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Serpent Staff

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Careful, it's sssssuper powerful.
For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods.

A staff that can transform into a snake, is designed after a snake or slithers and coils like a snake.

This weapon is more likely to be used by a villain, usually an Evil Sorcerer due to how often snakes are associated with evil. A Serpent Staff is often a blasting weapon, though it is possible for it to be used for melee combat.

If a benevolent character wields a Serpent Staff, it will likely be designed quite differently from the ones used by a villain, having one or two small snakes entwined at the top rather than having a snake head for a top. This is likely to either be the Caduceus from Greek myth or a staff modeled after it.

The Trope Maker is Aaron's staff from The Bible. Ironically, Aaron was a hero despite many examples of this trope being villains. The Trope Namer is the Serpent Staff from Hexen. Compare Snake Whip.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 

    Films — Animation 
  • Aladdin:
    • In the first film, Jafar had a simple cobra staff, which he used to hypnotize the Sultan through its mesmerizing ruby eyes. After realizing the vizier was using it to control the Sultan, Aladdin destroyed the staff. Unfortunately, upon making his second wish to be the most powerful sorcerer in the world, Jafar uses his new powers to create a new, open-mouthed staff, able to fire powerful magical blasts from the mouth. In the Cut Song "Why Me", following Jafar's first staff being destroyed, he's shown having a cupboard full of extras.
    • In Aladdin: The Return of Jafar, when Jafar took on his human form, he regains his original snake staff, though isn't shown using it a lot except for one scene during "You're Only Second Rate" to fire Eye Beams at Genie.
  • The Book of Life: Xibalba's staff looks like a two-headed serpent, and can transform into one as well. The resulting beast is quite venomous, as Manolo discovers when he foolishly wishes for Xibalba to send him to Maria.
  • The Prince of Egypt: Just like in the Bible, Moses turns his staff into a snake to show Rameses the power of God. The pharaoh's priests replicate his feat (though unlike the Bible this is implied to just be sleight of hand) while delivering a Villain Song calling Moses out of his depths, oblivious that his snake is easily eating theirs.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Fighting Fantasy:
    • Temple of Terror: In one encounter against a gnome, choosing to attack him will cause him to tap his walking stick on the floor, transforming it into a deadly Serpent which can inflict a One-Hit Kill on you.
    • Sword of the Samurai: In one encounter with a Great Serpent, you may have collected an enchanted antler from an immortal elk, which can be used against the Serpent; one touch and the Serpent gets absorbed into the antler, turning to a wooden snake staff. In the unavoidable encounter with Graalsch the Toad Demon later, you can throw the snake staff at Graalsch, at which point it will turn back into a Great Serpent and destroy Graalsch for you before disappearing entirely.
  • Sorcery!: In the Baklands, you can come across Dintainta of the Steppes, a sorceress who disguises herself as an old hermit. If you obtain her favour by giving her a magical item, she will give you her oak staff as a gift — a serpent-shaped staff that gives you a SKILL boost against snake-based enemies.

  • The Camp Half-Blood Series: The Caduceus is featured in the books as Hermes's item and can assume a variety of forms such as a cell phone.
  • Discworld, Pyramids: Dios, the High Priest of Djelibeybi, has a staff with two snakes coiled around it as a symbol of office. Upon learning his entire life is a Stable Time Loop, he notices for the first time that each snake is biting the other's tail.
  • New Jedi Order: The primary weapons of Yuuzhan Vong warriors is the amphistaff, a snake-like creature that can harden its body to serve as either a quarterstaff, whip, or spear.
  • Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne: The "companion" whom Brown meets in the forest is described as having an elegant air despite his simple clothing and the one incongruous feature of his appearance is "his staff, which bore the likeness of a great black snake, so curiously wrought, that it might almost be seen to twist and wriggle itself like a living serpent."

