A person (usually The Hero) has her or his motivation built around protecting another person. Most of the time, it's his or her Love Interest, but it could also be her or his sibling/s, or friends, or child(ren), or parents/parental figure.
In Anime, the sentence "Zettai ni mamoru!" is likely to be used—if not spoken aloud, then thought. Depending on context, this can mean anything from a literal "I'll protect you from danger" to a more comradely "I'll watch your back" to akin to a Love Confession, i.e. "I'll always be there for you." Because of this, expect the recipient to respond with a Luminescent Blush regardless of what she says.
Almost every time, some sort of complication or detail will be brought up in this situation.
- The protected person is capable of looking after themself. The protector has a hard enough time keeping up with them, much less being of any use, and will often chastise themself for failing to live up to their perceived duty as protector. Inevitably, however, the protected will get into trouble, at which point the hero's Heroic Resolve will manifest and they'll become suddenly competent as they leap to save them.
- The protector fails to protect the protectee, resulting in the latter's death. This will be their Greatest Failure. In this case, the relationship is more likely to be part of the backstory. It might have been the former protector's Start of Darkness, as they went over to The Dark Side while seeking revenge, or went mad while seeking to bring the protected back. Or maybe the protector just cracked and turned into a Death Seeker. If the protected person survived despite their failure, the effects will be less severe, but all of the above can still occur—there's just a better chance of redemption later on. If the protector has to protect multiple people, and fails at doing so, then they're effectively a Doom Magnet and tend to suffer Survivor Guilt.
- The protected person is normal, and the protector is not... and the main reason the protected is even in danger is that someone is hunting the protector. Thus, the protector feels compelled to part with the protected, or run away from any other responsibilities to keep them safe. It almost never works. Note that most of the examples in It's Not You, It's My Enemies do not apply here—for it to qualify, protecting that person has to be the character's main driving motivation—so, for example, Spider-Man wouldn't qualify, since he knows he has a greater responsibility to protect the entire city, and the world. (And let's not even mention One More Day...)
- The protector protects their person, but at the cost of their own life, or nearly so. If the protector dies, it could be a Start of Darkness for the protected, as guilt and anger push them towards extreme action. If the protector survives, it's more likely to work as a Berserk Button, but it might also compel the protected to try and push them away so they won't get hurt again.
- The protected person turns out to be The Mole, or just plain bad news. The protector likely won't see this, even if other try to tell them—and it's fairly likely that they won't realize it 'till the protected person finally stabs him in the back. It can turn out in a lot of different ways, but it's usually quite tragic. If the protector kills their (former) protected in response, it'll probably turn out that the traitor was acting under duress, and the protector will be swallowed by grief and regret. If the protector dies by the traitor's hand, they'll probably realize that they really did love them, and be swallowed by grief and regret. But if the protector continued to insist on protecting the protected, even after they've shown their True Colors, they might realize that they really does love them before they kill them, and be redeemed by love.
- "Protecting" turns out to be more complicated and morally ambiguous than it sounds. Maybe the protected person has some sort of weird power that makes a lot of people fear them, or maybe the very layout of the world makes it impossible for them to live in peace. The hero may be forced to fight and kill more-or-less innocent people who attack the protected person out of fear, or orchestrate rebellions and war in order to change the world for their love's benefit—either way, there's bound to be a lot of victims, and the "hero" will start to look less and less heroic.
- In the past, the protected person did something for the protector. Either saved their life, pulled them out of non-lethal trouble, gave them something they needed, befriended them when nobody else was willing to, etc. So the protector cherishes said moment in which the protected was there for them, feels indebted to them, and decides to protect them as a way to pay them back for their help. Debts must be paid, after all... even if it involves going to Hell and back to not owe that person anything.
Naturally, not all cases will fit neatly into one of these categories, and of course, there are cases where there isn't really any major complications just someone protecting another person from the Monster of the Week, for as long as it takes. Sometimes the declaration is mutual, and you get a Battle Couple.
Related tropes are numerous. Effectively, it is a subtrope of the Protectorate and The Champion. Bodyguard Crush is when the protection comes before the emotions. The Dulcinea Effect is when this absolute dedication pops up all of 10 seconds after he first sees her. Mama Bear and Papa Wolf are when it's a parent protecting their child. This trope is part of the job description for Lady and Knight. In ancient times, becoming someone's guest automatically put you under their protection, leading to a lot of this. If the protector is smarter, more grounded in reality, or more competent than the protectee, or perceived to be, that person is the Cloud Cuckoolanders Minder.
Warning! Some of these examples will be spoilers solely by virtue of which "type" they get placed under!
The protected person is a Badass themselves.
- Kekkaishi: Yoshimuri has sworn to protect Tokine, but while he has a great deal of raw power in the art of Kekkaishi, Tokine is vastly superior in terms of skill and refinement - so he can barely keep up with her, and usually ends up needing her help in a fight. (In truth, they're pretty evenly matched, but she's too proud to admit it and constantly belittles his lack of skill - which he takes to heart, causing him to often convince himself that he was no help at all, even though his raw power was as important in defeating the Monster of the Week as her technique.)
- In Digimon Adventure, Takeru promised to Sora that he'd protect Hikari. Fast forward to Digimon Adventure 02 and Takeru still takes that promise seriously even if Hikari by now can take care of herself (provided an Eldritch Location isn't messing with her head). To wit, he is seen putting himself protectively in front of Hikari (episode 3), seemed angry at himself for accidentally leaving her stranded in the Digital World (episode 7), and doggedly searched for her when she was taken by the Dark Ocean (episode 13).
- In Dragon Crisis!, Ryuuji does this for Ai. She is able to read his thoughts due to magical earrings she was wearing at the time. Although she learns that he's scared, he still tries to protect her, long enough for the Big Damn Heroes to show up to help him.
