Something about taking a simple club and adding a whole bunch of spikes on it makes it look ten times more dangerous. Perhaps it's because it gets rid of any elegance that may be associated with other weapons, so you're left with something that screams "this was made to smash, stab, cause physical pain, and NOTHING ELSE!", making it as Obviously Evil as a weapon can look. The flail variants look even more dangerous by making the user able to spin and whip it around in flashy and destructive ways.
In fiction, spiked clubs and flails are often used by the more unhinged and violent, with a lot of versatility in character archetypes, too. Due to the lack of elegance in its design and how simple some variants of it are to make, they are a common weapon for the standard Mook as well as the stronger Smash Mook. Their primitve appearance that puts emphasis on destruction above all else makes them popular weapons for Dumb Muscle types. Spiky brass knuckles and baseball bats are popular for stereotypical violent criminals, be it a street punk, biker, or mafia legbreaker. A spiked club or mace's almost cartoonishly dangerous appearance makes them a fitting weapon for stereotypically psychotic and Ax-Crazy characters; spiked flails are also a good way to emphasize their insane and erratic personality with them swinging them around. Spiked gauntlets, warhammers with a spiked hammer head and more intricate examples of a spiked club or mace (ones that don't look like somebody just stuck a bunch of nails into a piece of wood) aren't uncommon to see being used by evil knights or noblemen, and at times Evil Overlord characters. Its savage design also makes it popular for stereotypical barbarian characters, whether it be for Mooks in a Barbarian Tribe or a Barbarian Hero. If a heroic character wields it, they are usually a a brawler who loves a good fight and/or a more mean and unpleasant character.
Such weapons are very much Truth in Television. However rather than pure intimidation, such projections helped contend with plate armor in much the same way as hammers: by allowing the energy of the blow to be focused on a smaller point. Ironically, the spiked flail commonly found in fiction never actually existed during the Middle Ages in Europe. This was instead a distinct weapon called the morning star, which evolved from the club.
By its very nature, examples of this trope usually crosssover with Carry a Big Stick, Epic Flail, Batter Up!, Drop the Hammer, and Power Fist. Common character archetypes seen with these include Mook, Smash Mook, Dumb Muscle, The Brute, Ax-Crazy, The Berserker, and Blood Knight. For more tropes on weapons reflecting a character's personality, see Royal Rapier, Sinister Switchblade, and Good Weapon, Evil Weapon. Related to Serrated Blade of Pain and Boulder Bludgeon, and some examples/the general concept of this trope could almost be considered a combination of the two. May count as an Improvised Weapon depending on the quality of the weapon and/or circumstances of it's use. See also Spikes of Villainy, Spikes of Doom, and Spike Balls of Doom.
- One of the Blue Whale Knights' most powerful warriors, Samson Coborlwitz is a hulking giant of a man who fights with a spiky Epic Flail. Despite being themed around an anglerfish, he's not very bright, but he more than makes up for this with his strength and ferocity. Not that it does him much good against Guts.
- Sandman often uses brute force and nothing else in a fight, and would usually morph his hands into spiked bludgeons or sledgehammer heads made of solid sandstone.
- Similar to Sandman, turning hands into spike covered balls was a common tactic for members of the Clayface family.
- Spiked maces are the signature weapon of the Hawk family, with the first Hawkman (Carter Hall) being a grumpy and violent, but still heroic, character.
- Luke Cage: Hero for Hire villain Col. Gideon Mace was a Vietnam War veteran who replaced his hand with a bowling ball-sized spiked macehead after he lost his hand in combat. After he was dishonorably discharged for mental health issues, he became a rage-fueled, warmongering terrorist who tried to overthrow the American goverment on multiple occasions. He's ALMOST a Genius Bruiser, but due to his extreme insanity and arrogance (he claims himself to be "the next Patton" and lies about his military accomplishments all the time), he's not as big of a threat as he could be.
- In Hack/Slash, '90s Anti-Hero Cassie Hack's signature weapon is a baseball bat with nails hammered into it (and "KISS THIS" written on it).
- In Asterix and the Goths, the side story of "The Asterixian Wars" begins with a brief introduction to this many-sided conflict, with a few black-and-white illustrations which include the "favourite and devastating weapon of the combatants": a spiked wooden club. This leads to panel after panel of one Goth (or several) smashing another Goth over the head with this type of weapon.
- During the final battle of Mad Max 2 after The Humungus unshackles the hate filled Wez and gives him the OK to attack Max, Wez climbs on Max's truck with a spiky flail he made out of scrap metal and just starts wailing on the windshield and roof of the cab in an attempt to kill Max and The Feral Kid.
- Excalibur has some examples:
- One of the weapons Arthur uses during his first battle with Lancelot is a spiked mace, which accentuates his insane rage during the scene (Lancelot even points out that Arthur is willing to kill a man that isn't even his enemy).
- Lancelot plays with this trope during the final battle where he arrives and uses a spiked club as his main weapon. While Lancelot isn't a stereotypically barbaric or lower class character, he LOOKS the part after spending years in exile, and getting a more stereotypically brutish and primitive looking weapon like a spiked club rather than a more stereotypically refined and elegant looking weapon like the sword he previously used might be a way to emphasize his fall from grace.
- In The Kunoichi: Ninja Girl, Shimotsuki uses a pair of spiked knuckledusters to discipline Kanna. He even warns her not to move while he is hitting her because, if she does, he might hit a major organ and his aim is to punish her, not kill her.
- Several particularly nasty Immortals in the Highlander tv show have swords with hand guards or pommels that are customized with spikes for up close damage. The most notable case is probably Kronos of The Four Horsemen, who has a hand-and-a-half sword overengineered with large, curved quillions and a big pommel, all decorated with assorted spikes and pokey bits. Even the blade has spikes that line up with the tips of the quillions. Not only does it look exactly like the weapon of an Immortal so evil he made his way into the Bible as a harbinger of the Apocalypse would use, it has practical use. The blade spikes and curved quillions form a pocket good for trapping an opponent's blade then disarming them, and the heavy pommel not only balances the bulky weapon, but provides a useful bludgeon for infighting.
- The original action figures for the caveman-esque Slash and borderline feral Tokka in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toyline included primitive looking spiky maces as accessories.
- The The Transformers G1 Headmaster character Squeezeplay uses a spiked mace as a weapon. His motto is "place brawn before brains''. Amusingly, he's actually fairly smart and not particularly strong.
- The two weakest and most common enemies in Golden Axe carry a spiked mace and spiked club, and the savage Minotaur boss from the sequel wields a large one.
- Grey An Alien Dream: One of Grey's weapons is a baseball bat with nails in it.
- In Castle Crashers, the barbarian enemies and demon enemies commonly wield spiky, dark-colored maces to compliment their barbaric and evil backgrounds.
- The description of the Morningstar in Dark Souls I makes mention of this, calling it "One of the more barbaric cleric weapons", in contrast to the Mace.
- In Sonic Mania, the maniacal Heavy Rider unpredictably rides around at breakneck speed swinging a massive spiky flail around during her boss fight in Lava Reef Zone.
- Paper Mario marked the first appearance of a spiked mace wielding Spike subspecies called Clubba. They guarded Tubba Blubba's castle and were not very quick-witted.
- Zigzagged in Persona 5. Ryuji often carries Improvised Weapons like spiked bats into battle and is the rowdiest person on the team. But underneath his insensitive, rough exterior, he's a forgiving Nice Guy with overwhelming loyalty to his friends.
- In X-Men the obese,brutish, and not incredibly bright Blob carries a spiked mace during his boss fights.
- Team Fortress 2 has some examples, like "The Boston Basher", a nail-covered baseball bat the cocky and fight-loving Scout can use, which causes bleeding in addition to damage with every hit, but with every miss Scout hits himself, the large, muscular Heavy who uses his fists for melee combat can obtain a pair of organized crime-inspired, spike-covered brass knuckles called "The Eviction Notice" (ironically, this actually does LESS damage than his normal punch attack, as it speeds him up instead) and the warmongering, Ax-Crazy Soldier and the Violent Glaswegian Demoman can equip "The Pain Train", a very savage-looking Improvised Weapon consisting of a cracked piece of wood with a railroad spike jammed through it held together by duct tape.
- Knights of the Round has a lot of examples of this with their enemies and bosses, with the barbaric looking "Buster Knight" enemies carrying spiky clubs to compliment their spiked shields, spiky shoulderpads, and horned helmets the gigantic, even more barbaric looking boss Balbars carrying an absolutely enormous spiked hammer ("The Hammer" is even his Red Baron), one of the last bosses is "The Iron Golem" a giant marionette made from pieces of oversized knight armor who has Spike Balls of Doom for hands, and has very little means of attack aside from "try to smash you", Arlon wields a spiked mace and spiked knuckleduster, and due to being a Palette Swap of Arlon, the final boss Garibaldi also wields a spiked mace (he trades in the knuckleduster for magic rings).
- In Dwarf Fortress, "this item menaces with spikes of [insert material]" is one of the descriptions that can be added to a weapon decorated with a metal or a gemstone.
- Being based on medieval (blood) knights, Mega Man 6 has Knight Man, one of the eight Robot Masters who sports a spiked ball with a chain as his main weapon. Also, diverse Humongous Mecha bosses from the series have this kind of weapon as part of their arsenal.
- Several examples in the Dark Souls series as a whole, such as the Morningstar, which deals Strike damage and causes Bleed build-up, but one of the most noteworthy examples of this is the equipment of Kirk, Knight of Thorns, as all his items, from his armor and sword to even his shield, are all covered in vicious spikes with the intention of causing bleeding by either striking the foe or rolling into them.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, moblins have a fascination for adding spikes to a weapon to make it deadlier. This includes weapons where it makes no sense at all, such as bows, and descriptions of these items lampshade this.
- An early weapon that can be found in Dragon Age: Origins is the Barbarian Mace. The weapon's description says "What this lacks in finesse, it makes up in spikes." A few other spiked mace and maul type weapons can be found in the game. They universally have lower outright damage or crit chances than swords or axes, but they bypass an enemy's armor with ease.
- Baseball bats have been present since the first Saints Row game, but in Saints Row: The Third you are given the option to upgrade the bat's damage by giving it railroad spikes and chains. In Saints Row IV, the upgrades are separate from the asthetic and among the bat skins you can chose there are three spiked versions: a standard one, one that has a new bat and shiny spikes, or one that has a moldy bat and rusted spikes.
- In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), after Spike mutates into Slash, he chooses an absolutely enormous spiked mace as a weapon, to emphasize his brutal, violent, and no-nonsense approach to fighting.
- In Villainous, the destruction loving Demencia's second favorite weapon is a spiked mace, right after Bonebreaker and Nutcracker
- In Amphibia, Polly Plantar is a maniacally skilled user of said weapon. She happens to be tadpole.
- Several such weapons appeared in Europe during the latter Middle Ages:
- The most common type was the mace itself, which evolved from a plain metal ball or cylinder, with the addition flanges◊ or knobs◊. As noted above, this helped make them more effective against rigid plate armor.
- There was also the morning star, which is the weapon actually commonly depicted in fiction, as the mace itself never developed true spikes. The morning star was a distinct weapon that evolved from the club, and featured a spiked metal head fixed to a wooden shaft.note