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Portrayals of King Arthur's sword Excalibur as the "Sword in the Stone". This is not the way the Arthurian Legend usually goes: Excalibur was the sword given to Arthur by the Lady of the Lake. The one embedded in rock was nothing special (in most versions), except that it signified the right of the King to rule.

This is either due to not doing the research after decades of Lost in Imitation or Adaptation Distillation.

Of course, even if you do do the research, you'll find that there isn't all that much agreement on what the sword was meant to be originally: Some say the name Excalibur originally comes from "Ex Calce Liberatus", meaning "Liberated from the Stone". Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain only has Caliburn, which is neither pulled from a stone nor delivered from a lake, and Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte Darthur refers to both swords as Excalibur. For more information, see the Other wiki.

Not to be confused with Excalibur in the Rust. See also Cowboy Bebop at His Computer.

Examples of Excalibur in the Stone include:


Straight examples Edit

Anime and Manga Edit

Comic Books Edit

  • In Seven Soldiers the sword is actually called Caliburn Ex Calibur
  • In The Muppets King Arthur, despite the cover being a varient of the classic "Arthur in a boat beholding the sword" scene, the actual story has the Lady (Janice) simply there to tell Arthur (Kermit) that "There's a totally awesome sword in a rock over that hill". It was also her, not Merlin, who placed the Sword in the Stone, apparently to make some point about commercialism at rock festivals.

Newspaper Comics Edit

  • This Dilbert strip with a pencil stuck in a pencil sharpener called "Excalibert" qualifies.

Novels Edit

  • In the Jack Whyte novel series, Publius Varrus forges a fantastic sword from "skystone metal" (meteoric iron). The forging technique he used involved a mould, known in Africa as a qalibr. Therefore, since it came out of a mould, he called it "Ex-qalibr", or Excalibur. Much later on, his grand-nephew Merlyn (yes, that Merlin) placed the sword in a stone altar for Arthur (again: yes, that Arthur) (Varrus's own great-grandson) to withdraw in a partly-religious ceremony to crown him High King of Britain.
  • In The Dresden Files, Harry does some research on Michael Carpenter and his sword and discovers that Michael is a descendant of Charlemagne. When he's explaining this to another character, he makes a mention that Michael's sword is Excalibur, which King Arthur pulled from a stone.
    • Most likely this is either an intentional reference or a confusion of the swords Excalibur and Joyeux, which where the swords of Arthur of England and Charlemange of Gaul respectively, and were sister swords that shared a third sister in Roland's sword Durendal.

Video Games Edit

  • Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow has a sword called Excalibur which is still in the stone. So you go around swinging a sword with a giant rock at the end of it.
    • The logic for this being: The player character is not actually Arthur, so he is obviously not allowed to draw the sword from the stone. But he's also very strong...
    • This same twist is used in Magicka.
  • King Arthur the Role Playing Wargame splits the difference, declaring that the Sword in the Stone is Excalibur but that it's full power cannot be unlocked until Arthur's meeting with the Lady of the Lake.
  • The French translation of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past[1] calls the Master Sword "Excalibur".

Western Animation Edit

 Green Arrow: The sword in the stone!

Batman: Excalibur!

  • Quest for Camelot does this. It becomes something of a plot point at the end; since Excalibur could only be drawn from the stone by Arthur, when the villain who has stolen it misses the heroes and thrusts it into the stone, he's unable to remove it (which is pretty bad considering that he grafted himself to the sword). The fact that it then disintegrates him is completely up in the air though.
  • Played straight in Gargoyles: the one Excalibur featured there was both pulled from the stone and created by The Lady of The Lake, as indicated in the episode "Pendragon".
  • In The Legend Of Prince Valiant, Merlin has excalibur and puts it in stone himself. But at the end of the episode, he reveals that there is no magic involved: The sword can be pulled out when the sun shines on the stone, because of dilatation.

Film Edit

  • Merlin has the Lady of the Lake give Excalibur to the wizard before Arthur was even borne. He ends up sticking it in the stone which is part of a giant earth elemental in this version, and telling it to only let the sword go for one who is worthy.
  • Excalibur (still stuck in its stone) makes a brief appearance in the film Inkheart, where it is just one of the items read out of books by Meggie. When Capricorn gets infuriated, he seizes the sword to attack, and it stays there. Cue Darius: "Only the K..K..King can do that."


Television Edit

  • Merlin, as of "The Coming of Arthur: Part 2". The (technically still unnamed) sword that Merlin cast into the Lake of Avalon in the Season 1 episode "Excalibur" because it was too dangerous to use is retrieved by Freya (from the Season 2 episode "The Lady of the Lake") to defeat the undead army. And afterwards, since it's still too dangerous and it's been shown to be retrievable from the lake, Merlin takes it into the depths of the forest and drives it into a stone so it definitely can't be used again. Well, for now at least; The series 4 finale, "The Sword in the Stone", will see Arthur free it to prove his ability to reign.


Subversions Edit

Live Action TV Edit

  • The two-part Stargate SG-1 episode "Avalon", where Colonel Mitchell calls the sword in the stone Excalibur, and Daniel Jackson corrects him, stating that believing Excalibur to be the sword in the stone is "a common misconception."

Video Games Edit

  • Lara makes this mistake repeatedly in Tomb Raider Legend, despite Alister's repeated and passionate reminders that they were "two different bloody swords!"
    • It turns out in the end Lara was right and in his excitement over seeing what the completed sword can do even Alister forgets his previous comments. Still a subversion in that the finished "Excalibur" was pieced together from several similar swords.
  • In Might and Magic VI, the sword Excalibur can be found (and removed, despite your characters not having any prophetic importance) in a stone on a small island in eel infested waters. The subversion is that at no point does it make claim to be King Arthur's Excalibur -- in fact, the in-game description gives a backstory entirely unconnected to the Arthurian mythos. The sword just happens to be an artifact sword in a stone in a game whose artifacts are named for things from the Arthurian legend for no apparent in-game reason.

