The Order

Sometimes a Knight Errant or The Drifter can't get the job done alone. So what do they do? Why, gather a group of likeminded individuals, of course. The Order is a group of people come together to further some aim, whether it's to accomplish a specific goal or in support of a more general set of ideals, which are usually written down in its Code. It is usually a highly exclusive organization—you cannot simply join, you must be recruited (or at least pass a difficult application process of some kind). However, despite these high standards, The Order can vary widely in size and influence. It may be a small, elite group of adventurers, or it may be an army-sized power unto itself with its own dedicated support staff and base(s) of operations.

The Order is often grounded in an Ancient Tradition, which may or may not be public knowledge. Many fictional Orders also train their members in the use of some Secret Art—in which case they are likely to only recruit those with the potential to use it. The Order is itself often (but not always) a part of The Church, making them Church Militants. This is probably a holdover from real life knightly orders, groups dedicated to the advancement of Christian interests and officially acknowledged by the Catholic Church. Similarly, you can expect many fictional Orders to have a distinctly chivalric flavor—even if the setting isn't otherwise medieval.

Orders can be secret or public, good or evil, but much like The Kingdom, good Orders show up far more often in fiction. Heroic Orders are likely to also be Heroes "R" Us, and dead Orders usually inspire Order Reborn plots. Paladins are usually part of an Order. If their purpose is protecting an ancient MacGuffin or other secrets they're an Ancient Order of Protectors. Compare with Avengers Assemble.

Not to be confused with the short-lived Marvel Comics title The Order, the 2001 Jean-Claude Van Damme movie The Order 2001, or the 2003 Heath Ledger movie The Order. Also not to be confused with The Order: 1886. And definitely not to be confused with the white supremacist group that killed Alan Berg in 1984. Finally, not to be confused with the abstract concept or order: for that one, please see Order Versus Chaos.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The Black Order of D.Gray-Man collects Innocence and the people capable of using it to fight Akuma.
  • Order of Mary Magdalene from Chrono Crusade.
  • Code Geass has several Knightly ones, most notably the Knights of the Rounds. The spinoff manga Code Geass Ozthe Reflection has the Glinda Knights.
    • The Black Knights are styled this way in English - not just in translation, but in flavor text as well - as "The Order of the Black Knights" (Kuro no Kishidan in Japanese).
  • The "Jusenkyo Morals Committee" from a filler episode of Ranma ˝ are a comically inept take on this concept. Their paladin Kenny the Enforcer's own Jusenkyo curse from the spring of the drowned pacifist Buddhist monk proves to be an Achilles' Heel.

  • The Sacred Order of Saint Dumas from Batman comics, founded by a guy who was too fanatical for the Templars, was a religious warrior sect who denied Papal sanction and went underground while secretly amassing wealth and power. They grew corrupt over the centuries, and were ultimately destroyed by Jean Paul Valley, the final successor to the name of their "avenging angel", Azrael.
  • DC Comics' Atomic Knights, a knightly order established After the End (possibly in the same future as Kamandi) by Sgt Gardner Grayle to protect the remains of civilization from the Black Baron. Later revealed as All Just a Dream, and later still Grayle set up a real order of Atomic Knights in the ruins of Bludhaven.
  • The Blood of the Ghost Rider comics fought alongside the spirits of vengeance in the past. The Caretaker is a survivor from this order, which is why he knows so much about the Ghost Rider.
  • Most incarnations of DC Comics' Green Lantern Corps are effectively this, with the Guardians of the Universe behind it all. The Guardians' first attempt at creating The Order was the Manhunters, robotic humanoids that came to the conclusion that the most effective way to prevent chaos was to exterminate all life.

  • In Rerum Danarae, the Navy is this, rooted in and still to the present day, carried by the descendants of the nobility of the Ancient Kingdom, Danara Marina, founded After the End to atone for the destruction their last king (an usurper) wrecked upon the world by their rightful ruler. Until today, they do try their best to uphold justice, but it's kind of hard if your employer forgot what that means to you…


  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • The Rangers of Arnor, descendants of ancient Númenor who continue to train in ancient skills and martial arts.
    • There's also the Istari, a Five-Man Band of wizards. And the White Council if you were to include certain important Elves.
  • As medieval fantasies set in a realm of Fantastic Catholicism, the Deryni works feature a number of these, including:
    • The Michaelines, named for their patron Saint Michael the Archangel, are a military order prominent in the Camber trilogy. They are presented as a cross between common notions of the Templars and the Jesuits: wealthy, powerful, and adept at all forms of combat (including intellectual). Their membership was mixed human and Deryni, with the Deryni leading the others in quasi-arcane meditations. Camber's son Joram was a member, as was his late-life alter ego Alister Cullen (Vicar General of the Order). The Michaelines were suppressed by the the regents circa 918, and many members fled into exile with the Knights of the Anvil.
    • The Knights of the Anvil, or Anvillers, take their name from their home region, a harsh environment southeast of Bremagne called the Anvil of the Lord. A military order with a reputation for stealth, the Anvillers were influenced by many cultures, Muslim as well as Christian. Members have small crosses tattooed on their bodies in remembrance of Christ's wounds when they take final vows; Sir Sé Trelawney displays those at his wrists (and jestingly refers to the others) on a visit to Alyce de Corwyn Morgan in Childe Morgan.
  • The Dragon Riders of Eragon.
  • In Raymond E. Feist's Empire Trilogy, the Great Ones gather children with magical talent and train them as powerful magicians.
  • The Order of the Phoenix from Harry Potter series is a rather small example of limited scope (a dozen or so people at any one time, focusing on opposing Voldemort). Their evil counterpart are the Death Eaters, Voldemort's inner circle.
  • The elite intellectual organization residing in Castalia, called simply "The Order", in The Glass Bead Game.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • The Knights of the Cross, a group of three men who each were given swords that are said to have one of the nails of Christ's cross embedded on it. This gives them the ability to fight off forces of evil, and they've helped Harry Dresden many a time in defeating dark supernatural creatures. Interestingly, only one of them is truly Catholic, and he's easily the nicest, least Church Militant person ever; out of the other two, one got converted to Baptist Christianity by mistake, and the other one is a skeptic who believes heavenly creatures—including the archangel that gave him his sword—can just as easily be Sufficiently Advanced Aliens. In Skin Game, Waldo Butters, a Jew, joins their ranks.
    • There's also the White Council, which could fit the description. Unfortunately, among the senior council, the Merlin is a pretentious ass, Ancient Mai usually comes across as a horrid bitch, and Gregori Cristos is, in Ebenezar's words, an unpleasant bastard.
  • The backstory of The Stormlight Archive has the ten orders of Knights Radiant, who disbanded centuries before the story starts. They were Magic Knights, who protected humanity from the Voidbringers.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero's Daughter trilogy, the Orbis Suleimani keeps mankind ignorant of the existence of magic. That way, instead of resorting to evil spirits, we resort to science and so live much better.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has numerous examples, ranging from the Night's Watch (dedicated to protecting Westeros from the threats in the North) to the maesters (who are dedicated to study and the gathering of knowledge), to the Kingsguard (a group of exactly seven knights, who act as the king's Praetorian Guard). Later the Faith of the Seven are given leave to bear arms again and recreate the Faith Militant, consisting of two orders, The Warrior's Sons (made up of knights and other nobility), and the Poor Fellows (made up of the peasantry).
  • The "League" the main character belonged to in his youth, in The Journey to the East by Herman Hesse.
  • The Fraternity of the Stone (from the thriller of that name by David Morrell) were a Christian response to the Hashashin, now an Ancient Conspiracy charged with the protection of the Catholic church.
  • In Updraft, the city doesn't really have a centralised government, but Singers are the protectors of the city and keepers of its Laws. They keep apart from ordinary citizens, and are secretive about their techniques and operations. They're highly identifiable, having silver tattoos, and are both respected and feared. At the end of the book, it's revealed to the world that they've been lying about the protection they provide; to reform the Order, there are going to have to be major changes, including ending its separation from the people it's supposed to serve.
  • The eponymous group of the Heralds of Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey. The Heralds are each Chosen by their Companions, Cool Horse–shaped Bond Creatures, to defend The Kingdom of Valdemar in any way necessary. Each Herald possesses Psychic Powers, Incorruptible Pure Pureness, and a life-long bond with his or her Companion. This order is especially closely tied to its Kingdom, since the Monarch is required to be a Herald—the aforementioned qualities ensure that he'll put his people's good above his own. They're called Heralds out of tradition; after the original King Valdemar and his Heir, the third person Chosen was Valdemar's royal herald.

