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Villain-Beating Artifact

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Tired of putting up with Ganon's repeated crimes, Link threw the book at him.

Whoa, not so fast there, sport! You can't go rushing out on your way to punch out Cthulhu. You see, the Big Bad is way too powerful for you to handle at your base power. You would be dealt a Curb-Stomp Battle in probably less than a second.

However, there is a way to defeat him. It doesn't just make the Big Bad easier to deal with, it's the only way to take him down. There is an artifact that has the ability to take him down, but it's able to be handled by anyone. It may be because the villain is an embodiment of evil and said artifact is made of enough goodness that it smites his evilness. It may be a Weapon of X-Slaying, where X is this particular villain. It may be because the object is an Amplifier Artifact that boosts the hero's power to match the villain's. It may be that the item is an Immortal Breaker weapon that can puncture the villain's otherwise-invulnerability. In that case, it's best to be careful with it so that it does not fall into the villain's hands.

Subtrope of Plot Coupon That Does Something. Sister Trope to Sword of Plot Advancement.


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  • Omen III: The Final Conflict. Damien Thorne, the Antichrist, can only be killed by one of the Seven Daggers of Megiddo.
  • Hellbound: Subverted, with an attempt to kill the demonic villain with one of the sacred knives that originally bound him inside a coffin proving useless, as he's impervious even to those.
  • Wonder Woman (2017): On the hidden island of Themyscira, the Amazons have been guarding an ancient sword known as the God-Killer. It's the only weapon capable of killing Ares, the evil deity responsible for spreading death and destruction among humans and the one who wiped out the rest of the Greek pantheon when they wouldn't side with him. Subverted when Ares reveals it to simply be an ordinary blade. The actual God-Killer is Wonder Woman herself, who is Ares' sister through their father Zeus. Gods can only be killed by other gods.

  • His Dark Materials has what is a subversion of this. The subtle knife is claimed more than once to be the only weapon capable of killing God (the supposed Big Bad of the series, even though he is really just an impostor), and its owner is urged to take it to the guy opposing God so he can win the war. Then the so-called God turns out to be too old and senile to be the Big Bad, and simply dies of old age.
  • Gardner F. Fox's "Niall of the Far Travels" short story "Out of the Eons". Ages ago Adonair, an evil deity from another universe, tried to conquer the world and enslave humanity. The native gods could not destroy him but managed to trap him. At the beginning of the story Niall accidentally frees him. The only way to destroy Adonair is for Niall to drink a special white liquid (that was created by the gods at the same time as they originally trapped Adonair) and trick Adonair into possessing his body.
  • Double subverted by Mistborn: the Final Empire. The magic system revolves around metals, of which ten are known to bestow powers. Kelsier spreads rumors of an Eleventh Metal that has the power to defeat the Lord Ruler, but when Vin tries to use it, all it does is show her intangible images of who people used to be. And then the second time she uses it, she realizes that the Lord Ruler isn't who everyone thought he was and uses this knowledge to relieve him of his Immortality Inducer. No Immortal Inertia Ensues.
  • The Sword of Shannara has the Big Bad defeated this way, it turns out he had been dead for some time before the book began, reanimated by magic and collective fear.

