Follow TV Tropes


Symbolic Weapon Discarding

Go To

Dalinar:, you and your men sacrificed to buy me twenty-six hundred priceless lives. And all I had to repay you with was a single priceless sword. I call that a bargain.
Kaladin: You really think it was a good trade, don't you?
Dalinar: For my honor? Unquestionably.

A character can be defined by their weapon(s) and what they do with them as much as by their personality and behavior. Thus, if that character is confronted with a decision that can have a major impact on their life and/or a particularly climactic outcome, they may display their attitude toward the decision by choosing to abandon that weapon, facing the decision and its consequences without that means of support. This is often done by leaving said weapon somewhere and traveling away, giving it to someone else, dramatically tossing it aside (especially during a confrontation), or even breaking it.

This can be symbolic of being Defiant to the End, as the character is willing to stand up and face what's coming with no means of defense. In the face of a decision that could lead the character to corruption, it can also signify their courage in not making that choice or, should they make the wrong choice, a reaction to a My God, What Have I Done? realization. On a more sinister note, it can also indicate a Start of Darkness or full-on Face–Heel Turn if the character gives up a weapon associated with their better aspects in order to acquire a weapon that is cursed or similarly wicked in nature, or is evocative of their dark side.


  • Dramatic Drop: A character drops something (such as their weapon) after a shocking development.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Characters agree to settle their differences in a mannerly fashion, such as setting aside weapons.
  • Passing the Torch: A hero turns their role over to someone else, which may involve turning over a weapon as well.

See also Sentimental Sacrifice, Symbolically Broken Object, and Throw the Sheath Away (which is narrowly symbolic of fighting to the last breath).

Spoilers ahead!


