Follow TV Tropes


Stepping-Stone Sword

Go To

As the name suggests, this is when a sword (or any weapon, improvised or not) is used as a stepping stone, ladder, or perch for a character. Whether it was thrown there (and naturally landed point first and penetrated, whether or not the weapon is made for throwing), shot there, or the character used it to slow his fall, he can then run, jump, spin, or climb off it and get right back into the fight.

This is actually Truth in Television, as this method was used by Frederick Barbarossa's soldiers to climb a crag during the siege of a bandit stronghold on the Adige in northern Italy, as recounted in Otto von Freising's Gesta Friderici. (Spears were used in this case.)

See also The Blade Always Lands Pointy End In, Blade Brake, and Blade Run, which are commonly coupled with this trope. Related to Throwing Your Sword Always Works. When a sword is deliberately plunged into the ground, it's Sword Plant. When one steps on it in midair, it's Projectile Platforms.



    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • During the Eclipse in Berserk, Guts climbs a tower apparently made out of human heads with his knife in a bid to reach Griffith.
  • Hellsing has vampire Nazis crossing a minefield by jumping on hilts of bayonets planted in the ground.
  • Naruto:
  • Asuna does a Blade Brake in one issue of Mahou Sensei Negima! thanks to her Super Strength and BFS. The sword is wide enough that she can stands with both feet on the blade without trouble.
  • In Soul Eater, Mifune sets up a Field of Blades and then runs across their hilts to attack Black Star. He sets a more traditional example in his battle against Sid, using his katanas to climb a cliff.
  • Asuka does this in her Evangelion, using her Progressive Knife and axe to climb to the top of the building that's sinking into the ground (which is actually an angel).
  • Nazuna in Log Horizon creates defense barriers horizontally and uses them like tiny footholds, allowing her and others to travel through the air..
  • Rurouni Kenshin:
    • The protagonist does this to Sanosuke Sagara while fighting him and his BFS, all the while lecturing him on how the sword he uses is so big and heavy that it can only be swung down or sideways, making it very easy to predict.
    • In the manga, one of Enishi's techniques involves sticking a sword upright in the ground, jumping off the hilt to achieve higher elevation, and hanging on to a tassel on the sword so he doesn't have to leave the sword behind.
  • Zangetsu in Bleach is shown standing on his sword once while in Ichigo's Inner World.

    Comic Books 
  • In Asterix in Switzerland Asterix completes a mountain-climb by sticking his sword into the mountain as a handhold when there's not enough proper climbing gear to go around.
  • Robin and Nightwing climb the exterior of Francine Langstrom's last place of employment by stabbing batarangs in the walls when they break in to see if any of the serum to return Man-bats to humans is in her lab. They're probably not too worried about the damage since it's a Wayne Enterprises building and they're only breaking in because Dick thinks it's fun, although an exasperated Tim declares there was an easier way for them to get access to the lab.
  • In Wonder Woman Vol 1 #14 Diana breaks off the tips of some spears and climbs up a tower to rescue the princess trapped inside by wedging them into the space between the stones on her way up.