    Live-Action TV 
  • Ace Lightning: Lord Fear's sentient staff doesn't resemble a snake but he can slither across the ground like one.
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark?: The cult of Goth in the episode "The Tale of the Sorcerer's Apprentice" possesses a scepter in the shape of a cobra. It can hypnotize whoever gazes into its eyes and holds a Crystal Ball in its mouth.
  • Grimm: Amongst its many other powers the Staff of Zerstörer can transform into a giant venomous snake whose bite is fatal within seconds. Zerstörer uses this particular ability to kill several people, and can do so even when not holding the staff. It is implied that amongst the staff's previous owners (and possibly its very first one) was none other than Moses himself.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Lord Zedd's staff showed the ability to transform into a snake and back in his first appearance. In a battle with the White Ranger Tommy Oliver, Tommy threw his sword at Zedd's staff causing it to change into a snake against Zedd's will.
  • Once Upon a Time in Wonderland: Amara was a powerful sorceress and Jafar's mentor in the dark arts. She was ultimately betrayed by her student and turned into a golden cobra-headed staff which he uses to increase and augment his powers (and as a physical weapon when needed.)

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible:
    • Book of Exodus 7:12 provides us with the Trope Maker in the Aaron's staff which can transform into a snake to demonstrate the power of God. When the Pharaoh's priests perform the same feat, Aaron one-ups them by having his snake eat their snakes. Some retellings of the story have Moses be the one who changes his staff into a serpent. This is reprised in most adaptations such as The Ten Commandments and The Prince of Egypt.
    • A lesser-known association of Moses with serpents is the Brazen Serpent or Nehushtan, a bronze serpent on a pole that was created to protect the Israelites against the bites of "fiery serpents". In the Books of Kings, King Hezekiah orders the destruction of the Nehushtan, since the people had begun making offerings to it.
  • Classical Mythology: The Caduceus is a staff mounted by wings and entwined with two serpents, used as a symbol of the god Hermes/Mercury. It is often confused with the Rod of Asclepius, which only has one snake, and is a symbol of medicine.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: The magic item known as the Staff of the Serpent has two different versions.
    • If the Python version is thrown to the ground, it will change into a python and attack its wielder's enemies.
    • The Adder version can be commanded to have one end of the staff change into the head of a giant snake. When it hits, the snake's fangs inject poison (the effects of which vary between game editions- in 1st Edition it could instantly kill a target, while in other editions it caused damage).
  • Magic: The Gathering: The cobra-headed god Rhonas carries a tall, but otherwise unremarkable, staff. During the climax of the Hour of Devastation storyline, he turns the staff into a great serpent with which to hold back the Scorpion God; it does its job for a while, but eventually the god tears the snake in half.
  • Pathfinder: The euryales, the stronger, snake-bodied relatives of medusas, wield tall, cobra-headed staves known as Rods of the Viper. These are Living Weapons, and can be used to simultaneously beat someone to death and bite them with their venomous fangs.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Battle:
    • High Queen Khalida of Lybaras wields the Venom Staff of Asaph, an animated snake-headed stave that can strike out at her enemies and spit venom.
    • Imperial Wizards who use the Wind of Hysh often carry staffs topped with ornate gilded snakes, usually cobras, modeled after the Serpent of Light that serves as their order's symbol.

  • G.I. Joe: Some incarnations of Cobra Commander carry a scepter modeled after a snake, as do most versions of Serpentor.
  • Masters of the Universe:
    • King Hiss wields a magical staff with a snake coiled around it when in human form.
    • Teela wields the Staff of Ka, a staff with a snake head that was once used by the Snake Men in their battles against the Horde and King Grayskull during the Great Wars. The staff allows Teela to track her foes.

    Video Games 
  • Devil May Cry:
    • Devil May Cry 1: The two-snake Caduceus appears as a key item named "Staff of Hermes". It allows Dante to open portals around the castle during his return trip near the endgame.
    • Devil May Cry 2: The Arcana are four sacred relics that were once used to imprison the demon Argosax and are now being sought out by Arius so he can absorb Argosax's powers. One of the Arcana is the Arcana Bastone, a staff with the wings of a caduceus and the single snake of the Rod of Asclepius.
  • Dragon Age II: First Enchanter Orsino carries a magic staff designed to resemble three snakes rearing up to strike.
  • An Egyptian Tale: Cultists are armed with serpent-headed staffs, which they can use to execute a Shockwave Stomp simply by tapping the ground.
  • Hexen: The first weapon acquired by the Cleric is the Serpent Staff, a wooden staff with a head in the shape of two snakes biting a large green reptilian eyeball (which blinks occasionally), and which can either be used to shoot magical green venom balls or (at close range) to suck the life directly from enemies. Its neck bears the trident symbol of the Serpent Riders, suggesting it originally belonged to one of them; how it comes to be in the hands of one of the heroes isn't explained.
  • The Legend of Silkroad have a wizard boss who attacks with a serpent-headed golden staff capable of summoning thunderbolts to fry your character.
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time: The evil elderly Vizier of the Maharajah, who is a Captain Ersatz to Jafar, has a staff with ornate engravings that make it reminiscent of a cobra. Not only he uses it as his walking stick and melee weapon, but it also seems to protect him from the zombifying effects of the Sands of Time as well as allows him to control the sand creatures and cast spells. A later game reveals that he recovered the staff from the Island of Time where the Sands themselves were created.
  • Shadowgate: The snake statue found in a cave is transformed into the Staff of Ages when you use the wand on it. Its appearance even has coils.
  • World of Warcraft has several such staves such as the Will of Arlokk and the Staff of the Lightning Serpent. It even has a serpent bow with Mandokir's Tribute.

  • Hark! A Vagrant: One comic riffs on Young Goodman Brown complete with an illustration of Satan holding his snake staff.

    Web Original 
  • Neopets: Several Lost Desert-themed weapons and wearables have this aesthetic, including the Golden Cobrall Staff, Staff of the Bewed, and Cobrall Wand.

    Western Animation 
  • Aladdin: The Series/Hercules: The Animated Series crossover: Hades meets Jafar's spirit (following his death at the end of the second film) and animates his ghostly snake staff in order to bring him back to life, with it not only being the source of his magic, but also acting as his Soul Jar. Aladdin and Hercules defeat him by breaking the staff, killing him again.
  • G.I. Joe: Serpentor has a pair of cobras that rest on his shoulders. He can command them to become rigid and throw them like javelins, probably as a reference to Thulsa Doom.
  • Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm: Quan Chi's pet snake can transform into a snake-headed staff. It also can morph into a belt.
  • Mummies Alive!:
    • Scarab's snake Familiar Heka can transform into a snake staff capable of firing energy blasts.
    • "Sleep Walk Like An Egyptian" has Presley in a dream state where he relives his past life as an Egyptian prince. One of his experiences is being taught how to transform sticks into snakes by Rath. Presley repeating the incantation for this spell in the physical world causes his teacher's pointer stick to transform into a snake.
  • Ninjago: The Serpentine Generals Skales, Fangtom, Acidicus, Skalidor and Pythor all have golden snake-shaped staffs as their symbols of authority (one of which is shown in the image at the top of the page.) The jewels in the center of each staff contain either venom or antivenom.
  • The Owl House: Luz's palisman Stringbean, is a "snakeshifter", and like all other palismen has the ability to shift into a staff form. Unlike most examples of this trope, Stringbean perches on top of the staff in an "S" shape rather than coiling around it.
  • PJ Masks: Pharaoh Boy, one of the nighttime villains, has a cobra shaped staff named the Staff of Ra, which is the source of his powers.


Video Example(s):


Playing With the Big Boys Now

During a theatrical demonstration of illusions, Hotep and Huy tell Moses he's in over his head in terms of 'superior power'.

How well does it match the trope?

4.94 (18 votes)

Example of:

Main / VillainSong

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