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The Pen Is Mightier

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"How about a magic trick?
[places a pencil standing upright on a table, eraser end up]
I'm going to make this pencil disappear.
[slams a thug's head onto the table so that the pencil is driven into his eye socket, and he then falls over dead]
...TA-DA! It's... Ah, it's gone..."
The Joker, The Dark Knight

You know, they weren't joking when they said the pen was mightier than the sword. Or the pencil. Or the paintbrush. In the proper hands any writing tool can become a truly deadly weapon, and earns extra badass points for the user at the same time—especially if used against an opponent with one of those piddling "real" weapons.

Typically, the writing tool will be used as a stabbing weapon, aimed for the head, throat, or chest. Occasionally it may be used as a throwing weapon. The pen or pencil may be used for more than just stabbing however; for example, an inkpen may be used to spray ink in the face of an attacker.

Paint brushes being used to write spells and curses on opponents are common in eastern works; most popular depictions of this are derived from a Chinese folktale about a boy who could bring paintings to life when he signed them. An evil emperor would force the boy to draw him vast riches and he would instead conjure a dragon or tsunami to kill the emperor, depending on the telling.

Bonus points if, after the pen is used, someone makes a snarky comment on the pen's superiority.

A subtrope of Improvised Weapon. May be used by an Improbable Weapon User, a Combat Pragmatist, an Art Attacker or a Mad Artist.

Easily confused with something Sean Connery has been searching all his life for.

Not to be confused with The Power of Language, which covers figurative uses of this phrase. Has nothing to do with a certain body part.

Compare Once Killed a Man with a Noodle Implement.


