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Literal Disarming

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Don't bring your arms to a Captain America fight, dummy.

"Cho moi translates as 'to cut off the weapon hand.' Because this strike instantly ends an opponent's ability to use a weapon but does not kill, choi moi is a preferred move in combat."

Sometimes, in the middle of a fight, it becomes necessary to separate a combatant from their weapon. However, standard disarming techniques aren't working or just don't quite have the effect desired, and instead, the disarmee feels the need to remove a whole hand to make sure their opponent can't fight back. This has the added advantage of making sure the attacker doesn't need to worry about their enemy retrieving the weapon and continuing the fight... they no longer have any means of gripping the weapon in the first place.

This method of disarming tends to be used mostly by anti-heroes and villains, since hacking off someone's limbs is painful and very much permanent, barring a Healing Factor or some other extraordinary recovery method. All bets are off if the victim's weapons are their limbs... in such an instance, this may be the only practical way of removing said weapons.

Lighter works may decide to make sure that the arm lost wasn't flesh and blood to begin with, or invoke Good Thing You Can Heal afterwards to prevent the damage from being permanent. When played for laughs, a Pun about "disarming" is usually imminent. Note that this trope only applies when the removal of a limb is specifically to make the improvised amputee less threatening... in any other case, it's just An Arm and a Leg.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Black Butler: Sebastian cleanly slices off Joker's arm with just a dagger near the end of the Circus Arc.
  • Chainsaw Man
    • After Samurai Sword's Devil power had run dry, he still has a handgun to use against Kobeni's knife. She dodges his bullets, slices off his forearm, snags the firearm it was holding, and shoots him with it—all in one motion.
    • When Denji and many other characters are accosted by the Darkness Devil, it enters the scene by popping their arms off like they were action figures. Bizarrely, most of the survivors' limbs reattach by being stuck back on (even if they were just humans), except for one of Aki's and both of Angel's.
  • In Dragon Ball Z, when Nappa is battling the Z-Fighters, he surfaces his energy, charges Tien, and punches his left arm off. Vegeta snidely noted of Tien, "he's been disarmed."
  • Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]: Gilgamesh draws Ea, the ultimate weapon that can destroy worlds, but before he can fire it, Shirou Emiya slices his arm off.
  • Gamaran: Gama (in a variation) finally defuses Ginki's threat by chopping his fingers off, forcing him to drop his steel club, though the latter apparently survives. Much later, Kurogane Jinsuke aims at Koma's arm to prevent him from using his polearm-based secret technique. Unlike Ginki, the receiver doesn't survive.
  • Episode 3 of Queen Emeraldas ends with the title heroine lopping off the cyborg mass murderer Vaidas' hands, before Hiroshi finishes him off with a headshot.
  • Sword Art Online: Kirito and Eugeo are forced to do this to defeat Raios and Humbert. The latter loses his right arm, while the former loses both hands and ends up bleeding to death.

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel Comics:
    • In Captain America #334, John Walker fights training dummies to get used to Cap's shield. He throws it with too much force, accidentally cutting a dummy's hand off.
      John Walker: Now's my chance to disarm it. Oops! I didn't mean to do it literally!
    • The "Judgement War" X-Factor storyline culminates in Marvel Girl absorbing the energy of the alien factions of the planet where the story took place, and transferring it to Cyclops to stop the Celestials' judgement. A cosmic symbol imprinted on Arishem's hand could start the judgement process if his verdict was negative, so Cyclops destroyed the hand with a powered-up optic blast.
    • Forge of the X-Men had his bionic hand (and leg) removed by Cameron Hodge during the X-Tinction Agenda crossover to make him less dangerous. It was also twisted payback for deliberately putting himself in stasis so nobody could find the X-Men's plan by scanning his mind.
    • In Old Man Logan's 2016 series, Logan has to defend a Canadian town from an attack by the Reavers, and at one point he cuts Lady Deathstrike's deadly clawed hands off.
    • S.W.O.R.D. (2020): During the events of King in Black, Frenzy tears off Kid Cable's artificial limb and clubs him with it, also depriving him of his bodyslide tech, which he'd been using to Teleport Spam.
  • In Sinestro Corps War, Kilowog disarms a defeated Arkillo by cutting off his ring finger, thereby removing his power ring.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): Hippolyta cuts the arm off of one of Darkseid's brainwashed victims in order to get him to let go of Donna. Donna does not appreciate the level of violence her mother brings to the fight as she was hoping to take him out of the fight without causing permanent damage, but it does allow them to move forward with uncovering Darkseid's plot.
  • In Wynonna Earp: Home on the Strange, Wynonna rips an arm off one of the zombie mailmen and uses it to beat him to death (again).

    Fan Fiction 
  • In A Brighter Dark, Corrin finishes her duel against Kaze by slicing off his sword-wielding hand moments before executing him and Rinkah.
  • In The Veil during a fight with some Death Eaters, Isolt casts a spell that removes the wand arm of one of them and then banishes it at him.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Sherlock Gnomes, Irene Adler rips the arm off Big Boy Gorilla while arm-wrestling him.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 68 Kill, Dwayne literally disarms Leroy by using a shotgun to blow off the arm with which Leroy is holding the pistol.
  • In Army of Frankensteins, Jimmy has his arm ripped off by a Frankenstein who then proceeds to literally beat him with the soggy end.
  • Avengers: Endgame: When the remaining Avengers corner and restrain Thanos in his retirement garden a couple of weeks after the finger snap, Thor cuts his Infinity Gauntlet-wearing arm off for good measure so he won't be able to use it. Turns out Thanos destroyed the six Infinity Stones, meaning the Gauntlet is now useless.
  • In Dracula vs. Frankenstein, Dracula rips both arms off the Frankenstein Monster during their fight in the forest, before ripping off his head.
  • The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein: When Dr. Frankenstein's reanimated corpse attempts to strangle Dr. Seward, Inspector Tanner throws Hollywood Acid over its arms; causing its hands to come off at the wrists.
  • In the first shootout of The Invincible Dragon, Kowloon managed to disarm a rival mob boss shooting at him... by repeatedly shooting the boss' wrist, removing the arm in the process.
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service:
    • The Dragon at one point slices off an agent's arm for this reason, leaving him staring at the now-severed limb in bewilderment (and slow motion).
    • The Dragon herself later suffers a posthumous version, losing one of her leg blades, which are used to kill the Big Bad.
  • Lady Frankenstein: During the final battle, Charles cuts off one of the Monster's arms with an axe.
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail: King Arthur cuts off both of the Black Knight's arms and both of his legs, and the Black Knight still refuses to surrender.
    King Arthur: Look, you stupid bastard, you've got no arms left!
    Black Knight: Yes I have!
    King Arthur: Look! (points at an arm that was chopped off)
    Black Knight: It's just a flesh wound!
  • During the final showdown in Savaged, Zoe cuts off Trey's hand with a knife. The severed hand remains clamped on the throttle of the chainsaw he is wielding, keeping it running.
  • Star Wars is rife with this, with lightsabers leaving bloodless wounds and the wide availability of replacement limbs. (These are marks of contact known as cho mai and cho sun.)
    • Poor Anakin is on the receiving end of this trope a lot.
      • In Attack of the Clones, Count Dooku separates him from his hand and forearm (and lightsaber) for the first time, necessitating a bionic replacement afterwards and preventing him from intervening in Dooku and Yoda's duel right afterward.
      • In Revenge of the Sith, he loses his other arm, as well as both legs for good measure, during his duel with Obi-Wan, which leaves him helplessly burning up next to a river of lava.
      • Finally, in Return of the Jedi, he loses his hand again, this time to Luke, which allows the latter to win the duel between them.
    • In A New Hope, the lightsaber is shown being used in combat for the first time when Obi-Wan Kenobi uses his in the Mos Eisley Cantina to stop two men about to shoot Luke, cutting the arm off one of them.
    • The Empire Strikes Back:
      • Luke slices off the right arm of the wampa as it attacks him, though it doesn't have a weapon and is just an animal. Mark Hamill disapproved of the scene for that reason and thought it was out of character for Luke to do so.
      • Luke Skywalker loses his hand during a duel with Darth Vader, which leaves him helpless for the duration of the now-famous "Luke, I Am Your Father" scene.
    • Attack of the Clones:
      • Obi-Wan slices off the forearm of bounty hunter Zam Wesell as she tries to pull a blaster on him, in an Internal Homage to the barfight scene in A New Hope.
      • Mace Windu also cuts off Jango Fett's right hand in combat, and since Jango is known for Dual Wielding pistols and has a flamethrower and who knows how many other weapons on his person, beheads him too.
    • Revenge of the Sith:
      • This happens to Count Dooku in his rematch with Anakin, costing him both his hands (and a few seconds later, his head).
      • General Grievous has this happen to him during his fight with Obi-Wan, as well, costing him both of his upper limbs' hands and the lightsabers he was holding in them.
      • Mace Windu loses his right hand when Anakin cuts it off in a desperate attempt to stop him from killing a disarmed (but still dangerous) Palpatine.
  • Sympathy for Lady Vengeance: When one of Mr. Baek's assassins uses Geum-ja's daughter as a Human Shield, she closes blows the hand holding the knife off at the wrist.
  • Total Recall (1990): Quaid disposes of Richter when he tried to hang on to his dear life at the end of their Elevator Action Sequence but didn't notice that they are entering another floor until it was too late. His arms were torn off and fell to his death.
  • Transformers Film Series:
    • Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen: Optimus Prime pulls this move twice, first by chopping off Grindor's rotor arm while being ganged-up on by Decepticons in the forest (with the appendage flying about and hitting Megatron in the process), then later during the climax he gets Megatron to shoot himself in the face with his own fusion cannon before severing the limb completely.
    • Transformers: Dark of the Moon: During their climactic duel, Sentinel Prime knocks Optimus' ax out of one hand and tears off the other sword-wielding arm.
  • The Action Prologue of Yes, Madam has it's Cowboy Cop getting into a shootout against multiple robbers using a shotgun she retrieved off a dead cop. The last mook tries grabbing his pistol even as she had the shotgun trained on him, so she removes his arm with the shotgun's last shell.
  • Zombies! Zombies! Zombies!: When Pamela transforms into a zombie, she rips an arm off one of her fellow whores and starts eating it.

