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Sword of Plot Advancement

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They called it an Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence, not an Indestructible Waist-Height Fence.
"For the king, for the land, for the mountains
For the green valleys where dragons fly
For the glory, the power to win the Black Lord
I will search for the Emerald Sword!"
Rhapsody of Fire, "Emerald Sword"

The Sword of Plot Advancement is the offensive or defensive item that the central plot of the game revolves around, and whose collection by the player signifies that they are now capable of advancing to the end of the game. It thus marks the end of the Second Act.

Alternatively, it may be gained at the beginning of the Second Act, if it is important to game mechanics, and marks the beginning of the adventure proper.

Most of the time, since said weapon acts as an Amplifier Artifact, it is the only Achilles' Heel of the immortal or Nigh Invulnerable Big Bad. It may also be an example of a Legendary Weapon.

It isn't strictly a MacGuffin (which is meaningless in and of itself), because after it is attained and the dramatic tension surrounding it dissipates, it is still useful within the game's combat mechanics.

It contrasts with the Infinity +1 Sword, which is optional to the plot and is collected long after the protagonist ceases to require it. It is, however, somewhat of a headscratcher when said Infinity + 1 Sword (and even the Infinity -1 Sword) is stronger; see Penultimate Weapon.

A sub-trope of both Plot Coupon and Plot Coupon That Does Something. Contrast It Was a Gift. See also Supernatural Aid. Sister Trope to Artifact of Hope, Second Hour Superpower and Villain-Beating Artifact.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Rave Master: In an odd manga example, the Ten Commandments Sword from Groove Adventure RAVE, is not only obtained early and one of two driving forces behind the main character's powers and abilities, but powers up not once, not twice, but NINE separate times. The last of these power-ups results in Ravelt, a Sword of Plot Advancement in its own right.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena: Utena is able to draw the sword of Dios from the Rose Bride starting in episode two, marking the beginning of her journey as a duelist. For the first arc of the series, this fantastic element seems fairly self-contained to Anthy; starting the second Black Rose arc, everyone can pull swords out of other people's chests! This ultimately culminates in Anthy having to draw a sword from Utena's breast, since Utena can no longer draw the sword of Dios from Anthy: Anthy draws the sword of Dios. As a bonus, these "soul swords" not only represent plot advancement (even if Utena can't see it) but also reflect character development and dynamics.
  • Slayers has the Sword of Light. Presented as a Forgotten Superweapon or Excalibur in the Rust, the Sword was created by a god and is one of the few things that can kill Mazoku, and its reemergence marks a turning point in the divine stalemate. While the sword itself seems to be a minor plot point, it takes a sharp turn into the spotlight in the third season, as do the other weapons of its kind.
  • Inuyasha has Tessaiga and Tenseiga, Swords of Character Development. Their father had the swords forged so he could protect and guide his sons even from beyond the grave. Inuyasha's Tessaiga becomes stronger and forces him to be stronger after it's reforged with his own fang. Prior to that, it was forged with his father's fang, meaning he was still relying on his father for protection. Tenseiga both protected Sesshomaru and taught him the value of compassion. Both swords are ultimately more important for Sesshomaru's growth, as he is only able to discover his own true strength once he learns compassion from Tenseiga and learns to let go of his obsession with Tessaiga which he wrongly saw as a sign of his father favoring Inuyasha over him.
  • Dragon Ball: The various transformations, particularly Super Saiyan, as well as the Kamehameha early on, tend to move the plot.
  • Tales of Wedding Rings: Late in the story, Satou and his allies head to the Empire's capital to obtain the Sword of the Ring King from the imperial mythology storehouse, believing that this legendary weapon can give them an edge in their battle against the Abyss King. In a subversion, the sword turns out to be completely ordinary, nonmagical, and rusted to the point of uselessness.

    Comic Books 

    Films — Animation 
  • Batman: Soul of the Dragon has the Soultaker Sword, which is needed to open the gate to the realm the Naga Demon is sealed in. O-Sensei entrusts it to Lady Shiva in a Flashback, but the Kobra Cult still manages to steal it in the present.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Aquaman (2018): King Atlan's trident fills this purpose. Arthur Curry/Aquaman must find it to gain control over sea life to defeat his half-brother Orm, and proves himself worthy of wielding it along the way.

  • The Sommerswerd in the second Lone Wolf gamebook Fire on the Water, which is also an Infinity +1 Sword that can be used in subsequent books in the series.
  • Some Fighting Fantasy gamebooks requires your character obtaining magical swords compulsory to succeed in your quest:
    • The Sword of Tsui in The Crimson Tide, a book that already has Multiple Endings. Said sword is compulsory in helping you obtain the Golden Ending.
    • The first half of Crypt of the Sorcerer revolves around your quest to obtain the Sword of Kull, the first warrior who defeated Razaak the titular sorcerer only to be cursed into becoming a skeleton, now that Razaak has been released from his ancient crypt and is plotting to conquer Allansia. You encounter Kull halfway into the story, and he then passes his weapon to you before disappearing.
    • Spellbreaker requires you to find the blessed sword of Gwythain the Protector, called the Deliverer, stolen by a powerful bandit lord who calls himself "The Mask". Obtaining said sword is the only way to slay demons and allow you to the Kurakil in the final battle.
    • Battleblade Warrior have you being blessed by a vision from your Patron God, Telak, to seek the legendary Sword of Telak to save your kingdom from the lizard men empire. After a lengthy quest, you eventually found said weapon, just as a hostile army of lizard men are about to destroy your hometown, at which point the Sword of Telak summons The Armies of Heaven and obliterates the lizard men army within minutes.
    • Sword of the Samurai have the Dai-Katana, the Singing Death, stolen by Ikiru of the Shadows, and you are a noble samurai sent to retrieve it. You will need that weapon for your final battle against Ikiru, expectedly.
    • Vault of the Vampire have the Nightstar, the Sword of Count Siegfried Heydrich, which you earned from Sigfried's ghost. It's the only weapon capable of slaying Sigfried's evil brother, the Vampire Monarch Reiner Heydrich.
    • Legend of Zagor have you discovering Zagor, the dreaded warlock, has merged with a revived Bone Demon, and is now a half-human, half-demon hybrid immune to ordinary weapons. The latter stage of your quest have you searching for a magical weapon (depending on your character, the Ebony Wand for Sallazar the Wizard, the Stonehammer for Stubble the Dwarf, the Barbarian Ax for Anvar the Barbarian and the Black Knight's Sword for Braxus the Warrior) in order to face Zagor in the penultimate confrontation.
    • Night Dragon requires you to collect a number of different weapons in order to destroy the titular dragon, including a blessed sword and shield, where without it you're killed even before you can face the monster. Should your health drop to a perilously low level in the final battle, you can even use the sword's magic to recharge your health.