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  • Parodied in a Geico ad series which mocks Stock Phrases. In this particular sketch, "Is the pen mightier than the sword?", a ninja brandishes his sword. The camera changes to a guy signing for a package with a pen. He opens the package and removes a taser, which takes the ninja out instantly.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In the Battle Royale manga, Shogo Kawada managed to finally kill the director Yomeni Kamon with a pencil by stabbing at his throat.
  • Ichibe from Bleach uses Ichimonji, a massive calligraphy brush that can alter the fabric of reality by changing the names of people and objects.
  • David from Blood+ once escaped a tense situation by grabbing a hostage and threatening to stab him in the neck with a pen.
  • In A Certain Magical Index: Miracle of Endymion, Mallybath Blackball wields a magic quill pen that gives her Dishing Out Dirt powers.
  • Death Note features a considerable amount of murder via pen, but not by stabbing, but rather Rewriting Reality. At least, until near the end when Teru Mikami uses his pen to commit suicide, with a truly ludicrous amount of blood.
  • In Destiny of the Shrine Maiden, Reiko Ota telekinetically throws fountain pens that explode when they hit their targets.
  • Durarara!!
    • Seiji stabs Shizuo with pens in both knees and through his palm. Shizuo shrugs it off, and walks away wondering if he'll need a band-aid.
    • Later in the light novels, Mikado stabs Aoba through the hand with a ballpoint pen.
  • Pretty much any solid object within two meters of Lucy in Elfen Lied becomes a deadly implement because of her telekinetic vector abilities. This is first demonstrated with pens during the infamous escape scene.
  • In the finale of the Anime adaptation of The Fruit of Grisaia, Yuuji, mortally wounded, uses a golden pen on a desk to kill his Arch-Enemy, Heath Oslo - a technique Oslo taught him.
  • At some point in Futaba-kun Change! a member of martial arts calligraphy club demonstrates blocking a sword with his calligraphy brush. An explanation follows that the brush is made of steel and this particular martial art was developed back when such random attacks on calligraphists were common.
  • GTO: The Early Years:
    • Saejima painfully shoves pencils up Maruyama's nose. Later, Maruyama returns the favor, and Fumiya slams Saejima's head into the floor. He hates the nickname "pencil sharpener" he gets afterwards.
    • Yagyo Atsuki's first appearance has him carve the word "oni" into the back of people's hands with a pencil. Later we see it carved into their cheeks too.
  • In Hot Gimmick Ryoki saves Hatsumi from being raped by Azusa's gang by throwing one of them to the ground, sitting on top of them and threatening to drive a pen through his cheek (since the guys are models, this would ruin his career as well as being fucking agonizing). When Azusa thinks he's bluffing, Ryoki scratches the guy's face to show he's serious. He doesn't end up having to do it though.
  • In Love Hina, Motoko manages to block a full-on katana slash with Keitaro's studyin' pencil. Maybe because it's full of his hopes and dreams, as she claims - or maybe some of his peculiar invincibility just soaked in over the years.
  • In episode 20 of Lovely Complex Mimi nearly stabs Risa through the hand with a mechanical pencil.
  • In Monster, when the conversation veers towards Johan, a serial killer ends an interview with his psychologist with a pen. The psychologist gets away with a scare, but not for lack of success on the other man's part...
    • Tenma also uses a ballpoint pen to save himself from a group of Neo-Nazis.
  • In an early episode of Nabari no Ou, Raimei throws a handful of pencils at Miharu to test him. He, of course, didn't even notice.
  • Killer Bee of Naruto can imbue objects with lightning chakra to make it vibrate at high speeds (though it isn't unique to him) to turn any pointed object into a deadly weapon. He first shows this off by using the pencil he uses to write down his rap lyrics which he managed to throw through a tree trunk.
  • In One Piece, Mad Monk Urouge wields something that looks like a stone column. Word of God says that it's a pencil and he is looking for a sharpener.
    • While it's not always clear whether Oda is being serious when he answers fan questions, the One Piece world is wacky enough that this could actually be true.
  • Episode 14 of Psycho-Pass opens when a criminal wearing a helmet that throws off the Psycho-Pass scanners walks into a pharmacy and stabs a pharmacist in the mouth with a pair of scissors and then kills a second pharmacist by stabbing her in the femoral artery with a ballpoint pen. When police arrive at the crime scene, the forensics drones end up digging out multiple pens out of the female victim's body.
  • Alone (Hades), the Big Bad from Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas, occasionally uses his painting brush for close combat fighting, which is not all that necessary considering his Physical God status.
  • In Shugo Chara!, Amu's "Amulet Spade" character transformation fights with a paintbrush.
  • During her stint as a schoolteacher, Yoko from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann manages to throw a piece of chalk so hard, it imbeds itself in the opposite wall. Nobody gets hurt, but damn if it doesn't make the kids focus on their work.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Batman story "Video Nasties", a heavily injured, bedridden teenager manages to grab a pen and stab a villain who was holding a woman hostage. It distracts the villain long enough for Batman to take him out.
  • In Big Bang Comics #11, architect-turned-supervillain 'Faulty' Towers uses technical pens filled with poison as a weapons, hurling them like darts.
  • Bullseye in Daredevil uses pencils, among many other things, as darts to kill people.
  • In Death Vigil, Starlock is Clara's veilripper, and it takes the form of a quill pen. Clara finds out that she can draw wherever she wants with it, but she later finds out its true potential to Think Up Portals and tap into and fix other people's memories (although the latter ability is hinted to be her ability, not the veilripper's). In addition, like all veilrippers, it can be used to seal necromancers' powers.
  • In one of the Halloween comics by Chaos! Comics, a young Michael Myers gouges out a fellow mental patient's eye with a crayon.
  • "Ink", a henchman in The Punisher MAX, got his nickname because he once killed a man with a pen.
    Larry: Stabbed him in the neck?
    Cavella: Stabbed him in the eye. Just kept going 'til he hit brain.
  • The Unbelievable Gwenpool: Gwenpool's introduction has her using a pen to upgrade her weaponry.
    Gwen: Trade you pen for gun!
    Mook: Aaah!
    Gwen: [Aside Glance] I know. It's a terrible trade.

