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"You're bringing knives out in a fight like this?"
Firo Prochainezo, Baccano

Knives are scary. A single glimmer from its profile has been known to launch a thousand screams of horror. They're eminently deadly, dangerously easy to use. Pulling one in a fistfight is, most of the time, a goddamn Game Breaker.

Not in fiction, though where they tend to be utter liabilities in a fistfight. In a Wire Fu movie, you should Never Bring a Knife to A Fist Fight, because Good Old Fisticuffs is king. Knives, guns, and any weapon that would give the wielder an advantage in a fight, especially if they're blood-spilling and are used against an unarmed opponent, have the reverse effect. They make it likelier that they'll never land a hit (Clothing Damage or minor cuts across the cheek or torso notwithstanding), and eventually get disarmed or forced to throw away their weapon.

In a good old-fashioned Western, any bounder who pulled a knife in a fistfight would get involved in a down-and-dirty rassle on the ground, then fall (or roll over) on his own blade. A descendant general rule of Hollywood remains that the first person to pull a knife almost always loses.

Much like all products of the Inverse Law of Utility and Lethality, this applies equally to Heroes and Villains, though villains are usually likelier to pack heat or hidden knives. If someone does get stabbed, shot, skewered, or otherwise hit with the blood-spilling weapon, it was Only a Flesh Wound (though regenerators are exempt). Often goes hand in hand with finding out that just like weapons, Armor Is Useless. One way to exploit this trope is to make an immobilizing Knife Outline, as the likelihood of fatally skewering someone becomes zero.

Oddly enough, a dramatic death where someone gets skewered or shot aren't subversions, since they rely on the unlikelihood of such weapons actually killing for their dramatic punch; plus, the person shot usually lasts long enough to deliver an inspiring Final Speech and turn out to be Not Quite Dead afterwards. Instantly fatal stabbings or headshots are subversions, though.

Note: This only applies to humans. In Speculative Fiction, you can skewer and dismember as many golems, undead, Mecha-Mooks or what have you as you damn well please.

See also: Guns Are Worthless, Armor Is Useless, Good Old Fisticuffs, Knife Outline,Could Have Been Messy, and Only a Flesh Wound. A subtrope of the Inverse Law of Utility and Lethality. Works where this is in play are anathema to the Knife Nut. Similar to Rock Beats Laser. Contrast Never Bring a Knife to A Gun Fight.

Examples of Never Bring a Knife to A Fist Fight include:

Anime & Manga

  • In Outlaw Star, resident ass-kickers Suzuka and Aisha seem to regularly wipe out rooms of gun-wielding foes with nothing more than a wooden sword and bare hands, respectively.
    • Aisha, at least, has the excuse of being a naturally bulletproof catgirl berserker.
  • One Piece has some fights when fist fighters defeat weapon users and viseversa. Zoro and Sanji constantly fight each other, but both of their skills and strengths are so equal that the fight quickly ends in a draw.
  • Most of the fights the protagonist of Vinland Saga loses are to unarmed opponents. Likewise his father was a master at this trope when fighting a horde of mooks, beating them all without drawing his sword.
  • Something like this was used in the first episode of Transformers Victory. Fist, Star Saber defeats two gun-wielding Decepticons using only a sword. Later, when the Dinoforce fights the Brainmasters, Goryu criticises one of his underlings for using a gun; said underling immediately switches to an axe.
  • In Ranma ½, every martial artist is skilled with numerous weapon styles, even those that fight barehanded. So, nobody berates the dedicated bladed-weapon users (Kodachi, Kuno, Mousse, Mint) for their choice... but their weapons never strike home anyway. Most Egregious of all is Mousse, whose typical assault consists of tossing various weapons (some blunt, but mostly piercing and slashing ones) from his sleeves and tie up his opponent in the ropes attached to them, instead of actually skewering anyone. But let him have a morningstar, a club, or even his own hands and feet, and he'll tear into a foe like it's nobody's business.
  • Subverted in Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu, when Sousuke is challenged to a duel by the karate club. Nobody thinks to tell him that things like guns, tear gas, and hand grenades aren't permitted. Hilarity Ensues
  • Used in Those Who Hunt Elves to show how serious the dark elf queen is. When squaring off against Junpei, she throws away her sword because it would just slow her down.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima, Ku Fei manages to defeat a number of armed opponents using only her martial arts skills.
  • Baccano, as quoted above. Firo doesn't even have to mess up his nifty new fedora while handing the knifer his ass.
    • Ironic, considering Firo later uses a knife to disarm (literally) and defeat the Big Bad.
  • A full chapter in Holyland (16, if you want to fast-forward) is devoted to demonstrating how to disarm a knife-user in a street fight.
    • What it amounts to is basically what was described in Burn Notice quote below - Izumi grabs the punk's knife arm and beats him senseless. Though the narrator also notes that, unlike what some self-defence books say, one should focus on hitting the enemy rather than obsess over wrestling the knife away. Chapter 34 also notes that opponents might steal weapons away from an inexperienced user and turn them against him.
  • In one of the murder cases in Detective Conan, it turns out the victim was actually attempting to assault the "culprit" with a knife. Said intended victim was actually a master of Brazilian Jiujutsu and reflexively reversed the attack. In other cases, threatening Ran Mouri/Rachel Moore with a weapon is a bit of a gamble depending on whether or not she remembers her black belt in karate.
    • Also, in the museum case, the victim was literally pinned to the wall with a sword.
    • In the Lupin III crossover, bumbling detective Kogoro Mouri is charged by a failed assassin with a knife- his response is to snort dismissively, tuck his hankie into a chest pocket, and then effortlessly judo throw the assailant to the ground.
  • An example of this trope happens early in Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple. A minor Ragnarok thug assaults Kenichi with a knife and he freaks out because bladed weapons are naturally intimidating. To help him overcome his fear, the masters have Shigure train him in armed combat... that is to say, she spends the whole day assaulting him with everything from rolled-up newspaers and spoons to actual weapons. Later Kenichi encounters the same thug, who draws the knife again... but Kenichi just laughs creepily and asks "What's that puny thing" and blames the thug for putting him through today's Training From Hell. Cue beatdown.
  • Subverted in Dragonball Z when Future Trunks shows up wielding a sword and effortlessly destroys Frieza and King Cold, as previously weapons proved rather useless in the series. Later played straight when Trunks gets beaten up and his sword broken by the androids.
    • Using a weapon in the Dragon Ball franchise as a whole doesn't make much of a difference, as the winner of a fight will usually be whoever is strongest or most skilled. Pretty much the only character whose fighting strength relies on a weapon is Yajirobe, and even then he's implied to be pretty tough on his own.


  • Depending on if he's fighting Faceless Goons or recurring villains, Wolverine can go from messily skewering everything that moves to barely managing to nick the bad guy's costume.
    • Particularly bad in the cartoons, because unless he's fighting a robot his entire battle strategy has to revolve around body checks.
  • Batman uses this a lot, since he often faces thugs armed with knives, but one particularly obvious example is the fight at the end of Mad Love, when a very enraged Joker attacks Batman, and seems to be giving him more trouble in a fistfight than he usually does... until he pulls out a knife, and Batman instantly knocks him off the train.
    • It's then averted in their final battle in Return of the Joker. The Joker actually manages to stab Batman in the leg; an injury that apparently (along with old age) forced Bruce Wayne to use a cane later in life.
      • In Batman's defense, he probably spent a very long time researching ways to take down armed opponents, since after his Continuity Reboot he's been solidly against any sort of lethal weaponry. When you're aware that you'll be spending the next few decades of your life using your bare hands against knives, guns, and lunatic clowns armed with either or both, you try your best to be ready for such.
    • He uses this so much that it's made into a gameplay mechanic in Batman: Arkham City: once you unlock Knife Counter Takedown, you can instantly defeat any mook that attacks you with one once you figure out the timing for it, including the armored ones.
  • Subverted in Sinister Dexter when a crime lord brings a nuclear warhead to a meeting, knowing it will end in a gunfight.
  • The Sin City one-shot Family Values showed Miho beating down a knife-wielding mob enforcer with kicks and flips. When she gets bored, she does eventually slice his throat with a shuriken and kick his head off.


  • The Charlie's Angels movies did away with the Angels' guns due to Drew Barrymore's personal beliefs. The Angels rely on Waif Fu against a number of enemies with guns, and rarely suffer more than a nick.
  • Averted in many Hong Kong action films, such as those of Jackie Chan, in which the heroes will often grab any damned thing within their reach to even the odds. Sometimes the power of guns over fisticuffs is upheld for dramatic scenes in which the hero is made helpless, such as in Rumble in The Bronx. In a behind-the-scenes feature of a Rush Hour film, Chan insists on re-choreographing a fight scene to focus more on the gun, which his character would have to deal with immediately, or he'd be dead.
  • In an early scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Butch's leadership of the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang is challenged by Harvey Logan. Logan produces a large knife; Butch tricks his dimwitted opponent into momentarily letting his guard down by discussing the "rules" for the fight, kicks him in the crotch, and knocks him out cold.
  • Escape from Alcatraz: Frank Morris asks how another con wound up in "The Rock":

 English: I was in a bar in Tennessee. Then these two dudes start hassling me. That was their first mistake. They pulled knifes. That was their second mistake. They didn't know how to use them. That was the last mistake they ever made.

  • During the alley fight in Sha Po Lang, Ma Kwan manages to beat the knife-wielding assassin Jack bloody with his steel baton, but is unable to finish him until Jack manages to strip him of his baton. When Jack attacks the unarmed Kwan, Kwan grabs his knife, twists it around, and guts Jack like a fish.
  • In the final battle in Fist of Legend, the Japanese Big Bad is losing the fight, then pulls a katana and gets his ass handed to him even worse. Finally Jet Li uses his belt to kill the villain with his own sword.
  • In Secondhand Lions, Uncle Hub gets in a squabble with a group of rowdy teenagers. After Hub fends off the their initial attacks, they fall back and pull out their pocket knives. At this point Hub scoffs at them and delivers a major beat down.
  • Or in Star Wars, never bring a blaster to a lightsaber fight.
    • Justified as the only way to block would be to be a magical wizard, or a cyborg with enhanced reflexes. Everybody else would most likely kill themselves with their own weapon if they used a lightsaber, and realistically, normal people can't block blaster shots. Even some Jedi can be taken down with enough concentrated fire.
      • Most Jedi, in fact, as it turns out.
    • Subverted in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Obi Wan and General Grievous both lost their lightsabers while fighting each other but Obi Wan managed to pry a chest plate off him while they were hand-to-hand. Grievous tries to throw him off a ledge, and after Obi Wan manages to hold on, picks up an electrostaff to finish him off, but Obi Wan used the Force to grab Grievous' blaster and shoot him in his exposed chest. However, he still regarded the weapon as "So uncivilized." right after his victory.
  • The So Bad It's Good action movie "Blood 'n Bone" has this in it's climax that after the Final Battle against a Professional Killer in hand to hand, he fights the Big Bad in front of the Bigger Bad, the Big Bad has a Katana and Bone had ... the sheath. He beat him, dropped the sheath, beat him some more, made him drop the Kantana, and then beat him some more, and then when nearly attacked lethally, picked up the Kantana he was given initially and chopped off the Big Bad's hand.
  • In Ip Man, Jin finds himself getting thrashed by Ip Man, so he gets his sword. It doesn't help him much. The films also avert it, however, as Ip has no qualms against using Improvised Weapons to even the odds.
  • In Road House, starring the late Patrick Swayze, Jimmy, The Dragon of the film, tries to kill Dalton with his gun, and fails.
  • Never bring a knife to a fistfight with Chuck Norris: he will boot it off your hand in a sec. This happens in Delta Force. In the sequel Delta Force 2 — The Colombian Connection, Norris's character kicks the knife from The Dragon. Twice
  • Averted in Kick-Ass when Dave tries to fistfight muggers and finds himself on the stabbing end of a knife.
    • Averted again later TWICE, although in both cases we just see the guy drawing his knife, but he doesn't get to use it.
  • Played straight in The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy where Jason Bourne's opponents are often the ones wielding knives and other deadly close-combat weapons. Bourne himself is never given the advantage of having a knife to use against his adversary. However Bourne, being the better fighter (as well as the main character and therefore having Contractual Immortality), is able to disarm and defeat them using his fists and any improvised weapon he can get his hands on, up to and including a bathroom.
    • Subverted in the first knife fight: his opponent's knife proves worthless, but then Bourne grabs a pen as an improvised shiv and ends up stabbing his opponent several times.
  • The katana vs. screwdriver fight in Serenity is something of a subversion. The Operative was winning before they drew weapons and he was still winning after they drew weapons--he only lost because he counted Mal out of the fight too early. The gun Mal pulled at the beginning was 100% straight, because the Operative has bulletproof armor.
  • Both used and averted in The Expendables. The team regularly uses pistols and melee weapons in CQC to devastating effect, but mooks who try to do the same don't fare nearly as well.
  • Played straight for the mooks in Taken. Completely subverted, however, in the last fight, where The Dragon manages to hurt Liam Neeson a few times with his knife before being defeated. In fact, a good portion of the fight deals with Liam Neeson trying to disarm the guy and stab him with his own weapon.
    • Neeson's character later wins by basically improvising his own knife out of a champagne bottle and using its superior range to bash and stab The Dragon.
  • Averted in The Kingdom. Action Girl Janet Mayes, played by Jennifer Garner, is only able to defeat a Giant Mook after stabbing him twice in the groin and chest, before finishing him off by stabbing him in the head.


  • Terry Pratchett regularly notes that a weapon you don't know how to use well is worse than no weapon at all, either because you're going to hurt yourself with it, or your opponent is going to take it from you, then hurt your self with it
  • The titular skeleton of Skulduggery Pleasant wields a gun (revolver, of course), although since many of his enemies are super powered monsters, it rarely does any true damage, so he uses fire magic instead. One particular exchange came in the second book of the series...

 Baron Vengeous: ...only a heathen would bring a gun to a sword fight.

Skulduggery: And only a moron would bring a sword to a gun fight.

  • In the Gaunt's Ghosts novel The Armour of Contempt, some Hauberkan soldiers try to attack Hark over his execution of their CO. One uses a knife but is quickly taken apart, while another one uses a chain fist to little better effect. Then again, Hark has an augmetic arm, so he's hardly baseline human himself.
  • This general idea is explicitly written into the Martian honor code in the John Carter of Mars books, albeit on a larger scale- if someone attacks you, you meet their attack with an equal or lesser weapon, so using a knife on someone who attacks you with his fists would be incredibly dishonorable (as would pulling a gun on someone who attacks with a blade). In the second book, a scene where Carter prepares to attack a Thern (White Martian) who'd been releasing deadly wildlife against him with his sword, and the Thern's response is to immediately go for his gun, is a major indicator as to what the Therns are like.
  • In Starfighters of Adumar, Wes Janson turns a blastsword duel into a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown by disarming his opponent. First, he blocks the incoming attack and proceeds to eventually knock the blastsword from his opponent's hand. Then, when the opponent goes for his knife, Wes proceeds to kick it out of his hand. Justified in that Wes Janson is well-schooled in hand-to-hand combat; the opponent is a noble who knows only the stylized form of blastsword dueling and nothing of real fighting techniques.

Live-Action TV

  • Averted in Smallville of all places, where Lois Lane is fighting a security guard - after a period of inconclusive barehanded fighting, the guard get mad, pulls out a knife, and succeeds in stabbing her.
  • Played pretty straight in Buffy the Vampire Slayer - although all sorts of fancy weapons crop up, it's pretty much expected for them to go flying and the fight to degenerate into gratuitous unarmed combat. This is probably for reasons of fight choreography.
    • It's also cheaper on the special effects department. Since nobody ever actually seems to bleed after getting the stuffing beaten out of them in most Joss Whedon shows, taking knives out of the equation means that the producers save a fortune in makeup and fake blood.
  • Entirely subverted in the Burn Notice episode "Old Friends": when an assassin pulls a knife on the unarmed Michael, none of the strikes land, but Michael's too busy trying not to get cut to do any real damage of his own, and promptly flees the scene when a second knife appears:

 Michael: The key to a good knife defense is to control the knife hand and strike with everything you've got. Fighting is often about tactical retreat--like running away from two knives.

  • In the final episode of Torchwood series 2, Ianto and Tosh run into three creepy religious fanatic types in medieval robes and scythes (not the smartest weapon in a confined space) and finish them off quite easily.

 Religious Fanatic Mooks: Devils, blasphemers, pray to your heathen God while in the Lord's name we cast you out.

[Tosh and Ianto shoot them]

Ianto: There we are then.

Tosh: Sorted.



  • A song by Stan Rogers, "Harris and the Mare", includes a fight between an unarmed man--formerly a conscientious objector--and a man with a knife. The man with the knife is winning until the unarmed man lashes out from the ground and the knife ends up in the knife wielder.

Tabletop Games

  • GURPS strikes a middle ground in averting this. A person with a weapon tends to have a great advantage in damage and range but skill is ultimately the factor of a match up (ties going to the one with a weapon).
  • Both averted and played straight in Warhammer 40000: it's fairly common for people with BFS 6-foot-long Chainswords to be torn limb from limb by someone else with their bare hands. Of course, that person's "bare hands" are often either wrapped in Power Armor or attached to a genetically modified killing machine or ridiculously agile or Nigh Invulnerable alien. In most cases, however, equally-powered fights will typically be decided by who has the biggest (or fastest-attacking) weapon.


  • A View from the Bridge is an old example: in the final scene, Eddie Carbone pulls a knife on Marco, and is pretty much instantly killed as the knife is turned against him. For some bizarre reason, only after he's been lethally wounded does his family step in...
  • Exception: In the play West Side Story the violence between the Jets and the Sharks becomes more horrific as it escalates from fistcuffs to knives to a gun, leading to the violent deaths of several major characters.
  • Jud in Oklahoma

Video games

  • Dark Types in Pokemon specialize in dirty tricks; they even have a move called Beat Up which lets every Pokemon on the team get in an attack. They are weak to Fighting Types. A special trait called Justified boosts some Pokemon's attack whenever they're hit with a Dark-type move.
  • Subverted in the Devil May Cry series: Although the second fight with Vergil in DMC3 starts with him using the Beowulf gauntlets and greaves, he pulls out his Yamato katana after he finds that having the hand-to-hand weapon isn't stopping Dante from kicking his ass. Beowulf (acquired after victory in said fight) and the Ifrit gauntlets in DMC1 are the strongest weapons damage-wise, but Dante never uses them in cutscenes, sticking to his sword(s).
    • Both Dante and Vergil can and are skewered by all manner of unpleasant edged objects without any lasting harm, may have something to do with this.
  • Subverted in just about every beat-em-up video game ever made. Most of the time it's fist-against-fist combat, but when an enemy shows up with a weapon, that enemy will, nine times out of ten, be much stronger than his companions. Bosses, likewise, are usually always armed. By the same token, disarming a foe and stealing their weapon will give you a massive advantage, until the thing falls apart.
    • This is doubly true in Lugaru: The Rabbit's Foot. While weapons are just about as deadly and easy to steal as in any other beat-em-up (when in use), if somebody's dumb enough to try and run away, an auto-aimed thrown knife landing in their back is always an instant kill.
      • Only in the demo of Lugaru. In the full game, wolves can survive impalement by a knife or, depending on the difficulty level, a sword. However, weapons remain easy to grab - in most fights involving only one sword, the two fighters will wrestle it out of each other's hands so often that battles have been known to end when one man dies of exhaustion.
      • True, but if you can knock over your opponent while there's a knife in them, ripping it out of their body while they're prone WILL kill absolutely anything, unless they pull it out themselves to fight you.
  • Blunty averted in Assassin's Creed, where switching to your fists in a sword fight is a quick way to an asskicking.
    • Yet somewhat plays straight if you switch to the hidden blade. Countering is slightly easier (but if you screw up the counter there's no blocking, naturally) and using the counter counts as a guaranteed one hit kill, rather than possibly shoving the enemy down.
      • Actually countering with the hidden blade, is the hardest counter to pull off. The BIG advantage is that enemies cannot break your defensive stance. As long as your timing is impeccable, any enemy attacking you is killed instantly.
      • But then, taking down an assassination target or high-level enemy soldier, who (usually) tend to be very difficult opponents, with such contemptuous ease is easily one of the most awesome things in the game.
    • Attacking single soldiers with your bare hands is actually pretty effective, as long as there's only one of them. It takes a little longer, but they can't parry, and its also quite humiliating.
    • Played straight in the sequel, where Ezio can counter-attack with his fists. Doing so causes him to steal the opponent's weapon and then turn it against them. In addition, fist attacks are never blocked by spear-weilding brutes, which are otherwise at least a mild pain in the ass. There's even a metal cestus you can buy that makes your fist fighting all the more effective.
    • Strangely subverted again in Revelations, where landing an unarmed 4 hit combo after dodging a Jannisary will take him out when it can take up to 3 normal combos to do the same.
  • Super Smash Bros has an Egregious subversion of this, intended or not; though Link isn't regarded as high tier, Marth and Meta Knight certainly are. Young/Toon Link has come under fire as a possible subversion of the trope too.
    • There's also the items, such as the beam sword and the laser gun, which can give an otherwise unarmed character an advantage in range and power.
    • Ganondorf has a sword, and even brings it to the battlefield, but never uses it outside of VictoryPoses (Melee) or taunts (Brawl). This aspect of the character is a significant source of Snark Bait.
  • In Grand Theft Auto IV, it is entirely too easy to disarm an opponent attacking you with a knife while you have nothing but your fists.
    • To be fair, though, Niko is a trained soldier, whereas most people he fights are decidedly not.
  • Averted in The Godfather: The Game. If one of the enemy gangsters about to attack you brings out a baseball bat, lead pipe or other melee weapon, you'd better switch to grabbing him and taking him out fast, because the hooks and jabs of the unarmed mobsters are relatively small fry compared to the beating you will receive from the weapon-user.
  • Ace Attorney example: Manny Coachen brought a knife to a surprise attack on a 72-year-old man and he still lost. Alba's a Badass Grandpa.
  • Subversion: In Call of Juarez, Juarez pulls out a knife after being beaten in a fistfight by Billy. He still loses, but only because Reverend Ray draws a gun and shoots him.
  • "Batman: Arkham Asylum" subverts this. Enemies with weapons are significantly more dangerous than unarmed enemies, and even require different dodging/countering tactics. If a mook finds a gun, you'd better make him your priority, or you will be one dead Bat.
    • Both played straight and subverted in Batman: Arkham City: enemies with stun batons still require you to hit them in the back and there's new shielded and armored enemies that require a specific method to damage them, but anyone wielding a knife can be defeated instantly with a specific counter attack as stated above and enemies with guns give you the option to quickly drop a smoke bomb when they spot you. Batman also has a special attack that destroys any weapons the targeted mook might be carrying so he or others can't pick it back up afterwards.
  • In Modern Warfare 2 General Shepherd defeats Soap when the latter tries to knife him.
  • Sam Fisher in Splinter Cell Conviction seems to love this trope when it comes to close combat situations.
    • To be specific, he defeats an officer attacking him with a knife, with the knife ending up being stabbed through the officer's hand.
    • Then there is this incident where another person attacks him with an American flag. The person ends up with a bit of flagpole in his shoulder.
    • Of course, he is not above shooting people in the head as part of his CQB regime.

Web Animation


  • Averted in the Order of the Stick prequel "On The Origin Of PCs" where we first meet Belkar as he sits in jail charged with fatally stabbing several people in a bar brawl. He argues that they shouldn't have brought fists to a knifefight.

 Warden: "It wasn't a knife fight until you started stabbing people!"

Belkar: "Exactly!"

  • Subverted in this comic.
  • Completely and utterly averted in Sluggy Freelance, at least whenever Oasis and Kusari around. They're almost never seen fighting without knives, small scythes, or other sharp implements in their hands, and their enemies usually have quite a few stab wounds when all's said and done.
  • Played with in Juathuur: both Bivv and Mijuu try to disarm Rowasu, the latter succeeding, but his use of a sword is actually a handicap. They both die soon after.

Web Original

  • Subverted in Survival of the Fittest, when Ric Chee and Bobby Jacks fight with Good Old Fisticuffs. When Bobby realises that, conversely to his expectations, he is getting beaten down mercilessly (by a guy with no combat expertise whatsoever) he pulls out a knife (well, scalpel) and immediately fatally stabs Ric.
  • In the brutal pilot of Cause of Death, the slob grabs a steak knife out of the kitchen drawer. The killer is not amused. Well... he's amused a little. And then he pulls out a granola bar, with deadly results. Yeah, you read that right.
  • Nyx Crossing, with Frank and the leader of the natives.

Western Animation

  • Big Bad Shredder of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had claws as part of his costume, yet he never really does much shredding with them.
    • In the cartoon, yes. But in the original comics he put them to good (read: bad) use.
  • Conan the Adventurer demonstrated what a poor blacksmith Conan's father was. Any edged weapon he forged from star metal turned out to be little more than a metal club. The only exception were Jasmine's throwing stars, which could cause Only a Flesh Wound.
  • One episode of The Boondocks features Soul Plane 2, a movie where terrorists take over a airline run by African Americans. One of the terrorists pulls out a knife in mid-flight and tries to announce his superiority...right before a half-dozen passengers tackle and beat him down.

Real Life

  • Generally averted in real life. Most self-defense classes you might take will urge you to find a weapon, even a rock or a car key, to use rather than your bare hands. In fact, most martial arts experts, like Bruce Lee's knife-expert friend and student, Dan Inosanto, say that it's virtually impossible for an unarmed person to beat a proficient knife-fighter(which is why they teach disarming so you are the one weilding the blade and the other person is left weaponless).
  • However, in some cases this might be Truth in Television, with some provisions for skill levels. Among the untrained, it's a good bet that a knife-wielder is going to attack with the knife and nothing else, making him more predictable; the knife acts as an attention-focuser. The unarmed one, however, lacks such predictability; he may use his fists, his feet, his elbows, knees, head, or entire body to attack. Of course, this helps only if you actually know what you're doing and they don't. Bruce Lee was in favor of this philosophy.
    • A proficient knife-fighter, on the other hand, will attack with the knife, as well as his other arm and legs, negating the only advantage the non-wielder has. This is one of the reasons even martial artists specializing in unarmed combat still prefer to use a weapon when one is available. Another reason is that frankly, one's default body is a rather crappy weapon compared to even the simplest of improvised clubs (clubs don't hurt you when you whack someone with them), down to and including a simple rock of the right proportions--unarmed techniques are usually taught for self defense either as a last resort, or when one is taken by surprise without a weapon in hand--in essence, for when there is no better option.
  • There are actually several martial arts that have moves specifically designed to disarm a weapon wielding opponent, however, they're often nowhere near as flashy as in fiction. They're normally simple, disarm the attacker as quickly as possible.
  • Real life: This guy brought a gun to a SNOWBALL FIGHT. Doesn't seem to have ended well for him either.
  • Lampshaded by Richard Pryor, who said every guy has to be "Macho Man! I'll take that knife and shove it up your ass!" but it doesn't take long for you to go from "Macho Man!" to "Dead Person!"
  • This neo-Nazi held up a black man at knifepoint. Too bad he didn't read the man's shirt, which said "Spokane Boxing Club Champion."