Carry a Big Stick

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Speaking softly is optional.

Bugs Bunny: (dressed as Teddy Roosevelt) I speak softly, but I carry a big stick!
Yosemite Sam: Oh yeah!? Well, I speak loud! And I carry a BIGGER stick!! And I use it too!


Perhaps the first weapon that humanity has mastered (besides his own two fists), the good old-fashioned club simply consists of picking up a stick (or bone) and whacking something with it. Though the quality of these clubs has advanced over time, ranging from big logs to metallic, spiked maces, the general principle of bashing something over the head remains. A sword might bounce off of heavy armor, but a well-designed bludgeoning tool will leave a sizeable dent and break any bones underneath.

Nowadays, maces and clubs tend to find use with two main groups of warriors; big, powerful bruisers like The Big Guy or the Mighty Glacier, or Technical Pacifist types like High Fantasy priests and clerics who want something to defend themselves with without shedding blood (though anyone who's seen one of these in action knows that these weapons, particularly the heavier ones, are just as capable as bladed weapons of leaving one hell of a bloody mess).

The hammer is probably the most popular form of bludgeon; see Drop the Hammer for examples of those. Also compare the more finesse-oriented Simple Staff and the improvised Batter Up for other types of clubbing weapons. For literal cases of a big stick, often used as a pole-arm, see Telephone Polearm. When the bludgeon is attached to a chain, it becomes Epic Flail. Putting a blade on the stick gives you, well, a Blade on a Stick.

Not to be confused with Gunboat Diplomacy, which is a metaphorical Big Stick.

Examples of Carry a Big Stick include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Blue Beetle: "I'm Paco. And I am going to hit you with this stick until you get the #@%$ off my planet."
  • Hogun is almost always armed with a spiked mace.

Film[edit | hide]

Literature[edit | hide]

  • In Lord of the Rings
    • Both Sauron and the Witch-King were fond of maces. The latter was upgraded to an Epic Flail for the film version.
    • "Grond", Morgoth's "Hammer of the Underworld" in JRR Tolkien's The Silmarillion is a mace in some adaptations, a hammer in others. (It is not to be confused with the giant wolf-shaped battering ram named after it that features in The Return of the King, despite equal massive smashiness.)
    • Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit got his epithet from the fact that in the Battle of Azanulbizar he dual-wielded his axe and a large oak branch to defend himself after his shield was destroyed.
  • In the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks and the RPGs based off them, monsters like Stone Golems and Crystal Warriors cannot be harmed by edged weapons and must be destroyed with maces or warhammers.
  • Sunflash the Mace in Redwall, as his name indicates. It's in fact a big branch he used as an Improvised Weapon and has stayed with him since. But as a friend points out, if he called it a mace instead, no one would argue the point.
  • Ma Jong in Judge Dee uses a club more often than his sword.
  • In P. G. Wodehouse's Psmith, Journalist, Psmith uses his walking stick to fend off a group of New York City thugs. When one of the thugs shouts, "He's got a big stick!" Psmith mutters to himself, "I am become Theodore Roosevelt."
  • The i said, i've got a big stick is one of The Culture's Cool Starships.
  • In The Hunger Games, Katniss describes a previous Games where the only weapons available were heavy spiked maces, so the remaining tributes were forced to bludgeon each other to death.

Mythology[edit | hide]

  • According to most Classical stories and vase paintings that involved him, this was Hercules' Weapon of Choice, making this trope Older Than Feudalism.
  • Rostam, hero of the Persian epic The Shahnameh, used a mace when he wasn't wrestling people to death. Most Persian heroes used maces, as far as that goes.
  • Ditto Russian Mythology and Tales. The Bogatyrs were famous for their maces. Here's a bit of Russian Humour about it: Ilya Muromets and D'Artagnan are going to fight. D'Artagnan takes a piece of chalk and draws a cross on Ilya's breastplate. "What is it for?" asks Ilya. "I shall pierce you with my rapier at this point!" answers D'Artagnan. "Alyosha, cover him whole with flour", says Ilya. "I'm going to fight with my mace".
  • Hanuman from the Indian version of Hindu Mythology uses a mace as his Weapon of Choice.

Tabletop RPG[edit | hide]

  • Dungeons & Dragons features maces and morningstars which are generally favored by the Cleric class; more dedicated warriors tend to prefer hammers as their choice of bludgeon.
    • A couple specific examples, The Ruby Rod of Asmodeus and the Wand of Orcus are two of the more powerful and feared weapons in the game's story.
  • As they don't have as much blood spilling around as swords, huage iron banded clubs are used by the Crab Clan against the monsters of the Shadowland in Legend of the Five Rings.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Golden Sun's maces can be wielded by three people: Isaac and Garet, both warrior types, and Mia, resident White Magician Girl and healer. In the sequel, Sheba (a Squishy Wizard) uses them. Staffs are used by Mia, Sheba, Ivan, and Jenna.
    • In Dark Dawn, maces are carried by men—Matthew and Tyrell (Isaac and Garet's suspiciously similar sons), Rief (Mia's suspiciously similar son), and Eoleo the pirate. Staffs can be used by Rief, Ivan's daughter Karis, Prince Amiti, and Himi.
  • Mountain Giants in Warcraft 3 can rip entire trees out of the ground and use them as clubs. Ogres also use maces and/or big wooden clubs, Faceless Ones use nasty-looking spiked maces.
  • In World of Warcraft one-handed maces (the weapon class which includes hammers) are often designed for healers, playing off the old equation of maces with priests. Although there remains no circumstance in the game beyond about level 10 where a priest could possibly ever want to actually hit someone (Self-Imposed Challenge Well...), since even if they have no mana left a wand is still more damaging. Rogues tend to actually use one-handed maces to hit people, as do some shamans and death knights.
    • Two-handed maces live on in with paladins and druids, warriors, and death knights who often use giant maces. Before some of the later Burning Crusade raids went live, this was considered one of the best weapons in the game for retribution paladins.
  • Arcanum, from the guys who brought us Fallout, has a variety of hammers and maces available. They had the special effect of dealing Fatigue damage, which meant that they could knock enemies unconscious and effectively drained Mana from mages. Oh, and they could also be used to open locked doors and chests without being damaged (Axes are another option for this).
  • The War Mace powerset in City of Heroes.
  • Dwarf Fortress features several varieties of mace and war hammer, which compared to slashing or piercing weapons trade a reduced One-Hit Kill probability for a better chance of causing knock-back; high-level mace- or hammerdwarves can launch enemies into nearby walls with enough force to reduce them to Ludicrous Gibs.
  • Rock from Soul Calibur has taken to using a mace in more recent games. Originally, he favored axes, but this got switched in later games to differentiate him from fellow axe-user Astaroth.
  • Pre-Dynasty Warriors 6 Diao Chan wielded a pair of clubs that started out looking like maracas and whose tips got larger and larger in more powerful iterations.
    • In almost all the games, Taishi Ci's weapons are two giant metal sticks.
  • In Final Fantasy VI, Umaro's weapon of choice is a massive club carved out of behemoth bone.
  • In the Baldur's Gate games, the Cleric class is only able to use bludgeoning weapons.
  • While the weapon Saix uses in the Kingdom Hearts series is referred to as a claymore, it's actually closer to a mace.
  • Age of Mythology has Hercules, wielding his trademark wooden club. The Cyclops and Mountain Giant myth units also wielded clubs. In The Titans we have the Atlantean Katapeltes infantry, who wields a mace.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, maces and warhammers are differentiated from other weapons; they do the most damage per strike but have the slowest swing speed. They also have the potential to circumvent a percentage of a foe's armor when struck.
  • In Mabinogi, among its blunt weapons (of note, Axes also count as blunt), something of note for taking this trope literally is called the Broad Stick. It's a stick. A broad one. And you hit things with it. That's about it, though to its credit, its very cheap to repair in a game of extremely expensive repair systems, and earlier on it can do significant damage.
  • In Armored Core V, you get the Mass Blade which is the mother of all big sticks. It's really a concrete pillar with some I-beams and a spiked wrecking ball stuck on one end and a few rocket boosters strapped on for good measure.
  • In RuneScape, Dungeoneering boss Rammernaut Hoskins is a huge, heavily armoured warrior that definately like this trope, requistioning first a "Big mace", takes it Up to Eleven by receiving a "Bigger mace",[1] and tries to take it Beyond the Impossible with "Biggest mace".[2]
  • Demon's Souls and Dark Souls have weapons that run the gamut from simple, small maces to very large hammers crafted from the setting's World Tree and another weapon that amounts to a severed teeth of an Everlasting Dragon. Some of the larger weapons are ornate and are used by "Holy" warriors, like Demon's Souls' Bramd and Dark Souls' Grant.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

Web Original[edit | hide]

Todd: Now, maybe it's just me, but if the club can't handle him right now, my only conclusion that they're using the wrong club. Now, *lifts a club* this is MY club. It is an authentic replica of a war club used in battle by ancient Greek soldiers, and trust me: It CAN handle you right now.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • The countries of the UK, as well as Australia, Canada, and the US all use "ceremonial maces" as symbols of power within parliament; the US version can even be symbolically brandished at Congresspersons who are disrupting the proceedings. It is, quite literally, the carrying of a big stick for the sake of speaking softly. Actually walloping an elected representative upside the head with it is depreciated these days, of course, but it has happened on occasion.
    • See also the traditional gavel (a tiny hammer) on every judge's desk. They don't actually use them except on TV, but it's there for the look of the thing.
  • King Henry VIII possessed the Holy Water Sprinkler, a combination mace and gun.
  • The British art of Singlestick (and a similar French Discipline called Canne De Combat) is what happens when the Big Stick is picked up by a swordsman. Lacking the round head of a standard club, the sticks are used more or less like blades to great effect.
    • Similarly, the art of Eskrima could roughly be described as Dual-Wielding singlesticks.
  • The Kanabō, also known as the Tetsubō, was a popular weapon in feudal Japan. It consisted of a long, heavy wooden stick—typically straight with an octagonal cross-section—covered with iron studs or spikes over at least half of its length. There was a kata (fighting technique) -- Kanabō-jutsu or Tetsubō-jutsu—specifically devoted to its use. Some later versions were completely clad in, or made entirely of, iron.
    • In Japanese folklore, it was the favoured weapon of the Oni. According to The Other Wiki, there is a saying in Japanese: "Like giving a kanabō to an oni" — which means to give an extra advantage to someone who already has the advantage (the strong made stronger).
  • The Flemish goedendag (good-day) combined Carry a Big Stick with Blade on a Stick. Essentially a very thick, iron-banded or studded pole topped with a spear point, the idea behind the goedendag was that you hauled a man off of his horse with the spear, and then bludgeoned him to death with the pole.
  • And then there is Chinese weapon know as the Wolf Tooth Club, which is in fact every bit as Badass as it sounds, with a pointy bit on one end and a head full of spikes on the other.
  1. Requested: Bigger mace - Fulfilled: Yes - Notes: The last mace which I could not even lift was like a one handed hammer to him. This calls for drastic measures.
  2. Requested: Biggest mace - Fulfilled: No - Notes: Any bigger and he'd have a balance problem. The last one is more then sufficient.