    Fan Works 
  • Losing Even That has a scene where Miranda and Thane discuss the number of ways they know how to kill someone with a pen. She knows sixteen, he knows eighteen. The incident that started this conversation? The crew is out of regular coffee, and think the person responsible should be killed with a pen.
    Shepard: Definitely a pen-killing-worthy offense.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 30 Minutes or Less, The Major has a pen gun. After he uses up its only bullet, he tries to stab a man with it.
  • Art of the Dead: During Louis' vision , Mad Artist Dorian Wilde kills a critic by stabbing him in the neck with a paintbrush.
  • In Batman (1989), Joker declares that "The pen is truly mightier than the sword!" after he kills one of Grissom's allies by stabbing a really sharp ink quill into the man's throat.
  • Becky initially improvises weapons from her art supplies, including stabbing Cole with sharpened pencils.
  • Blood Brothers (2007) has a fight scene where a mook gets a fountain pen into the jugular.
  • In the Wuxia film Brothers Five, one of the five brothers is a Warrior Poet scholar whose preferred weapon is a long Chinese brush with razor-sharp bristles, which he used to kill more than 20 mooks throughout the movie.
  • The Bourne Identity: Jason Bourne surprises a knife-wielding assassin with a pen to the hand, causing him to drop the knife.
  • Joe Pesci kills a man this way in Casino. Rather disgusting to watch.
  • A character gets a crayon in the eye in The Children.
  • In The Dark Knight, The Joker's "magic trick" involves making a pencil disappear...into the eye of one of the Gotham Mob's thugs. Eraser end first.
  • In Death Race, Lists stabs a thug in the back with his pen during a fight, providing the vital distraction that allows the hero to turn the tide of the fight.
  • In Exam, White stabs Black with a pencil: possibly the only item in the examination room that could be use as a stabbing weapon.
  • In Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, Final Girl Rennie manages to fend Jason off at one point by stabbing him in the eye with an ink pen (that is claimed in-universe to be Stephen King's).
  • In Holla If You Hear Me, a man is stabbed in the head with a pencil, while one of the killers gets a pen in the neck.
  • In Grosse Pointe Blank Martin uses a fountain pen a high school friend gave him to finish off an assassin.
  • The Hunt (2020): On the plane, Ted stabs Randy in the throat with a pen he borrows from the stewardess. After the carnage is over, he hands the pen back to her.
  • During the tank battle of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indy's father uses his fountain pen to spray a German soldier in the face to blind him. Brody follows up by quoting the classic phrase.
  • In The Invisible Man (2020), Cecilia manages to repeatedly stab the eponymous villain with a fountain pen, which has the added affect of making his invisibility suit short-circuit from the waist up.
  • James Bond
    Bond: They always said the pen was mightier than the sword.
    Q: Thanks to me, they were right!
  • When Viggo is impressing on Iosef just how deadly John is in John Wick, he mentions he once saw John kill three men in a bar with a pencil. The improbability of this is lampshaded by Abram in John Wick: Chapter 2 ("A pencil. How the fuck do you do that?!"), and later in the film, John kills two assassins with a pencil when they attack him for the seven million dollar bounty on him posted by Santino.
    • Notably, the pencil killing is one of the most gruesome ones shown on-screen, with John pinning one assassin's head against a bartop and then driving the pencil through his ear canal like a railway spike. With the second one, he holds the pencil against a wall and slams the back of the assassin's head against it.
  • During the opening flashback detailing Danny Greene's life in Kill the Irishman, Danny's shown being stabbed in the hand by bullies, and keep in mind that he and said bullies are high school age at best.
  • The protagonist of The Lost Empire (also known as The Monkey King) acquires a magical pen that can expand into a sword. The trope title is in fact referenced, though in practice the sword-form is mightier.
  • Naked Killer have Kitty fighting a triad boss in his office. As the boss beats her down and orders a mook to restrain her, Kitty managed to snatch a pen from a nearby desk, kill the mook with a stab in the throat, and shove the pen repeatedly into the boss' dick.
  • The eponymous character in Psycho Cop Returns kills one of his victims with a pencil to the eye, and tells him to "keep an eye out" afterwards.
  • In the climax of the film Red Eye, the heroine surprises the antagonist holding her captive with a well-aimed pen through the throat.
  • A non-lethal version occurs in The Running Man when a jerkass attorney gets Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign some documents before he's led off to certain death. There's no table so he tells Arnie to use his back. Arnie signs the documents, then puts in the full stop by stabbing the pen into the lawyer's back, causing him to run off screaming (with the pen still stuck in him) with Arnie commenting "Don't forget to send me a copy."
  • In Shanghai Grand, the protagonist played by Leslie Cheung disarms a triad mook by stabbing him in the neck with a fountain pen.
  • The Silence of the Lambs: Hannibal Lecter palms Dr. Chilton's ballpoint pen and fashions it into a handcuff key that allows him to escape.
  • The final conflict in A Song Is Born is resolved not by guns, but by music.
  • Starred Up: During the standoff when the warders are trying to take him to solitary, Eric grabs the prison psychologist Baumer's pen and holds it to the eye of a warder. Baumer is able to talk him down and get his pen back.
  • In Stoker, India stabs a bully with her pencil when he tries to grab her. When she pulls away, the tip is covered in blood.
  • In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Sarah Connor taunts her shrink about having previously stabbed him in the knee with a pen.
  • Dr. Wai from Dr. Wai in "The Scripture with No Words" packs a pen as his default weapon. One with a hidden Grappling-Hook Gun and Razor Floss built inside. One fight scene have Wai fighting six ninjas using his pen and winning.
  • In When Evil Calls, an overachieving student—Driven to Suicide by the prospect of The B Grade—kills himself by inserting sharpened pencils up his nostrils and then slamming his face into his desk, driving the pencils into his brain.
  • In White House Down, President Sawyer stabs the Big Bad with a pen. Sawyer did a poor job of it, though, getting him in the shoulder as opposed to the jugular, and the Big Bad fought him off.

