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Lawman Baton

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Bart: Can I see your club?
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 Martial Arts Staff, different enough from a generic club to be distinct, the baton is the melee weapon of cops, guards, and their ilk.

Depending on the portrayal of the police force, a baton can be:

  1. A heroic weapon (for truly righteous cops such as the Old-Fashioned Copper)
  2. A standard-issue Red Shirt weapon (especially against heavily armed crooks or supernatural menaces)
  3. A symbol of fear (especially when wielded by a Dirty Cop or a Killer 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.

On the other hand, it can very well lead to The Great British Copper Capture, when an unarmed police officer encounters an armed criminal and it ends badly.

In more modern times, many police departments have adopted the expandable baton (also known as collapsible, telescopic, extendable, tactical, or spring cosh baton), because of how compact they can become when retracted and the ease to store and carry around. There's also the option of a sturdy, big, and heavy flashlight, which can be just as effective for bludgeoning, while also giving a less threatening appearance and, of course, being a light source. There's the added benefit that with modern LED technology, a flashlight big and hefty enough to be used as a baton typically has equally big and hefty batteries that last a really long time.

If a baton is seen in the hands of riot control police, almost always expect it to be used in tandem with a riot shield, giving the officer not only some protection but two ways to dispense blunt force: either good old bludgeoning with the baton or some simple shield bashing.

Another evolution of this trope is its tendency to crossover with Shock and Awe to create a Shock Stick, especially in more futuristic science fiction settings. This is mostly because the two well-known weapons cops have to subdue perpetrators or suspects in the 21st century are either batons or tasers/stun guns. So why not combine both? Makes the law enforcement agents and their ilk's job of enforcing the law or engaging in some Police Brutality much easier.

Compare Carry a Big Stick, Staff of Authority, and Batter Up!. Not to be confused with Battle Baton.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Brave Police J-Decker: J-Decker's primary melee weapon is a giant baton, though it can also fire electric discharges from a distance to disable enemies.
  • 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.
  • One Piece:
    • Marine Captain/Commodore/Vice Admiral Smoker wields a Big Fancy Jitte tipped with Seastone to better fight Devil Fruit users.
    • Luffy from one of the special episodes (set in an Alternate Universe) also wields a normal-sized one as he takes the role as an inspector. He can even perform a Gum Gum Gatling with it.
  • 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.

    Comic Books 
  • Ex-cop and brutal vigilante Americop in the Captain America comics carried a baton as a major part of his arsenal.
  • The Iconic weapon of choice for Daredevil, are a pair of billy clubs that he uses to dispense vigilante justice by night while acting as a lawyer by day. Naturally both activities can crossover with each other.
  • Judge Dredd carries a large baton, called 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 any attempts to cut through it, and it came in handy against a perp wielding a chainsaw.
  • 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 eskrima sticks.
  • One of Jake Gallows' weapons of choice in The Punisher 2099 is a baton that can extend into a staff and has a dial that can set the toughness of the baton's material anywhere from "whiffle bat" (for non-lethal riot use) up to "titanium". Gallows boasted in internal narration once that he never used the "less-than-lethal" settings.
  • 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.
  • Inspector Ishida from Usagi Yojimbo, uses a jitte not only to bludgeon criminals and break swords but also as a badge of authority.

    Fan Works 
  • 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.