  • Licanius, the namesake sword of The Licanius Trilogy is required for Caeden to be able to kill any of the immortal Venerate. Playes perfectly straight as he can't do anything to advance his plan without it.
  • The sword of Martin the Warrior in the Redwall Series serves as this. It denotes each Warrior. Most noticeable in Redwall where it's part of Matthias being a reincarnation of Martin.
  • In Un Lun Dun, the UnGun.
  • Walt Disney's First Pen in The Kingdom Keepers
  • The Sword of Shannara Trilogy has the sword mentioned in the title.
  • Kosall in The Acts of Caine
  • The Sword of the Lady in the Emberverse.
  • The Sword of Truth has the title sword, which is magically-imbued and has no equal. Richard gets it in like, the third chapter. Of the first book. Of a series of eleven doorstops. In fact, it becomes so associated with him and he actually reflexively reaches for it even when he doesn't have it, and other characters associate it with him personally. He eventually doesn't need it to kick twelve kinds of ass, but still prefers it to regular swords.
  • The orb of Aldur from The Belgariad seems like a MacGuffin until the hero picks it up near the end of the series and starts whomping all kinds of ass with it (and his signature BFS, of course, which is so heavy that the orb has to "carry" it for him). In the follow-up series, it becomes useful in all kinds of other ways throughout. Considering the sword was forged from two fallen stars, it was enormously heavy. The original creator was even advised to remember the weight, because if the orb were removed, and he were holding the sword, he'd likely break his wrist.
  • In The Wheel of Time the one who can wield the crystal sword Callandor is the Dragon Reborn — the chosen one. The main character acquires it in the third book and then announces his station to the world. "The only one who can wield it" is not precisely true. He was the only one who could pick it up without dying, yes, but as soon as he did, the magic protecting it was gone. After he left Callandor behind at the Stone of Tear, Moiraine berated him for leaving the third most powerful magical object in existence lying around for his enemies to steal. It's also such a strong Amplifier Artifact that using it as a sword is a complete waste of its potential.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is focused on Harry, Ron and Hermione's trying to find/destroy Voldemort's Horcruxes. The quest only takes off after they discover where Gryffindor's sword is hidden.
  • Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: Sumarbrander, the Sword of Summer is a sentient Absurdly Sharp Blade that can even cut through the reality's fabric. Magnus recovers it with his uncle's help to delay Ragnarok. Acquiring the weapon makes Magnus die at the hands of Surt and go to Valhalla. Then, he uses the sword as his main weapon
  • Much of the action in the first three The Mortal Instruments novels involves locating and recovering the titular Mortal Instruments, one of which is literally a sword, "Maellartach". Some other items, like the Book of the White, are also the subject of quests. Then in City of Lost Souls it is again literally a sword, in this case "Glorious", the sword of the Archangel Michael.
  • Nansō Satomi Hakkenden: Shino, the first of the Eight Dog Warriors, is on a mission to present his grandfather's sword Murasame back to the Ashikaga family who originally lent it to him for safekeeping. However he soon learns that the sword's blade has been swapped for a forgery, and must seek out the original; later the sword is stolen again by one of his enemies and he must get it back. In addition to its material and political value, the Murasame has potent mystical powers which aid Shino in combat, most notably control over water which passively washes its blade clean.
  • The starred sword in The Riddle Master Trilogy.
  • In Phoenix Rising, the last act begins when Kyri sets out to confront her parents' murderers, having completed her quest to find the Spiritsmith and obtain a sword and armor suitable to her new role as a Justiciar.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Cursed has the Sword of Power, one of the last Fey-forged magical swords made by the Shadow Lords (which is all but stated to be Excalibur). It can only be destroyed by the Fey-fire from whence it was forged and any who wield it can call themselves king (or queen) of the land as others have before. When wielded by Nimue, it amplifies her magic, although it also seems to corrupt its wielder if used for long enough which is what happened to Merlin and why he now seeks to destroy the Sword. Many factions in the series seek to claim it for themselves to bolster their own power.
  • Kamen Rider has several different sorts of example depending on the series:
    • A common trend in the early Heisei series was to have the main character gain his final form via the acquisition of a unique and powerful sword. Examples of this include Faiz's Faiz Blaster (doubles as a BFG!), Hibiki's Armed Saber, and Den-O's DenKamen Sword.
    • Many other final forms come with new swords that aren't the source of the hero's new powers, but facilitate their use in ways that the previous weapons couldn't. Early on these new weapons were the province of the final form, but the weapon has gradually become something introduced with the first or second major upgrade instead.
    • In later Heisei shows, one of the main Rider's upgrades in particular will have story importance over the others even if it becomes obsoleted as a weapon, such as Mighty Brothers XX or the Hazard Trigger.
    • Kamen Rider Zero-One has the unusual instance of the Progrise Hopper Blade, which isn't the source of his MetalCluster Hopper form's powers, but is necessary to use them safely. The sword itself functions as a Healing Shiv against certain opponents, but circumstances keep it from being useful against any of the major villains except as a weapon.
  • In Ultraman Orb, regaining the Orb Calibur is the high turning point of the show.

    Myths & Religion 
  • King Arthur getting the Sword in the Stone and Excalibur (which may or may not be the same — Arthurian Legend can be confusing) are important steps in his rise to power, and Excalibur is his main weapon through pretty much the entirety of his life. Excalibur's sheath, arguably the more valuable artifact, provided magical protection that safeguarded Arthur and ensured Camelot's prosperity. The loss of the sheath kicks off Arthur's and Camelot's eventual downfall.
  • Norse Mythology: In Völsunga saga, Sigmund can only accomplish his vengeance on Siggeir after his sister Signy gives him the sword of Odin. Much later, Sigmund's son Sigurd receives the shards of the same sword from his mother, which he has then reforged into Gram, the weapon with which he goes on to avenge his father and kill the dragon Fafnir.


    Tabletop Games 
  • In early editions of Dungeons & Dragons, Artifacts were meant to be this. Rather than just supremely powerful magic items (which, admittedly, they were), every Artifact had a backstory and usually some kind of curse or other condition that made life... "interesting" for anyone who ended up with one in their possession. For example, The Hand and Eye of Vecna, once merged with their new host, slowly drove their bearers to recreate Vecna's fallen empire (with plenty of tyranny along the way). Or digging up pieces of the Rod of Seven Parts caught the attention of various powerful demons since it was used to bind the essence of their greatest lord. An Artifact was something that entire campaigns were meant to turn around, and were never meant to be treated as just another step up in power for a Player Character.

  • Nothung in Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen: Pulled from a tree in act 1 of Die Walküre, broken by Wotan's spear in act 2, reforged in act 1 of Siegfried, then breaks Wotan's spear in act 3, still important in Götterdämmerung.

  • This trope is all over the place in Ninjago, which use these as collectables in the LEGO sets and often have a four-armed antagonist to wield all four items:
    • Played straight in the pilot episodes with the Golden Weapons; the Sword of Fire, the Nunchucks of Lightning, the Scythe of Quakes and the Shurikens of Ice. Lord Garmadon seeks to bring the weapons together to allow him to escape from the underworld, while the ninja seek to gain the Weapons themselves to stop him. In Season 1: Rise of the Snakes, the four Fangblades serve as this, as they are required to awaken the Great Devourer, and the five staffs of the Serpentine leaders serve to reveal the map to their location due to the combination of their venom.
    • After the Golden Weapons were used by Garmadon to kill the Great Devourer and he stole them for himself, the ninjas' elemental powers were weakened, so they sought the four Elemental Blades in the Temple of Light to restore their powers. Later they used the blades to unlock the Golden Mech for Lloyd.
    • In Season 3: Rebooted, the ninja used the Tech Blades to create their vehicles, though they received these at the beginning of the season.
    • Subverted in the Tournament of Elements arc, where the Jadeblades are simply tournament points.
    • Also downplayed by the Aeroblades in Season 5: Possession, which allow the ninja to attack the ghosts that serve as the villains for the season.
    • The Djinn Blade in Season 6 appeared in multiple forms across the sets, but there was only ever one in the show. It could trap souls and powers inside it, so trapping the ninja became Nadakhan's goal so he could use their powers to tear apart Ninjago and create a new Djinjago.
    • Day of the Departed had evil versions of these wielded by the villains that would have allowed them to be truly revived had they defeated their respective ninja opponents; the Departed Blades.
    • The Time Blades in Season 7: The Hands of Time return to being more traditional examples. They contain the elemental powers of the Masters of Time and were sealed in a temporal vortex that said Masters dove into to reclaim their powers. They thus seek to reunite them for the rest of the season to create a temporal superweapon.
    • Season 8 had the three Oni masks, sought by the Sons of Garmadon cult to revive Lord Garmadon as a villain.
    • Season 11: Secrets of the Forbidden Spinjitzu had the two Forbidden Scrolls of Spinjitzu.
    • Season 12: Prime Empire had the three Key-tanas, two swords in the Prime Empire videogame the ninja needed to find to access main villain Unagami's throne room in the game.
    • Season 13: Master of the Mountain had the two Blades of Deliverance. Uniquely, the swords themselves have no powers and instead represented hope to the peoples who owned them; the main villain of the season, the Skull Sorcerer, steals them partially to turn the two tribes against each other.
    • The Island and Season 14: Seabound have the Storm Amulet and Wave Amulet that seal away Wojira's powers.