  • Maximum Security, the third book in the CHERUB Series, has Lauren fighting off and seriously injuring an attacker with the first thing she could grab—a hotel biro.
  • Discworld:
    • Ankh-Morpork Patrician Olaf Quimby II had his reign ended when he was killed by a disgruntled poet during an experiment to test the truth of the saying "The pen is mightier than the sword". In his memory, it was amended to read: "The pen is mightier than the sword only if the sword is very small and the pen is very sharp."
    • In one book, a Running Gag is a vampire who keeps filing personal-injury complaints against his employers. Apparently he chose to work in places such as a holy water dispensary, a garlic farm, and a pencil factory.
  • The ghost in the Stephen King short story Sneakers died from being stabbed in the eye with a pencil.
  • In Cell, the Headmaster dies when the nearby flock of phoners forces him to ram a pen through his eye into his brain.
  • Played with in Percy Jackson and the Olympians; the title character has a pen that turns into a sword.
  • Occurs in Soulmate, when the vampire Thierry or rather Maya disguised as him corners Hannah in her bedroom and forcibly drinks her blood. Hannah gets backed up against her desk and is able to grab a pencil and drive it through Thierry's hand; she threatens to shove the next pencil through his heart. As Hannah realizes, pencils are actually more effective weapons against vampires than you'd think because they're made of wood, which is toxic to vampires if it gets into their bloodstream; wounds inflicted by wood take much longer for them to heal despite their Healing Factor.
  • In Worm the Number Man threatens to inflict a Shatterpoint Tap on someone's skull with a pen.
  • Calligraphy brushes are commonly used as weapon in Wuxia genre by fighters who specialized in hitting Pressure Points, since all they have to do is hit at the right spot.
  • An indirect example in The Silence of the Lambs, when Hannibal Lecter uses the writing part of a ballpoint pen carelessly left in his cell to fashion an improvised handcuff key.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In 24, Kim Bauer deals with a woman who is holding her hostage by stabbing her in the leg with a pen. Said woman is then shot by the police.
  • In the Angel episode "Unleashed":
    Spike: I had a wee spat with a werewolf myself once. Fought for over an hour! Brutal. Vicious. I almost lost my—
    Fred: Angel killed him with a pen.
  • A season 5 episode of The Avengers (1960s) has John Steed shrunk to the point he can use a penholder as a spear, striking at baddies' ankles to distract them before Ms Peel attacks.
    Steed: The pen is mightier than the sword.
    Peel: Well, between us we've written them off.
  • Battlestar Galactica
    • Felix Gaeta, sent to talk to Gaius Baltar in the latter's prison cell, tries to kill Baltar with a pen instead, stabbing him in the neck but missing the carotid artery. Later on, during his trial, when, after Gaeta perjures himself on the stand, Baltar says (or more accurately, screams), "The whole fleet knows this man tried to stab me through the neck — and you missed! Butterfingers!"
    • This is played with later, when in the fourth-act scene after Gaeta stabs Baltar, he asks someone for a pen. It's believed that after the incident with Baltar, Gaeta has been forbidden to carry pens on his person.
    • Battlestar likes this trope. During The Mutiny Arc, Romo Lampkin stabs a marine with a pen. The first thing he does after that? He reclaims the sunglasses that the marine took from him and refers to the now-dead marine as his "pen-pal".
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
    • In "Choices", a vampire corners Willow in a supply room. She uses her telekinetic powers to raise a pencil and stake him.
    • In "Band Candy", Giles is making Buffy rehearse for her SAT tests during graveyard patrol when a vampire attacks them. She stakes it with her pencil, then cheerfully points out that it's broken, so she can't do the questionnaire. Giles calmly produces another pencil.
  • In an episode of Burn Notice, Michael escapes a room full of bad guys using only a pencil. How? He holds it against the bad guys' leader's neck, and threatens to puncture the guy's artery unless they let him go.
