Created By: callsignecho on July 19, 2011 Last Edited By: callsignecho on October 18, 2011
Troped

Cadre Of Foreign Bodyguards

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Trope

A character of great power or wealth has their importance underscored by having a cadre of bodyguards from a foreign land. These guards will be elite, disciplined, faintly exotic and extremely competent.

In fiction, this is usually reserved for villains. The Evil Overlord, Evil Chancellor, Evil Prince and President Evil all need foreigners to protect them because it's hard to trust your citizenry when you spend most of your day exploiting and oppressing them. Don't be surprised if they are commanded by The Dragon.

Contrary to Hollywood's portrayal, Foreign Bodyguards were historically very common, and very respected. This of course predates all the negative stereotypes associated with Private Military Contractors, when hiring mercs was a common way of raising an army; mercenaries who distinguished themselves on the battlefield stood a good chance of being offered a bodyguarding job. In their favor, a foreigner's loyalty was largely independent from domestic politics, which prevented Bodyguard Betrayal and palace revolutions; and with their exotic look and weapons, they added a welcome touch of grandiosity to a ruler's court, ceremonial and public presentation.

Whether their charge is good or evil, they'll stick to their oath of service. They are probably from a Proud Warrior Race, and might be The Remnant. Could overlap with Bodyguard Babes, if the babes are foreign. Usually does not accompany a Bodyguard Crush.


Examples

Anime/Manga
  • In "Yugioh the Abridged Series" Kaiba hires German Nazis to work as security guards.

Film

Literature
  • Honor Harrington:
    • The body guards for the Hereditary President of the Peoples' Republic of Haven are all from Neo Geneva.
    • Honor's armsmen hail from Grayson, prompting some ruffled feathers when she has to take armed foreign nationals onto Her Majesty's warships. Though this is technically an aversion, because Honor has dual Manticoran and Grayson citizenship (and titles).
    • Artemis Fowl: the Irish hero is guarded by the Butler family, of Caucasian (eastern European) descent.

Live Action Tv
  • Babylon 5: Michael Garibaldi goes on a mission to the Drazi homeworld. He meets a human friend working as a bodyguard. He tells Garibaldi that rich aliens hire human bodyguards as a status symbol.

Western Animation
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Azula, the Fire Nation princess, brings back Dai Li agents from the Earth Kingdom and they serve as her own personal elite squad of guards.

Tabletop RPG
  • Traveller Classic, Book 4 Mercenary. One of the mercenary tickets (scenarios) was to act as bodyguards to the leaders of the planet Jokotre while they made a pilgrimage to the shrines in the holy lands.

Real Life
  • Possibly the Western Trope Codifier: The Swiss Guards which protect the Pope. The silly pants may make them seem a little like Bunny Ears Lawyers, but they were a terror on the battlefield in the late 1400s to early 1500s, and retain their tradition faithfully.
  • The Varangian Guard predate the Swiss Guards by centuries, though they are less well known today.
  • The Eastern Trope Codifier? The Circassian Guard which protects the King of Jordan.
  • The Roman emperors had the Equites singulares Augusti, a cavalary suplement to the Praetorian Guard infantry. It was primary composed of provincials who were not Roman citizens or Italians, particularly those from Batavi Germanic tribe.


Community Feedback Replies: 21
  • July 19, 2011
    Antigone3
    Personally, I'd call the Varangian Guard the Trope Codifier, they predate the Swiss Guards by centuries. I will concede that more people know about the Swiss Guards, though.
  • July 19, 2011
    Auxdarastrix
    The thing about Honor Harrington is that she gets her bodygaurds by virtue of being a a Steadholder of Grayson therefore the bodyguards are not foreign, but native to where she lives, has citizenship and is a ruler. This is very diffferent from the Foreign Mercenary tradition represented by the Swiss Guard or the Varangian Guard. The Grayson Armsmen are more comprable to the Vatican Gendarmes.
  • July 20, 2011
    callsignecho
    Auxdarastrix, I can't argue that you're incorrect, but I think that's splitting things a bit fine. Honor is a native Manticoran, and IIRC they were with her for several books before she stopped ruling in absentia and actually took up residence there. More importantly, they are not the same nationality as the person they are protecting, and their presence in the Kingdom of Manticore and their interaction with Manticorans is what makes it trope-y.
  • July 20, 2011
    Lumpenprole
    Muammar Gaddafi has his Amazonian Guard, an all-female corp of bodyguards who accompany him on foreign trips. This also qualifies Gaddafi as a real-life Bond Villian.

  • July 20, 2011
    Aielyn
    "Exactly what it says on the tin" is not appropriate for the laconic, as it doesn't actually describe the trope. If a trope is exactly as described by its trope name, then you don't need a laconic in the first place.
  • July 20, 2011
    callsignecho
    ^ Okay, alright.

    ^^ lol Do we have a trope that covers that? Like Amazonian Squad or something? Nevermind, just found Bodyguard Babes and Amazon Brigade. I Ghaddafi's guard fits better under one of those.
  • July 20, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Didn't the Roman emperors have German bodyguards or something?
  • July 20, 2011
    Auxdarastrix
    The Roman emperors had the Equites singulares Augusti, a cavalary suplement to the Praetorian Guard infantry. It was primary composed of provincials who were not Roman citizens or Italians, particularly those from Batavi Germanic tribe.
  • July 20, 2011
    callsignecho
    Wow, are there any fictional examples?
  • July 20, 2011
    Psychobabble6
    • Avatar The Last Airbender: Azula, the Fire Nation princess, brings back Dai Li agents from the Earth Kingdom and they serve as her own personal elite squad of guards.

    Even though everyone in the show speaks the same language and everyone is Asian, that's all I can think of as far as foreign bodyguards in fiction go. Sorry.
  • July 20, 2011
    Auxdarastrix
    There are fictional examples but I can't remember any right now.
  • July 21, 2011
    AFP
    Honor's armsmen could be played either way, but a straight example would be the body guards for the Hereditary President of the Peoples' Republic of Haven, who were all from Neo Geneva.
  • July 21, 2011
    callsignecho
    Maybe if I make this more a guard all of one ethnic group--not necessarily foreign--that might open up more examples.
  • July 21, 2011
    Fanra
    Do you require more then one guard to count? If not:

  • August 12, 2011
    Higurashiblood98
    [[Anime/Manga]]
    • In "Yugioh the Abridged Series" Kaiba hires German Nazis to work as security guards.
  • August 13, 2011
    Arivne
    Tabletop RPG
    • Traveller Classic, Book 4 Mercenary. One of the mercenary tickets (scenarios) was to act as bodyguards to the leaders of the planet Jokotre while they made a pilgrimage to the shrines in the holy lands.
    • Shadowrun supplement Fields of Fire. One of the possible missions for mercenaries is acting as bodyguards for national leaders.
  • September 25, 2011
    callsignecho
    Needs hats. Anyone?
  • September 26, 2011
    LordGro
    It can also overlap with Praetorian Guard.
  • September 26, 2011
    LordGro
    Maybe some background for the Real Life section:

    Foreign bodyguards were popular in history mainly for two reasons:
    • As they are not part of mainstream society of their employer's country, their loyalty is largely independent from domestic politics, which prevents them from getting involved in Bodyguard Betrayal and palace revolutions.
    • With their exotic look and weapons, they add a welcome touch of grandiosity to a ruler's court ceremonial and public presentation.
  • September 26, 2011
    Chabal2
    Artemis Fowl: the Irish hero is guarded by the Butler family, of Caucasian (eastern European) descent.
  • September 27, 2011
    TairaMai
    Babylon 5, Michael Garibaldi goes on a mission to the Drazi homeworld. He meets a human friend working as a bodyguard. He tells Garibaldi that rich aliens hire human bodyguards as a status symbol.
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