- Kanae Katagiri vowed to protect the more powerful Ryuuken no matter what the cost, and that no matter what happened she would never, ever leave his side. She is later murdered by The Emperor; Souken implies Ryuuken's made a similar declaration to ensure his and Kanae's badass son, Uryuu, does not share his mother's fate.
- In the wild, Harribel lived as close as she could to a life of non-violence and starvation to defy the Social Darwinist laws of Hueco Mundo. Since then, she has been motivated to fight by a desire to keep her few friends from dying... and these friends are her Amazon Brigade.
- In Ōkami-san, Hopeless Suitor Ryoshi Morino says almost the exact same words to Love Interest Ryoko Ookami, which consequently leads to the latter developing feelings for the former.
- Shuuyu has this problem in Ikki Tousen. He's a skilled fighter, even amongst his fellow 'reincarnated Romance of the Three Kingdoms warriors', but he doesn't have quite the same level of world-shaking power as his Bodyguard Crush, Sonsaku. The fact that Sonsaku is Oblivious to Love and a fight-loving Blood Knight does little to improve his situation - her first reaction to him declaring his intent to protect her even at the cost of his own life, is to ask if he's eaten something strange...
- The eponymous character of Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple has sworn to just about everyone in earshot that he'll become strong enough to protect his Love Interest, Miu. Naturally, since she's the granddaughter of the man who owns the dojo that Kenichi attends, she's a far better fighter than him.
- Guts from Berserk falls into both the first and second categories listed above. He did everything he could to save Casca during the Eclipse, up to and including chiseling off his own left wrist, and she was still raped in front of him by Femto. She survived, but her mind was completely gone. Her fate is most of what fuels his post-Eclipse Unstoppable Rage during battle and continuous Roaring Rampage of Revenge. Later, when Guts puts said roaring rampage on hold, his top priority is to protect Casca above all else - even from himself.
- Soul Eater: While rather understated (as in it's clear to the reader, but he hardly shouts about it) it's plainly one of Soul's motivations for protecting Maka. He insists its because it's his job as a Weapon. It fits whether or not you view them as a canon couple. Jackie shows a similar angle towards Kim with aforementioned connotations. Though the basic sentiment extends to most Weapon/meister team and works both ways.
- Dance in the Vampire Bund:
- While Akira and Mina generally fit in this category, it's complicated by the fact that they're a match for each other. Though to be frank if Mina had to watch her own back all the time she'd have absolutely no time left to rule, and Akira has "protecting her" in his job description.
- In Pokémon Adventures, admittedly, it takes only a little while for Lady Berlitz to become an Action Girl, but nevertheless, Dia and Pearl swear to protect her with their lives after they learn the truth about the whole situation surrounding her though Dia did have a good idea of what was really going on the whole time and when her real bodyguards get banished into the Distortion World.
- Ayashi no Ceres: Shiso and Ceres have an Inter Species Romance-type marriage, with him as a human and her as a Magical Girl of sorts. After they're attacked and he cannot help her fight off their attackers, Shiso decides that he doesn't want to be The Load and asks Ceres to give him a part of her powers, so he can fulfill this trope. Said powers drive him literally crazy for Ceres, with dire consequences.
- Angel Beats! uses this with Hinata and Yuri/Yurippe here and also they're both immortal.
- In Sekirei, Minato often ends up doing this for the Sekirei he eventually becomes their Ashikbabi for. This helps win over many of them, such as Musubi, his first Sekirei, Kusano, and later Tsukiumi.
- Though it doesn't start out this way, protecting Hatchin becomes one of Michiko's main motives in Michiko & Hatchin. Later this trope is touchingly inverted when Hatchin proves to be pretty badass herself and says, almost line-for-line, that she will protect Michiko.
- Kurando's primary motivation in Popcorn Avatar is to protect his twin sister from the Asura and maintain a world where she can safely live in.
- Code Geass: Lelouch has this strange habit of personally jumping into mobile suit combat whenever Kallen (who is one of the best soldiers in his army) is in trouble, even if it means putting himself in danger. He claims it's just because she's too valuable a resource to lose but the essence is this trope.
- In X1999, Yuzuriha Nekoi verbally invokes the trope in the manga as she and Arashi Kishuu speaks about the guys they like. The dude Yuzu wants to protect? Shiryuu Kusanagi, a man who not only is more than twice her age, but is a member of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces and quite the badass among the Dragons of the Earth.
- Similarly, Lady of War Arashi's suitor is Sorata Arisugawa, a Religious Bruiser and fellow Dragon of the Heaven. Upon seeing her up close for the first time, Sorata decided to protect her. This is because he's prophesied to die to protect a woman, he knows it clearly, and he thought he'd at least die for a pretty girl and chooses Arashi at first due to her Aloof Dark-Haired Girl traits. And from then on Sorata gets Arashi to gradually defrost, and they fight together... and get together. But things go From Bad to Worse.
- In Girls und Panzer, Maho's ultimate goal in living up to the standards for the Nishizumi heiress is so that her younger sister Miho can live and do tankery as she wishes, without having to take up the responsibility in her stead. It takes six years, from near the end of the prequel manga to the last episode of the first series, but Miho ultimately finds a way of Tankery that she can do, and Maho is very pleased with this.
Maho: As long as I'm the heir to the Nishizumi school... Miho will be free.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, Friendly Sniper Riza Hawkeye spends all her time Bodyguarding a Badass. It is her sworn duty to protect the Flame Alchemist, Colonel Badass Roy Mustang; she even tells the young Winry Rockbell that this is the reason she's in the military despite her own dislike of it.