  • CSI:
    • In "Cat's in the Cradle'', it is discovered that the Victim of the Week was stabbed to death with a glitter pen.
    • In "A La Cart", the Victim of the Week in the B Story is stabbed through the temple with a ballpoint pen while dining in a blacked-out restaurant. The nib of the pin snaps off in the victim's brain, and the leaking ink that would have stained the killer's hand becomes an important clue.
  • Daredevil (2015): Benjamin "Dex" Poindexter uses a pencil to wound Mitchell Ellison during his attack on the New York Bulletin.
  • Firefly: The "R. Tam Sessions", a series of videos from River's time at the Academy, showing her in a series of "interviews" with a "counselor" that chronicles her gradual descent into madness. The first video (which is the second half of the last session) shows her counselor collapsing after having been stabbed in the throat with a pen. The last video is of her seeming to be remarkably lucid and clear, and her last words before the video cuts out is her asking for a pen to write something down. Whether this is due to her madness, being ordered to do this by her "handlers," or simply River striking out at her tormentors in the only way she can manage is up in the air.
  • Get Smart - Max sticks a sword-wielding KAOS agent with a pen carrying a paralysis drug, and says...well, you know...
  • Heroes:
    • Sylar crucifies Isaac against his own painting of the future, using his own paintbrushes, before he kills him.
    • He also has Claire telekinetically pinned to a sofa as he taunts her and then kisses her, she retaliates by grabbing a pen and stabs him right in the eye.
  • It's Okay to Not Be Okay: Flashbacks reveal that Do Hui-jae killed the Moon brothers' mom by slitting her throat with a fountain pen.
  • Kamen Rider Fourze has, among his bag of tricks, a giant ink brush that appears on his right foot. At first he was ready to write it off as useless, but his friends discovered that the ink quickly solidifies into a metallic substance. So far he's used it to "draw" barriers and to block a Monster of the Week's petrification beam. And to draw Santa's sled during the Christmas Episode.
  • Law & Order: In "Doped", the killer tries to commit suicide by stabbing himself in the neck with a ballpoint pen. Lupo and Bernard are just barely able to save him in time.
  • In The Lost Room, one of the Objects is a pen which can microwave people, which a small-time crime boss uses to enforce order.
  • Midsomer Murders: In "Death by Persuasion", the first Victim of the Week is stabbed in the neck with a poisoned quill pen.
  • In the Prison Season of My Name Is Earl, while Earl was narrating this notion, an inmate stabs another inmate in the back with a pen.
  • MythBusters had to put Q of James Bond fame (see above) to the test. They loaded up a few pens with explosives. A conventional pen proved surprisingly lethal, creating a hole roughly twice the size of a fist in a dummy, but did not work as it did in the film. The team then tried a fairly large pen such as the type companies give as swag with their logos. It removed a dummy's arms and upper torso. James Hyneman then loaded up an absurdly large novelty pen - the kind over a foot long and several inches in circumference - with explosives. The results were predictable.
  • The Punisher (2017): Before his partnership with the Punisher begins, Micro temporarily sedates him with a needle hidden in his pen.
  • Ripper Street: In "Tournament of Shadows", after being tortured, Homer Jackson agrees to sign a fake confession for a corrupt Scotland Yard officer. When the officer looks and sees that Jackson has written, "SUCK MY YANKEE BALLS" instead of his name, he furiously motions to his hulking mook - who really should have taken away the pen before attacking a surgeon who knows exactly where to stick it.
  • The Suite Life on Deck: Lampshaded in "The Spy Who Shoved Me", when Agent James Smith informs Cody he can kill him with an ordinary pen.
  • Whodunnit? (UK): In "Instant Coffee", the murderer uses a fountain pen to inject poison into the orange juice of the Victim of the Week.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • One FoxTrot strip had Jason apply this trope in his D&D games by arming his warrior with a pen. Marcus' character immediately cuts him down.