    Video Games 
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • And the Zelda clone Alundra gives you your initial weapons in this fashion. You need them to solve puzzles just like the items in Zelda games.
  • In Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits, Darc picks up a nameless sword before the final boss fight of his first story. Unlike most examples, it is your only weapon throughout the game, and it changes his fighting style to now include techniques and slashes.
  • Ancient Domains of Mystery has the five Chaos orbs which can be worn one at a time for a stat boost, or invoked to use their special powers (at the cost of advancing the PC's corruption).
  • Battle for Wesnoth: After the climax of the first third of Heir to the Throne, the Sceptre of Fire is established as a weapon needed by Konrad to establish his legitimacy as a king. He or Li'sar then gets it around the end of the second third, and the scepter proves to be a powerful weapon even in-game.
  • Every BioShock game has one point where the protagonist needs to find a Vigor/Plasmid that will give them an ability they need to continue, such as "telekinesis" to grab explosives needed to remove rubble, "Incinerate" to melt a wall of ice, and "Electrobolt" needed to power a gondola. After the main point where it's needed to continue, the Vigor/Plasmid remains a useful tool in combat.
  • The PasSWORD from BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm is a classic example. At least half of the game’s journey is spent trying to gather its three shards, piece them together, and recharge the sword so it can be used to shatter the Firewall surrounding the villain’s lair. Even after it fulfills its purpose, it's still the strongest weapon you have.
  • The Vampire Killer in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin. An unusual case, since the Vampire Killer is A) a whip and B) the hero has it already. The real focus is the quest to unseal it and use it to defeat Dracula, but the hero is warned that if it's used too much, it'll kill him the same way it killed his father. There's no ingame effect representing this, but it's hinted it takes longer than one would spend tramping around Castlevania for the effect to kick in.
  • The Masamune from Chrono Trigger is an interesting case. It's required to advance the plot, but since it's just used at the halfway point, it gets overshadowed fairly quickly by other weapons Frog can just buy. However, one sidequest can empower it to its full potential, making it both this and an Infinity +1 Sword at different intervals.
  • The eponymous Crystalis, though you acquire it right before the final boss battle, after entering the Point of No Return.
  • The eponymous Daikatana, even though most people couldn't even find the sword for about three years, and it was less useful than a gun... although more useful than your sidekicks.
  • Doom
    • In Doomł, on your first journey through Hell, you find the "Praeleanthor", a.k.a. "The Soulcube". It was apparently being used as a portal between Hell and Mars, but it also functions as a weapon that can one-shot every non-boss enemy in the game, including the Vagaries and Hell Knights. It's also the only way to kill the Cyberdemon, the only creature you will find that can withstand multiple Soulcube hits (or any at all, besides Sabaoth).
    • Doom Eternal has the Crucible, a giant Laser Blade first seen at the end of Doom (2016). After the Khan Makyr decides to unleash the Icon of Sin upon Earth, the Slayer must reforge it as a weapon to kill the Final Boss.
  • Dragon Quest
    • Erdrick/Loto's Sword in Dragon Quest and next two sequels. The Zenith Sword in IV through VI, though with a different name and color in the last.
    • In Dragon Quest III, an astoundingly significant portion of the game is spent trying to get the Gaia Sword, just so that it can open a path to a MacGuffin. This sequence involves getting a ship, finding a place you can't go with the ship, finding a mirror that you can use to get a staff that you can trade to get a bone that you can use to get a locket that you can use to unlock the place you can't go with the ship. If you're following the manual, this will take you from level 20 all the way to level 34, in a game which recommends you be level 40 to fight the end boss. And that's just to get the Gaia Sword. The only purpose of the sword is to get you to the last of six orbs, five of which you picked up while trying to get the Gaia Sword. Ugh. You open up the path to the last orb by throwing the Gaia Sword into a volcano. There aren't even any bosses between getting it and getting rid of itnote . It ends up being a key by another name.
    • And in Dragon Quest IV, there's an entire set to collect, with the Zenithian Armor, Helmet and Shield to match the inevitable Sword.
    • In Dragon Quest V, you are required to do two long dungeons and marry a girl in order to get a plot-advancing shield...and you can't even use the damn thing until later in the game. In fact, you can't use it at all. For once in a DQ game, the main character is not The Chosen One.
    • And again in Dragon Quest VII, with the Aquagon sword. But in a twist, you get this sword before getting any hint to its significance. Sure, the king of Coastal talked it up as their legendary treasure... but you also heard that same speech earlier in the game about a simple Bug knife. But the Aquagon comes back later, first proving to Sharkeye that the heroes are telling the truth, and then later being the key to reviving the Aqua Spirit and freeing the world from darkness.
    • Dragon Quest XI has quite a bit of fun with its own plot device sword, the Sword of Light.
      • It is the central artifact the heroes race to claim throughout almost all of Act 1, with numerous other artifacts being required just to reach where it is. At which point Mordegon immediately steals it from you, corrupts it into the Sword of Shadows, and uses it to cast the world into darkness, beginning the far more vicious Act 2.
      • Act 2 presents the heroes with a conundrum, as they still need the Sword of Light but currently don't have access to it since the Big Bad obviously doesn't want to give it back. The main objective ends up switching from "obtaining the Sword of Light" to "gather all the uber-legendary items and materials needed to make another one", in a really unusual twist on a trope item that's almost always one-of-a-kind.
      • Then Act 3 sees the Luminary sacrifice both his Sword of Light and the freshly looted Sword of Shadows in a time travel attempt, at which point the Sword of Plot Advancement title goes back to the original Sword of Light after Mordegon's theft is prevented. The twist being, having the original doesn't prevent you from redoing the Act 2 questline to get your hands on two Swords of Light, though the second isn't plot relevant anymore and is instead the key to obtaining the Infinity +1 Sword.
  • The Godsbane from Dragon's Dogma is a divine blade said to be able to guide the chosen to true freedom. However the only thing you can do with the blade is to stab yourself to death. Indeed, it is a blade made for committing suicide. Once you have become the Seneschal, you're permanently stuck beyond the Rift, and the only way out is, needless to say, cast away your life when you see fit. Of course, you can also exploit it to re-roll chest loots and boss drop. That said, the Black Cats somehow managed to replicate the Godsbane, which can be bought as many as possible.
  • Despite not being a tangible object, the great power that Ness discovers in himself near the end of Earth Bound fits this trope.
  • Ecco the Dolphin receives the power to Advance the Plot from the Asterite in the penultimate sections of the first and second games. The fact that it eliminates the need to breathe is a small bonus.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • Morrowind:
      • The main quest tasks you with acquiring the Tools of Kagrenac, which are the blunt-weapon hammer Sunder and the dagger Keening. In a twist, you don't need to use them on Dagoth Ur himself to win. You must strike the Heart of Lorkhan, source of his (and the Tribunal's) power, with the tools.
      • Towards the end of the Imperial Legion questline, you'll be tasked with finding the legendary "Paladin's Blade" Chrysamere. It's the most powerful two-handed sword in the game. You must turn it in to your commander if you want to complete the questline, and in order to get it back, you must best him in a duel. He will use said blade against you in said duel. Have fun.
      • The Tribunal expansion has you reforge True Flame, the Flaming Sword of the original Nerevar, as part of the main quest. Ultimately subverted, as you only need to reforge the weapon in order to complete the related quest, you don't actually have to use it. (It's actually a high quality weapon, and is even more useful in the Bloodmoon expansion thanks to its fire enchantment taking down the many fire-weak enemies there.)
    • Skyrim:
      • Skyrim has Nettlebane. It is the only weapon that can harm the Gildergreen, a sacred tree, and it is needed to clear a path to the Gildergreen and retrieve some of its sap. This is just part of a small sidequest though.
      • The main quest has a Shout of Plot Advancement, Dragonrend, which is needed in order to help defeat Alduin. It remains useful to help ground dragons when fighting them, especially for builds that eschew bows or magic.
      • In the Dawnguard DLC, there is a Bow of Plot Advancement, Auriel's Bow, which you need if you want to defeat the final boss at the end of the quest line. Of course, said Bow is also very useful against undead.
    • An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire, a spin-off game from the main series, has the Moon Reiver, the only sword that can hurt the final boss, Mehrunes Dagon.
  • Fable
    • The Sword of Aeons in Fable if you're evil. Lost Chapters also nerfs the Sword Of Aeons (and introduces Avo's Tear as its counterpart).
    • Also the music box from the beginning in Fable II sort-of becomes this trope, although it's not really a sword, and you don't really get to use it in any battle, you just hold down A in a cut scene to use its magic on the big baddie of the game.
    • Scimitar of Baron slaying +3 anyone?
  • Final Fantasy
    • The Ultima spell in Final Fantasy II.
    • Final Fantasy IV has Cecil receive the Legend sword (or Mythgraven Blade in the remake) when he becomes a Paladin. Though it can eventually be reforged into the Excalibur, the second-best (or third, depending on the version) sword in the game.