    Films — Animation 
  • Princess Mononoke: San begins climbing the wall of Iron Town by planting a spear in it.
  • Happens constantly in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, the best example being during Cloud's fight with Sephiroth. After being thrown off a building, Cloud uses his Fusion Sword as a Blade Brake, before standing on it, splitting it in two, then doing a back flip while retrieving both swords in order to cut apart the huge chunks of concrete raining down on him from above.
  • Flynn uses crossbow bolts to scale Rapunzel's tower in Disney's Tangled.
  • Aladdin and the King of Thieves has Aladdin falling down a cliff and using his dagger to slow down. The guy who threw him down then uses his Wolverine Claws to slow his fall down so that the fight can continue. Al wins by using his dagger, which is still in the cliff, as support while he kicks the other guy into the ocean.
  • Kung Fu Panda: Tai Lung is imprisoned on a pillar at the base of a cylindrical cavern, isolated from all doors and elevators, only accessible by a drawbridge. When he unlocks his restraints, the guards try shooting him with really big crossbow bolts, but he dodges them all, picks up the bolts, and kicks them into the cavern walls, creating a series of springboards to reach the elevator and upper walkways.
  • One of the Adorable Evil Minions in Despicable Me uses a plunger during the credits to try to reach the screen across a chasm. Another minion jumps nearby, causing the plunger (and the minion on it) to fall.
  • Stefano the sea lion pulls this off in the climax of Madagascar: Europe's Most Wanted.
  • Robin Hood has a moment where Robin Hood, escaping from some guards, is barely clinging onto a protruding block on a wall. The guards hurl spears at him and miss, one embedding itself next to Robin Hood, who then using it to hoist himself up and climb to the top.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Giselle throws a sword into the side of a building for Robert to use this way in Enchanted.
  • In The Matrix Reloaded Morpheus uses a sword stuck in the side of a truck as a perch. Balancing on the sword handle and the side of another truck, he grabs the Keymaker off Trinity's bike, throws him up onto the top of the first truck, then jumps up after him. And whips off his Cool Shades. He's Laurence Fishburne, he can get away with it.
  • In Mystery Men, Blue Raja can throw forks... but not very well, until special training by the Sphinx allows him to throw them effectively enough for Mr. Furious to climb on them.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Captain Jack Sparrow teeters on a thrown sword to avoid being hanged.
  • Einar (Kirk Douglas) does it with axes in The Vikings.
  • François de Capestang (Jean Marais) climbs a castle's tower all with daggers to free the woman he loves in Le Capitan.
  • Happens in The Warrior's Way. The Colonel thrusts at Lynne; missing her and getting his sabre stuck in the wall. Lynne uses his sabre as a step to retrieve her own sword, which is stuck higher up in the wall.
  • Kasumi in DOA: Dead or Alive throws a katana to stick in a wall, runs on the backs of her clansmen, then jump to the sword, and uses it as a springboard to jump over the high walls of the palace.
  • Destan uses crossbow bolts to scale the city walls in the film version of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.
  • Duel to the Death uses this trope in a humorously illogical way during the final duel: each combatant jumps high up into the air, then puts his sword beneath his feet and pushes off in midair to Double Jump.
  • Ladder of Swords: Exactly What It Says on the Tin; the main character (a down-on-his-luck circus performer on the run from the law) climbs a ladder made of swords both metaphorically and physically. He uses it as one of his acts and shows his skill off to his love interest.
  • In Kill Bill, the Bride pierces a wooden beam with a samurai sword in order to climb the balustrade during her fight with the Crazy 88s.

  • Teppic in Pyramids mentions that using knives for this tends to be impractical. You have to find a place just tight enough for the knife to get properly stuck, and you usually end up losing knives when you do it. Of course, he has to do it at the end of the book in order to assassinate a pyramid.
  • A sword is used to cross a canyon in Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart (circa 1170).
  • In Cue For Treason, Peter Brownrigg uses half a dozen daggers to climb the side of an Elizabethan wooden house, to enter it surreptitiously from the river side.
  • A particularly nasty variant is used in Anthony Horowitz's Power of Five series: as part of a test to find out whether the protagonist is The Chosen One, he has to climb a ladder of swords... blade up. Apparently the last guy to attempt it only got to three swords, but it's OK, they managed to save some of his fingers.
  • In The Long Ships, Toke uses spears to climb the palisade of an enemy stronghold.
  • In The Stormlight Archive, Shardblades are sometimes used in this way. Since they cut through any nonliving matter like a chainsaw through butter and are totally unbreakable, they are considerably more useful for this than a regular sword.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Inverted on one of the CSI programs, in which the victim turned out to have been kicked to death by someone who'd been wearing tree-climbing spurs strapped to both ankles.
  • Done in an episode of Xena: Warrior Princess. Xena is scaling the wall of an enemy stronghold and, when it looks like she is about to fall short, her allies fire arrows into the wall that she uses as rungs to scale the last few feet.
  • Done for laughs in an episode of The Benny Hill Show... with toilet plungers.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The supplement The Complete Thief's Handbook has "climbing daggers" that can be stuck into walls to make it easier for the thief to climb them.
    • In 4e, rangers can get the power Archer's Stairway to shoot arrows at a wall and make it easier to climb.

  • In Cirque du Soleil's Ka, there's a scene in which arrows embedded in a wall (actually props pushed out from the back of it) are used to climb it.

