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Sword Fight

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Wilfred Woodruff: You should know that I was thrice named ultimate sword master at the Southern Area Regional Volunteer Infantry Reenactment Regiment!
Ned: I wanted to be a Jedi!

Rapiers, cutlasses, katanas, two-handers, Laser Blades, whatever. At times, a goodie and a baddie just have to have a one-on-one fight, with Swords. Sometimes even two heroes might cross blades in a sporting, non-lethal match, to work out a kink in their Bromance.

In any given story, the main character is fairly likely to be somewhat proficient with a sword. In stories, this is true frm settings ranging from antiquity to the middle ages to the Victorian era, to futuristic sci-fi planets (though in the sci-fi setting, the sword may be a laser blade). Sword fights are depicted in literature, TV shows, films, video games, anime, and certain sci-fi-fantasy stories. In Period Piece stories, large segments of the population are shown to prefer swords as their primary weapons, over any firearms that may be available. This is true even in many cases where it would be far more intelligent to use a firearm. In warrior societies (e.g. Samurai), this may be due to a warrior's code.

Bonus points when it's a modern setting such as late 20th century or early 21st century, and using a blade is Awesome, but Impractical because you Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight and the hero is far less likely to possess the training needed to use a sword. Exactly why this is the case varies. In some settings, swords offer advantages that guns do not. Perhaps the predominant point-defensive system is effective against ranged weaponry and not against blades, à la Dune. Sometimes the enemy and duelists are invulnerable to ranged weapons, such as through using the Force or Implausible Fencing Powers to deflect bullets, which means that they must battle in close-range with formalized sword martial arts that counteract this invulnerability. Perhaps it is a formalized duel where modern weapons are forbidden by an honor code. Maybe there's another consideration, like the risk of gunfire damaging, for example, the delicate electronics or hull of the Cool Starship. Perhaps due to a gas leak, or a high-value hostage nearby, no guns can be used. Or perhaps the people using swords or edged weapons are just that cool, à la the Jedi. Sometimes, of course, it is left unexplained.

A similar trope results when two characters choose to battle each other with their bare hands, for absolutely no reason at all. Even if one of them (usually the hero) has a gun, he will throw it away, preferring to show honor and have the visceral satisfaction (and added chance of failure) of beating his rival's face in. Again, this has no practical value in nearly all cases.

Unfortunately, even when use of swords is justified, it is usually done unrealistically. Rule of Cool fight-choreography, and safety guidelines that minimize hazard to actors have led to a wide acceptance of the unrealistic image of swordplay.

Common sub-tropes:

Compare Knife Fight.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In The Vision of Escaflowne, much of the fighting is done with swords, whether it's people or Humongous Mecha.
  • Happens to Hatz from Tower of God several times.
  • Great Mazinger -the sequel to Mazinger Z- was the first Humongous Mecha used swords like weapon (even before Voltes V or GoLion). The Hero Tetsuya was quite proficient using them, and he even did Dual Wield. Naturally he had several sword duels throughout the series, the most famous and most fondly remembered against The Dragon Great General of Darkness.
  • Mobile suits in Gundam, in addition to their gun and missile armaments, are usually also equipped with some type of sword, usually an energy saber. At the end of the original series, the main character Amuro Ray and his rival Char Aznable had an honest sword (rather rapier) fight in the middle of the collapsing A Baoa Qu.
  • A staple of Rurouni Kenshin, since the good guy is a swordsman, though he's also a Technical Pacifist so a lot less fights end with exsanguinating villains than you'd expect.
  • Most fights in Bleach, since the primary power source of a Shinigami is their swords. That being said, many fights that are sword-on-sword haven't yet become actual fights, since most characters' weapons change as they power up.
  • X1999. With living swords for the end of the world, no less.
  • In Ranma ˝, Akane and Kuno duel with swords twice: in the first instance, she comes at him with a rapier, and Kuno quickly proves why "It's foolishness to challenge the Blue Thunder with a sword!" The second time, it's during a formal Kendo tournament where she's in disguise, so he goes all-out against her. She holds her own much better, however.
  • One Piece has about one per arc to showcase Zoro's three-sword style - he has declared that he will refuse to back down from any enemy swordsman and gets plenty of chances to put his money where his mouth is. Enemy pirate crews seem to have top-notch swordsmen often enough that it would fall into This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman for Zoro if it didn't make a lot of sense.
  • Ling Yao's fight with Bradley.
  • The Five Star Stories is loaded with these.
  • Hakuouki features at least one of these per episode, though given that this is a Shinsengumi-based story, it should come as no surprise.
  • Samurai Champloo tends to be either Mugen/Jin facing a large number of mooks with swords, fighting a proficient master or each other, or fighting someone with an unusual-but-still-edged weapon.
  • Happens fairly often in Samurai 7, even against giant mecha!
  • In Bakugan New Vestroia the Bakugan system is down and then Spectra draws an ability cards which activates a beam sword in the gauntlets and Dan and Spectra duel, the duel ends in a draw.
    • In a later episode Spectra and Mylene have a duel as well, as before it ends in a draw but unlike the first time only one party escapes, Mylene and Shadow are sent to the ends of the dimension.
    • In Mechtanium Surge Dan and Mag Mel (Barodius) have an energy sword fight but it ends in a draw.
  • In Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, Kirby transforms into sword Kirby against a monster with sword claws on its hands; the fight ends with Kirby using Galaxia's Sword Beam.
  • When Guts isn't fighting demons in Berserk, he's squaring off against other swordsmen. This is especially true in the Hawks arc, which has a number of duels among the main characters.
  • In Soul Eater the final fight between Black Star and Mifune in the manga ends with this.
  • Sword of the Stranger culminates in one of the most technically impressive fight scenes ever animated.
  • Sword Art Online: The players use swordplay in their fighting. No Flynning here in the original story arc as players are trapped in this virtual MMORPG and must literally fight their way through many enemies. In a later story arc in the light novels in another virtual game where guns are the primary weapon, the hero still prefers a sword. As The Ace, he makes it work.
  • In Panzer World Galient, many main characters and antagonists use swords, and many Humongous Mecha (such like the titular giant robot) are equipped with swords. There're a lot of instances of sword duels, such like the scuffle between Hilmuka and Hy Shaltat in the fifth episode.
  • YuYu Hakusho:
    • Hiei is a Master Swordsman but ironically is only seen fighting another swordsman twice in the entire show. Once a flashback where he had a Dramatic Necklace Removal and another when fighting Shigure, the man who taught how to wield a sword properly.
    • Shishi and Kuwabara also fight each other and both use swords, however in their battle neither one of them uses theirs.
  • Gamaran: Given the setting and the Ogame School being a Ryuu of Kenjutsu, swordfights abound, such as Gama vs the Hyuga Brothers, Shinnojo Sakura vs Masaku Nikaido, Iori vs Tsurumaru Shinsuke or Gama vs Riko.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords (2004), Green and Vio have a match while Vio is pretending to betray their group. While Green is able to get the upper hand at first, Vio manages to overpower him with a series of blows before non-lethally taking him out with a pommel strike.

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 
  • ''Dan Dare: Dan was a very successful amateur fencer. This proved invaluable to him when he became the first person ever to beat the Saturnian rebel leader Tharl in a duel. (Tharl was secretly on his side and was just testing him to see if he was a fighter, but Dan didn't know that).

    Fan Works 
  • A number in With Strings Attached—not involving the protagonists, though—the most notable being when As'taris fights Aurion; the latter wins when she zaps As with her pink sword, which seemingly turns him into her adoring slave. Since he helped make that sword, unbeknownst to her, he's immune to it and just screwing with her.
    • Also, when As fights the brought-to-life statue of “Biggus Dickus,” who is fighting back with his leg-long penis.
  • Yognapped, being set in the world of Minecraft, naturally has loads of them. Lewis's battle with his homicidal clone is a notable example.
  • Many in A different weasel makes a difference, given the time period. Special mention however goes to the duel between Stannis and Euron, which is a Battle-Halting Duel and remembered by those who saw it as "one of the most epic sword fights they ever watched."
    • Defied earlier, in the "fight" between Euron and Aegon is explicitly described as not being an epic duel. Euron is an experienced raider and fighter and Aegon had never fought a true life and death battle before. It was over in less than a minute.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Doll Factory: Kay's brother Melvin engages Yegor in a sword fight in the titular factory in the film's climax.
  • Fearless (2006) have one of the more brutal examples that climaxes it's first act, when Huo Yuanjia (Jet Li) fights another martial arts champion, Master Qin, both of them using BFS to hack each other to pieces. Huo's weapon breaks first, but he disarms Qin of his weapon with his bare hands shortly, and the rest of the fight turns into Good Old Fisticuffs.
  • For an example of what more realistic sword fighting looks like, check out the Lady Snowblood movies. Maximum carnage with a minimum of movement.
  • Kill Bill features a number of fights with swords and knives. Appropriately, the only two characters to pull a gun have the hero completely at their mercy.
  • The Princess Bride has a memorable fencing scene, in part due to its use of I Am Not Left-Handed. The footwork is actually pretty accurate to real fencing.
  • In The Matrix Reloaded, Neo has a swordfight with several of the Merovingian's Mooks, after they try shooting him with a wide variety of guns. However, because he is The One, Guns Are Worthless against him.
  • Rob Roy features a magnificent duel at its climax that does a terrific job of telling a story and showing character through the fight choreography. Rob Roy is a plodding, grim, and determined hero fighting a slender, flashy, sadistic fencer who toys with him like a cat.
  • One of the longest sword fights in cinematic history is from Scaramouche, at six and a half minutes long. It is also the longest single-take sword fight ever put on film. It had to be single take because they had over 800 extras in full pre-Revolutionary France costume. They couldn't trust the actors with it, so they filmed it longshot using the fight director and his sparring partner, and came back later to film close ups of the leads at significant points. They didn't even stop for two nearly fatal accidents.
  • Indiana Jones films:
  • Probably the most technically flawless sword fight in cinema would have to be the climactic duel between Tyrone Power and Basil Rathbone in the 1940 version of The Mark of Zorro. Honestly, almost any film with either of those two in it has excellent fencing, since both of them were excellent swordsmen (Rathbone was twice British Army fencing champion) in Real Life. Here is a clip of the match.
    • Sometimes their skill was used to make their opponent look good, as when either went up against Errol Flynn.
  • In the 1998 The Mask of Zorro Alejandro and Diego have a sword fight in a bar and all Diego is using is his cane! They later have several training fights.
    • Later Alejandro (as Zorro) has a sword fight with Captain Love and Montero!
    • In the next scene Alejandro fights Elena in a barn which he wins and then he cuts her shirt off, kisses her, then leaves!
    • At the last scene, old and new Zorro are fighting their archenemies to the death, Zorro 2 (Alejandro) manges to kill Captain Love first but unfortunately Montero kills Diego first but is then killed due to being tied to a falling crate of gold.
    • In The Legend of Zorro, Zorro fights a man named McGivens and later Count Arman, both end up dead.
  • Some of the most realistic swordfights can be found in The Duellists. Three of them, in fact.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean:
    • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl has the classic duel in the blacksmith's shop between Will and Jack — a duel in which each of the two clearly has learned a different sword style (rapier and saber) and fights faithfully to it. In between using the shop's environment to gain an edge, and one combatant throwing his sword, of course.
    • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest features an epic three-way sword-fight between Jack, Will, and Norrington. Including, at one point, all three men taking the fight onto a water wheel (which for some inexplicable reason is attached to a ruined church), which promptly comes loose and rolls away down the beach taking them with it. They still keep up the fight.
  • Star Wars with the iconic Jedi/Sith lightsaber duels. The films have only had Rogue One and Solo being exceptions that don't include any lightsaber duels.
  • The Three Musketeers (1973) (directed by Richard Lester) takes pride in giving fiction's most famous swashbucklers decidedly non-Flynn moves. Examples include sucker punching, groin kicking, blinding with cloaks or laundry, bashing with convenient chairs, and reversing the sword to beat the bad guy with the grip.
  • In the third The Librarian film Flynn has a sword fight with a throwaway villain at the start.
    Flynn: I know two things; Your sword grip and stance show me you're fighting with a 14th century German style defeated only by the renaissance style taught by Hutton in 1892.
    Mason: What's the other thing you know?
    Flynn: The renaissance style taught by Hutton in 1892.
  • Star Trek (2009): Sulu's fencing skill was worked into the plot, when he confronted an axe-wielding Romulan with his fold-up saber.
  • In The Great Race, Tony Curtis vs. Natalie Wood at the beginning of the movie, to demonstrate just how good he is. Then, when the race goes through Ruritania he rescues the prince and engages in a massive swordfight in a parody of The Prisoner of Zenda.
  • In Don Juan DeMarco, the title character's related backstory includes a major sword fight, which was responsible for the death of his father.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia:
  • In The Last Airbender, The Blue Spirit and Aang vs 200 Fire Nation guards.
    • Later Water Tribe warriors, Aang, Sokka, Appa, and Katara vs the invading Fire Nation.
  • Hellboy II: The Golden Army features a sword fight between Prince Nuadda and Hellboy (who else?).
  • Sword fights happen a lot in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.
  • The Mad Hatter vs The Knave of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland (2010) (2010).
  • What started out as a somewhat friendly fencing match turned into a "first blood drawn from the torso" in the James Bond film Die Another Day.
    • Also the duel between Miranda and Dual Wielding Jinx.
  • Happens in the first 3 Ninjas movie, the super awesome ninja grandpa Mori Shintaro vs. the evil big boss Hugo Snyder have a fight with katanas which in the end becomes a hand-to-hand fight.
  • In The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
    • First, Aragorn fighting the Ringwraiths off with a sword in one hand and a torch in the other.
    • Second, Aragorn fighting the leader of the Uruk-Hai.
  • As could be guessed from the title, the film version of Blade ends in a climactic sword duel between the eponymous protagonist and the Big Bad. This trope is subverted in the rest of the film, where Blade is the only one using such an anachronistic weapon, while everyone else just uses guns, or maybe the occasional cattle prod.
  • Happen several times in Willow with Madmartigan against the evil soldiers, especially against the skull-masked General Kael.
  • Ricochet manages to have a Nazi swordfight in prison. What else would you expect from the director of Highlander?
  • Speaking of Highlander, sword fighting seems to be the default choice of combat between Immortals in the series proper, what with Immortals only being vulnerable to decapitation.
  • In the final fight scene of Popeye, Popeye fights Bluto, both wielding rusty cutlasses; Popeye's breaks, and then it turns back into a good old fashioned fistfight.
  • And speaking of Robin Williams, it also happens in Hook, firstly Hook vs Rufio who loses and dies, secondly the final battle between Hook and Peter Pan.
  • Waxwork II: Lost in Time climaxes with a sword fight that takes its combatants through several alternative dimensions.
  • Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian ends with Larry taking on Kahmunrah, using a flashlight! It's just cause he's badass like that.
  • As mentioned bellow, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children has many sword fights, including but not limited to the following, Cloud vs:
    • Briefly he has a Blade Lock with Reno.
    • Yazoo (several times)
    • Kadaj, a prelude to the next one.
    • Sephiroth, the final battle of the movie, extremely epic.
  • By the Sword is set in a fencing school, so it could easily be called Sword Fight: The Movie.
  • Kingdom of Heaven is a rare case where some effort is made to present the use of Medieval European swords at least somewhat correctly. Although not perfect, the guards Balian is taught to use are similar to many real guards in the historical Italian school of longsword fencing, and the use of half-swording and pommel strikes are worked in as well.
  • The Turkish historical epic series, Battal Gazi, is filled to the brim with sword battles. The titular protagonist notably uses a sword to kill over 100 enemies per film.
  • In the 2012 film of the musical Les Miserables, Javert and Valjean have a sword fight in the Confrontation scene because...why not? Well, Javert has a sword. Valjean makes do with a slab of wood.
  • Conan the Barbarian (1982) features a number of examples (including one where Conan somehow parries a warhammer with his Atlantean sword), but the most memorable one is probably his fight with Rexor, who's wielding Conan's father's sword, where he breaks said sword, after which the "fight" quickly degenerates into Conan hacking into Rexor.
  • Subverted in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Judge Doom has a Sword Cane. Eddie Valiant opens an Acme Products box marked "Singing Sword" and draws out the sword...which starts singing "Wicked Witchcraft" by Frank Sinatra. Eddie quickly picks another box.
  • In a bit of a twist, the Final Battle of the Sherlock Holmes parody Without a Clue turns into a sword fight when Professor Moriarty unsheathes his Sword Cane. This allows Reginald Kincaid to finally stand up to Moriarty, as there are functional prop swords lying around and fencing is the one thing he's good at.

  • Dune:
    • Personal shields stop any object traveling above a certain speed so projectile weapons are obsolete, and lasers trigger a fusion reaction when they hit a shield. So most fighting is done with sword and dagger.
    • The sword was also largely just a diversionary tool, as most shields are set at a rate where the cutting speed of a sword would be repelled. So the point of swordfighting was actually to trick the opponent onto falling onto your knife, or making a misstep long enough for you to make a slow cut with your knife.
    • Though the Fremen of Arrakis actually use dart guns because shields attract Sandworms.
  • In Johannes Cabal the Detective Johannes' life is saved because he happens to carry a sword-cane. Specifically he's at gun-point being held by Count Marechal who really wants to kill him. Because Marechal is a decorated soldier whose constantly in uniform, complete with sword Cabal is able to taunt him into giving him the chance of a fair fight. Their fight takes place in a grand hall, complete with long table that they of course stand on during the fight.
  • The Wheel of Time: Rand and High Lord Turak have a Sword Fight near the end of The Great Hunt.
    • Rand often practices sword fights before he loses his hand. Other people wonder at this, since he's practically a walking god.
  • Sword fights are pretty common throughout Codex Alera such that they don't necessarily quite have the climatic feel of it that this trope implies, though more typical examples exist such as Pirellus versus Aldrick. As the series goes on, the protagonist Tavi is trained to being a competent swordsman though never seeming to be a terribly notable one while there are plenty of others who can have Master Swordsman applied to them - Badass Normal and Guile Hero are far more defining traits to him.
  • Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle has Eragon and a mysterious Rider working for Galbatorix fighting at the end of Eldest. It's actually Murtagh.
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora is a tale of a roguish character, which is made up almost entirely of cons and mind games. Naturally, it culminates in a duel of rapiers between the hero and his foe, although to the book's credit Locke does rather cock it up almost entirely.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has a couple of pretty intense fights.
    • The climactic dual between Rhaegar Targaryen and Robert Baratheon at the climax of Robert's Rebellion (though Robert is wielding an exceptionally large warhammer) wherein Robert wins the throne by smashing Rhaegar's chest in.
    • Bronn's Trial by Combat against Ser Vardis Egen to decide whether Tyrion is executed or not. The latter is armored head to toe, providing protection at the expense of speed and movement, the latter in little more than his daily wear, trading protection for maneuverability. Bronn's unorthodox, streetwise technique wins him the day.
  • Michael Carpenter and Nicodemus Archleone mix it up with some intense swordplay at the end of Death Masks.
  • The Malazan Book of the Fallen has several notable ones, such as Whiskeyjack fighting Kallor or Rhulad Sengar and Brys Beddict. Not to mention Anomander Rake, or Gruntle, or Adjunct Tavore Paran... you get the idea.
  • Happens a lot in Percy Jackson and the Olympians. It's the thing Percy is best at at Camp Half-Blood, and the only one better than him is Luke. Really, this should make it obvious that Luke's The Heavy.
  • Ranger's Apprentice has sword fights everywhere, from Horace using a stick and his sword against a pair of thieves to Horace against Morgarath.
  • In Animorphs book 1 when Visser 3 meets Elfangor they have a tail-blade fight Elfangor loses and is unfortunately Eaten Alive.
  • The Belgariad, where the Sword Fight between the Child of Light and the Child of Dark will decide the fate of the world.
  • Not often encounter in the Discworld novels due to the tendency of so many opponents to brawl, but one does turn up in Monstrous Regiment, although as per the usual style it's ended when one of the characters head-butts her more experienced (with a sword) opponent.
  • The Forever War uses this at one point - swords IN SPACE!!
  • The John Carter of Mars books are full of these; although Martians do have fire-arms, swords are still the main weapon of choice for most of them.
  • In the Modesty Blaise novel A Taste for Death, the action climax is Modesty in a duel to the death with a Master Swordsman villain. He's far better than her at handling a sword, but she out-thinks him.
  • No Good Deed... opens with one as a group of outlaws surround Elsabeth Soesten and her companion, Hieronymus. Flynning is averted, as Elsabeth makes quick work of one opponent and her second, though much more of a challenge, has a flashy fighting style which prevents him from keeping up with her simple and direct technique.
  • In The Man with the Red Tattoo, James Bond has to face the Big Bad in a duel when he attacks him after foiling his grand scheme against the decadent west.
  • Several in The Baroque Cycle, most notably Bob Shaftoe's final confrontation with his nemesis, Lord Upnor. Upnor was considered to be one of the most talented swordsmen in Europe, and defeated Bob with almost laughable ease. However, as Bob lay wounded on the ground, one of his Irish relatives wandered by, with Bob's nephews in tow, and proceeded to beat Upnor to death with a pike-staff (essentially, a great big stick), while delivering a lengthy speech on the folly of playing by the nobility's rules by using this trope.
    Teague: You have responsibilities now, Bob. You must lose this naive understanding of violence! You are embarrassin' me in front of the lads! You can't play by their rules or they'll win unfailingly! You don't engage in courtly play-fightin' with one such as this. You get a great big friggin' tree-branch and keep hittin' him with it until he dies. Like that. D'you see, boys?
    Jimmy and Danny: Aye, Uncle Teague.
  • Redwall they happen pretty often, as befits the medieval setting. However, they rarely take place between The Hero and Big Bad, as the main villains rarely use swords. In Outcast of Redwall, there is an especially cool one between two minor characters on opposite. On one side we have Zigu, murderous corsair who favors a rapier. On the other we have Sabretache, a sword master bringing a , well, sabre into the fray. Zigu cockily orders his soldiers to stay back so he can fight the hare alone. It doesn't end well for him.
  • The Stormlight Archive: Several. Dalinar notes that normal sword fights aren't really as beautiful as the stories say; they mostly just involve hitting your opponent with everything you can. He calls it "wrestling with weapons." Shardblade duels, on the other hand, can be beautiful, due to the grace granted by Shardplate. Dalinar's own son, Adolin, is one of the best duelists in the world, and has even chosen it as his religious Calling. He spends much of the first book annoyed that the Codes of War his father follows forbids unnecessary duels.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrow
    • In "The Odyssey", Slade Wilson takes on his former ASIS partner-turned-Rogue Agent Wintergreen, with both fighters using swords and martial arts.
    • In the Season 3 midseason finale, Oliver Queen challenges Ra's al Ghul to a sword fight and loses despite Ra's being completely unarmed at the start of their duel. Fortunately after training with Malcolm Merlyn he does a lot better the second time round in the Season 3 final episode. He later fights and defeats Malcolm Merlyn, deposing him as Ra's.
    • Malcolm Merlyn also trained his natural daughter Thea Queen. This leads to the inevitable swordfight when their relationship breaks down in Season 4.
