[[quoteright:299:[[Literature/TsarevitchIvanTheFireBirdAndTheGrayWolf http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/WritingOnTheStone.JPG]]]]
[[caption-width-right:299:[-A FairyTale prince reads his options:\\
"Who rides straight forward shall know both hunger and cold.\\
Who rides to the right shall live, though his steed be dead.\\
Who rides to the left shall die, though his steed shall live."\\
Why did his brothers turn back at this point?-] ]]

->''"How far are you prepared to go? How much are you prepared to risk? How many people are you prepared to sacrifice for victory? Are you willing to die friendless, alone, deserted by everyone? Because that's what may be required of you in the war that is to come."''
-->-- '''Sebastian''', ''Series/BabylonFive''

A figure or event that tests the resolve of a [[{{Heroes}} Hero]] as he pursues his destiny and/or his goal. The Guardian is not necessarily adversarial, but puts the hero in a position where he must make a decision that reflects a sincere commitment to the task at hand, by providing a threat or bar to progress that the hero must specifically choose to overcome. In simpler terms, the Threshold Guardian exists to make sure the Hero is prepared for his adventure.

Sometimes the Guardian's challenge is an illusion which must be penetrated; when it is not, the Guardian himself is often the challenge, and [[DefeatMeansFriendship defeating him can turn him into an ally]]. Whatever form the Guardian and his challenge take, their defeat forces the hero to grow; heroes that are not yet ready for their journey are forced to turn back until they have matured sufficiently to handle the task.

Physical force is not necessarily the solution. Outwitting the guardian or persuading them to your side may, in fact, be required.

A hero may have more than one encounter with Threshold Guardians during his adventure -- each one tests him and at the same time heralds an escalation of the danger (and consequent reward) the hero faces.

The term comes from the work of comparative mythologist [[TheHerosJourney Joseph Campbell]] -- next, the hero CantRefuseTheCallAnymore.

In the [[ProppsFunctionsOfFolktales work of Vladimir Propp]], this character is the ''donor'', laying more emphasis on the benefits gain than the testing to get them.

Compare with SecretTestOfCharacter, in which the obstacle put before the character is a moral one. Although this can shade into that, when the guardian is testing courage, perservance, willingness to listen to advice, or courtesy. Also compare with RedPillBluePill, which is a similar event meant to test the hero's willingness to embark on his adventure in the first place.

In VideoGames, these guys may be responsible for a BrokenBridge. Also, compare BeefGate, which is more on the game mechanics side of things than the more plot-centric Threshold Guardians.

A guardian challenging an AntiHero may provide them with the opportunity to prove their willingness to perform [[DirtyBusiness morally questionable]] or [[ShootTheDog outright evil]] acts, such as sacrificing others.

Compare AncientOrderOfProtectors.


[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* The many Sanctuary challenges in the ''Manga/SaintSeiya'' series. Each Gold Saint is a Threshold Guardian by him/herself.
* All the Guardians, Proctors and Test Administrators from ''Webcomic/TowerOfGod'' count as this, meticulously testing every body who wants to reach the top, but Headon deserves special mention as he was the first to test Baam and tested his courage and resolve to [[TheChase find Rachel]].
* Subverted in ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'' -- when Ichigo encounters a Hollow trying to catch a lost soul, Rukia tries to turn the fight into his Threshold Guardian event, demanding that he either let the Hollow eat the ghost or vow to protect ''all'' souls. It flops, as Ichigo shuts her up mid-sentence and saves the soul because he ''wants'' to.
** The spirit in Ichigo's Zanpaktou tests Ichigo several times.
* In ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'', Evangeline's filled the role a few times. Characters about to become better acquainted with themselves (or her) keep encountering progressively scarier versions of her.
* The title character of ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' needed to overcome [[spoiler:Yami Naruto, the incarnation of all of his darker emotions, before he could challenge the Kyuubi. Only by accepting that darkness back into himself rather than rejecting and repressing it could he break the Kyuubi's hold on him and face it in a fair battle]].
* The heart shard of Fear in ''Anime/PrincessTutu'' serves as a Threshold Guardian for both the main character and Mytho. When Ahiru hears Mytho say that he's "afraid of Princess Tutu" she almost gives up, even tossing away her pendant. Mytho also is forced to decide if he wants to continue receiving heart shards, even when they restore emotions that could hurt him. Both characters eventually choose to continue on.
* Each of the planets in ''Anime/TransformersCybertron'' involves an encounter with a threshold guardian, as well as several other points in the show. The most interesting example is Override, whose challenge was neither an illusion nor a fight, but a ''race'' that served as a coming of age for the rookie Hot Shot. Optimus Prime tended to face the other Threshold Guardians, generally with Leobreaker or Wing Saber.
* In ''Manga/YuYuHakusho'', [[spoiler: Genkai]] serves this role ''beautifully'' for Yusuke in the Dark Tournament arc.
* Yukio is this to Rock in ''Manga/BlackLagoon''. [[spoiler: Subverted when he decides to Take a Third Option]].
* ''Anime/HeartcatchPrettyCure'' does this twice for the heroines' MidSeasonUpgrade - the first is a fight with Tsubomi's grandmother's [[spoiler: fairy partner Coupe]] in a test of resolve just to obtain the item. The second is a fight with their Mirages, representing their major hang ups. The last one doubles as a SecretTestOfCharacter.
* ''Anime/DokiDokiPrettyCure'' has [[TurtlePower Melan]] who can transform into a dragon. Unlike Coupe, the Pretty Cures cannot defeat her, but they still gain the Legendary Mirror.
* In ''Anime/DigimonFrontier'', Dark Trailmon serves as this for Takuya, who at the time is having a HeroicBSOD because of the heroes' [[CurbStompBattle defeat]] by Duskmon.
* Yunan, the wandering Magi is this to [[spoiler:Morgiana]] in ''Manga/MagiLabyrinthOfMagic''. She meets him in the [[CantRefuseTheCallAnymore Great Cliff]] between the Dark Continent ([[spoiler:the homeland she longs to see]]) and tells her that [[spoiler:there's some Fanalis left in there]]. But he declares that once she crosses, she'll never come back since war will start soon in the realms from where she comes, where her friends remain. [[spoiler:She chooses to return and help her friends instead of finding her origins, and Yunan decides to join her to help.]]
* Yamori from ''Manga/TokyoGhoul'' unintentionally serves as one to Kaneki, when he captures and tortures the idealistic young man for a week and a half. Kaneki is only able to free himself and defeat his tormenter when he fully accepts his Ghoul nature, and decides to become "someone that hurts" rather than "[[ExtremeDoormat someone that is hurt]]". This decision is a crossroads for the series, with Kaneki embarking on a quest to destroy Aogiri Tree that sees him transform into a ruthless and unstable AntiHero.
* The God Hand in ''Manga/{{Berserk}}'' serve as this to potential apostles, posing them with the choice to sacrifice their loved ones in exchange for great demonic power at the absolute depths of their despair. The most notable of these tempted few [[spoiler:Griffith]] who is reminded of [[spoiler:his dream]] by the God Hand after he is broken physically and mentally, encouraging him to pursue it simply because he's come too far and sacrificed too much to relent now.

* In ''ComicBook/TheThessaliad'', the Sphinx and Lester are both supposed to serve as threshold guardians on Thessaly's quest. Thessaly, being Thessaly, cheats her way past both of them, answering the Sphinx's riddle before she even has a chance to ask it (and then providing her with an unsolvable riddle in return) and shrinking Lester into a normal-sized human before dashing his head in with his own ax.

[[folder:Fairy Tales]]
* In ''Literature/TsarevitchIvanTheFireBirdAndTheGrayWolf'', the three princes each come upon a stone with three warnings; two decide to chose none, and turn back, yet [[YoungestChildWins Prince Ivan]] presses on.
-->''Who rides straight forward shall know both hunger and cold.\\
Who rides to the right shall live, though his steed be dead.\\
Who rides to the left shall die, though his steed shall live.''
* In ''[[http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/firebird/stories/birdgrip.html The Bird Grip]]'' and ''[[http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/firebird/stories/goldbird.html The Golden Bird]]'', despite warnings, the older princes go to the merry inn, where they forget their father, and their quest. The [[YoungestChildWins youngest]] goes to the dark inn and travels on to complete the quest.
* In ''Literature/TheSevenFoals'', an old woman tries to lure aside the men set to watch the king's foals all day. She succeeds with the older two of three brothers, but the youngest runs by her.
* In ''Literature/TheGoldenGoose'', the old man they meet on the way.
* In ''Literature/JesperWhoHerdedTheHares'', the old woman they meet on the way to the castle.
* In ''Literature/TsarevichPetrAndTheWizard'', the old man met along the way.

[[folder: Fan Works]]
* In ''Fanfic/TheParselmouthOfGryffindor'', since solvable trials seem to be wizards' idea of good protection, the Third Floor Corridor naturally gets some living one on top of the enchantments from First Year when it gets upgraded in 1992. They include a Sphinx, an Acromantula, a Gargoyle, and, most recently, [[spoiler: Sirius Black.]] Each has some sort of test or challenge for trespassers.

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* Master Shifu is Po's first threshold guardian in ''WesternAnimation/KungFuPanda'', and only by choosing to overcome Shifu's TrainingFromHell and eventually besting him in a sparring match over a dumpling does he indicate his preparedness to take on Tai Lung... who may be a Threshold Guardian himself, if the plans for a series of films are any indication.
* ''Disney/AtlantisTheLostEmpire'' : The Leviathan guards the entrance to Atlantis. It's very good at its job, as there are sunken ships there from "every era."

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Franchise/StarWars'':
** In ''Film/ANewHope'', Mos Eisley is the First Threshold, and the stormtroopers are its Guardians. Luke's escape from them aboard the ''Millenium Falcon'' is his crossing of the threshold.
** The cave on Dagobah in ''Film/TheEmpireStrikesBack'', where Luke battles an illusory image of Darth Vader. Notably, Luke ''fails'' the test by not understanding [[IfYouKillHimYouWillBeJustLikeHim the lesson]], foreshadowing tragedy when they fight for real later in the movie.
* ''Film/TheNeverEndingStory'':
** Atreyu is required to pass by two golden sphinxes. As he gets closer to the Threshold Guardian sphinxes, he views the fallen bodies of those who went before him who didn't have the faith to pass.
** The Childlike Empress' chancellor also acts as a Threshold Guardian, warning Atreyu of the danger ahead, to leave on his quest alone, and to abandon everything but the Auryn. [[spoiler: Atreyu unwittingly ignores the caution to travel alone, leading to the death of his beloved horse, Artax.]]
* In ''Film/{{Labyrinth}}'', Sir Didymus guards the bridge that must be crossed, though rather than defeating him in combat or other traditional means, Sarah remembers her lesson to not take things for granted, and listens to Sir Didymus's statement that none may pass [[PolitenessJudo without first asking for his permission]].
* The old man guarding The Wall in the ''Film/{{Stardust}}'' movie. Turns out rather atypically since he actually prevents Tristan from crossing, so Tristan has to get around him with his dad's help.
* Tyler Durden sets up one of these in ''Film/FightClub'' for Project Mayhem. All applicants are initially rejected as too young, old, fat, thin, etc. If they stand on the porch for three days and nights without food, shelter or encouragement, they are allowed in.
* Similar to the ''Fight Club'' example above, the penultimate scene of ''Film/WillyWonkaAndTheChocolateFactory'' has [[spoiler:Wonka exploding at Charlie and refusing to give him the promised prize of a lifetime supply of chocolate. This turns out to be a test of Charlie's loyalty, which Charlie passes by returning Wonka's gobstopper instead of selling it to the rival candy maker Arthur Slugworth. Even better, the man we thought was Slugworth was actually an actor named Mr. Wilkinson, hired by Wonka as part of the test. After demonstrating his loyalty, Charlie not only earns a lifetime supply of chocolate but also becomes the heir to Wonka's company.]]
* Spoofed in ''Film/MontyPythonAndTheHolyGrail'':
-->'''Bridgekeeper:''' Stop. Who would cross the Bridge of Death must answer me these questions three, ere the other side he see.\\
'''Sir Lancelot:''' Ask me the questions, bridgekeeper. I am not afraid.\\
'''Bridgekeeper:''' What... is your name?\\
'''Sir Lancelot:''' My name is Sir Lancelot of Camelot.\\
'''Bridgekeeper:''' What... is your quest?\\
'''Sir Lancelot:''' To seek the Holy Grail.\\
'''Bridgekeeper:''' What... is your favourite colour?\\
'''Sir Lancelot:''' Blue.\\
'''Bridgekeeper:''' Right. Off you go.
** Spoofed to Hell and back: right after Lancelot, Sir Robin is asked a surprisingly difficult question rather than the three easy ones he expected from watching the former, and is flung to his death. Sir Galahad gets the same favorite color question as Lancelot and somehow ''[[EpicFail still]]'' gets it wrong, and is flung to his death. Finally, King Arthur gets another tricky question about the airspeed of an unladen swallow, but when he asks the Bridgekeeper to be more specific, it turns out ''he'' doesn't know the answer either, and [[RuleOfThree is flung to his death.]]
* ''Film/{{Casablanca}}'' has an interesting variation where the Guardian guarding the two {{MacGuffin}}s that TheHero and BigBad want is the main character and TheHero's love rival, and thus has a personal stake in who he wants to give the [=MacGuffins=] to or keep one for himself. Rather than physical conflict between TheHero and the Guardian, the story plays out as an emotional conflict between the Guardian and the LoveInterest, while TheHero is mostly powerless.
* ''Film/ItsAWonderfulLife'': Inverted with everyone who offers George the chance to leave Bedford Falls. It seems that George does a RefusalOfTheCall every time. The truth is that his true call is staying and looking after his hometown.
* The Thanator in ''{{Film/Avatar}}''. It chases Jake away from the group, causing him to head deeper into the forest. This is how Jake eventually meets the Na'vi.

