Sometimes, you can’t wrap your brain around any more intellectual analysis or esoterica, and instead find yourself considering simpler questions.  Who’s stronger?  Could Cable defeat Qui-Gon Jinn?  Would Godzilla overpower Jet Icarus?  Is Captain Kirk a better brawler than Nick Fury?  And who would win if Lana Kane battled Shego?  (Answer: The reading public.)  Thanks to recent viewings, I got to wondering what might happen if Ben Kenobi, Connor MacLeod and Zorro were locked in a room together with only the victor guaranteed a way out?

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) does not think that word means what you think it means, asking: Who is the most skilled swordsman in all the worlds of fiction?


About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. I don’t think you’d use a lightsabre like a real sword, on the basis of it being able to cut in any direction, so the type of weapon matters. I don’t think Kenobi could use a regular sword any more than regular swordsmen could use a lightsabre, the fighting style would be too different.

    And then if you just went by swordplay alone, disregarding any secondary skills or powers, like Highlander’s immortality, or Leonardo’s kung-fu.

    I guess either Beatrix Kiddo or Sephiroth.

  2. A LIghtsaber is pretty useless as a sword, low weight, no guard (which is pretty vital, specially since on the movies they use them as medieval swords), uses a “dead man’s switch” (ever notice how they go off line when not in the Jedi’s/Sith hand?) meaning you need to keep pushing a button at all times which screws up the way you hold the weapon pretty badly…

    On to the actual question, Cyrano De Bergerac.

    The man fights a hundred men in a single night and comes home with a few scratches, also he has some of the most beautiful/bad-ass quotes in recorded history.

    « Que dites-vous ?… C’est inutile ?… Je le sais ! Mais on ne se bat pas dans l’espoir d’un succès ! Non ! non, c’est bien plus beau lorsque c’est inutile ! »

    “useless you say? I know it! But one does not fight in hopes of victory! Oh no, it is far more beautiful when it is pointless!” (not the actual translation you’ll find in books, but it conveys the message far better)

  3. I’m going to go with Methos from “Highlander: The Series”. He is the oldest of the Immortals (roughly 5000 years old), so he obviously has to have the skill to keep his head.

    • Methos is my favorite Highlander character, by far, but sadly was not the best swordsman on the show. It was even stated canonically that he wasn’t the best. He’s good, certainly; he has to be, but he got to be as old as he is by being crafty, and perfectly willing to run away to live another day as well as being good with a sword.

      For Highlander, it’d be hard to say who was the best swordsman on the show as Duncan, who by all accounts was very good, still had a few wins over a couple of opponents that were ostensibly better than him.

      Of course, if you count in sneakiness and underhanded tricks as part of ‘skill’, then certainly Methos was the best!

      • I do figure sneakiness has to count for something. There are sword moves that are solely to misdirect and make your opponent think you are going to do one thing when you actually aren’t, so I really can’t be picky and say “Well, he used trickery” when just about every swordsman does to some degree.

  4. I’m voting for Roanoa Zoro from One Piece. Santōryū, three sword style! Two in the hands, one in the mouth! Swords, that is. I regret that sentence already. Still, dude cuts -trains-, homoerotic phrasing aside. For know, at least.

  5. I have to second ogami itto. Especially if the battle takes place near any body of water, that underwater sword attack is the slickest in Kung fu cinema. Not to mention the fact that he defeats ninjas, shoguns and the most brutal and deadly lady Kung fu masters I’ve ever seen all while watching over his son. i on the other hand find it difficult to shave while watching my 2 year old daughter. On a side note, you guys discuss a lot of Kung fu flicks but most are Bruce lee types or more modern movies. Do you guys enjoy the older films like shaw brothers period pieces?some of my favorited are kid with the golden arms and crippled avengers.

  6. Yang, from the movie ‘Warrior’s Way.’

    In the opening scenes, there is a caption under Yang’s Opponent. It says: ‘The Greatest Swordsman in History.’

    After Yang defeats that guy, easily, he too gets a descriptive caption which lets you know that he is ‘The Greatest Swordsman in History. Ever.’

    The movie wasn’t a spectacular hit, but I have to give him the title for the gumption of his caption alone. Otherwise I, too, would vote for Samurai Jack, as I like him better.

    • OK, now I feel dumb. I looked at this QOTD on my cell phone and the mobile version of MS doesn’t show the screen shot headers. So I threw out my suggestion. So I come to look at the full version and what screen shot did Mathew choose … Grrrrr….

    • If you follow Star Wars: The Clone Wars, he didn’t die on Naboo, but survived and went mad. Years later he got taken to Dathomir and got new cybernetic legs and even took over Mandalore for a little bit.

      It was actually kinda cool, if a bit gimmicky.

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