- Mahou Sensei Negima!: Asuna is Negi's ministra magi and thus responsible for protecting the Squishy Wizard while he casts his spells. In response, Negi pushes himself to become stronger so she doesn't have to protect him and put herself in danger. While competing in Mahora Fest's Tournament she loudly declared to Negi that she was plenty powerful enough to protect him. Then she became profoundly embarrassed because she was fighting at that moment and the entire crowd interpreted her declaration as a love confession.
- A very Tsundere example is Hitoyoshi from Medaka Box. Despite loudly complaining about Medaka dragging him into trouble since they were about 2 years old, he admits to himself that he's entirely dedicated to protecting her... despite the fact that she's The Paragon, possessing the ability to excel at literally anything she does, along with near-superhuman physical abilities and an outright unnatural charisma that tends to overwhelm anyone who stands against her. She is fully aware of this, but nonetheless DEPENDS on him - because he's the only one who still tries to protect her, while everyone else sees her as The Ace thus more than able to protect herself. But because Badass Normal Hitoyoshi is always by her side and willing to take the lumps that comes with it, she can focus entirely on helping others - which is the only thing that gives her a sense of accomplishment.
- Kurogane Taito of Itsuka Tenma no Kuro Usagi starts out as a rather extreme case of this. He's a borderline Badass Normal thanks to a childhood as a Karate prodigy, but otherwise an Ordinary High-School Student. She is Saitohimea, an incalculably ancient vampire sorceress with a literally godlike powerlevel , handily clocking in at a 6 on the Super Weight scale. And yet, he desperately wants to protect her. The balance gradually gets evened out, though, starting with her giving him the Kiss of the Vampire, supplying him with pseudo-immortality, and later granting him access to a Dangerous Forbidden Technique which kills the user - handy when you can auto-revive. Shortly after, she trades most of her magical power away in a Deal with the Devil to resurrect him after he manages to get himself perma-killed - though of course that just makes him even MORE determined to protect her. Add in some good old Training from Hell, and we start to reach the point where he can conceivably be considered her protector...
- Might also count as an inverted case of 'it got complicated'... Saitohimea has been on the edge of a Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum due to immortal loneliness before, and her relationship with Taito is all that's keeping her (relatively) sane at the moment. Hence, MAINTAINING their relationship is of no small interest to a number of organizations with a vested interest in the continued existence of the universe.
- In Saki Achiga-hen, Yuu's younger sister Kuro often protected her from bullies while the two were young, who picked on her for wearing warm clothing in summer due to being chilled easily. During the quarter-finals, however, when Kuro comes up to Yuu in tears over losing so many points, Yuu comforts her and declares her intention to win the points back, mentally expressing her determination to stand up for her sister.
- In Naruto Rock Lee promises to protect Sakura during the second exam of the Chuunin Exams, risking his life to protect her even though they aren't even teammates and nearly dies protecting her, even pushing his body to attack when it was deemed impossible for him to move.
- In Hunter × Hunter, "I will definitely protect Gon" practically becomes Killua's Survival Mantra during part of the Chimera Ant arc.
- One Piece: Ace swore to protect his younger brother Luffy, both out of love for him and as a promise to their other "brother" Sabo, who he thought was dead. Indeed, Ace spent most of his childhood as Luffy's protector, and ultimately gave his life to protect him during the Paramount War (which in itself was a tragedy, as Luffy spent most of the war trying to save Ace from execution). Years later, Sabo, the third brother, reveals that he is alive to Luffy. Later on, as he battles Admiral Fujitora, he told his opponent that if Luffy were to ask for his aid, no matter where he was in the world, he would drop everything and be at his side in an instant. There is a quick flash to his reaction to Ace's death, and the look of pain on his face makes his reasons clear: he lost Ace, and he'll never know whether or not his brother could have been saved if he had acted. He won't take that risk and lose Luffy as well.
- In The Testament of Sister New Devil, Basara actually kicks out Mio and Maria, his newly adopted stepsisters, after finding out they're actually a demon lord in training and a succubus. They try to brainwash him into leaving his house, but it doesn't work. After he learns more about their past however, he changes his mind and instead tries to protect them from the rival demon faction trying to kill her.
- While initially this isn't the case, Mikasa's relationship with Eren in Attack on Titan becomes this when it is revealed that Eren is a titan shifter. Years ago Mikasa's parents were murdered in front of her, Eren killed the criminals and then took her into his family; after the disappearance of Eren's dad and the death of his mother, he is the only family she has left.
- Nanoha does this for Vivio in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Strikers. Vivio is a clone of the the local Crystal Dragon Jesus (who was considered to be the strongest fighter of all time) and was convinced that she should die (since her only purpose was to power a massive battleship), so it also had shades of "I'll save you from yourself". It was also the moment where Nanoha decided that she was going to adopt Vivio. And since this is Nanoha, she does this while they're being forced to fight each other.
Vivio: Mama, save me!
Nanoha: I will. Whenever, no matter what happens!
- Seraph of the End: Yuu and Mika declare this about each other with all the Ho Yay implications attached.
- Asuna arrives just in time to save Kirito (THE badass of Sword Art Online) from a near death at the hands of Laughing Coffin assassin Kuradeel. After sharing their first kiss, Kirito offers his life to Asuna and she declares that she will do anything to protect him, no matter what. As a level 96 "floor-clearing badass", she has the skills to back this declaration up. In the final battle with Heathcliff, she attempts to make good on this promise by absorbing the would-be final blow to Kirito, sacrificing herself to save him.
- Hauyuki Arita, main character of Accel World, made a vow to support and protect his leader Kuroyukihime in the Brain Burst game. This despite Black Lotus, one of the top seven players in the game, being leagues above Silver Crow. It's actually part of Haru's character development that he's trying to make himself worthy of being her knight. The fact that he's actually be able to make good on this declaration a couple of times is a Moment of Awesome for him.
- In Il Sole penetra le illusioni, Luna promises to protect Akari shortly after they met, and Akari says she'll do her best too. Eventually Cerebrum uses Luna's love for Akari to turn her into a Daemonia, but she gets better and then teams up with Seira, whom she was initially jealous of, to keep her promise and save Akari from Cerebrum.
- In Fairy Tail, Gray, after being locked in an Involuntary Battle to the Death with Juvia and attempting a Heroic Suicide to avoid having to harm her, only to see that she did the same thing, laments the outcome, saying that he didn't just want to see her come to harm as a friend, but wanted to protect her. While Gray's somewhat stronger than Juvia, Juvia is still a capable mage in her own right, and this is played as a possible hint that Gray is starting to return Juvia's feelings.
- In Pandora Hearts, Gilbert Nightray repeatedly swears to protect his master, Oz Vessalius—not simply out of obligation, but because he adores Oz. There's no shortage of one-sided Ho Yay implications here.
- In Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games, Peeta devotes himself to this cause for Katniss, who spends most of her time in the series kicking asses and taking names. He generally devolves into The Load because he saves Katniss' life by fighting off Cato and gets a sword to the leg for his troubles. In the second book it's less heroic, but getting electrocuted would slow most people down. In the third book, the Capital, aware this trope is in effect, turns it against them both in a sadistic way: brainwashing Peeta to assassinate her on sight.
- In the Odd Thomas novels, Odd promises to protect the mysterious Annamaria. Over the next few books, she does a lot more to keep him safe than he ever does for her. Odd Lampshades it several times.
- Kings of the Wyld: Gabe gathers his old band, crosses thousands of miles, and engages a horde of monsters so big that they are the horizon, all to save his daughter, who is a mercenary fighting said horde.
- Journey to Chaos: Eric vowed to protect his love interest, Annala, and while she initially needed it, he maintains this vow even after she becomes an Action Girl archer and develops offensive holy magic. It is at this point that Annala makes a similar vow. Her boyfriend may be a Magic Knight but even he would have trouble fighting a Grim Reaper by himself.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer runs on this trope. Most if not all the main characters are committed to protecting each other, as well as a good number of guest stars as well.
- In Chinese Paladin, Xiaoyao marries and swears to protect Ling'er. He takes this vow very seriously although initially she is far a more powerful combatant than him and all she needs is his emotional support. However, as the series progresses he Takes A Level In Badass and it becomes Just That Simple between them.
- Doctor Who: In "The Parting of the Ways", temporarily-empowered Rose Tyler, as the Bad Wolf entity, declares this for the Doctor.
"I want you safe. My Doctor. Protected from the false god."
- Another Joss Whedon show: nearly everything Paul Ballard does on Dollhouse is to protect Echo...even before he actually meets her.
- River Tam in Firefly is a slight variation; she really did need and want her brother Simon's protection, but that was because she was so erratic that she needed a stabilizing influence. Despite her abilities and combat training she's still scared and confused about herself and the world around her. Simon, despite possessing a Big Brother Instinct to rival the Captain's own, had an unimposing appearance and soft-spoken nature unless he needed to protect someone (like a patient endangered by an incompetent surgeon).
- Kamen Rider Ex-Aid plays with this. Nico Saiba is the most badass Ride-Player around, but still needs to be looked after by Taiga Hanaya, who's ability is in a completely different league than her.
- On The Vampire Diaries, Stefan, who is the hero, devotes his immortal, undead life and makes constant sacrifices (including sacrificing himself or risking his life) in order to protect and save Elena, the heroine (or more like damsel in distress) from possible harm and dangers of the supernatural in the town of Mystic Falls.
- Arado Balanga from Super Robot Wars Original Generation 2 is a pretty good Mecha-Pilot, objectively speaking - but as a graduate of 'The School', he's at the bottom of the heap - especially compared to his partner, Seolla, who's one of the best, period. But he's sworn to protect her, and protect her he does - whenever she ends up in a pinch, he goes Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass, whether that means fighting off an otherwise-supreme opponent, or taking a bullet for her. Sometimes both.
- An odd twist on this for both Knights of the Old Republic if you're playing female. In the first, Carth knows damn well you could skewer him on a lightsaber and not muss your hair. Still does not stop him from admitting that trying to protect you is his reason to live after Saul Karath dies painfully. In the second game, Atton's overt about it. Bao-Dur is more subtle, but still frighteningly loyal to his "general." In both Carth's case and Bao-Dur's, the "protection" they offer is more or less trying to act as the Morality Pet for a female Player Character in order to help prevent her from falling to the Dark Side.
- Persona 3: It's a gender reversal, and it's after everything is over (until FES), but Aigis sort of qualifies with her wanting to protect the main character...who can certainly fend for himself.
Chie: Um, well... I also want to protect you... I might be a little flaky... And maybe you don't even need protecting... But... I... I want to protect you...
- Akihiko Sanada is a straight example across all of P3's releases, with his resolution (which brings about his Persona Polydeuces' transformation into Caesar) being his resolve to protect all of SEES, but he plays it straightest if he becomes a female protagonist's Love Interest in the Playstation Portable version of the game. He also has ties to the "failed to protect" category, as his younger sister Miki died in a house fire when he was a child, and later on, his childhood friend and Guest-Star Party Member Shinjiro is murdered.
- In Persona 4 Chie does this as a Love Confession of sorts, which prompts you to ask her to be your girlfriend or say "I'm counting on you" to remain Just Friends.
