"The shaft as a gleaming rod of some tarnishless metal fully four feet long and thick around as a man's forearm etched all around with rich red traceries of lightning strokes, a motif which made the huge shaft appear as if it had but recently been quenched in blood. The oversize headball was a life-sized steel fist, and a hero's fist at that."
Vimes: I'm supposed to keep the peace, I am! If I kill people to do it, I'm reading the wrong manual!
- In Jingo, Commander Vimes receives a truncheon as part of the Watch Commander's regalia; it includes a nameplate reading "Protector of thee Kinge's Piece." He wonders why it's not a sword and then he realizes that it's not meant to be used; it's simply meant to show everyone he's Watch Commander. Also, a sword is a deadly weapon, a truncheon is for bringing people in.
- He is also rather pleased to note that in spite of being made of fancy materials, the ceremonial truncheon does in fact have the same length, weight and balance as the standard street-issue truncheon.
- In Nightwatch Vimes completely forbids the watch to carry coshes and blackjacks "available from Mrs Goodbody at No. 8 Easy Street, at a range of prices to suit all pockets, and should any of you approach me privately I absolutely will not demonstrate a variety of specialist blows suitable for these useful yet tricky instruments".
- In the Matthew Hawkwood novels, Hawkwood carries a heavy tipstaff in the inside pocket of his coat, which he is quite adept as using as a weapon; even using it to hold off an assailant who attacks him with a sword in Resurrectionist. It also doubles as a Staff of Authority as it is hollow and contain his warrant of authority as a Bow Street Runner.
- In one episode of CSI, a Tabletop game invented by Hodges (which features Flanderised versions of the cast) has a Brutal version of Brass who threatens a suspect with a collapsible truncheon (which he's never been shown with in the series thus far).
- Dixon of Dock Green strongly averts the Police Brutality aspect of the trope, only using his truncheon to protect the public and generally being an all round Nice Guy.
- Hostages has Sandrine Renault aka Maria Gonzales use a collapsible baton to restrain the Sanders patriarch in the first episode by hitting the back of his head.
- The Elementary rendition of Sherlock Holmes practices singlestick for self-defense, considering it a simple and elegant fighting style. He makes use of it with a collapsible metal baton in "M." to capture the Serial Killer who he thought killed Irene Adler.
- One episode of New Tricks has Jack trying to reconcile with an old friend who has never forgiven Jack for joining The Met and cites the massed baton charges employed by said force during the UK miner's strikes of the mid-80s.
- A Season Five episode of The Detectives has the hapless duo trying to rescue their boss's grand-daughter from an environmental protest before the Met's Territorial Support Group do a raid. Or as Bob describes them due to their brutality:
"The BYOB squad; Bring Your Own Baton!"
- In Samurai Sentai Shinkenger and Power Rangers Samurai, the Gold Ranger pairs a jitte with a mechanical paper lantern as a secondary weapon set. They can grow and combine into a Humongous Mecha.
- Vera: In "Old Wounds", Vera's team investigates a cold case when a girl's remains are found in the woods twenty years after she disappeared. The murderer was a police officer policing the picket lines during the miner's strike, who killed her by cracking her skull with his baton.
- Inspector George Gently: In "Gently Between the Lines", police with truncheons charge to disperse a group of protesters. After one of the policemen is injured in the ensuing melee, a group of three of coppers are shown menacingly brandishing their truncheons as they return to the fray, looking to inflict some serious payback on anyone they can find.
- The deputies in Reno 911! are quite fond of engaging in what Deputy Garcia calls "stick time."
- The team weapon of the Patrangers in Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger is one of these combined with a megaphone.
- Warhammer 40,000: Arbites squads carry shock batons, applied with considerable enthusiasm against rioters, mutants, and other undesirables.
- Abstergo guards in Assassin's Creed games.
- Priere from La Pucelle uses a baton to beat the crap out of her enemies. This carries to her appearances as an Overlord in later Nippon Ichi games.
