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[[quoteright:320:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/crane3.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:320:''The White Knight'' by Walter Crane]]

-> ''"While evil flourishes and wrongs grow rank, while men are persecuted and women wronged, while weak things, human or animal, are maltreated, there is no rest for me beneath the skies, nor peace at any board or bed. Farewell!"''
-->-- '''Literature/SolomonKane''', '''''The Blue Flame of Vengeance'''''

The medieval KnightErrant stems from the ChivalricRomance, where individual [[KnightInShiningArmor Knights In Shining Armor]] would wander the land, searching for [[OurDragonsAreDifferent evil to slay]] and [[DamselInDistress ladies to rescue]] and whatnot, guided by the DamselErrant. Since then, knights have declined in popularity, but the Knight Errant is still around in full force -- instead of knights, they are now often [[BreadEggsBreadedEggs samurai, cowboys, or]] {{Samurai Cowboy}}s.

Historically a knight errant would refer to a landless knight who would travel with his lord in service and hope of earning his own land. If he is traveling because he was sent by someone it might be a case of MyMasterRightOrWrong.

Knights Errant have some or all of the following traits:

* They, by definition, have ChronicHeroSyndrome. They may or may not [[WeHelpTheHelpless request compensation]], but will always try to do the right thing.
* They have no fixed home, and spend their lives WalkingTheEarth ([[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Errant means "wandering"]]). When they're finished smiting the local evil, they'll [[ButNowIMustGo up and leave.]]
* They have a code of honor. If they are heroes, they can be a KnightInSourArmor, but will always have some degree of idealism inside. On the rare occasion they're a villain, they're usually a NobleDemon or HeWhoFightsMonsters.
* They seek out wrongs to right, generally on a small scale -- a town beset by bandits, a dragon preying on the locals, etc. Only occasionally will they be pitted against an EvilOverlord with earth-conquering ambitions. They often have one specific quest they are on, but you can count on them running into unrelated trouble along the way.
* They are loners. They do not have any TrueCompanions and are not part of a FiveManBand. They may travel with a squire or two, but not with peers; they leave allies behind when they leave town. Their love interests, if any, are [[TemporaryLoveInterest left behind or bumped off by the bad guys.]]
* Sometimes, they are TheStoic, almost to the point of being less a character and more a physical incarnation of justice. They are very prone to having a MysteriousPast. This type generally overlaps with TheDrifter.
* The classic KnightErrant of ChivalricRomance is often accompanied by his DistaffCounterpart and complement the DamselErrant. He is seeking adventure and she knows where adventures are to be found.

There are many variations on the Knight Errant outside of [[KnightInShiningArmor Knights In Shining Armor]]. TheWestern very often stars a Knight Errant in the form of a wandering [[TheGunslinger gunslinger]] or cowboy. {{Samurai}} are often, and {{Ronin}} are almost always, Knights Errant. {{Wuxia}} heroes are Knights Errant. Because of the shared archetype, stories about one type of KnightErrant can easily be {{Recycled IN SPACE}} -- NewOldWest and SpaceWestern are examples of this.

Compare TheDrifter, an accidental KnightErrant.

See ''Webcomic/KnightsErrant'' for the {{webcomic}}.

----
!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* Ash Ketchum from ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}''.
* In ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'', this seems to be the job description of a Magister Magi.
* Kenshiro of ''FistOfTheNorthStar'' is definitely one of these.
* As were Goku and his TrueCompanions during the early parts of ''DragonBall''.
* Tenma in ''Anime/{{Monster}}'', especially as he decides to join the MSF.
* ''PorcoRosso''.
* RurouniKenshin did this for ten years prior to the series, which starts with him temporarily suspending his WalkingTheEarth to stay in a dojo in Tokyo. His variation is that unless he's actively kicking butt, his looks, natural personality, and ObfuscatingStupidity work together to make sure ''nobody'' takes him seriously.
** The anime version also wears pink. (Based on color spreads, manga Kenshin has a red haori and a blue haori. Where he carried the one he wasn't currently wearing in his traveling days is a question for the ages, since he had no baggage.)
* [[{{Trigun}} Vash the Stampede]] does this, too, ObfuscatingStupidity turned UpToEleven. He's a little less formal about it than Kenshin, because he hasn't got a vow, this is just his lifestyle, and he only learned to fight out of necessity, so he doesn't have quite the same type of warrior ethos as a proper knight or samurai.
* Jin of ''Anime/SamuraiChamploo'', prior to the series. After [[TheLastDJ objecting to his master's choices]], he was forced to kill him in self-defense and flee. Rejecting bushido as a code that binds people to [[MyMasterRightOrWrong mindlessly follow villains and idiots]], he [[WalkingTheEarth wanders around Japan]] searching for a purpose until Fuu makes him her bodyguard.
* The Elric brothers seem like this at the beginning of ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'', before the wider-reaching plot arcs start up--they travel from place to place, righting wrongs and searching for leads on how to get their bodies back.
** Especially true in [[Anime/FullmetalAlchemist the 2003 anime version]], which had a few extra filler episodes near the beginning that consisted almost entirely of the Elrics going somewhere, righting some wrong, and going along their merry way, with the episode tying in minimally or not at all to the long-term plot.
* Parn from ''Anime/RecordOfLodossWar''. He is known as the Free Knight because he officially holds loyalty to no kingdom and helps anyone in need, no matter their allegiance or nationality.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Miyamoto Usagi from ''UsagiYojimbo''.
* The titular character of ''ComicBook/LuckyLuke'' embodies this, to the point where the last panel of every album is him riding off into the sunset, singing ''I'm a lonesome cowboy.''
* Dark Horse and ''Franchise/StarWars'' are coming out with a comic book series called Knight Errant. What's known is that it will have a lone Jedi Knight during the dark time before the final battle of Ruusan, where the Sith outnumber the Jedi, and the Republic has been whittled down to just the areas around the core. The lone Jedi will be going around to planets in the Sith zone and fighting the good fight.
* DCU's "TheWarlord" seems to be based on this trope. Travis Morgan, aka "The Warlord", was a USAF lieutenant colonel who crash landed in Skartaris, a world inside the hollow Earth. A modern man injected into a world of sword & sorcery, he falls in love with and marries Tara, the warrior-queen of Shambhala. The character avoids a bad cliché by not becoming Skartaris’ leader and attempting to impose his values on it, but neither can he sit idly by at the royal court whilst knowing how much is 'wrong' in the rest of the world. As a result, he is constantly absent- journeying around Skartaris as a knight errant, enjoying the role of an adventurer far more than that of a king.
* Invoked by Gilbert in ''ComicBook/TheSandman'', who insists upon being Rose Walker's "Knight Errant" in her search for her brother.
* The Comicbook/GhostRider has shades of this, depending on which verison of him you're dealing with, as well as [[DependingOnTheWriter who's writing the books at the time.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* ''TheSevenSamurai'' are organized by a Knight Errant, and have a very Knight Errant-y M.O. despite their team size.
* ''TheMagnificentSeven'' is a Western adaptation of ''TheSevenSamurai''.
* The Jedi from ''Franchise/StarWars'' often act as Knights Errant. ''Film/ANewHope'' itself was adapted from ''The Hidden Fortress'', a samurai movie. By the book Obi-Wan is a good specific example because he is an ideal Jedi Knight.
* ''Film/{{Shane}}'' may be the UrExample of cowboys as Knights Errant.
* ''Every'' SpaghettiWestern.
** The Man With No Name from the Film/DollarsTrilogy.
** [[NoNameGiven Harmonica]] from ''Film/OnceUponATimeInTheWest''.
* ''SukiyakiWesternDjango''
* ''Film/CrouchingTigerHiddenDragon''
* ''TheForbiddenKingdom''
* ''TheBookOfEli''
* ''WilliamShakespearesRomeoAndJuliet'' has Romeo symbolically dressing up as a knight errant at the Capulet's party as he calls himself a pilgrim who has traveled to the shrine of Juliet.

[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* [[KingArthur The Knights of the Round Table]] were a squadron of Knights Errant. Even though they were a team, they typically adventured alone. The TropeNamer is ''Literature/SirGawainAndTheGreenKnight'', in which Gawain is referred to as a "knygt erraunt".
* ''Literature/DonQuixote'' is a {{deconstruction}} of, among other things, Knights Errant.
* {{Wuxia}} novels, films, plays, etc. are full of such figures, and the term even translates to something like "wandering knight." This derives from [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xia_%28philosophy%29 Chinese knighthood]], which isn't a widely-known subject in the West.
* The protagonist of ''The Last Knight'' is a knight errant who lives about 200 years after errantry has gone out of fashion. His squire is a former con man who at first comes along mostly because it keeps him out of jail, and later to look after his employer, who's prone to HonorBeforeReason.
* ''Franchise/TheDarkTower'': Roland Deschain is a Gunslinger from another dimension who is descended from [[KingArthur Arthur Eld]] and wields guns that were forged from Excalibur. He's on an epic quest to reach the Dark Tower and fight the forces of evil. The story is very loosely based on the poem "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came," which is itself based on ''Literature/TheSongOfRoland''.
* Colonel Next from ''Literature/ThursdayNext'' is consistently described as a "time-travelling KnightErrant", usually turning up in the nick of time to save the world.
* Malik ibn Ibrahim from the ebook anthology ''Literature/WanderingDjinn'' seems to fall into this category constantly.
* The Knights of the Cross in ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'' fit this archetype; even Michael, who has a home, a wife, and a small army of children spends much of his time traveling the globe, righting wrongs and fighting evil. Their main job, as it turns out, is somewhat different - they're actually supposed to get the Denarians' hosts to repent and give up the [[FallenAngels Denarians]]. The doing random good seems to only be their secondary function.
* ''Literature/TheProphecyOfTheStones'' seems to have a whole class of Knight Errants. Not all of them are admirable, however.
* Alana from the ''Literature/TortallUniverse'' starts out in ''The Woman Who Rides Like a Man'' to escape court and find adventure.
* ''Literature/VorkosiganSaga'': Miles Vorkosigan has been diagnosed as having Knight Errant tendencies - by his mother.
* Simon Templar, more commonly known as Literature/TheSaint, is this in many of creator Leslie Charteris's stories (one story collection was even titled ''Saint Errant'') and in some episodes of the TV series that starred Roger Moore. Not so much in the [[TheMovie Val Kilmer movie]].
* Keith Laumer's Literature/{{Bolo}} series has the titular Bolo's, self-aware [[TankGoodness ultratanks]] with enough [[MoreDakka firepower to wipe a]] [[ApocalypseHow planet clean of life.]] They are openly stated as being Knight Errants, and [[WhatMeasureIsANonHuman in many cases are more "Human,"]] than [[HumansAreBastards those they protect.]] Many Bolo stories involve a Bolo sacrificing itself to save the lives of innocents, or about them trying to understand their human companions.
** One story ends with the Bolo literally getting knighted.
* A very [[TheFairFolk tiny]] knight errant is the subject of a poem by [[Creator/JRRTolkien Tolkien]], aptly titled "Errantry." The poem includes descriptions of his [[KnightInShiningArmour marvellously shiny armour]], his [[SatelliteLoveInterest attempts to woo and marry a butterfly]], and his epic battles with [[BugWar dragonflies and bumblebees]]. Also, perhaps coincidentally, you can sing it to the tune of Creator/GilbertAndSullivan's "[[MajorGeneralSong I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General]]".
* "Literature/SaintGeorgeAndTheDragon", taken from an old poem from ''Literature/TheFaerieQueene'' begins with the Red Cross Knight riding across a plain, bound on a great adventure, sent by the Queen of the Fairies to fight the dragon.
* The ''KnightAndRogueSeries'' is more or less about a young man who decides to make this his occupation in spite of knights being a thing of the past.
* A rare anti-heroic version appears in the form of [[BadAss Richard]] {{Sharpe}}. [[LampshadeHanging Lampshaded]] by [[TheChessmaster Major Hogan]] in ''Sharpe's Havoc'':
--->'''Hogan:''' KingArthur, God rest his soul, would have loved you. He'd have had you rescuing every maiden in the land.
** Given Sharpe's [[ReallyGetsAround fairly]] [[AnythingThatMoves strong]] ChivalrousPervert tendencies, there's usually something in it for him...
* John Shannow, the eponymous Literature/JerusalemMan in Creator/DavidGemmell's series of that name, starts by wandering a post-Apocalyptic Earth in a vague search for Jerusalem, but is repeatedly distracted by evil.
* The first novel in the ''MechWarrior: Dark Age'' series centers around a Knight Errant, essentially a Mech Warrior who had the job of traveling to trouble spots around the galaxy and basically lying low to gather information and take action in case something came up.
** Of course, this wasn't clear for the first several chapters, where he seemed to be a blue-collar type with a MysteriousPast who gets caught up with a political extremist group. TheReveal that he's a knight happens around the same time that the female mechwarrior who just arrested him and took him aboard her ship for questioning [[RelationshipReveal plants a kiss on him,]] putting everything that occured before that in a new light.
* SolomonKane.