- Al, towards his childhood friend Erel in Evil Zone. Yes, he's a very powerful Magical Boy Warrior and the Big Bad they're facing is a Game-Breaker Sealed Evil in a Can, but she's a pretty skilled Cute Bruiser too.
- Tales of Graces: Main characters Asbel and Sophie argue over who gets to protect whom, until Asbel challenges Sophie to a footrace to settle the matter...and loses. Sophie saves the group from certain death more than once throughout the game, and is canonically one of the most powerful fighters in the party. ( Halfway through the main arc, when Asbel is given an opportunity to defeat her in single combat).
- Eternal Sonata: One of Princess Serenade's level up quotes is "I will protect Prince Cresendo." The prince in question is Knight in Shining Armor and she's a Princess Classic. It works because she has formitable magic power.
- After Bartlett is shot down in Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War protecting Edge she becomes very determined to protect you. Badass? There's a myth about the Demons of Razgriz that applied to the Wardog squadron, and they may indeed be literal demons if one mid game mission is anything to go by.
- In Xenoblade Chronicles, at any point when both Fiora and Shulk are in the party, you can count on this popping up in their battle quotes. Melia too, and the other members of the team at various points, will also make similar statements. Of course, give then fact that one of them wields nigh-godly power, and the other is a combat cyborg, and the entire team is a Badass Crew, no one character really needs to protect another, per se. Doesn't stop them from declaring it regardless.
Shulk: (On using Light Heal on Fiora) Fiora, I will protect you!Fiora: (On leveling up) I will use this power to protect Shulk!Melia: (Also on leveling up) I will use this power to protect my friends!
- Commander Shepard is the galaxy's ultimate badass; however, a certain dialogue path with Ash will have her invoke this trope. While Ash does so very tongue in cheek, she lives up to that promise.
- The Eirika-Innes supports in Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones start out with this when Innes declares he's going to guard Eirika to pay her back for rescuing him before. Their next support opens with him complaining that she keeps on going ahead of him to attack enemies... because he's an archer, and archers are pretty much obligated to stay in the back because they can't attack adjacent units and she, as a swordswoman, obviously can, and he's not happy about the visual.
- In Project X Zone 2: Brave New World, Chun-Li declares that she's going to protect Ling Xiaoyu after she accidentally barges in on a confrontation between Chun-Li against Vega/M. Bison, Juri Han, Saya and her henchmen, and Sheath. While Xiaoyu can fight, being targeted by a lot of bad guys is probably a bad idea.
- When the Iron Bull is recruited in Dragon Age: Inquisition, he informs the perfectly badass Inquisitor that he will consider it his duty to serve as their front-line bodyguard. Whether this ultimately becomes romantic or not depends on whether they pursue him as their love interest, but it's an actual gameplay mechanic - if he's in the active party, he invariably runs in to attack anything which makes the Inquisitor its target.
- In BlazBlue: Central Fiction, Lambda-11 states that her desire is to be with Ragna so she can protect him. Ragna the Bloodedge is a One-Man Army who began the series waging a pretty-successful war against the entire world government... but Lambda is going to protect him too.
- Fate/stay night. Emiya Shirou. He does this twice. In Fate, he does this to Saber, despite Saber being motherfucking King Arthur. (To be fair, he HAD no idea who she really was AND had watched her get totally curbstomped by Hercules.) Fortunately, he's called out on this and eventually it gets deconstructed in the Unlimited Blade Works route (the second example), where it turns out that Shirou has a massive case of Survivor Guilt that causes him to totally disregard his own safety; the deconstruction is that he feels the other person's safety is more important than his own so there's no problem getting hurt. Heaven's Feel also plays with this trope by having Sakura be, from Shirou's point of view, totally helpless... then you get closer to the end and she turns out to have an absurdly powerful Superpowered Evil Side. Shirou promptly modifies his definition of "protect Sakura" to mean "get rid of Sakura's Superpowered Evil Side."
- Kerry from DSBT InsaniT makes it a point that no one shall harm Shawn, although the latter is certainly capable of protecting himself.
Kerry: Nobody harms Leader Shawn!
- RWBY: In "The Coming Storm", Blake tries this with Yang when she finally gets her alone, but Yang actually takes offence at it and storms off, leaving Blake alone in the barn to kick herself over her words. Most likely Yang took it as coddling (she's an Action Girl and can take care of herself) or worse, an admission from Blake that she's only there for her out of guilt. Later in the volume, when confronted by Adam, Blake amends this declaration by saying that she and Yang will be protecting each other from Adam. This time Yang is clearly moved.
- In Girl Genius, Agatha, Gil and Tarvek have all declared their intentions to protect one another (or rather, Gil and Tarvek want to protect Agatha, and she wants to protect them). Considering they're all Mad Scientists and the rulers of most of a continent, none of it is really necessary.
Tarvek: Agatha - just say the word - and I'll do everything in my power to sort this fellow out for you.
- Agatha orders both Gil and Tarvek to leave Castle Heterodyne at various points within the Castle arc, even though they're both completely capable of looking after themselves.
- Tarvek's stated aim of protecting Agatha from Gil's advances, after Gil's friends decide to announce to the whole town that he's going to marry her, backfires more than a little.
Agatha: I appreciate that. I really do. Because by the time I get through with him, I expect there'll be a lot of pieces to sort!
- In El Goonish Shive, Ellen and Nanase take turns being the protector and protectee. First Ellen protected Nanase from Vlad, then Nanase protected Ellen from Abraham, and finally both of them protect each other and their friends from Not-Tengu using a spell that grants a form which can only be used to protect others.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: When Sokka was still feeling guilty after losing his last girlfriend, he decided to make sure nothing happened to his other love-interest Suki. Of course, being an Action Girl, Suki is mostly bemused and slightly insulted by this- and eventually reveals the only reason she went with them was to protect Sokka.
Failed To Protect Them
- Code Geass gives us Suzaku and Euphemia. Initially a straight and uncomplicated 'knight and princess' relationship, Euphemia's death at the hands of Zero pushes Suzaku off of his white horse, driving him into much more questionable actions, such as selling out his oldest friend to his worst enemy or releasing a powerful nuke in battle... and, in the end, he winds up supporting one of the bloodiest tyranies in history. Led by, you know, his oldest friend.
- Mahou Sensei Negima!: Konoka and Setsuna's dynamic falls most closely under this but covers several variants. While Setsuna is heavily motivated by a backstory incident where she failed to protect Konoka from drowning, she also spends a lot of time trying to protect her by hiding the truth about magic from her, thus making it a case of It's Not You, It's My Enemies. Later on, she nearly dies while trying to rescue Konoka. Ultimately her absolute dedication to protecting Konoka comes back to the old childhood 'close shave' where they were both lucky to survive. (Whether Setsuna's dedication edges into the territory of Schoolgirl Lesbians is left as an exercise for the class.)
- Karasu of Noein is basically built around protecting Haruka, typically telling his opponent something along the lines of, "I will protect her with my life." This is because, in his opinion, he failed to protect her future self, though it is implied she willingly did a Heroic Sacrifice.
- Shinn Asuka and Stellar Louissier from Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, since he shows kindness and empathy for her plea but can't stop her from dying.
- Ikumi from Infinite Ryvius lost his sister years ago, and was severely traumatized by it... which makes sense, seeing as she committed suicide because of their illicit BrotherSister Incest relationship. So he's sworn never to fail to protect a woman, particularly one he cares about. When his new girlfriend, Kozue, is attacked and scarred while he was out fighting, it becomes his Start of Darkness as he decided that Utopia Justifies the Means - he'll do whatever it takes to protect her from now on. It... doesn't end well. Either way, that means he fits this subtrope TWICE OVER. Poor guy.
- Sadly, Asuna from Sword Art Online falls into this category as well. Absorbing Heathcliff's final blow prevents Kirito's death, at the expense of all her HP, and thus her life. Unfortunately, the sacrifice is short lived as Heathcliff runs Kirito though on his next strike.
- In The Goblin Emperor, Maia's bodyguards offer to resign, or even commit ritual suicide after a perceived failure to protect him.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spike showed hints of this after Buffy died in the season 5 episode "The Gift".
- Game of Thrones: Faithfully serving Renly Baratheon as a member of his Kingsguard is Brienne of Tarth's quiet way of expressing her (unrequited) love for him.
- The X-Files. Mulder and Scully could fall under almost all of these, but this one is closest. While Mulder was always protective of Scully her abduction in season 2 sent him into overdrive. After her return becomes obsessed with keeping her safe. He ditches her several times, much to her annoyance, and asks her to sit out on cases for fear of her life. This makes it obvious that the one way to hurt him is to hurt her, and so this protective streak becomes even more pronounced after she is kidnapped many times more. Eventually, this turns into "I Owe Her My Life", since Scully is no slouch in the protecting and rescuing department.
- Zig-zagged in Dissidia: Final Fantasy at first Cosmos's warriors (especially the Warrior of Light) make it their mission to protect her from Chaos and his henchmen. In the end she willingly let's herself die in an effort to save them from the cycle of death and rebirth they've been caught in.
- Appears in Locke's backstory in Final Fantasy VI. His girlfriend Rachel got amnesia in an accident he was blamed for, and while he was in self-imposed exile the Empire rolled in and killed her. So when he meets the amnesiac Terra he vows not to leave her side until her memory returns. When he encounters the condemned Imperial Celes later, he makes a similar declaration.
- Prince of Persia (2008) has the prince play out this trope. He doesn't really care about the lost kigndom, or the Big Bad, or any of that - he's only fighting because Elika DOES care, and she's gonna put herself in harms way with or without him. In the end, she gives up her life to stick the Seal back on the Can of Evil, and he immediately snaps and tears the lid back off to ressurect her again. She is not happy about that.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Link arrives a few minutes late to save Zelda a few times, causing Impa to berate him.
- Sorta invoked in The King of Fighters. One of Kyo Kusanagi's main motivations in the Tales of Ash saga is to make Ash Crimson pay for attacking Chizuru Kagura, his friend and fellow member of the Sacred Treasures Team, and stealing her Magic Mirror. It's really not helped by how Kyo couldn't do anything to stop him.
- In the Baldur's Gate series Minsc has a "Witch" called Dynaheir. It's his duty to protect her, and if you do not resolve his Side Quest to save her, he'll leave your party. The sequel kicks off with you (And Minsc) in captivity and him lamenting how he failed to save Dynaheir, her having died off screen. Somewhere in the game Minsc can choose a new "Witch" to protect, out of two other potential party members.
- In Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten, about 400 years before the start of the game, the vampire Valvatorez makes a promise to a young woman to abstain from drinking blood until he can make her experience fear. Since a war is raging and the woman is a front-line nurse, he also declares to protect her until he can make good on his first promise. He is careless, however, and she is killed three days later. He hasn't drunk blood, nor broken another promise ever since.
- This is the entire premise of Finding Nemo.
I'm Only Protecting You From Me
- In Frozen, this is why Queen Elsa isolated herself from her sister Anna and remained cold and aloof from her as an adult, having harmed her by accident when she used her powers as a kid and lost control of them. When she unleashed said ice powers at the coronation, she attempted to flee the kingdom to protect her subjects in general and Anna in particular, not realizing that she locked her kingdom in Endless Winter.
- Iron Man 3 initially seems like a simple case of 'beat the bad guys to protect her, with Tony Stark is building new armors in order to protect Pepper Potts. (As well as dealing with his PTSD and insomnia after the events of The Avengers.)
"I have to protect the one thing that I can't live without. That's you."
- ...but in the end, Pepper Potts wouldn't be in any danger if she wasn't living with Iron Man, a fact that Tony realizes at the very end, electing to self-destruct all his suits and remove the Arc-reactor in his chest - effectively bringing HIMSELF down to normal. A novel solution to the problem... though, as Tony admits in the closing seconds of the movie, nobody can really take being Iron Man away from him. He built the suits in the first place, and he can build more if necessary.
- A twist on this can occur in Suikoden II. The Hero has somehow wound up leading La Résistance against The Empire, and his adopted sister has, naturally, wound up getting dragged along for the ride. When she finally admits that she'd prefer to live quietly together, you have the option of agreeing with her, running away from your army and responsibilities along with her, thus demonstrating an alternate solution to the problem. The result is somewhere between a Non-Standard Game Over and a... well, Not All That Bad Ending. You actually DO get away, and live quietly together in a cabin in the woods somewhere far from all the war and strife... but of course, La Résistance fell apart, The Empire triumphed, and all your other friends probably died.
- Further observed later in the story of the game. She ends up protecting Riou from himself by faking her own death. Her reasoning being that when she dove forward to start deflecting arrows fired by Gorudo's archers, Riou leapt up beside her without a second thought for his own safety. Shu agrees to go along with her duplicity because they both realize that without Riou, the entire war effort would fall apart. In removing herself from the picture, Nanami ensures that Riou won't do something like that again.
- Sluggy Freelance, of all places, has an example of this. Torg may have a lot of diversions, but there's only ONE thing he's actually SERIOUS about - and that's protecting Zoe. In an alternate universe overrun by demons, he soon gave up on trying to run La Résistance (since everyone there are Perfect Pacifist People), and instead just concentrates on keeping Alt-Zoe fed and away from trouble. Back in the real world, he forces her away so she won't become a target for Stalker with a Crush Oasis. With... mixed success.
- Downplayed but still present in the Steven Universe episode "What's Your Problem?"; after the fallout of the reveal that Rose Quartz was really Pink Diamond all along, Amethyst refuses to give in to burdening Steven with her emotions. In her way, she was protecting him from her own emotions and the emotions of the other Crystal Gems:
"I feel like, I dont wanna say, "What about me?", okay?! And I dont wanna be bent out of shape, I dont wanna be stuck in the past, and Im not responsible for what Rose did. None of us are! Not you, not Pearl, and not Garnet! But I am responsible for me! And right now, I am NOT gonna dump another thousand-year-old complex on you or anybody else! Im ending it RIGHT HERE! I am the Ding Dong Sunshine Future your friend FOREVER! ...And Im not going to fall apart on you."
Taking a Bullet for Them
- Kaneki Tenmaru in Fractured Fates makes it clear that she will do whatever it takes to protect her close friend Asuna and ensure that she will survive the killing game alongside their classmates. So when she learns that somebody may be targeting Asuna for a murder, Kaneki attempts to single-handedly thwart the would-be killer by confronting them herself. She succeeds in preventing Asuna from getting killed, but ends up being murdered in her place.
- Katsa in Graceling has a more mild case as she tries to protect Princess Bitterblue from the child's own father. To do so she has to take the young child across mountains nobody ever survived before, which is easier for her than most people as she's graced with survival. In the end of the journey, while the princess manages to be okay, it's Katsa who ends up getting sick, for the first time in her life. She does get better, though. Prince Po, who was also trying to protect her, went to go challenge her father head on and was nearly killed. He survived, but was struck blind and had to stay behind while Katsa and Bitterblue left to escape together.
- In The Goblin Emperor, one of his bodyguards takes a blade for Maia. The alternative for royal bodyguards, should they fail to save the Emperor, is dishonorable suicide upon seeing the Emperor's corpse. So they generally prefer to take the bullet.
- Steve Jinks, Warehouse 13 has an interesting combo of three, He has a dead big sister that he sees in Action Girl Claudia, his partner, after she saves his life in the most hilarious way possible. This lead him to decide to go undercover to protect her because he couldn't save his own sister, which in turn, gets him killed. He gets better.
- Super Robot Wars Gaiden. Ricardo takes a bullet for Tytti, saving her life... but leaving her Allergic to Love due to losing him.
- This is one possible outcome at the end of Dragon Age: Origins: if a female Grey Warden has a romance with Alistair, he will refuse to allow her to sacrifice herself to kill the Archdemon, taking the choice out of her hands and doing it himself unless she takes the precaution of leaving him behind at the gates before heading to the last battle.
- Resident Evil 2, and quite literally, in the case of Leon and Ada. Crossed with The Mole scenario.
- The Big Daddies of BioShock are willing to die to protect the little sisters.
- Ib: Ib saves Garry's life by returning his rose to him early in the game, and he vows to keep her safe in the gallery. While he is somewhat of a Cowardly Lion, he jumps to action when it counts - for example, when Ib falls unconscious, he carries her to safety and guards her until she wakes up. Depending on your ending, he may end up giving away his rose again in exchange for Ib's... leading to his demise.
- Happened in Girl Genius when Lars — a traveling performer previously renowned for his cowardice — threw himself in front of a sword to protect the eponymous protagonist, Agatha. He died, and she went nuts, temporarily going into full Blood Knight mode, and attempting to basically take on the entire army of Wulfenbach singlehandedly. (Well, with a little help from her Mecha-Mooks...) She got over it, with a bit of chemical assistance, but now seem hell bent on making sure nobody else dies for her. (Cue Gil and Tarvek winding up in one of the above-mentioned 'She's an Action Girl' situations, as she works harder to protect them than the other way around.)
