Which Fictional Fighter Would Destroy All Others In A Sword Fight?

Voting Rules
Vote up the sword-wielding masters who would end a free-for-all standing tall.

Sword fights and epic blade duels have been a staple of fiction since the dawn of storytelling, and extreme skill with a sword has been used as a mark of fighting prowess across literature, films, comic books, and video games. Because of the lethal efficiency and theatrical showmanship associated with sword fights, fans have been presented with a wealth of iconic characters who live, thrive, and die by the edge of their blade and the strength of their steel.

From warrior ronin (like Samurai Jack or Beatrix Kiddo) wielding razor-sharp katanas, to knights and highlanders (such as Jaime Lannister or Connor MacLeod) swinging broadswords, to light-footed fencers (like Inigo Montoya or Zorro) slashing at foes with their rapiers, the most epic fictional sword fighters come from all backgrounds, cultures and fighting styles, each with their own strengths and weaknesses they would bring into a free-for-fall face-off. (Whether they're fighting fair - to their determinent, in some cases - is another matter.)

Here's a look at 20 of the greatest, most celebrated, and accomplished sword fighters of fiction, as well as an examination of their skills. Would Brienne of Tarth be able to hold off William Thatcher's flurry of blows in a tournament arena? Would Conan the Barbarian be able to use his strength to cut Jack Sparrow in half, or would the lucky pirate outwit and out-maneuver the hulking Cimmerian? Vote up the fictional swordsmen you think would win in a clash to the end using their respective blades of choice.

Photo: The Princess Bride / 20th Century Fox

  • 1
    9,957 VOTES
    Aragorn
    Photo: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King / New Line Cinema

    Reputation: Aragorn is one of the greatest and more revered swordsmen, rangers, and military minds of the Third Age in the Lord of the Rings saga. Eventually crowned King of Gondor, Aragorn is the wielder of the famous longsword Andúril, also known as the Flame of the West. You definitely develop an aura of power and authority when you have a sword with its own name.

    Signature Victory: Aragorn successfully leads the defense of the stronghold of Hornberg in Helm's Deep, alongside Legolas and Gimli, against the vast and menacing forces of Saruman's army.

    Biggest Weakness: Fear and insecurity. Aragorn comes from the lineage of Isildur, a ruler who fails to wipe out the One Ring after cutting it off Sauron's hand. Aragorn fears that he, too, will fail to act when it comes time to eliminate the ring because of his frail humanity.

    9,957 votes
  • 2
    9,340 VOTES
    Achilles
    Photo: Troy / Warner Bros.

    Reputation: Achilles is believed to be the greatest ancient warrior in all of Greek mythology, and this status is well-earned. Achilles - through the virtue of both his natural talent, his fearsome rage, and his magical (near-total) immortality - slays thousands during the clash at Troy and personally defeats some of the most legendary challengers of the age.

    Signature Victory: During the Trojan War, an enraged Achilles devastates the opposing army and forces them to retreat behind the walls of the city. Hector, the leader of the Trojan army, steps out from the city alone and duels Achilles, but fails to land a blow against the warrior and is ultimately slain.

    Biggest Weakness: They don't call it an Achilles' heel for nothing! When Achilles was a baby, his mother dipped him in the waters of the River Styx, making him invulnerable to swords, spears, and other tools across his entire body - except where his mom held him by his heels during the dipping process. So a well-placed shot (say, with a contaminated arrow perhaps) could easily be his undoing.

    9,340 votes
  • 3
    520 VOTES
    Geralt of Rivia
    Photo: The Witcher / Netflix

    Reputation: Geralt of Rivia's reputation precedes him - namely because of his friend and bard Jaskier, who would travel with Geralt on many of his adventures, and then write epic tunes recounting his bravery and strength for all who would listen. Add into the mix that Geralt is faster, stronger, and more deadly than most other remaining witchers, and the legend that's been built around him is considerable (although might fail to actually capture the true level of his badassery and abilities).

    Signature Victory: While Geralt has slain multi-legged swamp monsters, dragons, crypt demons, and every manner of creepy crawly, most of those battles are fought in secluded woods or crumbling chapels. However, there is no denying his skill with a blade when he hacks and slashes his way through Renfri's army of goons in Blaviken and battles Renfri to the death. Sure, the town attempts to stone him and he flees, but he only leaves because he would otherwise have to slaughter the entire town. He's saving them from himself, and they just don't realize it.

    Biggest Weakness: Unlike other witchers, Geralt has a heart. He's involved in a very complicated relationship with a powerful sorceress named Yennefer, who is the love of his life. Additionally, he takes the orphaned princess Ciri under his protection. These connections to the world, which most other witchers are without, gives his enemies leverage over him. However, when it comes to one-on-one combat, Geralt's weaknesses are minimal. Then again, to tap into his most fearsome powers, Geralt has to consume a number of magical potions and concoctions, meaning he doesn't have access to his full potential at all times.

    520 votes
  • Maximus Decimus Meridius
    Photo: Gladiator / DreamWorks Pictures

    Reputation: As the greatest Roman general under Emperor Marcus Aurelius, in the 2000 film Gladiator, Maximus leads the Roman legion in a clash against the hordes of Germania and establishes himself as a man worthy of taking on the role of Caesar. When he is eventually betrayed and escapes execution only to be conscripted into service as a gladiator, he rebuilds his reputation as the best of the best through his fierce skill with a sword, his keen strategic mind, and his mercy.

    Signature Victory: The most defining conflict of Maximus's career as a gladiator comes when he is forced to face off against the undefeated gladiatorial champion, Tigris of Gaul, who is brought out of retirement just in the hopes of slaying Maximus. Despite Tigris being stronger and having two tools, as well as Maximus being mauled by live tigers in the arena, Maximus still manages to gain the upper hand. But, when it comes time to execute Tigris, the former general refuses and thus earns his moniker Maximus the Merciful.

    Biggest Weakness: Maximus is a well-rounded and adept soldier in nearly every regard. He's level-headed and cooperative. His only real point of leverage is his drive for vengeance over the merciless offing of his wife and child. His anger can be manipulated, which also makes him reckless due to his willingness to perish and rejoin his family in the afterlife.

    6,862 votes
  • 5
    4,688 VOTES

    The Samurai

    The Samurai
    Photo: Yojimbo / Toho

    Reputation: As a wandering ronin, meaning a samurai who answers to no master and kills for hire, the hero of Yojimbo has no reputation that follows him - that's the way he lives his life. Although as soon as he pulls his katana, anyone who sees what happens next immediately appreciates his talents. While his true name is never revealed, he calls himself Sanjuro.

    Signature Victory: After dedicating himself to wiping out everyone belonging to two warring groups in a small Japanese village in 1860, Sanjuro manipulates both sides of the feud, escalating them in an effort to eradicate them all. Eventually, this leads to a showdown between Sanjuro and the henchmen working for syndicate boss Ushitora. Drawing his sword, Sanjuro mercilessly dispatches nearly a dozen foes in a matter of moments - including Ushitora's ruthless right-hand man, Unosuke, who is armed and still cannot stop the devastating wrath of the vengeful ronin. 

    Biggest Weakness: The wandering samurai has taken to drinking and finds himself emotionally isolated - which may be why he takes up the charge of seeing both groups wiped out, despite having no dog in the fight. He's not only a man without a master, but also without a cause until his code of honor is offended, and he's willing to put his life in jeopardy simply to achieve his goal. Today, this behavior might be seen as a troubling sign of mental illness or depression similar to Martin Riggs's lack of self-preservation in the Lethal Weapon franchise.

    4,688 votes
  • Sandor 'The Hound' Clegane
    Photo: Game of Thrones / HBO

    Reputation: Sandor Clegane is one of the most ferocious warriors in the Game of Thrones universe, recognized for his strength, skill, and voracious love of conflict. He's said to have slain his first opponent when he was only 12 years old, gutting an enemy soldier, and he pursues careers that would almost inevitably lead to him having to fight and kill. However, he has a strong sense of honor and justice.

    Signature Victory: The Hound's greatest victory comes at the cost of his own life when he faces off against his magically undead and gigantic brother, Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane. As they fight with swords, then grapple, Sandor loses both his eyes to The Mountain's famously vicious thumbs, but finally ends their life-long rivalry - and gets long-overdue justice for all The Mountain's victims - by pushing them both off the top of a tall tower, sending them to their mutual ends.

    Biggest Weakness: He's not a big fan of fire. It's hard to blame him, considering half his face was burned off by his brutish brother when they were small children, as Gregor got enraged that Sandor was playing with one of his toys. The scars lasted the rest of his life, as did his distaste for flames.

    5,999 votes