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Sword Almighty

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"Standing before the sword you long sought after, I can only wonder at what thoughts must have passed through your mind as you learned the truth of its awesome, terrible power. Soul Edge's legacy lives on to this day. It most likely will live on forever, for humans will always desire the ultimate weapon."
Tristy, Soulcalibur II

There's always that one rule in fantasy worlds that no matter what other, more potent weapon types that exist, the sword is the one weapon type that is always held as the standard by which the others are judged, usually due to some ancient Infinity +1 Sword that just so happens to exist. Yeah, that's right, even compared to a powerful Wave-Motion Gun or a crossbow shooting explosive shells, the fine blade always comes out on top. It becomes all the more persistent in a world where Heroes Prefer Swords and corresponds with the main character being a sword user, in cases where the overall weapon type roster is of limited availability to characters.

This is mainly due to the Good Weapon, Evil Weapon principle making it the norm to have the Infinity +1 Sword or the swordly MacGuffin be in the hands of the Hero (because straight-edged longswords are considered heroic weapons, and everybody likes to see the best stuff in heroic hands), so the end result is that all Infinity Plus One weapons must be swords.

See also Katanas Are Just Better for when it applies to, well, katanas. Related to Rock Beats Laser, with the sword being the rock.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Slayers normally plays this straight, but it's averted by the TRY season of the anime — the "Bow of Light" is the most powerful of the five Darkstar weapons.
  • There are a few of these in Touken Ranbu - Hanamaru. The catch? They're not props, they're characters. All of the characters are historic Japanese swords turned human. So swords like this manifest as extremely powerful — and beautiful — "Sword Warriors."

    Comic Books 
  • In ElfQuest, when Ember becomes chief of her tribe at a rather young age, she's worried that she's not good enough to lead (as most of her tribe is hundreds of years older than she is). One of the reasons she's worried is because she can't use a sword all that well, because the sword is "a chief's weapon". While indeed all chiefs in recent memory have used swords, her tribemates have to remind her that one of their legendary former chiefs is called Two-Spear. The books otherwise play it straight, because the best weapon in the series (New Moon) is a sword, the hidden troll stash of "ultimate equipment" contains nothing but swords (and armor), and all of the tribal leaders that use a weapon, have a sword (e.g. Cutter, Grohmul Djun, Kahvi) if they use a weapon in the first place. Except Ember.