  • Binder of Shame: In "Monty Python Mishaps in the Deepest Pit of Homebrew Hell", El Disgusto's ninja character has his arms severed by the Most Holy of the Spider Elves.
    El Disgusto: I attack again.
    Cheating Bastard: How? How are you going to attack?
    AB3: You know he has a point... your ninja has been totally disarmed.
  • Chrysalis (RinoZ): Thinking that the ants have been sent by heaven, Beyn the preacher taps Anthony with a ceremonial mace — so Anthony bites his arm off. The stump gets healed, but it's not easy for humans to grow limbs back, so Beyn remains one-armed after that. Interestingly enough, it doesn't stop Beyn from worshipping the ants.
  • Inverted in Peter Pan: at some point prior to the events of the book, Peter and Captain Hook dueled and Peter cut off Hook's right hand, throwing it to a crocodile. Hook made the most of this situation and weaponized his missing member.
  • Reign of the Seven Spellblades:
    • At the climax of Oliver and Nanao's battle with Vera Miligan in volume 1, their opponent reveals a basilisk eye grafted to the back of her hand. That should have ended it, except Nanao spontaneously invents the eponymous Seventh Spellblade and cuts everything between her and Miligan's wrist with sheer force of will, including the space between them, sending that hand flying. For her part, Miligan later reanimates the severed appendage to serve as her familiar.
    • In the epilogue, Oliver does the same thing to Darius Grenville, using the Fourth Spellblade, Angustavia, to find the one future in ten thousand where he won the duel.
  • In Shadow of the Conqueror, Daylen loses both of his arms to Lyrah, in an attempt to immobilize him for a Coup de Grâce. As he has some sunstones tucked under his clothing, however, he's able to quickly regenerate both of them.
  • Star Wars: Honor Among Thieves: Bounty Hunter Baasen Ray is about to shoot Chewbacca when Han gets to a dropped blaster first and shoots the other's gun hand clean off. When Baasen reappears later, he's placed a metal cap over the stump.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: In "The Christmas Invasion", during the duel between the newly regenerated Tenth Doctor, the Sycorax cuts off the Doctor's right hand which was holding the sword. However, thanks to the Doctor being within 15 hours of his regeneration he is able to regrow his hand with a stronger better fighting hand, where he proceeds to overwhelm the Sycorax leader and knock him down.
  • Highlander: Duncan cuts off Xavier St. Cloud’s hand though he isn’t able to behead him then. Xavier gets a prosthetic and a lot of speculation on Immortal healing abilities was generated.
  • In season 3 of Justified, a running Chekhov's Gun is that villain Robert Quarles has a secret gun rail hidden in the sleeve of his jacket. Any time he extends his arm, his opponent is in danger of being shot and killed. In the season finale, Quarles extends his arm to shoot the protagonist, Raylan Givens, only to have his arm cleaved off at the shoulder by Limehouse, the butcher Quarles had threatened earlier in the scene.
  • The Wheel of Time (2021): The Questioner had cut off the hands of the Aes Sedai before burning her.

  • The Book of Mormon: Ammon defends himself from a gang of club-wielding robbers by "smiting their arms with the edge of his sword". He apparently cut all the way through, because his fellow servants then proceed to gather up the fallen arms, to present to the king as evidence of his achievement.

  • In We Are All Pokémon Trainers Tagg slices off Tokarev's pistol hand with an Aura blade to prevent him from shooting him while the latter is trying to beat him to death.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • This is a relatively common tactic among Dwarf Fortress players; hacking off an opponent's hand deprives them of not only a weapon, but parrying capabilities, as well, leaving them open for a potentially fatal blow—or you can wait a while until they pass out (and probably die) from blood loss.
  • In Life Is Strange: Before the Storm's first episode, "Awake", you have the option of playing a Dungeons & Dragons game. The final boss of said game within a game is wearing a bracer that protects him against fire. If you choose the right options, Chloe's character will be able to chop his arm off, allowing the other player's wizard to blast him with a fire spell.
  • In the MechWarrior series, shooting the arm off of an enemy Humongous Mecha will destroy any weapons mounted there, and on mechs that have entirely arm-mounted arsenals such as the Rifleman, a dangerous enemy can be turned into a hapless walking target. In Mechwarrior Living Legends, this is also permanent - damaged weapons in the torso can be repaired, but a lost limb or external weapon pod cannot. Pilots of lighter mechs may go straight for the arms of heavier enemies they cannot (directly) defeat to spite them.
  • No More Heroes uses this twice: first against Death Metal, the very first boss in the game, where Travis slices off both hands, causing his BFS to go flying into the ceiling. The second one is used against Shinobu, removing her right hand (and her katana), preventing her from fighting Travis any further.
  • It's entirely possible for you to do this in Postal 2 with the Apocalypse Weekend expansion (or if you have the game on Steam). Attacking an opponent with an edged melee weapon allows you to sever their limbs (or heads, if you are so inclined), which renders them utterly incapable of fighting back, as they'll drop whatever they were holding and run around in a blind panic, basically nullifying the theat that they pose. Enemies with two-handed weapons will block your blows, but this doesn't stop you from cutting their legs off and leaving them collapsed on the floor.
  • In Rimworld it's possible to capture a raider, replace their healthy limbs with Seadog Peg Legs and/or Hook Hands, and release them. Your doctors will get experience from performing the amputations and the raider will be significantly less threatening if they ever attempt to attack your colony again. Amputating limbs can also be used as an extreme measure to deal with colonists with addictions to drugs.
  • In The Punisher, Frank Castle tears off Bushwacker's Arm Cannon before killing him with it.
    Bushwacker: "You bastard! What are you doing?!"
    Frank Castle: "Disarming you."
  • The Web Game Sands Of The Coliseum (where limbs can be individually targeted) has some variations: a fighter with a two-handed weapon can't attack at all, but if they have a shield they can still perform a Shield Bash attack, and use the other weapon if they were Dual Wielding. Destroying a leg makes every fighter except polearm wielders (who can throw their weapon) unable to attack, though they can still intimidate opponents and hold out longer if they have shields. Taking the torso or head is insta-death.
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie, Arios MacLaine does this towards Emperor Dogma after Nadia notes that they need to separate the Heavenly Regalia, which is attached to his shoulder, from his body at the climax of Rufus' chapter 4 in his route..


    Western Animation 
  • Beast Wars: Megatron has an Arm Cannon in the form of his T-Rex beast-mode's head, which fires powerful lasers out its mouth. Optimus had to resort to slicing it off altogether in one of his rare head-on fights with Megatron, and was pretty outclassed until he did.