    Live Action TV 
  • Supernatural
    • A special Colt gun and bullets, made by Samuel Colt himself, can be used to kill practically anything - but not Lucifer. The gun goes missing for several seasons, before it is eventually destroyed by the demon Dagon.
    • There's a special dagger which is used to kill demons (and the human they possess at the time). Regular daggers don't kill demons, just the host body. It's later revealed to be an ancient demon killing weapon made by the Kurds, but that's all the explanation it gets.
    • In one episode the Monster of the Week is a dragon. As Sam & Dean learn, the only way to kill a dragon is with a sword forged with the blood of a dragon. Dean points out the anomaly: "So you need one [sword] to kill one [dragon], but you got to kill one [dragon] to make one [sword]. How does that work out?"
    • A Leviathan can only be killed with a bone-knife forged through a complex ritual that takes much of season 7 to complete. Morever, It Only Works Once, so the Winchesters decide to save it to target their leader and deal with the rest later.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer had some of these-such as the Hammer of Olaf the Troll, used to whomp Glory down to size, an ancient scythe that kills the otherwise invulnerable Caleb.
  • Subverted in the Doctor Who episode "Last of the Time Lords". The episode features Martha Jones spending a year trying to locate a weapon divided into four parts that can defeat the Master, only to reveal at the very end that the Villain-Beating Artifact was a ruse to distract him from Martha's real goal.
  • Once Upon a Time has a twist on this trope. The only way to bring down the Big Bad is to steal his dagger, but then you become the villain yourself, if you kill him. You can also control the Dark One with the dagger, which the Duke chose to do and Rumplestiltskin obviously didn't.
  • In the first season of Legend Of The Seeker, the three Boxes of Orden are treated this way, although it's pointed out that simply killing Darken Rahl will do the trick (although, he's a master swordsman and can Flash Step). Putting the three boxes together allows the person to More Than Mind Control anyone around them, including Rahl himself. However, the power is too seductive and quickly corrupts the user. Richard eventually realizes that the power of Orden must be tempered by a Confession. At the end of the first season, Rahl is defeated by the power of Orden, but not in the way everyone assumed. He tries to interrupt the ritual by thrusting Richard's Sword of Truth between the boxes to split them. The resulting reaction destroys his body, along with the boxes, while also opening a rift into the Underworld.
    • The second season features the Stone of Tears, the only artifact capable of defeating the Keeper, sealing him back in the Underworld. In the Grand Finale, the Keeper appears to win by taking the Stone and returning to the Underworld, but Kahlan's tear is turned into another Stone, which is used to defeat the Keeper.
  • Madan Senki Ryukendo: The Kanon of Light states that only the three Ultimate Keys are a match for DaiMaOh Grenghost.