    • Also, the twelve legendary weapons in Final Fantasy V. For the last portion of the game, Ghido entrusts you to collect four tablets in order to unseal the weapons, three at a time. Almost averted, as the weapons are incredibly powerful and yield neat bonuses when you equip them. However, the final dungeon includes even more powerful weapons, so much that most of the legendary weapons are overshadowed. The ones that don't? Weapons you wont ever use, like bells and whips.
    • Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII has Zack obtain the almighty Buster Sword after he is forced to defeat his mentor, Angeal. It doesn't do anything to his stats, but its acquisition is mandatory. Interestingly, by the time of Final Fantasy VII, the Buster Sword is Cloud's weakest sword.
    • Minor example in Final Fantasy XI. During the quest that unlocks the Samurai job the player is extolled with how the blade is an extension of its owner, and upon completion of the quest received a level 1 Great Katana to wield on your new job. Most players quickly trash that weapon once they've gained a couple levels, but when you hit level 40 and attempt to do the AF1 weapon quest you need that weapon to upgrade it. If you didn't cherish your blade you'll have to pay out a healthy sum (at the time the job was released anyway) to buy a replacement from the NPC.
    • Final Fantasy XII gives you two such swords, with opposite functions, and a major part of the plot is the heroine deciding which sword to use. They have the exact same stats in battle, and completely suck. In fact, the only reason you would ever use one of them is on a Self-Imposed Challenge, as they are the only weapons in the game that don't require licenses to use.note 
  • In Final Fantasy Legend III, the Mystic Swords are the only weapons capable of damaging the Big Bad.
  • Fire Emblem in general tends to follow this as part of its general formula: the protagonist will obtain a magic, plot-relevant sword somewhere in the game's last act, which marks a big turning point in the narrative. Typically, these weapons are exclusive to The Hero, and are also a Weapon of X-Slaying that is specifically effective against the Final Boss, ensuring that even if the player has been badly screwed by a poor run of the campaign, they at least have a fighting chance if they can get it down to a one-on-one duel.
    • In the first game and its remakes, a lot of the plot involves Gharnef stealing the Falchion early on and Marth reclaiming it near the end of the game. Of course, due to the game mechanics, it's entirely possible to skip getting it and finish the game without it. Its advantages are infinite durability and either complete immunity from any non-dragon attacks (in the first game) or effectiveness against dragons (in the remakes), as well as being able to heal HP but in terms of power there are several weapons that overshadow it... which you get earlier on as well as the ability to forge ordinary weapons to give them more power in the DS remake. If you're playing on the harder difficulties for either of the remakes, then forget about using it for its 'intended' purpose. Medeus is so strong that trying to kill him with Falchion will more likely result in a dead Marth and subsequent Game Over than not.
    • In the fourth game, Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, there's the Tyrfing. You hear a couple passes at this legendary sword in the first generation, but nothing important, then early in Chapter 5, you're given it -- and it's quite powerful, but you don't have it long for certain reasons. Your entire army is killed following Chapter 5. Come Chapter 6, however, which starts with the main character's son, Seliph, Tyrfing has become this — an all important sword that will make him a badass that can kick The Empire in the nuts, once he gets it, that is. Unlike most other examples however, this IS Seliph's best weapon. (And like the Falchion, it's possible to miss Tyrfing both times).'
    • The Bragi Sword in Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 is, uniquely, mostly designed to kill one specific boss who is more The Dragon (Raydrick), and can be used by more people than just the main character (Fergus, Diarmuid, and Nanna can also wield it, as they have minor holy blood, though note that Mareeta and Galzus cannot despite having major holy blood). It's still one of the strongest swords in the game, and by the time it's obtained, that's really all it needs to do, as most remaining challenges require more than just swordsmanship to handle.
    • Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade has two such cases of this. The first is Durandal, the first legendary weapon the player obtains at what is effectively the end of the first act. It is the second strongest sword in the game, providing both a stat boost and some very impressive damage, even if most of the army can't initially wield it and it breaks if overused. The second, the titular Binding Blade, is obtained near the very end. The Binding Blade is rather clearly meant to parallel both the Falchion of Shadow Dragon (in terms of its role as a Lord weapon used to kill dragons) and the Binding Shield of Mystery of the Emblem (in terms of its story significance), and is the most powerful weapon in the game by pretty much any possible metric.
    • Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, being a prequel, brings back Durandal and gives it a similar position to the Binding Blade as a final weapon for the main character. It also converts the axe Armads into one of these for Hector, with both showing up at a pivotal moment of the story and being wielded by the main characters.
    • Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones has the sacred weapons Siegmund and Sieglinde, which are Eirika and Ephraim's final weapons and show up at the last act, when they reclaim their homeland and proceed to the final part of the conflict.
    • Ragnell in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance: brought up early on, majorly plot-relevant, particularly for its ability to damage the final bosses, only comes online in the final chapter, and possessing very overpowered stats.
    • Falchion returns in Fire Emblem: Awakening in the hands of Marth's descendant Chrom, and the plot truly starts to kick off when it's revealed the 'Marth' running around Ylisse and Regna Ferox somehow has a copy of Falchion. Or rather, it's the Falchion from the future, (in game listed as Parallel Falchion) wielded by Chrom's Kid from the Future Lucina. Much later, in order to defeat the Big Bad, Chrom is required to take Falchion to Naga and have it upgraded to the Exalted Falchion, which is the only thing that can seal away the Big Bad for 1000 years. Or the player can choose to have the Avatar kill him, the only thing that can put Grima down for good.
    • The Yato in Fire Emblem Fates, which upgrades as the plot progresses. However, what it upgrades into is dependant on which route is chosen six chapters into the story. Only on the Revelations route does Yato take on its strongest form, as a symbol of the Avatar bringing peace to Hoshido and Nohr. To a lesser extent Raijinto and Siegfried also count, as they are two of the four weapons that can power up the Yato.
    • The Sword of the Creator in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, which was only able to be wielded by the holder of the Crest of Flames and is made from Sothis's bones.
  • Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone has the silver sword of the Githyanki, which is needed to kill the Slaad Lord.
  • Game & Watch: The magic sword in Climber. It's an endless game like the rest, so you'll end up getting it several times.
  • Grandia:
    • The Spirit Sword of the original Grandia.
    • Grandia II features locating the Granasaber, a sword that fell to earth during a battle between two Gods, as a major part of the game's second act. Subverted as it turns out to be a spacecraft, not a sword at all, and then played straight at the end of the game when the hero actually does acquire a sword called the Granasaber, capable of harming the evil God rampaging across the world.
  • Lufia
    • Lufia & The Fortress of Doom and Lufia: the Legend Returns have the Dual Blade, a sword wielded by the hero's ancestor, Maxim, which is the only weapon capable of harming the deity-like Sinistrals terrorizing the world. A substantial portion of both games revolve around mounting an expedition to recover this sword from the site of your ancestor's final battle.
    • In the prequel Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals, where you play as Maxim, he proves his worthiness to wield the Dual Blade by forcibly taking it from the Big Bad himself near the end of the game.
      • There's also the Treasure/Legendary Sword, which the ruler of Parcelyte requests you to get. It's not usable as a weapon in the original, but its counterpart in the remake is a substantial upgrade and can be kept after the quest to obtain it (provided you didn't sell it to Rochy).
  • World of Mana
    • The Sword of Mana in many of the Mana series of games. It often has rusted or the like over the years, and requires repairs through the course of the plot. Sometimes these are incremental, and sometimes these happen all at once. The final repair inevitably turns it into the Infinity +1 Sword. In some games (Sword of Mana, Legend of Mana, Trials of Mana, Children of Mana) in the series it can never be equipped.
    • In Secret of Mana, while the sword you equip is the Sword of Mana, it does not become the Sword of Mana until magically imbued by your teammates during the last battle, or through a glitch. Otherwise the best you can use is the next level below.
    • In games where you can wield the Sword of Mana, you only get the sword literally 5 seconds from or already engaged in the end fight. In installments where you gain it earlier, nobody — including heroes who look tailor made for the role — is smart enough to pick it up as a weapon. Not even in the game named after the sword. Which, according to the series's Japanese name, would be every game.
  • Neverwinter Nights
    • The Sword of Gith in Neverwinter Nights 2. Remarkable in that it's useful to the plot even before its shards get reformed into a sword. It has some nice stats but is only really useful as a weapon if you already use longswords.
    • Regaining the now even better Sword of Gith in the Mask of the Betrayer expansion. You need it to get to the final area, and its new stats make it more useful to not just sword users.
  • About three-quarters through Ninja Gaiden (2004) and the Xbox 360 Ninja Gaiden II (2008), Ryu gets to combine the Dragon Sword with the Eye of the Dragon to form the True Dragon Sword that is supposedly needed to defeat the Big Bad.
  • Phantasy Star
    • Orakio's Sword in Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom.
    • And Elsydeon in Phantasy Star IV: End of the Millennium; with the bonus multiplier against Evil-type creatures and a chance of getting the 'Holy Word' effect, this also makes it the Infinity +1 Sword.
    • Two easier-to-miss ones, also from Phantasy Star IV, are the Eclipse Torch and the Psycho Wand. The former is used to burn away evil trees blocking your path, and the other was needed to break The Dragon's otherwise impenetrable barrier. The Torch can be used as a Holy attack item in battle, and the Wand can be used to break barriers on the few enemies that use them, throughout the entire game.
  • Pokémon
    • The boxart-featured Mons (Groudon, Kyogre, and Rayquaza for Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire and Palkia, Dialga, and Giratina Pokémon Diamond and Pearl) must be encountered to advance the plot (though Rayquaza doesn't have to be fought right away; it only needs to be approached), though this only applies to the one on the box of the game being played. Suicune from the second generation was like this as well (again, only for the game it appears on the box for, in this case, Crystal). The ones from the other second generation games (Lugia and Ho-Oh) become this in their fourth-generation remakes (which add a Suicune subplot as well), despite being optional except for 100% Completion in the original versions of the games (the one on the box of the game being played could merely be encountered earlier the original versions of the games, with the other game's mascot being available later).
    • In Pokémon Black and White, Pokémon X and Y, and Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire's Delta Episode, you're required to catch the mascot legendary in order to proceed. Unlike other legendary Pokémon, defeating them in these scenarios causes them to respawn instantly, they give out no experience, and they have a slightly higher catch rate (45 as opposed to 3).
  • Realmz:
    • In the scenario Assault on Giant Mountain, you must acquire the powerful greatsword Giant Slayer in order to proceed...but the reason it's necessary isn't so that you can wield it, but because the Big Bad's fortress is magically inaccessible until you destroy it on the Anvil of Pain. This is difficult to do since it's probably become your fighter's favorite weapon.
    • This trope pops up in other scenarios too, like the obsidian scimitars from Destroy the Necronomicon and the Spear of Light from Griloch's Revenge.
  • Shadow Keep requires you to find the Black Sword, the only weapon that can harm the evil overlord (and another item, the only thing that can keep him from killing you in one blow.)
  • The Shining Series is very fond of this trope:
  • The "Force weapons" in both Star Ocean and its sequel, though their importance to the plot is only revealed just before you get them.
  • Happens all the time in Super Robot Wars, and sometimes inverted when it's a machine you have to destroy. Memorable examples include Ryukooh and Koryuoh, Getter Shin Dragon from SRW Destiny, the R-Series in Original Generation 1 and the enemy unit Judecca.
  • Tales Series
    • The Eternal Sword in Tales of Phantasia and Tales of Symphonia. In other games it becomes the Infinity +1 Sword.
    • The Key of Lorelei in Tales of the Abyss.
    • Dein Nomos in Tales of Vesperia is a slight subversion as you get it about 2/3 into the game, it's far from being Yuri's ultimate weapon (a replica of it is stronger) and you lose it after a few dungeons. In the PS3 version you get Brave Vesperia No. 2 (the device the party plans to use to destroy the Adephagos), as a weapon before the final dungeon. It allows Yuri to use his second Mystic Arte.
    • Wahrheit in Tales of Hearts — after it's been converted to the Global Airship Lianheit. (It's the personal weapon of a nonplayable character.)
  • Tomb Raider:
  • Ultima
    • The original Black Sword in Ultima VII. The Black Sword is only needed to complete the Forge of Virtue expansion, not the main game. Since the expansion is entirely optional, this may not count. In VII part 2 (The Serpent Isle), you start the game with the sword (implying the Avatar did complete the Forge expansion), promptly lose it, and need to recover it in order to get packed off to the world of Pagan.
    • The Mystic Arms in Ultima IV. You don't need the Mystic Arms to complete Ultima IV. The game claims only Mystic Arms work in the Stygian Abyss but in fact any magic weapon will work.
    • The Sword of Justice from Ultima Underworld probably counts, as it's one of the 8 items needed to complete the game and is a very good weapon (the only unbreakable one as well). Subverted in that completing the game requires you to destroy the sword (along with the other items). Trying to kill the Big Bad with it is pointless.
    • A more straightforward example is the sword Enilno in Ultima II, which is actually the only weapon that can harm Minax.
  • In Unlimited Saga you have at some point to collect the elemental gears in Laura's quest, some of the best equipment you'll ever get in the game. Too bad that you don't get to keep them for the end of the game.
  • The title sword in the first Vandal Hearts; in the sequel, it is optional for the overall game, but necessary for the best ending.
  • Broaste's teddy bear in Wandering Hamster. Yeah, it's THAT kind of RPG.
  • The Runeblade Frostmourne from Warcraft III is vital to defeating Mal'Ganis, but also grants a combat boost when Arthas first gets it. Annoyingly, this boost goes away when you start the next campaign, and from then on its power is only shown in cutscenes, though it's theoretically responsible for Arthas' death knight powers as well.
  • Diablo
    • First Diablo has Lazarus's Staff. It's not a weapon you can equip, but you need to give the staff to Cain so that the portal to Lazarus' lair can open.
    • Diablo II; One's an epic staff (Horadric Staff); the other is an epic mace (Khalim's Will). You're forced to give up both to forward the plot. The staff opens the true Tomb of Tal Rasha in Act 2 and Khalim's Will opens the stairwell to Mephisto's Durace of Hate in Act 3.
    • Act 1 of Diablo III has you running around collecting the pieces of an angel's mighty sword.
  • The Mavin Sword in the D.W. Bradley game Wizards & Warriors, acquired just before the third act of the game, and it's quite a powerful sword, in addition to supposedly being the only weapon capable of harming the Big Bad (there's actually a second weapon able to harm the Big Bad, not that you're ever told it can do so).
  • Happens twice in Zeliard. The Knight's Sword is the first sword that's (at that point) only available as a 'quest' rather than simply buying as an upgrade, and you're told it's essential to beat that level's boss (apparently, overly keen players have showed that it's not). Near the end, you're supposed to find the Faery Flame Sword in a fairly similar manner.
  • The Gears and Omnigears of Xenogears are required to fight many bosses and complete many dungeons. Citan's sword, cool as it is, is not all that plot-relevant.
  • Devil May Cry:
    • The Force Edge from Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening allowed Arkham to temporarily assume Sparda's form before the power corrupted him into a hideous blob monster. Dante and Vergil fought over it with the former emerging as the victor. In Devil May Cry, it's Dante's initial weapon, which seemed weaker than Alastor at first, until the Perfect Amulet awakened its true form as the Sparda sword, which is then used as Dante's trump card in beating Mundus's first two forms. In Devil May Cry 4, a disguised Trish gave the Sparda to infiltrate the Order of the Sword, even though it had to be retrieved afterwards. In Devil May Cry 5, the Devil Sword Sparda is absorbed by Dante along with the broken Rebellion in order to unlock his Sin Devil Trigger form and have an upper hand against Urizen.
    • The Rebellion is used to unlock Dante's hidden demonic powers in at least two instances. In Devil May Cry 3, it revived Dante and allowed him to enter his Devil Trigger state. In Devil May Cry 5, it was broken down to the hilt at first, but Dante stabs himself with it to absorb it along the Devil Sword Sparda and unlock his Sin Devil Trigger form.
    • The Yamato from Devil May Cry 3 was previously important only as Vergil's inheritance from Sparda, but resurfaces as a major plot point in Devil May Cry 4 and Devil May Cry 5. In the fourth game, it started off as a broken weapon kept by the Order of the Sword for research, but Yamato later reforged itself to be wielded by Nero, it awakens a demonic spirit within him, it's the reason why he becomes a target for the Order, and then it's used to open and close one giant Hellgate. Some years after Nero is in possession of the Yamato through his Devil Bringer arm, a flashback reveals that the conflict of Devil May Cry 5 started from Vergil yanking off the Devil Bringer from Nero because it contained the Yamato. Vergil then uses the sword to split himself in two, creating V and Urizen..
  • Rogue Galaxy features an equippable weapon crafted from plot coupons in the penultimate dungeon, which goes away after the first two of ten final boss battles, a BFS Jaster automatically gains and equips for the VERY final battle, and the Desert Seeker Jaster gains at the beginning of the game (which can evolve into one of his strongest weapons).
  • The eponymous Valis Sword.
  • The Firestaff in The Nameless Mod. It's not really a sword (it sets things on fire instead), but it has administrative powers and thus is very important to the plot.
  • In Black Sigil, Kairu is entrusted the Sword of Averay by his adopted father, Duke Averay. It eventually becomes critical to the plot involving the Sealed Evil in a Can.
  • The first Gothic has the sword Urizel, which is one of the few things that can harm the last undead orc shaman. (Spellcasters can have it turned into the "Wave of Death" rune, which is the only other thing capable of harming said enemy.) Note that you find it well before the end of the game (and have to empower it in a spectacular fashion), so you get to enjoy its sheer killing power on many regular enemies as well. In a more strict interpretation, you have to obtain the shamans' five swords, which are too damaged to be of regular use, but are vital to defeating the Big Bad right at the end.
  • Wild ARMs 2 has the Argetlahm, which subverts this trope before playing it straight. Its first appearance makes it obvious that you won't obtain it until the end of the game, but you're quickly forced into a situation where it's absorbed by the hero to turn a Demonic Possession into a mere Superpowered Evil Side. In the end, said demon takes over again, but the protagonist is able to draw the sword for real while trapped inside his own soul.