    open/close all folders 


    Anime & Manga 
  • Fairy Tail: During the Tartaros arc, in order to summon the Celestial Spirit Kingnote , Lucy is forced to break the key of her summoned spirit Aquarius, thus saying goodbye to her oldest friend who she has known since childhood. She does this so that he can free her friends who have all been trapped inside Plutogrim. Lucy at first breaks down over this decision, but resolves to keep going.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: Years prior to the start of the story, Kenshin Himura was known as "Hitokiri Battousai" ("Quick-Draw Manslayer") and had taken dozens of lives for various reasons. However, following the end of the Bakumatsu and his subsequent horror at all the lives he took, he takes a vow to never kill again. As a symbol of this vow, he discards his normal swords and begins wielding a sakabato, a katana variant whose cutting edge is on the inside of the blade. Over the course of the story, Kenshin is faced with numerous threats that have him grappling with the temptation to pick up a regular sword to kill again to protect the ones he loves.
  • Saber Marionette J to X: Halfway through the show, after a gruesome battle, the Sabbelberg ends up sinking in a lake. After concerns, the main cast decides to let it sink, as it's "a reminder of war times". Afterwards, the Saber Dolls throw their weapons into the same lake, as part of their Character Development.
  • The Seven Deadly Sins: After Meliodas' team was framed for treason and forced to split up, he pawned Lostvayne, the legendary sword given to him by the King of Liones, using the money to build an alehouse. The anecdote shows Meliodas' otherwise suppressed emotions about that day, his incredible power (he correctly ascertained he did not need a sword to protect himself), and how much he's changed from the bloodthirsty conqueror he used to be. It also shows the wisdom of Merlin, who found the sword and kept it in reserve until her friend was willing to try again.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Sea Beast: Upon realizing that it's wrong to hunt sea monsters, Jacob tries to show his change of heart to Red, the sea monster that saved his life, by breaking his lance with his knee in front of her. However, he repeatedly fails because the shaft is made out of metal and hurts himself trying. Later in the film, he manages to successfully break a wooden lance and declares to never hunt sea monsters again in front of a crowd to mark the end of monster hunting. Even his adoptive father Captain Crow drops his sword after Red backs down from eating him, marking the end of his vengeful obsession with killing her over losing his right eye thirty years ago.
  • The Secret of NIMH: Captain of the Guard Justin and Council member Jenner fight a duel with swords that leaves Jenner with a punctured lung. Having no stomach for continuing the fight, Justin throws down his sword and begins a speech to his fellow rats to complete the dream of Nicodemus and relocate to Thorn Valley. This shows Justin prefers to lead with reason and passion, rather than with force and guile.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Angel and the Badman: Throughout the film, Marshal McClintock tells gunslinger Quirt Evans several times how he plans to use a new rope when he hangs him. At the end of the film, after the Marshal has instead shot Quirt's rival Laredo Stevens, Quirt rides off into the sunset with Penny and leaves his gun behind in the street, announcing that "From now on, I'm a farmer." The Marshal decides to hang the gun up in his office instead, with a new rope.
  • Batman Begins: After his parents' murder, Bruce Wayne acquires a revolver with the intent to shoot Joe Chill, only to see Chill shot by one of Falcone's agents. Later, Rachel angrily chastises him when he shows her the gun, saying his father would be ashamed of him. Shaken by the exchange and realizing that he almost became just like the man who killed his parents, he throws the gun into the harbor and confronts Falcone, which leads to his journey to eventually become Batman.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: In the Dénouement after defeating Lord Voldemort, Harry snaps the Elder Wand and throws away the pieces, as he doesn't want the unmatched power it offers or the doom it inevitably brings its masters. In the book, he only inters it with Dumbledore's body.
  • Highlander: Connor MacLeod uses a claymore engraved with his clan name for decades, even long after he was thrown out as a suspected witch. Following the death of his wife Heather, he leaves the claymore behind at their now-abandoned homestead, using it to mark Heather's grave. He instead begins using his late mentor's katana; leaving behind his claymore symbolizes that his old mortal life as Connor MacLeod is over (which he had been in denial over until Heather's death).
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Captain America: Civil War: After a brutal fight between Steve Rogers and his erstwhile best friend Tony Stark in order to protect Bucky Barnes, Tony demands Steve leave the shield behind, saying that he doesn't deserve it and that Stark's father (whom Rogers greatly respected) made it. Rogers ultimately concedes and leaves the shield behind, abandoning his role of "Captain America".
    • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: At the conclusion, Shang-Chi throws away his father's Ten Rings, rather than using them to kill his own father.
  • Predator: After hearing Dillon's death scream and sensing that the eponymous hunter is on their trail, Billy tosses his gun off of the log bridge the survivors are escaping across. He draws his knife and symbolically cuts himself, denying the Predator first blood, while also pulling a Dramatic Necklace Removal with his medicine pouch. After calling out to him once, Dutch realizes that Billy is going to perform a Heroic Sacrifice to buy the others more time to escape. By discarding his gun, he ensures an up-close and personal fight with the Blood Knight alien. He is still Killed Offscreen and the Predator takes his skull as a Battle Trophy.
  • Star Wars:
    • Return of the Jedi: After Luke defeats Vader, the Emperor approaches them and tells Luke to kill Vader and become his new apprentice. However, Luke is shaken by the sight of the severed mechanized stump of Vader's right wrist and how it reminds him of his own mechanical hand. Realizing how close he is to falling to the dark side, he turns off his lightsaber and tosses it away.
      Luke: Never. I'll never turn to the dark side. You've failed, Your Highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me.
    • The Rise of Skywalker: The battle between Kylo Ren and Rey in the wreckage of the Death Star ends with both of them sensing Leia's death and Rey running Kylo through with his own lightsaber, then Force healing him before leaving. In a moment that comes full circle from The Force Awakens, Kylo has a crisis of conscience which appears as him being visited by Han Solo. They talk, "Han" appears to forgive Kylo for his past actions and tells him to come home, and Kylo hurls his lightsaber into the ocean, finally rejecting his past and becoming Ben Solo again.
      Kylo Ren: I know what I have to do, but I don't know if I have the strength to do it.
      "Han": [touches Kylo's cheek] You do.
      Kylo Ren: [on the verge of tears] Dad...
      "Han": I know.