- Cerberus Assault Troopers and Centurions in Mass Effect 3.
- The most obvious example, Mortal Kombat's own local cop, Kurtis Stryker, who utilizes a night stick alongside other conventional weapons like his handguns.
- In Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, the cyborg Dirty Cops in Denver use these.
- Captain Vor in Warframe.
- In Parasite Eve 2 the protagonist is an FBI agent (for a fictional branch called MIST that deals with mutated monsters). The weapons you start off with are a pistol and a police baton (which also happens to be the only exclusively melee weapon in the game).
- Half-Life 2: Combine Civil Protection officers wield stun batons that they use when dishing out their particular brand of justice. After Gordon Freeman dons his HEV suit and crushes the skull of a baton-wielding CP with his crowbar, they're never seen using their batons again.
- In Final Fight and Street Fighter games, Rolento the ex-soldier fights with a baton and an acrobatic, speedy style.
- In Street Fighter Alpha, Sodom has a pair of jitte instead of paired katanas.
- The Imperial Agent's Non-Player Companion SCORPIO in Star Wars: The Old Republic fights using customized electrostaffs that look like police batons, since she is essentially a robotic prison warden who spent most of her existence herding criminals on the prison planet of Belsavis.
- Final Fantasy
- In Final Fantasy XIII, most melee-type enemies of the Corps (military/police organization of Cocoon) category wield batons in battle. Some higher-level PSICOM (e.g. Huntress) and Sanctum (e.g. Inquisitrix) enemies have them, as well.
- Jihl Nabaat in Final Fantasy XIII wields a swagger stick as a weapon but isn't fought until a DLC battle in the the sequel
- Shinra Infantrymen wield police batons in Final Fantasy VII and Crisis Core alongside their assault rifles. The Turk Reno also wields a collapsible shock baton fitting of his corporate thug image.
- Dynasty Warriors
- Zhuge Dan uses a Nightstick in DW 8. Fitting for a strategist with authority.
- Star Trek Online: One variety of Breen mook, the Ak'ched Guard, likes to get up close and personal with a neural truncheon. They're one of the more common varieties of mooks at Breen slave labor camps during the "Breen Invasion" arc.
- Some of the riot police Uncommon Infected in Left 4 Dead 2 are still carrying nightsticks on their belts when they encounter the survivors. Though, being zombies, they never actually make use of them.
- The original Deus Ex had two variants: A simple collapsible baton and an electric stun prod which is one of the player's starting weapons. Both of these are non-lethal weapons, completely neutralising the target but not killing them as far as characters are concerned.
- In Watch_Dogs, Aiden Pierce uses a collapsible baton as a melee weapon. It seems to be more for functionality than anything since it's an easily concealable weapon that can take out enemies quickly.
- Strider Hiryu uses a cipher, which is a Laser Sword that resembles the tonfa style baton.
- Alyssa from Cosmic Star Heroine, an API officer, fights enemies using various quarterstaffs. Crushing the enemies isn't their only function; Alyssa can stun foes, shoot lasers and cast water magic using these staffs.
- The PAX guards in Anachronox all carry batons which they are all too happy to crush your head with.
- In Futurama, because it's The Future, the cops have laser batons.
- In the South Park episode "Chicken Lover", Cartman is handed a baton when he's deputized. He uses it indiscriminately on whoever doesn't "respect my authoritah!"
- Shows up occasionally on The Simpsons with "Springfield's Finest" usually using them for police brutality.
- In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the Mandalorian police carried and electrified stun batons (which look just like an American police officer's side-handle nightstick), because under the pacifist government of the era lethal weapons like blasters were forbidden.
- Spongebob Squarepants: The season 3 episode "Doing Time" features Officers Nancy O'Malley and John Slugfish appearing to be beating the hell out of someone to "straighten [them] out." Their victim is revealed to be a crooked parking meter.