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Retractable Weapon

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So you have a rather long weapon, and you don't have the Bag of Holding or any sort of Hammerspace to store and conceal it. What to do? Make it retractable, thus concealing it and possibly making it small enough to be stored without any problems.

In the 21st century, this trope has had decent overlap with the Carry a Big Stick and Lawman Baton tropes, thanks to the invention of the expandable baton (also known as collapsible, telescopic, extendable, tactical and spring cosh baton). Although it's not exactly exclusive to law-enforcement or security detail, as these can also be seen in the hands of civilians for self-defense, or even criminals!

Sub-Trope of Impossibly-Compact Folding. Typically, any type of Blade Below the Shoulder, Laser Blade, Sinister Switchblade, Telescoping Staff, or Pile Bunker is this trope. Compare Shapeshifter Weapon, where a character that can shapeshift can create many weapons from their body, Morph Weapon which is a weapon that can take different forms and Person of Holding. See also Idiosyncratic Mecha Storage, IKEA Weaponry, Fuuma Shuriken, Sword Cane, Bifurcated Weapon Sleep-Mode Size, and Wolverine Claws. Contrast with Collapsible Helmet.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach:
    • Gin Ichimaru's Shikai and Bankai, though that's not its only or main feature.
    • Renji Abarai's Shikai and Bankai allow his weapon to extend during his strikes.
  • Chained Soldier: Fubuki's Blessing is ("Sun-Piercing Spear": Sunset), a spear whose length she can increase and decrease at will.
  • Doraemon: Great Adventure in the Antarctic Kachi Kochi: The ancient sword which is the key to defeating Blizaarga comes with a default bracelet size, which unfolds into a BFS when needed.
  • Goku's Power Pole from Dragon Ball, inspired by the staff of Sun Wukong.
  • In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Paz is shown to carry around a folding kukri which is specific enough to him that a stalker who's imitated him to the last detail has one.
  • The Guyver has blades that extend out of his arms.
  • Kill la Kill: Ryuko's Scissor Blade can retract into regular-sized scissors to fit in her pocket.
  • The Lyrical Nanoha franchise has Garyu, a humanoid insect Monster Knight who fights using several retractable blades that come out from his arms.
  • In Tokk˘, Kureha's daggers are shown to be retractable. In the manga version, Sakura's sword is shown doing this as well.
  • Trigun: Vash and his Concealed Alternate Retractable Weapon that doubles as his HAND.
  • In Yaiba, Kojiro's sword has the power to grow longer or shorter at will, though it's still a pretty long blade by itself.
  • Kirio Inasa's Elezaar Scythe from Ushio and Tora has a telescopic handle and its blade can fold multiple times, which allows Kirio to carry the normally cumbersome polearm inside a comparatively small bag.

    Comic Books 
  • Asterix: Spoofed in Asterix in Corsica. The weapon of choice of every Corsican is a wristblade, which they're not shy to show for intimidation purposes. For the big battle at the end, they happen to have also retractable swords and even retractable spears — doing the exact same sound as the wristblades.
  • Pops up quite a bit in the Batman franchise, mostly thanks to the fact that most of the Bat Family are a technological geniuses and that Bruce has the money to spend on creating all sorts of gadgets that they an easily store in their utility belts.
  • X-Men:

    Fan Works 
  • The Naruto fanfic Better Left Unsaid'', Naruto arms himself with machete on a chain post-time skip.
  • In The Crimson Garment, Ryuko's scissor blade can be expanded and shrunk from the get-go, rather than having to be stored in a guitar case.
  • DNMC has Mak's weapon Perfect Storm, which is implied to be a BFG that folds for the sake of compaction.
  • Rebora from The Final Sword can retract her sword form into a brooch. Likewise, she has an earring that can expand into musical instruments and retract at will.
  • Just like in the source material, Cheetara from Heroes Of Thundera carries a telescopic staff as her weapon of choice.
  • Played for drama in Vow of Nudity when Spectra is ordered by Iaqo to kill Gloria. Spectra tricks him by swapping her magical rapier into a theatrical saber (complete with a collapsible blade) before "stabbing" Gloria in the chest, to ensure it doesn't deal any actual damage.

