Created By: Ryuuma on May 1, 2011 Last Edited By: Ryuuma on May 12, 2011
Troped

Mac Guffin Guardian

A non-human keeper guards the Mac Guffin

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Our brave hero has outsmarted the guards, sneaked into the ancient and mysterious crypt and now is about to lie his hands on the object of his long quest and/or about to open the grim-looking gate leading to said object.

But Wait! As he approaches, a sudden roar chills the blood in his veins and a towering, nameless creature suddenly appears to stop him. Is the Guardian!

This happens really often, with any kind of possible keeper. Monsters, Living Statues, Dragons or Demons summoned by portals and runes. It can be tracked back in old myths where a monstrous guardian keeps a treasure or a person, usually for his master. Of course, it doesn't need to be revealed in that exact way to qualify, but has just to be a monster keeping a treasure. A variation is a monster who guards not an artifact but rather the path/gate which our heroes must take.

Usually the monstrous/inhuman nature of the keeper is justified by its skills: monsters tend to be stronger and more resilient, with hard skin or maybe Combat Tentacles or enhaced senses or Breath Weapon or whatnot.

Sometimes overlap with Teleporting Keycard Squad, especially if the room appeared totally bare just a moment ago. See also Forgot to Feed the Monster when the spooky guardian is here... and already dead or incapacitated.

Don't confuse with Threshold Guardians which usually is there to test the hero, while the Mac Guffin Guardian is here to eat the hero. It may though be the test of said Threshold Guardians.

Examples:

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[[folder: Mythology]]

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  • Stormbringer supplement Demon Magic, adventure "The Velvet Circle''. The box the adventurers are seeking is guarded by a demon named Tyik Tyva. Inside the box is a Melnibonean Wheel worth 500,000 large bronze pieces.
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[[folder: Video Games]]

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  • In The Order of the Stick there's a monster on the way to the Oracle, and it must be killed in order to pass the trial. Also the Black Dragon guarding the Star Metal fragment and the many monsters guarding one of the five Gates.
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[[folder: Western Animation]]

  • The SpongeBob SquarePants episode, "The Lost Mattress" had Mr. Krabs' prized money-filled mattress guarded by a ferocious worm at the junkyard, after it got thrown away.
  • Played for laughs in one Simpsons episode where the secret exit from the Nuclear Power Plant is guarded by a Giant Spider with a taste for human flesh.
  • The Cave of Wonders itself in Aladdin.
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Community Feedback Replies: 21
  • May 1, 2011
    CaveCat
    The SpongeBob SquarePants episode, "The Lost Mattress" had Mr. Krabs' prized money-filled mattress guarded by a ferocious worm at the junkyard, after it got thrown away.
  • May 1, 2011
    MC42
    The Grand Jewel is another example from Legend Of Dragoon as it guards the Dragon Block Staff. The Polter Armor likewise guards the Soul Eater.
  • May 1, 2011
    KZN02
    BIONICLE: One of the Ignika's defenses on Voya Nui were enlarged Protodax.

    I have a question, does this include human guards with non-human companions?
  • May 1, 2011
    captainbrass2
    I hate to nitpick, but technically the Watcher in the Water from Lord of the Rings doesn't guard the object of the quest or the gate leading to it. It guards the gates to the Mines of Moria, but getting in there isn't the Fellowship's ultimate objective, it's just their chosen route. If you want to keep this, you may have to do a slightly amended description relating to beasts guarding gates/precious objects more generally. Also, in the Hobbit, it's Smaug, not Smog. And I think he's unarguably an example.
  • May 1, 2011
    Ryuuma
    @ captainbrass2 No, don't worry, nitpick accepted. Yes, perhaps we should add the clause "guarding the Mac Guffin or a certain path chosen by the heroes" or something similar. About the name, well, I liked that (and the references in Battle For Wesnoth above) and the Watcher could still count as a keeper, though not a relevant one. By the way, are you sure is Smaug? I remember a version where his name is spelled Smog but whatever...
  • May 1, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    The name really makes it feel like water is involved, and at least 90% of the time it isn't. And besides, just 'watching' doesn't imply 'guarding'. I know it's the name of an actual character, but the name itself doesn't otherwise indicate the trope very well. I think a name change is in order.

    (And yes, it's Smaug)
  • May 1, 2011
    dalek955
    Should we really count monsters that hoarded the loot themselves? That's not really a guardian so much as a possessive owner.

    Also:
    • Mardek: Chapter 3 features guardians in each of the elemental temples you visit. Fire had a wise, flaming dragonlike guardian named Girru who tests you by combat and finds you worthy, Water had a giant lobster-seahorse thing with a human rider, and Earth had the Rock Mole. Darkness was guarded by a wolflike alien mage called Solaar, but she had already been taken out by a villain when you get there and in fact joins your party in hopes of catching the thief.
  • May 1, 2011
    Generality
    Subtrope of Threshold Guardians.
  • May 1, 2011
    Ryuuma
    ^^^ Ok, fine, let's drop the current title. We need to come up with a better one (right now I've no clue). ^^ Well, depends, it may be the owner itself, but still act as the guardian of the hoard. However considering that there are only three examples of this so far (all including Dragons) I think that we could exclude them. @KZN 02 well, I think it's better to put just the beast/monster guarding it, and just mention if ther's someone with him.
  • May 1, 2011
    Scooter007
    How about the dude guarding the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade?
  • May 6, 2011
    Ryuuma
    ^ Sorry, it's more for monsters than people. ^^"
  • May 6, 2011
    jaytee
    Needs A Better Title. We're trying to stay away from character-named tropes, not to mention that the title is completely non-indicative.
  • May 6, 2011
    Ryuuma
    Indeed, I'll temporary change it to something different (and more indicative) while waiting for better ideas.
  • May 6, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    How about just Mac Guffin Guard?
  • May 6, 2011
    Ryuuma
    .... Fine enough, and that will also give us the chance of putting it under the Mac Guffin Index (or the closest related index). Good Job, thanks! ^_^
  • May 7, 2011
    ProtoDude
    Would the Sentinels from the Mister Monday series count as this? Or does it have to be non-human/unintelligent?
  • May 7, 2011
    Ryuuma
    ^ depends, it can be intelligent and/or capable of speech, but it should be a non-human or at least a sort of Humanoid Abomination. What are exactly these Sentinels?
  • May 7, 2011
    randomsurfer
    • Angel: Skip, the demon guarding half-human monster Billy Blim.

    Why does it have to be nonhuman/monster?
  • May 8, 2011
    Ryuuma
    ^ Now, that is a good question... I think it's because a possible human character guarding a Mac Guffin may fulfill other roles (e.g. The Dragon blocking our heroes' way and so on) or, being more like a Threshold Guardians type, like the Indiana Jones example mentioned above. I guess is mainly because they're far more common. And it makes sense: usually even something like a hound or a guard dog is slightly more efficient than a human guardian because he can smell and has better senses and so on. Usually monsters and/or demons/Robots are stronger and more dangerous to intruders than the everyday human keeper. I'm sure there are examples with human keepers, but is just that monsters/nonhumans tends to be a more popular choice. (note: Humanoid Abomination monster may count). If you want, we can split the page in Human and Nonhuman examples.
  • May 10, 2011
    Ryuuma
    Bump
  • May 12, 2011
    Arivne
    Tabletop RPG
    • Stormbringer supplement Demon Magic, adventure "The Velvet Circle''. The box the adventurers are seeking is guarded by a demon named Tyik Tyva. Inside the box is a Melnibonean Wheel worth 500,000 large bronze pieces.

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