    • In the Season 8 "Leap of Faith", the MacGuffin is a sword belonging to the first Ra's, sought by anyone who wants to reestablish the League of Assassins. Talia al Ghul gets hold of it first, so Thea uses her right as Heir to the Demon to challenge her. Talia proves the better swordfighter, but Thea still wins.
  • Bibleman has a lot of these.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer second-season finale, Buffy has a fencing duel with Angelus for no apparent reason other than that it's cool. (Well, OK, she had to stab him with the sword for mystical reasons related to knights, purity, and the closing of the way to hell).
    • There was a perfectly good reason. They were going to fight. They both had swords in their hands. What else are they going to do?
    • Angel occasionally got into swordfights.
  • By The Sword Divided featured several, including a formal duel at dawn.
  • Happens a lot in Charmed.
  • Doctor Who: The Doctor has always been pretty good with a sword. His skills have been called on in:
    • In "The Mind Robber", there is a swordfight in the Land of Fiction between Cyrano de Bergerac and D'Artagnan, who have been summoned by the Master and the Doctor. Finally Blackbeard is substituted for Cyrano and defeats D'Artagnan, causing the Doctor to replace D'Artagnan with Sir Lancelot, who defeats Blackbeard.
    • In "The Sea Devils", he duels the Master (because it's apparently standard practice to hang swords on the wall outside the cell of the most dangerous and evil man on the planet).
    • In "The Masque of Mandragora", the Doctor explains to Duke Guliano that he learned his swordsmanship from a captain in Cleopatra's bodyguard. This was just after the two of them had fought off six of Count Federico's elite guards.
    • And then his duel with Count Grendel, best swordsman on the planet, in "The Androids of Tara".
      • A lovely parting shot from that gentleman, as he leaps from a high tower into the moat to escape: "Next time, Doctor, I shall not be so lenient!". Apparently Tara is the universe's primary source of both Soft Water and Magnificent Bastards.
    • "The King's Demons", against Sir Giles Estram. The Doctor defeats Estram. who then threatens him with a Tissue Compression Eliminator. He is actually the Master.
    • "The Christmas Invasion", against the Sycorax leader.
    • "A Good Man Goes to War" has the massive sword fight with Rory, Vastra, and Jenny against the Headless Monks.
    • In "Robot of Sherwood", although this time he decides not to use a sword. Who needs one when you can win a duel against Robin Hood with a Funny Spoon?
  • In Dollhouse Adele and Victor have a sword fight. Then have sex.
  • In the Firefly episode "Shindig", Mal engages in a "duel of honor" with Atherton Wing. He tries for either fist fighting or a gun duel first. Mal, despite generally being proficient in more modern methods of fighting, has no clue how to fight with a sword. (Gentleman: "If you require it, any gentleman here can give you use of his sword." Mal: "Use of his s-what?") He has to learn from Inara (who is, as part of her back story, classically trained in pretty much everything). Played with in the Big Damn Movie, where Mal has to fight the Operative hand-to-hand after losing his gun. When the Operative draws his sword, Mal's counter is with a screwdriver.
  • The Frasier episode "An Affair To Forget" has one between Niles and the German fencing instructor whom Maris was having an affair with.
  • In R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour four kids get sucked into a video game and when they get to the final boss he breaks out his twin dao and fights the other four and all they have are baseball bats, chains, and other around the house stuff.
  • Hiro vs Adam in Heroes.
  • Almost every episode of Highlander featured a sword fight between two Immortals, usually to the death. This made some sense in the series, because decapitation was the only way to kill an Immortal and gain his power. The use of firearms to incapacitate them was also seen as dishonorable, so only the most unscrupulous Immortals used them.
  • iCarly: In "iStill Psycho", Freddie's mom has a sword fight with Nora and her mom who wield fireplace equipment.
  • In Kamen Rider Dragon Knight, sword fights happen a lot; even when some of them don't even have swords they fight the ones that do.
    • Dragon Knight (both Kit and Adam) have fought Wing Knight: Kit's fight is a training fight; Adam's is for real.
    • Xaviax poses as Eubulon and uses his Sword Vent against Adam, who uses his own Sword Vent agaianst Xaviax. Xaviax wins via his Speed Vent.
    • Strike and Dragon Knight cross blades a couple of times too.
    • Wing Knight and Strike have fought each other as well: sometimes Wing Knight is temed up with Dragon Knight.
    • Wing Knight and Wrath have crossed swords many times in the series.
    • Back when Sting worked for Xaviax, he tried to eliminate Wing Knight and Wing Knight wound up fighting Sting with his own sword. Sting used his Copy Vent and fought Wing Knight with another Wing Lancer.
  • Sword fights happen often in Power Rangers/Super Sentai.
  • In Pushing Daisies, Ned fought the man who murdered the twin of the man he killed in a sword fight. Ned's sword-fighting skills are pretty implausible, even given his explanation (see quote at the top of the page).
  • Happens at least once in Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, where Endymion and the Shitennou all have swords as weapons.
    • Everyone has a sword in Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon. Well, except Jupiter who gets a poleaxe instead.
  • In Samurai Sentai Shinkenger, Takeru vs Juzo, Mako vs Dayuu... it's a show about samurai...
  • In the Smallville episode "Icarus", Slade Wilson finds his gun to be ineffective against the mace-wielding Hawkman. What does he do? Draw out a katana and close with the hero. Badass ensues.
  • Subverted in an episode of Stargate SG-1 when the team is on an Arthurian grail quest. Lt-Col. Mitchell touches Excalibur in an attempt to get at the McGuffin, and is challenged to a sword fight with a holographic knight to prove his worth. While he is a seasoned and deadly warrior, he is a 20th century warrior, and is completely worthless with a sword. As he's taking a whupping, his team discovers that their other weapons go right through the knight and he tries to give the sword to Teal'c (a Proud Warrior Race Guy that's excellent at this sort of thing), but discovers that only he can touch it. They end up shutting off the trial another way.
    • Actually, the first time Mitchell duels the knight, he is actually able to beat it in a straight sword fight. It isn't until the season finale, when he duels a far more powerful one, that they have to take it down via alternate means.
    • Mitchell mentions that he took fencing in college, which explains why he's even remotly competent with a sword. In the season finale, prior to the sword fight, he encounters two kids who are mock-swordfighting, and gives them a few pointers.
    • Stargate Atlantis: Ronon has a rather big sword and he's rather good at it (mainly due to him being even more muscular than a Jaffa, he handles it like a really big knife). In fact, Satedans appear to be naturals at sword fighting despite being skilled at guns and gunplay too.
  • Star Trek
    • Various alien races were far too eager to engage in this type of combat. Naturally, Starfleet actively shunned it, because swords lack a stun setting. But this didn't stop a preposterous amount of crew members from engaging in an ancient ritual combat to avoid offending said aliens' culture.
    • Star Trek: Picard: In "Absolute Candor", Tenqem challenges a very reluctant Picard to a duel, and their swords clash a couple times before Picard drops his weapon to the ground, refusing to continue. A thug then attempts to strike Elnor with his blade, but the latter is too quick and too agile, and Elnor ends the confrontation by beheading Tenqem.