    Film Ś Animated 

    Film Ś Live-Action 
  • Back to the Future Part II: The expanding baseball bat used by Griff Tannen in 2015, which he uses to attack Marty.
  • Demon of the Lute: Yuan Fei the swordsman uses a broadsword whose blade can retract to less than two inches, and extends itself to regular length when drawn.
  • Hellboy: Kroenen's arm blades in the opening scene.
  • Hellboy II: The Golden Army: had Prince Nuada's spear/sword, also with a nifty self-repair or slow painful death feature.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
  • The Mummy Returns has a retractable spear/sceptre, which is a Legendary Weapon known as the Spear of Osiris.
  • The New Legend of Shaolin: Hung Hei-kwun, the protagonist played by Jet Li, uses a retractable spear that can be folded to the size of a calligraphy brush. In the opening fight he triggers an extending mechanism that allows this spear to skewer 3 ninjas at the same time.
  • In Out of Sight, Marshall Karen Sisco is threatened by an ex-boxer turned gangster who attempts to intimidate her and implies that he's going to beat and rape her. She half turns away for him for a moment, then pulls a retractable baton out of her bag, and beats him with it when he tries to grab her.
  • The Predator has retractable wrist-blades. The sequel Predator 2 adds a retractable staff/spear to the species' arsenal.
  • RoboCop has the terminal strip. It's more of an Improvised Weapon. Normally, the terminal strip is used for interacting with data ports and downloading information from the police database, but he occasionally uses it for offing criminals.
  • Star Trek (2009): Sulu's katana.
  • The lightsabers from Star Wars look like small flashlights when not activated.
  • TRON: Legacy: The Black Guards' staffs and Quorra's sword have Laser Blades coming out of batons (on the same principle as Light Cycles and Light Jets).
  • In the original Underworld movie, werewolf leader Lucian carries a very long, very spiffy retractable arm blade hidden in the right sleeve of his Badass Longcoat. The mechanism to move and store the blade is never shown, which is probably for the better since the blade alone is longer than his forearm, making the whole design pretty much useless for everyday use if not for the Rule of Cool.

    Literature 
  • One of the weapons in Cretan Chronicles is a twig that can extend itself into a spear, which increases combat ability, but can only be used once.
  • James Bond: In the series continuation by John Gardner (starting with Licence Renewed), Bond started carrying an ASP tactical baton as part of his usual armament.
  • Larry Niven's Known Space: variable swords (Monofilament wire reinforced with a stasis field) extend from and retract into the handle, their state only obvious from the ball at the very tip of the blade to reduce accidents from not knowing where the blade actually is located.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Andromeda: the Force-lance, which can extend to a 2-meter-long quarterstaff.
    • Unusually for this trope, force lances are also frequently used in their collapsed state as guns, and the fact that pointing them would be more difficult than a gun is explained by the use of guided bullets.
  • Angel:
    • The titular character used single retractable arm blades on each forearm—notable in that they were wooden stakes specifically for fighting vampires. He tended not to use them in later series though when the show moved away from its original detective-style.
    • Wesley Wyndam-Price had one in later series after he Took a Level in Badass. Special mention as it could function as an 'assassin' style short blade or fold out into a fully-fledged longsword via an 'unfolding' method that was one of the cooler special effects to appear on the show.
  • Arrow: Oliver Queen has a collapsible compound bow for unexpected social occasions like Nazis from an alternate Earth gatecrashing a wedding.
  • Babylon 5: the Minbari Fighting Pike aka Denn'Bok. Preferred weapon of the Rangers.
  • Doctor Who: In the 2005 reboot onwards, the Doctor's sonic screwdrivers usually have an extending/retracting feature. Eccleston/Tennant's is a sliding mechanism while Smith's has a spring-loaded claw. While this is purely for Rule of Cool, it's sometimes played for Something Else Also Rises laughs.
  • Elementary: Sherlock Holmes, who's trained in Singlestick, carries a collapsible baton to use against criminals. When Joan Watson begins training as a detective she also takes up Singlestick and acquires her own baton. In season three Joan works out that the young woman who's been trailing her is Holmes' new assosciate when the woman whips out a baton to engage Joan in a fight.
  • Lost: Ben Linus occasionally uses a collapsible baton on the rare occasion he's forced into a fight. He once took out two armed Arab soldiers using just his baton and some quick reflexes.
  • In the The Shannara Chronicles, the High Druid Allanon carries a sword that unfolds from its hilt in a way that doesn't seem entirely possible, but is presumably magic.
  • In the Icelandic detective drama Trapped, police do not normally carry guns, so their main weapon is a collapsible baton.
  • Ultraviolet (1998). Vaughan's personal weapon is a spring-loaded ice-pick with a spike made from carbon-compound—basically a modern and unobtrusive Wooden Stake.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In Norse Mythology, Thor could shrink down his hammer Mjöllnir so that he could fit it inside his clothes. For this reason, Mjöllnir-shaped pendants are common in that part of the world.
  • Journey to the West: Sun Wukong's iron-banded rod is the quintessential Telescoping Staff, and when not in use, he shrinks it to the size of a toothpick and keeps it behind his ear.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech: The Retractable Blade is a melee weapon that is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Though it's not actually a weapon so much as a tool that was added to some battlemechs for use as an Improvised Weapon. There are also some mechs that have fluff regarding some of their weapons being retractable, but this is purely flavor text that has no impact on gameplay.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The Shrink Item spell can be put to this usage, turning weapon into apparently inoffensive trinkets until a command word is spoken. It can also be rendered permanent, although theoretically it doesn't work on magic items.note 
    • The Savage Species splatbook introduces "Hideaway" weapons, which magically fold up on pressing a stub, leaving an inconspicuous and easy-to-hide cylinder fitting in the palm.
  • Eclipse Phase has the "Flex Cutter" which is a machete made out of a memory polymer that becomes stiff or flexible enough to roll up with the push of a button.
  • In Shadowrun, retractable claws are available as cyberware and known by the nickname "wolverines". As well as a collapsible staff and the Victorinox memory blade which folds into a belt.

