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Soul-Cutting Blade

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"The Soul Reaver, Kain's ancient blade. Older than any of us, and a thousand times more deadly. The legends claimed that the blade was possessed, and thrived by devouring the souls of its victims. For all our bravado, we knew what it meant when Kain drew the Soul Reaver in meant you were dead."

Exactly What It Says on the Tin. It's a blade so sharp that it can harm the soul itself; alternately, it has a magical nature or supernatural quality that allows it to affect souls (and often similar kinds of incorporeal entities such as ghosts or demons). Or it may just be evil. Some works also go with the soul being more "real" than physical reality; so something that affects it must also be more real than your everyday, comparatively intangible reality.

It may cause pains on the soul for the affected. Some particularly sinister weapons actually consume souls. It's usually noted as a One-Hit Kill weapon. It's often an Infinity +1 Sword and/or Immortal Breaker as well.

The ability to affect souls doesn't make something evil in and of itself, however:

Most incarnations of The Grim Reaper or a Psychopomp use their scythe to separate the soul from the body (or similar bladed tools like swords), reminiscent of an executioner's weapon. Those examples almost always go with "a blade real enough to cut a soul" as the reason they can do this.

A bit of Fridge Logic says that in works where surgery on souls (such as mental trauma surgery) is possible, it'd also need something like this.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Naruto:
    • The Totsuka no Tsurugi wielded by Itachi's Susanoo. It can put the enemy impaled by it into a Lotus-Eater Machine for eternity, as Orochimaru found out the hard way.
    • The Death God itself wields a knife capable of harming souls, as it cutting off the arms of Orochimaru's soul during the Shiki Fuijin sealing technique managed to paralyze them.
  • Shaman King also has this in Yoh's second most powerful Oversoul has the ability to "purifies the very soul", meaning it can cleave the soul also implying that it doesn't physically damage the opposition.
  • The Lance of Longinus (a spear used to stab Christ during the crucifixion) is sometimes given this lore, which is why in Neon Genesis Evangelion it's able to pierce an AT Field, since it turns out the AT Field is in fact the barrier of one's own soul.
  • This is essentially what the phantoms do in Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. One swipe, and your soul is instantly ripped out of your body, which falls dead on the spot.
  • Bleach:
    • Zanpakuto directly translates to "Soul Cutting Sword". Its primary purpose is purifying souls that have turned into monsters, though it's perfectly capable of cutting physical and spiritual flesh as well.
    • Seeleschneider means much the same, although as Uryu reveals, it's not actually a sword per se...
  • Durarara!! has Saika, a sword that possesses its wielder and can cut souls. Celty uses her shadow scythe to cut through several people, keeping bodies intact, but collapsing them.
  • Soul Eater has Masamune, who also possesses his wielder and consumes its soul. The Demon Weapons in general are this, at least for the soul-damaging part.
  • One issue of Eat-Man has Bolt consume and produce the blade of a sword created by a blacksmith who didn't create swords to harm people's bodies, but to cut their souls. He slashes at the bad guy of the week—it doesn't harm the guy physically, but he collapses with a stupefied look on his face, as if he was just delivered a slap (or Armor-Piercing Question).
  • Inuyasha Tenseiga is famous for being the sword that cannot cut. In truth, what it cannot cut are living bodies and physical objects. It's a sword designed to cut the very spirit. Any being not of the living world such as spirits can be killed by this sword. Any human souls cut by this soul are not destroyed but are cleansed, their souls rescued from hell and able to move on. If the Pallbearers of the Afterlife are in the process of taking a recently deceased soul away from its body, by cutting them, Tenseiga can actually restore the dead back to life although it can only restore a person to life once. This was in fact how he and Rin got acquainted—and also the first time he showed some measure of sympathy. As a result, its major reputation is that it's a Healing Shiv capable of saving a hundred lives with a single swing.
    • Sesshomaru actually demonstrates that it can't cut the living... by hacking it through Jakken. He screams out and looks like he's about to die... before Sesshomaru basically tells him to quit being a drama queen, and that he's fine.
  • Berserk has the Dragonslayer, Guts' massive sword. Due to being constantly used against Apostles and other evil spirits, the Dragonslayer exists simultaneously in the Astral and physical realms and can damage astral beings.
  • In Magi: Labyrinth of Magic, Hakuryuu acquires a Metal Vessel with power over the mind. This can manifest as a scythe with soul-cutting properties. He ends up stabbing Alibaba's head during their duel, sending his spirit into another dimension. This leaves Alibaba in a coma.
  • Quite the principle behind the Rune Save form that the Ten Commandments wields in Rave Master. It doesn't cut physically; instead it affects nonphysical things, sealing them away. For example, Haru can't hurt Sieg Hart directly with it, but he can seal his spells with it, preventing them from reaching him. He also uses it to seal Elie's Atherion power when it threatened to run rampant.
  • That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
    • Hinata is introduced wielding the sword Dead-End Rainbow, which damages the opponent's soul every time it lands a hit and it will instantly kill them if it lands seven strikes. She chose this weapon specifically to kill Rimuru, as his physiology and Healing Factor would have rendered normal physical attacks useless while he has no defense against attacks on his soul at the time of their fight. He's only able to avoid getting killed by it when he both makes a Doppelgänger of himself to take her final hit (which doesn't have a soul to destroy), and absorb the blade so she can't use it again.
    • Rimuru eventually has Kurobee forge a new sword for Shion that incorporates the Dead-End Rainbow's properties. While it can't guarantee a kill with seven hits like Hinata's blade did, the fact that it's a BFS being swung around by an Oni with Super Strength means she can possibly One-Hit KO something rather reliably, as shown when she destroyed a bunch of puppets powered by fallen souls and the puppet master Clayman was shocked that they didn't automatically repair themselves as they would have otherwise since she destroyed the souls. She then gave a further demonstration when she de-limbed Clayman, and despite him possessing Ultraspeed Regeneration he couldn't heal because the damage was on a physical and spiritual level, while his healing only covers the former, and it was only by his Awakening into a True Demon Lord (which transforms and strengthens someone physically and spiritually) that he managed to heal and reattach his limbs.