* Magali is sort of a threshold guardian in the ''Literature/AstralDawn'' series. She watches over the exit of the Way of Ascension, a tunnel of light that funnels ascending spirits into the astral plane. She's the first person Caspian meets after flying through it in pursuit of Ixchel.
* The ''Literature/MercyThompson'' book ''Blood Bound'', the killing of the [[spoiler: second]] vampire starts Mercedes on her genetic duties.
* In Robert Charette's ''Never Deal with a Dragon'' trilogy of ''TabletopGame/{{Shadowrun}}'' novels, the protagonist Sam encounters a literal threshold guardian that bars his way to the Astral plane. He's eventually shown to be a psychic manifestation of the villain, and once his corrupting influence is removed the guardian returns to his normal, though unhelpful, self.
* In Creator/JasperFforde's ''[[Literature/NurseryCrime The Fourth Bear]]'', Jack {{lampshade}}s this by actually ''telling'' the psychologist who is evaluating his fitness for duty that she is serving this role. This throws her into an existential crisis, and Jack relents and comes up with a backstory for her.
* In Creator/HPLovecraft's ''Beyond the Gates of the Silver Key'' [[EldritchAbomination Yog-Sothoth]] appears as a literal threshold guardian on Randolph Carter's astral journey, marking the point where Carter must choose between returning to his normal life or exploring the universe (but risking never getting back).
* Creator/JKRowling's ''Literature/HarryPotterAndThePhilosophersStone'': Though done quite subtly, this is Draco Malfoy's function throughout the first book -- he offers Harry his hand in friendship and thus causes Harry to openly refuse it ''and'' Slytherin House, instigates the Rememberall fiasco that ends in Harry becoming Seeker, tricks Harry into the midnight duel that leads to him finding Fluffy, and practically leads Harry right to the villain during detention in the Forbidden Forest. Basically, if Draco Malfoy hadn't been around in ''Philosopher's Stone'', Voldy might've risen before the school year ''ended''.
* Hercules in Creator/RickRiordan's ''Literature/TheHeroesOfOlympus''.
** The [[ALoadOfBull Minotaur]] serves as this in [[Literature/PercyJacksonAndTheOlympians the previous series]].
* In Creator/JamesSwallow's ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' novel ''[[Literature/BloodAngels Red Fury]]'', Gorn insists that Rafen give him the message intended for Lord Seth. Rafen demands to be treated with respect. Gorn's reaction is that he has some fire after all.
* ''Discworld/TheWeeFreeMen'' has several. First there's the supernatural incursions onto the Chalk, which Tiffany must stand up to to demonstrate she's the Hag o' the Chalklands ([[FishPeople Jenny Greenteeth]], the HeadlessHorseman, and the [[HellHound Grimhounds]]). Then when she's entered [[TheFairFolk Fairyland]] there's the [[LotusEaterMachine dromes]], which she has to overcome in order to face the [[GodSaveUsFromTheQueen Queen]].
* Humphrey employs guardians to keep people out of his castle in ''Literature/{{Xanth}}''. Of course as the Magician of Information, he always knows who is coming to visit and devises the guardians with that in mind. More impressively, he tends to schedule so that his present visitors will prove suitable guardians for expected future visitors. He's managed to at least once maintain the pattern when there ''were no'' inhabitants of his castle and it was left technically undefended, even ensuring visitors would receive their answers in his absence.
* In ''Literature/AWizardOfEarthsea'', graduating from the school of magic in Roke begins with the realization that it ''has'' a Threshold Guardian.
* ''Literature/MemorySorrowAndThorn'', which follows TheHerosJourney very closely, puts a number of challenges before young Simon that he must rise to in order to become TheHero. One of these occurs when he is wandering Aldheorte Forest, starving and alone. He encounters a [[TheFairFolk Sitha]] man trapped in a woodcutter's net. When the woodcutter returns, Simon must make a choice to help the Sitha or abandon him to his fate. Choosing to help gains him a powerful future ally and is the first step to bringing the Sithi [[HiddenElfVillage out of their isolation]] from mortal affairs. It also earns him the White Arrow which is [[ChekhovsGun instrumental at the climax]]. That one choice literally saves the entire world.
* ''Literature/SeptimusHeap'':
** The Toll-Man and the [=DoorKeeper=] in ''Queste'' of the House of Foryx.
** Tertius Fume in ''Darke'' of the antechamber of the Dungeon Number One.
* In Creator/GeneStrattonPorter's ''Literature/{{Freckles}}'', when Freckles looks for work at the camp, the CampCook tells him the boss won't take him.
* ''Literature/DonQuixote'' deconstructs this trope: Where can you find a Threshold Guardian in RealLife? Why, in that [[CondescendingCompassion condescending moral guardian]] that warns you against the evils of {{escapism}}, {{sex|Tropes}}, and TheNewRockAndRoll! After the first sally of Don Quixote he is discouraged because he didn’t find any [[InstantAwesomeJustAddDragons dragon]], [[RobeAndWizardHat enchanter]] nor any DamselInDistress. His family asks [[ThoseTwoGuys the curate and the barber]] help as {{Moral Guardian}}s to destroy Don Quixote's delusions, but their CondescendingCompassion makes them pull a RevealingCoverup that involves AWizardDidIt, enforcing the delusions they were intenting to destroy, making them Threshold Guardians.
* In Creator/EDBaker's ''Literature/TheWideAwakePrincess'', inverted. Annie meets an old woman along the way who asks for some food. Annie hands it over. The old woman contemptuously throws it away -- and finds herself with toads and snakes falling from her mouth in the best fairy tale style.
* ''[[Literature/ZeusIsDead Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure]]'' has a number of them:
** The "guardian-tree" at Zeus's old temple.
** Marcus, who runs the ferry to Hades six months out of the year when Charon takes vacation
** Cerberus, guarding the gates to Hades
** The Orthlaelapsian Wraith, which [[spoiler: guards the nine cans in which the Titans are imprisoned...in the back room of an antiques shop in Swindon]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* Sebastian, the Vorlon inquisitor, in ''Series/BabylonFive'' tests Delenn's commitment.
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer''
** Cordelia Chase, in season 1, provides an excellent example of a non-adversarial Threshold Guardian: when she invites Buffy to join the popular girls' clique, she forces Buffy to choose between her calling as the Slayer and her desire to be a popular girl.
** The demon Skip acts as one for Cordelia herself. Making her choose between her dream, or her duty as Angel's seer. Of course, as it's later revealed, [[spoiler: Skip was one of [[PowersThatBe Jasmine]]'s minions, and was manipulating Cordelia into making certain choices]].
* The Gatekeeper in the ''Series/{{Merlin}}'' episode "Eye of the Phoenix". It was combined with OnlyTheWorthyMayPass because he kept most people away from the Fisher King's lands, but the trio of Arthur, Merlin and Gwaine (Stregnth,Courage and Magic) were the ones he foresaw breaking the curse on the land.
* Kalem strays into this in ''Series/TheLegendOfWilliamTell'', especially in ''Master of Doubt'' where her goal is to get Will to think about things instead of simply rushing in. Will has to logic his way past the KnightsAndKnaves problem while his SmartGuy is elsewhere and in danger.

[[folder:Myths & Religion]]
* The girtablullus, a.k.a. scorpion-men, who guard the passage of the sun in ''Literature/TheEpicOfGilgamesh''.
* Almost all of the strange people and creatures encountered by the [[KingArthur Knights of the Round Table]] while on the Grail Quest acted as Threshold Guardians; most knights failed their challenges.
** Mirrored specifically by the Three Trials in ''Film/IndianaJonesAndTheLastCrusade''.
* Literature/TheBible: David had two of these:
** The giant Goliath mocked the people of Israel and their God, and not a man in the army would go up against him, and so it fell to a twelve-year-old boy with no military training to do the deed, and so a hero was born.
** King Saul was completely bug-eyed crazy for the last decade of his life, partially because the Lord had already decreed that his son Jonathan would not succeed him as king, partially because the people already loved David more than him, and partially because David sat in his court strumming a harp day in and day out. And so Saul ran him out of town and set to trying to kill him. This forced David to run for years. David could easily have killed him on at least one occasion, but it was decreed, "touch not the Lord's anointed." The Lord knew what was going to happen with Saul, and David had to trust that it would work out.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* TheHerosJourney is a recommended template for astral quests in the roleplaying game ''TabletopGame/{{Shadowrun}}'', so you get lots of these. But special mention goes to the mysterious Dweller on the Threshold, encountered at the beginning of every astral quest, who tests both the mage's resolve and their ability. [[WatsonianVersusDoylist In-universe]], it's thought to be there, [[BenevolentPrecursors or possibly have been put there]], as a safety precaution to prevent mages from biting off more than they can chew.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/BlazeUnion'': Baretreenu serves this purpose, stipulating that her son must battle her to the death if he really wants full access to his demon powers, thus proving his resolve. Unfortunately, in this case it's not so much "resolve" as "[[FailureKnight abject terror of failing]]". Gulcasa walks out of this encounter empowered, [[SelfMadeOrphan orphaned]], and even more traumatized than he already had been. A little later on in the game, Soltier [[HannibalLecture tries to act as one of these too]], but by then [[ShutUpHannibal Gulcasa has gotten sick of hearing it]].
* ''Dark Sector'': Features such a guardian; moreover, the level where it appears is actually ''called'' 'Threshold Guardian.'
* ''VideoGame/DevilMayCry 3'':
** Most of the bosses function like this, and DefeatMeansFriendship in the ''VideoGame/MegaMan'' style. Dante cheerfully tears his way through all of them regardless, but three of the bosses in particular (Ceberus, Vergil (2), and the Shadow) function as true Threshold Guardians. The Shadow gets special mention because it has both literal and metaphorical significance... which Dante promptly subverts.
-->''(after entering a roiling door of shadow, Dante sees his own shadow rise up from the floor and take on his Devil Trigger countenance)''\\
'''Dante:''' I know why you're here. You're here to ask me some questions. Well too bad, I've already answered them myself. I don't need you anymore.\\
'''Shadow:''' ''(draws its sword)''\\
'''Dante:''' Come on, you poser.
** Lady and Vergil are both Threshold Guardians of the metaphorical sort. Really, the entire ''game'' actually serves as this.
* ''VideoGame/DiabloII'': The Ancients in Act 5.
* ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'': Duncan acts as the Theshold Guardian during the Joining Ritual, which tests the resolve of potential Grey Warden recruits. When [[SignedUpForTheDental Ser Jory]] learns that this involves drinking Darkspawn blood and is potentially ''lethal'', he foolishly draws his sword and tries to back out. Duncan swiftly kills him, hands the Joining Cup to the protagonist and makes it ''very'' clear that there is no turning back.
* ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls''
** ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIIMorrowind Morrowind]]'' has one for the [[MurderInc Morag Tong]] faction. In order to join, you must find their secret, well-hidden headquarters in Vivec City and then successfully complete a trial execution in order to be accepted.
** ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIVOblivion Oblivion]]'' has one in the main game in the form of Lucien Lachance, your ticket into the [[MurderInc Dark Brotherhood]], and a second in its ''Shivering Isles'' expansion, in the form of ServileSnarker[=/=]OnlySaneMan Haskill. Both these characters greet you in a conversation after passing a prerequisite for their respective factions, and offer you the archetypal choice of turning your back on them and leading a normal life or undertaking their quests.
** ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim Skyrim]]'':
*** To even ''enter'' the [[WizardingSchool College of Winterhold]] you must demonstrate to Faralda some skill in magic by casting a relatively basic spell of her request. If you don't have the spell at hand, she'll teach it to you for a small price. Alternatively, using a [[LanguageOfMagic Thu'um]] [[MakeMeWannaShout Shout]] will also impress her.
*** Gaining admittance to the Dark Brotherhood involves Astrid ordering you to kill one of three individuals she's captured and bound up at the moment (though you can also use this opportunity to [[TakeAThirdOption kill Astrid]], setting you up for the quest to ''destroy'' the Dark Brotherhood instead).
*** In order to join the [[AdventureGuild Companions]], you must present yourself to the Harbinger (the de facto "leader" of the group, as they haven't had a true leader since [[FounderOfTheKingdom Ysgramor]]) who then tasks another member test you out in combat. (Considerably Downplayed, as you pass the test no matter what.)
*** In order to join the ThievesGuild, you have to take part in a con with a senior member of the Guild. While he distracts the gathered crowd, you have to steal a piece of jewelry and plant it on a particular spectator in order to frame him for stealing it.
*** When in [[spoiler:[[WarriorHeaven Sovngarde]]]] as part of the main quest, you must defeat Tsun, the old Nordic god of "trials against adversity" and [[BodyguardingABadass shield-thane]] to [[TopGod Shor]] in [[DuelBoss single combat]] in order to prove your worthiness to enter Shor's Hall of Valor.
* ''VideoGame/GodOfWar'': In the series, many of these stand in Kratos's way, such as sacrificing a random soldier through incineration. SubvertedTrope in that Kratos has ''absolutely no qualms'' about bashing the guardians' heads to a bloody pulp on the threshold, and then smashing the threshold itself for good measure.
* ''VideoGame/{{Kirby}}'': Meta Knight acts as this for Kirby. This is most notable in ''Kirby's Adventure'', where Meta Knight sometimes gives Kirby a power-up, sometimes requires you to defeat his minions to pass, and is one of the last bosses to fight.
* ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'':
** ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTheWindWaker'': The first encounters with both the [[ThePiratesWhoDontDoAnything pirates]] and [[CoolBoat the King of Red Lions]] place them in this role, with the latter asking pretty much the same questions as the page quote. Later on, the Tower of the Gods in its entirety is a more literal version of this trope.
** ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess'': [[ExpositionFairy Midna]] serves as this in her first appearances and again, the statues in the [[LostWoods Sacred Grove]] are a more literal version.
** ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaBreathOfTheWild'' has the Old Man on the Great Plateau, who tasks Link with completing the four Shrines on the Plateau while promising to give the Paraglider in return. The Old Man also uses this opportunity to gauge Link's willingness to defeat Calamity Ganon. Link is stuck on the Great Plateau without the Old Man's help.
* ''VideoGame/{{Persona 4}}'': The Shadows are Threshold Guardians that embody everything people don't like about themselves. Denying them is the ''wrong'' thing to do and leads to a boss fight. Every party member except the main character has to face his/her personal Shadow and defeat/accept it both to grow as people and to gain their own Personas. The main character's Threshold Guardian, on the other hand, is the entire game itself.
* ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}'': The Gym Leaders can be seen as a form of this for trainers in the anime and games: despite their status as the strongest trainers in an area, they aren't (normally) antagonistic to their challengers and even skew the rules of the battle in the opponent's favor, but if you can't beat eight of them you won't get anywhere near the Pokémon League.
* ''Shadowrun'': The video game version also includes the Dweller (see Tabletop Games, above).
* ''VideoGame/SpecOpsTheLine'': The game's defining moment counts as a Threshold Guardian. [[spoiler:And Captain Walker fails to measure up to it and own his TragicMistake, instead blaming everything on someone who turns out to be dead]].
* ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'':
** Certain raid encounters are known as "gear checks". A PartyWipe on one is a subtle hint from the developers that you might not fare any better on the later encounters.
** Some fights are complicated or unpredictable or require quick reactions. Gear checks, on the other hand, just require that everyone kill the boss as quickly as they can without dying, but they are tuned (boss's damage on the main tank, for example, or maybe a timer at the end of which the boss starts doing massive damage) such that doing so requires some of the best gear available thus far.
** Norushen is a more traditional example in Siege of Orgrimmar, albeit one that is also a boss battle. In order to enter the room [[spoiler:where the Heart of Y'Shaarj was kept]] and the Sha of Pride now is, he says the players have to purge themselves of their corruption, which involves defeating a large Amalgamation of Corruption that can only take full damage from players who have completed individual trials. A bar is shown to indicate how much corruption the players still have, and that same bar gradually fills during the Sha of Pride battle, signifying that you need to purify yourselves before facing it.
* Dr. Bian Souldark serves as this in every iteration of ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWars'' he appears in, challenging the heroes to fight him to prove that they're worthy to take on the aliens.
* The Eidolons in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII'' appear to all L'Cie in times of great emotional conflict. The L'Cie must overcome the Eidolons in a way that also helps them overcome the issues that summoned the Eidolons in the first place. Defeating them allows the L'Cie to summon the Eidolons in times of need.
* As you approach the endgame of ''VideoGame/{{Undertale}}'', you find yourself in the Final Corridor, where the lazy skeleton Sans is blocking the way to judge you for all that you've done throughout the game. If you pass with flying colors, he [[SoProudOfYou congratulates you]] and wishes you luck. If you've engaged in some VideoGameCrueltyPotential, he'll [[WhatTheHellHero call you out on it]], particularly if you [[spoiler:[[PlayerPunch killed his brother]]]]. If you've gone full [[KillEmAll No Mercy]], well... [[spoiler:He ''did'' warn you that if you kept going down that road, you'd end up [[ThatOneBoss having a]] [[SNKBoss bad time]].]]
* In ''VideoGame/{{Pyre}}'', those exiled to the Downside must face each other in a series of rites, culminating in a Liberation Rite, to prove themselves worthy to regain their freedom. Your opponents serve as this to your party, and you to them. The inversion goes further as the Nightwings you direct [[spoiler:are designed by the Scribes to test the other triumvirates, which is why you always get to play the Liberation Rite - from your opponents' perspective, you are the FinalBoss]].
* Kildean stands neutral over the issues the ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsX'' protagonist has brought forth to their Order as long as the protagonist is able to provide a legitimate reason for his or her actions. [[spoiler:As the protagonist continues to defy their knowledge, Kildean proceeds to consider the protagonist to be a candidate for the top spot of their Order, which will surpass himself—-“The Pope”.]]

[[folder:Visual Novel]]
* Shirou of ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'' crosses a threshold in each of the three routes, and his decision in each defines his relationship to his ideal of becoming a hero.
** In Fate, Shirou is confronted by [[spoiler:Kirei and his own memories of the fire which destroyed his original life]]. Faced with the choice of following his ideal without regrets or changing what has already occurred, he chooses to move forward.
** In Unlimited Blade Works, Shirou is confronted by [[spoiler:Archer, his future self, and the knowledge of how pursuing an impossible ideal will break him]]. Shirou refuses to accept defeat and pushes on toward his dream because it is worth pursuing, despite the cost.
** In Heaven's Feel, Shirou is confronted by [[spoiler:Archer and the choice of saving Sakura or the hundreds she may kill during her rampages]]. Faced with this choice, Shirou abandons his ideal in order to save the girl he loves.
*** A far more chilling reaction and immediate end to the story is if Shirou chooses to [[spoiler:kill Sakura]] and follow the same path as Kiritsugu.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In ''Webcomic/{{Endstone}}'', [[http://endstone.net/2011/06/16/6-02/ Jon is taking on the guardian to a really powerful stone.]]
* ''Webcomic/{{Minus}}'', [[http://www.kiwisbybeat.com/minus24.html "the Trials of Marmut"]]. Note that [[RealityWarper minus]] '''is''' the one conjuring up the guardian and trials, just for fun.
* ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'': The Oracle of the Sunken Valley uses three tests:\\
1. The Test of the Body: A BeefGate, to keep out the wimps.\\
2. The Test of the Mind: KnightsAndKnaves, to keep out the idiots.\\
3. The Test of the Heart: A health exam, to keep out the ones who don't have a future.\\
These keep out those who can't handle the impact of knowing the future... and keep the Oracle from being bothered too often. Subverted, as well: the eponymous order outwits the Test of the Body and out-muscles the Test of the Mind.
* In ''Webcomic/{{Sinfest}}'', [[http://www.sinfest.net/view.php?date=2010-06-26 Baby Blue takes on this role for a strip.]]
* In ''Webcomic/CucumberQuest'',
** the BLT squad serves as this. [[http://cucumber.gigidigi.com/archive/page-24/ Briefly and comically.]]
** [[http://cucumber.gigidigi.com/archive/page-63/ Grizzlygum in the forest, with Cucumber's ability to recognize him being crucial.]]
** [[http://cucumber.gigidigi.com/archive/page-243/ The crab urges them to turn back.]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* The wonderflonium heist and death ray construction in ''WebVideo/DoctorHorriblesSingAlongBlog'' each represent thresholds on Dr. Horrible's StartOfDarkness. The hesitation in the first -- and lack of hesitation in the second -- signal exactly how far down the slippery slope the hero (er, [[CardCarryingVillain protagonist]]) has gone.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans'' episode "The Quest" is really one big {{Homage}} to this trope.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Wakfu}}''
** Yugo meets a Threshold Guardian in the person of [[spoiler:Adamaï, his dragon brother, and the {{improvised golem|s}} he conjures]], who are putting the hero's Eliatrope powers to the test.
** Later, the demon Rubilax himself, usually [[SealedEvilInACan sealed]] into [[TalkingWeapon a sword]], officies as a Threshold Guardian to Sadlygrove, when [[spoiler:his master, Goultard, frees the Shushu from the sword]]. Sadlygrove has to fight and beat Rubilax to earn his respect, as he can't hope staying a Shushu guardian otherwise.
* Aang from ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'' goes through this in his backstory. The Air Nomads elders decide to take him away from his guardian Gyatso, as they feel that Gyatso is impeding Aang's progress as the Avatar. Aang is one of the heros who is defeated and symbolically killed at the Threshold, as fleeing the Threshold Guardians gets him frozen in ice for a hundred years until he wakes up in the crisis.
** Zuko has to defeat Commander Zhao before proceeding with his quest to find the Avatar.
* The Order of the White Lotus, Lin Bei Fong, and Tenzin later serve as Korra's threshold guardians in ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra''.
* In ''[[WesternAnimation/{{Thundercats 2011}} ThunderCats (2011)]]'' arc "The Trials of Lion-O", the Spirit Stone makes Lion-O face guardians [[AFormYouAreComfortableWith in the form of]] the other Thundercats that challenge him to overcome his various flaws. Each guard keys that he must win through defeating their challenges, which then open gateways to proceed further in the trials, given to him to see if he is worthy [[spoiler:of a [[BackFromTheDead second chance]] at life.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/SamuraiJack'': Jack finds a portal that will bring him back to the past. Unfortunately, its guardian won't let him through. Even Jack's skill is insufficient to beat him, but as the guardian is about to land the deathblow, the portal talks to him. The guardian lets Jack go, while the portal shows an image of a much older Jack with a BadassBeard and a crown.
--> '''Guardian:''' [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VS1mo28G-Ow You can't use it yet,]] Samurai Jack. Not yet. Not yet.
* One episode of ''WesternAnimation/AdventureTime'' that barely includes the main characters has [[TheHerosJourney an epic quest playing out]] amidst the roots of their treehouse, with Kent the newly born worm (formerly the tip of his big brother's tail) journeying to forge a sword that can defeat the evil rat king. As he encounters the guardians of the three elements he needs to craft his weapon, each one plays out this trope by offering him a temptation if he gives up the quest. First he turns down "untold wealth" and then "true love" because he only cares about "fighting bad guys" (like the rat king). Finally he turns down "eternal life" because:
--->'''Kent:''' "Well, um, I was just born this morning, so I don't really have a sense of my own mortality"