* In Creator/PatriciaAMcKillip's "The Kelpie", NiceGuy Ned is suggested for this in a painting; he wishes he could be evil for once, and is asked if he can settle for triumphant.
* The Justicar, hero of Paul Kidd's trilogy of Greyhawk novels '''White Plume Mountain''', '''Descent Into The Depths Of The Earth''', and '''Queen Of The Demonweb Pits''' is made of this trope. He does everything but travel alone. Much to his discomfort, he accumulates ever more companions through the series. He starts with just a sentient hellhound skin, and collects a faerie princess who is also an accomplished mage, a drunken human teamster (who later becomes a drunken badger), a female sphynx, a young male human soldier, a talking sword, and a non-evil demon (who just wants a nice clean, calm, safe place to settle down with her boyfriend).
* The main protagonist of ''The Dragon'' by E. Schwartz. He is also called [[MeaningfulName Lancelot]].
* ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' typically subverts or deconstructs the concept. Masterless knights are called hedge knights and are generally seen as one step above common mercenaries. And, then there are the knights that become rudderless thanks to losing their position or sponsors, even if they prefer ''not'' to think of themselves as hedge knights, but [[TheExile exiles]] [[{{Ronin}} between masters]], rather.
** The Literature/TalesOfDunkAndEgg {{Prequel}} series plays it straighter -- yet, also deconstructs it and subverts it a little, too. Ser Duncan embodies the classic knight errant in quite a lot of ways. He's (relatively) young and quite idealistic, for all he's a StreetSmart FishOutOfWater, believing in the code of honor that knights are supposed to follow and indeed believes that "The Hedge Knight", the wanderer who sleeps in meadows and beneath trees is closer to "true knight" than the political, class-concious, power-playing types he witnesses. Except... he [[SelfProclaimedKnight isn't really a knight]], at all: he's very conspicuously uncomfortable talking about how he became one. After the first story, the pattern is established that he'll wander into a new area, encounter a problem, help solve it (though not in the way he originally intended) and then move on. Except... as you find out in the main series... Some of those "solved" problems [[spoiler: weren't as solved as they appeared, coming back to bite him and Egg later on in Aegon's reign when both were more established parts of society -- and, the later reigns. The [[FeudingFamilies Blackwood-Bracken issue]], for example: successfully solved in the short-term, on paper. Long-term: a different set of problems arose from said solution making it so they couldn't ''overtly'' act against each other (didn't stop them covertly trying, though). When 80+ years of pent-up frustration finally do explode in an unstable environment, it's likely going to be [[RealityEnsues a Very Big Problem.]] ]]
* Aragorn in his backstory, and also in ''[[Literature/LordOfTheRings The Fellowship of the Ring]]'' where he pledges to get the hobbits to Rivendell.
-->I am Aragorn son of Arathorn; and if by life or death I can save you, I will.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/TheATeam'', similarly: the knight-errant needs to be solitary.
* ''Series/{{Angel}}'': Parodied when Wesley attempts to be this when first introduced.
* In ''Series/DoctorWho'', the Doctor often fits this trope, even if he's not actively seeking wrongs to right, he seldom hesitates to get involved when he runs into one. He's had many companions, but they act more like "squires" than true partners and none of them stay with him forever. His [[TheNthDoctor sixth incarnation]] outright calls himself a Knight Errant at least once.
* Dr. Sam Beckett from ''QuantumLeap'' is a [[RecycledINSPACE time-traveling]] Knight Errant who [[SetRightWhatOnceWentWrong "strives to put right what once went wrong"]] one life at a time.
* Paladin, the protagonist of ''HaveGunWillTravel''.
* In ''Series/TheAdventuresOfBriscoCountyJr'', Brisco and Lord Bowler fit this perfectly. Bounty hunters travelling the West looking for bad guys, and usually finding them.
* Both Gwaine and Lancelot at times in BBC's Series/{{Merlin}}
* Sam and Dean in ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' fit this trope, especially the former. While they have some other overarching goals each season - finding their father in Season One, trying to negate Dean's contract in Season Three, averting the Apocalypse in Season Five, fighting the Leviathans in Season Seven - they always stop by in whatever wayward towns are being haunted even if they don't have personal reasons to, and deal with the supernatural threats there. Although they ARE involved in criminal activity - false credit cards, fake [=IDs=] - this is done for sustenance and to further their goals each time, as they don't get paid for their work. Other Hunters probably count as well - particularly John Winchester [[spoiler: before his death]], Bobby Singer, and Ellen & Jo Harvelle as of the Season Two finale.
** Seems like pretty much everyone in their line of work that doesn't stay in one fixed location (i.e. most of them, as hunters tend to leave messes behind, and there are only so many monsters in one location) have to engage in some level of criminal activity. Frequent ones are grave desecration and breaking and entering, but on the Headscratchers page for the series, it's been mentioned that the boys probably at least loot the corpses of those killed by the monsters they hunt. Gas isn't cheap.
* ''Series/TheMaster'', a show about an aging ninja master and [[McNinja his apprentice]], traveling in a van and righting wrongs.
* Caine from ''KungFu''.
* ''HerculesTheLegendaryJourneys''
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* RPG adventuring parties aren't normally an example of this; a key part of this trope is that the knight is solitary. "Solo" campaigns, with a single player and a DM, are not uncommon however.
* Bretonnia, one of the factions in ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer}} Fantasy Battles'', has a unit type called Knights Errant, representing the young, impetuous knights whose courage sometimes outpaces their skill. Their special rules reflect these details. A better example of this trope, Questing Knights, are knights who have given up their feudal responsibilities to quest for the Grail and the Lady of the Lake; their oaths command them never to stay in one place for too long, and they keep righting wrongs until they die or drink from the Grail.
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'', the Legion of the Damned fit this trope to a T. Trapped in hyperspace for about a hundred years and cursed with some MaybeMagicMaybeMundane warp disease/curse, the last one hundred survivors wander the galaxy searching for other marines, coming to their aid in their hour of need, vanishing as mysteriously and silently as they came, never straying from their dedication to the Emperor even as their bodies and minds slowly break down.
** "The Knights Errant" is also the official name for the 8 founding members of the Grey Knights.
* ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering'' has Gideon Jura. Elspeth Tirel as well, who actually bears the title of Knight-Errant. Elspeth's defining trait is that she doesn't want to planeswalk; she just wants to find paradise and stay there.
** Of course, [[TheWorldIsAlwaysDoomed this is Magic]]. Her first home was destroyed by [[TheCorruption Phyrexia]], and her adopted home of [[LawfulGood Bant]] became culturally contaminated when the shards of Alara merged. Now she's trying to take the fight to Phyrexia, and the outlook is very bad.
** And then of course there is the vanilla card from even further back, [[http://gatherer.wizards.com/pages/card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=13099 Knight Errant]].
* Knight Errant is one of the possible careers in ''TabletopGame/{{Ironclaw}}'', though not all of the traits are necessary, many are essentially mercenaries of noble birth.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Many open-world [=RPGs=] are basically built around being a KnightErrant. The player is given a WideOpenSandbox populated by people who need help, and they [[WalkingTheEarth wander around]] finding those people and solving their problems.
* Samara, an Asari party member in ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'' is a Justicar. According to her "the closest human equivalent would be a knight errant, with perhaps a bit of samurai".
** Paragon Shepard can spend most of their time travelling the galaxy and selflessly going out of the way to put right any wrong they encounter.
* Sanger Zonvolt from the ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWars'' series, the Sword That Smites Evil who will show up whenever evil arises. And will do anything to protect his girl, namely Sophia Nate.
* Erwin's, the hero of [[{{VideoGame/Langrisser}} DerLangrisser]] personal theme is the titular Knight Errant, traveling through El Sallia in his quest (which depends on which story path he is following).
* In ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIVOblivion'', after performing a service for the city of Leyawiin, you and a [[BoisterousBruiser jovial NPC]] receive this title.
* The Warden from ''Franchise/DragonAge'', who [[WalkingTheEarth goes where they must]] and where they are [[WeHelpTheHelpless most needed.]]
** The ''Witch Hunt'' DLC for ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'' can end with the Warden (the KnightErrant) and Morrigan (the DamselErrant) stepping through the Eluvian, beyond the Fade and into the unknown.
** Hawke in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeII'', part of the reason why they came to be ''[[TheChampion Champion of Kirkwall]]''.
* [[{{Metroid}} Samus]] is often seen as one.
* Adol Christin of ''VideoGame/{{Ys}}'' decided when he was a kid that he'd travel the world, righting wrongs and nailing chicks. Well, the second part's mostly inferred.
* KingdomHearts gave us Sora, who constantly travels from world to world, never stopping or staying very long, righting whatever wrongs he happens to come across along the way, from finding lost dogs to toppling local tyrants. He might have a few too many friends to count as a truly classical example, but 90% of them are the "leave them behind when you leave town" variety. By VideoGame/KingdomHearts3DDreamDropDistance, it's earned him an [[KnightFever official knighting]] by then-Princess Minnie.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* In ''{{Roza}}'' [[http://www.junglestudio.com/roza/?date=2009-07-13 sparrow knights]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Amnesty, the AnthropomorphicPersonification of mercy and compassion in the ''GlobalGuardiansPBEMUniverse'', acts like this. She shows up at a place where human beings are suffering, stops the suffering, and then moves on to the next place of suffering.
* From Wiki/TheWorldbuildProject: Travelling about and righting wrongs? Sounds like a classic scenario for a [[MagicKnight Rohomajeshi Justicar]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''SamuraiJack'' is an homage to this trope, among many others.
* Finn and Jake, the heroes of ''WesternAnimation/AdventureTime'', are a rather absurdist take on this trope.
[[/folder]]

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