    Comic Books 
  • Katana from The Outsiders has a katana that not only removes the soul from the body of its victim, but traps the soul in the blade.
  • Magik has her Soulsword which can affect supernatural entities and originally didn't harm mundane beings. But since her various power upgrades, Magik can harm body and soul of normal enemies.
  • In the Disney Kingdoms' The Haunted Mansion book, the ghost of pirate captain Bartholomew Gore and the ghost of black widow Constance Hatchaway both have special dark magic powers due to having died in the magic-soaked Mansion itself. This manifests in their respective weapons (Constance's axe, which she uses to behead, and the Captain's cutlass) becoming able to slice through ghosts. This does not kill them in any meaningful sense, but it is crippling, and only the more powerful ones (or those helped by more powerful ones) can reform after being sliced through. Ironically, the Captain is disposed of at the end by Constance beheading him.

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm: It seems words can be used as one - but this is uncertain. Both examples shown happen onscreen and to the respective viewpoint characters; but they don't realise this is going on, and neither does the reader until later (though if you know it's quite obviously visible). In any case, the ability seems extremely rare. It's unclear whether (just as in the mythology example) this has to be done by a deity (or someone who might as well be one); whether it's virtually unknown in-universe; whether it requires insane amounts of power control - or whether it's a coincidence that both characters seen doing it are certainly not short on either knowledge or skill. Messing around with someone's mind, on the other hand, is quite common.
    • In Ghosts of the Past, Joshua/Yehoshua uses soul cutting words as a tool for mental trauma surgery. This is done by and helping along the words of rather more conventional counseling in a case of maybe mundane, maybe mundane utility; so it's completely unnoticeable at the time. It's only deduced later by someone else realising the patient is doing way better than they ought to be, and looking to find out why.
    • In Unfinished Business, Doctor Strange rips into an opponent with a barrage of savage comments in a duel. Just like in the example above, it's ambiguous whether the effect is purely psychological or deeper - certainly, he makes them vomit up chunks of their soul. This later comes back to bite him when said opponent uses some of the ready-made soul fragments for their own magic.

    Films — Animation 
  • Hercules includes an apparent reference to this in the scissors with which The Fates cut the "thread of life," a cord they cut to send the soul of a mortal being to the underworld. It turns out to be somewhat of a Chekhov's Gun, because when they try to cut the thread to send Hercules to the underworld, it turns out that Hercules is no longer mortal.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Grim Reaper's scythe in The Frighteners could qualify, as it will kill a human without damaging their body (generally by causing a heart attack) and can even kill ghosts/spirits (or at least force them to move on to the afterlife, no matter their desire to remain on Earth).