Aversions, Inversions & Zigzags Edit

Film Edit

  • Averted in Excalibur. Excalibur is retrieved from the Lady of the Lake by Merlin and given to Uther Pendragon, Arthur's father. Uther thrusts the sword into the proverbial stone before he dies of his wounds. Arthur then draws the sword from the stone years later. Later, in a duel with Lancelot, Arthur in a fit of pride uses the sword's mystic powers to change the destined outcome of the duel (Lancelot should have won.) Although Arthur succeeds, Excalibur breaks from being so used. In a fit of grief, Arthur hurls the broken sword into a nearby lake -- where the Lady of the Lake restores the weapon and hands it back to Arthur from the waters, thus fulfilling both legends.
  • Averted in Monty Python and The Holy Grail, as well. When asked what gives him the right to rule, Arthur doesn't even mention the sword in the stone, and instead relates the tale of how the Lady of the Lake gave him the sword Excalibur, thus proving he is the destined ruler of Britain. Which the peasant he's talking to sums up as "some watery tart threw a sword at you."

  Dennis: I mean, if I went around sayin' I was an empereror just because some moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me they'd put me away!

Literature Edit

  • The Grail Quest Solo Fantasy series spends a lengthy paragraph in the fourth book making the differences between the two swords clear.
  • Played with in Valerio Massimo Manfredi's historical fantasy, The Last Legion, in which "Excalibur" is actually the unnamed sword of Julius Ceasar. Following the battle at the novel's climax, the child-Emperor Romulas Augustus throws the sword so that it embeds itself in a stone in the middle of a lake. As if there were any confusion over the connection, the film of the book makes it even more obvious by the name Excalibur being derived from a partially obscured inscription, "E*** S*** Calibur***"

Live Action TV Edit

  • The 1998 mini-series Merlin (the one starring Sam Neill) draws some ideas from the 1981 Excalibur film, though it's not exactly the same. In shifting the role of the main character to Merlin, it makes sense that most of the high points of the legend revolve around him instead. In this case Excalibur is first given to Merlin by the Lady of the Lake; he even uses it to kill the tyrant King whom Uther Pendragon, Arthur's father, will replace. Merlin later on gives Excalibur to Uther. When it becomes obvious that Uther will not be the just King they all thought he would be (because he becomes obsessed with having Igraine), Merlin takes Excalibur from him and places it on a rocky mountain, a sapient being called the Rock of Ages. Merlin makes the mountain promise to only release the sword to a true king, a man with a good heart. Years later, Arthur, who has been tutored in ethics and morals by Merlin, takes Excalibur out of the stone, and uses it to prove he is the rightful heir to the throne. He wields it for the entirety of his Kingship. Later on, when Arthur is fatally wounded by Mordred, he asks Merlin to take the sword back to where it came from. Merlin gives Excalibur back to the Lady of the Lake.

Tabletop Games Edit

  • The GURPS Arthur Sourcebook separates the two swords, calling the one in the stone (or the Anvil) Galantine, probably having more to do with gallantry than head cheese. Galantine is noted as a powerful magical sword in its own right. Note that the GURPS sourcebook is one of the rare compendia of Arthurian lore that also features the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, which may speak to its comprehensiveness or its frivolity.

Video Games, Visual Novels Edit

  • Excalibur and Caliburn are separate createable swords in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time. Excalibur is the superior of the two.
  • The pair are different weapons in Fate/stay night. Excalibur functions more like a Wave Motion Gun, whereas Caliburn simply appears to be a really powerful sword, to the point where a projection of it, if wielded by Saber, can kill Beserker seven times in a single strike. That is only if it is wielded by Saber though. And that's just a replica.
    • Actually, this probably should not be in the aversion category, but in the played straight category. In Arthurian legend, Caliburn is not the Sword in the Stone. It was an early name for Excalibur. The linguistic evolution of the name Excalibur is this: Caledfwlch (Welsh)->Caliburnus/Caliburn (Latin)->Excalibur (French).
    • This gets even more confusing in Fate Nuovo Guerra, where King Uther uses a version of Caliburn that can simply be defined as "Caliburn before being put into the stone".
  • In the Infocom game Arthur: The Quest For Excalibur, an usurper sinks the sword in the stone in a lake and swaps it with a fake that he can pull out to demonstrate that he's the true king. When the player wins the game, the Lady in the Lake parts the waters to reveal the real stone, sword included, and THEN Arthur pulls the sword out. Which sort of fulfills both legends, but not in the way most people picture it.
  • Sonic and The Black Knight. King Arthur has Excalibur. Sonic receives Caliburn from the Lady of the Lake. However, Caliburn transforms into Excalibur just before the final battle.
    • Which is actually a plot point - Arthur doesn't have Excalibur, but he'd very much like to. What he has is Excalibur's scabbard, which has it's own magical properties quite independent of the sword. The reason Arthur doesn't have Excalibur, and Caliburn is able to transform into Excalibur at the end of the game, is because for some reason or another that doesn't make a whole lot of sense, Caliburn is Excalibur, minus the swords carried by Gawain, Percival, and Lancelot.

Web Comics Edit

  • In Arthur, King of Time and Space, even Arthur thinks the sword in the stone was Excalibur, but he's wrong. It turns out Excalibur was legendary even in Uther's day, and he allowed people to believe he wielded it, even though he didn't. And Uther's fake Excalibur, being the sword of the King, was the one that Merlin put in the stone.

Western Animation Edit

Notes

  1. and of several subsequent games, though not all of them; notably not Ocarina of Time

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