    Video Games 
  • Spears are used in LEGO Indiana Jones as ladder rungs to reach higher and farther areas.
  • This is required in Wario Land to get to a secret exit that leads to Sherbet Land.
  • Donald Duck in Quackshot uses a plunger gun to scale walls quickly.
  • The fight against Pete in Mickey Mania involves jumping on his thrown sword to reach a lever.
  • Throwing spears in the video game Prehistorik Man.
  • There was a Teamwork Puzzle Game called Bubba 'n' Stix whose gameplay frequently involved this trope. Stix is, as the name suggests, a wooden stick, who can be used both as a weapon and as this trope.
  • Duster from Mother 3 uses Wall Staples to create ladders and uses them in battle.
  • In Brave Fencer Musashi, climbing with swords is the ability granted by the first piece of Legendary Armor.
  • Tidus of Final Fantasy X plunges his sword into the ground and uses it as a springboard during his Blitz Ace Overdrive.
  • In the opening cutscene of Final Fantasy XIII-2, Lightning throws her sword into a floating rock, then swings from it onto another floating rock to confront her enemy Caius.
  • An early Final Fantasy XV trailer (then called Versus XIII) has Noctis throw his sword into a building, teleports towards it, and uses it as a leverage to face off the mooks lurking nearby.
  • In Depict1, this is the real purpose of the spikes that your Voice with an Internet Connection claims will kill you if you touch them. Throw them at the wall, then jump up onto them!
  • Worms lets you do this with arrows.
    • As does Lemmings 2 — and of course, it's almost always necessary to beat the level.
  • In Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light spears from your never-ending supply of throwing spears can be thrown at walls and jumped on to reach higher areas. You'll be doing this often.
  • Dante does this several times with Rebellion in Devil May Cry 4, including during one of the cutscenes of the Savior fight.
  • When facing Robotnik in the Aquatic Ruin Zone of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, he is too high for Sonic to reach directly. Sonic has to jump on the arrows fired by Robotnik, who does so by using a giant hammer attached to his vehicle to hit a totem pole that shoots the arrows at one of four heights, to get the second jump necessary to get high enough.
  • In one level of Psychonauts, the player has to swing on swords attached to a spinning wheel in order to advance. This is made harder by the fact that the swords are only thrown by enemies. The player has to dodge in order to get the swords to land properly.
  • Kratos climbs walls many times using his swords in the God of War series.
  • Possible in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion thanks to a bug that makes paintbrushes stay in midair when dropped. Entire staircases can be built with paintbrushes.
  • One of the three uses for ninjato swords in Tenchu: Shadow Assassins (along with breaking locks and last-resort defense) is jamming them into certain walls to help scale them.
  • Mega Man and Mega Man 5 have the Magnet Beam and the Super Arrow, respectively. The Magnet Beam shoots a beam that stays suspended in mid-air, creating a platform for you, and the Super Arrow shoots an arrow that sticks into a wall to create a place to step.
  • In Broforce, the Brodator's default attack is chucking his spears at enemies. If those spears hit any walls or terrain, it will get stuck there and can be used as a platform. Considering that the environment runs on Everything Breaks, and some levels can become very difficult to defeat or outright impassable if too much of your surroundings have been destroyed, occasionally this becomes a very useful feature.
  • Volgarr The Viking allows you to throw your spear into some walls to use as a temporary platform.
  • In the NES Darkwing Duck game, DW can shoot arrows from his gas gun to use as platforms along walls. This carried over to Mega Man 5 via its Super Arrow (it used the same game engine)

    Web Comics 
  • The Order of the Stick: While fighting Vampire Durkon, Roy Greenhilt borrows the High Priestess of Odin's spear. He misses his foe when throwing it, but it stays stuck in the wall and Roy then uses it as perch to reach the upper walkway of the temple.

    Web Original 
  • Rachel uses her hammer as a standing stone on a wall while waiting for the fight to reach her in Dead Fantasy.
  • Monty Oum liked this trope. The Meta uses his (bladed) gun as a climbing tool (after performing a Blade Brake maneuver with it) during the penultimate Oum-animated fight sequence in Red vs. Blue: Revelation. Note that this maneuver normally requires two such sharp objects...

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons: In "Simpsons Bible Stories", Bart (as David) uses a pair of corn on the cob holder's from Goliath's (Nelson) giant cob to climb up the side of a castle, by stabbing them into the wall and pulling himself up.
  • Code Lyoko:
    • Happens a few times with Ulrich's katanas; sometimes for himself, sometimes for other characters.
    • Everyone also seems to use William's BFS as a platform whenever he gets it stuck in a wall.
  • In the title sequence for Hanna-Barbera's Lippy the Lion and Hardy Har Har, Lippy, holding Hardy by the collar, scales a tree up a ladder of spears that have been thrown at the pair by angry natives. Unfortunately, the last of them is being held by a giant gorilla.
  • The Day My Butt Went Psycho!: In "Basic In Stink", Zack fires a series of plungers on to the Butt-squatch before running up them to kick the Butt-squatch in the face.
  • Adventure Time: In "The Eyes", Finn's sword gets stuck in the wall. Jake uses it as a springboard to jump off and attack the Ice King.
  • In an episode of Wakfu, Evangeline uses a Shushu-possessed BFS this way while jumping across rooftops. The Talking Weapon sure isn't happy about it, and makes it known.

    Real Life 
  • Supposedly a valid tactic in ancient Japan, but considering the source, it's probably hearsay.
  • A possible variant, Stepping-Stone Rifle, was used in World War II, when the Axis mountain divisions would string their rifles into rope ladders.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: