It’s Tuesday. A post-holiday Tuesday, which is the worst kind of Tuesday. How does a bit of a distraction sound? Up this week in our regular trope feature is a look at one called Off with his Head:
If you’re dealing with any sword-oriented media, whether it be fantasy, medieval, kung fu, or something else, and it’s more violent than a PG-13 rating, chances are, someone is going to get his head chopped off (and it may not even need the R rating if you’re dealing with nonhuman enemies). One of the most common methods of execution back in the medieval era next to hanging, decapitation is usually one of the surest ways to ensure someone is Deader than Dead barring some very potent magic or divine intervention.
Any Ridiculously Human Robot or other decidedly inhuman being will probably be capable of surviving decapitation, and will do so at some point either for a joke or as a plot point. In less serious series, the body will even continue to walk around bumping into things.
It is nearly always depicted as being surprisingly easy to do, even in one blow to a moving target. While Anne Boleyn did get beheaded with one stroke, most pre-guillotine beheadings took at least three strokes (plus, Boleyn’s executioner was — by request — a professional swordsman who would know how to cleanly behead someone).
Sword oriented media, you say? Yeah, this trope has definitely happened in the Star Wars universe a few times. Leia executed (pun fully intended) the trope in Fate of the Jedi: Conviction. Shimmra lost his head to Luke Skywalker in the New Jedi Order. Then of course, there was the case of Jango Fett versus Mace Windu. It didn’t end well for Fett.