    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech: The Draconis Combine, thanks to their strong samurai culture, loves this trope to the point that Combine mechwarriors carry katanas and will fight with them on a regular basis. They even add swords to their Humongous Mecha in order to sword fight with mechs!
  • Shadowrun: Swords are a popular weapon among shadowrunners. They're virtually silent, they don't run out of bullets, and they let orks, trolls, and chromed-out Street Samurai utilize their superior strength. The Japanese Empire and yakuza also regularly engage in sword fights.
  • Warhammer 40,000's chainweapons and powerswords. 'Nough said.
  • Warhammer Fantasy with regular, and magical swords.
  • Dueling with swords is still a custom in the Traveller universe.


    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • In Final Fantasy XII's introductory cinematics, fighters are shown jockeying for air supremacy... while hordes of knights in armour and swords go at each other on the ground.
  • Every game in the Metal Gear Solid series ends in a similar fashion, and one plays it straight. MGS1 features a two examples, one with Snake's old friend, Gray Fox, where weapons are actually useless against him because Katanas Are Just Better, and a second against Snake's Brother, Liquid atop the Metal Gear. The second plays it straight with a katana battle on top of Federal Hall. The third subverts this with a duel that allows guns. The finale of the series ends with a recreation of all the games fighting styles atop of a submarine.
  • The Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic video game series, in addition to lightsabers and Energy Weapons, have metal swords. It is Handwaved by a shopkeeper, who explains that with personal energy shields becoming commonplace, melee weapons that can penetrate them are also becoming increasingly common, akin to Dune. Why they didn't just use bullets is not explained. (This is handwaved even more when lightsabers are involved; the blades are supposedly made with cortosis ore, a metal capable of blocking even lightsabers.)
    • You do use bullets, sometimes. Ranged weapons that bypass shields are variously explained as being "disruptor" weapons or as being actual projectile weapons (the best of which is the Mandalorian Ripper). Of course, said weapons tend to do crappy damage relative to melee weapons anyway.
    • KOTOR 2 tried to fix that problem by increasing the damage that ranged weapons do. It helped, but they were still no match for a lightsaber.
  • Played straight and subverted in Final Fantasy VII. The final, final battle is Cloud and Sephiroth, one on one with swords. However, earlier in the game, Barrett fights his old friend Dyne ... and both wield their Arm Cannons.
    • Scenes from Crisis Core and Advent Children offer a potential justification for the fact that SOLDIERs wield large swords: They have a small ability to block bullets with the large weapon, especially from their vitals.
    • May also be justified by the better SOLDIERs having Super-Reflexes which makes Guns relatively useless against them. Zack — recognized in canon as pretty much the top SOLDIER around except for Sephiroth — appears to be capable of pulling off some serious bullet-dodging (as seen in Last Order) as well as the bullet-blocking shown in the intro cutscene of Crisis Core.
  • Final Fantasy VIII starts with Squall and Seifer dueling each other with their gunblades.
  • Played, to a point, in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. One mission gives you the choice of going sword to sword against a crimelord. Your other options involve whatever other guns you picked up on the way to him.
    • There is also a similar mission in Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories mission, titled Waka-Gashira Wipeout, that ends with you facing off against a Yakuza boss sword-to-sword. If you opt to go with guns instead, he'll order his men to respond in kind.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Played straight in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Both Zant and Ganondorf go through various stages until finally duking it out with Link in a straight one-on-one swordfight.
    • Actually, most games in the series since The Wind Waker have had a some sort of sword fight as the Final Battle.
    • Not to mention various minibosses in the series that use swords. These enemies, if appearing in pairs, usually even have the decency to fight you one at a time.
    • While Link's been using a sword in every game, Skyward Sword puts special focus on his actual skill with the blade beyond "use an item to make him vulnerable, then swing away," because of the improved Wii Motion Plus controls. Several bosses and Elite Mooks exist mainly to showcase this aspect of the game. It helps that nearly every aiming-based item available to you is less than automatic in Z-targeting mode(it still locks on to enemies, but still uses manual aiming, similar to Metroid Prime.).
    • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link also plays out in a similar manner where Link's abilities come from his swordplay rather than items and various enemies fight Link with swords of their own. The Final Boss is Link's shadow and the two of them duke it out in a sword duel. This game has some of the most intense sword fighting on the NES when it comes to battling Iron Knuckles. It also illustrates the faster reflex-based combat of this title in comparison to the subdued movement-based combat of the previous game.
  • Played straight in Red Steel. Every level had you fighting a boss-type character one on one with a sword. This in spite of the fact you just blew away hordes of cannon fodder with all sorts of weaponry. Not to mention the advantage of slowing time to be able to shoot the guns from their hands. Nope, had to be a sword duel. And even then, you had two swords to use.
  • In Red Steel 2 sword fights happen just as often, especially against Shinjiro, whom you face twice, once earlier in the game and he's also the last opponent.
  • Saints Row 2: At the end of the Ronin missions, the Boss will end up in a sword duel with the Ronin's boss, who mocks them and asks if they truly believe that they could possibly win a duel against someone with his experience. The Boss says "Nope. That's why I'm gonna cheat," and pulls a pistol, subverting the typical Never Bring a Gun to a Knife Fight.
  • In Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box, when Layton battles Anton in his manor. But, just so you know, that was the only weapon available, and only 2 swords out of the many in the room (including Anton's) it occurs in are real.
  • No More Heroes: A number of the Ranking Fights in this game and its sequels are of the good ol' fashioned "One-on-one sword fight" variety, albeit with laser swords and Mexican Luchador wrestling thrown in. Off the top of the head, the battles with Death Metal, Shinobu, Harvey Moiseiwitsch Volodarskii, Dark Star, and Henry in the first game are all sword duels.
  • No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle: The game continues the trend started with its predecessor, featuring sword fights between Travis and, in order of appearance, Skelter Helter, Kimmy, Ryuji, and technically Alice Twilight (if you count "Swords being held by armored frame" as the proper type).
  • No More Heroes III: There are surprisingly fewer sword fights in this game than in its predecessors, since Travis' opponents are aliens who resort to other means of attack. However, the Rank 8 boss (Black Night Direction) still plays it straight. He faces Travis with two katana blades, and as the fight progresses Travis learns unique skills he can use to defeat him (and subsequently apply them to all future fights).
  • In The Witcher, less common but more climactic encounters are sword duals. All of Geralt's techniques are Slice And Dice, and his Group and Fast styles employ the maximum Flynning.
  • In Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games you can have a fencing match with all sorts of Mario and Sonic characters and even your Miis!
  • You can have a sword fight In Wii Sports Resort in the swordplay part, not only can you fight just one person but in a different mode you can fight a whole horde of Miis.
  • You're pretty much forced to do this in LEGO Indiana Jones 2 with the guys with black swords.
  • In LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean whenever you face any character with a sword you have a sword fight with them.
  • Loopmancer have the hero, Xiang Zixu, wielding a sword, and a Recurring Boss Hiroyuki Ogata being another swordsman. Their battles (both of them) is an epic clash of blades, and in fact the game encourages the player to use swords more often despite having firearms.
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl:
    • In the Subspace Emissary, Marth fights Meta Knight briefly but they both learn the other is the good guy and team up.
    • Meta Knight's native series, he always offers Kirby a sword of his own before fighting him. Most often, he will refuse to battle until he takes it.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • There are several instances of this like whenever Sora fights someone else using a different Keyblade and then there are the bandits that carry Sinister Scimitars.
    • Also when Sora fights Cloud or Sephiroth.
    • And inevitably that's what happens whenever Cloud and Sephiroth meet.
  • In The Elder Scrolls background lore, the Imga, a race of intelligent "ape men" native to Valenwood, practice these with dueling swords in an attempt to impress the Altmer (High Elves), who the Imga idolize.
  • The climactic duel in the penultimate chapter in Uncharted 4: A Thief's End - which was pretty much inevitable given the game's plot has been chasing after a pirate treasure this whole time - where Rafe gets a hold of a saber and Nathan Drake has nothing (and Rafe's Sword Pointing at him the whole time when he's not trying to slash him), until he evades some slashes long enough to get a sword of his own around the pirate ship they're on.
    Rafe: You care...about that parade of losers so much... I'm going to make sure they join you.
    Rafe: That's the spirit.
    Rafe: You know how to sword fight?
    Nate: Yeah. I stick you with the sharp end, right?
    Rafe: Oh, this should be fun.
  • Sword Fight, duh. The whole game is 1v1 fights against swordwielders where both you and them have different styles and techniques.