  • Death of Discworld's scythe is one, obviously, as is the scythe of his assistant the Death of Rats. Death's sword works the same way but is only used on Royalty. No word on the Death of Rats having a sword, and Pratchett's death means that we are never going to get one.
  • In The Elric Saga, the two demonic runeblades, Stormbringer and Mournblade count as these, and may very well be the Ur-Example in fantasy.
  • The Cosmere universe has a unique Anatomy of the Soul in the form of a "spiritweb", which a rare few forces can damage:
    • Under other circumstances, Shardblades from The Stormlight Archive slice clean through just about anything. But when slicing through a living being, it instead tears through their spirit: if the blade passes through the target's spinal cord they are dead, instantly, the soul severed. If it passes through a limb, that limb "dies", becoming numb and useless. They function this way because they were created to fight the demonic Voidbringers and needed to affect the Spiritual and Cognitive realms to work; unfortunately, they work all too well on humans too.
    • In Warbreaker, the Empathic Weapon Nightblood consumes the spirit of anything it cuts, so the slightest cut causes instant death while the body dissolves into smoke. It also starts to eat into its wielder's spirit while it's drawn.
    • Word of God confirms that Nightblood essentially is a Shardblade for all intents and purposes, and adds that any heavily Invested weapon would also count.
  • In Dragaera:
    • Morganti weapons consume and destroy souls with the slightest cut, making them uniquely dreaded in a world where other forms of death can be relatively easily reversed. They also exude a psychic aura of dread and hunger; the Empire reserves its nastiest punishments for people who use them; and an assassination by Morganti weapon costs at least 10 times the usual rate and a damn convincing reason, since No Questions Asked does not apply. They were forged by a race called the Aerioli to make war so terrible that nobody would fight, which worked... among the Serioli.
    • The Great Weapons are seventeen unique Morganti weapons. They can manipulate souls in various ways (devour, don't devour, temporarily store, etc.) as well as different powers that are unique to each one.
  • In His Dark Materials, souls are personified in animal form as "Daemons". While daemons can be killed just like normal animals, which instantly kills the human, the Silver Guillotine is a unique device that can non-lethally sever the intangible bond between human and daemon. Non-lethally being relative, since the victim is left either an Empty Shell or horribly aware of the unbearable absence until they finally give up and die.
  • Laurell K. Hamilton's Nightseer features a cursed elven sword named Ache Silvestri which can consume souls and pass on their qualities to its wielder. It's also a Talking Weapon and Clingy MacGuffin which latches on to the heroine, Keleios, because she is half-elven and demon-tainted and therefore a perfect match for it.
  • Maybe a bit of a stretch, but Merry's sword in The Lord of the Rings is actually a special blade from Westernesse, one of the few that can actually kill the dastardly Witch-King.
  • Angels in Kelley Armstrong's The Otherworld use their Sword of Judgment to send souls of bad guys off to where they need to go. The Swords can only be used on evil people though.
  • Shows up briefly in Patricia Briggs' Masques. Aralorn is injured by a soul-eating blade. In a possibly related event, it later turns out that her own sword eats magic, although somehow she never knew this.
  • In the Malazan Book of the Fallen, there's Anomander Rake's BFS Dragnipur, which holds the souls of those it has slain within an alternate dimension where they spend the remainder of their existence towing the Gate of Darkness and the large wagon it's situated in in an effort to keep it out of reach of the forces of Chaos.
  • Gil's All Fright Diner features one of these, which can be used to kill ghosts. A ghost who gets sliced by one can actually feel part of their soul evaporating.
  • The demon Barbatorem in Pact wields a pair of shears, with which it can inflict a Wound That Will Not Heal, maim the soul to De-power a victim, and even permanently cut them off from the afterlife.
  • In The Spiritwalker Trilogy if a cold mage uses a weapon made from cold steel, it can sever a person's soul from their body with a single cut. At one point in the first book, Cat ends up in the Spirit World when Andevai accidentally cuts her with a cold steel sword.


    Mythology and Religion 
  • The Word of God in The Bible is described as one of these in the book of Hebrews.
    For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
An unusual example for a soul cutting blade in that when a soul is cut, it only cuts the soul, with no damage to the body or health.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Force Weapons in Warhammer 40,000 are weapons that channel the user's psychic power through them, allowing them to sever the victim's soul from their body. Eldar Direswords and Daemon's Soul Devourer ability have the same effect, although the rules are a bit different (the Force Weapon requires the user to take a psychic test to attempt to use the ability, while Diresword and Soul Devourer require the victim to take a leadership test to resist having their soul severed).
    • Daemon Swords from the same universe. Weapons in the form of blades that act as prisons for the essences of raging daemons, as well as being powerful artifacts of Chaos. They don't really cut your soul, so much as they devour them.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The Nine Lives Stealer sword can drain the life force/soul from the creature hit.
    • Module S2 White Plume Mountain. The sword Blackrazor's purpose is to suck out and devour the souls of its victims.
    • The Book of Vile Darkness introduced the concept of vile damage, which represents such an evil violation of body and soul it can only be cured by healing magic on consecrated ground. Naturally the same book offered up a number of ways to turn your blade into a Soul-Cutting Blade—not to mention Soul-Piercing Arrows, Soul-Crushing Clubs, Soul-Cutting Spells, and so on.
    • Eberron has a type of blade enchantment called the Keeper's Fang; they don't actually have any special damage type sometimes associated with soul-cutting weapons, but they DEFINITELY qualify as soul eaters. Such blades send the soul of their victims directly to the Keeper, the setting's god of death; what happens from there is left up to the DM to decide but in no case is it a good thing.
  • Villains & Vigilantes adventure Devil's Domain. One evil spirit has a "Soul Sickle" that can suck out the target's soul and store it in the sickle.
  • In Deadlands Hell on Earth setting, Junkers can create Spirit Weapons, which target the soul directly. Notably, you can build this function into any weapon, so a sufficiently well-supplied Junker can create anti-soul missiles!
  • Plenty of artifacts in Exalted are capable of harming spirits, but the Solar charms Ghost-Eating Technique and Spirit-Cutting Attack can turn any weapon into a soul cutting blade, designed to kill ghosts, undead and gods. Some supernatural martial arts also target an enemy's life force or essence rather than their body.