  • Leo's Sword, also known as the "Oathsworn", is this in Record of Agarest War. Seemingly only used in cut scenes, when you finally get to the True Ending path, not only do you finally get to use it, but when you upgrade the sword itself, the stats are through the roof! It's definitely not the most powerful sword, but it's still up there. Makes you wonder why you could not use it in gameplay even though Leo has it in his hand and could have prevented his death all the way back from the start.
  • The first Golden Sun game has the Shaman's Rod, about which nothing is known except that Ivan was holding on to it when found and adopted and that it's necessary to light up Jupiter Lighthouse. It's marginally better than his starter weapon but is quickly outclassed and has no special effects, but can't be dropped for the whole game since you give it up in the final battle. Only in the second game do you actually use it... and even then, only as an ID badge so that the Hidden Elf Village will let you pick up the item that will give you the Psynergy needed to navigate Jupiter Lighthouse.
  • The second Golden Sun game has the Trident of Ankohl, which is only really needed to break Poseidon's forcefield. However, it's useful for the rest of the game because the equipment system treats it as a usable accessory rather than a weapon, giving the bearer 20 Mercury resistance and a Jupiter-aligned attack (based on the attack stat, rather than the Jupiter power stat) for free.
  • Golden Sun: Dark Dawn
    • The Sol Blade, which is required to open the gate to the Apollo Lens's control room. It's also used to access certain dungeons.
    • On the subject of the Apollo Sanctum, the pieces of the Umbra gear project a barrier of darkness to protect their wearer from the Sanctum's intense light. In order to enter, you need the full suit, as the protection provided by each individual piece is hardly sufficient to keep you from frying. Further historical information suggests that ancestral beastmen wore similar suits during the Sanctum's construction. Even if the powerful unleashes and the heightened elemental Resistance weren't incentive enough, you can't end the Grave Eclipse until Sveta's decked out entirely.
  • The Ultragunner in Vanguard Bandits.
  • The Dragon Slayer in Legacy of the Wizard and Faxanadu must be activated after the other parts of the mythical crowns/suits are collected to enable access to the final battle.
  • The Hawke's Key in the Dragon Age II "Legacy" DLC. You obtain it fairly early in the quest, and it is vital to progressing through the dungeon. Since it's leveled like most of the equipment in the game, it will be powerful when you get it but it will be eventually obsolete.
  • In Mantra, the main plot coupons (the eponymous five Mantras) are magic scrolls. Each one gives you the ability to perform a specific type of attack that has an elemental damage type. They're useful in combat with normal enemies and bosses, and they're also necessary to destroy barriers which are only vulnerable to specific elemental damage types, so that you must acquire the appropriate Mantra in order to advance to the next area.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles:
    • Xenoblade Chronicles 1: The Monado. Almost everything in the game's plot is done in to, by, or in response to it. It's also the only weapon Shulk can use once he obtains it, and its strength scales with his level to keep it from ever becoming obsolete. It turns out to be Alvis' sword (or perhaps Alvis himself is the sword), and unlocking the true power of the Monado grants the ability to reshape reality. It was originally used to create the universe, and Shulk uses it to defeat Zanza.
    • Xenoblade Chronicles 2: The Aegis. Everyone in the world either wants to stop them from destroying more of the world again, protect them from those who would use their power, or want to use their power for their own gain, with the heroes taking the Aegis to the top of the World Tree in hopes of saving the world. Did we mention that the Aegis is a Living Weapon with Split Personalities making them a MacGuffin Girl and they have their own agenda as well? And then it turns out that Malos, one of the primary people out for the Aegis, is also an Aegis; Mythra damaged his core five hundred years ago, and he needs to study his sister's core to repair himself so he can destroy the world. It also implies that Alvis from the first game is the third Aegis, Ontos.
    • Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Noah's Blade, the Veiled Sword, evokes the Monado and the Aegis, but is a subversion, as there is nothing special about it on its own. What is special about it, however, is that it serves as a sheath for the real Sword of Plot Advancement, the Lucky Seven, which is capable of destroying Flame Clocks and freeing Colonies from the tyranny of Moebius. In Chapter 6, Noah's Ouroboros form unlocks the Sword of Origin, which becomes the ultimate weapon against Moebius.
    • Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Future Redeemed: The prequel expansion is notable for being the only Xenoblade game where no one appears to have a Sword of Plot Advancement. While A has a new Monado, Shulk still has his Monado Replica EX, and Rex still has his Aegis swords, none of those are relevant to the plot. Then it turns out that Matthew's gauntlets have Pneuma's core crystal in them, making them another Monado. He uses them to unleash the full power of Ouroboros on the final boss, merging everyone into the party into a single giant Ouroboros form that can fight Alpha on an even level. Furthermore, it is strongly implied that Moebius N's Veiled Sword has Logos' core crystal, meaning that the Noah from the main game had both, as he also had Matthew's gauntlets. This explains why Noah's sword was alternatively called The Sword of Origin (a reference to Pneuma the Preserver) and The Sword of the End (a reference to Logos the Endbringer).
  • The Magic Sword in Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 where it has been said that it can demolish the most powerful evil in existence. There's just one problem. The only way to get it is to Earn Your Bad Ending that involves a heavy dose of Vile Villain, Saccharine Show, multiple Heroic Sacrifices, and a Pyrrhic Victory Downer Ending where it could be argued that The Bad Guy Wins.
  • The Lord of the Rings Online
    • A system of Legendary Item advancement was introduced in the game's first expansion, Mines of Moria. Until the player receives their Legendary Weapon and proves that they know how to advance it, they cannot advance the Main Storyline and cannot pass the Doors of Moria.
    • An example from the original book is Narsil / Andúril. Turns out a special mineral is required to reforge such an epic sword and the player is send on a quest to get a piece of it (which composes the longest non-epic quest chain in the game by the way). Until you finish it, Narsil cannot be reforged and the Fellowship cannot leave Rivendell.
  • The Vivendi-Universal video game adaptation of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring has Bilbo give his sword Sting and his Mithril vest to Frodo upon arriving in Rivendell. In the GBA version, the former is required to even leave Rivendell, since Gimli refuses to disembark without his axe, which has been hidden by mischievous Elves that will only surrender the axe if you show them Sting. Since the GBA version is known for having a Game-Breaking Bug that causes items to not appear when they're supposed to, there's a chance that one or both of Bilbo's items won't even appear (though you really only need Sting to advance), rendering it impossible to finish the game.
  • Fallout: New Vegas features this in the Old World Blues expansion — the Think Tank wants you to collect three items to defeat Dr. Mobius — a frequency to disable force fields, an antenna to amplify the frequency, and a stealth suit to sneak into Dr. Mobius's lair. It turns out that Dr. Mobius wanted you to bring all that stuff to him insteadto help you get your brain back in your skull. That said, even after the quest, all three items are quite useful when exploring the Mojave.
  • One of the last things to do in Might and Magic VI before attacking the Kreegan Hive is to acquire blasters and the skill to use them. Unusual in that there are several blasters to be found in the associated dungeon, significantly more than the four characters you have, and in that there are upgraded versions deeper in the dungeon that count as blasters for all important purposes, but they can only be found in that dungeon, and getting at least one is absolutely necessary to finishing the game (for more than one reason if you want to finish the game without a Non-Standard Game Over)
  • The Knight's equipment in Great Greed.
  • In Lunar: The Silver Star, Alex becomes a Dragonmaster and becomes able to approach the Magic Emperor once he obtains the Althena Sword. The other Dragon Items also play a big part in advancing the plot, but this is the last of them.
  • The Keyblade from Kingdom Hearts, which changes its outward form and power throughout the game but has essentially the same plot-important abilities. It's also an Empathic Weapon.
    • The trope is more blatently used with the introduction of the X-Blade, what all Keyblades are modeled after and what can summon the true Kingdom Hearts, with Master Xehanort trying to reforge it as being his main goal. Vanitas uses both a complete and incomplete version against Ven and Aqua as well during their respective boss battles.
  • Raziel gaining the Soul Reaver following the second boss-battle of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver.
  • In Heavenly Sword, the eponymous Heavenly Sword.
  • Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom gives us Mornstar, the Sword of Unity, which is also an Infinity -1 Sword for Evan; you cannot start the end game without getting Mornstar. It's not the strongest blade in the game (you can make much stronger blades at the Armoury, especially for Roland), but it gets a huge damage boost against the final boss, making it the one weapon you don't replace with something better in Evan's equipment even in Post-Game.
  • Prince of Persia
    • Both Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones have the Prince gaining the Dagger of Time early on, allowing access to the time control gameplay that is the series selling point. In an interesting partial subversion, you generally get the weapon very early in these games (or start with it) and the idea is to get rid of it properly.