    Film — Animation 
  • 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.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In A Clockwork Orange, a now-incapable-of-violence Alex DeLarge is left at the mercy of two of his formers Droogs, Georgie and Dim, who have become cops while he was in prison/undergoing The Ludovico Technique. They take him to the countryside, maintain his head underwater in a metal trough and beat him up a bit with their batons at the same time, also hitting the trough to have him feel the vibrations in the water.
  • 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 Demolition Man, in the future city of San Angeles, the police are armed with batons... which can discharge electric currents. Although due to how non-violent their world is, they don't really have the best idea to use it.
  • In Like Flint. General Carter's Z.O.W.I.E. guards use expandable batons to fight Flint in the document incinerator room.
  • In A Man Called Sledge, one of the warders threatens Sledge with a truncheon; thinking that Sledge is safely handcuffed. Sledge snatches the club off him and knocks him out with it.
  • The Manhunt: The chief guard in the prison carries a baton that he uses to whack Ethan Wayne in the kidneys for any infraction of the rules, or even if there has been no infraction.
  • 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.
  • Police Academy
  • Rama from The Raid uses a nightstick and combat knife to deadly results against one of the many tenants of the apartment. Although he loses both weapons in the struggle.
    • In the sequel film, the guards of the prison naturally use of simple wooden batons when having to quell the riot. Although due to how brutal and messy the riot has gotten, both Rama, Uco and some of the prisoners employ it during the fight.
  • Inspector Ma from Sha Po Lang uses a telescoping baton, in a rare heroic example.
  • The Untouchables (1987). Malone (the street cop played by Sean Connery) is carrying one when he encounters Elliot Ness in the midst of a Heroic BSoD after his first bungled raid. When he taps Ness with it to make him move along, the wooden baton makes a clunk as it hits Ness' shoulder-holstered firearm. Malone makes no effort to draw his own weapon, as if he has no need at that distance.
  • 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.


    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrow. Laurel Lance tries to take up her sister's legacy as the Black Canary, but without Sara's years of training finds herself unable to handle her bo staff. After getting pummeled in several fights, she changes to a more pragmatic PR24 side-handle baton (possibly also in homage to her father, an officer in the Star City Police Department).
  • 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).
  • 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!"
  • 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-around Nice Guy.
  • 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. Joan Watson also takes up singlestick when she becomes a detective and by the second season has acquired her own telescopic baton. In season 3 Joan works out that Kitty Winter is working for Sherlock because she too uses a baton and singlestick moves.
  • Forever: A museum guard uses a telescoping baton to attack Henry in "The Last Death of Henry Morgan," having previously attacked but not killed a murder victim with the same weapon.
  • Hostages has Sandrine Renault a.k.a. Maria Gonzales use a collapsible baton to restrain the Sanders patriarch in the first episode by hitting the back of his head.
  • 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 coppers are shown menacingly brandishing their truncheons as they return to the fray, looking to inflict some serious payback on anyone they can find.
  • New Tricks:
    • One episode 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.
    • In "Last Man Standing", the Victim of the Week was a Dirty Cop who was Gerry's old boss. He was done in by a blow to the head from Gerry's truncheon, which was planted next to the body.
  • Each Correctional Officer (CO) in OZ carries a tonfa-style baton. Although they're supposedly carried for defense, there are quite a few instances of brutality against inmates, most notably when Ryan manipulates three COs into beating Jia to death with their batons.
  • The deputies in Reno 911! are quite fond of engaging in what Deputy Garcia calls "stick time."
  • Super Sentai and Power Rangers:
  • 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 open with his baton.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Arbites squads (local Judge Dredd expies) from Warhammer 40,000 carry shock batons, applied with considerable enthusiasm against rioters, mutants, and other undesirables.

    Video Games 
  • The PAX guards in Anachronox all carry batons which they are all too happy to crush your head with.
  • In the modern times, the Abstergo guards in Assassin's Creed games, are usually armed with these. If fighting unarmed, Desmond can disarm one of the guards of his baton and use it much the same way Ezio can use a sword or mace in the historical segments of the games.
  • In Astral Chain, you wield a device known as an X-Baton, a Morph Weapon that can change between a Baton, a pistol, and a large BFS.
  • In Battlefield Hardline, the baton is the Quick Melee weapon for Nick Mendoza in single-player and the police in multiplayer.
  • Alyssa from Cosmic Star Heroine, an API officer, fights enemies using various quarterstaffs. Crushing the enemies isn't their only function; Alyssa can also stun foes, shoot lasers and cast water magic using these staffs.
  • While not a cop, Simon can grab a nightstick in Cry of Fear, although this is played straight in the Co-Op campaign where the player characters are law enforcement and they can also use the nightstick.
  • The original Deus Ex has two variants: a simple collapsible baton, and an electric stun prod that 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.
  • Dynasty Warriors
    • Zhuge Dan uses a Nightstick in DW 8. Fitting for a strategist with authority.
  • 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 befitting his corporate thug image.
  • In the Final Fight and Street Fighter games, Rolento the ex-soldier fights with a baton and an acrobatic, speedy style.
  • Law enforcement in the Grand Theft Auto series often use nightsticks at the lowest Wanted level to try and arrest the Player Character. This is more common in the 3D universe,list  as cops in the HD universelist  (excluding Chinatown Wars) will instead hold you at gunpoint and shoot you if you resist arrest.
  • 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 switch to their pistols and are never seen using their batons again. Worth noting that the one stun baton you get off said CP is collectable not as a weapon, but as a battery for your suit's armor.
  • You can get one in Hitman (2016). It's useful as it allows for quiet non-lethal takedowns, and the baton itself won't be detected if you're frisked.
  • 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.
  • Some of the Infected (police Commons and riot armor Uncommons) 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. You can loot the nightstick off them after they die, though, but it's a problematic weapon against hordes thanks to its narrow swing arc and unreliable hit detection.
  • Cerberus Assault Troopers and Centurions in Mass Effect 3 use batons for their melee attacks.
  • The most obvious example, Mortal Kombat's own local cop, Kurtis Stryker, who utilizes a nightstick alongside other conventional weapons like his handguns and even uses it like tonfas in Armageddon.
    • Cassie Cage the local Military Brat uses an expendable nightstick as her weapon.
  • In Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, the cyborg Dirty Cops in Denver use these.
  • 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).
  • The PR-24 tonfa-style baton appears in the Police Quest 1: In Pursuit of the Death Angel. It's kept in Sonny's assigned patrol car when he's not on duty and he's not allowed to carry it into the station. It's used to deal with some unruly bikers who get violent when asked to move their bikes.
  • One of the bosses of Robo Army is a burly robot policeman who swings a laser-firing baton at you.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Strider Hiryu uses a cipher, which is a Laser Blade that resembles the tonfa-style baton.
  • 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, relatively quietly, and less lethally.
  • Appears a lot in the Yakuza franchise when the law-enforcement or anything related to their ilk pops up. Batons and nightsticks are also weapons the Player Character can use.
    • Kaoru from Yakuza 2 uses a retractable baton. Notably, she pulls one out when attacking Ryo Takashima in the finale.
    • Saito from Yakuza 4 and his fellow guards uses collapsible batons. Saito's also one sadistic prison guard, using the baton to heavily punish or outright kill the prisoners under his watch. His fellow guards also add in wooden katanas into their melee arsenal.
    • Koichi Adachi or any male party member that takes the "Enforcer" Job (including Adachi) are armed with batons as their weapons (the latter job uses it in conjunction with a riot shield). Adachi has the "Detective" as his default job which allows him to use different batons or anything that can be used as a baton in a fight.
    • In Judgment, at the start of the boss fight against Mitsuru Kuroiwa, he uses a blackjack sap club to take on Yagami before the latter disarms him.
    • When Yagami has another boss fight against a member of the law enforcement in Lost Judgment (this time Kisuke Watanabe), the latter pulls out an expandable baton to fight him.

    Western Animation 
  • In Futurama, because it's The Future, the cops have laser batons. They look and sound like lightsabers but are really just overglorified Retractable batons.
  • Stryker from Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm not only has his trusty nightstick, it also works as a device that can close Outworld portals, very convenient and handy.
  • Shows up occasionally on The Simpsons with "Springfield's Finest" usually using them for police brutality.
  • 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!"
  • 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.
  • In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the Mandalorian police carry 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 are forbidden.
  • The titular Superjail! has Alice as it's sole top prison guard (although Jailbot sometimes helps out too) and befitting her occupation she has a liking for batons, specifically nightsticks and has used them to brutalize the inmates from time to time. She even wielded two of them when taking part in a secret fighting ring where she shoves them into the eyes of her poor opponent. Her Distaff Counterpart, UltraPrison's Bruce makes use of a retractable baton instead, save for one time when he pulled out a massive nightstick out of his trousers (mostly to compete with Alice).


Video Example(s):


Mitsuro Kuroiwa vs Yagami

Kuroiwa takes out a blackjack/sap club during his Dynamic Intro before his boss fight.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / LawmanBaton

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