->''"''Infidels!'' You have touched the forbidden treasure! Now you will never again see the ''light of day!''"''
-->-- '''Cave of Wonders''', ''Disney/{{Aladdin}}''

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

But wait! As he approaches, a sudden [[RoarBeforeBeating roar chills the blood in his veins]] and a [[EldritchAbomination towering, nameless creature]] suddenly appears to stop him. [[CaptainObvious It's the Guardian!]]

This happens really often, with any kind of possible keeper. Monsters, Living Statues, Dragons or Demons summoned by portals and runes. It can be tracked [[OlderThanFeudalism back in old myths]] where a monstrous guardian keeps a treasure or a person, usually for his master. Of course, it doesn't need to be revealed in that exact way to qualify, but has just to be a monster keeping a treasure.

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

A combination found so often it is its own subtrope is a [[DragonHoard dragon guarding a treasure hoard.]]

Sometimes overlap with TeleportingKeycardSquad, especially if the room appeared totally bare [[HeWasRightThereAllAlong just a moment ago]]. See also ForgotToFeedTheMonster when the spooky guardian is here... and already dead or incapacitated.

Don't confuse with ThresholdGuardians which usually is there to test the hero, while the [=MacGuffin=] Guardian is here to ''eat'' the hero. It may, however, be the ''test'' of said ThresholdGuardians.

Compare GateGuardian.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* [[TheBrute Jidanbo]] from ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'' may count, if you wish to [[OurGiantsAreBigger include overgrown humans]].
* In ''Manga/{{Yaiba}}'', Onimaru's Fortress is guarded by the Four Evil Kings, four demonic monsters acting as keepers.
* ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamAGE'' has a mechanical variant in SID, an unmanned, AI-controlled mobile armor that guards the EXA-DB. And since it uses weapons taken from the EXA-DB, its weaponry and defenses are decades, if not centuries, ahead of anything anyone else possesses.
* In ''Manga/InuYasha'' there are several examples, including Gozu and Mezu, the invincible guardians of the gate leading to the underworld, and a three-headed, fire-breathing wolf made of stone guarding the holy treasure of the Yoro Tribe, the [[WolverineClaws Gorai]][[ShockAndAwe shi]].
* In ''Manga/SazanEyes'', the gate to the Sanctuary in the Egyptian Kunlun is guarded by a small army of sand golems shaped as the Egyptian pantheon and a massive, Anubi-shaped Golem with petrification powers. Later, the Tomb of the Water General and the nexus of energy withing are protected by a mass of sentient, corrosive water. Though never stated, it is implied that the other four Generals' resting places are guarder by similar, elemental entities.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''[[ComicBook/TheTransformersMoreThanMeetsTheEye The Transformers: Lost Light]]:'' [[spoiler:Before the fall of Garrus-9, the Magnificence was placed inside Grimlock's chest, on the grounds it was the safest place in the universe. It took Scorponok a long time, and an incredible amount of torture, to get it out of Grimlock's chest.]]


[[folder:Fan Works]]
* ''FanFic/TheEquestrianWindMage'': Since the second season plays out more like a proper Zelda story than the first, [[ArcVillain Ganondorf]] places each of the Elements of Harmony under the protection of a powerful monster -- the Element of Honesty is guarded by Grey Hoof and a Stallord, the Element of Kindness by Volvagia, the Element of Generosity by the Gohma Queen, the Element of Loyalty by Shanzom, and the Element of Laughter by Twinrova, while Ganon keeps the Element of Magic on his person.
* ''FanFic/ShadowsAwakening'' uses this a lot:
** The Chamber of Wishes, containing the [[MacGuffin Ring of Kur-Asan]], is protected by a giant scorpion.
** The Hidden Shadowkhan Temple is guarded by an army of TheUndead.
** The Unseen Enclave, where Solomon's Archive is located, is guarded by an [[PlayingWithFire efreet]].
** The hidden Himalaya shrine where the Jewel was hidden is protected by yeti with [[AnIcePerson ice powers]].
* ''FanFic/QueenOfAllOni'': The Sages guard the first tablet of the [[TomeOfEldritchLore Teachings of Eternal Shadow]], [[AncientKeeper Nameless]] protects the second (on top of his duties as warden of the [[SealedEvilInACan Vault of Endless Night]]), and the third is now only guarded by a single OldMaster (the giant wolf that also protected it having succumbed to a MutualKill long ago).
** Also, Miss Kimber protects the [[SealedEvilInACan container]] holding the [[LivingShadow Shadow Man]].
* In ''Fanfic/TheUltimateEvil'', unlike in canon, the [[GreatBigBookOfEverything Book of Ages]] has Guardian who Shendu [[spoiler: and Valerie]] must outwit in order to access it.
* In the ''Fanfic/PonyPOVSeries'', it turns out Moochick was this for the Rainbow of Light until he gave it to the Paradise Ponies and Megan, while Heathspike (Spike's ancient ancestor) was the guardian of the Rainbow of Darkness. Unfortunately, Heathspike dying in battle killing the evil dragon Smaug resulted in Lord Tirek getting his Rainbow [[spoiler:[[NiceJobBreakingItHero thanks to a younger, far more apathetic Luna]]]].

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* The [[GeniusLoci Cave of Wonders]] itself in ''Disney/{{Aladdin}}''.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* The golden sword in ''Film/TheManWhoSavesTheWorld'' is guarded by two golden living statues. Or, to be honest, two guys wearing golden suits.

* Plenty in the ''Literature/LoneWolf'' series, especially [[GottaCatchThemAll during the quest]] for [[MineralMacGuffin the Lorestones]]. They often act as FinalBoss for a given book.
** [[EvilOverlord Lord Haakon]] himself, and [[SummonMagic the monsters he summons]], must be vanquished to retrieve the Book of the Magnakai at the end of book 5, ''Shadow on the Sand''.
** The monstrous Dakomyd guards the first Lorestone in book 6, ''The Kingdoms of Terror''.
** The Crocaryx and the Zadragon in book 9, ''The Cauldron of Fear''.
** Book 20, ''The Curse of Naar'', can be said to be mostly a series of [=MacGuffin=] Guardians, as several Demon Lords must be beaten to retrieve each time a new PlotCoupon.
* In ''Literature/PresterJohnSaga'', several plot-relevant items are guarded by some monster. Book 1 alone has two pieces of the magical armor guarded by a massive octopus and a Hawk-man you have to trick or fight. At least two of them (one in Book 2, the other in Book 4) are also the FinalBoss of the story.

* In ''Literature/ChroniclesOfTheEmergedWorld'', each elemental sanctuary has a sort of guardian. Subverted by some of them which aren't hostile at all and at least two which are guarded by a maze and enviromental hazards.
* Too many to count in ''Franchise/ConanTheBarbarian'' including the [[TheUndead Thing in the Crypt]], several Giant Snakes and at least one GiantSpider.
* ''Literature/{{Fablehaven}}'' has the cat-thing guarding one of the artifacts [[CatsHaveNineLives which has nine progressively more dangerous forms.]]
* In the first ''Literature/GotrekAndFelix'' book, there's a huge, Warpstone-mutated Troll guarding the treasure inside an abandoned dwarven tomb.
* In the ''Literature/HarryPotter'' series:
** In ''Literature/HarryPotterAndThePhilosophersStone'', the Philosopher's Stone is guarded by [[FluffyTheTerrible Fluffy]], a huge cerberus-like beast and by a Troll.
** In ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheGobletOfFire'', each of the golden eggs in the first part of the Twiwizard Tournament is guarded by a dragon.
* [[spoiler:Arachne]] in the third ''Literature/TheHeroesOfOlympus'' book, ''Mark of Athena''.

[[folder:Myths & Religion]]
* Myth/ClassicalMythology has various guardian monsters like Ladon (the dragon that guarded the Apples of the Hesperides) and another dragon that guarded the Golden Fleece.
* In ''Literature/TheEpicOfGilgamesh'' there's a fire-breathing giant Kumbawa who guards a forest of precious trees. Unlike other examples however, Gilgamesh's objective is the guardian himself, as he wishes to kill him for fame.
* In Myth/EgyptianMythology the Book of Thoth is guarded by serpents and scorpions and a Serpent that cannot be slain, meaning it can [[HealingFactor come back together]] if its head is chopped off.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* In the ''Series/DoctorWho'' arc [[Recap/DoctorWhoS1E5TheKeysOfMarinus "The Keys of Marinus"]], one of the keys is in a block of ice and guarded by several warriors who come to life when it is thawed out.

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

* Fafner in ''Theatre/DerRingDesNibelungen'' is a giant turned dragon who holds the treasure including the [[RingOfPower Ring of the Nibelung]]. He can only be slain by a free hero; the god Wotan cannot intervene due to [[GodsHandsAreTied his contract with the giants]].

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/BattleForWesnoth''
** Spoofed to no end with the presence of a GiantSquid in a pool just outside the entrance of the Dwarven Kingdom is lampshaded. [[CrowningMomentOfFunny In a particular campaign said gag]] was brought UpToEleven.
** Used more seriously in ''The Hammer of Thursagan'' where the tome needed to open the secrets gates in the final level is guarded by several [[DemonicSpiders vicious huge spiders.]]
* The Guardians of [[EvilTowerOfOminousness Temen-Ni Gru]] in ''VideoGame/DevilMayCry 3'' may count. Most of them at least.
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyII'', each MacGuffin necessary for the plot advancement was guarded by a fearsome [[DegradedBoss monster]], including the Sergeant, [[StoneWall Adamantoise]] and [[ThatOneBoss Shrieker]].
* [[ThatOneBoss Grand Jewel]], [[BonusBoss Polter Armor]] and [[KrakenAndLeviathan The Last Kraken]] from ''VideOGame/TheLegendOfDragoon''.
* ''VideoGame/{{Onimusha}}'' has the huge hound Gertrude in the third game. The sequel features the gigantic, bug-looking keeper of Sawayama.
* Tobi from ''VideoGame/{{Okami}}''. Unlike other examples, however, he must be defeated in a race.
* The second ''VideoGame/{{Rayman}}'' game has its share, including the Guardian of the Cavern of Bad Dreams.
* The huge Kraken in ''VideoGame/TombRaiderUnderworld'' was probably left behind as a guardian.
* ''VideoGame/{{Mardek}}'': Chapter 3 features guardians in each of the elemental temples you visit. Fire had a wise, flaming dragonlike guardian named Girru who tests you by combat and finds you worthy, Water had a giant lobster-seahorse thing with a human rider, and Earth had the Rock Mole. Darkness was guarded by a wolflike alien mage called Solaar, but she had already been taken out by a villain when you get there and in fact joins your party in hopes of catching the thief.
* In ''VideoGame/GodOfWar'', Kratos must fight several Guardians during the course of the three games, including [[ALoadOfBull Pandora's Guardian]], [[KingMook the Mole Cerberus]] and [[ScaryScorpions Skorpio]].
* In ''VideoGame/EarthBound'', each of the [[MacGuffin Sanctuaries]] is guarded by some sort of monster.
** In ''VideoGame/{{MOTHER 3}}'', one of the needles is protected by the Barrier Trio, a group of posing, PSI-using golems.
* ''VideoGame/PonyIsland'': The three daemons: Azazel, Beelzebub and Asmodeus.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'':
** The outdated monsters guarding Dorukan's Talisman. Justified, since it's the Talisman itself which lured them there.
** The Black Dragon guarding the Starmetal fragment in the Wooden Forest.
** Kraagor's Gate is said to be protected by a bunch of monsters.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Fangbone}}'' has the titular Fangbone the Barbarian, and his friend from Earth, Bill. They're both tasked with guarding the big toe of [[BigBad Venomous Drool]], making sure he never retrieves it to regain his full power.
* ''WesternAnimation/MagiNation'' has Snout & Peepers, a two headed [[OurDragonsAreDifferent hyren]] that lives in the Hall of Heros and protects the Book of Elders whenever it shows up there. Snout prefers to roast intruders on sight.
* The ''WesternAnimation/SpongeBobSquarePants'' episode, "The Lost Mattress" had Mr. Krabs' prized money-filled mattress guarded by a ferocious worm at the junkyard, after it got thrown away.
* Played for laughs in one ''[[WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons Simpsons]]'' episode where the secret exit from the Nuclear Power Plant is guarded by a GiantSpider with a taste for human flesh.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Wakfu}}'':
** [[OurDragonsAreDifferent Grougaloragan]]'s [[EggMacGuffin Dofus]] is guarded by a giant Stone {{Golem}}, able to switch its head (and power) for another if beheaded.
** Phaeris the Powerful, another dragon, is guarding Shinonome's dofus, thus forbidding any access to the Crimson Claws Island.
** In the special episode ''The Legend of Ogrest'', a GiantSquid is guarding a pirates treasure and another [[EggMacGuffin Dofus]] .
* A rare heroic example is in ''WesternAnimation/LegendsOfChima,'' where the lions guard the pool of chi that falls from Mount Cavora, and unlike most MacGuffin Guardians, are willing to share what they're guarding.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheSmurfs'' episode "The Enchanted Quill", the eponymous quill inside Castle Quill is guarded by griffins.