Follow TV Tropes

Following

Cadre of Foreign Bodyguards

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/122610_CN_GL_1170.jpg

"I can think of no better men to serve as my bodyguard than those who rescued me from the Ye-tai and guarded me so well during all the long months at Gwailor."
Advertisement:

A character of great power or wealth has their importance underscored by having a cadre of bodyguards from a foreign land. These guards will be elite, disciplined, faintly exotic, and extremely competent.

In fiction, this is usually reserved for villains. The Evil Overlord, Evil Chancellor, Evil Prince, and President Evil all need foreigners to protect them because it's hard to trust your citizenry when you spend most of your day exploiting and oppressing them. Don't be surprised if they are commanded by The Dragon.

Contrary to Hollywood's portrayal, foreign bodyguards were historically very common and very respected. This, of course, pre-dates all the negative stereotypes associated with Private Military Contractors, when hiring mercs was a common way of raising an army; mercenaries who distinguished themselves on the battlefield stood a good chance of being offered a bodyguarding job, which was essentially a permanent exclusive contract. In their favor, a foreigner's loyalty was largely independent from domestic politics, which prevented Bodyguard Betrayal and palace revolutions; and with their exotic look and weapons, they added a welcome touch of grandiosity to a ruler's court, ceremonial and public presentation.

Advertisement:

Part of the Standard Royal Court. Whether their charge is good or evil, they'll stick to their oath of service. They are probably from a Proud Warrior Race and might be The Remnant. Could overlap with Bodyguard Babes if the babes are foreign. Usually does not accompany a Bodyguard Crush. A subtrope to Praetorian Guard.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga  
  • Amaterasu's personal guard, the Mirage Knights in The Five Star Stories, are an ethnically diverse group, though it doesn't really count as most of them come from the planet Delta Belune, the only true One World Order in the series (for most of it, anyway).
  • In Jormungand, in both the anime and manga, almost all of the arms dealers have bodyguards, though notably only Koko and Casper Hekmatyar have truly diverse cadres of bodyguards.
  • Sailor Moon has a rare heroic example in the Four Guardian Goddesses (aka the Inners) who serve Princess Serenity (in the manga at least where it's clearly established they come from their namesake planets and aren't natives of the moon. Also other parts of the franchise that include this fact. Averted in the anime since it's never brought up). Averted in the present day with both the Inners and Outers (they've kind of become Usagi's bodyguards in the present whereas they explicitly were not in the past); they've all been reincarnated as Earthlings just as their princess has. Even more specifically, they're all Japanese from the Azabu-Juuban district of Minato ward in Tokyo.
    • It's possible the Shitennou were/are this to Endymion and his reincarnation Mamoru in the manga and Crystal note . In these versions they're assigned areas to look for the Legendary Silver Crystal (Europe for Zoisite, North America for Nephrite, East Asia for Jadeite, and the Middle East for Kunzite) and it'd be easier for them to be natives of their respective regions so as not to draw attention to themselves, especially since there's not a whole lot of Japanese people outside of Japan and they tend to be concentrated in certain areas in countries where there is a sizable population (i.e. the West Coast of the US). Jadeite could still be Japanese, but his ability to blend in in other East Asian countries would then have to rely on all Asians looking alike and it'd be weird that he saved Japan for last, instead of looking there first. Making it harder is the fact that Mukokuseki is fully in effect for them; they don't really look like they come from anywhere and their origins are never explicitly stated. The closest we get is a mention in the Materials Collection that Kunzite has the air of a Middle Eastern king or something similar, seemingly confirming that he's supposed to be Middle Eastern, which then doesn't make it too far-fetched for the others. Since Endymion is prince of the Earth and Mamoru future king, it'd be nice to avert Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe for once. Regardless of canonicity, it's definitely fanon for some parts of the fandom and there are fics where they're explicitly stated to be non-Japanese; assignment of ethnicity mostly follows the regions given above (which means Jadeite averts it when he's the token Japanese member of the group), except for Kunzite. For some odd reason, it's very hard to find a fic where he's Middle Eastern even though he has the closest thing to a canon ethnicity out of the four.
  • In Dance in the Vampire Bund, Princess Mina's use of the Earth Clan as her personal guard has clear overtones of this. However it is fundamentally an inversion as aside from some trusted human confidants and a defector or two whose whole chain of sires are confirmed as irretrievably dead, the werewolves oath-sworn to guard her are the only beings in the Bund whose obedience Mina cannot compel if she had to.

     Comic Books 
  • In Pathfinder: Worldscape, Empress Camilla (the Scandinavian ruler of a jungle city trapped in another dimension) employs White Martians (in other words, literally aliens) as both her bodyguards and street enforcers.
Advertisement:

     Comic Strips 

     Fan Works  
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series Kaiba hires German Nazis to work as security guards.
  • In The Bridge there is a heroic version when post Heel–Face Turn Xenilla, a kaiju born in deep space and native to Terra, becomes the protector of the Crystal Empire and royal family.
  • In A Thing of Vikings, the Varangian Guard of the Byzantine Empire is a central focus for Snotlout's personal character plotline—and Snotlout ends up introducing Dragon-Riding to the Empire, who cheerfully adopt it as their new great weapon.

     Film  

     Literature  
  • Honor Harrington:
    • The bodyguards for the Hereditary President of the People's Republic of Haven are all from Neo Geneva, partially due to tradition but mostly because (rightly) doesn't trust any Havenites and the Genevans have a reputation for the utmost loyalty. They're intended to be a parallel to the French Kings' Gardes-Suisses (see Real Life).
    • Honor's armsmen hail from Grayson, prompting some ruffled feathers when she has to take armed foreign nationals onto Her Majesty's warships. Though this is technically an aversion, because Honor has dual Manticoran and Grayson citizenship (and titles).
  • Artemis Fowl: The Irish hero is guarded by the Butler family, of Caucasian (as in, from the Caucasus) descent.
  • In the Belisarius Series Princess Shakuntala has a unit of Kushans that were originally her captors before she convinced them in a Moment of Awesome that she was a much more honorable not to mention much prettier employer. It was assumed that anyone who was badass enough to keep Shakuntala captive should also be able to keep her alive.
    • The Big Bad Link has bodyguards from Khmer(Cambodia), both eunuch-soldiers and professional assassins.
  • In Star Trek: Vanguard, the Knowledge Broker Chathani has several Anticans serving as her bodyguards. She mentions that Antican guards are known across the Taurus Reach for their loyalty, and thus it's implied a fully Antican detail is a status symbol.
  • Deryni: The Marluk and his daughter Charissa of Tolan seem to favor black robed Moors as their personal bodyguards and chief lieutenants.
  • El Patron of House of the Scorpion had a bunch of Scottish hooligans as bodyguards, including a couple former terrorists.
  • Subverted in The Granite Shield, in which knights from an alternate England cross the border to protect a Welsh pretender to their own throne during a religious schism between the two.
  • In Paladin of Shadows, the Keldara are descendants of Scots and Vikings brought into the Byzantine Empire to serve in the Varangian Guard, and serve as this to the Keldar (a position always held by a foreigner) in the present.
  • It being a fantasy version of Byzantine Empire the Videssian emperor in various books by Harry Turtledove has his Halogaland guard of large men with axes from the frozen north.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire
    • Prince Doran Martell's personal bodyguard is Areo Hotah, a foreigner trained by the bearded priests of Norvos.
    • For a short time, Tyrion Lannister has bodyguards who are leaders of the various mountain clans that he has recently recruited. The mountain clans are from within the borders of the Seven Kingdoms but exist outside of its feudal society. Although not suited to the Deadly Decadent Court of Kings Landing, Tyrion wants soldiers who are loyal to him personally, as opposed to Lannister household guards who might be beholden to another member of his Big, Screwed-Up Family.
  • In Diamond Sword, Wooden Sword, the Emperor of Mel'in is guarded by naturalized Freefolk warriors.
  • In The Long Ships Orm and his companions serve in the Almohad Caliph Al-Mansur's bodyguard for several years. Orm's brother Are and Olof Summerbird both served in the Varangian Guard in Constantinople.
  • As a Proud Warrior Race, the Noghri in the Star Wars Expanded Universe often appear in this role. Notably, the titular Grand Admiral in The Thrawn Trilogy invokes their species' debt to the Empire to secure their services as his bodyguards and assassins. In the same trilogy, Leia picks up a pair of Noghri bodyguards as well, due to her status as "Lady Vader." She keeps these bodyguards for years afterwards.
  • In The Black Company, in the later novels, the leaders of Taglios, the officers of the Black Company, and at least one Shadowmaster have foreign bodyguards.
  • In Victoria, the tyrannical rulers of Cascadia depend on foreign mercenaries, mostly Swedes and Czechs, to protect their persons and enforce their rule.
  • The Wheel of Time: Rand al'Thor—The Chosen One of almost every prophecy on the planet—gains the Maidens of the Spear, an entire society of the Aiel Proud Warrior Race, as his honor guard after journeying to the Aiel Waste. All Aiel are infamous in the Western countries for being incredibly deadly warriors, but the Maidens are particularly invested in Rand for being the son of a Maiden who publicly declared that they "carry [his] honor".
  • In Eurico the Presbyter, the Arabs are served by Sudanese warriors that act as guardsmen and bodyguards for their emirs and sheikhs.

     Live Action TV  
  • Babylon 5: Michael Garibaldi goes on a mission to the Drazi homeworld. He meets a human friend working as a bodyguard. He tells Garibaldi that rich aliens hire human bodyguards as a status symbol.
  • Game of Thrones: Qhono seems to act as Daenerys's bodyguard. Qhono and a few of his men always loom in Daenerys's throne room, watching. When Jon Snow takes one step forward, Qhono gets in a defensive position.
  • In I, Claudius, one of the difficulties faced in assassinating Caligula is the large contingent of German guards he has around him. He apparently didn't trust his native-born Praetorian Guard and military officers very much (with good reason, as it turned out.)
  • Star Trek occasionally showed Nausicaans serving in this capacity.
    • Given his fearsome appearance, Proud Warrior Race reputation, and position as chief of security on a mostly-human crew, Worf in TNG tends to give off this image, especially when accompanying the away team.

    Music 
  • In one particularly odd example, "Rich Girl" by Gwen Stefani (also known as the lead singer of the band No Doubt) describes Gwen's Japanese backup dancers thus:
    I'd get me four Harajuku girls to
    Inspire me, and they'd come to my rescue
    I'd dress them wicked, I'd give them names
    Love, Angel, Music, Baby — hurry up and come and save me
  • Sabaton's song "The Last Stand" is about Pope Clement VII's Swiss mercenary guards protecting him during the 1527 sack of Rome by mutinous Protestant troops from the Holy Roman Empire.

     Tabletop RPG  
  • Traveller Classic, Book 4 Mercenary. One of the mercenary tickets (scenarios) was to act as bodyguards to the leaders of the planet Jokotre while they made a pilgrimage to the shrines in the holy lands.
  • In Warhammer 40,000 a Dark Eldar Archon can have a cadre of xeno bodyguards for their protection, because they're not motivated by Chronic Backstabbing Disorder which is prevalent in most of the Dark Eldar. The usual bodyguard of choice (and the only ones there are currently game rules for) are the hulking four-armed snake-like Ssslyth, who are known for their loyalty.
    • A less ostentatious variant are Incubi, who are Dark Eldar, but hail from a different Kabal. Since they aren't actually underlings of the Archon they're guarding, this protects both their charge and their true masters from the possibility of Klingon Promotion at the same time, while making one of them safer and the other richer.
  • Warhammer
    • The Phoenix Kings of the High Elves have traditionally been guarded by a contingent of Chracian White Lion Huntsmen, ever since an incident when the third Phoenix King � Caledor the Conqueror � had his life saved from Dark Elf Assassins while out hunting in Chrace himself. In that the Phoenix King is the sovereign ruler of Chrace along with the other nine kingdoms of Ulthuan, the White Lions are not mercenaries but loyal subjects, but since none of the twelve Phoenix Kings so far have ever been Chracians themselves, they're still foreign bodyguards in that sense.
    • Warhammer's version of the Varangian Guard are Hungs and Norscans employed by rich citizens. Anyone who knows anything about their religion knows how stupid this is.
    • The Regiments of Renown have a special character called the Paymaster, who is protected by four ogre bodyguards. If he dies, the regiment disbands since there's no one to pay them.
  • In Eberron, mercenaries and bodyguards are one of the main exports of Darguun, a nation of traditional monster races. (That's one of them in the page image above.)
  • Pathfinder features a little Genius Bonus; the corrupt, convoluted, falling empire of Taldor, inheritors of a proud legacy that is being drained out through war and internal strife, has a bunch of Ulfen Guard serving the royals as their elite. The Taldans, geographically, come close to being an Expy for the Byzantines. The Ulfen are culturally the Theme Park Version of vikings. See Real Life, below.

     Video Games  
  • In Jagged Alliance 2 while Deidranna mainly uses We Have Reserves forced conscripts, at least one (the others may be, but they don't have names or faces) of her close bodyguards are foreign mercenaries. Of course, by the game's premise, all but a small handful of the party are foreign mercs as well.
  • The relationship between the hanar and the drell in Mass Effect is this trope on a species level. Since the hanar rescued the drell from dying out on their starved and overpopulated homeworld, many drell choose to serve them in some fashion and serve as assassins for them.
  • In Dishonored, protagonist Corvo Attano is not a native of the island of Gristol where the game takes place, and whose Empress he is the bodyguard of. However, this isn't a regular occurrence. In fact, Corvo is the first non-Gristolian Royal Protector in recorded history, and there is much speculation in-universe as to what bearing this has on his actions and motivations. It is eventually revealed that he and Empress Jessamine were romantically involved, and Emily Kaldwin is their child.
  • One of the possible endings for Spectre's mercenary company in MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries is to earn a cushy contract serving as these for Peter Davion-Steiner's regime after helping lead them to victory over their rivals (the Steiner-Davions). Spectre even notes that the "official histories" downplayed his role but, hey, he's getting paid enough not to care.
  • The Kingsglaive in Final Fantasy XV are tasked with the protection of the Lucian royal family and carrying out other sensitive missions outside the purview of the regular military. The prequel film Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV reveals that almost all the members of the Kingsglaive are immigrants from Lucian vassal states. This turns out to be a problem when Lucis's negotiations with The Empire and its expanding borders means politics stops being local and starts affecting their homelands.
  • Prince Sebastian Lacroix in Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines has a hulking African vampire, who is completely mute, as his Sheriff. Considering vampires normally tend to be Manipulative Bastards who avoid direct confrontation if they can avoid it, his unknown origins, inability/unwillingness to speak and physical power makes him very good at his job. He is the Final Boss of the game if you choose to go after Lacroix in the ending.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • In the backstory, the Tsaesci of Akavir invaded Tamriel in the late 1st Era during the reign of Reman Cyrodiil. Reman was able to defeat them, using the Thu'um against them at the decisive Battle of Pale Pass. The Tsaesci, who detest all dragons, recognized Reman as "Dragonborn," who they believe to be the ultimate dragon slayers. They surrendered and swore fealty to Reman, who incorporated the surviving Tsaesci into his armies and took their Dragonguard on as his personal bodyguard in the fashion of this trope. They would go on to influence the Blades, who would act as spies and bodyguards for all later emperors of Tamriel (at least until the 4th Era when they were forcibly disbanded as part of the White-Gold Concordant).
    • In Morrowind's Tribunal expansion, Hlaalu Helseth, King of Morrowind, has this going on. His strongest bodyguard, Karrod, is a Redguard. The Captain of the Royal Guards, Tienius Delitian, is an Imperial. Alusannah, another Redguard, is the personal bodyguard of Helseth's mother Barenziah. There are still plenty of Dunmer Royal Guards — although notably, none of the guards that followed Helseth to Morrowind were Bretons despite that he came from High Rock (the Breton home province) after having lived as a prince of a regional kingdom there for at least nearly two decades.
  • In For Honor, the Shugoki class were originally this for the Dawn Empire. The trailer for the class states that the Shugoki were new allies who joined the Dawn Empire's people when they settled their new lands, and served as bodyguards and protectors. Since then, they have "become as family" to the people living in the Dawn Empire, to the point that two Shugoki are considered Daimyo who can vie for the Imperial throne.
  • Crusader Kings II lets you recruit landless foreign noblemen and use them as Mook Commanders. They usually have to be in your own religious group (otherwise the fact that you're infidels relative to each other tends to put the noble's Relationship Values below the required threshold), but it's completely possible to be an Irish Catholic duke with a Greek or African general leading your army.

     Visual Novel  
  • In Ace Attorney Investigation 2, The President of Zheng Fa hired a private security firm during his visit to Gourd Lake. As explained by the game, this is due to the President's remarkably strained relationship with the police force of Zheng Fa, not exactly helped by his dwindling popularity.

     Web Comics  

     Western Animation  
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Azula, the Fire Nation princess, brings back Dai Li agents from the Earth Kingdom and they serve as her own personal elite squad of guards. This ends up being particularly useful to her during the eclipse: the eclipse may turn off Firebending, severely limiting a Firebender's ability to fight, but the Dai Li are Earthbenders, and thus are unaffected.
  • The Penguin in The Batman has just returned from a trip to eastern Asia where he acquired two ninja-like bodyguards wearing kabuki masks that he loves to flaunt
  • Archer: Isis is hired to protect the pope from an assassination plot by a group of Swiss guards. Lana is incensed to discover that Archer's opinion of them is based on their ceremonial gear, and didn't bring guns because they won't need them against halberds, which he notes aren't very practical.
    "Of course they aren't! That's why now... they carry MP5s!"

     Real Life  
  • The Imperial German Bodyguard, a cadre of Germans (from outside the borders of the The Roman Empire) whose job it was to guard the Julio-Claudian emperors. The most important thing they defended them from was the Praetorian Guardnote . Yes, the early emperors of Rome had a group of bodyguards, whose job it was to protect them from their own bodyguards.
    • Particularly during the rather piecemeal conquest of Britain, which at times became one-tribe-at-a-time, the Romans would "gift" a cohort of legionaries to a tribal ruler who agreed to submit to Rome to serve as their bodyguards. Of course, guarding the new puppet ruler was a secondary priority. Their actual role was to keep an eye on the new subjects of the Empire and crush any resistance before it truly had a chance to begin.
  • The Byzantine Empire followed the Roman tradition, hiring personal guards during its long history from such diverse foreign ethnicities as Armenians, Kievan Rus, Scandinavians, Anglo-Saxons, Normans, Sicilians and Turks. The most famous of these cadres was The Varangian Guard, which was founded by the Rus and later became a favoured career option for Scandinavian nobles - including Harald Hardrada, before he became King of Norway (popular legend has it that the Emperor didn't want him to leave, so he escaped, and nicked about a third of the treasury in the process), tried to conquer England in 1066, before being killed at the Battle of Stamford Bridge - and exiled Anglo-Saxons post-conquest. Unlike the Praetorian Guard, they were notoriously loyal, but more to the position of Emperor than the individual.
  • The Western Trope Codifier today is likely the Swiss Guards that protect the Pope. The silly pants may make them seem a little like Bunny Ears Lawyers, but they were a terror on the battlefield in the late 1400s to early 1500s, and they retain their tradition faithfully. And while they look silly, anyone trying to do harm to His Holiness will come to realize, to their detriment, that they are highly trained military professionals—they have all completed basic training with the Swiss Army, are chosen according to exacting standards of physical fitness, and are given further training once they arrive in the Guards. And although they are most often seen with their ceremonial weapons (swords and halberds) for guard duty, this is in reality their version of the 18th-century uniforms worn by the British Royal Guards; when actually guarding the Pope, they carry the standard-issue weapons of the Swiss Army: the SIG Sauer P220 handgun, the SIG SG 550 assault rifle, and the MP5 submachine gun … and they wear more practical, monochrome uniforms while at it.
  • The Gardes-Suisses (Swiss Guards) of the French kings, including the more ceremonial body-guards, the Cents-Suisses (Hundred Swiss). During the French Revolution they, unlike the Gardes-Francaises (French Guards), who sympathized with the Revolution, remained true to Louis XVI and were killed during the storming of the Tuileries in 1792.
    • The French monarchy also had the Garde Écossaise (Scots Guards), originally a company of knights and mounted archers part of a Scottish expeditionary force during The Hundred Years War that king Charles VII kept with him. With time they formally became his bodyguards, and, as their ranks were enlarged and filled with Frenchmen, became the first company of the Garde du Corps du Roi (Bodyguards of the King), the main cavalry regiment of the royal guard.
  • Napoleon's Imperial Guard included a squadron of Mamluks (the nucleus of which had been brought over from Egypt, although as time progressed more and more Frenchmen filled the ranks), a regiment of Polish lancers (raised in 1806/7), and a squadron of Lithuanian Tatars (raised in 1812). One squadron of Polish Lancers accompanied him to exile in Elba and later served in the Waterloo campaign.
  • Older Than Feudalism: King David's Kerethites and Pelethites (Cretans and Philistines) in 2 Samuel 15 in The Bible
  • The Eastern Trope Codifier? The Circassian Guard which protects the King of Jordan.
  • During the Russian Civil War, the Red top brass was guarded by the Latvian Riflemen. Also, they got Chinese mercenaries — usually converted from workers who ended up "marooned" when the empire gone down. These were also used in the guards role. which later was codified as the special unit: "The First International Legion of Red Army".
  • African mercenaries seem to be the personal choice of many dictators, when the loyalty of their own army becomes suspect. Due to the frequent wars and disintegrating states in parts of African many of these are quite experienced and well equipped.
  • The Ottoman Empire's Janissaries, who were Christian children enslaved at a young age from subject territories (mostly those in eastern Europe) and trained into elite military units. The system was engineered to create and ensure loyalty to the Ottoman Sultan alone and prevent the rise of a native military and bureaucratic aristocracy that could rival him. The several Janissary revolts happened once this way of recruiting loosened (as early as the end of the 16th century; it totally ended in the 18th).
    • The Ottomans likely got this idea from the Ghilmans, slave-soldiers of Turkic origin used in Muslim Persia after the rise of the Abbasid dynasty, and the also-foreign-slave-soldier Mamluks of Egypt. Similarly to the Janissaries, these ended up laxing their standards and getting locals involved, got too much temporal power and rebelled against their rulers (or, in the case of the Mamluks, became the rulers).
  • King of Poland John Sobieski used former Janissaries taken as POWs as part of his Autorament.
  • The Walloon Guards. Walloons from Belgium who protected the monarchs of Spain from 1734 to 1820.
  • In 1373 the ruling regent of Cyprus, John of Antioch, was convinced by his sister-in-law, Eleanor, that his Bulgarian bodyguards were going to betray him, and had them all thrown off the highest tower of St Hilarion Castle. Eleanor had him killed a very short time later.
  • The Presidential Guard of Gabon was officered until the late 90s by veterans of the French Foreign Legion, particularly the disbanded 1st Parachute Regiment. One of them, Louis-Pierre "Loulou" Martin, served President Omar Bongo from 1967 to 1993.
  • Watchguard International (established by SAS founder David Stirling) used to supply ex-SAS and British military bodyguards for African and Arabian leaders. The suggestion has been made that this was an unofficial means of maintaining a British presence in former colonies who might find it politically unacceptable to ask for British military aid.
  • During the Spanish Civil War, the Nationalists' regulares, colonial troops drawn from the native populations of Spain's North African colonies, so distinguished themselves in battle that after the war Franco formed a personal guard known as the Guardia Mora (Moorish Guard), who dressed in exotic native uniforms and rode white Arabian horses.

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report