Created By: Tallens on March 14, 2013 Last Edited By: Tallens on April 13, 2013
Troped

Ancient Order Of Protectors

An order dedicated to protecting secret or hidden things.

Name Space:
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Trope
The secret of the Grail has been safe for a thousand years. And for all that time the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword has been prepared to do anything to keep it safe.

A frequent plotline in fiction is to have the characters go and retrieve a MacGuffin, or locate a hidden valley, or something else that might have wealth or power or both. In the course of their travels, particularly if they’re dealing with something that dates back to antiquity, they will run into, and most likely run afoul, of an organization dedicated to protecting whatever it is they’re looking for, by any means necessary.

This is the Ancient Order of Protectors, an organization whose purpose can be defined as “keep this knowledge out of everyone else’s hands by any means necessary”. This usually means that the heroes will be forced to fight them one or more times along the way, since Poor Communication Kills, but this does not necessarily mean they are evil. Quite often, after misunderstandings have been cleared up, the heroes will team up with the Protectors to fight the Big Bad or work with them to prevent a global catastrophe.

The Protectors as a group are virtually unknown to the rest of the world, though they may form a secret society who lives among the average citizenry. They are not usually an Ancient Conspiracy, though it’s not impossible that they are either. They do, however, usually have their own Ancient Tradition. They may or may not be an Organization with Unlimited Funding. There is some overlap with Secret Keeper, though instead of just not telling anyone, they actively try to prevent people from finding out about it. They may not even know where it is themselves and think it's better that way.

Subtrope of The Order. Compare Impartial Purpose-Driven Faction, which they may fall into, and Threshold Guardians, though if the Ancient Order of Protectors does its job right, noone will even get that far.

Examples

Anime
  • Yugioh, the Tombkeepers have been charged with guarding the secrets of the Pharaoh until his return, and guard some of the Millennium Items as well. Shadi is a much stronger embodiment of the trope, guarding the Pharaoh's Tomb for millennia and protecting it from robbers. He also tests people to see if they are worthy of possessing Millennium Items, and the tests are fatal if failed.

Comic Book
  • The Grail in Preacher is the name of the secret organization which protects the bloodline of Christ, meaning they've been keeping the descendants of Jesus in cages and interbreeding them so as to keep the bloodline pure. They also secretly run the world: the Allfather reveals that every evening, the leaders of major countries are forced to call a secret number to contact him and say "Thank you", with those who refuse to humiliate themselves this way quickly replaced.

Film
  • In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indy encounters the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword an ancient order dedicated to protecting the location of the Holy Grail. Later they unsuccessfully attempt to prevent Donovan’s party from reaching the Grail’s hiding place.
  • The Mummy has the Magi, the descendants of the royal guards of Egypt who attempt to drive off any who might awaken Imhotep.
  • In The Fifth Element, the Mondoshawan followers have hints of this; the first one seen was willing to kill an archaeologist who was getting close to finding the elemental weapon.

Literature
  • The Priory of Sion guards the Holy Grail in The Da Vinci Code.
  • In the Nightshade Trilogy by Andrea Cremer, the Guardians (a group of wolf shapeshifters) have served their masters, the Keepers, for hundreds of years, and one of their most important duties is protecting some mysterious artifacts from their enemies, the Seekers. Turns out that the Keepers are really the bad guys and deal with dark magic, and the artifacts are actually pieces of a weapon that The Chosen One can wield to defeat them. The main character, a Guardian named Calla, eventually helps the Seekers steal them.

Tabletop Games
  • The Sensei in older editions of Warhammer 40K were the (normally born, not lab-grown) sons of the Emperor, and the Illuminati a secret society devoted to protecting them from the Inquisition's attention.
  • In Ravenloft the Order of the Guardians are a monastic sect which keeps cursed artifacts sealed away in hidden locations, keeping them out of the hands of innocent bystanders and villains alike.

Toys
  • BIONICLE: The Order of Mata Nui had a few members guarding the Mask of Life on Voya Nui.

Video Games
  • The order known as the Blades in The Elder Scrolls universe serves as the protectors of the Dragonborn, who are essentially person-shaped Mac Guffins, sometimes Persons of Mass Destruction and sometimes Barrier Maidens.
  • In Starcraft II Wings Of Liberty, a splinter sect of Protoss called the Tal'darim have appointed themselves guardians of the xel'naga artifact fragments Raynor is collecting during the main storyline, and violently try to keep them out of his hands. They turn out to be a subversion as they are actually working for the Big Bad Amon. Normal Protoss also have shades of this, they travel the cosmos studying and gathering relics of the xel'naga, and will keep them out of humans hands, but it's usually for a good reason (These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know, etc) and on other occasions they don't interfere with human archaeology.

Web Comic
  • In this The Noob, Ohforf joins a guild. Upon learning their name, "The Righteous Protectors of the Crimson Star", he imagines them as this trope, but it turns out they're just a roleplaying guild with a Non-Indicative Name.
Community Feedback Replies: 26
  • March 14, 2013
    Koveras
    The title should be more specifically about protecting Mac Guffins... The current one makes me think of organizations like the Jedi Order from Star Wars, who also "protect"--peace and justice in the Republic.

  • March 15, 2013
    Arivne
    Mac Guffin Protectors? :)

    Ancient Order Of Mac Guffin Protectors would be a little long.

