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Barrier Maiden

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"Lafrenze, don't forget. You are the last guardian of the door that protects this world from the dead that dwell in Hades. You cannot ever break the barrier of purity."
"The Witch and Lafrenze", Elysion

Sometimes the Damsel in Distress isn't just a pretty and helpless Love Interest in need of rescuing; sometimes she's also a vital support beam for the continuing existence of a safe and happy world. Kinda makes dating awkward.

Much like a Virgin-Powered Containment Field to a nasty Sealed Evil in a Can, the Fisher King (well, queen) of a kingdom, or a human Cosmic Keystone that makes sure the sun rises each morning, the heroes' Woobie is responsible for maintaining the Balance Between Good and Evil firmly in the Ghibli Hills side as opposed to Mordor.

Of course, this makes them the target of so many kidnapping plots even the parodies have become a Dead Horse Trope. Note that just plain killing the Barrier Maiden is rarely an option — either the villain becomes infatuated with her or he wants to Break the Cutie to The Dark Side and turn her into an Apocalypse Maiden, or there's a complex Black Magic ritual needed before he can destroy or steal her power, or simply killing will just make her reincarnate elsewhere... the list goes on and on.

The life of a poor Barrier Maiden is pretty sucky to boot (even more so than for a superhero's kid). She's usually treated as a MacGuffin instead of a person, is expected to make a Heroic Sacrifice if victory is on the line, and is usually chained to a temple or altar as part of her duties. As a job, maintaining the Containment Field or being a Cosmic Keystone usually isn't pleasant either: if the evil is becoming stronger or the Eldritch Abomination is weakening reality, she might end up dying either holding up the roof or when the barrier breaks.

Expect the Barrier Maiden to be a White Magician Girl, All-Loving Hero or The Pollyanna. Male examples are pretty uncommon, but Atlas at least is a good one, making this Older Than Feudalism. See also MacGuffin Super-Person. Conditioned to Accept Horror could sometimes overlap. Not to be confused with the Barrier Warrior, but they may occasionally overlap. Also not to be confused with a Maiden Barrier, which can also make dating awkward. Compare with Load-Bearing Boss and Sealed Inside a Person-Shaped Can. Contrast Apocalypse Maiden.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Bleach: Rare male version; the Soul King is the lynchpin of existence. If he dies, Soul Society, Hueco Mundo, the World of the Living, and everything else, will fade into oblivion. In 616, after the Soul King is "killed" in VERY messy circumstances and the world begins to collapse and fade... Captain Junshirou Ukitake uses the powers of a Living Shadow that had been keeping him alive since childhood to replace the Soul King's missing limbs, essentially turning himself into this.
    • According to one of the novels, Cannot Fear Your Own World, this is what ultimately happened to Yhwach, aka the one who killed the Soul King and absorbed him. Also, had this not taken place, Ichigo would've been seized by Soul Society and turned into the new Soul King.
  • Blue Comet SPT Layzner gives us Julia Asuka/Albatro Mille, the local Mystical Waif and older sister of The Hero Eiji Asuka/Albatro Null. As the series advances, she takes up this role as well as those of: the "Holy Maiden" who works for peace in a ravaged Earth conquered by the Gradosian Empire , one of the few people who know the truth behind both Grados and Earth, and the only one who can handle the Seal of Grados.
  • Played with in Blue Exorcist, where Ryūji "Bon" Suguro is a male example of this during the battle against the Impure King. His protector/companion Rin mockingly calls him "Princess" for the duration of the fight.
  • Blue Seed has Momiji, a girl from a family line whose daughters, descended from the legendary Princess Kushinada, must ritually sacrifice themselves (or not) to seal the dreaded Orochi from rising again. Things were fine until twin girls (the aforementioned Momiji Fujimiya and her older twin Kaede Kunikida) were born, "splitting" the bloodline and rousing the demon. Of course, it doesn't help that Kaede, who is as powerful as Momiji but much more knowledgeable as well as very embittered, has come to the conclusion that Utopia Justifies the Means.
  • It's revealed in Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F' that Bulma bribes Beerus and Whis with food to keep them from destroying Earth.
  • The Maidens of Choosing in Fena: Pirate Princess who have to decide each generation whether the world will end or continue. All of them including Fena have chosen to let it remain as it is.
  • For a sci-fi franchise, Gundam has several:
    • Maria Armonia from Victory Gundam, a powerful holy woman with Healing Hands and the puppet ruler of the Zanscare, as well as the Newtype in charge of the Mind Rape device known as the Angel Halo. And later we meet another: Shakti Kareen...Maria's long-lost daughter, with exactly the same abilities.
    • One example per gender: Kyouji Kasshu and later Rain Mikamura from Mobile Fighter G Gundam, due to being forcibly made the "Core Units" of the Devil Gundam with "help" from the DG-Cells invading their bodies. Rain got better... Kyouji did not.
    • Lucille Lilliant from Gundam X, who's put into a forced coma and locked inside a capsule for 15 years. A whole arc is about her using the last remains of her powers to contact Jamil, her former pupil, through Tiffa's body so they can thwart the enemies' plans to capture her.
    • Yurin L'Ciel from Mobile Suit Gundam AGE. Due to her Psychic Powers, when the Veigans get a hold of her, they strap her to a MS cockpit and force her to become a living amplifier for Desil's own powers as he fights Flit, the boy that poor Yurin loves.
  • Shiori from Inuyasha is a little girl who is half-bat demon and half-human, and as such she has powers like this. She can use her energy to power up the Blood Coral Crystal belonging to the bat demons, and also use it to create Deflector Shields. This presents quite the problem for Inuyasha, who both has some empathy for her plight since he is a half-demon too and will have to kill her to get a power upgrade for his Cool Sword Tetsusaiga. It's solved more peacefully when Shiori, having been released from her abusive grandfather's control, willingly gives him the power he needs.
  • In Magic Knight Rayearth this is part of the job description of the Pillar of Cephiro, and is the factor that drives the Backstory and underlying plot. There is a bit of a subversion here, as the solution to the problem is in fact killing the barrier maiden. She summoned the heroes intending that they should kill her. The whole thing is deconstructed - being the one who sustains the world with sheer force of will means you can do pretty much nothing else with your life. Simply wanting something more constitutes enough distraction to start the world's descent into disarry. Since it can only be passed down by the death of the old pillar, and her protection spell comes with the loophole that she cannot be slain by any hand from Cephiro, it turns out our heroes are summoned from Earth to put her out of her misery so another can become Pillar and save the world. Most "villains" were actually trying to Save the Princess.
  • The Underworld Princess from The Morose Mononokean is the highest-ranking youkai in the realm, but instead of governing, her role is to create a barrier around the Underworld city to prevent "curses" from devouring its inhabitants.
  • Naruto:
    • Naruto's mother Kushina Uzumaki. She was the former host of the Nine-Tailed Fox, and later the seal keeping him inside Naruto was made of her chakra. She's also the rare Barrier Maiden who mixes this is Action Girl, since she was in a Battle Couple with her husband Minato aka the fourth Hokage and Naruto's father.
    • If Kushina is one of these, then so is Mito Uzumaki, her Old Master as well as the first Kyuubi host.
    • A sort-of unofficial example is Anko Mitarashi. After defeating her in battle, Kabuto spares her...only to keep her prisoner and barely alive, to slowly absorb Anko's chakra so he can get all of Orochimaru's power, coming from her Cursed Seal.
    • It's later revealed that Kakashi's friend and partner Rin Nohara was forcibly turned into one, having the Three Tails Beast sealed into her so she'd go the Tragic Monster way and destroy Konoha. She averted this via throwing herself in front of Kakashi and letting him impale her, dying to save the village and escape this trope. Bad thing, she didn't know that her and Kakashi's other friend and partner Obito Uchiha wasn't exactly dead as they believed, and saw everything...
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
    • Konoka Konoe plays this role in the Kyoto arc. She gets her kidnapped by a rival mage group who want to use her still not-awakened powers to unseal a massive demon. They fail and Konoka is rescued by Negi, Asuna and Setsuna.
    • Asuna Kagurazaka. She has the power of Anti-Magic that can erase the entire Magic World, but sealing her will delay its inevitable destruction. For this reason, she has to spend over a hundred years sleeping in the Magic World while Negi and his allies work on a Terraform project to give the Magic World's inhabitants another place to live.
  • In The Place Promised in Our Early Days, Sayuri ends up in a coma, which somehow prevents the giant tower from overwriting the world with part of a parallel universe. Destroying the tower might leave her in a coma forever, but waking her up could end the world (literally), so naturally they decide to do both.
  • The jewels inside the magical girls of Rakugo Tennyo Oyui are also what enforce the barrier around Edo. As far as barrier maidens go, though, they're pretty active in the field.
  • Yuri Suzuki from Red River (1995) starts as this, since she's thrust into the Hitite Empire because Queen Nakia needs her blood to perform a curse she wants to cast on other kingdoms. She soon decides to fight back, however, and soon finds herself as the biggest danger to Nakia's evil plans.
  • Modern-day high-tech example: Chise from Saikano is the ultimate weapon on whose shoulders the fate of Japan depends... and the invasion is underway. When she tries to take time out for dating, lots of people die. Which doesn't even begin to cover it, in the end...
  • Sailor Moon:
    • It sorta happens in the R season. After Neo Queen Serenity takes the bullet for Chibi-Usa and is put out of commission, the four Inner Senshi of Crystal Tokyo place her in a Crystal Prison and then gather themselves in the center of the city, casting a protective barrier over it that comes from what remains of their powers. When Wiseman is defeated, Chibi-Usa returns to the newly healed Cystal Tokyo and both the Queen the Senshi are fine.
    • In the S season the Inners pull a similar stunt to create another barrier that will let them keep Pharaoh 90 and their minions confined to the surroundings of Mugen Gakuen, as Moon and the Outers fight Mistress 9. Said barrier breaks at a critical moment, the place almost collapses and the Inners barely survive, but manage to send out the remains of their energy to Moon so she can become Super Sailor Moon without the recently destroyed Grail.
  • Saori Kido aka Athena from Saint Seiya frequently stood in this position. Notably in the Asgard (anime only) and Poseidon arcs, she uses her goddess' powers to delay Princess Hilda and Poseidon from flooding the planet and killing humanity. The effort was usually such a strain on her that it was a race against the clock for the saints to battle their enemies before time ran out and Saori died.
  • Sasha aka the Athena from Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas is this as well. Before the rosary that seals the Specters' souls is created, Athena herself sustains a barrier that prevents them to be resurrected. She later manages to upgrade to Lady of War.
  • Reversed in Slayers Next. Lina Inverse is the only person who can destroy the world...but she's actually a Black Magician Girl. The bad guys spend most of the season pissing her off for just this reason.
  • In Soul Eater the Shinigami sealed himself to the ground of what became Death City in order to imprison the first Kishin, Asura. 800 years later, Asura gets out thanks to Medusa's Magnificent Bitch credentials, leaving Shinigami unable to reach him. The anime, however, finds a way around that. In the manga, Asura is re-sealed with Crona as the new guardian. Unlike Shinigami, this seal is on the moon, which is even more secure, but leaves Crona no one to keep company with in the meantime. Though, Maka and Crona did say they'd meet again. As to how...
  • Sharak Sanzo of Saiyuki Reload Blast uses her Kouten Sutra to make the villages around her invisible, thus protecting them from Youkai attack.
  • In Star Driver this is a main focal point for the plot. The reason that the Humongous Mecha don't show up in the middle of the island is because there are four maidens that contain seals to keep them in Zero Time; the bad guys want to break the seals so they can use the devastating weapons in reality. The show starts right after the villains have broken the first seal. THE BM here is Wako Agemaki, one of the Maidens, who gets trapped in a force-field bubble whenever the fights start. That's not being snarky; that is literally how it works. Poor Wako!
    • An even more critical one is the Eastern Shrine Maiden aka Kate. That seal holds back the biggest and most dangerous of the Cybodies, an Eldritch Abomination that is the goal of the Big Bad and if it breaks well...
  • Kurogane's mother from Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- was one of these. She was the miko to the local shrine which maintained the barriers keeping the demons at bay, and she was assassinated by Fei Wong Reed at a critical moment, resulting in the collapse of the barriers and the utter destruction of Kurogane's homeland, with himself as the Sole Survivor.
  • The king of the Catacombs in Undertaker Riddle. As holder of the Twilight's key, an inmense power able to created or destroy worlds, the king use it to protect the Catacombs of soul between the human world and the afterlife. Faust is the current king while Hayato is her expected succesor.
  • Sayaka Mine from Yaiba. More exactly, she's a descendant of Taro Urashima and Otohime: that marks her as the "Dragon Maiden", the Priestess of Ryujin and the key to unleash Princess Kaguya's true form. And uncommonly for this kind of story, Kaguya does manage not only to capture poor Sayaka, but to absorb her Life Energy to unlock her big form; Sayaka survives but he body is drained to the point of rapid aging, and she doesn't recover until Yaiba defeats Kaguya.
  • Kotori Monou from X/1999, who unbeknownst to her is one of the keys to the world's doom or salvation. She ends up dying at the hands of her Face Heel Turned brother Fuuma.

    Comic Books 
  • Birthright: The five mages from Terrenos are interdimensional magic users who fled their world after a Hopeless War against the Evil Overlord that ruled the place. To prevent their enemy from finding and conquering Earth, they created a magic spell that prevented travels between worlds and their lives powered the barrier, if they were to die then Earth would be doomed to conquest at the hands of this evil. The main protagonist is the dark lord's enforcer with the power to walk between dimensions and is sent on a mission to kill the mages so his master can conquer Earth just like he did Terrenos.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: One issue of the Season Eight comic features a young woman performing this task for a demonic house and not feeling at all well thereby. The character was based on a mentally ill fan, who evidently liked it.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: "Gladstone and the Solitude of the Four-Leaved Cloverleaf" has the twist that the protector is also unwittingly responsible for the danger: Gladstone's luck has kept the city safe from so many bad events that, if he were ever to leave for an extended period, the city would be hit by flooding of biblical proportions. Upon finding out after moving out, Gladstone comes back, ends the flooding... and works out a schedule so that the bad luck will hit Duckburg a bit at a time, as he knows he's not immortal.
  • Fantastic Four: Fantastic Five, a what-if future continuity, sets Sue Richards up as one in a quite literal sense. It's used as a surprise twist: A massive rift in space-time was just about to tear a few dimensions wide open. Sue was critically injured trying to close it. So, as her final request, Sue's comatose body is suspended in a massive generating machine, on a space platform in interdimensional space, so her force field powers can keep the rift from breaking loose and destroying the universe. Reed stays with her in a lonely vigil, continuing his work for the Five on Earth through remote-controlled proxy robots that the group claims are cyborgs.
  • In "Wednesday's Child" in Plop! #14 the Castle of Merlin has a room containing a crying woman who's spent the last ten million years floating in front of the portal between heaven and hell while demons try to pull her in by her foot. If she's ever removed, the demons will be free to cross over into the mortal world.
  • Thorgal: The Key Guardian is a mortal who has been entrusted by the gods in the task of guarding the passages between the worlds.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 2: The Amazons have the duty of protecting the world from the monsters stuck in the veil on the other side of Doom's Doorway, with Philippus as the captain of the guard whose main duty is to make sure the door stays closed and guarded. This duty helps explain why Themyscira is a bit out of sync and sometimes cut off from the wider world and was brought back for Wonder Woman (Rebirth).

    Fan Works 
  • Sunset Shimmer ends up taking this role in the Oversaturated World. Unlike most examples, she's definitely not distant or helpless, and immediately takes steps to not only spread her duties around but also ensure she (a) will remain grounded in the real world and (b) won't have to do her job forever.
  • Professor Arc: Jaune becomes one-albeit through emotion rather than any real power. His reputation among the student body is so strong that his arrest by Ironwood creates enough anger to attract Grimm. When he confesses his lies to the Beacon staff, they agree to bury the truth, as doing so would have profound political consequences.
  • Senshi Of Thundera: The Silver Millenium had linked their worlds' biospheres to their Princesses' lives, so when the empire and every single senshi died, every planet in the solar system except for Earth turned into an unlivable wasteland. Thundera tried to put a backup, but it was linked to their ruler and he perished with the Princess of Saturn, failing to save the planet.
  • In Shadowchasers Series, Tharizdun is a villainous example. The gods dare not kill him, despite the potential genocidal cataclysm he would attempt to start if he was freed from his prison; killing him would allow the Great Old Ones to reclaim the power they invested when they turned him into their Unwitting Pawn, potentially resulting in them releasing a far more dangerous threat.
  • The Hiiragi twins in Stars Above are these for The Multiverse. Kagami also happens to be an Apocalypse Maiden... her body contains a Demon that could destroy all realities if it ever gets out.
  • The Care Bears lost episode Creepypasta The Things Without Feelings implies that Grumpy Bear is this, forever shielding Care-A-Lot from a group of horrific Eldritch Abominations that nearly destroyed it and implicitly made everyone Go Mad from the Revelation; this is implied to be the reason why Grumpy never changes whenever the show well as why he's so grumpy.
  • Triptych Continuum: Celestia and Princess Luna are the only beings (aside from the imprisoned Discord) who can interface with MOON and SUN (unlike in canon, where groups of unicorns can work together to move these bodies at great cost). A recurring plot point throughout the Continuum is the fact that all life on the world of Menajeria depends on these two ponies for its survival, and the consequent necessity to keep them alive at almost any cost.
  • The Weaver Option: After recovering one of Sanguinius' Baal Rubies, Taylor becomes this for all the Ninth Legion's Successor Chapters, as she is now protecting them from the Black Rage. They immediately organize an honor guard to protect her.
  • The Discworld of A.A. Pessimal develops the canonical concept of Witches having a deeper and more esoteric purpose, as Barrier Maidens keeping an Eye on places where the walls of the worlds are thinnest. The Lancre Witches are responsible for sealing the Dancers and the Long Man against elves; Tiffany Aching and others realise they defend the turning points of the year rather than physical places as such. Rebecka Smith-Rhodes discovers her responsibility is to places considered sacred by Black Howondalandians but which are now, by default, in the care note  of the White Howondalandians who supplanted them. Vasilisa Budonova, who outwitted a Baba Yaga and inherited her steading and responsibilities, discovers she has a Domovila, the doorway to The House of the Dead, just next door to her isba.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Dracula Untold: Crossed with Apocalypse Maiden. If Vlad manages to resist drinking human blood for the three days needed to reverse his vampirism, the elder vampire won't be able to escape his cave and wreak havoc. If he doesn't due to, say, needing to use the power a bit longer or giving in to temptation...
  • The Golden Child: The main character is a rare male example, a child who embodies the virtue of compassion. If he is corrupted, humanity will lose its capacity for empathy.
  • In the Christmas classic It's a Wonderful Life, George Bailey is the only thing keeping Bedford Falls from turning into Pottersville.
  • The Sentinel (1977): The protagonist becomes one such at the end of the movie, guarding the literal Gates of Hell (she partially qualified by being a failed suicide).
  • Thor: Ragnarok: Male example with Odin. It's only after his death that the magic imprisoning his genocidal daughter Hela dissipates and she sets out to brutally conquer the Nine Realms.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past: Dr. Bolivar Trask is a male example. His murder by Mystique will generate a Crapsack World where mutants and humans who are carriers of the X-gene are slaughtered en masse, leaving only the worst of humanity in charge.
    • X-Men: Apocalypse: Gender-flipped with Professor Charles Xavier. The death of his mind through Apocalypse's commandeering of his body will prompt The End of the World as We Know It where weaker individuals across the globe are swiftly eradicated, and the "lucky" few who survive lose their free will after being put under Mass Hypnosis. To drive this point further, there are bookends in Charles' study which are shaped like the mythological figure Atlas,note  and they symbolize his heavy burden of trying to save the world.
      We look around Xavier's school some more, exploring every nook and cranny of Prof. X's office. We spot a couple of Atlas-themed book-ends, with two muscular men carrying planets on their backs. It makes us flashback to that dark room, where we saw McAvoy cry. If ever there was a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders, it's James McAvoy's Professor X.

  • Atlas Shrugged: A similar, but much more mundane concept was discussed in a conversation between Francisco and Rearden. With the world inexplicably falling into defective forms of Communism, America is the only country effectively producing capital and resources. Meanwhile the government continues to crackdown and tighten control over those few remaining functional industrialists and executives, who are the only thing keeping America from collapsing and ceasing its support of the rest of the globe with subsistive handouts. Francisco stated that "when Atlas had the world on his shoulders and it became too much to bear, he shrugged." Later in the novel, Dagny is effectively the only Barrier Maiden left, since her skill in managing her company's rail lines is the country's only effective logistics left, keeping America from collapsing as well.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: Something of an inversion is seen with the series’ two major female villains. Their power and control over Narnia are apparently dependent on certain conditions being met, and failure to meet those conditions can cause mass destruction.
    • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: The White Witch, Jadis, proclaims that by the laws of the Deep Magic - which has infused Narnia from the time of its creation - she is entitled to the blood of every traitor, and it is her prerogative to kill them. If she is deprived of this right, Narnia itself will be destroyed “in fire and water”. While the narrative doesn’t go into detail about how this process works, Aslan substituting himself in a traitor’s place allows the laws to be satisfied while leaving Jadis and her forces to be defeated in battle.
    • The Silver Chair: The Lady of the Green Kirtle - a powerful witch whose origins are as mysterious as she is - has magically enslaved the gnomes of Bism and brought them to her kingdom of Underland, from where she plans to launch a surprise attack on Narnia. When the Lady is killed by Prince Rilian - who had been similarly enslaved - not only is her control over the gnomes broken, but Underland itself flooded and destroyed. It’s even theorized in-story that she arranged this herself, ensuring that her death would mean the end of anyone involved.
  • A Day of Fallen Night: As a prequel to The Priory of the Orange Tree, the responsibility laid on Berethnet queens to continue their unbroken line of single daughters is in full force. Glorian Shieldheart believes unquestioningly in the Saint, but when she's forced to get pregnant ASAP when her mother dies and give birth during a siege, she does resent the price he laid on the world's safety. Outside of Inys, the falsity of this belief is much more openly discussed.
  • Deltora Quest: The land of Deltora is kept safe from the Shadow Lord by a ruler descended from Adin, the founder who united the country, wearing the Belt of Deltora (with all seven magic gems in it, in the right order). In the first book, Lief's father tells him that the belt will remain whole as long as Adin's heir still lives. Whether he was making this up is a moot point, as Lief himself turns out to be the rightful king. Plus, in later books it turns out that Adin had multiple children, so as long as any of their descendants are alive, there will always be someone to wear the belt. Lief finds one of his distant cousins to serve as a Hidden Backup Prince.
  • Discworld: the Witches are Barrier Maidens keeping an Eye on places where the walls of the worlds are thinnest and the doors are insecurely locked. Beginning with Granny Weatherwax note  and Nanny Ogg in Lords and Ladies, Lancre Witches are responsible for sealing the Dancers and the Long Man against elves; Tiffany Aching and others realise they defend the turning points of the year rather than physical places as such.
  • Distress: The anthrocosmologists believe that that the universe is dependent on one person, called the Keystone, whose consciousness is the only given, and whose beliefs determine all of reality starting with the Big Bang. Whoever comes up with the final theory of everything will be the Keystone. Mainstream ACs want to protect the physicist Violet Mosala, who seems like the most likely Keystone, but fringe ACs think they can determine the state of the universe by killing candidates with theories they don't like. People want Mosala dead for various reasons - some people want to promote a rival theory, which posits alternate universes humanity might escape to before the Big Crunch; some want to prevent any TOE from being finalized in order to preserve the wonder and transcendence of the universe; and others think that because her theory isn't dependent on physical reality, the universe will unravel into pure logic once it's finalized. Worth ultimately turns out to be the Keystone when he reads the paper written by a computer program owned by Mosala. Mosala's death prevents her from ever reading the finished version of her own theory.
  • The Dresden Files: While the Archive doesn't actually prevent the destruction of the world by her existence, she is a repository of all mankind's knowledge and knows everything that is ever written down. Particularly in Small Favor, she's treated as quite possibly the single most badass Barrier Maiden in all of history. There is also the Oblivion War, which is a battle against ancient demonic gods who still want to rule this reality. The participants in it are few, and rightfully so. They seek out to destroy all instances of a god's name on Earth, including in human memory. Once it is purged and those who fought to purge the name forget themselves, Archive deletes the name from herself and banishes the god from Earth forever.
    • Cold Days reveals that Mab protects reality from the Outsiders, and Titania protects everyone else from Mab.
  • The Elenium: Ehlana, Queen of Elenias, serves as a Barrier Maiden during the first 2¼ books. The ghost of a dead knight comments to the series protagonist that "the darkness hovers at the gate, and Ehlana is our only hope of light." The action of the series mostly focuses around recovering the mystic artifact that will keep the poisoned queen from dying, and thus prevent the world from succumbing to the grip of evil. Her situation is unusual in that it's not any magical power she has that makes saving her critical, but that allowing the next in line (her cousin and suspected half-brother) to take the throne would give the villains enough cash to buy leadership of the church and turn it into a Church Of Evil. The MacGuffin needed to rescue her turns out to also be needed to kill the God of Evil that is the Big Bad.
  • The Empirium Trilogy: It's prophisied that the Sun Queen will be the one to save Avitas from the Blood Queen's reign. While Eliana doesn't see herself as a Sun Queen, she does wind up being the one to save Avitas by encouraging Rielle to destroy Corien for good.
  • Everworld: Senna serves as some sort of weird cross between this and Apocalypse Maiden. She's basically a living portal between Everworld and "the Old World" (ours), and several forces in Everworld want her for various reasons. An added twist: in a world full of murderous deities and a god-eating Eldritch Abomination, she intends to become the Big Bad herself.
    • It helps that she's raised an army of cultists around herself in the Old World, and intends to bring them to Everworld, where she will use their 20th century tech to overcome the gods.note 
  • Fablehaven: The Eternals are a group of immortal Barrier People (not all maidens) who serve as the second lock to opening the demon prison Zyzyx. Immortality has not been kind to them, such that it is not actually all that difficult for them to be convinced to take their own lives. The Big Bad's Ironic Hell is to become one of them.
  • Griffin's Daughter: Jelena is of the Cosmic Keystone variety. The Key, a source of immense magic power, was sealed within her while still in the womb, by elf mages who pulled her mother through time for the purpose.
  • The Hands of the Emperor: The emperor and the Marwn used to stabilize the magic of the five worlds of the empire of Astandalas before it fell. The emperor did so by being the center of magic in the capital and performing various rituals, whereas the Marwn - a more minor member of the royal family - was confined to a tower in a magically significant location in absolute solitude for their entire life.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya: The titular character is a barrier for herself; if she gets in a bad mood, or discovers her own volatile abilities, she's likely to erase the entire Universe (while not even being aware that she'll do so). No one is sure what would happen if she died, but she seems to have created the current universe three years ago and made herself its God, so it probably wouldn't be good.
  • Kyo Kara Maoh!: Ulrike and Ondine; being stuck in the same building for 800 years without cable would be torture.
  • The Locked Tomb: The God-Emperor "resurrected" the Nine Houses solar system ten thousand years before the time of the books and continues to power the star Dominicus with his magic; if he were to die somehow, it would collapse into a black hole.
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen: Burn serves as a barrier maiden and Cosmic Keystone. As long as Burn is sleeping, she dreams existence into reality. You really shouldn't harm Burn, if you like having a world in which to live.
  • The Neverending Story: The Childlike Empress is a Fisher King for the land, and her illness is thought to be what's causing The Nothing that's destroying Fantasia, but her sickness is actually due to her needing a new name. (Fantasia is failing because very few humans are visiting these days. The two problems are related and can be solved in a similar manner.)
  • Paradox Trilogy: Maat is a powerful psychic who was turned into a barrier maiden against her will by the alien lelgis. She is trapped in an And I Must Scream situation so bad that she is desperate to die, regardless of what the consequences would be for the rest of the universe.
  • Princess Holy Aura: An interestingly named example is the Apocalypse Maidens. While they fit the Barrier Maiden trope by being the only force that can stop Eldritch Horrors from entering and taking over the universe, they're named Apocalypse Maidens because they're intended to prevent the Apocalypse.
  • The Priory of the Orange Tree: The existence of the Berethnet line of queens, descended from Galian the dragon-slayer, is said to be what keeps the Nameless One bound beneath the ocean. This hasn't stopped occasional rebellions, but it does mean that the Queen is subject to Mandatory Motherhood (a Berethnet always has one child, a daughter, who continues the line) and proagonist Ead is sent from the Priory to bodyguard Sabran, the current Queen—although the Priory is skeptical of the Berethnets' claim, they don't have proof that it isn't true, so they want to keep her alive just in case. It's eventually revealed that Galian's descendents have nothing to do with it.
  • Septimus Heap: Princess Jenna. Basically, the safety of the Castle depends upon her presence in the Castle, leading to both the plots of Magyk and Flyte as she is persecuted by DomDaniel and actually kidnapped respectively.
  • A Song of Wraiths and Ruin: The whole ruling Alahari family is this for the city of Ziran, as they maintain a magic barrier around the city that keeps dangers out but also doesn't allow anyone of their bloodline to leave the city.
  • The Sword of Shannara Trilogy: In The Elfstones of Shannara, one of the main characters is a Barrier Maiden. A bit subverted, in that a magical tree is keeping shut a rift to the Demonic Underworld, and it begins to die. The female lead, Amberle, is the chosen one, but we only find out in the climax that this doesn't mean she heals the tree - she becomes the tree. Which is a bit sad when you're a 12-year-old kid.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
    • The Silmarillion: During the many wars of the First Age, Melian the Maia encircles the realm of Doriath with a protective barrier known as the Girdle of Melian.
      • Melian's daughter Lúthien becomes a physical manifestation of this trope: The War of the Jewels is temporarily suspended as long as she's wearing a Silmaril, because she's Lúthien and nobody would dare to take the jewel from her. As soon as it passes to her son Dior, the war starts right back up again.
    • The Lord of the Rings: Galadriel, who dwelt in Doriath and learned much from Melian, uses her Ring of Power to create a similar protection around Lothlórien ages later.
  • The Vampire Chronicles: A rather darker example of the trope. The first vampire, Akasha, is in suspended animation and closely guarded in an underground vault by her vampire servants; while she herself is virtually indestructible, if she is harmed, all the vampires dependent on her would be destroyed. In ancient times, a usurper placed her in the sunlight: while she only received a tan, vampires around the globe burst into flame.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Dawn of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the Key that holds closed the barriers between dimensions. Season Five centers around a Sealed Evil in a Can trying to leave Earth by using Dawn. Not only that, but near the end the heroes get into a discussion of what to do if the worst happens, and we get to watch Giles and Buffy argue over whether killing Dawn is an acceptable last-resort option... with Buffy finally stating flat-out that if any of her friends try to harm Dawn, she'll kill them. Turns out she actually feels Dawn is part of her, and closer to her than Willow, Xander, or anybody... and she ain't doing the Angel-skewering thing again, not even to save the world. It should be noted that Buffy feeling this way is almost entirely artificial, invoked by the beings that implanted Dawn as Buffy's sister in the first place. Two seasons later, as the series finale approaches, she and Giles discuss the matter again (hypothetically) and she admits that her decision at the time as based on emotion not reason or morality. If she had to make the same choice again in the present (one life to save the world), she's not proud to say she might choose differently.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Princess Astra in "The Armageddon Factor".
    • The Keeper of Traken from the serial of the same name is quite possibly the inspiration for the Magic Knight Rayearth example. The Keeper has great power, but having to focus that power to maintain the Traken Union has to get And I Must Scream-y after having to do it and nothing else for years and years and years, but that's not the plot point that it is in Rayearth. Also, like Rayearth, there are still those who want to take the position despite knowing this.
  • It's revealed in The Flash (2014) that, without a speedster to keep its power in check (a role unwillingly fullfilled by season 3's Big Bad Savitar) the sentient pocket dimension the Speed Force starts to implode and collapse around itself, which also threatens to affect The Multiverse. Barry decides to take Savitar's (who suffered a Cessation of Existence) place in order to atone for his actions in the season.
  • The Imagin of Kamen Rider Den-O want to make their Alternate Timeline a reality by destroying the existing timeline. They travel to the past, laying destruction there, but the existence of Singularity Points (the Kamen Riders) prevent any permanent changes. The Big Bad then figures out that a special Singularity Point, called the "Junction Point", is the one keeping the timeline stable, and that the Imagins' victory will only be ensured by destroying the Junction Point.
  • Lunagel (Rin) from Mahou Sentai Magiranger is the gatekeeper whose body and life keeps the evil monsters imprisoned in Infershia. Her life force maintains the seal, so if she is killed, the gate will open.
    • Clare serves as her US counterpart in Power Rangers Mystic Force. The title of Gatekeeper is passed down, but fully sealing the gate killed Clare's mother, so it's said that opening it will kill Clare. Unlike previous gatekeepers, however, she nonsensically gets to stay alive when the gate is inevitably broken.
  • Adolf Hitler is this of all persons in The Man in the High Castle, though in a more mundane manner. The series takes place in 1962 of an alternate timeline where the Axis powers won WWII. It is established early on that Hitler being alive is the only reason the alternate 1962 is still peaceful and not a nuclear wasteland. Japan and Germany are still at peace, because Hitler respects the Japanese and sees them as equals. Should Hitler die, his successor, probably Himmler or Goebbels, would definitely attack the Japanese Empire in an attempt at full world domination, resulting in another but more devastating war, highly implied to be a nuclear war.
  • In Supernatural, we get Lilith, the devil's right-hand man — er, woman — er, demon — who is the final seal holding Lucifer in his cell. Once she's dead, he's free to bring the apocalypse. Interestingly, there's a completely separate (male) character serving as the Apocalypse Maiden.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In the episode "Paladin of the Lost Hour" (by Harlan Ellison) the titular paladin is an old man named Gaspar who carries a stopped watch. As long as a paladin has the watch, it won't tick...and if does, time itself ends at the strike of midnight.

