Underofficer Kanishka: How are we supposed to be an imperial bodyguard if the damned Empress herself...If you're important, then it's best to stay safe; all sorts of people might bear a grudge toward you for your decisions, because of who you are, because they want your job, or simply because you're important. This goes double in fiction, where there wouldn't be a plot if someone wasn't after your head. Thus anyone who's anyone needs a bodyguard to watch their back. The problem is, anyone who's anyone in fiction is also able to back it up. This trope concerns bodyguards who are a lot weaker than their charges. Naturally, while there's often no explanation, it can be justified:
Commander Kungas: You could always go back to work for Venandakatra. He never took any personal risks.
Commander Kungas: You could always go back to work for Venandakatra. He never took any personal risks.
- They also perform other functions such as being a Cloudcuckoolander's Minder or a general assistant who happens to be useful in a fight, or indeed they're there for everyone else's protection.
- They came with the position, so the authority figure needs to keep them around as a sign of their office, if only for formal ceremonies. This especially applies to younger badasses, whose parents might insist they have protection.
- Either the bodyguard or their charge likes having the other around.
- Even a badass finds it useful to have someone else watching their back or keeping an eye out for threats. This goes double if the badass has some sort of weakness (secret or otherwise) in their fighting style or ability that the bodyguard can easily cover with their own skills.
- So that the Hidden Badass can look as though they aren't as tough as they are.
- The badass only knows lethal ways of fighting, and has bodyguards who are trained in non-lethal techniques and crowd control, so he doesn't kill anyone he shouldn't.
- A celebrity badass might have bodyguards that help him get mobs of fans out of the way without hurting them, so he doesn't get sued.
- The badass is a Glass Cannon, and the bodyguard is a Stone Wall.
- The badass has a job to do other than fighting, or they want to conserve their strength for those moments when it's clearly needed. Thus they have bodyguards around to take the pressure off and allow them to focus on their main mission without unnecessary distractions.
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Anime and Manga
- Every handler in Gunslinger Girl is a quite capable agent in their own right - a good shot, a good hand-to-hand combatant, able to play a part if needed, and generally all around well-trained to kick terrorist ass. That being said, the girls that guard them are much, much more badass.
- Akira's bodyguards in Ai Ore! Love Me! follow him around because their sheer size discourages creeps from trying to assaulting their charge. Once a creep evades them, Akira has no choice but to make it clear who needs protection. In fact, all boys at Akira's all-boys school who know how much of a badass he is (and that includes his own bodyguards) are afraid of hitting any Berserk Button of his.
- In Detective Conan, an old man protects his late friend's nephew by pretending to be his late friend and having the nephew pose as the bodyguard. In reality, his goal was to be the decoy when one of the family members tries to kill the old man to get a larger inheritance.
- Dragon Ball:
- Kibito to the Kaioshin, who is known to be more powerful than he is.
- Zen-O, ruler of the multiverse, has two bodyguards constantly flanking him. Why he would need bodyguards is an excellent question, considering he's confirmed to be more powerful than everyone else by quite a large margin.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, Colonel Badass Roy Mustang is the Flame Alchemist. He can blow up buildings and set fire to just about anything with (literally) a snap of his fingers. He's far and away the most dangerous of the State Alchemists. He has no fears for his own personal safety - not because of this, but because he's entrusted his back to Riza Hawkeye, one of the military's top snipers, who takes her job very seriously.
- Riza also doubles as Roy's Morality Chain, should he ever need it. He intends to become the country's leader through benevolent means, and has instructed her to kill him should he ever deviate to a darker path.
- There's also Ling and his subjects Fu and Lan Fan, who are his sworn protectors even though he can more than handle himself in a fight (especially once he becomes the second Greed). That said, they also have elements of the Cloudcuckoolander's Minder whenever Ling is in crouching moron mode.
- Every single bodyguard for Fuhrer Bradley counts as this, given that he is probably the most devastating fighter in the series. Even those who don't know that he's the homunculus Wrath are not surprised when he turns up to personally take the lead in a combat situation.
- Mahou Sensei Negima!'s Kurt Godel shows up with a legion of armored mooks as a personal guard, claiming to have a fragile constitution. When shit goes down, they get knocked around as easily as Faceless Mooks always do, and just when you're ready to see that Irritating Smirk get knocked off his face - it turns out he's basically the setting's most powerful swordsman.
- In Naruto, during the Kage Summit Arc, all five Kages (who are the best shinobi in their villages) pick a couple of guards to go with them. Despite the bodyguards being inferior to the Kages themselves, they are still very badass ninjas in their own right and often possess unique techniques that nobody else has. Many of the Kages' bodyguards are also their proteges and eventual successors, and a flashback shows that the same was true of the bodyguards at the original Kage Summit where all of the first Kages' bodyguards became the second or third Kage of their respective villages.
- Indeed so many bodyguards for the Kage's ultimately become kage themselves that it seems likely the purpose of bringing them is specifically to train them for the political and diplomatic side of the leadership role.
- Pluto has Epsilon, one of (if not the) most powerful robot in the world being guarded by a somewhat generic security robot. Said robot even remarks the irony of it.
- In The Wizard in the Shadows Emrys becomes Theodred's bodyguard after he saves his life. He swiftly becomes the stronger of the two
- In episode 2 of Tokurei Sochi Dantai Stella Jogakuin Koutouka C 3 Bu, newbie Yura is assigned to bodyguard Sonora in the VIP Escort mission.
- Mikasa to Eren in Attack on Titan. After Eren is revealed to be a Titan Shifter and pretty badass himself, Mikasa remains fiercely protective over him and is very competent at protecting him from any threat, human or Titan.
- The most fearsome of the Werewolf Special Forces unit named Beowulf from Dance in the Vampire Bund are usually more dangerous than the ancient vampire queen they serve is, but not by all that much... and not at all when she unleashes the Super Mode she prefers to keep under wraps for political reasons.
- Bleach: Gemischt are generally considered weaker than Echt. However, they are also the front line fighters in the fight against hollows, and protect the Echt who don't fight unless both the Gemischt and Shinigami have fallen. Kanae Katagiri, a very capable warrior in her own right, was therefore not as powerful as her charge, Ryuuken Ishida. Quincies have no natural defence against hollow taint which can destroy their powers or even their lives. Tainted Gemischt are considered an acceptable sacrifice to keep Echt bloodlines pure. Some Echt have been willing to defy this rule, either openly (such as Masaki Kurosaki) or secretly (such as Ryuuken Ishida).
- In Yu-Gi-Oh!, Isono (Roland) to Seto Kaiba, ignoring the fact that Kaiba is constantly leaving him behind whenever he does get into actual trouble (when you might think a guy with a gun would come in useful). When he does keep him around, Isono is mostly reduced to making sure he doesn't get bothered by people who don't have appointments.
- Medaka Box: Zenkichi Hitoyoshi has made it his duty to be someone capable of protecting his childhood friend Medaka, despite the fact that she's far stronger than he is(though Zenkichi is no slouch either).
- Household members in Magi – Labyrinth of Magic are people who protect and serve a dungeon master. The two most notable examples are the Eight Generals for Sinbad and Hakuei's Kouga Calvary.
- In Yona of the Dawn, Yona insists that Hak, the Badass Normal of the group and can hold his own in a fight with the rest of the dragons, is to be protected.
- In Fairy Tail, the Spriggan Twelve are the ruler of the Albareth Empire Emperor Spriggan's bodyguards. The Spriggan Twelve are elite mages on par with the strongest mages Ishgar has to offer especially since God Serena, the strongest of Ishgar's Wizard Saints, recently defected to the Empire and is now one of the Twelve. Emperor Spriggan is supposedly even stronger, since he's the guy who united the 730 guilds of the western continent into an empire through force by himself. Makes a lot more sense after Spriggan is revealed to be Zeref, the strongest mage in history who is also immortal.
- The clansman for a king in K. While the king is stronger than all their clansman put together and are only rivaled by other kings, they still need support and assistance from their clansman to watch their backs.
- Late in the run of City Hunter, Ryo, the best sweeper in Tokyo, found himself hired to guard Umibozu, the one man who can match him in a fight. Justified because Umibozu had gone blind and was being targeted by a dozen of other sweepers, so his fiancee Miki didn't want to take risks.
- Both the comic and film version of Iron Man has his personal assistant/driver and de facto bodyguard Harold Joseph "Happy" Hogan. Justified in that Happy is usually guarding Tony Stark while out of the armor (Tony usually has a spare suit of armor in his briefcase anyway) and is still officially his driver.
- As a diplomat, Wonder Woman has at least once had a division of Secret Service agents (unpowered people with pistols and radios, mind you, not other Amazons) assigned to protect her. It is hard to imagine a threat they could defeat which would even give her as much as a scratch.
- In an Alternate Universe Captain America became President of the United States. The secret service agents felt a bit unnecessary, and one commented that he felt safer with the president around.
- Wong, faithful servant to Doctor Strange, has double duty as a bodyguard when Strange is distracted (e.g. while in Astral Projection) and a housekeeper/butler the rest of the time. He is also Strange's sparring partner.
- As the king of the fictional nation of Wakanda, Black Panther has a group of female bodyguards despite the fact that he is a Super Hero who has been a member of both the Fantastic Four and The Avengers.
- Sasha Bordeaux from Batman, though badass in her own right, definitely qualifies, seeing as the guy she was hired to protect is Bruce Wayne. This eventually led to her deciding to take additional levels of badass to try to keep up with him once she knew who she was really protecting. It had gotten pretty bad when she was constantly getting ducked by her charge.
- In House of M, Rhino probably qualifies as the most useless bodyguard in the world (while serving as Spider-Man's bodyguard when Spidey was on good terms with Magnus).
- The eponymous protagonist of Warren Ellis' issue-one-of-a-comic-that-doesn't-exist Simon Spector had a bodyguard, not because he needed one to protect him from threats but because all the fighting styles he knows are fatal.
- In Star Wars Legacy the Imperial Knights are an order of Grey Jedi devoted to preserving the Fel Empire and guarding the true Emperor Roan Fel, who is himself a master of the order. As is his daughter, Princess Marasiah. Though they are also sent on missions for the Empire and finally act as a safeguard in case the Emperor turns to the Dark Side.
- The Power Pack sometimes act as an unofficial bodyguard squad for Franklin Richards, one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel universe. More justified since while Franklin is very powerful, he can't control his abilities and likely will never get full control of them.
- In the Avatar: The Last Airbender comics, Zuko ends up neutralizing several nighttime assassination attempts on his own before his guards even show up.
- In the Death Note AU Ragnarok after Loki challenges L and names Light Yagami, in this AU the NPA's rising star prodigy detective and L's rival, as his future victim. L responds by forcibly taking Light into protective custody-a task that was easier planned then done since Light has a blackbelt in judo and doesn't feel he needs L's "protection" nor does he wish to put others at risk guarding him when he can take care of himself.
- In the Death Note AU Monster much to his displeasure Aizawa gets stuck babysitting a "helpless" amnesiac L.
- The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fan fiction Duel Nature centers around Twilight becoming this for Luna. It's not so much that Luna needs guarding as Celestia is punishing them both for a Wizard Duel that got way, WAY out of hand. As with all of the assignment she receives from Celestia Twilight takes the responsibility seriously.
- "Just An Everyday Princess" focuses on Twilight Sparkle returning to Ponyville after her coronation as an Alicorn Princess. She is assigned four Unicorn Stallions to serve as her personal bodyguards, despite Twilight being essentially a battle hardened Warrior Mage, Multi-time national heroine, and all-around badass Which turns out to be completely unnecessary, as Twilight is completely immortal and being torn to shreds only slows her down. In the meantime, the bodyguards annoy Twilight by suspecting everyone and everything of plotting against her, going so far as to arrest Pinkie for kidnapping She was taking Twilight to a party and Applejack for assault Applejack DID attack Twilight, but it was a misunderstanding which Twilight cleared up the first chance she got. They also attack Big Macintosh just for approaching Twilight and accused Zecora of conspiring against Twilight just because she's not from Ponyville.
- In Legionnaire, Equestrian princess are protected quite well, in spite of generally being powerful enough to count as physical gods.
- The Pony POV Series gives an explanation for this; the bodyguards aren't there to protect the Princesses, they're there so the Princesses don't need to risk accidentally harming innocent civilians defending themselves.
- In Fate Stay Night: Ultimate Master has Ben Tennyson taking part in the Holy Grail War, and as such being granted his own Servant, Avenger. While Avenger is by no mean weak (she can go on par with Saber), the fact her Master is an alien shapeshifting super-heros makes her look ridiculously underpowered compared to him. Later on though, she proves her usefulness and decides to make up for it by training Ben to use his aliens in coordination with her.
- In Ryuugi's The Games We Play, when Jaune enrols in Haven, Adam's (disguised) presence is explained as him being a bodyguard. Jaune doesn't really need one. This becomes justified when hitting Jericho Falls; when Jaune's fighting the boss, even a small distraction can be fatal, so the rest of the team need to keep the riffraff off his back.
- In Thousand Shinji, the Rubric Marines guarded Shinji while he healed Asuka's ravaged mind and during the Geofront Invasion. They were ghosts trapped into Powered Armor bodyguarding someone who was all but a Physical God at that point.
- On the ship to Ferelden in All This Sh*t is Twice as Weird, Mahanon serves as Victoria's bodyguard. It's purely a ruse to make people believe that he's not the stowaway he actually is; they both find it an extremely amusing one.
- In Air Force One, the President is a former special forces soldier. So when terrorists slaughter the Secret Service agents assigned to guard him, he single-handedly turns the tide back and kills them all.
- In the final fight in Equilibrium, Brandt guards Dupont even though it is clear after Preston cuts off Brandt's face that Dupont is a master at Gun Kata.
- In Hero, two assassins assault the imperial palace, cutting through a small army to do so. When they reach the emperor, the weaker of the two stays behind to hold off the whole army alone, while the other goes in to duel the emperor in single combat. "The Imperial Guard are not worthy of mention," indeed.
- Star Wars
- The impressive-looking Imperial guard, who protect the Emperor, a Sith Lord who could wipe them all out singlehandedly. And as seen in Rogue One, Darth Vader as well. They're never seen doing anything in the original trilogy and are dispatched without a fight in the prequels.
- General Grievous's custom droid bodyguards. Though not quite as strong as Grievous himself, they're still very tough, and often help turn the tide in closely matched fights. Their number justifies the role.
- X-Men Film Series:
- The Wolverine: Yukio tells Logan, "Think of me as your bodyguard." Wolverine just eyerolls and goes with it. It's understandable in this case because Logan isn't used to fighting without his Healing Factor. The "everyone can use back up" reason is employed.
- X-Men: Apocalypse: It's the duty of each generation of the Four Horsemen to protect the god-like En Sabah Nur. He is vulnerable when he transfers his consciousness to another body, and his traitors in Ancient Egypt took advantage of this. Without the absolute dedication of his Horsemen, Apocalypse would've died when his pyramid collapsed.
- Maleficent: Diaval to his titular mistress. The most powerful of faeries rarely needs protection. And even then most of his own badassary and protective skills come from what she transforms him into.
- In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Agent 13 was sent to guard Captain America, the greatest soldier of the 20th century.
- In the Iron Man series, Happy Hogan bodyguards Tony Stark, who by the midpoint of the first film has access to a suit of Powered Armor that makes him virtually unstoppable, making Happy mostly redundant. By the third movie, he's accepted a promotion to another job in Stark Industries, where he can actually be effective.
Happy: I would tell people I'm Iron Man's bodyguard and they'd laugh at me!
- Wonder Woman (2017): Zigzagged. When confronted by would-be assassins in an alley Steve's first instinct is to protect Diana. Once she proves fast enough to block bullets with her bracelets, she proceeds to protect him.
- In The Wheel of Time there's the The Maidens Of The Spear, an Amazon Brigade who act as a bodyguard for Rand Al'Thor. As he is The Chosen One and the most powerful channeler (magician) in the world, they can be rather redundant. They guard him in the first place more as a point of honor than anything, since Rand's mother was a Maiden.
- The Seanchan Empress is trained to be an efficiently deadly fighter as well as though she has an elite bodyguard, she is expected to be her own last line of defence.
- In David Drake's Redliners, early on the major has a bodyguard whose sole purpose is to keep the major from doing anything stupid like trying to lead an assault from the front; his job is to lead, not be a badass, though badass he is.
- A Song of Ice and Fire
- Nobles and landed knights have access to the best training and equipment, making them typically some of the best fighters in the Seven Kingdoms. They'll always have guards at their keeps and will travel with men at arms for protection, even though most are almost surely better armed and trained than the men they command. However this is justified as safety in numbers - a single noble warrior, no matter how well trained and equipped and how personally skilled he is, would be vulnerable to getting Zerg Rushed by superior numbers of lesser opponents. Combat Pragmatism is also fully in effect, so getting caught off-guard is an obvious worry.
- All Dothraki khals have a group of bloodriders who dedicate the rest of their lives to protecting him. Dothraki khals are typically the most badass fighter of the khalasar, so presumably the khal could kick his bloodriders' asses.
- Another example comes with Melisandre, who didn't keep any fear of being attacked, but still had guards about her person to maintain an aura of importance, while thinking about "the trappings of power"
- The Dresden Files
- John Marcone; an ex-special ops mafia lord capable of taking down all kinds of supernatural nasties without flinching- but his best friend Hendricks works as his bodyguard anyway. Somewhat justified in that if the public knew about his badassery, it'd just be one more proof that he actually does run the Mob, and his life's easier if they're kept in the dark.
- The Archive, the living repository of all accumulated written knowledge with incredible magical power and the ability to destroy several millennia-old monsters while being limited to the power in the air around her. And her bodyguard, Kincaid. The Archive is a young girl and can't drive herself around.
"My feet don't reach the pedals."
- The Steel Inquisitors from Mistborn are incredibly badass, but their boss the Lord Ruler, who they guard as part of their duties, is far more powerful. Mostly, they're there so he doesn't have to soil his hands with grunt work if he doesn't want to (and as a group they're also in charge of policing his empire, though he's almost always accompanied by a handful). And having Inquisitors is incredibly useful for the times when, to satisfy the Equivalent Exchange aspect of his magic, the Lord Ruler has to regress for a few hours into a withered old man rather an a nigh-invincible Physical God.
- This is actually a normal battle tactic in The Way of Kings, when generals are often the ones with Shardplate and Shardblades; they are devastating in close-quarter combat but could be defeated by being pulled down by the sheer weight of enemy troops, so they are accompanied by an honour guard of soldiers with more normal weapons and armour to stop this happening.
- In The Eugenics Wars, Gary Seven and Khan are at the South Pole trying to deal with a scientist who's developing technology that allows for control of the atmosphere. They take care of the bodyguard rather easily, but are both overcome by the scientist. It's later revealed that the scientist is immortal and after being everyone from Alexander the Great to Cesar, he's learned to take care of himself.
- In Heralds of Valdemar, Monarch's Own Herald is the King or Queen's bodyguard during state functions, even though the current Queen and the Heir can both handle themselves in a fight. Justified because 1) crowned heads leave the fighting to others, and 2) it gives them the advantage if any would-be assassins assume it will be an easy job.
- In the Horus Heresy novels:
- Many of the Primarchs are guarded by a Praetorian Guard, which they of course don't actually need, being so badass themselves. It's lampshaded by Corax on one occasion and summed up by Guilliman on another:
Faffnar: If you were, say, without your bodyguard and cornered in a room with us-
Guilliman: My dear Faffnar, then you would be cornered in a room with me.
- Then, of course, there are the Custodians, who serve the same function to the Emperor of Mankind, a being so powerful, he's worshipped by an increasing number of people as a Physical God, so anything that could threaten him would probably wipe the floor with the entire order. The Emperor is well aware of that, and uses them mostly as a rapid strike force and Imperial Palace guard.
- Many of the Primarchs are guarded by a Praetorian Guard, which they of course don't actually need, being so badass themselves. It's lampshaded by Corax on one occasion and summed up by Guilliman on another:
- Armsmen tend to be this in Vorkosigan Saga. Some justify this by doubling as a Battle Butler (doing more mundane tasks as well as serving as guards). Also the Armsman might be assigned to protect a dependant, a guest or whatever.
- Harry Potter:
- Harry is occasionally given an escort by the Ministry of Magic or the Order of the Phoenix, despite having survived facing Voldemort in five out of five encounters.
- The Order does make sense, and Harry gladly accepts their protection (at least until he gets worried they'll be hurt for him), but he does get visibly annoyed when an Auror in a suit tries to manhandle him.
- Hagrid acts as this in Deathly Hallows, when he's the one guarding Harry as he leaves Privet Drive. Although he is impervious to many spells due to being a half-giant, as a wizard he's basically a third-year with a broken wand. This is to exploit the trope. Their enemies, the Death Eaters, don't expect Harry to be with a bodyguard who's weaker than himself, so the Death Eaters mostly ignore Hagrid and instead go for the strongest Order member, Mad-Eye Moody, while Hagrid is able escort Harry safely to his destination (and it probably would have worked almost perfectly if Harry didn't give himself away with his Signature Move).
- Nearly anyone set to guard Honor Harrington (and there's always someone from the third book on) is almost guaranteed to be less skilled in combat than their Primary. Well, except when their name is Andrew LaFollet and the pulser darts have started flying. Honor, an exceptional shot herself, was always in a genuine awe about LaFollet's firefight skill. Nevertheless, her armsmen still make her much safer — by providing strength in numbers, by keeping 100% attention on her safety when she's distracted by other matters, and by making the occasional Heroic Sacrifice in her stead.
- In the Prince Roger series, Roger is not as combat- or life-experienced as his bodyguards, but he's a better shot than any of them, and has lightning-fast reflexes thanks to genetic enhancement. On more than one occasion, he overrides their attempts to keep him out of the line of fire by demonstrating that he's better for the job at hand than they are.
- In The Stone Prince, Demnor actively leads his bodyguard in the defense against a combination castle assault/assassination attempt. While they do take blows for him, he dishes out most of the damage. His fiancee kills quite a few people too.
- The Reynard Cycle : The Graycloaks that Reynard surrounds himself with in Defender of the Crown are no match for him. When he is directly threatened, he tends to wave even their captain aside.
- Richard in the Sword of Truth series is quite aware of his own badassery—he's both one of the greatest swordsmen alive and an extremely powerful if untrained wizard—but has never ruled before, so he doesn't understand the need for bodyguards at first. Then one of said guards points out that if nothing else, he needs to sleep. Eventually he grows used to the entourage someone of his high rank demands.
- Vaness of The Witchlands is one of the most powerful witches to ever live, having once brought down an entire mountain on her enemies' heads. Nonetheless, she has an elite Praetorian Guard, because while's she's powerful, she's still a squishy human.
- In The Girl From The Miracles District, Aleks sends Nikita - a professional assassin and a berserk - a Badass Biker gang to act as her bodyguards while she's in Norway. She ends up saving them more often than they save her.
Live Action TV
- Discussed on Babylon 5: Ta'Lon, a Narn soldier that Captain Sheridan had previously saved, declares his intention to return the favor by protecting Sheridan, whether Sheridan wanted it or not. That said, his own duties prevented him from acting on this intention.
- In the pilot of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Captain Picard says dryly of Riker's duty to keep him out of harm's way that "When you've come back alive as often as I have, you'll have someone to protect you too".
- Subverted on Merlin. Arthur is the best swordsman in the Five Kingdoms and can defeat two other swordsmen blindfolded. He has a servant which watches his back on missions. Subverted in that the servant is Merlin, and can kill you with his brain making him the more badass of the two.
- In Game of Thrones, Khal Drogo has bloodriders who protect him even though he shows that he's perfectly capable of killing even his battle commanders at will. This is typical for the Dothraki (his tribe) as they follow only the strongest, so their leader the khal must, by definition, be more badass than his bloodriders.
- In season 7 of Dexter, Big Bad Isaak Sirko usually goes around with a bodyguard that does nothing other than looking intimidating, as Isaak does all the killing by himself.
- In Arrow, John Diggle is hired to be Oliver Queen's bodyguard. However, Ollie keeps giving him the slip and Dig quickly learns that Ollie is much more badass than himself and moonlights as a vigilante. After some hesitating, he keeps the position to be secretly Ollie's associate and hoping to become a Morality Chain for him, while still handling the security of the Queen family. Dig is still badass enough to help the Vigilante on his missions and put on the hood a few times himself.
- In the Special Act of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, the now Brought Down to Normal Minako has a group of bodyguards. When she's attacked by the Pierrots, her outnumbered and outmatched guards try and gain her time to escape, but one of the Pierrots manages to pass and attack her... And is promptly kicked in a concrete column hard enough to crack it (this after Minako Lampshaded the situation). At the sight the Pierrots stop fighting and start slowly back away.
- Several episodes have Arthur being told he needs a bodyguard, despite his objections. Arthur isn't extraordinarily badass, it's just that everyone else (including the enemies) is so very incompetent (including his official bodyguard Grudu, who makes it his mission to kill anyone who tries getting close to the king, including the queen, the Knights of the Round Table, and the servants who light the lamps).
- One episode has Perceval form a royal guard... with his cousins, each of which was cast out by the family for being too stupid. The only thing they can do is run away when given the order to stand at attention.
- Daredevil: After he gets arrested, Frank Castle is placed under very heavy police guard while in the hospital. It's not to protect others from him. It's to protect Frank from the gangs he was targeting. Which is why the police have an ESU team planted on his floor, and all visitors' bags get searched twice to make sure no one's smuggling in a weapon, etc.)
- One headline from The Onion in 2008 claimed "McCain Vows to Replace Secret Service With His Own Fists." Given that McCain is combat veteran who survived five plane crashes and two years of torture, the gag has some basis.
- Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine Honor Guards are deployed to protect the Chapter Master, who did not get to his position by being a pushover. Then again, the Honor Guard is basically just an excuse to get as many badasses on the battlefield as possible.
Corax, Primarch of the Raven Guard: That was for appearance. Do you think I actually need a bodyguard?
- Prior to that, the Primarchs and the Emperor had guards of Space Marines and the Adeptus Custodes respectively. Though the Custodes also had the task of handling security, verifying visitors' identities and guarding the castle itself.
- Ork Warbosses usually surround himself with a retinue of Nobz, either in Mega-Armor or 'Eavy Armor, as a bodyguard. However due to the nature of Ork society and biology, the Warboss is usually the most powerful Ork on the planet. This is more because Orks tend towards mob mentality but the Boss only allows the biggest and baddest Orks under him to be around him.
- Hive Tyrants and the Swarmlord are usually the most powerful Tyranids on the battlefield short of bio-titans (and even then they can probably take a few on and still win). However because they also act as a conduit to the Hive Mind, they usually go into battle with a retinue of Tyrant Guards specifically bred to take hits for them. The Tyrant Guards are specifically rendered weaker and dependent on the Tyrant so that they would be blindly loyal to the one they're protecting, even if it means their own lives are taken.
- Chaos Lords are often surrounded by a retinue of Chosen, his own hand-picked elite warriors from his warband. Unlike their loyalist counterparts, this is more of a pragmatic move; the Chaos Lord chooses them not only for their combat prowess, but also to keep an eye on potential usurpers against him. The Chosen are perfectly content with this arrangement, as they can enjoy some measure of protection from their Lord and respect from their peers, until it is time for them to either break off on their own or kill the lord.
- Subverted with Angron, primarch of the World Eaters, who wanted nothing to do with his bodyguardas they kept trying to prevent him from getting too deep into melee combat. The Devourers were actually among the weakest in his Legion.
- Dark Eldar Incubi rent out their services to Archons who can afford them. This is because where Dark Eldar society functions on Klingon Promotion, the Incubi are motivated solely by their pay (which they can't collect if their employer is dead). That said, promotion within Incubi kabals still follows the Klingon model.
- Eldrad Ulthran, High Seer of Craftworld Ulthwe, is one of the most powerful living psykers in the galaxy and a superlative warrior to boot. That said, he rarely takes the field without his Seer Council, each member of which is a powerful witch-warrior him or herself.
- In White Wolf's Street Fighter RPG you could get bodyguards as a perk — it was explained that they were capable of getting people out of the way without hurting them, so a fighter didn't end up getting sued.
- In Traveller, High Imperial Nobles have Huscarls even though they themselves might well be a badass.
- In Dungeons & Dragons, Glass Cannon characters like wizards can deliver extremely powerful attacks, but get a lot of use out of fighters who can run interception on enemies.
- The Bodyguard advanced class in d20 Modern. Now, considering the average d20 Modern party, he is probably protecting a Glass Cannon by taking and surviving hits meant for his partner.
- Chess: Played with. The pawns start off in front of the far more powerful pieces. The king himself however is not very much of a badass.
- You get a bodyguard of sorts in Might & Magic VII, once you complete the first Wizard's Promotion Quest and don't build the golem wrong by using the Abby Normal Head. The golem remains in the main hall of your castle, and fights on your side if any hostile monsters show up there, which is incredibly useful if the siege of Harmondale after you choose a Path happens (the goblins and swordsmen who invade the castle will barely be able to scratch it) or if any random encounters happen there if you use the place to rest. (The only random encounters that might happen are goblins, bats, or rats, which you could likely defeat yourself at this point, but seeing as you might be unconscious when you rest and could be killed by even one attack if ambushed, it might still be a good idea to do so with the golem nearby.)
- In the Arland Trilogy of Gust's Atelier Series, Gio, the king (and later president) of Arland who firmly ascirbes to the Authority Equals Asskicking School of leadership naturally incures this. It gets to the point that those tasked with protecting him pretty much resigns themselves to the fact that their real job is to both try and keep up, and stop him from causing too much trouble.
- Dawn of War:
- Most non-squad units can be attached to a squad, giving the unit greater survivability and usually providing benefits to the squad like increased morale or damage. The AI doesn't use this except during Assassination games, where they're attached to the first produced squad. It's just sad to see a Force Commander stuck in a squad of scouts when there are Terminators and Grey Knights available.
- The Imperial Guard's Hero Unit consists of an Imperial general and his retinue (commissars, psykers and priests), who is the Guard's only competent melee unit until they reach the final tier and get Ogryns. In the campaign, the squad can also take on Kasrkin bodyguards, though they're more useful at range.
- The campaign gives the Tau unique Fire Warrior bodyguards with extremely long range. The Ethereal can summon such squads, but unlike the Guard, he causes massive morale damage to every Tau unit if he dies, and doesn't even have a ranged attack. Doesn't stop the AI from sending him running headlong into battle.
- Highlighting 40K's Crapsack World nature, several honor guard units have descriptions implying they're here both to bodyguard the leader and keep an eye on/remove him in case of failure.
- In Skyrim, early in the main quest you're given the title of "Thane" when it becomes clear that you're a Dragonborn. As a result you're assigned a personal Housecarl named Lydia. Since this is a sandbox RPG this trope is inevitable no matter how powerful she is (although you can give her better equipment to keep her useful). Other companions (including housecarls you can get from other settlements) who're supposed to serve as bodyguards also fall into this.
- On the other hand, this can be completely averted if the games' leveling mechanic is properly manipulated. Housecarls' levels are not set until you encounter them for the first time, and some of them do not exist until after they are assigned to you (via completing the necessary quest). There have been tales of players completing quests 30 levels after they were meant to be completed, only to be assigned Housecarls who, among other things, kill entire cities solo after their master stole a single sweetroll (thus angering all the guards), or slaying Ancient Dragons in single combat (while their masters chase butterflies across the countryside).
- Galmar Stone-Fist is this for Ulfric Stormcloak. Yeah, Galmar is a tough bastard, but he can't blow you across the room by shouting. Ulfric can.
- Shao Khan, the Big Bad of Mortal Kombat, seems to always keep a few of his minions around for this purpose; in fact, in 9, that seems to be part of Sheeva's job description. Curiously enough, it's also Jade's job for her best friend Kitana.
- In Fire Emblem your lords (probably fully trained and with unique powerful equipment if level 1) usually have a few escorts including a Crutch Character. It is fully possible for the lord to completely eclipse every bodyguard they get, but they will still have them as backup with the same job.
- Frequently, royalty from aligned countries have their personal guard join your fight. Then when the royal joins as well they outstrip their guard.
- Justified in Team Fortress 2 with the Heavy, as he has over 300 health and moves like a turtle, while one shot from a rocket launcher deals about 70 damage on average. Despite all of this, he's very vulnerable to the Sniper, who relies on headshotting opponents, or the Spy, a class relying on deception to get behind enemies and Back Stab them. These classes rely on powerful One-Hit KO abilities that can deal more than 1200 damage in some instances, and are more effective against slow opponents. The Heavy's Mighty Glacier tendencies mean that without his allies watching his flanks and taking out enemy Snipers, he can and will fall prey to the Sniper and Spy.
- Vega Strike tend to give Escort Missions for superiority fighters. Meaning that, unless your ship is at least equal, the "escorted" gunship lagging behind, if assaulted by a group of typical foes like Space Pirate or Evil Luddite, may wipe out half of them before you can turn back and approach close enough to hit one. Some of these also carry an anti-capship torpedo and may use it, in which case it's wise not to get in close quarters with potential targets until one of them pulverized. Larger pirate groups are more of a challenge, but still weak on the defence. With better equipment than an average escortee, any pirates are complete fodder, but Aera remain so deadly it's not easy to save your own tail — an escortee have a little chance to get away if targetted, and won't use it until he loses it. In both cases the challenge comes from such fighters also leaning toward Glass Cannon sort — they survive by shredding the opponent very quickly and zipping by, and are worse off in crossfire of a strong group.
- The guards of race leaders in World of Warcraft are much, much weaker than the actual leaders themselves.
- The player gets one in Warlords of Draenor. While most bodyguards are fairly badass and often take up roles that the player doesn't in the holy trinity, they're still the Bodyguard of a One-Man Army that got his/her rank by making mincemeat out of everything they're pointed at.
- When the character Melia is introduced she has a contingent of Mook bodyguards to help her track down a monster she's hunting. They all die in the fight but she manages to drive it off and injure it with one big ether attack.
- Likewise, much of Reyn's character development deals with him trying to keep his promise to protect Shulk, even as Shulk grows far more powerful than him.
- In Yggdra Union, the two dragon knights in Gulcasa's unit serve this role. Despite the fact that he's definitely much more powerful than they are, it turns out that he does actually need them around. As Gulcasa is notoriously bad at minding his physical limits, in the case that he actually winds up collapsing from sickness or exhaustion, the bodyguards can hold off enemies while other allies get him to safety. This actually happens at the end of Chapter 5.
- Your bodyguards in Dynasty Warriors, at least for the PS2 games. You can have anything from 1 to 8 bodyguards (only 1 in DW5), despite the fact that you're probably tough enough to wipe out a good chunk of the enemy. Justified for some pretty obvious reasons (You're pretty important to your faction, and it wouldn't be good to just let you run off without some protection), along with the fact that the bodyguards are useful enough to help you do more than you could alone.
- Oddly enough, if you can shoot well, the guards assigned to protect the border in Papers, Please are this. One even lampshades how his aim sucks compared to a paperwork inspector with no formal training.
- In Kid Icarus, Palutena is a badass but often serves as the mission control (and despite her losing to Medusa in the first game after the war they had). Pit protects her regardless of how powerful she is and in the new Smash Brothers trailer, Palutena shows off her abilities and Pit even comments, "You don't have to prove anything, Lady Palutena."
- In the Total War games named generals with their retinue of "general's bodyguard" are a top-quality heavy cavalry on the battlefield. The General has the benefit of some of their special traits, possibly making them individually stronger than any one of their bodyguards, but goes with the 'everyone can use backup' justification, as one badass on a horse won't do much to a line of hundreds of enemy infantry. Forty might make a dent.
- In Total War: Shogun 2, Your generals are all elite warriors in their own right, but they still have bodyguards to protect them on the battlefield, as well as on the home front against assassination attempts. When a ninja attempts to assassinate a general, sometimes the cutscene will show the general personally thwarting the assassin's plans after he makes it past the guards.
- Roadhog of Overwatch is the hired muscle/protection of Junkrat. His position of bodyguard seems more of a title however, as Junkrat is a fearsome fighter in his own right.
- Tsar Rasputin from Rasputin Barxotka and Rasputin Catamite is the Hidden Badass bodyguard of smuggler Camello Basma (a.k.a. Kameron Kori), who probably hired him for more prurient reasons than just security.
- In Girl Genius, Violetta is Smoke Knight (bodyguard/personal assassin/general aide) to Tarvek, who did technically receive the same training as her. He turns out to be a Hidden Badass who was keeping the actual extent of his skills concealed from the rest of his family, since it benefitted him for everyone to think of him as utterly incompetent.
Violetta: All through our training, that useless lump just sat around doodling girls and clockwork! But he was paying attention after all!
- The Royal Guards in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic are just normal ponies guarding two Physical Gods, meaning anything that can hurt the two can easily wipe out the whole group. This is just what happened in "A Canterlot Wedding part 2" when the Changelings invaded. Thus the fanon justifications:
- The Palace of Canterlot is also the primary administrative centre of the Equestrian government, so there's a lot of ministers, civil servants and archived documents that also need to be guarded.
- The guards are there so the Princesses don't have to risk hurting innocent bystanders defending themselves.
- They're just there to deal with everyday criminals, since the Princesses can't be everywhere at once.
- Those theories stated, Luna and Celestia being invincible and invulnerable is also fanon. While the show never bothers with consistent power levels, the Royal Sisters have both lost multiple times, with no mountain destroying force needed, so simply having people around to help them in a fight or just plain protect them is quite likely. From Celestia's onscreen fight recordnote , she actually needs better bodyguards. Both of them have also appeared onscreen clearly scratched up.
- Shredder's Elite Guard in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
- In Transformers, Optimus Prime (i.e. one of the most powerful of a race of giant, sapient Humongous Mecha) sometimes has a human military escort. While rarely stated, this is usually more to make the humans feel at ease.
- ReBoot: Super Virus Daemon is usually shown surrounded by her honor guard. They don't do anything besides glaring menacingly and acting as her personal choir, but since she's Nigh Invulnerable and can block a giant robot's fist with one finger, they're probably just for show anyway.
- In Steven Universe, Pearl is said to have acted as Rose's bodyguard/living shield, despite the fact that Pearl is a Glass Cannon and Rose was an eight feet tall Stone Wall with advanced defensive powers. This likely had more to do with Pearl's personal insecurities and idealization of the Lady and Knight dynamic than with Rose's actual wishes, though that part is admittedly ambiguous.
- U.S. President Andrew Jackson was attacked by a man wielding two flintlock pistols. When both pistols misfired, it was not his retinue, but the 70-year-old President himself who went crazy on his attacker with his walking stick. Some contemporary accounts describe the President, who was a military commander and infamous duelist, needing to be pulled off of his attacker by his own bodyguards.
- The US Secret Service has often served as bodyguards to Presidents who are complete badasses. The examples that immediately spring to mind are probably the aforementioned Jackson (though he predates the actual "Secret Service") and Theodore Roosevelt (war hero, police commissioner, deputy sheriff, boxer, judo brown belt, explorer, and utterly glorious lunatic).
- It is not uncommon for boxers, actors specializing in martial arts, MMA fighters, etc. to have bodyguards. In the case of actors, this might be because they really aren't all that good at fighting, for all their flashy moves on camera. Some fighting styles are also fairly one-dimensional, such as boxing, and don't function as the best form of self defense. Many of these celebrities are physically small, so huge muscular types would actually present more of a threat, and skills that could ward off an unarmed attacker or even one with a knife won't stop a bullet. Of course, the major reason is probably that they have the money to spend, so they'd prefer other people fight off the crazies instead of putting themselves on the line.
- Military leaders, even today where Generals can safely conduct wars in a secured bunker, tend to have guards. Even historic badasses like Guan Yu of China, Alexander of Macedonia, Napoleon of France, etc. tend to be surrounded by guards. This is because in the past, leaders would be on the battlefield directing the fight or even leading the charge, and death of an army's general could lead to the whole force disintegrating. Today, with the chain of command, it's not such a big problem, but having to bring a new guy up to speed might be a costly inconvenience. In short, the bodyguards protect the General so that he can focus on his job of running the war.
- Tanks need infantry support when not performing fast deep maneuvers without stopping to engage anything. So the main strength are tanks, but when they can be mired in a fight they are guarded or it ends up with lots of burned-out metal boxes. This arrangement started back with chariots and war elephants: they are either charging or need protection from being mobbed from all sides. In India footmen protecting chariots were called Chakra Rakshaka ("Guardians of the wheels").
- Since Conservation of Ninjutsu doesn't apply in real life, any single person, no matter how badass, is vulnerable to getting Zerg Rushed - overwhelmed by sheer weight of numbers even if individually the attackers are no match for them - because after all, you can only hit or shoot one person at a time. Safety in numbers applies.