  • Dyrnwyn in The Chronicles of Prydain.
  • In the Codex Alera series, high Lords, including the First Lord often wield a Flaming Sword when going into battle. Here, the sword itself is a typical sword, but their Furycrafting imbues it with fire.
  • And in Jim Butcher's other series The Dresden Files, there are 3 Swords of the Cross. When wielded by the appropriate people, and doing God's work, they are well-nigh invulnerable and unstoppable, as seen in "Changes" when Karrin Murphy wielding one, takes down several high Red Court nobles who are nearly Eldritch Abominations in terms of power.
  • Michael Moorcock
    • Stormbringer in the Elric of MelnibonĂ© stories.
    • The Sword of the Dawn in the Hawkmoon stories.
    • Stormbringer returns to be wielded by Urlik Skarsol in the The Eternal Champion (ErekosĂ«) series.
  • Lightbringer in A Song of Ice and Fire However, it's a fake.
    • Almost all Valyrian steel weapons in Westeros are swords, owing to the setting's High Fantasy roots. Each is considered an Ancestral Weapon to some family or other, so even if a newer, more efficient design came along, it's unlikely they'd have it reforged.
      • As an example House Lannister lost its Valyrian steel sword Bright Roar some time ago when the then ruling lord when missing. Tywin Lannister has been trying to buy the swords belonging to impoverished houses but they hold the honour and prestige of owning a Valyrian steel sword higher than any amount of money offered by the Lannisters (and that's a lot).
    • Justified in that in the real Middle Ages, the sword was the weapon of choice of the feudal nobility, and most ASoIaF characters are exactly that. The Valyrian swords are rare weapons, and no common knight or mercenary can hope to have one, unless that knight receives one as gift from a high lord (we're looking at you, Brienne of Tarth).
    • Also Dawn, the ancestral weapon of House Dayne which is unique while Valyrian steel weapons are merely rare.
  • The Sword of Truth. Besides being an Absurdly Sharp Blade, it's unbreakable, can under certain circumstances confer the skills of previous wielders on the current wielder, can act as a bit of a Morality Pet, and is also the counter to Chainfire and the key to Orden.
  • Callandor in The Wheel of Time. The Sword That Is Not A Sword is a sword-shaped crystal sa'angreal, and one of the most powerful, though flawed. Surprisingly, it still functions as a melee weapon.
    • True Heron-marked blades are all indestructible by dint of magic.
    • The Dragon Reborn tries this with a sword made of fire. His enemies laugh at him for it, remembering his past life when he was a Person of Mass Destruction.
  • The Stormlight Archive: The ten Heralds of the Almighty wielded the ten Honorblades, swords crafted by Honor from his own divine essence and bestowing the power of Surgebinding on their bearers. As a result of this, despite being MorphWeapons which could technically assume any form, the Shardblades wielded by the Knights Radiant defaulted to becoming swords. This in turn meant that long after both Heralds and Radiants disappeared the sword remained the exclusive weapon of the lighteyed nobility.
    • Notably, one of the main characters (Kaladin) prefers a spear; and his weapon is superior to the Shardblades because it is a live spren (Sylphrena) whereas the Shardblades are dead spren.
  • Surprisingly averted in The Dwarves, which has several viewpoint characters be quite disdainful of swords and has an Axe of Plot Advancement. Then again, said characters are generic fantasy dwarves.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Excalibur in Arthurian Legend, regardless of what Malory actually wrote note , is considered this trope by many; an unbeatable, sacred sword that symbolizes the Camelot dream. There's also Caliburn (the sword that Malory's Arthur pulled from the stone), which is often conflated with Excalibur.
  • Averted in Irish myth; there are plenty of powerful magical swords, such as Fragarach and Caladbolg, but Cu Chulainn's spear Gae Bolge is the most enduringly famous weapon in the mythos.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Swords tend to be the best magic weapons in the game, depending on edition. In 5E, for example, there are 15 Legendary weapons that are swords (not counting certain legendary tier magic weapons that can be made from any weapon), which is more than twice as many as any other type of weapon. On top of that, the majority of those swords are found in the Dungeon Master's Guide and Basic Rules, meaning that they're easily accessible by all players whereas most of the other Legendary magic weapons are from supplement books or modules. The same goes for Artifacts: there are three longswords that are artifacts, where there are no more than one for any non-sword weapon.
  • In Pendragon, many types of weapon can be used, but swords are explicitly the only one that don't break if their wielder rolls a fumble. And if they clash with a non-sword weapon that's dealing exactly the same amount of damage, the non-sword weapon will break.

    Video Games 
  • The Masamune in Chrono Trigger is powerful enough to cleave an entire mountain in half with a single swing of it, and after a sidequest, becomes Frog's ultimate weapon. This is in spite of the fact the party is travelling with a robot capable of shooting lasers, as well as a Science Hero that fixed him capable of building bombs. Reforging the sword also requires the player to jump through multiple timelines just it get all the necessary ingredients, and then find the world's best swordsmith. It even gets some Gameplay and Story Integration as being necessary to defeat Magus, as well as the Red Knife used to stop the Mammon Machine turning into the Masamune once it's used.
  • The best recurring weapon in Avernum (and usually the Sword of Plot Advancement) is the greatsword Demonslayer, both because of its high damage, and because a lot of the nastier boss monsters are demons. On the other hand, there are occasional one-off weapons that are more powerful (like Bloodthirster, a spear made by Lizard Folk that does bonus damage to humans.)
  • The Disgaea games have had a bad case of this. There's always a long list of weapons available, with a variety of advantages and disadvantages, but swords always stand out as the best one way or the other. It was particularly bad in the first game, where the most powerful sword available (The Yoshitsune) had more attack-power than the most powerful axe (so much for being considered raw power) AND had a range of 5 panels, far more than any other non-ranged weapon with none of their handicaps. On top of that, the sword's special-moves cover a wide variety of areas - from large fields to long lines - making them useful in a wide variety of situations (meanwhile, axes only have range-1 single-target specials). Later games tried to balance things. By the third game, it would be fair to say that swords are still ahead, just not quite as much.
  • As far as video games are concerned, both Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy helped codify this concept to a T, right down to having swords be the weapon type that helps strike down the Big Bad (alongside some Last Disc Magic, of course).
  • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind plays with it. There are two options clearly designed to be the game's top weapons, both swords: the one-handed Easter Egg upgrade for Goldbrand called Eltonbrand (which is a katana to boot), and the two-handed "Paladin's Blade" Chrysamere. In practice, however, there are other weapons which can surpass those two (such as the blunt-weapon Sunder or the short-blade Black Hands Dagger) due to their enchantments, faster attacking speed, etc. Played with because, if you've been focusing on increasing your Long Blade skill, the sword options will still be better than the others because you're more skilled with that type of weapon. The Tribunal expansion then adds the Sword of Plot Advancement Flaming Sword True Flame, which you reforge with the intent of using it to kill a god. After completing the expansion's main quest, you'll also get it's twin, the Lightning Sword Hopesfire. Unlike Eltonbrand and Chrysamere, which require a time-consuming Guide Dang It! sidequest and completing the Imperial Legion faction questline, respectively, Trueflame and Hopesfire are simply handed to you during the main plot of the expansion.
  • In a somewhat meta example Fate/stay night has the Saber class of Servant noted as being the strongest on average and having the best record in previous iterations of the Holy Grail War. In practice, though, the two most powerful Servants have actually been an Archer and a Lancer.
  • Falchion, Tyrfing, the Book of Naga, the Binding Blade, Durandal, Armads, Sol Katti, Ragnell, Alondite, and Yato in Fire Emblem. All legendary weapons, only usable by one character each (with some exceptions depending on the game note ) and (often) the only weapon that can damage the final boss.
  • In Hamumu Software's Kid Mystic, the Armageddon Sword is the strongest weapon you can get despite the fact the main character's weapon is a staff that shoots fireballs.
  • Kingdom of Loathing intended to avert this, placing clubs as the premiere weapons. The best available melee weapon over the course of a typical ascension will be a club. Though updates in recent years have added many swords comparable to the best clubs, they can't take advantage of the most powerful weapon skills — unless the player has a special skill that enables them to grab them by the blade and wield them as clubs.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2 allows your character to use a wide range of weapons, but in the end you are stuck with the Sword of Plot Advancement, even if you are a mage (thankfully the sword gives abilities more along the lines of "boost intelligence" and "more spells" if you are one).
  • In Secret of Mana, the only weapon that can be infused with Mana Magic and therefore the only weapon that can harm the final boss is the sword.
  • In pretty much every game in the Shining series, the weapon with the most attack power is always a sword and only the hero (provided he's promoted to his Hero class) may wield it.
    • Averted in the Shining Soul editions, however, where the main character can be multiple classes.
  • The Soul series has Soul Edge and Soul Calibur. The plot of the games is driven by the swords and those who seek them out. While Soul Edge and Soul Calibur can transform into other weapons to suit their wielders, their default forms are swords.
  • The Material Blades in Tales of Symphonia, since they form into a Sword of Plot Advancement, the Eternal Sword, which is required to make the Giant Kharlan Tree rise and stop the cycle.
  • Fable: The Sword of Aeons is the original weapon of the Eldritch Abomination Jack of Blades, long since sealed away. Jack of Blades claims that he will burn the entire realm of Albion when its power is unlocked, but Gameplay and Story Segregation sets in if the Hero claims the Sword instead: it's not even the strongest weapon in the game.
  • Planescape: Torment tries hard at averting all kinds of CRPG tropes and cliches, and for most of the game you won't see any swords at all. But the strongest weapon (Celestial Fire) is a sword.
  • Eye of the Beholder has only a handful of +5 weapons (the strongest enchantment) in the first game, and the only one you're likely to find without a guidebook is a sword named Severious. The second game has no +5 weapons and only a single +4 weapon, which is a sword named Talon. The third game has only a single +5 weapon, which again is a sword named Dhauzimmer.

    Web Comics 
  • In The Order of the Stick, the strongest weapon around is the ancestral weapon of the Greenhilt family (a +5 Weapon of Legacy), which is (predictably) a sword.

    Western Animation 
  • In Season 2 of the Jackie Chan Adventures, guess what weapon is the symbol of the Immortal who originally defeated Shendu? Go on, guess! Hint: It's the same kind of weapon that, when properly ensorcelled, Jackie used to both exorcize the demon from Valmont, and re-banish him to another dimension.
  • Thunder Cats 2011 treats the Sword of Omens as one such weapon. The Evil Weapon the Sword of Omens was forged to fight against is also a sword, namely the Sword of Plundaar.