    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed: The Hidden Blade, the signature weapon of the Assassin Brotherhood.
  • Adam Jensen's arm blades in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, which can come out of his wrists or his elbows.
  • BattleTech: The Hatchetman, added in the Urban Warfare expansion, has an axe in its right arm. When it uses a melee attack, the axe extends out to strike, then folds back up and retracts back into the arm.
  • In the intro video to Battlezone II: Combat Commander, the Voyager 2 space probe is shown to have a pair of machine guns concealed in the body, which will extend out of the body and jettison their concealing covers when the probe detects an incoming threat.
  • Death Stranding: Your weapons are compartmentalized in wireframe casings which can be placed among your other luggage. Once you need a weapon, Sam will break open the casing, causing the weapon to extend to its regular form.
  • The first weapon you obtain in Diluvian Ultra is your trusty Bloodsword. When collected, it's a stumpy hilt, until you deliberately cut your hand on it to trigger the weapon, resulting in a long, powerful, glowing red blade to extend.
  • Dishonored: Corvo Attano's collapsible sword.
  • Elite Dangerous has retractable weapons on all ships, as the Frame Shift Drive needs a smooth profile to engage. Other ships will be alerted when you deploy your hardpoints.
  • On Final Fantasy XIV magitek weapons often retract into compact forms when not in use.
    • The boss of the dungeon "The Swallow's Compass" Qitian Dasheng is based heavily on Sun Wukong from the Journey to the West example above. Whether he extends or retracts his staff gives away what his next attack will be.
  • Spaceship weapons in FTL: Faster Than Light slide into the ship's hull when they are not powered.
  • Hitman (2016) and its sequels feature a foldable combat knife and a foldable baton. Both cannot be detected in searches.
  • Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII: Dual blades fold into themselves when Lightning sticks them to her back. The opening cutscene also shows that her Night Lotus shield can condense to a less obstructive form, although the player never gets to see this in gameplay.
  • The weapons in Mass Effect fold up to much smaller sizes when they're not used. Special mention goes to the omni-blades in Mass Effect 3, which literally do not exist until used, as they are flash-forged at the press of a button.
  • Several weapon classes in Monster Hunter are packed up when put away:
    • Heavy Bowguns are usually so big they're carried in a collapsed form. Weapon drawing therefore takes a lot longer because you have to reassemble the weapon.
    • Gunlances and Bows are stored similarly folded in half.
    • Lances and some Insect Glaives telescope into themselves a bit.
    • Switch Axes reconfigure themselves to be as compact as possible.
  • Mortal Kombat: Baraka's Tarkata arm blades
  • Jade uses a retractable staff as part of her arsenal in Mortal Kombat.
  • Popular in Space Engineers; retracting weapons into your ship allows you to hide your ships true capabilities and protect them from damage, but it requires enough internal space for the mechanisms (pistons, rotors) to actually move the weapons about, and it's possible for damage to jam up pistons leading to the nasty situation of a jammed rocket launcher firing straight into the innards of your ship.
  • Team Fortress 2: The Spy's butterfly knife.
  • Aiden's collapsible baton in Watch_Dogs.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 3 features Blades, various weapons that the user can summon at will and only appear in battle.

    Web Animation 
  • In RWBY, a lot of weapons are collapsible. Some Fridge Logic is pointed out when discussing Jaune's collapsing shield though:
    Jaune: And it gets smaller, so, when I'm tired of holding it, I can just... put it away.
    Ruby: But, wouldn't it still weigh the same?
    Jaune: [dejected] Yeah, it does...

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • New Vindicators: The wizard/super-genius Jason Lamperouge crafts a magic sword that can cut through steel and when not in sword form, resembles a small cross (as in two perfectly intersecting lines, not a Christian cross) that he wears on a neckchain. It is called the Pentacle of the Blade and it extends when he speaks the word 'tonedo' which roughly means 'to shear.'

    Western Animation 
  • Dungeons & Dragons (1983): Diana's magic staff can retract to the size of a baton for ease of carrying. She also often uses its telescopic properties to boost her pole jump. It's also self-repairing, so snapping it in two is only a short problem.
  • In Motorcity, Mike Chilton has Spark Staff, which emerges from a miniature skull of his. His partner Chuck has a wrist-mounted slingshot that is also this.
  • ReBoot
    • Megabyte has Wolverine Claws in his hand.
    • AndrAIa has a extendable/collapsible trident weapon.
  • In one of the Treehouse of Horror episodes of The Simpsons, Homer discovers a plot by Kang and Kodos to Take Over the World by impersonating presidential candidates Bill Clinton and Bob Dole. When he threatens to tell everyone, the two "deal with" Homer by revealing a giant device that telescopes ominously towards him... before a tiny nozzle comes out and hoses him down with rum so that nobody will believe him.
  • In Super 4, Alex's sword blade is retractable, being half as long when in its sheath. He once elongates it much further to use as an impromptu perch, although that's in an Imagine Spot.
  • Robin in Teen Titans has bo staffs that retract to fit in his utility belt. So does Slade.
  • In ThunderCats (1985) and its 2011 reboot, the Sword of Omens' default size is a dagger/shortsword. When its wielder utters a battle cry to unleash the power of the Eye of Thundera (also known as the Warstone in the reboot), the Sword becomes a longsword. The 2011 reboot explains the Sword's small default size: Mumm-ra destroyed a star system to create the special metal capable of channeling the Warstone's power. When the blacksmith forged the Sword of Plundaar and its matching gauntlet out of it, a bunch of small shards fell in the process. The Sword of Omens and the Claw Gauntlet were forged from those shards.
  • El Tigre has claws that he can use to grab/attack people from a distance, due to a Variable-Length Chain.
  • Optimus' axe in Transformers: Animated has an extendable shaft.
  • The Venture Brothers: In the flashbacks showing Brock's Training from Hell under Hunter, one of his first acts of taking him by surprise is... hitting him on the knee with an extendable baton, that also has a large metal mace head mounted onto it.
    Col. Gathers: Are you still ready for anything?
    Brock: Ye-
    Col. Gathers: HWRONG!!!
    (Smacks him on the knee with a mace-headed telescopic baton)
  • Wakfu:
    • Rubilax isn't so much retractable that size-shifting; its normal form is between the size of a short sword or dagger, but it can turn into a BFS (with Volcanic Veins in option) in a hitch.
    • Some air pirates also have sword-lances that can change size.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television: Expanding batons, switchblades, butterfly knives, Swiss army knives, and firearms with folding/clasping stocks.
  • Some predatory mammals (most famously cats) have claws that retract into protective sheaths when not in use to help them stay sharp.
  • The stingers of ants, bees and wasps are normally retracted into the abdomen when not in use.
  • Some fish possess specialized retractable spines on their bodies to stab or slash at enemies. For surgeonfish they are on each side of the tail, while various loaches have them on each side of their skull.

Alternative Title(s): Extendable Weapon

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