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Swordfish Sabre

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That's what you get when you combine Shamu Fu with swordfighting.

Max: Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
Chief: I dunno, were you thinking "Holy shit! Holy shit! A swordfish almost went through my head"? If so, then yes.

Swordfishes, sailfishes, and marlins (aka billfish) are formidable undersea predators that are well-known for their impressive rostrums that look like a threatening Spike Of Doom. They usually use them to knock out prey and slash them, though contrary to popular belief they do not spear them.

Therefore, when billfishes appear in fiction, expect somebody or something getting hurt by these dreadful rostrums. Either the fishes themselves will attack with theirs, or they will be weaponized by someone that will use them as impromptu swords.

Note that there are some other, lesser-known fishes and sea animals that also have rostrums (or similar pointy appendages) were given a similar treatment in some works. Those include sawfishes, which are closely related to stingrays and whose rostrums are serrated or even chainsaws and then there's narwhals, a species of cetaceans whose long, menacing horns are actually a specialized tooth. But still makes them very deadly thanks to their length and sharpness at the tip.

Related to Spikes of Doom. When weaponized by other characters, it is a Sub-Trope of Shamu Fu, Edible Bludgeon and Improvised Weapon. Has nothing to do with The Password Is Always "Swordfish".


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The Giant Marlin in Naruto has a literal double-edged sword as his bill, and has the fighting abilities needed to use it as such.
  • Arlong the Saw in One Piece is an interesting variant of this trope, being a Shark Man based on a sawshark rather than a sawfish (which are more closely related to rays), but his bladed nose still matches the fish he's based on well enough. So naturally, he uses a sort of Horn Attack employing said nose as a combat technique.

    Comic Books 
  • Aquaman encountered a rogue narwhal in one vintage strip which was using its tusk to attack the dome over Atlantis. Aquaman couldn't control the creature, so he had an undersea bullfight with the narwhal until it became fatigued enough to respond to telepathy.
  • Comic Cavalcade: A group of swordfish try attacking Sharkeeta but Wonder Woman snaps off three of their "swords" and fights using them.
  • Wonder Woman (1942): In the Impossible Tales Wonder Girl story in #107, Ronno sees a swordfish about to attack a teenaged Diana from behind and ends up wounded by it, then Diana uses a piece of corral as a makeshift "sword" and fences with it until is has enough and swims away.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Finding Nemo, a pair of swordfishes are shown fencing each other while gossiping about Marlin's exploits.
  • In Ice Age: Continental Drift, the villain Captain Gutt uses the skull of a sawfish as a sword.
  • In Sleeping Beauty, King Stephan, Aurora's father, and King Hubert, Philip's father, get so drunk that they quarrel for no reason; Stephan picks a sturgeon off the table and swings it at Hubert like a sword; when Hubert lifts up a platter as a shield, the fish collapses and the two kings laugh and stop fighting as quickly as they started.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Get Smart, the car chase in the climax ends with Max and the Chief crashing through a novelty shop... one which apparently had a swordfish head on display. Said swordfish impales Chief's window, resulting in the quote above.
  • During the bar brawl in Bimini in Licence to Kill, one of the mooks attempts to skewer Bond with a stuffed marlin head he grabs off the wall.
  • Aquaman (2018): During the climax of the film, when the titular Aquaman summons sea creatures of all shapes and sizes to stop his Big Bad half-brother Orm, a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment shows a pair of narwhals visibly skewering two of Orm's men.

  • At one point in Moby-Dick, Steelkilt jokes that a leak that's somehow appeared in the hull of the Town-Ho was probably just caused by a swordfish, and that if Radney's worried about it coming back with a saw-fish and a file-fish, he should jump overboard and chase all the fish away himself.
  • "The Big Book of Search & Find" by Tony Tallarico has a beach scene which includes, among many other things, a sailfish jabbing at the rear end of an unlucky swimmer.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the CSI: NY episode "Dancing with the Fishes," one of the cases is that of a fish merchant who was stabbed with one of the swordfish he was selling.
  • One episode of Weird Science had the heroes trapped in a slasher movie. They managed to kill the murderer by running him through with a stuffed swordfish - or so they thought; after all, a slasher movie murderer never dies on the first try...

    Tabletop Games 
  • Swordfish bills can be used as swords in Dungeons & Dragons. While they do have an irritating smell on land, they can be used with no penalty underwater.

    Video Games 
  • In the Breaking Out game Bricks Of Atlantis, one of the fish species that can be summoned is swordfishes, which break blocks by ramming bill-first into them.
  • Donkey Kong:
    • Enguarde the Swordfish is an Animal Friend that occasionally helps the Kongs in some Under the Sea levels. He first appears in Donkey Kong Country, where he drastically improves their underwater speed and can use its bill to attack enemies. He reappears in Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, where he gains a Superstab move that can even break through walls and defeat entire lines of enemies with his rostrum.
    • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze has yellow sawfish enemies known as Mama Saws. Even with a screw attack, DK will take damage from their spiky snouts should he come in contact with them.
  • The Cutlass Supreme from the Shipwrecked DLC to Don't Starve is literally a weapon crafted out of a swordfish. Quite surprisingly, it's among the most powerful in the game.
    Wilson: I hope this sword doesn't start to smell...
  • In The Elder Scrolls Online, the cosmetic Jester's Feast Arms Pack turns your greatsword into a swordfish.
  • In Insaniquarium, Itchy the Swordfish is a pet that can damage aliens with his bill.
  • Kirby's Epic Yarn introduced the Sawgill enemies, which are little more than blue sawfishes that can damage Kirby with their pronged snouts. They reappear in Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, in which their bills have been redesigned to look like giant yet fortunately static chainsaws.
  • In Monster Hunter, a recurring weapon is the Frozen Speartuna, a Greatsword made using a frozen Speartuna (the Monster Hunter equivalent to a swordfish) as a weapon. Zigzagged, however, as the Speartuna's rostrum is used as a handle, rather than being used to spear enemies.
  • In Octogeddon, the Sawfish head can slice enemies with its rostrum. When rotating, it even moves and sounds like a real chainsaw.
  • Shadow Hearts: From The New World: Frank's Marlin Saber is Exactly What It Says on the Tin: a sword made by adding a hilt to a massive swordfish.
  • Sleeping Dogs (2012): During fights taking place in fisheries or similar, there are some swordfish heads conveniently lying around so you can insta-kill enemies by dropping them on top.
  • The Spectrobes series gives us Shakoblad, a sea monster with an actual BFS attached to its head.
  • Terraria
    • One can catch a swordfish by fishing. It turns out the fish makes a perfectly fine spear. And by fishing in lava, one can catch an Obsidian Swordfish, which makes an even better spear.
    • Similarly, the guy that catches a Sawtooth Shark can enjoy a nice chainsaw.
  • Sawfish enemies appear in Wario Land II. They ram into Wario at high speeds and can damage him with their serrated bills.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: During the Volume 2 premier, the students engage in a Food Fight where they all find ways of using food that mimic their normal weapons. Weiss grabs a massive swordfish to use as a replacement for her normal rapier.
  • The Weebl song "Narwhals" refers to the eponymous aquatic mammals as "the Jedi of the Sea", accompanied by the image of narwhals with lightsaber-tusks.
  • At the end of his debut episode on Happy Tree Friends, Russel the pirate otter is skewered by a swordfish he'd caught while fishing.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In the Mickey Mouse cartoon "Shanghaied", Mickey fights Peg Leg Pete with a mounted swordfish.
  • A swordfish threatens both Tom and Jerry at one point in the episode-long All Just a Dream sequence in "The Cat and the Mermouse", at one point spearing Tom on the bottom when Jerry goads it into sticking its snout in a barrel the cat was hiding in. Tom defeats it shortly afterwards by getting it to skewer a pole and then bending its snout so it can't free itself.
  • The Looney Tunes cartoon "Moby Duck" (itself a desert-island edition of the famous "Canned Feud") has Daffy try to bait a swordfish into opening up a food can (since there's No Can Opener on the island). This being Daffy, it doesn't go well for him.
  • In the Looney Tunes successor Tiny Toon Adventures segment Robin Hare has Babs use a swordfish that was Montana Max's minion to fight against him.
  • In The Octonauts the episode "The Swashbuckling Swordfish" has Kwazii speaking of the legend of the "Flying Swords", which turns out to be a trio of swordfishes. Kwazii encounters them while hunting for treasure and actually engages them in swordplay for a while, but ultimately ends up helping them and they all part on good terms.
  • In the Spongebob Squarepants episode One Krab's Trash, Mr. Krabs fights a horde of undead fishes with the skull of a swordfish that was among his assailants, which he uses as a typical saber.
  • In Total Drama World Tour, the episode "Planes, Trains, and Hot Air Mobiles" has Alejandro and Cody duelling each other with swordfishes as weapons.
  • In one episode of Vicky the Viking's cartoon adaptation, a local finds the severed saw from a small pink sawfish and decides to use it as a saw despite the sawfish's protests. In revenge, it, along with a school of other sawfishes, saws holes in a drakkar and sink it.
  • At least one episode of Zig & Sharko has Zig use a sawfish as a chainsaw to cut down trees for lumber.
  • Jack the Knife, a swordfish from the Beany and Cecil cartoon "Beany Meets the Monstrous Monster," has a Swiss army knife for a nose that he uses against the title antagonist.
  • In Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, when the turtles are trapped in a fish (and ladder) factory, they end up grabbing whatever is at hand to fight off the bad guys, with Leo in particular grabbing a pair of swordfish to substitute for his usual weapons, using them to great effect.

    Real Life 
  • The function of billfish rostrums and narwhal tusks was a subject of much debate since their discovery, with hypotheses ranging from being used as stabbing implements for offense and defense to weapons or symbols for interspecific competition. Recent footage, however, has clarified their use in Real Life: both sailfish and narwhals hit and stun smaller fish using sideways swings of their headgear, making them easier to catch. In the case of narwhals, the tusks are actually enlarged teeth, and are too sensitive to be used for routine stabbing.
  • There is at least one case of an angler getting run through by a swordfish they'd caught, though it was most likely accidental. As noted above, swordfish don't use their bills for stabbing - the tips are actually too blunt for such a purpose.
    • This has happened more than once, believe it or not. Another time, a surfer was impaled and killed when a swordfish leaped out of the water and accidentally speared him through the head.
  • In one remarkable fossil, a Ramphorhynchus (a kind of pterosaur) was discovered with an Aspidorhynchus (a swordfish-like fish) speared through its wing. It's believed that the fish and the pterosaur were going after the same prey, and accidentally collided with each other in the water, which resulted in the fish stabbing the pterosaur.
  • During the 2019 London Bridge stabbing at Fishmonger's Hall, one of the witnesses used a mounted narwhal tusk as an impromptu weapon to defend himself from the killer. It worked in that he fought off the attacker, although he didn't actually manage to stab him.
  • The rostrums of sawfish, in particular, have been used as sword blades in many different cultures, albeit mostly for ceremonial purposes. This includes a selection of swords belonging to various Qing Emperors and a truly gargantuan parade sword belonging to Prince-Elector Maximilian II of Bavaria.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Swordfish Saber


Errol Fin

The army of the living dead outnumbers Mr. Krabs by the thousands, but through grabbing the head of a swordfish skeleton, he destroys every single skeleton in the graveyard in a single night without a scratch

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