  • Sega Pinball's GoldenEye has the "Q's Pen" mode, where you must hit the target three times to detonate Bond's exploding pen from the film.

    Professional Wrestling 

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Eddie Izzard talks about an alleged Awesome, but Impractical self-defence manoeuvre that involves pushing a pen between an assailant's middle and ring fingers and squeezing their fingers together.

    Tabletop Games 
  • After Deadlands: Hell on Earth was released, there was a push to make the Librarians from Smart Guys with no real role in combat into badass bookworms, including the development of entirely new arcana. One such supernatural ability, aptly named the Pen is Mightier than the Sword, turns writing implements into deadly weapons. At its highest level, a magical pen does almost as much damage as a Laser Blade, and is better at defense!
  • A Hero System supplement magazine once gave instructions/stats for running "Hack Writing" as a (none-too-serious) Martial Art. It originated when an ancient messenger, facing execution for being the bearer of bad news, decided to take someone with him and used his stylus as a weapon. Organizations such as The Brotherhood of the Pen use specially-crafted writing implements designed for maximum damage. Special maneuvers include "Cut & Paste" ("The writer cuts his victim's legs out from under him and then pastes him one."); "Narrative Hook" ("The writer simply reaches out and grabs his target."); and "Writer's Block", a defensive measure. ("The first maneuver taught to hack writers. Some are so skilled with it that it's all they do.")
  • Pathfinder features not a pen but an iron brush. It is a weaponized scholar's brush in an Asian-themed setting, where any person of refinement or education is expected to know some calligraphy. It's really not a great weapon mechanically aside from being easily concealed, but it can kill and be enchanted, plus a clever player can certainly find uses for a weapon which allows them to appear to be an unarmed scholar or aristocrat.
  • In Warhammer: Age of Sigmar and Warhammer 40,000, the Blue Scribe P'tarix is unable to use the magic that he catalogues so in battle he stabs his enemies with sharpened quills made from the feathers of a Lord of Change.

    Video Games 
  • Imaginary-Barry in Alan Wake: The Signal DLC quotes/lampshades this after Alan takes out a wave of Taken. Granted, words in typewriter-font are utilized throughout the game, but It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Parodied in Amorphous+. As an achievement says, there is no pen, and the sword is really big.
  • In Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura you can buy a newspaper report detailing a murder in which the victim was stabbed to death with a quill. Justified by the fact that the chief suspect is a doctor is a half-orc with an expert knowledge of anatomy as well as Arcanum's master trainer in the Back Stab skill.
  • Cold Winter have this happening in Kim's flashback, when she was forcefully recruited by Red Chinese agents in exchange for her brother's life. Kim instead kills everyone in the same room with her, capping it by shoving a pen down the recruiter's left eye.
  • In Dishonored: Death of the Outsider you can upgrade your crossbow to utilize random everyday objects as a substitute for crossbow bolts. There's an achievement specifically for killing someone by firing a fountain pen.
  • Ma Dai from Dynasty Warriors 7 uses a giant paintbrush as a weapon.
  • In World 3 of Fancy Pants Adventures, Fancy Pants Man takes Brad Borne's pencil and uses it to collapse an otherwise Broken Bridge. It's surprisingly effective compared to the local ninjas and pirates, who use actual swords.
    • In World 4 he upgrades to a fountain pen, which refills by killing ink monsters or standing on ink fountains and allow him to shoot a damaging stream of ink.
    • Fancy Pants is a playable character in the game Newgrounds Rumble, where he has his pencil as his weapon of choice.
  • The dictator Pagan Min in Far Cry 4 kills an underperforming soldier with a fountain pen in his Establishing Character Moment. If the player obtains it later in the game, it's revealed to be specially reinforced to double as a weapon.
    • In Pagan's playable appearance in Far Cry 6's "Control" DLC, he uses this pen in a majority of his takedowns, which include repeated stabs to the neck or a single stab through the eye.
  • Final Fantasy VI: Relm kills people with both her brush and her drawings.
  • Mitama from Fire Emblem Fates proclaims it is "the mightiest of all!" during one of her critical hit quotes. Fitting, as she's an avid haiku poet.
    • In addition, there is a Lethal Joke Weapon called a Quill Pen, in which, as a Dagger-type weapon, is strong against swords and katanas. This could be a possible reference to the old saying "A pen is mightier than a sword".
  • One of the bosses in The Gladiator is a sorceror named "The Black Judge", whose sole weapon is a long paintbrush whose drawings manifests as projectile attacks. If he draws an emblem on the floor, it will explode in a circle of flames that can hurt you instantly.
  • One of the possible player Stands in Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure The7th Stand User is Napalm Death, a fancy calligraphy pen that creates explosions from writing. Badass.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, the villain Yuga has a long, paintbrush-shaped wand for casting spells and summoning monsters. When he takes over Ganon's body, the paintbrush is fused with the evil king's trident.
  • In the second Manhunt game, Danny and Leo can both equip ballpoint pens, and make good use of them. Stealth kills with them involve gouging out eyes and giving people new breathing holes.
  • Hangan in Onmyōji, who fights with a giant calligraphy brush.
  • In reference to the John Wick example above, PAYDAY 2 has a pencil (though called The Pen) available as of the Search for Kento event via a code. Incredibly, and especially in a game renowned for awful melee weapons, The Pen is actually somewhat usable: while its power and range is obviously pitiful, it can attack incredibly quickly, enough to activate the Overdog skill for setups which have it and boost its damage on successive strikes to an impressive degree.
  • Project Zomboid: The main utility for pens and pencils scribble on the map and write in notebooks and sheets of papernote , although the game allows the player to wield normal everyday pens and pencils as melee weapons, which works about as well as you would expect against zombies: it only connects at grappling range, deals subpar damage, and it's pretty much guaranteed to break on the first stab.
  • Nogiku from Sengoku Rance uses a pen about the same size of a spear in battle.
  • Aluded to in Song of Horror. If you play as police officer René in chapter 3, he will mention when examining a mechanical pencil that in the past he was almost stabbed by a perp wielding one.
  • Splatoon, with its love of Art Attackers and Improbable Weapons, takes this to its logical conclusion: the Ballpoint Splatling, first introduced in Splatoon 2, turns the pen into a gun. More specifically, a gun of the Gatling Good variety, with the unique ability to switch between close- and long- range fire while shooting. Presumably, someone wanted to see what happens when you combine this trope with the other weapon that's mightier than the sword.
  • In Super Mario Sunshine, Shadow Mario carries a giant paintbrush that can be used to open portals and create monsters.
  • Beryl Benito, Tales of Hearts, has to get extra credit. Her Empathic Weapon is a massive paintbrush, taller than she is, which is waved at the enemy, applied to their faces, drawn magic circles with, or simply used as a heavy bludgeoning instrument. In a skit, she even declares that "They say 'the brush is mightier than the sword'!"
    • Shirley from Tales of Legendia uses feather pens as her weapons of choice, but lacks any artes that actually make direct use of them.