      Another interesting point about The Sands of Time is that you actually get to use the Infinity +1 Sword for awhile (after Farah absconds with your main sword and the Dagger) that can shred enemies in a single blow without having to absorb them into sand (though you do lose your time flipping powers in the process so it waltzes between this Infinity -1 Sword status). However, the end of the game rewinds everything back to things right before the events of the game begin and you're stuck to using your original weapon (the one you started with) and the Sword Of Plot Advancement again for the final battle.
    • In Prince of Persia: Warrior Within the Prince finds several of these: the Serpent sword which acts as a key granting him access to certain areas of the fortress, later the Scorpion sword, which can break through walls and will be used in something of a hail Mary plan, and finally the alternate-ending-providing Water Sword
    • The sword in level 8 of Prince of Persia 2: The Shadow and the Flame has a cutscene of its own. It replaces the clumsy dagger you've been stuck with ever since you lost your old sword a few levels back.
  • The lightsabers in some Star Wars games, usually coupled with Force powers. Acquiring/building a lightsaber typically marks the transition from a mere Mook to a full-fledged Jedi, in other words, getting ten free levels in badass. This is when the real fun usually begins. Examples: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast and Knights of the Old Republic.
  • The eponymous Sigil in Strife: Quest for the Sigil. It's the only weapon which can hurt bosses (well, a particular kind of boss). Not technically an Evolving Weapon — there is actually assembly involved. You just don't see it unless you're paying attention because pieces of the weapon automatically fly to you and self-attach when the enemy carrying them is defeated... even if you'd prefer they didn't.
  • The Ultimate Legendary Epic Weapons in Kingdom of Loathing are upgraded from your Legendary Epic Weapons right before fighting the final, demonic form of your Nemesis. This is in fact also made literal each time the Nemesis is confronted; the player is informed that the plot will not advance unless their Epic Weapon is equipped, so tough beans if you happen to have an even more powerful weapon lying around!
  • The Armageddon Blade in Darksiders. The last weapon you get — however arguably not the most powerful.
  • The Blade of Olympus in God of War II drains all your power from the first game and you spend the whole game searching for a way to retrieve it from Zeus' grasp. When you finally do, it's your main weapon in the boss fight with him.
  • Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis has Longicolnis. Being a spear, it has some useful range advantages, can hit multiple enemies at once, gives bonuses to Virtue and Bane resistance, and unlike other spears doesn't have any movement penalties. However, there are a few weapons, acquired both before and after it, that are more powerful, though you still need it because you won't be able to harm the final boss without it.
    • The original Tactics Ogre has Brynhildr. It's a powerful holy sword, and is necessary for the villains to open the way into the final area. It's quite heavy, though, which means that anyone equipping it will probably have fewer turns.
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat has the Gauss Rifle. Dropped by a Monolith Preacher, it's unusable for the first hour or so you're carrying the damn thing, but fixing it is incredibly important to the plot, and it can one-hit-kill just about anything you point it at.
  • Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon has the Killstar. Once you start the mission to get it, you're locked into mission mode and can't go back to free-roam until the end of the story, but it's key to winning the game.
  • In Escape Velocity Nova, the Pirate mission string eventually gives you The Unrelenting, the most powerful pirate ship in the game and available nowhere else. It replaces your old ship, whether you want it or not.
  • Throughout most of God of War (PS4), Kratos carries around the Leviathan Axe: A weapon imbued with Frost Magic and is his primary weapon for much of the first half of the game. Then when Atreus falls ill; Kratos' only cure is in Helheim: the realm of the Dead where it's extremely cold that no Fire Magic from all of the nine realms can light a flame there and that the Leviathan Axe would be useless against the monsters that dwell there. Kratos returns home to his cabin and pulls out The Blades of Chaos: fueled by Greek Fire Magic and marches off to Helheim. Afterwards, the Blades of Chaos become just as important of a weapon to the setting of the game.
  • World of Warcraft: Legendary weapons, starting with Wrath of the Lich King's Shadowmourne are required for the player to see the epilogue for the specific raid after defeating the Final Boss.
    • Mists of Pandaria's legendary cloaks and Warlords of Draenor's legendary rings take this even further by tying the getting and empowering the items directly into the expansion's storyline.
  • In Sonic and the Black Knight, Sonic is tasked with not only retrieving the sword Caliburn, who becomes his teacher in all things knightly, but also to collect the weapons of the Knight of the Round Table, as only with them together can he nullify the immortality-granting scabbard of the evil King Arthur. The blades are later used to try to erect a barrier to stop Merlina from freezing Camelot in time, then all four are ultimately revealed to contain the power of and are actually be part of the true Excalibur, making Sonic the true King Arthur.
  • Pillars of Eternity White Marches Part II has Abydon's Hammer. You get it near the end of the main questline of the expansion, and it is the means by which you deal with the threat that was awakened when you restarted the White Forge.
  • Mamono Slayer in Fairune 1. Overlaps with Infinity +1 Sword in 2 - the Monster Slayer can destroy the otherwise invincible Bit monsters.
  • Ravensword: Shadowlands has the titular Ravensword, the only weapon capable of destroying the Big Bad.
  • In the Heroes of Might and Magic III expansion Armageddon's Blade, the titular campaign revolves around Armageddon's Blade, a sword capable of setting the world of Enroth aflame. After their defeat in the main game, the Kreegans devote their efforts to forging the blade, a threat so dire that the legendary Elemental Confluxes appear to aid the heroes in stopping them. The sword is forged, but the heroes are able to wrest it away from the Kreegans and use its power against them. Queen Catherine entrusts her ally Gelu with the Blade...a decision that has dire consequences for Enroth.
  • Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night has the Zangetsuto, the personal weapon of Zangetsu which is crucial to obtaining the best ending to the game. Obtaining it requires you to find and beat Zangetsu a second time, at which point he gives it to Miriam. It can not only force Gremory to release her grasp on Gebel, but can also cut through her illusions so you can unlock the final areas of the game.
  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice features the Mortal Blade. Along with the second Mortal Blade it is the only weapon that can permanently slay immortal beings, making it essential to your quest to end the Dragon's Heritage one way or another.
  • Nioh 2 features the Sohayamaru, a legendary Yokai slaying blade that is the only weapon that can stop the Big Bad. It was shattered in the past, and reforging it becomes one of the goals in the latter part of the game.
  • The Silver/Cleria Sword in Ys I and II. In Book 1, you get it right before The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, and there is an Infinity +1 Sword in said dungeon, but that doesn't work against Dark Fact. In Book II, it is the Infinity +1 Sword, and you obtain it just before fighting the Big Bad Darm. In Ys Origin it's the same sword as in Book I, but you get it in a cutscene after defeating the penultimate boss and before facing the final boss in one route. In Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys, you start with the Cleria Equipment, but lose it shortly after, to regain it near the end of the game. Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim, the sixth game in the series, has only three swords (which can be upgraded) and all of them are relevant to the plot. In Ys: The Oath in Felghana this sword and the Infinity +1 Sword are the same: it's obtained automatically before the final dungeon, and is the only weapon capable of breaking the barrier spell used by the penultimate boss.
  • The Nano Rifle in Red Faction: Guerrilla, which must be acquired by purchasing the Nano Forge in order to start the supposed liberation mission of Eos.
  • Dark Cloud features the Serpent Sword, a legendary blade with absolute power over snakes. Toan needs to wield it in order to properly fight the duel with the Killer Snake in Wise Owl Forest; any other weapon will bounce harmlessly off the snake's scales, and Toan is then promplty Eaten Alive. Until the duel is won, the sword is unbreakable, however it cannot be upgraded.
  • In Fate/Grand Order, the heroes set out to the British Lostbelt (the second chapter of the storyline's second half) in hopes of securing the King's incredibly powerful version of Rhongomyniad to fight the Big Bad. However, they end up sidetracked into the Avalon le Fae's quest to forge the Holy Sword Excalibur to make up for the transgression of the Six Faeries in not forging it 14000 years ago because they unknowingly fill parts of The Prophecy declared by one of the faerie clan heads. This turns out to be pivotal to both this Story Arc and the overarching plot as the newly forged Holy Sword becomes instrumental to stopping the world-wrecking Faerie Calamities and the heroes realize they can use the Holy Sword as a substitute for Rhongomyniad after Morgan died and those weapons became unusable. They subsequently have started work on refining the Holy Sword Essence given to them to turn it into a superweapon against the Foreign God.