  • The Beginning After the End: Right before he sacrifices his life to allow Arthur to revive Sylvie, Aldir bequeaths him his weapon Silverlight, a gesture that reflects his atonement for his actions under Kezess's service. Primarily, Aldir wants Arthur to keep his weapon as a trophy to show both the Dicathians - whom he wronged when he destroyed Elenoir under Kezess's orders - and Epheotus - his homeland which he had committed treason against - so that he can earn diplomatic favor with both factions. The gesture also cements how Aldir has once and for all given up on fighting after all the blood and mana he has spilled. After Arthur presents Silverlight to his allies, the weapon chooses his sister Eleanor as its next wielder, a sign that the weapon now wishes to fight the good fight after all the harm its old wielder had done.
  • The Golden Compass: After learning about Mrs. Coulter's Heroic Sacrifice, Serafina Pekkala breaks the arrow she had previously pledged to use to kill Coulter for her role in torturing a witch to death.
  • The Magic Finger: The Gregg family are forced to live as ducks for a day, as revenge for hunting and killing them. Afterwards, the family vows to live as vegetarians, and Mr. Gregg smashes the family's guns into pieces with a huge hammer.
  • The Neverending Story: The magical sword Sikanda will leap into Bastian's hand and fight for him whenever he is threatened, making him practically invincible. However, he has been sternly warned never to pull it out himself, but he forcibly draws it to fight Atreyu's well-meaning coup. This causes its blade of light to turn dark, indicating that it's now corrupted and will no longer make sure he's doing the right thing when he wields it. After he kills Atreyu, he comes back to his senses, and sorrowfully buries Sikanda so it won't cause further harm — and, more broadly, he stops seeking Fantastica's power and accolades.
  • The Stormlight Archive:
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: In both the book and its film adaptation, Reepicheep, earlier established as a proud warrior race mouse, finds himself at the end of the world, on the borders of Aslan's Country. Before parting ways with Caspian and the Pevensies and rowing a little coracle over the wave into there, Reepicheep leaves his Royal Rapier in the sand, stating that he won't need it anymore.
  • The Wheel of Time:

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: In "One World, One People", John Walker arrives in New York to fight the Flag Smashers' assault on the U.N. Headquarters, and eventually discards his homemade Captain American shield to signal that he's finally accepted the fact that he's not the next Steve Rogers, and should stop trying to be.
  • Galavant: After King Richard kidnaps Galavant's girlfriend Madalena and forces her to marry him, Galavant rushes to stop their wedding. With all eyes on him when he enters the hall, he begins a grand romantic speech that includes tossing aside his sword as he offers Madalena "great love" over King Richard's "great fame" and "great fortune." Madalena chooses the fame and fortune, and the unarmed Galavant is knocked unconscious by Richard's bodyguard.
  • Game of Thrones: In "The Pointy End", King Joffrey "rewards" Ser Barristan Selmy, the Lord Commander of his Kingsguard, with forced retirement from what is supposed to be a lifetime post. To make it more offensive, Jaime Lannister is promoted to the position in his stead. A defiant Ser Barristan discards the vestments of the Kingsguard and throws his sword at Joffrey's feet, telling him to "melt it down with all the rest" of the swords that make up the Iron Throne, and strides out of the throne room.
  • Robin of Sherwood: At the end of the second season, Robin of Loxley is finally cornered by the Sheriff of Nottingham and his soldiers. Surrounded and with crossbows trained on him, he breaks his longbow over his knee and calmly awaits his fate before the Sheriff gives the order to shoot.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess: In "The Way", Eli inspires Gabrielle, who was always a fighter but not a killer, to dedicate herself to the way of peace and give up violence entirely. As a sign of her vow, she throws her staff (which for years had been her signature weapon) into a lake.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Book of Mormon: The people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi, upon making an Actual Pacifist vow, gather up all their weapons and throw them into a pit, "that they may be kept bright, as a testimony that we have never used them, at the last day". When their enemies come to attack them anyway, their peaceful submission has such an impact that many of the attackers are upset with themselves, similarly throwing their weapons down and joining them in prayer.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney: At the end of the second game, Franziska von Karma, now filled with confusion and doubt after the events of the final case, parts back towards Germany while leaving behind her signature whip. In the epilogue, if you hand over the whip to Edgeworth, he will give it back to her in the airport, encouraging her to remain a prosecutor, not for pride or honor, but to fight to find the truth. Yes, this is a game about lawyers.
  • Assassin's Creed: Valhalla: Eivor spent their whole life determined not to die a coward and enter Valhalla after being traumatised by their father's Senseless Sacrifice as a child. The requirement for that according to their religion is to die in battle with an axe in hand. However, in the climax of the game, Eivor and Sigurd get trapped in Yggdrasil, which is actually a Lotus-Eater Machine, and they realize that Valhalla is a simulation. In their attempt to escape, Eivor is locked in a Hopeless Boss Fight against Odin, who for the entire game was trying to get Eivor to give in to their rage for the sake of glory. Odin keeps using Eivor's axe to drag them back close to him and force them to keep fighting against him instead of reaching the gate that would let them escape. The only solution? Unequip the axe and run away. This decision marks a huge turning point in Eivor's Character Development, as they finally come to terms with their father's death and realize there are far more important things in life than glory on the battlefield, like their clan, family, and friends.
    Odin: Leave me now and you are nothing! With me you have wisdom! Glory! Power! What more do you need!
    Eivor: Everything else.
  • The Elder Scrolls: In the series backstory, Saint Veloth led the Chimer (later Dunmer or "Dark Elf") people in an exodus to their future homeland of Morrowind. According to legend, they reached a great pass cutting through a mountain range covered in snow, but a large wall of ice blocked their path. A young woman (believed to be one of the patron Daedric Princes who prompted the exodus) appeared before Veloth and demanded that he swear an oath before she would lead them to their new home. Veloth cast aside his mighty Daedric warhammer and vowed to dedicate his life and soul to his people. The young woman melted the wall of ice and revealed a land of fungus and ash, their new home. The hammer itself became a relic to the Tribunal Temple and you can acquire it during their questline in Morrowind.
  • Fable: The Hero faces a Last-Second Ending Choice: throw the Big Bad's Infinity +1 Sword into the Void forever, or murder his sister with it to claim it for himself. Needless to say, rejecting such an evil source of power is better for both the Karma Meter and the world.
  • Far Cry 3: In the good ending, if the player makes Jason decide to rescue his friends instead of cutting their throats to join the Rakyat, after cutting two of his friends free, Jason throws his silver dragon knife to the floor at Citra's feet, making it clear that "This violence is over. I'm done. No more blood." The pre-credits scene takes this even further by showing Jason and his friends riding their ship away from the Rook Islands, whilst the dragon knife is left embedded in the sand.
  • Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance: When Greil is attacked by the Black Knight, he tosses Greil his old sword Ragnell, saying that he wants to fight Greil at his full strength. Greil rejects the sword and lifts his giant battleaxe again. This is because after Greil went on a rampage when he was touching Lehran's medallion and his wife sacrificed herself to get it away from him, Greil cut the tendons in his sword arm so that he couldn't ever wield it again, in regret for what had happened.
  • God of War (PS4): After slaying the Greek pantheon, Kratos had attempted to get rid of the Blades of Chaos after finding that his quest for revenge felt empty. However, he soon learned that no matter what he tried, the blades always found a way of coming back to him, so he simply hid them under a floorboard in his house in Midgard. Later on in the story, his son Atreas falls ill, and the ingredient needed to create the potion to heal him can only be found in Helheim, a realm so cold that the magic of the Nine Realms won't work. Thus, Kratos is forced to dig up the Blades and use them again to save his son.
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of War: In the Golden Ending, when Sauron is killed along with Talion and the rest of the Nazgul, Talion can be seen walking through the fields of Valinor, removing his armour as he goes. The last part of his arsenal he leaves behind is his sword and his dagger, both of which he drops onto the ground. As he walks off into the sunlight between two massive stone sculptures, a little white flower grows beside his dagger. Since Talion's dagger is the broken sword that used to belong to his son, and the flower is one that he gave to his wife on their anniversary, it shows that Talion is finally reuniting with his family after fighting Sauron's forces for decades.
  • Titan Quest: In the Act 3 quest "A General in Repose", the Player Character meets Rang Ju, a disgraced former general who has decided to live a life of self-contemplation in the wilderness. He abandoned his weapons and armor in a nearby cave, declares he has no further need of them in his new life, and allows the player to retrieve them if they can find a use for them.
  • Warcraft III: At the end of the Alliance campaign, Arthas drops his paladin's hammer (and even has a unique animation for it) to pick up the cursed sword Frostmourne, despite it having just killed his friend Muradin. This marks the beginning of the end for Arthas, and while the sword boosts his stats to the point where he can take out bases on his own, the campaign ends with him murdering his father and launching the invasion of Lordaeron as the Lich King's champion.
  • World of Warcraft: Garrosh discards his Ancestral Weapon Gorehowl in favor of a Sha-empowered knockoff named Xal'atoh. It's taken as a sign of just how far off the deep end he's fallen, as even his previously overbearing pride in his heritage has been subsumed by his lust for power.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 3 ends with Moebius officially being defunct and the 10-year curse being lifted, meaning that the Forever War between Keves and Agnus is officially over. With this newfound freedom, the one of the first things that Noah does is throw the Lucky Seven into the ocean. This symbolizes that, with the nations separating, his time as an Ouroboros is over, and with the war ended, he now wishes to solve his problems without violence.