    Video Games 
  • The Soul Edge from Soul Series might as well be the Trope Codifier in Video Games.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Throughout the series, there is a Soul Trap spell which can be applied to any weapon as an enchantment. If the enemy is killed while Soul Trap is in effect, their soul will be absorbed and placed into a Soul Gem in your inventory (if there is a gem powerful enough to hold it).
    • Umbra is a recurring legendary (and evil) sword with Soul Trap as its primary enchantment. According to series' lore, Umbra also absorbs the soul of its wielder, possessing them (with them taking the name Umbra), and forcing them to become a Blood Knight. Either they kill powerful foes to give Umbra more souls, or the wielder is slain by a more powerful person, who then takes the sword and restarts the process anew. (Thankfully, the Player Character can use Umbra as much as they want with no ill effect.)
    • Mehrunes' Razor, an artifact of the Daedric Prince Mehrunes Dagon, is a dagger that has a small chance of severing the soul from a victim's body, killing them instantly and giving the soul to Dagon.
  • The Soul Reaver from the Legacy of Kain series. In its wraith blade form, it eats souls.
  • In Touhou Project Youmu Konpaku's Roukanken is said to be able the kill ten spirits in a single stroke... though what it actually does is enlighten them, forcibly moving them to the next stage of the afterlife. On the other hand, Tenshi Hinanawi's Hisou no Tsurugi appears to be actually capable of killing spirits, and Kasen Ibaraki can crush spirits with her artificial hand.
  • Dragon Quest VII had a sequence that took place in a prison town, ruled by demons, where a group of trapped people were given only one possible option of escape: the only available weapon was a blade anyone could summon at any time, and would shatter the soul of anyone struck by it. Shatter ten souls, and you'd be free. Or at least, free to spend the rest of your life fighting in a demon's arena until you died. The guy running the town is powerful enough to convince everyone living there that it's a bad idea (and if you do it anyway, he'll beat the life out of you). The real catch was the sword in question IS the soul of the user, and continuous use of the weapon would be inevitably fatal to the user.
  • Apparently, Yunfei's sabre from Samurai Shodown. His finisher move consist in him striking his target, pull his/her soul out of his/her body and then slice said soul in half.
  • The hero of The Reconstruction uses this because of, rather than in spite of, his pacifist leanings, since damage to the body can scar or kill, but damage to the soul will always heal. (It's never explained exactly what "soul" means in this context—at first it simply seems to be the will to fight, but later events indicate that it's something tangible. In any event, he and others who damage the soul leave their targets stunned but breathing.)
  • In God of War III, Hades has a pair of chain-blades similar to Kratos's that have the ability to rip the soul right out of anybody, be they mortal or immortal. Eventually, Kratos takes them for himself.
  • In Muramasa: The Demon Blade, the titular weapons allow you to fight the Goddess of Thunder despite being metal, harm ghosts and spirits, and in one of the endings, cut out a soul possessing someone without actually harming the victim of the possession. Said to be because they are that sharp and that bloodthirsty. You need to master the Oboro Style if you want to keep your mind and draw out their spiritual powers, though.
  • Hyde Kido's Insulator in Under Night In-Birth.
  • Warcraft: Frostmourne is a semi-sentient Evil Weapon that sucks the souls of its victims. Even those that escape its grasp, such as Uther, still have wounds on their souls even in the Shadowlands. When it gets shattered, the souls are released and incapacitate its wielder, the Lich King, long enough for him to be killed.
  • Devil May Cry 5: Near the end of the game, it's revealed that Big Bad Urizen and new ally V were once the same being, The Rival Vergil. Desperate for more power, he stabbed himself with the Absurdly Sharp Blade, Yamato, and carved away his humanity, which he thought was holding him back. This didn't work out: the newly born, fully demonic Urizen was indeed phenomenally powerful, but also an in-universe Generic Doomsday Villain with none of Vergil's identity or motives, while his cast-off human side, V, was immediately horrified and regretful of what he'd done and set out to merge back together.

  • In Sluggy Freelance the sword Chaz actually seems to have an easier time killing spiritual beings than physical ones; might have something to do with having a soul of its own.
    Torg: You are what you eat I guess. [Turns to Chaz] You don't actually eat souls do you?
    Chaz: No I surgically remove them.
  • Unsounded: The Black Tongues have been developing a knife that can cut memories from souls experimenting with efheby venom.

    Web Original 
  • In Angel of Death, each lich has a Sinister Scythe which they use to remove human souls from their bodies so they can be eaten. Even good liches do this, as their urge becomes irresistible if neglected, and the resulting rampage is liable to have them devour hundreds of people.

    Web Videos 
  • In Critical Role, Craven Edge definitely qualifies. Typically it only consumes blood, but when full, it consumes the wielder's soul, such as the case with Grog.
  • Empires SMP Season 1: The Rune Blade, which can sever a victim's soul from their body and send the victim to an afterlife of the wielder's own choosing. For this reason, the Dwarves who created it believed it to be too dangerous, in the fear that souls severed with the sword would be trapped in eternal hells, and had plans to destroy it after it has been forged. However, it was stolen the night before it was set to be destroyed, and people had been searching for it since, either to send loved ones to a peaceful afterlife or enemies to eternal suffering.

    Western Animation 
  • In Beast Wars, Megatron created a scalpel of pure Energon for the purpose of removing and splitting Rampage's spark. Shoving a small energon blade into a spark would normally extinguish it, but Rampage's spark was altered by a Maximal experiment to be immortal like Starscream's mutant spark. However, Rampage's half of the spark is finally destroyed (explosively) by having Depth Charge stab it with a crystal of raw Energon. The other half of the spark, which had since been used to restore Dinobot, reacted to this event, restoring the memory of the original Dinobot and his sense of honor. Unfortunately, Depth Charge paid with his life.
  • In Wakfu, Qilby the Traitor's Wakfu scythe can cut things normally, but he is also able to slice and drain an opponent's wakfu while leaving them physically untouched. This is how he defeats Adamai. This renders the opponent unconscious but alive. Qilby choosing to do this instead of simply killing Adamai is the first big hint that deep down, he really doesn't want to kill any of his people (the Eliatropes and Dragons).