    Visual Novels 
  • The black sword acquired by Mary Christie halfway through Shikkoku no Sharnoth. It allows her to attempt reasoning with the Metacreatures, though that does not work. What it does let her do is cast it away to show that she intends to save Charlie and everyone else she cares about. Mind you, it would be a pretty potent weapon if she wanted it to be.

    Web Animation 
  • Tucker's Plasma Sword in Red vs. Blue starts out as a cool sword that can only be used by the "Chosen One", who is also the most evil (and/or stupid) individual in the universe (leading to a moment where Church names Caboose as The Antichrist). When it's taken to the frozen northlands, it can be used to unlock and power up a Cool Ship. The characters also get a little philosophical when deciding whether it's really a key or a sword.
    Church: So it is a sword. It just acts like a key in certain situations.
    Caboose: Or, it's a key all the time, and when you stick it in people, it unlocks their death.
    • Season 13, taking place long after Cerebus Syndrome set in and established a serious mythos for the series, revisits and expands on the concept of Tucker's sword. Said sword is in fact a "Great Key" that can unlock powerful Lost Technology left behind by an ancient alien civilization, and can only be used by the person who first touches it (at least until they die, allowing someone else to claim the right to use it). The season introduces a second Great Key, which becomes the season's Sword Of Plot Advancement, as it isn't synced to anyone yet and the bad guys want to unlock said alien technology to destroy the planet of Chorus.
  • In Warframe, there exists a whopping three different examples. They’re also pretty handy weapons to keep around in their own right, too, and you can always get them back from Simaris if you accidentally sell them.

  • The Sword of Xel Dum is a great example of this from the NSFW webcomic Locus has a curse that requires the central character to kill whoever tries to take it for her, including the original owner... that's some plot advancement.

    Web Original 
  • In Phaeton Trayen gains the Omnisword near the end of series 1, the sword is the only way to finish of a defeated elementian permanently.