    Live Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • The Watcher's Council. Since there is only one active Slayer at any time (in theory), the show was always vague about what the rest of the organization got up to. It didn't help that some of their actions bordered on Knight Templar, especially in season three, which saw Giles being fired halfway through and ended with Buffy telling them she was doing things her way from now on. They were a bit more helpful in season five, but their contribution to season seven was to be blown up.
      Quentin: We're not in the business of fair, Miss Summers, we're fighting a war.
      Giles: You're waging a war. She's fighting it. There's a difference.
    • The Order of Aurelius, headed up by The Master and later the Anointed One, were the main villains of season one and the first few episodes of season two. Then Spike and Dru came along and got bored of them very quickly.

    Myth and Legend 
  • King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table, one of the most famous knightly orders in the Western world.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons naturally has more than its fair share. Greyhawk has the Knights of the Hart, Dragonlance has the Knights of Solamnia, Eberron has the Knights Arcane.
    • Forgotten Realms:
      • There are lot of gods sponsoring paladins, each having one or more paladin order to his name, divided by regions or specific tasks—such as Knights of Samular, dedicated mainly to hunting down some dangerous artifacts around Sword Coast. "Mundane" knightly organizations may be even more numerous.
      • The city-state of Ravens Bluff alone has its knighthood split into 8 specialized orders. Initiate-level Order of the Golden Rooster (concerned with their and city's prestige and appearance), then secular orders of Griffon (martial might), Dove (diplomacy, non-violent problem solving) and Hawk (intelligence, undercover investigations), then higher-ranked religious orders—Keepers of the Mystic Flame (magic threats), Right hand of Tyr (justice) and Phoenix (The Undead and pesky extraplanars) and the elite order, Knights of the Raven.
      • The Harpers are a widespread secret society that seeks to oppose evil in all it's forms, they're less organized and less formal (members meet rarely and irregularly at gatherings that resemble fey parties more than anything else, and all it really takes to join is the sponsorship of an established member or two) than most examples of this trope, but they're certainly exclusive enough and goal-oriented enough to qualify.
    • In Planescape, few of the factions fit but several of the sects (mini-factions outside of Sigil) do, such as the Order of the Planes-Militant. The Harmonium faction started as one of these centuries ago, when a group of adventurers founded the organization to permanently save their homeworld from evil. It eventually succeeded... by conquering the rest of the world and pushing out into other planes, graduating from The Order to The Empire (or The Kingdom, if you ask them) back home and trying to do the same elsewhere.
  • The various magical groups in Shadowrun fill this role for people with the potential for magic. The exact perks gained depend on the group, but they can all help mages become initiates, which gives them greater power and abilities.
  • Warhammer 40,000 has several from the Imperium Of Man, but the closest to the stereotypical Order are the Grey Knights, an uncorruptible organisation of Power Armored, Daemon-hunting Super Soldiers. However, being a heavy Deconstruction of The Paladin, they're extremely ruthless, and undergo 666 Mind Rapes during their selection course.
    • Most other Space Marine Chapters, the Inquisition, the Adeptas Sororitas, most Eldar Aspect temples, the Incubi cults, and the Harlequins/White Seers also qualify to one degree or another. The Deathwatch is slightly more of a Legion of Lost Souls IN SPACE!, though.
  • Warhammer, many Imperial Knights belong to a certain order, they are either Templar Orders who venerate a particular god, or are Secular Orders who honor most gods equally.
  • There are five different Military Orders, all based on historical Military Orders, serving the Catholic Church in Infinity, all updated for the setting (the Knights of Santiago now protect pilgrims traveling space trade routes instead of just pilgrims traveling across northern Spain).
  • Rocket Age has the Order of the Sacred Hamaxe, obviously, which is a Martian faith made up of holy war-bands led by full priests.

  • BIONICLE: The Hand of Artakha and its successor The Order of Mata Nui

    Video Games 
  • The Assassins of Assassin's Creed are engaged in a Secret War with the Templars.
  • The Dragon Age franchise has several.
    • The Grey Wardens, of whom the first game's protagonist is a new recruit, were formed to guard against the Darkspawn.
    • The Circle of Magi exists to train and control mages... and the Templar Order exists to hunt mages outside the Circle's control. While Dragon Age mages can be dangerous, the Templars frequently end up acting as the Chantry's standing army rather than protectors of the innocent. The Seekers of Truth exist to prevent Templar abuses but, again, it doesn't often work in practice.
    • The Ben-Hassrath are the Secret Police of the Qunari, whose mandate is to "protect the faith". This can involve espionage, assassination, or "re-education".
    • The dwarves have the Silent Sisters, an Amazon Brigade who cut out their own tongues in honour of their founder, and the Legion of the Dead, an Army of Thieves and Whores who 'escape' sentencing by pledging the rest of their lives to the fight against the darkspawn.
  • The Elder Scrolls series has quite a few, as benefits its medieval fantasy setting. A few of the more relevant ones:
    • The Blades, the personal bodyguard (and spies, and general secret agents) of the Emperor. The Order of Talos, a religious order worshiping Talos (aka Tiber Septim, the founder of the Imperial dynasty of the Third Era) overlaps quite a bit with (but is technically distinct from) the Blades.
    • The Dark Brotherhood, an order of assassins that worship Sithis and a being known as the Night Mother via contract killings. New members are recruited via a mysterious hooded man (or woman, in the case of Skyrim) appearing to them while they sleep the night after the first time they murder an innocent.
    • The Thieves' Guild, which provides fences for its members to dispose of stolen goods. To join, you have to find your way to a secret recruitment meeting, then beat out other potential recruits in a test of thievery. They forbid their members from harming targets during jobs.
    • The Oblivion DLC "Knights of the Nine" adds a sidequest where you can revive the eponymous order, dedicated to the ultimate defeat of a particular Sealed Evil in a Can. It ultimately consists of nine knights and a handful of support staff, based out of a small fort in the wilderness.
    • The Skyrim DLC "Dawnguard" has the dawnguard, an Order Reborn that fights vampires when the Jarl of Riften's son turned into a vampire.
  • The Order of the Hammer, a.k.a. Hammerites, in the Thief series. One of the Church Militant varieties, though they make up the entirety of The Church except when it undergoes a schism in the second game.
  • Order of the Sunspears and Order of Whispers in Guild Wars.
  • The Spectres in Mass Effect series are a somewhat atypical Space Opera example. They are a very exclusive organization (naming a person a Spectre requires unanimous decision by the Citadel Council, so Shepard was the first human to gain the title) pledged to the service of the Council and "there's no such thing as a 'former Spectre'". The atypical part is that they tend to operate alone (or with their own assembled teams) and without much support from the organization itself, though they do have access to stocks of rare and highly advanced equipment. Also, they can requisition Council resources as necessary, e.g. extranet bandwidth.
  • The Order from Freelancer. You spend most of the game hearing about them as an enigmatic terrorist group, with a strange and dark agenda compared to the more obvious pirate and terrorist organizations living at the fringes of society. Eventually you discover they are a counter-conspiracy against the body-snatcher aliens who are slowly conquering human society from within, hence their bad reputation.
  • The Order of the Flame from Drakan, though it's more of an Order Reborn, since Arokh is the only living dragon throughout both games who can be considered a member.
  • The Brotherhood of Steel from the Fallout series is one of the larger examples, as one of the major powers in the setting. Though they use powered armor and BFGs instead of swords and shields, they have a deliberate chivalric flavor — their soldiers are "knights" (and elite ones "paladins"), their scientists are "scribes", their leaders are "elders", etc. Their Ancient Tradition is the preservation of technology and technical knowledge in the post-apocalyptic wasteland, often to the exclusion of helping people.
    • Fallout 3 has the spinoff Columbia chapter, whose Cool Old Guy leader has shifted priorities from collecting technology in the D.C. Wasteland to containing the local Super Mutant population. This was technically okayed by the main Brotherhood leadership... but they stoped sending reinforcements and supplies immediately thereafter, essentially making the Brotherhood (Columbia chapter) a separate faction. The Columbia chapter eventually spawns its own spinoff, the Brotherhood Outcasts, who adhere to the main Brotherhood's "technology is more important than anything else" philosophy, and left the now Lyons' Brotherhood of Steel to follow it.
    • Fallout 3 also has the Regulators, a group of Vigilante Men who are essentially The Sheriff in a setting with no government to give them legitimate authority — so they take it into their own hands. If the player ends up on the evil end of the Karma Meter, they'll become a Random Encounter trying to kill him.
  • The Knights of the Silver Hand from the Warcraft setting were founded by the first paladins. It had quite a few members at one point, but was largely wiped out by Arthas after his corruption. It was later reformed by Tirion Fordring, and then merged with the Argent Dawn to form the Argent Crusade.
  • The Ultima games have the Order of the Silver Serpent, operating out of Serpent's Hold. Exclusive to Ultima Underworld are the Knights of the Crux Ansata.
  • Both ''Duty'' and ''Freedom'' in Stalker consider themselves this, both being organizations determined to prevent the Zone from spreading, but engaged in a war over how to do it. (Duty believing in completely sealing off all access and keep anyone from meddling with it, Freedom wanting to make the area safe enough to allow to allow international researcher to study and reverse or contain the Zone). Monolith might also count in some ways, though they are more like an evil cult of brainwashed madmen.
  • The Rangers of Metro 2033 are a post-apocalyptic example. They're a group of veteran fighters and explorers who do whatever they think is necessary for the good of the metro, from dealing with bandits and mutants to exploring the surface. Of course, their motto is "if it's hostile, kill it".
  • Another use of the trope name verbatim, The Order from Strife. Described quite adequately in the manual as a religious dictatorship that uses cybernetic augmentation and advanced weaponry to conquer the populace. And the that religion involves an evil alien that arrived via the same comet that spread The Virus that caused assorted death, mutation, and a tendacy towards revering The Entity.
  • Bastion features numerous orders in its pre-Calamity backstory; the city of Caelondia was organized into a collection of guilds, each named The [Job Description] (eg, the Marshals, city peacekeepers; the Brushers, frontiersmen operating in the wilderness around the city) and each with their own Weapon of Choice (eg, the Mason's cael hammer, the Mender's bullhead shield).
  • Blacklight Retribution 's The Order is a pretty literal example, at least on the evil end of the spectrum. They're secretive, rumored to be ex-Special Forces, and take it upon themselves to "clean" the world by unleashing SIV. Another ex-Special Forces Order that goes by a different name opposes them in the singleplayer story.
  • Vector Thrust gives us Legion, a partly state-funded organisation of pilots, soldiers and politicians dedicated to preventing another large-scale nuclear catastrophe.
  • The Order from Orcs Must Die! and it's sequels is an organization dedicated to the defense of magical rifts from Orcs attempting to invade their world. Its members consist of War Mages, who set up traps to kill the orcs, and a host of others to help the mages Hold the Line, including Archers, Highly armored Paladins, and Weavers, who allow the warmage access to the magic they've studied, for a small fee.

    Web Comics 
  • Rumors of War brings us the Order of Orion, which falls somewhere between Heroes "R" Us and Weird Trade Union. We aren't sure what they do exactly, except that they recruit heroes, fund exploration and mining operations, and have some hand in maritime trade. We don't know the conditions under which the cast were recruited, and we don't know what function they serve in the Order.
  • The Order of the Stick: The eponymous Order of the Stick is not an example itself; however, the Sapphire Guard is an order of paladins dedicated to safeguarding a tear in the fabric of the universe.
  • The Order Of The Black Dog was founded in the 1920s by a couple of investigators who survived an encounter with a certain spectral horror, and they worked closely with the Special Investigations Unit, which gradually took over their functions and led to the group's disbandment in the 60s. Then in the 2030s Julia King blackmails one agent into helping her restart the Order.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Despite never being called such, the Justice League fits the description. Dedicated to maintaining world security and justice and highly exclusive (so much that Aquaman was the only superhero to join the original lineup until Unlimited—and only in an alternate timeline). Even after they expand (by invitation only), they maintain strict membership policies, as Huntress' example demonstrates.
  • The Order of the White Lotus from Avatar: The Last Airbender plays this straight. A secret society dedicated to the martial arts and pai sho, they originally resembled a sort of cross between a social club and an underground railroad. They rose to prominence during the end of the Hundred Year War and, by the time of The Legend of Korra, had shed the "secret" part and apparently much of the exclusivity of their membership requirements and become a Red Shirt Army in the service of the Avatar.

    Real Life