  • In the Synchronicity series of Vocaloid songs, the Dragon Diva is a girl who must keep singing and dancing to appease the dragon who keeps the land in a perpetual state of prosperity. Once she becomes the Diva, she is cut off from the rest of the world until she dies, at which point a new Diva is chosen to take her place. The story focuses on Len's quest to rescue his long-lost twin sister Rin, who was kidnapped as a baby in order to become the current Diva, and stop the cycle once and for all, even if it guarantees the nation's eventual decline and ruin.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • The unnamed Princess from Saint George of Cappadocia's legend is an example from Christian martyrology.
    • Her Japanese counterpart, Princess Kushinada from the Orochi myths, is another notable example.
  • The katechon in Orthodox Christianity serves this purpose - it is a "something", a person, force or organisation, that restrains the anti-Christ. Since Judgement Day and the End Times cannot begin until the anti-Christ is revealed, and the anti-Christ cannot be revealed until the katechon is removed, the katechon directly prevents the end of the world.
  • Classical Mythology: For crimes against the Olympians, Atlas, one of the Titans from Greek myth, had to carry the heavens (not the Earth itself, but the sky above it) for all eternity. He was ultimately turned to stone by Perseus for being a Jerkass to him on his way back; whether or not he was still aware is up for debate. But then Perseus was one of Hercules's ancestors. Some versions of the myth instead claim that Atlas asked to be turned to stone as a Mercy Kill.
  • Hinduism: Parvati is the goddess of power and nourishment who oversees the material aspects of existence. When her husband Shiva - famous for his asceticism - argued that all material things were merely distracting illusions, she decided to teach him a lesson by removing herself from the world. Without her presence, the world became barren as all food disappeared, and even the gods were not immune to the resulting emptiness. When Parvati incarnated as the avatar Annapurna and opened a kitchen in the city of Varanasi, both mortals and the gods humbled themselves before her and begged for food, proving that the material world is not illusory at all.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Exalted:
    Once, there was a maiden...
    ....and before her came all the peoples of Creation, and knelt.
    They set aside their petty squabbles in her name.
    They acclaimed her with many shouts.
    They prayed for her safety, and her weal.
    Not one of them struck free her chains.
    "To know the world..."
    " to own it," she said.
  • Ashling from the Magic: The Gathering setting of Lorwyn was supposed to be one of these, bringing the flamekin's fire through the transition to Shadowmoor. She didn't go along with the idea.
  • Warhammer has Caledor and the other High Elf wizards locked upon the Isle of the Dead. They are time-locked in a constant ritual that keeps the power of Chaos from overwhelming the entire world. If they ever die, or are ever freed, it's the end of everything.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The God-Emperor of Mankind from serves as this in a few ways.
      • The more "mundane" and arguably the most important is that his psychic might maintains the Astronomican, the only thing keeping the armies of the Imperium capable of navigating through Warpspace. If the Astronomican vanishes, then the vast fleets with the millions of lives aboard them would be lost to the Warp, and the Imperium becomes a million isolated world alone in the dark, waiting for death.
      • He may also be fending off the Dark Gods and supporting the Imperium the best he can in his capacity as the Imperium's deity, keeping humanity from being claimed by them. This wouldn't end humanity exactly, at least no right away, but very few people benefit from this, most would be killed, and the rest can expect a Fate Worse than Death. It would also effectively end humanity's role as a galactic power, which opens us up wholesale to predations by hostile alien species.
      • Additionally, in a more traditional sense for this trope, he may still be keeping a sundered Webway terminal underneath the Imperial Palace closed. If true, then if it were to break open again, Daemons would come pouring out and would effectively destroy Earth. Ignoring the fact that the Astronomicon would be destroyed by this for a moment, Earth is still the Imperial capitol, and a major political and administrative hub. If Earth went dark due to daemonic invasion, then the Imperium could expect to become crippled as unity, logistics, and command structures throughout the Imperium would start breaking down.

    Video Games 
  • Misha, one of the three potential love interests in Ar tonelico: Melody of Elemia.
  • Kukuru from Arc the Lad I & II.
  • Baldur's Gate III has Isobel, a Cleric of the God of the Moon Selune who single-handedly protects the one inhabitable settlement in a land cursed by Selune's Evil Twin, the God of Darkness Shar. Unfortunately for everyone she's also a Damsel in Distress as she has three Gods of Evil gunning for her (Shar out of spite, Bhaal For the Evulz, and her Archnemesis Dad who's The Chosen One of the God of the Dead Myrkul), and if the party fails to protect her it means the deaths of dozens of people.
  • BlazBlue: Central Fiction has two:
    • The titular Central Fiction is a person whose existence is critical in the stability and progress of the world, but not for the usual reasons. Rather than Terrible Things Will Happen On Their Death, it's a case of God Would Rewrite The Entire Universe To Prevent This Person Dying. This is less of a Deus ex Machina than it sounds, although it is exactly as much of a Mind Screw.
    • The game takes place inside a Pocket Dimension called the Embryo, which reflects the dreams and idealised world of the Successor of the Azure. Killing the Successor, therefore, would cause the Embryo to disappear along with everyone inside it. Too bad (for the villains) she now has Complete Immortality.
  • Bloodborne: Rom the Vacuous Spider holds back the Blood Moon and prevents the Ritual of Mensis from completing by her mere presence. Unfortunately, she also holds you back from completing the game, so you're gonna have to kill her. Just make sure you've done everything you want to do beforehand, because once the Blood Moon rises, everything will change and the various enemies will become much tougher.
  • In Breath of Fire II, a giant dragon,who is Ryu's mother, is seen blocking the door that leads to the final dungeon to keep the Big Bad from coming out. In a normal ending, Ryu replaces her since she dies.
  • In Dark Souls, Gwyn, Lord of Sunlight, is this by virtue of being the Lord of Sunlight. In actuality, his real purpose as a Barrier Maiden is that he sacrificed himself by Linking the Fire, turning him into the fuel that allows all fire in the world to continue existing. Whether or not that is a good thing is an entirely different matter.
  • In Digimon Survive, Empty Shell Miyuki is revealed to be one of these as her family has control over the barrier between the human world and the Digital World, and had her soul stolen by the Big Bad who sought to exploit her power.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Dragon Quest V: Mada, the Hero's mother, tries to seal Nimzo in the underworld near the end of the game. Unfortunately he anticipated it, and she gets killed off.
    • Dragon Quest VII has a particularly cruel version, with the warrior Matilda, as she's being used by the monsters as a Barrier Maiden sealing away their hostages. Making matters worse is that she's a Broken Bird due to her past: her brother tried attacking the monsters' stronghold, but the other villagers chickened out, leaving him to fight until his death waiting for the promised backup that never arrives.
    • Dragon Quest VIII featured seven descendants of the ancient seven sages who sealed Rhapthorne in the Godbird Sceptre, and whom Rhapthorne had to kill (using others as pawns) to restore his corporeal form. The fate of these descendants is obvious.
  • The Elder Scrolls series gives us several rare male examples:
  • The Fatal Frame series features several of these, typically as the Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds Big Bad. Each game involves rituals using a Virgin Sacrifice to hold back a great evil, that eventually failed and unleashed a terrible curse on the location. The heroine's task is to discover what went wrong, and free the Maiden from her torment.
    • In the first game, the Rope Shrine Maiden is ritually dismembered so that her soul can hold the Hellgate closed for a decade. The last Maiden, Kirie, was unable to focus on her task and her grief caused the gates to burst open. In the canon ending of the game, she makes the choice to spend eternity holding the gates closed.
    • In the second game, the village ritually sacrificed Twins to prevent hell from slipping through the Abyss. One twin kills the other, with each serving to help keep the darkness at bay. When one sister escaped the village prior to the ritual, the one left behind was killed in a last-ditch effort. It failed, and the town was swallowed up in darkness. In the canon ending, Mio kills Mayu in order to reseal the Abyss, freeing the village from eternal night.
    • In the third game, the Kuze Family's duty is to keep the sorrows of humanity from leaking out of the rift. Several ritual sacrifices were performed to maintain the barrier, with the Tattooed Priestess taking mankind's sorrow into herself and then being sealed into a shrine at the edge of the rift. The last Priestess was unable to hold the darkness back, after witnessing her lover's murder. In order to end the curse, Rei sends the lovers' bodies across to the other side.
    • In the fifth game, the Maidens have the task of purifying the sacred waters that flow through the mountain. This is accomplished by sealing the women into coffins and sending them to the bottom of the lake. These Pillars hold back the darkness, until their powers wane and they dissolve into the waters. The strongest of all Maidens are called Eternal Flowers, slumbering in their coffins for eternity. The last Pillar's grief caused the waters to overflow onto the mountain, though the cursed spirits of the shrine elders still attempt to lure women onto the mountain to become new Pillars. Each ending of the game involves comforting the Pillar, allowing her to resume her task.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VII has a VERY rare Inverted-Evil example. Sephiroth has the good locked away, and you must kill him to release it.
    • Final Fantasy X:
      • Summoners would qualify except for Yuna, of course, who breaks the cycle.
      • A villainous version also appears in Yunalesca. She tells the heroes (and every group that had made it that far for the past thousand years) that not only must the Summoner sacrifice herself to save the world, but one of her guardians. Then, in order to leave Zanarkand, fight Sin, and save the world for real, she must be killed.
  • Fire Emblem has several:
    • On one hand, Deirdre from Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War is the long-lost daughter of Prince Kurth and carrier of Naga's bloodline. And on the other, through her mother Cigyun she has minor Loptous blood... which makes her a target for his cult's plan to resurrect him, so they abduct her and get her to unknowingly marry her maternal half-brother Arvis, the other minor Loptous blood holder....
    • Both Ninian and Nils from Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade count since the siblings are sought after for their half-Dragon heritage, which means they're the only ones in-story able to open the mythical Dragon's Gate and allow other dragons to go through it.
    • Shigure from Fire Emblem Fates doesn't start as the trope, but in the Heirs of Fate DLC stage he becomes a Rare Male Example: not only he has Azura's magical pendant, but he is supposed to be the only one capable of performing a Magic Music that will complete a world-changing Prophecy. (At least the only one alive, that is; in this Alternate Universe, Azura has already died and only appears as a Spirit Advisor.) In the end, he performs the magic melody with some help from Azura's soul and the other children, and manages to survive and rebuild his world.
  • Hollow Knight has two layers of this: the three Dreamers—Lurien the Watcher, Herrah the Beast, and Monomon the Teacher—act as barriers keeping the Temple of the Black Egg sealed. Inside is the eponymous Knight, the "perfect vessel" that had been created to absorb the source of the Hate Plague that threatened to destroy the kingdom. Which turns out to be not so perfect after all, and now the plague is starting to overtake it once again. Fortunately, they managed to accidentally create another vessel that was perfect—you—and now you have crawled your way out of the Pit to break the seals, kill the Hollow Knight, and either take its place or, if you're up to the task, invade its mind and destroy the Radiance itself once and for all.
  • Another spin of the Kushinada myth is used in The King of Fighters 97. First, like in the original legend there's a group of girls that are kidnapped, and all but one of them become Human Sacrifices for Yamata-no-Orochi; instead of having Susano-o save and then marry the Sole Survivor aka Princess Kushinada, she's rescued by the leaders of the Three Sacred Clans, who then seal up Orochi since they can't kill him. Second, in the present Kyo Kusanagi's Tsundere girlfriend Yuki is the last descendant of the remaining Kushinada maiden, so the Orochi clan plans to sacrifice her in the ritual that will bring Yamata no Orochi back into this world. She survives her ordeal thanks to Kyo, Chizuru and Iori, though.
    • Another character from the same series, the Idol Singer Athena Asamiya, is a rare case where the Barrier Maiden is also an Action Girl.
    • And then we have the Kagura sisters, Maki and the aforementioned Chizuru, two Mikos who keep the Seal of Orochi safe and tight so he won't return to unleash destruction on Earth. When Maki was murdered by Goenitz, Chizuru was left alone with the mission of taking care of the seal, so she recruits Iori and Kyo in KOF 96 to do this and then helps them re-seal the released Orochi in KOF 97.
  • In Kingdom Hearts The Seven Princesses of Heart collectively have the power to reveal the keyhole necessary to get to Kingdom Hearts, the origin of life in the universe and a recurring MacGuffin. The bad guys do all they can to find the missing Princesses so they can fully take over.
    • On a bigger scale, the Princesses' hearts of pure light repel darkness and keep all the worlds in the Realm of Light safe just by being there.
  • Bastila Shan in Knights of the Old Republic, though this is due to her incredible skill with battle meditation and her Psychic Link with a former Dark Lord of the Sith, so she is much more of an Action Girl than most Barrier Maidens.
  • Another girl named Yuki plays the BM role in The Last Blade. Unlike KOF's Yuki, when offered the option to either seal the Hell's Gate or not, TLB!Yuki decides to do so at the cost of her own life.
  • Shana, from The Legend of Dragoon, is an evil example. At first, you think of her just as The Medic, but then you discover she is the Moon Child, the only being able of resurrecting the Virage Embryo, last boss of the game. Until she is used by Melbu Frahma for this purpose, no one, not even her, is aware of her real identity.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • A Link to the Past has seven of these (successors to the seven Sages in Ocarina of Time) maintaining the seal on the Dark World.
    • In Four Swords Adventures, Zelda and the six Shrine Maidens are responsible for ensuring that Vaati remains sealed inside the Four Sword Sanctuary.
    • The Lokomo of Spirit Tracks are charged by the Spirits of Good with keeping the Demon King Malladus sealed inside his prison. Unlike most examples, the Lokomo are mostly elderly males.
    • Skyward Sword does it again with Zelda, revealed to be the mortal reincarnation of the goddess Hylia. After you beat the sixth dungeon and meet up with her in the past, she reveals her identity and puts herself to sleep in the Sealed Temple to keep the seal on Demise intact. That's why if you manage to let The Imprisoned reach the temple even once...
    • In Breath of the Wild, Zelda has been keeping Calamity Ganon sealed inside Hyrule Castle with her for the past 100 years.
  • Mega Man
    • It was in Mega Man Zero 2 did we finally find out what happened to the hero of the previous series. He used his physical body to seal the Dark Elf, a powerful Energy Being that is the cause of the World Sundering between the X and Zero series. This leaves X in borrowed time, only appearing to Zero as an Energy Being himself. Destroying X's physical body would release the Dark Elf, which would mean another mass genocide if she's in the wrong hands. And it just so happens to be the goal of the Big Bad of Zero 2.
    • In Mega Man Star Force 3, it's revealed that Geo's Disappeared Dad Kelvin Stelar has been keeping Meteor G from reaching Earth, and preventing Dealer from taking full control of it.
  • Nostalgia (Red Entertainment) has one in Fiona. She is the only one who can touch the tablet fragments, thus preventing the bad guys from collecting them without her. She also has to die to seal the Big Bad away.
  • Sakuya from Ōkami is a cherry tree spirit and powerful protector. Her guardian saplings protect the nearby lands from evil, and their corruption not only weakened her into a coma but allowed evil to flourish. Amaterasu's missions largely revolve around restoring her saplings, culminating in Sakuya being restored and "refreshed".
  • Persona:
    • In Persona 2: Innocent Sin, it is said in a prophecy that if a "Mayan Maiden" is sacrificed, it will bring about The End of the World as We Know It. The maiden turns out to be Maya Amano, whose death via being impaled by the Spear of Longinus kickstarts the apocalypse.
    • The protagonist of Persona 3 is one of these, holding back Nyx, the Anthropomorphic Personification of Death - interesting justification for We Cannot Go On Without You. His Heroic Sacrifice makes the seal permanent.
      • He was not only just holding back Nyx, but also Erebus, who is the Anthropomorphic Personification of humanity's anguish and wishes for death. If Erebus and Nyx made contact, then the world would end. The protagonist becomes a wall (sealed in stone and stuck to it, no less), destined to stand between the two cosmic horrors forever, or at least until humanity as a whole is changed and stops subconsciously wishing for death. This could mean that he's there to stay but his former companions resolve to do what they can to change the world. Considering three of them could live indefinitely - Aigis being a robot, and Elizabeth being...whatever Elizabeth is - it could be possible in the long run.
      • The PSP portable version adds a female protagonist. Despite how she and the male MC aren't exactly the same characterization-wise, she fulfills the same role in-story — and it includes becoming the local Barrier Maiden, too. For better or worse, she can fall in love with the Appriser of Nyx, Ryouji Mochizuki, which adds a Star-Crossed Lovers element here. And here we have three possible companions that could potentially survive until the day she's released: Aigis, Elizabeth, and Elizabeth's younger brother Theodore.
  • In Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, Kaileena serves as this until the middle of the second cutscene, during which a) it is revealed that her continued presence on her island was the only thing keeping time linear and b) her death allows the (once again alive due to time travel) vizier to ascend to godhood and plunge Babylon into darkness.
  • Runescape:
    • The Valluta is a giant turtle which guards against extradimensional invaders, primarily the beings known as "pests".
    • The player has been given the responsibility of preventing gods from interfering with Gielinor as of the quest "The World Wakes".
  • Samurai Shodown has two:
    • Hazuki Kazama is a girl who used her powerful sealing techniques to tame and seal two inmensely strong spirits, Enja and Suija, in the swords of her older brothers Kazuki and Sougetsu. Too bad that Amakusa heard about Hazuki's abilities and took a hold of her for the worst...
    • Nakoruru can be seen as such as well, specially when she sacrifices her own life to the Spirit of Nature to fix the damage made by Mizuki in the second game and becomes a sort-of protector goddess as a result, spending her time in a Convenient Coma unless it's time to fight.
  • In StarCraft Kerrigan is revealed to be the only thing holding back the void from destroying the universe. This is because she is one of two beings in the universe that can control the Zerg, a massive Horde of Alien Locusts. The other is the God of Evil.
  • Princess Peach in the original Super Mario Bros., the plot of the 1985 NES game told only in the manual, is that Bowser turned the inhabitants of the Mushroom Kingdom into bricks, and Peach has the power to bring them back, not much is talked about Peach's magical abilities in later games, and there's the issue about Mario breaking bricks around, joked in this Brawl in the Family strip.
    • The Barrier Maiden thing was abandoned for a while, with Bowser's Motives changing from pure conquest to trying to win Peach's affection. However, more recent games have restored her Barrier Maiden status, though in a different form each time.
      • In Yoshi's Island DS, Baby Peach is one of the Seven Star Children who are born with great power. Bowser attempts to steal the children to take over the universe (this would include Kidnapping himself, which would result in a few time related issues...) Peach is actually one of the children who escapes capture, and assists Yoshi and Baby Mario in saving the others.
      • In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, Peach's voice is the only thing that can awaken the Beanstar, which grants wishes. She avoids capture through clever use of a Birdo, and again by having Luigi crossdress as her.
      • In Super Paper Mario, Peach and Bowser are a Barrier Couple. If they ever got married, the Chaos Heart would be formed and begin to destroy the world. Naturally, this is the first thing the Big Bad does in the first part of the game. Peach is so easily kidnapped...
  • Super Robot Wars X: Hopes’ true identity is an “infant form” of a divine beast on the same level as The Heavenly Realm Dragon Deities, whose original purpose was to be one of Ende’s possible new vessels. But Hopes gained more of a self-conscience during his containment within The Order and wished to see the world and learn the meaning of life, hence his plan of escape with the protagonist. As he ventured through the war against Ende, he understands he prefers to be fed with the will and emotions opposite of Ende, and hence decide to use the aid of X-Cross, along with his divine powers to preserve, and uphold the world of Al-Warth after terminating Ende.
  • Tales Series:
    • Colette from Tales of Symphonia, the Chosen One, intended to sacrifice herself to keep the evil of the Desians sealed away. Really suffers for it, both for the cost of performing her mission, as well as most of the villains and even a few others treating her as a MacGuffin. Not to mention her mission is a complete lie told by the Desians themselves, who were never "sealed away," her actual purpose being to save her world by screwing over another one, and becoming a soulless vessel for the Big Bad's dead sister.
    • Richea Spodune of Tales of Hearts is the non-sacrificial version, and a double serving. First, she's the only thing holding The Heartless in check. When she's temporarily incapacitated, the Zerom and their symptomatic Despir Sickness return to the world like a sledgehammer. Second, the Big Bad requires her power to activate the Space Whale to go release a world-eating monster (he has a reason, trust me). Her elder sister is also one, having fused herself to said monster to seal it away in the first place. Yet another variant example is a massive Power Crystal powering a barrier protecting the village of Norquin. The maiden here is dead, but it's said that her will to protect the village remains in the Psistone and powers the barrier.
  • In the Touhou Project series, the sealed-off Fantasy Kitchen Sink world of Gensokyo is separated from reality thanks to a barrier that separates reality from fantasy.
    • Reimu Hakurei is of a lineage of human shrine maidens whose duty is to maintain peace in Gensokyo and to maintain the barrier — the Great Hakurei Border. While she is not directly stated to be the reason the Great Border exists, her death would begin its inevitable collapse. It's heavily implied in a couple of the official manga series that there have been previous Hakurei shrine maidens who've died on the job, and Reimu's potential death is regarded with an indifferent "We Have Reserves" attitude.
    • Yukari Yakumo is the youkai component of the Great Border's support. As a Reality Warper, she is capable of providing upkeep to the Border, though she has manipulated its filtration on occasions to allow certain things to pass between different worlds more easily. While her death would likely be catastrophic to the Border, as the Youkai of Boundaries she has explicitly stated that the boundary of life and death means nothing to her, so whether she's even able to die is highly debatable.
    • In the game Perfect Cherry Blossom, Yuyuko Saigyouji wanted to help a poor girl whose body was sealed under a cherry tree, the Saigyou Ayakashi, and she believeed making the tree bloom would break the seal. In the end, the seal weakened enough to reveal that Yuyuko was the person who was buried under the Ayakashi and her remains are also a visceral component to the seal that she was trying to break: If it ever did break, the Saigyou Ayakashi would start devouring the souls of all things around it, starting with Yuyuko herself.
  • Trinity Universe has a male example in Shuten, Kanata's father and the current Demon God Gem. His role is to keep random space junk from hitting Empyria, but it comes at the cost of his life. A plot point is that Kanata was next in line to become a new Demon God Gem after Shuten's disappearance, but thanks to Tsubaki, the ritual is sabotaged. Kanata can choose to become the new Demon God Gem in one ending.
  • Tyranny: As part of his Archon powers, Graven Ashe serves as something like this towards his army, the Disfavored; he protects them from harm in battle by taking all their pain and injuries upon himself, and is thus in constant agony. If he dies, the protective barrier drops and all that pain from decades of battles gets diffused amongst his remaining soldiers all at once. Most of them are killed outright from the sheer shock, and the survivors suffer catastrophic mental breakdowns, with your companion Barik as potentially the only survivor.
  • Wintermoor Tactics Club: Gender Inverted, and central to the plot. Principal Enfield has watched over the Gatekeeper for years, self-inflicted, to save his friends and the world from the Gatekeeper's master. The snowball tournament, and everything he does, is to find a new Barrier Maiden- an entire set of them, in fact, who will have to give up all their futures in order to contain the demon.
  • In the World of Mana series, The World Tree is not the same Mana Goddess that created the world as legend says, but is a person of some variety who became the new Mana Goddess/Tree the last time the world needed a new one. This is played to particularly devastating effect in Sword of Mana, the remake of the first game, in which the female protagonist plays this role. It's particularly devastating in Sumo's route since she's also the Love Interest of the main character there.
  • Also in this category, in World of Warcraft, is Anveena Teague, who is the embodiment of the remaining energies of the mystical Sunwell. Eventually, she sacrifices herself in order to help the players defeat Kil'Jaeden, and perhaps restore the Sunwell.
    • As of Wrath of the Lich King, we can add Bolvar Fordragon to the list. Essentially, Azeroth needs a Lich King to keep the scourge from going all zombie apocalypse on the planet. Bolvar decides, after Arthas's defeat, to succeed him as such, and essentially act as a "jailor of the damned" from the Frozen Throne.
      • Sylvanas Windrunner takes the crown and destroys it after defeating Bolvar in combat, shattering the barrier between the real world and the Shadowlands, the "land of the damned".
  • Xenosaga series: chaos. Didn't see that one coming, hm?

    Visual Novels 
  • In the Girls' Love Visual Novel Akai Ito, this is the job of whoever is taking the role of Ohashira. The first Ohashira was Otsune, and in the present day it's Yumei. The Ohashira essentially become a ghost to seal the soul of Nushi with all the might of her soul. It's quite similar to the myth of Sakuya mentioned above. In fact, a character named Sakuya was really attached to Otsune.
  • Kajiri Kamui Kagura has Tenma Yato, another male example. He is the only one who prevents the Omnicidal Maniac Hajun from destroying the world by keeping Hajun inside a Time Stop. This becomes rather problematic once the main cast kills Yato

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: The only thing standing between Remnant and annihilation are four divine Relics, which have the power to summon the gods for The Day of Reckoning, who will decide whether the world should be destroyed on the basis of whether they think humanity is redeemable. The Big Bad wants the world destroyed, so the Big Good hides the Relics inside mystical vaults that are guarded by elite combat schools, whose doors can only be opened by a specific Maiden of the Season: the Spring Maiden for the Relic of Knowledge (Haven Academy); the Summer Maiden for the Relic of Destruction (Shade Academy); the Fall Maiden for the Relic of Choice (Beacon Academy); and the Winter Maiden for the Relic of Creation (Atlas Academy).
  • Super Mario Glitchy4s Super Mario 64 Bloopers: Anyone designated as a universe's avatar is this by definition. If they die, their whole universe goes down with them, as was demonstrated with the universe of SMG1 and SMG2 after Zero murders their avatar, Spudnick.

  • Snowman from Homestuck is an evil Barrier Maiden—no one will kill her because they know if they do the whole universe will end, and she takes advantage of this to torment Spades Slick without fear of retribution. He eventually does kill her, destroying their universe.
    • Vriska is one of these too, as before John retconned the timeline and stopped Terezi from killing Vriska, H.I.C. was able to take over the Incisisphere.
  • It's implied in Sleepless Domain that Anemone is quite literally one of these, namely she's the source of the inner barrier that protects the city while the outer barrier is down. When Tessa Alter attacks her, the inner barrier vanishes prematurely.

    Web Original 
  • In the series finale of Car Boys, Griffin and Nick are condemned to an eternity of falling through the Time Ring in order to prevent The Blob from destroying all creation.
  • Old Woman Josie seems to be this to Night Vale, telling Cecil rather ominously that "if she falls, so does this town".
  • SMG 4: Mario is an Avatar, the living representation of the Bootleg Nintendo Universe, meaning if they permanently die, the universe dies. As such, they are repeatedly resurrected from casual deaths for no cost by unknown powers, and the few powers that can truly kill them are treated as DEFCON-1 threats.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: In an alternate timeline, it turns out that if Ice King ever died while his crown still had power, it would then freeze the whole world over for hundreds of years.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: As revealed in "The Pizza", Larry holds so many jobs that his continued employment is essential to keep the town of Elmore's economy running. After he quits, The Apunkalypse ensues.
  • American Dad!: Roger might be a massive Jerkass, but he's also taken on so many personas over the years that they actually make up a fair percentage of Langly Falls, many of whom are so vital to the running of the town that when he is incapacitated and Stan is unwilling to cover for him the town almost ends up destroyed in one night.
  • Dungeons & Dragons (1983): Varla is both this and a Reality Warper. Poor, poor little girl
  • The Life and Times of Juniper Lee: It was never outright stated on the show, but it was strongly hinted that Juniper Lee was one. Even more so in the finale, where June restores the Veil after Auntie Roon had almost succeeded in keeping the Broken Masquerade. June fixes it by reciting the oath of the Te Xuan Ze.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In the season 2 finale, Shining Armor acts as a male version of this trope. His powerful shielding spell is the only thing keeping Canterlot safe during the royal wedding, and when Queen Chrysalis hypnotizes him and saps his magical power, it allows her Changelings to break through and overwhelm the city. Princess Cadance takes over his job at this from Season 3 onward, apparently having his barrier powers, except stronger and with additional powers. Poor Shiny.
    • In the Equestria Girls spinoff, Rarity gets this ability at Camp Everfree, being able to conjure gem-shaped shields that she can also use as platforms. Once she gets her corresponding geode, she's able to use this ability whenever she wants. Later on, Pony Rarity is shown using this same spell against Queen Chrysalis in the series finale.
  • The Simpsons: Convoluted example seen in Marge in Chains. When Marge is arrested and unable to make her popular marshmallow squares for a bake sale, the sale comes up short. Instead of buying a statue of Abraham Lincoln like they'd planned, they are forced to buy one of Jimmy Carter, which outrages the townspeople and leads to rioting and chaos. Maude Flanders later remarked that none of this would have happened if Marge had been present (since they would have been able to purchase the Lincoln statue, or Marge would have been able to do something to set the potential rioters straight).
  • Turtles Forever: The original Mirage Turtles. Their death will trigger the end of The Multiverse.
  • W.I.T.C.H.: Will Vandom and the other Guardians may be partial examples, as the Veil that separates the worlds is drawn from the Heart of Kandracar and the resulting drain on their power makes them weaker during Season 1, Will having the worst of it since it deprives her of any offensive ability; she doesn't even know what her elemental affiliation is! When the Veil is lowered in Season 2, all the Guardians receive a power boost as their powers return, Will gaining the power of Quintessence which is Shock and Awe, the ability to animate objects and give personalities to electrical appliance among other abilities.
    • The Hearts of other worlds, particularly as shown in season 2, are a straighter example. The Big Bad is shown to capture them primarily by manipulating the individual that wields each Heart, and in the process takes possession of the individual along with it. As seen with the Heart of Earth, those who command the Heart of their own world may not even be aware of the fact. We also see a male example... however ambiguously.

Alternative Title(s): Keystone Maiden