    The Order may be protecting a Sealed Evil In A Can or a Sealed Good In A Can.
  • March 15, 2013
    aurora369
    The order known as the Blades in The Elder Scrolls universe serves as the protectors of the Dragonborn, who are essentially person-shaped Mac Guffins, sometimes Persons of Mass Destruction and sometimes Barrier Maidens.
  • March 15, 2013
    Koveras
  • March 15, 2013
    Chabal2
    • The Grail in Preacher is the name of the secret organization which protects the bloodline of Christ. By which I mean they've been keeping the descendants of Jesus in cages and interbreeding them so as to keep the bloodline pure. They also secretly run the world: the Allfather reveals that every evening, the leader of major countries is forced to call a secret number to contact him and say "Thank you", with those who refuse to humiliate themselves this way quickly replaced.
    • The Sensei in older editions of Warhammer 40 K were the (normally born, not lab-grown) sons of the Emperor, and the Illuminati a secret society devoted to protecting them from the Inquisition's attention.
  • March 15, 2013
    Tallens
  • March 15, 2013
    KZN02
    BIONICLE: The Order of Mata Nui had a few members guarding the Mask of Life on Voya Nui.
  • March 15, 2013
    Larkmarn
  • March 15, 2013
    Tallens
    I'm not sure I like having Mac Guffin in the title; it seems too limiting. We need a term that'll cover Mac Guffins, Sealed Evil In A Can, Hidden Elf Village and anything else people may not want found.
  • March 24, 2013
    SharleeD
    Tabletop Games:

    • In Ravenloft, the Order of the Guardians are a monastic sect which keeps cursed artifacts sealed away in hidden locations, keeping them out of the hands of innocent bystanders and villains, alike.
  • March 24, 2013
    UltramarineAlizarin
    Maybe "Order of Secret-Keepers" as the trope title. At the same time I'll point out there is a Secret Keeper trope, which may be relevant (at least in the context of the Trope Namer).
  • March 28, 2013
    Tallens
    ^There is some overlap, but a Secret Keeper is usually singular, and usually passive. They just don't talk about it.

    These guys go out of their way to prevent anyone from finding out anything about what they're protecting. They may not even know where it is themselves.
  • March 31, 2013
    chicagomel
    Buffy The Vampire Slayer has the Knights of Byzantium,who were dedicated to protecting the Key. Sadly it drove them to want to kill Dawn when the key was made into her. (live action tv)
  • April 2, 2013
    DrakeClawfang
    Anime

    Yugioh, the Tombkeepers have been charged with guarding the secrets of the Pharaoh until his return, and guard some of the Millennium Items as well. Shadi is a much stronger embodiment of the trope, guarding the Pharaoh's Tomb for millennia and protecting it from robbers. He also tests people to see if they are worthy of possessing Millennium Items, and the tests are fatal if failed.

    Video Games

    In Starcraft II Wings Of Liberty, a splinter sect of Protoss called the Tal'darim have appointed themselves guardians of the xel'naga artifact fragments Raynor is collecting during the main storyline, and violently try to keep them out of his hands. Normal Protoss also have shades of this, they travel the cosmos studying and gathering relics of the xel'naga, and will keep them out of humans hands, but it's usually for a good reason (These Are Things Man Was Not Meant To Know, etc) and on other occasions they don't interfere with human archaeology.
  • April 5, 2013
    Dawnwing
    Literature:

    • In the Nightshade Trilogy by Andrea Cremer, the Guardians (a group of wolf shapeshifters) have served their masters, the Keepers, for hundreds of years, and one of their most important duties is protecting some mysterious artifacts from their enemies, the Seekers. Turns out that the Keepers are really the bad guys and deal with dark magic, and the artifacts are actually pieces of a weapon that The Chosen One can wield to defeat them. The main character, a Guardian named Calla, eventually helps the Seekers steal them.
  • April 5, 2013
    Generality
    • In Diablo II, the Worldstone is protected by the Ancients, three nephalem named Korlic, Madawc, and Talic who were Taken For Granite in order to awaken and challenge anyone trying to pass. The only way to pass without fighting is to have a special relic, which the demon lord Baal unfortunately acquires.
  • April 5, 2013
    Tallens
    ^Not sure about that one. Sounds more like Threshold Guardians to me. In fact they're already entered there.
  • April 10, 2013
    DracMonster
    ^ A Threshold Guardian could be a member of one of these as well, but I agree, three guys don't really count as an "order".
  • April 10, 2013
    Tallens
    It's worth a comparison, but really the whole point of the order is to keep people from even getting to that point.
  • April 11, 2013
    jatay3
    In the Magnum PI episode China Doll they had a dynasty devoted to the protection of an ancient Sung vase.
  • April 11, 2013
    Nocturna
    The Buffy example is wrong, as the purpose of the Knights of Byzantium is to destroy the Key (to keep it out of Glory's hands), not protect it. However, the monks of the Order of Dagon might count, as their goal was to protect the Key without destroying it. I'm not sure they count, though, with the way the description is written, because they are on the same side as the heroes and send the Key to Buffy for safekeeping.
  • April 11, 2013
    Tallens
    ^Maybe that would count as an inversion, perhaps?
  • April 12, 2013
    DracMonster
    Five hats, this is looking nice and launchable.
  • April 12, 2013
    Tallens
    There were some issues with the name earlier. I'll give it till tomorrow, and if there are no objections, I'll launch it then.

    And I've removed the BtVS example for the time being.
  • April 12, 2013
    Topazan
    • In this The Noob, Ohforf joins a guild. Upon learning their name, "The Righteous Protectors of the Crimson Star", he imagines them as this trope, but it turns out they're just a roleplaying guild with a Non Indicative Name.
  • April 13, 2013
    Tallens
    Launching tonight. Speak now, or forever hold your peace.
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