    Video Games 
  • In most games in the Zelda series Link needs the Master Sword to defeat Ganon. This is because it was Forged by the Gods and has a special evil-destroying attribute. In the Capcom games, the Four Sword serves the same purpose, with its target being Vaati (except in The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures where Vaati was Hijacked by Ganon). Likewise, the Phantom Sword in Phantom Hourglass is needed to defeat Bellum.
    • Also from Zelda, the Silver Arrows (at least in A Link to the Past).
      • The Silver Arrows become the Light Arrows in Ocarina of Time, Phantom Hourglass, Twilight Princess, and Spirit Tracks.
    • In Link: Faces of Evil, as shown in the page image, Ganon can only be defeated by throwing the Book of Koridai at him.
  • The Three Sacred Treasures in Kid Icarus and Kid Icarus: Uprising are needed to defeat Medusa. Pit later tries to use them to kill Hades in Uprising, but Hades blasts them into nothingness. Pit then went to Dyntos to receive the Great Sacred Treasure, which fared much better, but it also got destroyed, but Pit and Palutena manage to kill Hades by using the Great Sacred Treasure's Wave Motion Gun on him, powered with Palutena's power.
  • The Fire Emblem series often uses this trope. Sometimes the artifact is the titular Fire Emblem, sometimes it isn't.
    • The first game has two. The Falchion is humanity's main hope against the dragon Medeus, but this is averted in a gameplay sense: which the Falchion makes the Final Boss a lot easier, it's still possible to Cherry Tap him to death without it, and depending on how whether you managed to get the other Villain-Beating Artifact or not, you might have to. Said other artifact is the Starlight spell, which is the only thing capable of damaging Gharnef... who holds the Falchion in the first place. (Interestingly, Gharnef keeps it not to protect his master, but so he can one day become The Starscream)
    • Fire Emblem Gaiden has its own Falchion, which is the only thing (besides a Cleric's Nosferatu spell, but that may have been a bug in the original game) that can finish off Duma.
    • Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem has both Falchion and Starlight return, but also adds the Binding Shield, a.k.a the Fire Emblem itself, which can seal away Earth Dragons once all its Spheres are returned. One of those, the Lightsphere, is one of these in its own right, as it's the only thing that can nullify the protection of Hardin's Darksphere.
    • Geneology Of The Holy War has the Naga spell in the same role as the Falchion from Marth's games: it's treated as one in-universe, but gameplay-wise isn't necessary for the Final Boss. (Good luck beating him without it, though)
    • Fire Emblem Jugdral Thracia 776]] has the Braggi Sword, the only sword able to damage Raydrik through the protection of his Lopt Sword. Unlike past examples, multiple characters can use this one.
    • Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade has the titular Binding Blade, which can seal away dragons. In a twist on this trope, it's important because it's the one sword capable of not killing the Final Boss, instead giving her a Non-Lethal K.O.. As she's a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds who isn't even fully aware of what she's doing, Roy wants to spare her so she can live a normal life.
    • Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones has the... well, guess. They're the one power capable of opposing the Demon King once he breaks out of his can (which was one of the stones to begin with), but by the time the heroes realize they're that important, three out of five are destroyed. They get one of the remaining two hoping to use it as this trope, but the Demon King's vessel manages to destroy it too. Fortunately, they try again with the last once and succeed this time.
    • Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance has Ragnell, the only weapon capable of piercing the Black Knight and Ashnard's Goddess-blessed armor. The sequel reveals that the goddesses have the power to turn any weapon into one of these, and Yune ends up powering up your whole party's mundane weapons so they can damage the Final Boss.
    • Fire Emblem Awakening subverts this with the Falchion (yes, it's the same one from Marth's games). While it's capable of dealing with the Fell Dragon Grima, it can only seal him away for 1000 years, which just turns the conflict into Someone Else's Problem. There's one way to kill Grima for good, and it doesn't involve one of these: the Avatar has to perform a Heroic Sacrifice, as they are technically Grima. The Fire Emblem (also the same one from Marth's games) serves as a combination of this and an in-story Double Unlock: it's required to perform the Awakening ritual needed to power up the Falchion to become this trope.
    • Fire Emblem Fates has the Yato, which when powered up by all 4 royal weapons becomes the Omega Yato, capable of killing a dragon with godlike powers. In a first for the series, the Sword of Plot Advancement is the Fire Emblem this time.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog games have traditionally ended with Sonic (and sometimes whatever ally he has at the time) using the Chaos Emeralds to go super, since the Final Boss would be too powerful otherwise, and much of the time, they're out in space or otherwise flying, which Sonic can't do on his own. Though, he does later prove he can take down Perfect Chaos, the former Final Boss of Sonic Adventure, in Sonic Generations without the Chaos Emeralds, or at least he has grown much in strength since then.
    • Sonic and the Secret Rings had the World Rings, which Sonic uses to turn into Darkspine Sonic and defeat Alf Layla wa-Layla, the One-Winged Angel form of Erazor Djinn. In Sonic and the Black Knight, this happens in two forms: first using the Sacred Swords (Lancelot's Arondight, Gawain's Galatine, Percival's Laevatein, and Sonic's own Caliburn) in order to defeat King Arthur, and then using Excalibur, a sword formed from all four swords combined, to become Excalibur Sonic and defeat the Dark Queen, the One-Winged Angel form of Merlina the Wizard.
    • Sonic Rush Series had Blaze using the Sol Emeralds to become Burning Blaze, while Sonic used the Chaos Emeralds to become Super Sonic as usual.
  • In Neverwinter Nights 2, The Silver Sword of Gith is the only weapon capable of harming the King of Shadows. Unfortunately, it was broken into several shards the last time it was used, and your character isn't the only person interested in collecting them.
  • One quest in Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura requires you to find a specific dagger so that you can kill a wizard whose soul is bound to a demon. Killing the wizard with any other weapon will release the demon into the world. Also, the final boss can only be killed with one of two items, the Vendigroth Device or Kryggird's Falchion.
  • In the God of War series, the power contained within Pandora's Box is the only thing capable of killing a god. Kratos spends the first game trying to find and open the box so that he can defeat Ares. In God of War III he needs to open it again in order to defeat Zeus... or so he's led to believe, as the box is, in fact, still empty since the last time he opened it.
  • The original version of Doom 3 requires that the player use the Soul Cube (which they get early on) to take care of the Cyberdemon, the final boss of the game. The other, smaller demons, however, weren't limited to such a weakness, not to mention the fact that the Soul Cube uses the souls of fallen enemies to power it up enough to take on the Cyberdemon. This is subverted both in later patches of single-player mode and in co-op mode.
  • Warcraft III: Not a specific weapon, but a damage type. Divine armor is only affected by Chaos damage, which is mostly reserved for the Legions of Hell or extremely strong monsters. In order to defeat the otherwise invulnerable demigod Cenarius, Grom Hellscream's orcs reactivate a demonic pact, allowing them to defeat him (by giving them Chaos damage).
    • Also, Illidan devours the Skull of Guldan which the Legion was using to spread corruption throughout the Night Elves' forests. This transforms him into a half-demon, and gives him the ability to defeat the demon Tichondrius.
    • Prince Arthas is told that, in order to defeat the dreadlord Mal'Ganis, he must find the legendary sword called Frostmourne. After finding it, Arthas confronts Mal'Ganis. Mal'Ganis laughs and tells him that he fell right into their trap, as the sword has now consumed Arthas's soul. However, while that is true, Arthas's true master is the Lich King, who appears to serve the Burning Legion but has his own goals. He commands Arthas to slay Mal'Ganis, which he does.
  • In Chrono Cross, you can kill the Time Devourer just using force, but using that method, it's able to come back. The only way to kill it permanently is using the Chrono Cross.
  • Distilled down to its essence in Grow RPG: in addition to the best sword and armor, you've got to have the special blue orb that knocks the Big Bad's health meter down to where you can actually trade hits with it. (It may not be possible to reach the Big Bad without it, though.)
  • The sword Dragonslayer in Breath of Fire IV is the only means of killing a dragon (which are beings akin to gods in the game's setting). It is used in this capacity twice; in a failed attempt to assassinate Fou-Lu by Soniel, and to Mercy Kill Elina when the extent of Yuna's experiments on her become known.
  • In Baldur's Gate II the Unseeing Eye is advertised this way, and you're told that you'll require a special rod of destruction to be able to defeat him. In actuality it's much easier (though less profitable) to simply start killing his followers until he appears, as he's a fairly standard mage with a few more hit points than normal, and less dangerous than the beholders you'll need to kill to retrieve the rod.
  • In Colobot, the Phazer Shooter is the only shooter-type bot that can harm the alien queen. And to acquire it, you first need to collect 4 keys that can open the vault in which the bot is locked.

    Western Animation 
  • In Samurai Jack, the title character's sword is the only weapon capable of taking out Aku, since the sword was forged out of goodness.
  • The Elements of Harmony in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, wielded by the "mane six", were needed to take down two villains: Nightmare Moon and Discord. Celestia suggested that they use it on Queen Chrysalis, but they never get the chance to use it due to being captured before that can happen. In the premiere of Season 4, the Mane Six return the Elements to the Tree of Harmony to save it, meaning they no longer have any villain beating artifacts.
    • At the finale of season 4, there seems to be a new one: the box spawned by the tree contains a new power for them.
    • The Season 3 premiere introduces the Crystal Heart, seemingly the foreign equivalent to the Equestria-based Elements. Sorcerous Overlord King Sombra hid it instead of just destroying it, because: (1) he implicitly wanted to convert it into an Artifact of Doom for himself, and (2) he explicitly needed it to shield the Crystal Empire from the Frozen North's extreme weather.
  • In Adventure Time, Billy's gauntlet has the power to seal the Lich. The Lich destroys it before Finn can use it against him, and Finn ends up using the Power Of Liking Someone A Lot to destroy his physical form.
  • In Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, the gang eventually learn that they need to find the Heart of the Jaguar to destroy the evil Annuaki sealed in the Crystal Sarcophagus. In the final episode, it's subverted in a Magic Feather way. The true "Heart of the Jaguar" isn't the crystal spearhead (which was shattered earlier), it's The Power of Friendship that binds the gang together. The gang work together to defeat the entity, with Scooby using the spearshaft to shatter the sarcophagus.