Declaration of Protection
Even if you become the world's enemy, I'll... I'll be your Knight!
A person (usually The Hero
) has her or his motivation built around protecting
another person. Most of the time, it's his or her Love Interest
, but it could also be her or his little sibling
, or child(ren)
, or parents/parental figure
In Anime, the sentence "Zettai Ni Mamoru!" is likely to be used - if not spoken aloud, then thought. Depending on context, this can mean anything from a literal "I'll protect you from danger" to a more comradely "I'll watch your back" to akin to a Love Confession
, i.e. "I'll always be there for you." Because of this, expect the recipient to respond with a Luminescent Blush
regardless of what she says.
Almost every time, some sort of complication or detail will be brought up in this situation.
- The protected person is capable of looking after her or himself. The protector has a hard enough time keeping up with them, much less being of any use, and will often chastise themself for failing to live up to his perceived duty as protector. Inevitably, however, the protected will get into trouble, at which point the hero's Heroic Resolve will manifest and s/he'll become suddenly competent as s/he leaps to save her.
- The protector fails to protect the protectee, resulting in the latter's death. This will be his or her Greatest Failure. In this case, the relationship is more likely to be part of the backstory. It might have been the former protector's Start of Darkness, as s/he went over to The Dark Side while seeking revenge, or went mad while seeking to bring the protected back. Or maybe the protector just cracked and turned into a Death Seeker. If the protected person survived despite his failure, the effects will be less severe, but all of the above can still occur — there's just a better chance of redemption later on. If the protector has to protect multiple people, and fails at doing so, then they're effectively a Doom Magnet and tend to suffer Survivor Guilt.
- The protected person is normal, and the protector is not... and the main reason the protected is even in danger is that someone is hunting the protector. Thus, the protector feels compelled to part with the protected, or run away from any other responsibilities to keep her safe. It almost never works. Note that most of the examples in It's Not You, It's My Enemies do not apply here — for it to qualify, protecting that person has to be the character's main driving motivation — so, for example, Spider-Man wouldn't qualify, since he knows he has a greater responsibility to protect the entire city, and the world. (And let's not even mention One More Day...)
- The protector protects their person, but at the cost of his/her life, or nearly so. If the protector dies, it could be a Start of Darkness for the protected, particularly if the protected person has any kind of power. If the protector survives, it's more likely to work as a Berserk Button, but it might also compel the protected to try and push him/her away so s/he won't get hurt again.
- The protected person turns out to be The Mole, or just plain bad news. The protector likely won't see this, even if other try to tell her/him - and it's fairly likely that s/he won't realize it 'till the protected person finally stabs him in the back. It can turn out in a lot of different ways, but it's usually quite tragic. If the protector kills their (former) protected in response, it'll probably turn out that the traitor was acting under duress, and the protector will be swallowed by grief and regret. If the protector dies by the traitor's hand, s/he'll probably realize that s/he really did love her/him, and be swallowed by grief and regret. But if the protector continued to insist on protecting the protected, even after s/he's shown her True Colors, s/he might realize that s/he really does love him before s/he kills her/him, and be redeemed by love...
- 'Protecting' turns out to be more complicated and morally ambiguous than it sounds. Maybe the protected person has some sort of weird power that makes a lot of people fear them, or maybe the very layout of the world makes it impossible for them to live in peace. The hero may be forced to fight and kill more-or-less innocent people who attack the protected person out of fear, or orchestrate rebellions and war in order to change the world for their love's benefit — either way, there's bound to be a lot of victims, and the 'hero' will start to look less and less heroic...
- In the past, the protected person did something for the protector. Either saved her/his life, pulled her/him out of trouble, gave her/him something s/he needed, befriended him/her when nobody else was willing to, etc. So the protector cherishes said moment in which the protected was there for her/him, feels indebted to them, and swears to protect them as a way to pay them back for their help. Debts must be paid, after all... even if it involves pretty much going to Hell and back to not owe that person anything.
Naturally, not all cases will fit neatly into one of these categories, and of course, there are
cases where there isn't really any major complications - just someone protecting another person from the Monster of the Week
, for as long as it takes. And sometimes the declaration is mutual, and you get a Battle Couple
Related tropes are numerous. Effectively, it is a subtrope of The Protectorate
and The Champion
. Bodyguard Crush
is when the protection comes before the emotions. The Dulcinea Effect
is when this absolute dedication pops up all of 10 seconds after he first sees her. Mama Bear
and Papa Wolf
are when it's a parent protecting their child. This trope is part of the job description for Lady and Knight
. In ancient times, becoming someone's guest
automatically put you under their protection, leading to a lot of this.
Warning! Some of these examples will be spoilers solely by virtue of which 'type' they get placed under!
Declaration of Protection
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The protected person is a Badass themselves.
Anime and Manga
- While Simon spends most of the television series protecting her, in the tie-up film Serenity River flips the script on him and promises to return the favour when he gets shot by Reavers.
: You take care of me. You've always taken care of me! [Beat]
- In Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games, Peeta devotes himself to this cause for Katniss, who spends most of her time in the series kicking asses and taking names. He generally devolves into The Load because he saves Katniss' life by fighting off Cato and gets a sword to the leg for his troubles. In the second book it's less heroic, but getting electrocuted would slow most people down. In the third book, the Capital, aware this trope is in effect, turns it against them both in a sadistic way: brainwashing Peeta to assassinate her on sight
- In the Odd Thomas novels, Odd promises to protect the mysterious Annamaria. Over the next few books, she does a lot more to keep him safe than he ever does for her. Odd Lampshades it several times.
- River Tam in Firefly is a slight variation; she really did need and want her brother Simon's protection, but that was because she was so erratic that she needed a stabilizing influence. Despite her abilities and combat training she's still scared and confused about herself and the world around her. And Simon, despite possessing a Papa Wolf instinct to rival the Captain's own, had an unimposing appearance and soft-spoken nature unless he needed to protect someone (like a patient endangered by an incompetent surgeon).
- Another Joss Whedon show: nearly everything Paul Ballard does on Dollhouse is to protect Echo...even before he actually meets her.
- A third: Buffy the Vampire Slayer runs on this trope. Most if not all the main characters are committed to protecting each other, as well as a good number of guest stars as well.
- In Chinese Paladin, Xiaoyao marries and swears to protect Ling'er. He takes this vow very seriously although initially she is far a more powerful combatant than him and all she needs is his emotional support. However, as the series progresses he Takes A Level In Badass and it becomes Just That Simple between them.
- On The Vampire Diaries, Stefan, who is the hero, devotes his immortal, undead life and makes constant sacrifices (including sacrificing himself or risking his life) in order to protect and save Elena, the heroine (or more like damsel in distress) from possible harm and dangers of the supernatural in the town of Mystic Falls.
- Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor is quite fond of these.
- In "The Power of Three" he tells a levitating alien cube that earth and its people are precious to him, and that he will defend them to the death, if need be.
- In The Bells of Saint John, after he recovers Clara Oswald's consciousness from a Spoonhead android, the Doctor sends a message over the Wi Fi network, "Under My Protection".
- He declares this again in "Nightmare in Silver" about the young children that the Cybermen have begun to convert.
- The Tenth Doctor pulls this off in his first adventure, "The Christmas Invasion":
By the ancient rights of combat, I forbid you to scavenge here for the rest of time. And when you go back to the stars and tell others of this planet, when you tell them of its riches, its people, its potential, when you talk of the Earth, then make sure that you tell them this... It. Is. DEFENDED!
- Arado Balanga from Super Robot Wars Original Generation 2 is a pretty good Mecha-Pilot, objectively speaking - but as a graduate of 'The School', he's at the bottom of the heap - especially compared to his partner, Seolla, who's one of the best, period. But he's sworn to protect her, and protect her he does - whenever she ends up in a pinch, he goes Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass, whether that means fighting off an otherwise-supreme opponent, or taking a bullet for her. Sometimes both.
- An odd twist on this for both Knights of the Old Republic if you're playing female. In the first, Carth knows damn well you could skewer him on a lightsaber and not muss your hair. Still does not stop him from admitting that trying to protect you is his reason to live after Saul Karath dies painfully. In the second game, Atton's overt about it. Bao-Dur is more subtle, but still frighteningly loyal to his "general." In both Carth's case and Bao-Dur's, the "protection" they offer is more or less trying to act as the Morality Pet for a female Player Character in order to help prevent her from falling to the Dark Side.
- Persona 3: It's a gender reversal, and it's after everything is over (until FES), but Aigis sort of qualifies with her wanting to protect the main character...who can certainly fend for himself.
- Akihiko Sanada is a straight example across all of P3's releases, with his resolution (which brings about his Persona Polydeuces' transformation into Caesar) being his resolve to protect all of SEES, but he plays it straightest if he becomes a female protagonist's Love Interest in the Playstation Portable version of the game. He also has ties to the "failed to protect" category, as his younger sister Miki died in a house fire when he was a child, and later on, his childhood friend and Guest Star Party Member Shinjiro is murdered.
- Al, towards his childhood friend Erel in Evil Zone. Yes, he's a very powerful Magical Boy Warrior and the Big Bad they're facing is a Game Breaker Sealed Evil in a Can, but she's a pretty skilled Cute Bruiser too.
- Tales of Graces: Main characters Asbel and Sophie argue over who gets to protect whom, until Asbel challenges Sophie to a footrace to settle the matter...and loses. Sophie saves the group from certain death more than once throughout the game, and is canonically one of the most powerful fighters in the party. ( Halfway through the main arc, when Asbel is given an opportunity to defeat her in single combat).
- Eternal Sonata: One of Princess Serenade's level up quotes is "I will protect Prince Cresendo." The prince in question is Knight in Shining Armor and she's a Princess Classic. It works because she has formitable magic power.
- After Bartlett is shot down in Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War protecting Edge she becomes very determined to protect you. Bad Ass? There's a myth about the Demons of Razgriz that applied to the Wardog squadron, and they may indeed be literal demons if one mid game mission is anything to go by.
- In Xenoblade Chronicles, at any point when both Fiora and Shulk are in the party, you can count on this popping up in their battle quotes. Melia too, and the other members of the team at various points, will also make similar statements. Of course, give then fact that one of them wields nigh-godly power, and the other is a combat cyborg, and the entire team is a Badass Crew, no one character really needs to protect another, per se. Doesn't stop them from declaring it regardless.
Shulk: (On using Light Heal on Fiora) Fiora, I will protect you!
Fiora: (On leveling up) I will use this power to protect Shulk!
Melia: (Also on leveling up) I will use this power to protect my friends!
- Fate/stay night. Emiya Shirou. He does this twice. In Fate, he does this to Saber, despite Saber being motherfucking King Arthur. (To be fair, he HAD no idea who she really was AND had watched her get totally curbstomped by Hercules.) Fortunately, he's called out on this and eventually it gets deconstructed in the Unlimited Blade Works route (the second example), where it turns out that Shirou has a massive case of Survivor Guilt that causes him to totally disregard his own safety. Heaven's Feel also plays with this trope by having Sakura be, from Shirou's point of view, totally helpless... then you get closer to the end and she turns out to have an absurdly powerful Superpowered Evil Side. Shirou promptly modifies his definition of "protect Sakura" to mean "get rid of Sakura's Superpowered Evil Side."
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: When Sokka was still feeling guilty after losing his last girlfriend, he decided to make sure nothing happened to his other love-interest Suki. Of course, being an Action Girl, Suki is mostly bemused and slightly insulted by this- and eventually reveals the only reason she went with them was to protect Sokka.
Failed To Protect Them
Anime and Manga
- Code Geass gives us Suzaku and Euphemia. Initially a straight and uncomplicated 'knight and princess' relationship, Euphemia's death at the hands of Zero pushes Suzaku off of his white horse, driving him into much more questionable actions, such as selling out his oldest friend to his worst enemy or releasing a powerful nuke in battle... and, in the end, he winds up supporting one of the bloodiest tyranies in history. Led by, you know, his oldest friend.
- Mahou Sensei Negima!: Konoka and Setsuna's dynamic falls most closely under this but covers several variants. While Setsuna is heavily motivated by a backstory incident where she failed to protect Konoka from drowning, she also spends a lot of time trying to protect her by hiding the truth about magic from her, thus making it a case of It's Not You, It's My Enemies. Later on, she nearly dies while trying to rescue Konoka. Ultimately her absolute dedication to protecting Konoka comes back to the old childhood 'close shave' where they were both lucky to survive. (Whether Setsuna's dedication edges into the territory of Schoolgirl Lesbians is left as an exercise for the class.)
- Karasu of Noein is basically built around protecting Haruka, typically telling his opponent something along the lines of, "I will protect her with my life." This is because, in his opinion, he failed to protect her future self, though it is implied she willingly did a Heroic Sacrifice.
- Shinn Asuka and Stellar Louissier from Gundam SEED Destiny, since he shows kindness and empathy for her plea but can't stop her from dying.
- Ikumi from Infinite Ryvius lost his sister years ago, and was severely traumatized by it... which makes sense, seeing as she committed suicide because of their illicit Brother-Sister Incest relationship. So he's sworn never to fail to protect a woman, particularly one he cares about. When his new girlfriend, Kozue, is attacked and scarred while he was out fighting, it becomes his Start of Darkness as he decided that Utopia Justifies the Means - he'll do whatever it takes to protect her from now on. It... doesn't end well. Either way, that means he fits this subtrope TWICE OVER. Poor guy.
- Game of Thrones: Faithfully serving Renly Baratheon as a member of his Kingsguard is Brienne of Tarth's quiet way of expressing her (unrequited) love for him.
- The X-Files. Mulder and Scully could fall under almost all of these, but this one is closest. While Mulder was always protective of Scully her abduction in season 2 sent him into overdrive. After her return becomes obsessed with keeping her safe. He ditches her several times, much to her annoyance, and asks her to sit out on cases for fear of her life. This makes it obvious that the one way to hurt him is to hurt her, and so this protective streak becomes even more pronounced after she is kidnapped many times more. Eventually, this turns into "I Owe Her My Life", since Scully is no slouch in the protecting and rescuing department.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spike showed hints of this after Buffy died in the season 5 episode "The Gift".
- Zig-zagged in Dissidia: Final Fantasy at first Cosmos's warriors (especially the Warrior of Light) make it their mission to protect her from Chaos and his henchmen. In the end she willingly let's herself die in an effort to save them from the cycle of death and rebirth they've been caught in.
- Prince of Persia (2008) has the prince play out this trope. He doesn't really care about the lost kigndom, or the Big Bad, or any of that - he's only fighting because Elika DOES care, and she's gonna put herself in harms way with or without him. In the end, she gives up her life to stick the Seal back on the Can of Evil, and he immediately snaps and tears the lid back off to ressurect her again. She is not happy about that.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Link arrives a few minutes late to save Zelda a few times, causing Impa to berate him.
- Sorta invoked in The King of Fighters. One of Kyo Kusanagi's main motivations in the Tales of Ash saga is to make Ash Crimson pay for attacking Chizuru Kagura, his friend and fellow member of the Sacred Treasures Team, and stealing her Magic Mirror. It's really not helped by how Kyo couldn't do anything to stop him.
- In the Baldur's Gate series Minsk has a "Witch" called Dynaheir. It's his duty to protect her, and if you do not resolve his Side Quest to save her, he'll leave your party. The sequel kicks off with you (And Minsc) in captivity and him lamenting how he failed to save Dynaheir, her having died off screen. Somewhere in the game Minsc can choose a new "Witch" to protect, out of two other potential party members.
I'm Only Protecting You From Me
Anime and Manga
- In Death Note after his little sister Sayu gets kidnapped by the mafia Light deliberately sets things up so that he can't kill her without incriminating himself.
Film - Animated
- In Frozen, this is why Elsa isolated herself from Anna and remained cold and aloof from her as an adult. When she unleashed her ice powers at the coronation, she attempted to flee the kingdom to protect her subjects in general and Anna in particular, not realizing that she locked her kingdom in Endless Winter.
Film - Live Action
- A twist on this can occur in Suikoden II. The Hero has somehow wound up leading La Résistance against The Empire, and his adopted sister has, naturally, wound up getting dragged along for the ride. When she finally admits that she'd prefer to live quietly together, you have the option of agreeing with her, running away from your army and responsibilities along with her, thus demonstrating an alternate solution to the problem. The result is somewhere between a Non-Standard Game Over and a... well, Not All That Bad Ending. You actually DO get away, and live quietly together in a cabin in the woods somewhere far from all the war and strife... but of course, La Résistance fell apart, The Empire triumphed, and all your other friends probably died.
- Further observed later in the story of the game. She ends up protecting Riou from himself by faking her own death. Her reasoning being that when she dove forward to start deflecting arrows fired by Gorudo's archers, Riou leapt up beside her without a second thought for his own safety. Shu agrees to go along with her duplicity because they both realize that without Riou, the entire war effort would fall apart. In removing herself from the picture, Nanami ensures that Riou won't do something like that again.
- Sluggy Freelance, of all places, has an example of this. Torg may have a lot of diversions, but there's only ONE thing he's actually SERIOUS about - and that's protecting Zoe. In an alternate universe overrun by demons, he soon gave up on trying to run La Résistance (since everyone there are Perfect Pacifist People), and instead just concentrates on keeping Alt-Zoe fed and away from trouble. Back in the real world, he forces her away so she won't become a target for Stalker with a Crush Oasis. With... mixed success.
Taking a Bullet for Them
- Katsa in Graceling has a more mild case as she tries to protect Princess Bitterblue from the child's own father. To do so she has to take the young child across mountains nobody ever survived before, which is easier for her than most people as she's graced with survival. In the end of the journey, while the princess manages to be okay, it's Katsa who ends up getting sick, for the first time in her life. She does get better, though. Prince Po, who was also trying to protect her, went to go challenge her father head on and was nearly killed. He survived, but was struck blind and had to stay behind while Katsa and Bitterblue left to escape together.
- Steve Jinks, Warehouse 13 has an interesting combo of three, He has a dead big sister that he sees in Action Girl Claudia, his partner, after she saves his life in the most hilarious way possible. This lead him to decide to go undercover to protect her because he couldn't save his own sister, which in turn, gets him killed. He gets better.
- Super Robot Wars Gaiden. Ricardo takes a bullet for Tytti, saving her life... but leaving her Allergic to Love due to losing him.
- This is one possible outcome at the end of Dragon Age: Origins: if a female Grey Warden has a romance with Alistair, he will refuse to allow her to sacrifice herself to kill the Archdemon, taking the choice out of her hands and doing it himself unless she takes the precaution of leaving him behind at the gates before heading to the last battle.
- Resident Evil 2, and quite literally, in the case of Leon and Ada. Crossed with The Mole scenario.
- The Big Daddies of Bioshock are willing to die to protect the little sisters.
- Ib: Ib saves Garry's life by returning his rose to him early in the game, and he vows to keep her safe in the gallery. While he is somewhat of a Cowardly Lion, he jumps to action when it counts - for example, when Ib falls unconscious, he carries her to safety and guards her until she wakes up. Depending on your ending, he may end up giving away his rose again in exchange for Ib's... leading to his demise.
- Happened in Girl Genius when Lars — a traveling performer previously renowned for his cowardice — threw himself in front of a sword to protect the eponymous protagonist, Agatha. He died, and she went nuts, temporarily going into full Blood Knight mode, and attempting to basically take on the entire army of Wulfenbach singlehandedly. (Well, with a little help from her Mecha-Mooks...) She got over it, with a bit of chemical assistance, but now seem hell bent on making sure nobody else dies for her. (Cue Gil and Tarvek winding up in one of the above-mentioned 'She's an Action Girl' situations, as she works harder to protect them than the other way around.)
The Protected Was The Mole
Anime and Manga
- Rurouni Kenshin. Specifically, the 'backstory'. Back when he was still an assassin, Kenshin fell in love with a woman named Tomoe - who was actually a spy planted by the Shogunate to find his weakness and eliminate him. The details are awfully complicated, but after The Reveal, she ends up dead along with her employers, and Kenshin swears never to kill again...
- Revolutionary Girl Utena probably fits best under this, and is a very genderqueer example, what with Utena Tenjou deliberately taking on the persona of a Fairytale Prince. She fights solely to protect the Rose Bride, Anthy Himemiya... but at the end, it turns out Anthy was in on the whole thing, and was in fact following Akio's will, from being involved in his manipulations behind the scenes to doing everything he told her to . . . EVERYTHING. It's really, REALLY not helped by Utena realising that she had been taking the persona of a prince less to help Anthy and much more to feed her own ego, not taking Anthy's thoughts and beliefs in consideration. After this, Utena is severely disillusioned, becoming a Knight in Sour Armor, but comes to forgive Anthy after realizing just how much torment she's been in for hundreds and thousands of years, and resolves to truly save her from more suffering.
- This Ugly Yet Beautiful World sees Takemoto swear to protect Hikari no matter what, within minutes of first meeting her, though in his defense she's the spitting image of the ideal girl he was fantasizing about earlier that day, and their meeting was quite interesting in itself, too. However, even SHE isn't aware that she's actually a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds... and he is someone who was born to stop her. Hence, this could just as easily go under the 'It Got Complicated' header.
- In Kieron Guillen's run on Uncanny X-Men, Colossus became obsessive about protecting his sister Illyana, to the point of losing his humanity(not to mention the love of Kitty Pryde) by taking on the Juggernaut's curse. Toward the end of Avengers vs. X-Men, Illyana revealed that she was Evil All Along, and had manipulated her big brother into becoming the new Juggernaut in order to make him as much of a monster as she had become. Let's just say Colossus no longer feels any need to protect his "little snowflake"; he has in fact vowed to kill her if their paths cross again.
- Resident Evil 2, and quite literally, in the case of Leon and Ada. Crossed with Take a Bullet scenario.
Protecting Gets Complicated
Anime and Manga
- Obviously, Code Geass, where Lelouch's desire to give his younger sister, Nunnally, a 'world of peace' leads him further and further down the path of darkness. When she finally finds out what he's been doing in the name of helping her, she's horrified and becomes an easy prey for Schneizel's manipulations.
- Toshiro Hitsugaya and Momo Hinamori in Bleach. As a kid, Momo was the only child in the neighborhood who wasn't afraid of Hitsugaya due to his burgeoning ice powers. As they became Shinigami, he swore that he'd protect her and pretty much kill anyone who ever made her bleed a little... But when Momo was horribly broken and then almost killed by the man she loved, Sousuke Aizen, Hitsugaya tried to avenge her, and was almost killed himself. When Momo got better and reclaimed her Action Girl credentials, she and others were horribly defeated by Allon. And then... Aizen used his powers to trick Hitsugaya and other captains into stabbig Momo to almost death, thinking they were stabbing him. OUCH, it definitely got complicated.
- Also, after Karakura is attacked and Orihime is seriously injured, Rukia brings Ichigo to her to apologize for not having been able to shield her, and then Ichigo makes the promise that he will protect her from then on. Considering that later she was forced into a cruel Sadistic Choice that involved her going to the villains's HQ and Ichigo then goes to rescue her, it got complicated and then some. This trope was hammered into the ground when Ichigo - who'd just gotten a hole blown through him by Ulquiorra's Cero Oscuros - Hollowfied in response to Orihime screaming his name, mortally wounded Ulquiorra, and impaled Ishida before turning to her and saying "I'll protect you!"
- When Homura Akemi in Puella Magi Madoka Magica was caught in a witch barrier, Magical Girl Warrior Madoka Kaname saved her. She then vowed to help her and protect her in return. She failed, however, and Madoka died. Then Homura made her contract with Kyubey, and specifically hoped to protect Madoka and avert her death. She failed each time, but kept on trying...
- Things start off simple for Melan in Brigadoon: Marin and Melan. His job is to protect the Creis, who happens to become his friend and eventually his Love Interest. Then it turns out that she's not the Creis after all, and protecting her means taking time out from his REAL mission.
- A very interesting case happens in Baka and Test. Resident Yandere Shouko is absolutely obsessed with Brilliant but Lazy student Yuuji, and at first it seems like she's just a crazy Unlucky Childhood Friend. But then in episode 11 of Season 2, it goes into their backstory, and her reasons are explained: Shouko was (and still is) a Lonely Rich Kid, with Yuuji as her Only Friend. At some point, Yuuji pulled a Big Damn Heroes moment to save Shouko from three boys who tried to bully her after she tried to stop them from writing some vicious lies on his PE clothing; he tried to come up with an excuse not to help, but in the end saves her anyway. Although he tries to pass it off as nothing, Shouko is really touched by that action, and she vows to his mother to marry him someday. His mom happily agrees to support her efforts as well... which then sort of helps explain why she tasers him, ties him up, pokes his eyes out when he's looking at other women, and drags him to the movies in chains.
- The Sword and Sorcerer team Shannon and Raquel from Scrapped Princess are solely motivated by their oath to protect the eponymous princess, Pacifica. Shannon is the one that most closely match the trope, being a guy and all - since they were raised as siblings, his affection for her is more big-brotherly than romantic, but they are Not Blood Siblings, so it gets... ambiguous at times. As for complications, well, according to a supposedly-infallible Divine Prophecy, Pacifica is 'the poison that will kill the world' - specifically, she will destroy the world when she turns 16. As a result, virtually everyone wants to kill her, either out of fear, religious fervor, or greed for the huge bounty the kingdom has placed on her head. And Shannon is stuck trying to protect her from all that, preferably without killing anyone because he knows that Pacifica would blame herself for any lives lost...
- A Cruel God Reigns: Ian is determined to protect, love, and save Jeremy, but it gets complicated considering Jeremy Vehicular Sabotage Make It Look Like an Accident his father, even if Jeremy did have valid reasons...
- In Death Note Rem forces Light, under direct threat of death, to adopt this mindset towards Misa in regards to his plans during the events that lead up to the Yotsuba arc.
- In Detective Conan, the Anti-Villain Akemi Miyano made her boyfriend Shuichi Akai promise that he would protect her younger sister Shiho - few hours before her own death. The twist is that he's fulfilling his promise, and even made an explicit declaration of protection to Shiho... but both of them are now living under secret identities: he names himself Subaru Okiya, and she not only has been shrunk to a little girl's body but calls herself Ai Haibara.
- The Wonder Woman graphic novel The Hiketeia revolves around this. Wonder Woman gets bound by an ancient Greek rite (the Hiketeia) to protect a young girl, on punishment of painful death by the Furies if she breaks the oath. Unfortunately, Wonder Woman hadn't realized the girl is a murderer (with a pretty damn solid justification) on the run from Batman who's determined to bring her to justice. Batman won't back down and Wondy can't either, so they end up duking it out until the girl commits suicide.
- In Tanz Der Vampire, Alfred is searching for Sarah and vows to protect her, at any cost.
I'll be tough, I'll be sly,
There is nothing I would not do or be
I will steal, I will lie
There is nothing I won't try
To find and save her.
- In NieR, the eponymous (assuming you use the default name) character's overriding desire to protect his daughter, Yonah, initially seems perfectly simple... and HE probably never realizes it was anything but. The player, on the other hand, will soon realize - by the second playthrough if not sooner - that he's been doing a LOT of really questionable stuff in order to protect and save her.
- In Sands of Destruction has a gender flipped version of who to protect. Toppi grows an attachment to Kyrie because of his positive ideals and swears to protect him. It's complicated in the since that Kyrie is a Person of Mass Destruction and has the power to destroy the world and Toppi really doesn't want that.
- Every protagonist in Ar tonelico series on their heroine reyvateils. However, this involved them getting into their minds and solve their inner conflicts. It isn't so bad untill some of the heroines secretly want to kill or rape their interests in their mind worlds. And those heroes are dealing with ultra powerful magician singers here.
- Thunder Hawk in Street Fighter, specially Street Fighter IV. He has three driving purposes in his life: recovering his people's sacred lands, punishing Bison for killing his father and former chieftain Arroyo Hawk, and protecting his childhood friend and fellow tribeperson Julia. Then we see how horribly screwed up she and several other girls were thanks to Bison's Doll Project, in which he made them his Brainwashed and Crazy Bodyguard Babes. By IV, the poor girl has become an empty and emotionless shadow of the girl she used to be.
- All main routes of Hakuōki lead inevitably to this trope thanks to Chizuru spending a good four years in the constant company of the captains of the Shinsengumi, all of whom, aside from Sanan, develop protective feelings toward her and go out of their way to keep her with them and protect her, even though she's The Load and the Shinsengumi's situation becomes increasingly dire as events unfold. In Okita Souji's route, her Evil Twin Kaoru purposefully exploits the trope with malice aforethought to make poor Chizuru suffer by repeatedly creating situations that inspire Souji to protect her at his own expense.
- The King of Fighters gives us Kyo Kusanagi. He is already willing to protect his Girl Next Door girlfriend Yuki to start with, but once he's told that she is a Barrier Maiden and that she was to be used in a Human Sacrifice, his desire to protect her goes Up to Eleven, and later the spirit of his rival's ancestors asks him to protect her among several other things.
- It's kind of a plot point in the KOF: KYO continuity. Ever since he was a kid, Kyo deeply wanted to protect his loved ones (in fact, he promises his mother Shizuka to do so when he's as much 8 years old), and that turned out to be one of the reasons why he was so powerful... but after gradually forgetting it in the middle of his turbulent life, he got Brought Down to Normal and then susceptible to being Brainwashed and Crazy by Orochi. Remembering how he began to fight as well as this purpose is what lets Kyo recover his lost powers and shake off Orochi's influence: this is sealed after his Warrior Therapist dad Saisyu undoes a staged Hostage Situation that he built to help Kyo and releases Yuki from an Unwilling Suspension. As Kyo rushes to catch her, his inner thoughts pretty much spell this trope.
- Also invoked by Adelheid "Adel" Berstein. He has sworn to himself to be the protector of his younger sister Rose, who also is his only living relative after their dad Rugal's death, and even when he seems to be an Aloof Older Brother he will NOT stop when it comes to shield her from any harm. The main reason why he became Heidern's source of information in XIII was his worry about how oddly Rose was acting around him — and with good reason, since she was Brain Washed by Those of the Past. When she's released from their mind control and collapses, Adel immediately rushes towards her to catch her in his arms.
- In Katawa Shoujo, Hisao feels this way in regards to Hanako in her route. If you want to get her good ending you'd better drop that attitude when Lilly brings it up, because Hanako does not like it. At all.
- Other routes also touch the trope, either criticizing it or reaching a compromise between protecting/helping a girl and letting her be when needed. In example, Emi's path shows that Emi does need emotional protection due to refusing to make any deep relationships after her father's death in the accident that claimed her legs, and as long asa Hisao doesn't overdo it, he can protect her broken emotions; and in Rin's it turns out that Rin needs both protection (since she's under very heavy pressure from her well-intentioned but VERY pushy art teacher) and to be understood (because she has big problems on expressing what she feels if it's not through art)
- In Fate/stay night, Shirou really, really wants to protect Sakura. Unfortunately, it turns out she has a Superpowered Evil Side that is planning to give birth to an Eldritch Abomination that will destroy the world when it is born. Shirou's response is to seek out the Holy Grail so that he can get rid of her Superpowered Evil Side. And it works.
- In Little Busters!, Kyousuke's reason for most everything he does in the game is to protect Riki and Rin. Specifically, to make them stronger so they can survive without him after a bus crash claims everyone else's lives. Since he won't be around much longer, protecting them also means making sure Riki is able to protect Rin and doing everything he can to encourage him to give himself over to this view completely. In the end, Riki also vows to always protect Rin.
- In The Sims 3, if you have supernatural installed, your Sim can make a promise to protect another, especially if said other is a child or romantic interest.
- In Girl Genius, Agatha Heterodyne, Gilgamesh Wulfenbach, and Tarvek Sturmvoraus trade off on this relationship: they're all more or less madly in love (emphasis madly, also "mad"ly), and as heirs to the three most important dominions in Europa and strong Sparks they're generally quite badass. None of them particularly like the others' protective behavior, but it's hard to blame them given the stakes. Of course, just to twist the knife, there are slaver-wasp-related reasons why they can't be together...
- Silver in Above Ground wants to protect Lilith and help her return home safely. But he's in complete denial about it all because he knows the desire to protect is an unnatural bewitchment rather than a real feeling. It doesn't help that his pack is in a dire situation and they need money that Lilith could provide if they ransom her off to the Guild.
I Owe Them My Life/Reputation/Health/etc.
Anime and Manga
In The Matrix
slashfic Bringing Me To Life
is a combined example of 1, 3 and 7. # 1 is - Smith, Love Interest
, says he's going to protect Max from his abusive father because in a past life Max saved his life. #'s 3 and 7 - Max is also recovering his Past-Life Memories
and, slowly, regaining his badass status.
- Rafael toward Skylar in Gives Light, but in this case, it's "I will protect him." Rafael's father, a serial killer, killed Skylar's mother many years ago, and Rafael feels responsible by proxy.
- Tin Man A cross of "I owe her," "It gets complicated," and Living Macguffin get involved with the gentlemen who decide to travel with DG. Raw is pretty straightforward. She's a good person, and she was responsible for rescuing him from a nasty death. Glitch comes with because it's preferable to be confused and with someone than confused and alone. But it turns out that he was her mother's trusted and devoted adviser. Remembering who he was and learning who she is just makes him more determined to help. Cain's a mess. He agrees to escort DG and Glitch to Central (Emerald) City because he does owe them that much for freeing him, but the Mystic Man, his former boss, orders Cain to protect DG at any cost - and Cain's too damn honorable to disobey a direct order, especially as it turns out to also be the Mystic Man's Last Request. By the time it's discovered that DG is inadvertently responsible for the Witch's reign of terror, they've become too much True Companions to care.
- Dembe to Red in The Blacklist. It's actually his job description as his bodyguard, and stems from Red saving him from a horrendous fate. But the list of people who owe Red favors and/or are ready to go through hell for him seemingly has no end.
It's Just That Simple
Anime and Manga
- Murder Princess is a straightforward example. It takes Fallis a while to realize that she wants to protect the sweet, gentle (and very, very helpless) Princess Alita, but actually doing so never gets any more complicated than cutting down anything that threatens her or her kingdom.
- Blue Exorcist has the relationship between twins Rin and Yukio when they were younger. Yukio was bullied and Rin went to beat the bullies up just because they were picking on Yukio.
- Memory, Sorrow and Thorn: Simon has a very difficult time spitting out his affection for Rebellious Princess Miriamele, despite the fact that he has a crush on her. Part of it is that he feels that she's so far above him socially that his desires will remain unrequited, although he fantasizes about rising to her station or her falling to his. Of course, they keep getting thrown together in perilous circumstances, and after he's knighted, he resolves to become her champion and protector as a way of dealing with the situation. In the end he discovers that it wasn't their stations keeping them apart at all, but Miriamele's self-doubts and fears of being forced to assume the throne and make a political marriage. And of course he turns out to be the rightful king anyway, so he solves the problem of her entering into a loveless marriage by marrying her.
- In Heart Of Steel, Alistair's efforts to turn Julia's mangled boyfriend into a cyborg companion for her instead produce a deranged, jealous monster who is willing to do anything to keep Julia under control, including kill her. Alistair has already promised Julia that he intends no harm to come to her while she's a guest, and since this is kind of his fault, he vows to protect her.
Live Action TV
- Rory Williams from Doctor Who. He loves his girlfriend, later fiancée, later wife, and will do anything to protect her. A lot of the time they protect each other- for example, Rory fails at sword-fighting a fish vampire, so Amy destroys it with a mirror. However he then goes to guard her comatose body for 2,000 years, becoming the legendary Last Centurion. He seems to develop something of a complex.
Rory: And she knows that where-ever she is, I am coming for her. Always.
- Castle does this for Beckett in the episode "...Boom" when a serial killer blows up Beckett's apartment:
Montgomery: You need to go home and get some sleep.
Beckett: Sir, I don't have a home.
Castle: Yes, you do. It's a secure building with an extra bedroom, with people who care about you. With the Federal detail at the door, it's the safest place in the city.
Beckett: Thank you, Castle, but I couldn't.
Castle: You can and you will.
- Booth is very much this to Brennan in Bones, even before they became an Official Couple. On the one hand, his "alpha male" need to protect her tends to rub Brennan the wrong way. On the other hand, as she once observed, "I find it interesting that I'm only afraid of snakes when Booth is around to be jumped upon."
- Dean Winchester (from Supernatural) has dedicated his life to protecting his brother Sam (despite the fact that Sam can protect himself, and often doesn't want Dean to risk everything to protect him).
- Despite providing the quote at the top, which suggests a 'It Gets Complicated' situation, Squall of Final Fantasy VIII really DOES get it easy. In order to protect Rinoa, the girl who finally brought him out of his sarcastic, just-dont-care shell, and taught him what love was - all he has to do is beat up all the villains. Then everything is all right.
- Devil May Cry 4 provides another fairly straightforward (and heartwarming) example with Nero's half of the story with his Love Interest Kyrie. Though for a while it looks like he failed.
- Gungrave. The protagonist's major goals is to get revenge on the main villain, and to protect the daughter of his former love interest from the main villain. By using a lot of dakka.
- In Fire Emblem for the GBA: Dorcas's wife Natalie is an Ill Girl. He wants her to get better, and so he joins a bandit group. Once Lyn knocks sense into him (and Natalie does too, if you make them talk), Dorcas decides to keep fighting for her until he gathers enough gold to buy the medicine. It's just as simple as that, for him.
- This is not the case in most versions, but in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, it's why Link is The Chosen One to begin with.
- In Little Busters!, Kyousuke feels this way towards Riki and Rin, and tries to encourage Riki to develop it towards Rin. In one of the final Bad Ends, when all of their other friends have died, Riki quietly promises to Rin that he will always protect her. She asks if he's proposing, and the player is given a choice whether to agree or not.
- Although it has an example further up the page, Tales of Graces also qualifies here, because "protect your friends" is basically the theme of the game - it gets subverted and played straight and spun and re-used in every conceivable way. In fact the characters use the word "protect" well over a hundred times in the course of the game. This has not gone unnoticed.
- In The Sims 3, you can have a Sim vow to protect another Sim.
- Adventure Time has Simon Petrikov, AKA The Ice King, protecting a very young Marceline either during or immediately after the Mushroom War. It seems to be that he simply chose to look after her because she was scared and alone. Could arguably fall under the "complicated" category, but that's less to do with her being dangerous and more because using his powers drives him incrementally more insane. He needs to stay sane for her sake; if she weren't around, he probably would have quickly given into the madness just from using his powers to protect himself.