    Visual Novels 
  • Grisaia Series: Somewhat of a favored murder method of protagonist Yuuji, back when he was still a brainwashed child soldier/assassin of series villain Heath Oslo, in The Labyrinth of Grisaia. As bit of poetic revenge, it was Oslo himself that thaught Yuuji this, and this is exactly how Yuuji puts an end to him at the climax of The Eden of Grisaia.
  • Umineko: When They Cry:
  • The Great Ace Attorney: Resolve features a fountain pen as a key aspect of the mystery on how a victim came to be poisoned: namely, the killer emptied the pen, drew the poison up into the inkwell, then dropped the poison into the victim's drink.

  • Matt from The Dementia of Magic simply uses both: First he uses the quill to tickle Stephanie while she's casting, causing her to miscast, then exploits this opening to stab her.
  • A humorous example appears in Tiffany and Corey where Tiffany squirts ink from a fountain pen at a store clerk.
  • Unsounded: Sara stabs the soldier trying to rape her in the face with a pencil.
  • In Weak Hero, when it comes to a five-on-one fight against Jimmy Bae's gang, Gray starts it off with a bang by plucking the pen out of his pocket and stabbing Helmet through the hand with it. It traumatised Helmet so much that Gray clicking a pen later on causes him to freeze on the spot.

    Web Original 

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • According to one wartime reporter, pens are just sharp enough to pierce skin, but just dull enough to really freaking hurt.
  • The Super Maul can shoot pens through a soda can. It can be built from standard office supplies.
  • An Improvised Weapon technique taught to CIA agents during the Cold War involved a pencil jutting out from between the knuckles of a fist, rammed upward through the soft part of the jawbone into the brain.
  • Julius Caesar stabbed one of his assassins with his stylus (a pointy thing for writing on wax tablets) before dying.
  • It's no knife, but a fountain pen does have a blade-like writing tip. Get stabbed in a large vein or artery like the jugular and it can be deadly, no doubt, and that's not to mention the poisonous effects of ink on the body's cells.
  • Averting this trope is why patients in mental asylums are given chalk or crayons for writing and drawing instead of pens or pencils. Though many teachers and students know how a thrown chalk can hurt, chalk is not quite as potentially lethal.
  • Tactical pens sold by many self-defense websites are designed to be much more durable than a garden-variety ballpoint pen so they can be used more effectively as a stabbing weapon. They still write, though.
  • In Hull University, UK, a jealous student stabbed his female friend in the head, mouth and throat about 90 times with a pen as well as asphyxiated.
  • Any blunt, strong-built pen or marker, even if that pen is not a tactical pen, can be used as a Kubotan or Yawara stick.