    Web Animation 

    Web Videos 
  • Critical Role: Fjord's signature weapon for the first part of the second campaign, the Sword of Fathoms, represents the Deal with the Devil he made with the Leviathan Uk'otoa. At one point, Uk'otoa takes away Fjord's access to warlock powers as punishment for disobeying its wishes. Fjord decides he's done with the monster attempting to control him, and breaks the pact by throwing the sword into a lava pit.
  • Pirates SMP: A subtle case; after tracking down his younger brother Acho on a quest star suspected to be a suicide mission, Scott swaps out his family heirloom rapier for a diamond-adorned rapier Acho found and gave him, shortly before stars More Hero than Thou-induced death in said quest; by the finale, Scott is seen exclusively using this new weapon, with the old sword absent from his inventory for the entire livestream and only a couple of cursory mentions that he changed weapons at all. Given his later decision to leave the Faction Isles to get away from their parents in Acho's memory, it's evident that even if he's supposed to be the dutiful "golden child" of the family, the Big Brother Instinct is always going to trump that, and it's this subtle "choice" that allows him to break free from the otherwise toxic familial dynamic at the end of the finale.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: In the third season premiere, Aang struggles to admit that the Fire Nation defeated him. He refuses to do anything that will perpetuate the notion that he is dead, so he won't cover up his distinctive airbending tattoos or hide in a stolen Fire Nation ship. When he finally accepts he's been beaten and must cover up his identity to strike back at the Fire Nation, he does so by burning his airbending staff, the weapon he used most in fighting the Fire Nation before his defeat.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "Victory and Death", Ahsoka leaves behind one of her lightsabers to make any pursuers think she died in the crash-landing of the ship she was on alongside everyone else. Part of the reason this is symbolic is because the lightsabers were modified by her teacher and friend Anakin Skywalker, who she fears is dead following the announcement of Order 66, and so leaving it behind is her accepting she will never rejoin the Jedi Order. Leaving behind the lightsaber also symbolically represents her leaving behind the Republic, which has now transformed into The Empire. In her next chronological appearance in Star Wars Rebels she has built her own custom lightsabers and notably remarks that she is "no Jedi".


Video Example(s):


Caps Drops His Shield

Though Captain America physically defeats Iron Man, Tony's rebuke causes Cap to give up his shield, symbolizing the end of his time as an Avenger and his new life as a nomad.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / SymbolicWeaponDiscarding

Media sources: