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The Pin Is Mightier Than the Sword

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For some reason, it's common for badges to be depicted as either giving special abilities to or augmenting the special abilities of the wearer. This could be rooted in the fact that military officers and the like wear them as symbols of authority. Authority is by no means necessary to use these babies, however.

This trope is common in RPGs, where they will be collected as equipment.

Subtrope of Clothes Make the Superman.

Has nothing to do with using sewing needles, tacks, pushpins, or the like as weapons. Also has nothing to do with The Pen Is Mightier.


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     Anime & Manga 
  • In Bleach, Ichigo has a badge that can, among other things, detach his soul from his body.
  • In GoLion / Voltron, the keys to the lions hide themselves as pins.
  • In Sailor Moon, the main character has a brooch which serves as both a Transformation Trinket and a holder for her Power Crystal. Chibi-Chibi also gets one later on.

  • In Outcast, membership in the academy's student council is denoted by a golden arrow pin. Student council members are never seen without them, and Tino later learns that the pins serve as Amplifier Artifacts that enhance the wearer's natural aptitude and skills to superhuman levels. Ivan's strength is boosted to the point that he can bend steel with his bare hands, Arthur's sensitivity to supernatural phenomena is buffed to the point where he can contact the dead, and Ludwig's memory for details and data becomes nigh-eidetic.

  • E.E. "Doc" Smith's Lensman series. The Lens, which is the badge of the Lensmen of the Galactic Patrol, gives the wearer a variety of useful mental powers, including language translation. It will also kill anyone who touches it other than its owner.

     Tabletop Games  
  • Dungeons & Dragons has a handful of magical pins/periapts/scarabs/brooches, starting with 'brooch of shielding' which protects against Magic Missile and 'scarab of protection' which before D&D3 gave a saving throw against spells normally not allowing it, in later versions gives spell resistance and absorbs a number of lifeforce-draining or death attacks.
  • Forgotten Realms Harper pins (AD&D2 The Code of the Harpers / D&D3 Magic of Faerûn) give their wearers a bonus against mind-affecting effects, immunity to detection spells/psionics, Magic Missile and electricity/lightning attacks. They also blacken and start to jangle if worn by an evil being.

     Video Games  
  • Bionic Commando Rearmed: Played with. Two of the bosses are war veterans with such a ridiculous amount of medals pinned to their chests, that they can stoically No-Sell bullets, lasers, and rockets alike. A grenade lobbed over their heads, though.
  • Bug Fables uses a variant directly adapted from that of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, whose mechanics it's heavily inspired by. Badges are given as a reward for successful quests; depending on the specific badge's power, they can be equipped to either the whole team or a specific member. The party has a limited number of points that can be spent on badges, with more powerful ones costing more points, which can be increased through leveling up. Badge effects include giving a team member poisoned attacks, extra health or an additional special move, making it easier to flee battle, and letting the team regenerate some health after every battle.
  • Epic Battle Fantasy: In the fourth and fifth installments, some of the stat-boosting or ability-granting pieces of flair are badges.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance: Certain characters wear a ribbon (the military style, with a badge) that makes them exempt from all laws.
  • Hollow Knight: These are called "charms", but their function is largely the same. Their functions are varied, and include making you immune to knockback, providing you with allied creatures that gather currency dropped by defeated foes or attack enemies, and making thorny vines shoot from your body when you're damaged. Only a certain amount can be equipped at a time, and upgrades are necessary to be able to wear more charms.
  • Mario: In the RPGs, badges affect stats and sometimes have more interesting effects:
    • In Paper Mario 64 and its sequel, these are Mario's sole form of equipment, and do anything from giving the player extra information, to giving Mario extra moves, to giving already existing functions more effectiveness, to boosting Mario's stats when low on health. They're stat-boosting accessories in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga and Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time.
    • In contrast, Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story and Mario & Luigi: Dream Team turns it into a sort of Limit Break instead where an in-battle badge meter can be filled up with successful attacks; the exact advantage given is determined by Mario's badge, while the rate and requirements for filling the meter up are determined by Luigi's badge. The effects range from healing the bros., to a defensive buff, to affecting enemies with bad status effects.
  • Mother: One of the earliest really useful special items you get is the Franklin Badge, which reflects electrical attacks. It should be noted that in EarthBound Beginnings, the Franklin Badge only reflected PK Beam Gamma, which was a one hit KO.
  • Pokémon: Badges obtained by defeating gym leaders allow the player character's traded Pokémon to listen to them instead of ignoring orders. In early games, badges permanently gave a boost to a Pokemon's stats in battle.
  • Psychonauts:
    • Merit badges represent mastery in various Psychic Powers. However, in most cases, Razputin can't use the relevant techniques at all until he earns the badge, at which point he becomes an Instant Expert in their execution.
    • Psychonauts 2 introduces a system of applying pins to three available slots to modify specific psychic powers. Some are for aesthetics, like adding a rainbow flourish to telekinetic punches or changing the color of the levitation bubble, while others modify power mechanics like pyrokinesis making certain enemies explode when it kills them. Others still are for fun novelty uses, like using telekinesis to pet animals.
  • The Sims 2: Expansion packs don't add new skills (such as crafting, gardening and fishing) but use "talent badges" instead. Averted in the sequels where most of these are converted into skills.
  • The World Ends with You is built around this trope; every "player" in the "game" the protagonists are trapped in gains Psychic Powers from one. Neku, the Player Character, is unique in that he can use more than one (thus he can use pins in a Powers as Programs style). Oh, and the Big Bad's Evil Plan is to use modified pins to wire everyone up to a Hive Mind. Neku's power makes him the best hope the Mysterious Backer has of countering it.
  • World of Warcraft: Many of the trinkets fall into this category, although it's hard to tell with some of them because their names are so vague.

     Western Animation  

Alternative Title(s): The Pin Is Mightier