  • In Beyond The End, Chapter 23 is a sword fight between the main cast, the angels, and demons.
  • Sluggy Freelance:
    • Despite being friends with Riff, and therefore having access to most forms of weaponry known to man, Torg tends to prefer using his talking sword Chaz in battle. This is usually justified, however, since Chaz can kill just about anything in a single strike, even near-omnipotent immortals. Plus, most of the times Torg's used Chaz have been when he's stuck in another world or time where there aren't any firearms around.
    • On the one occasion when Torg does bring a sword to a gunfight, he says, "A sword is an elegant weapon. Not as clumsy or random as a blaster." After almost getting killed by the first hail of gunfire, he runs back to the weapons cache shouting, "Clumsy and random's got my name all over it!"
  • In El Goonish Shive, Raven fights Abraham when the latter invades Moperville South and refuses to surrender. Unbeknownst to both of them Nanase witnesses them.
    Nanase (thinking): My history teacher is swordfighting a wizard.
  • Bits Fair has featured a few sword fights so far: Irya vs. Reba, Reba vs. the masked boy and Irya vs. the masked boy.

    Web Original 
  • Whateley Universe: Bladedancer vs. Swordmaiden. Bladedancer vs. Nightbane. Bladedancer vs. Tennyo. Wait, seeing a trend here...
  • The Questport Chronicles: Mei takes on the Eldritch Abomination Big Bad to buy her companions some time to start the spell that will imprison the monster. She actually manages to hold her own.
  • There are so many in Mall Fight, it is impossible to count. Eric and Diablo both had a sword fight that nearly made the Mall itself self destruct.
  • There are a lot of LEGO sword fights on YouTube, this one has to be one of the best [1]
  • This is a recurring theme in Shadowhunter Peril. It was originally subverted by the Architect, but ultimately played straight when it was revealed that he keeps a collapsible sword inside his sleeve.
    • Veronica and Osiris; Veronica has a Bag of Holding that holds multiples of nearly every kind of sword. She'll often grab a bunch and distribute them among her allies. Osiris has seven magical swords, and an improbable sword.
    • Many superpowered beings such as Oblivion and Umbra will create a sword out of thin air to fight with, just because they can.
  • The 90th episode of Welcome to Night Vale.
    Cecil: I want to tell you I drew a glowing sword, and he drew a sword made of fire. I want to tell you our mighty blades clashed above our heads, as our elbows and faces met. I think it’d be a really cool thing to say that I then pushed him back with a kick to the chest and swung my blade down upon him as he tried to deflect it with his own, my sword shattering his, causing him to burst open with white light and doves, and order returned for good to Night Vale. But what I’m going to tell you is… I don’t own a sword.

    Western Animation 
  • There were two sword fights in Metalocalypse.
    • One was a (presumably) staged one for a music video between Skwisgaar and Toki.
    • The second was a fencing match between Charles Ofdensen (Dethklok's manager, and a college fencing champion) and Melmord Fjordslorm, who had been told by Ofdensen that the only way Melmord would get his job was to kill him. Ofdensen ended up kicking Melmord off the roof of Mordhaus.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender had Zuko vs Jet, where both of them were Dual Wielding. Zuko won.
    • Also the entirety of the episode "Sokka's Master."
    • In "Nightmares and Daydreams" Aang has a daydream about Appa and Momo as samurai fighting each other.
    • One of the earliest sword fights happened between the Jangs and the Gan-Jins in "The Great Divide".
  • Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers: "Heart of Tarkon," "Tower of Combat," and "Heartbeat"
  • Crops up from time to time in Transformers: Cybertron. The Final Battle between Optimus Prime and Galvatron turns into one.
  • In Samurai Jack, Jack has fought beetles with sword-shaped legs, 6-armed robots with scimitars, a robot/ninja/assassin with a blade that could cut through solid metal, a Scottish man with a machinegun for a leg and a magic claymore, his own evil side, a giant mecha, and more.
  • In Phineas and Ferb, Perry has a wrench fight with Doofenshmirtz.
    • In a later episode they have a sword fight with a hot dog and a bratwurst that make sounds similar to lightsabers clashing.
    • In the episode "No More Bunnies", Perry and Dennis the evil bunny fight with barbeque equipment.
  • ThunderCats (2011):
    • In "Omens Part One" King Claudus has a sword fight with Lion-O to show off the Sword of Omens' power.
    • In "Legacy", Leo has a sword fight against his commander, both using their respective Cool Swords.
    • In "The Duelist and the Drifter" there are multiple fights against Master Swordsman The Duelist.
    • In "Between Brothers" Lion-O and Tygra have a sword fight both using the Sword of Omens, one the real version, one created in the astral plane. In the end Tygra said he would never betray Lion-O and both put their swords away.
    • History repeats itself in What Lies above part 2 when Lion-O takes on Mumm-Ra (technically) again.
  • In Sym-Bionic Titan episode Escape from Galaluna, Lance has a sword fight with his former Commander. In the end, Lance stabs the commander through the stomach and lets him fall from the platform they were fighting on.
  • In the Adventure Time episode "Mystery Train", Finn follows the Train Conductor and finally corners him in the engine and has a sword fight, quickly throws the conductor's sword away and as he is about to dispatch him the conductor reveals he is Jake who was previously believed to be dead.
  • Somewhat averted in The Super Hero Squad Show episode 1602 due to the fact that a) it's a pretty dumb show, b) Thor used his hammer which he cheated with by breaking Abomination's sword.
  • In the Batman episode "Showdown", Bounty Hunter Jonah Hex takes on Arkady Duval, who is using a saber, and beats him using only a knife!
    • Batman himself does this against Ra's al Ghul.
  • Gravity Falls: in the episode "Headhunters", Dipper has a fight with a wax version of Sherlock Holmes, the former uses a piece of fireplace equipment while the latter uses a sword.
  • In The Smurfs' adaptation of Robin Hood, Vanity as Robin Smurf and Brainy as Prince John are both fighting with wooden swords, but Vanity acts as if he's barely even fighting. It only ends when Harmony tackles Brainy and sends him flying into the moat.

    Real Life 
  • "Mad Jack" Churchill remarked that "any officer that goes into combat without his sword is improperly dressed." During WW2. He also carried a longbow, and used them both on several occasions.


Video Example(s):


Musketeers vs Guards

One of the most creative sword fights in cinema, there are several tropes on display. Notably, Flynning isn't one of them.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / SwordFight

Media sources: