Sword fights have long been the highlight of action movies and TV shows. The thrill of excitement you get from the CLANG of steel on steel or the spurt of blood after a limb is severed is something you just can’t get from simple barehand brawling.
From samurais and Spartan warriors to Jedi masters and Vikings, we face off the 30 mightiest fictional sword-fighting legends to ever grace the screen.
1. The Last Kingdom (BBC/Netflix)
Set in the 9th century, the separate kingdoms which once made up England have fallen to the invading Vikings. Only the great Kingdom of Wessex – the last kingdom – stands defiant under its visionary King Alfred the Great.
Against this turbulent backdrop, Uhtred, who loses his Saxon father in battle, is kidnapped by the Vikings and raised as one of their own. Forced to choose between the country of his birth and the people of his upbringing, his loyalties are ever tested, is he Saxon or Viking?See also: Best 32 Medieval TV Shows You Should Watch
William Wallace is a Scottish rebel who leads an uprising against the cruel English ruler Edward the Longshanks, who wishes to inherit the crown of Scotland for himself. When he was a young boy, William Wallace’s father and brother, along with many others, lost their lives trying to free Scotland.
Once he loses another of his loved ones, William Wallace begins his long quest to make Scotland free once and for all, along with the assistance of Robert the Bruce.
William Wallace, as Mel Gibson portrays him in one of the best medieval movies ever, uses his sword skills to slay his enemies in a very vengeful and savage way.
3. The Three Musketeers (BBC)
The successful epic action series that brings an up-to-date and innovative version of the classic novel. The events take place in 17th-century Paris, where law and order are more fantasy than reality.
The Three Musketeers are much more than a loyal guard of King Louis XIII. Together, the elite team of well-trained swordsmen fights with devotion, honor, justice, and love and also for the sake of excitement alone.
Nameless is ostensibly a minor official who claims to have vanquished three assassins—Broken Sword, Flying Snow, and Long Sky—who wanted to kill the King before he could declare himself Emperor.
Nameless is a sword and sorcery movie characterized by combatants doing acrobatics and clashing their weapons. As with any Chinese martial arts movie, the abilities of the warriors are supernatural. Hence, Nameless sword skills are pretty magical.
5. Mulan (2020)
Mulan is a formidable fighter with military training. She relies on her military apparatus, her sword, armor, or even powder. Mulan is a brave and determined sword-wielding woman. She took on Khan all by herself, but there’s no way she could compete with a level of sword-fighting legends.
6. Xena the Warrior Princess
Admittedly there’s a magical component, and unrealistic, in Xena’s sword fighting. Xena the Warrior Princess IS the daughter of Ares, the God of War. She relies on speed, and combat skills. She’s can jump to extreme heights and she’s strong and big.
When Xena draws her sword from her back her motion is always a little clumsy, not the kind of smoothness a real fighter would want—and that’s with a sword that’s a little shorter than many knightly swords.
7. Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman’s sword was blessed by Skyfather, and only the worthy could wield it with expertise. One thing that makes the DC’s Justice League member’s sword superior is that it was hammered so sharp, that it can cut through Kryptonians.
That’s why her sword seems magical and works against virtually anybody, it ignores durability. Her sword, along with the rest of her equipment, seems far stronger than naturally occurring metals.
8. Game of Thrones
Ser Brienne of Tarth is a knight of House Tarth. She was knighted by Ser Jaime Lannister. She is the first woman of the Seven Kingdoms to become a knight. Brienne is unusually tall and muscular for a woman by Westeros standards. She developed a taste for martial activity in childhood.
She was able to beat the Hound in combat, by pushing him down a cliff. Brienne participated in The Battle of Winterfell. It was the final battle of the Great War between alliances of living armies, against the army of the dead. And thanks to her amazing skills at arms, survived it.
Following the death of Daenerys Targaryen, Brienne is appointed the new Lady Commander of the Kingsguard.
Connor MacLeod, aka The Highlander, is a powerful Immortal, who was born in A.D. 1518 in Glenfinnan, Scotland. He was mentored by Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez, an ancient immortal of Egyptian origin, who taught him the ways of the sword and the rules of the game of immortals.
Connor eventually won the Prize in The Gathering of 1985 after beheading the most dreaded immortal opponent ever – the Kurgan. He defended the title again in 2024.
10. Game Of Thrones (HBO)
The Night King is the master of the White Walkers, having existed since the age of the First Men, and also the supreme leader of the Army of the Dead. He is nothing more than an emotionless killer, with his only goal to kill all in his path and add to his army, practically being the ultimate embodiment of death.
The Night King possesses a number of supernatural powers, such as the ability to freeze anywhere he goes and anything he touches. He can turn male human babies into White Walkers by pressing the tip of his finger to the baby’s cheek and raise and reanimate unburnt corpses as undead wights.
He is immune to fire and has a weather manipulation power that allows him to create massive blizzards. His weapon of choice is the Ice Blade.
11. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
Trained by Jade Fox in the Wudang martial arts techniques and has been secretly reading the Wudang manual behind her illiterate master’s back to the point that she surpassed her fighting skills. Jen Yu’s stubborn and fearless nature, as well as her obvious leaning toward the dark side, makes her a dreadful warrior but also leads to a tragic end.
12. Kill Bill
AKA “The Bride” and “Black Mamba”, Kiddo uses every skill she learned under the cruel tutelage of the legendary martial arts master Pai Mei to kill the assassination team members one by one and slay any of their subordinates who stands in her way. Armed with a sword crafted especially for her by the famous swordsmith Hattori Hanzō, she cuts through an army of Yakuza fighters, some of the world’s top assassins, and whatnot.
The Bride was trained in some of the secrets and deadliest blows in all of the martial arts, including the Three Inch Punch, the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique and she can pluck an eyeball out of its socket. Combined with her ability to force her body to recover from injuries and her exceptional determination Kiddo makes an unbeatable warrior.
13. Star Wars
We admit, adding the master Jedi from Star Wars to a sword fighter list is pretty silly, I know. Swordfight choreography in Star Wars is at best impractical. If you are looking for realism in a fight between people who carry lightsabers and can push tons telekinetically, you came to the wrong list.
Obi managed to fight Anakin to a stalemate until the very end basically because he is a more skilled lightsaber duelist than his student. Most likely he practices the Chinese sword styles (Wudang and Taijijian).
He is a lightsaber defense god. When he is in win condition, he uses long stalls to make wear off his opponent’s energies. When his opponent gets frustrated, Obi waits for him to make mistakes. That’s when he is most lethal.
14. The Witcher (Netflix)
Geralt of Rivia, aka The Witcher, is a magically-enhanced mutant who was active throughout the 13th century. Wielding two swords one with a silver blade for monsters and one from steel for humans – and exercising a range of effective spells and signs he can use to subdue enemies. Geralt is one of the most dangerous swordsmen in fiction.
15. Spartacus, Blood, and Sand (HBO)
Spartacus is a gladiator commander and leader of a failed revolution. In the TV show Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Spartacus is one hell of a badass swordsman. He’s the best one on one blade combatant the world has ever seen. He’s also an expert-trained warrior with shields.
Let’s just say that Spartacus is very accustomed to one vs one sword fights. He’s no stranger to a battlefield either.
Everyone knows the gladiator Maximus as a warrior. He is clearly based on Lucius Quintius Cincinnatus, a hero of the earliest days of the old Roman Republic. He’s led thousands of men into battle and has killed more than his fair share. He’s a true one-man powerhouse.
Maximus is also gifted with leadership and tactical skills. He was thrown into so many Colloisium fights where he fought alone or in a small band of misfits in that we would say Maximus would be a killer one on one fighter due to his ability to fight alone or in small groups.
17. God Of War
The son of Zeus and demigod, Kratos, is a power-hungry Spartan general with Olympus blood flowing in his veins. When Kratos finishes a battle, hope is lost on both sides. He slaughters villages, conquers kingdoms, and slays Gods before his Greek breakfast. His life is cursed by war and endless suffering, but ultimately, he delivers the final blow and gets to see another day.
18. Vikings (The History Channel/Netflix)
Bjorn is the King of Kattegat. Following in his father’s Ragnar footsteps, Bjorn desires to test himself as a fighter as well as an explorer. He fights in battles without getting a scratch. he garnered the famous nickname “Bjorn Ironside.” Björn is as skilled a warrior, strong enough to match his uncle Rollo in a drunken brawl and fast enough to go through a battle and never be struck.
A testament to his prowess came during his time alone in the wilderness. Surviving for several months in the icy mountains of Scandinavia, he managed to track down and kill a bear with only a hatchet and knife; he received only a minor injury to the chest. He also manages to overpower a supposedly invincible “Berserker” warrior who intends to assassinate him. Physically, Bjorn is even more formidable than his father. While both of them were severely wounded during the siege of Paris Björn recovered quickly, while Ragnar remained weakened by his injuries for a long time.
19. 300 Movie
As a child, Leonidas was trained by the Spartan army both physically and mentally to become a Hoplite Warrior. Believed to be a decedent of mighty Hercules, Leonidas quickly became a warrior-king and a general of elite, vicious killers.
Leonidas, the commander of the Spartan army, took 300 men to face a Persian army and slaughtered tens of thousands of Persian soldiers. He used their corpses as walls around their base. 11 days of mass killing led by an over-the-top, insane tactician and sword fighter.
20. King Arthur, Legend of the Sword
King Arthur is the son of King Uther Pendragon, who was murdered by his treacherous brother. He was raised by prostitutes and was taught the art of battle by a martial arts master from the east. Arthur grew up to be an extremely skilled fighter. When he unleashes his magical sword’s potential, he becomes the “chosen one” and is practically invincible.
He proved it by single-handedly killing a whole platoon of soldiers sent to kill him. His superior skills are put to a fatal test when he confronted the demon knight in a separate dimension. He managed to slay him.
21. The Lord of the Rings
Aka Elessar and Strider, he is the greatest of the Dúnadan. Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings movies wields the sword reforged, Narsil, the sword that cut the One Ring from Sauron’s finger. This magical sword was now used by Aragorn as Andúril – The Flame of the West. As the true king, Aragorn has inherent power, majesty, and presence.
He inspired men and other races to fight for him. In addition, he is a master swordsman, one of the best swordsmen on Middle Earth. He also fought off the five Nazgul ring servants and killed Orcs and Wargs on several occasions.
22. Conan The Barbarian
Conan is a 27 inches long blade, including a 36.5-inch long handle. Conan is a powerful warlord who killed plenty of people with swords. He is the descendant of Atlantis, which was swallowed by the Ocean and only reverted to Barbarism due to the endless conflict with the Picts. Conan’s destiny trumps any opponent during a fight.
He has trained and lived and fought with a great adept with many different weapons during his adventures. A big issue with Conan (Conan the Barbarian) is that he has this prophecy going for him. That he cannot die until he becomes king. This is what ultimately allows him to defeat enemies far more powerful than he is.
Troy’s Achilles is invulnerable, and one of the world’s greatest sword fighters. He was immersed in the River Styx by his goddess mother. Achilles is a Myrmidon king who by default is the best warrior leader based on prowess in combat.
Myrmidons are semi-gods or direct descendants of Gods blessed by Zeus himself. He’s a demigod-level human. He lives and breathes fighting. Even without magically enhanced skin as he had in mythology, he is the superior fighter.
Blade (Wesley Snipes) is a hybrid creature, half-human, and half-vampire. From the vampire side he received superhuman powers and bloodthirsty, and thanks to the human side he maintained his invulnerability to sunlight and received the (ridiculous) nickname “The Daywalker”. Blade uses his Blade hand-crafted sword to protect the human race from blood-thirsty vampires.
25. Merlin (BBC)
The British BBC produced a tv show about the young Merlin, a teenage magician, coming to Camelot to develop his magic skills. He is invited by the kingdom’s physician, but Merlin quickly learns magic which is forbidden by King Arthur’s father. (King Arthur’s father), the punishment for learning magic is death.
Merlin joins Arthur the spoiled prince and heir to the throne of the kingdom and they quickly become good friends. He discovers that his mission is to protect Arthur who is destined to become the best king Camelot ever had. During the series, we come across iconic swordsmen such as Gaius, Morgana, and Sir Gwaine.
26. The Walking Dead (AMC)
Michonne from AMC’s The Walking Dead discovered her sword at the beginning of the outbreak. Her experience with it came through practice, killing hundreds if not thousands of zombies every day for years.
Most of the time she’s slicing into some walker and then shaking her katana off and not even wiping it down. She is usually seen brandishing the Samurai sword which makes for easy mob slicing. She stabbed governor Thru in the eye and then put her sword through his body. She’s is sword badass.
27. Pirates of the Caribbean (Disney Film Franchise)
No one saw it coming. After all, this adventure movie franchise was based on a Disney facility! What were the chances that it would work? But when ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ finally arrived, all movie critics sharpened their “pirated movies” jokes, and all moviegoers flocked to watch flock on the big screen. ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ conquered us with utter surprise.
The sequel was only a matter of time, Captain Jack Sparrow, Elizabeth, Will Turner, Yo-Ho-Ho, and a bottle of rum – all keep returning to our lives with raised sails and sharpened swords.
28. Knightfall (History Channel/Netlfix)
A period series that follows a commander in the Order of the Templars in the period after the Crusades in France during the reign of King Philip. Dark secrets related to the Holy Grail, internal politics of the King of France, intrigue, plots to overthrow governments, betrayals, and false love. Based part on historical events, but mostly on fiction.
29. The Princess Bride
As mentioned in The Princess Bride movie, Inigo is one of the “Greatest swordsmen on the planet”. He is one of the top 5 swordsmen in the world. He loves to use a theatrical sword-fighting style. Montoya has studied La Verada Destreza started by Narváez, as well as Fabris, Thibauld, Cappo Ferro, Agrippa, Liechetenauer, Talhoffer, Meyer, Mair, Fiore, and so on.
He can fight afoot, on a horse, against multiple opponents, and with all bladed weapons including daggers, arming swords, & longswords. Again he is one of the most dangerous and deadly men on the planet.
30. The Mask of Zorro
Our number one sword fighter is Zorro. He is a skilled sword fighter and has a great range of knowledge to draw on. Zoro’s advantage is the power and quickness he uses with his sword strikes (Zorro inspired the creator of Batman).
Hands down Zorro is the complete swordsman. His dynamic fighting style allows him to master multiple sword fighting techniques. He’s spent the majority of his life mastering a sword. Pure skill goes to Zorro.