The Protected Was The Mole
- Rurouni Kenshin. Specifically, the 'backstory'. Back when he was still an assassin, Kenshin fell in love with a woman named Tomoe - who was actually a spy planted by the Shogunate to find his weakness and eliminate him. The details are awfully complicated, but after The Reveal, she ends up dead along with her employers, and Kenshin swears never to kill again...
- Revolutionary Girl Utena probably fits best under this, and is a very genderqueer example, what with Utena Tenjou deliberately taking on the persona of a Fairytale Prince. She fights solely to protect the Rose Bride, Anthy Himemiya... but at the end, it turns out Anthy was in on the whole thing, and was in fact following Akio's will, from being involved in his manipulations behind the scenes to doing everything he told her to . . . EVERYTHING. It's really, REALLY not helped by Utena realising that she had been taking the persona of a prince less to help Anthy and much more to feed her own ego, not taking Anthy's thoughts and beliefs in consideration. After this, Utena is severely disillusioned, becoming a Knight In Sour Armor, but comes to forgive Anthy after realizing just how much torment she's been in for hundreds and thousands of years, and resolves to truly save her from more suffering and give her a second chance in life.
- This Ugly Yet Beautiful World sees Takemoto swear to protect Hikari no matter what, within minutes of first meeting her, though in his defense she's the spitting image of the ideal girl he was fantasizing about earlier that day, and their meeting was quite interesting in itself, too. However, even SHE isn't aware that she's actually a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds... and he is someone who was born to stop her. Hence, this could just as easily go under the 'It Got Complicated' header.
- In Kieron Gillen's run on Uncanny X-Men, Colossus became obsessive about protecting his sister Illyana, to the point of losing his humanity(not to mention the love of Kitty Pryde) by taking on the Juggernaut's curse. Toward the end of Avengers vs. X-Men, Illyana revealed that she was Evil All Along, and had manipulated her big brother into becoming the new Juggernaut in order to make him as much of a monster as she had become. Let's just say Colossus no longer feels any need to protect his "little snowflake"; he has in fact vowed to kill her if their paths cross again.
- Resident Evil 2, and quite literally, in the case of Leon and Ada. Crossed with Take a Bullet scenario.
Protecting Gets Complicated
- Obviously, Code Geass, where Lelouch's desire to give his younger sister, Nunnally, a 'world of peace' leads him further and further down the path of darkness. When she finally finds out what he's been doing in the name of helping her, she's undestandably horrified and becomes an easy prey for Schneizel's manipulations.
Ichigo: "Inoue, I will get stronger, and next time... I'll definitely protect you..."Ichigo (as he returns from death): "She's calling me... I can hear her... Stand up. Stand up. I will protect her."
- Toushirou and Momo were raised together and she was the only child in the neighbourhood not afraid of Toushirou's power. When they both became Shinigami, he swore to protect her, vowing to Gin he'd kill him if Gin made her bleed even a little. His hatred for Aizen stems from Aizen's betrayal breaking and almost killing Momo. During the Fake Karakura Town, Momo regains her badass status until Aizen manipulates Toushirou into accidentally stabbing her, and then stabs him. They both eventually recover and are implied to still be very close at the end of the series.
- When Espada attack Karakura Town, Ichigo is devastated by his inability to prevent Orihime getting seriously injured. Rukia then makes Ichigo go meet up with Orihime, to apologise for his failure and promise to not fail next time. The following arc has Orihime forced to go with the Espadas and Ichigo going to rescue her with Rukia, Chad, Renji and Ishida, focusing on getting Orihime back no matter what - even when such a desire triggers situations like Ichigo bringing himself Back from the Dead upon hearing her cry out for him and brutalising both foes (Ulquiorra, alias the one who killed him and mentally tortured Orihime) and friends (Ishida, who commited the well-intentioned but huge mistake of trying to calm him down from such a rage):
- When Homura Akemi in Puella Magi Madoka Magica was caught in a witch barrier, Magical Girl Warrior Madoka Kaname saved her. She then vowed to help her and protect her in return. She failed, however, and Madoka died. Then Homura made her contract with Kyubey, and specifically hoped to protect Madoka and avert her death. She failed each time, but kept on trying...
- Things start off simple for Melan in Brigadoon: Marin and Melan. His job is to protect the Creis, who happens to become his friend and eventually his Love Interest. Then it turns out that she's not the Creis after all, and protecting her means taking time out from his REAL mission.
- A very interesting case happens in Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts. Resident Yandere Shouko is absolutely obsessed with Brilliant, but Lazy student Yuuji, and at first it seems like she's just a crazy Unlucky Childhood Friend. But then in episode 11 of Season 2, it goes into their backstory, and her reasons are explained as this: Shouko was and still is a Lonely Rich Kid, with Yuuji as her Only Friend. At some point, Yuuji pulled a Big Damn Heroes moment to save Shouko from three boys who tried to bully her after she tried to stop them from writing some vicious lies on his PE clothing; he tried to come up with an excuse not to help, but in the end saves her anyway. Although he tries to pass it off as nothing, Shouko is really touched by that action, and she vows to his mother to marry him someday. His mom happily agrees to support her efforts as well... which then sort of helps explain why she tasers him, ties him up, pokes his eyes out when he's looking at other women, and drags him to the movies in chains.
- The Sword and Sorcerer team Shannon and Raquel from Scrapped Princess are solely motivated by their oath to protect the eponymous princess, Pacifica. Shannon is the one that most closely match the trope, being a guy and all - since they were raised as siblings, his affection for her is more big-brotherly than romantic, but they are Not Blood Siblings, so it gets... ambiguous at times. As for complications, well, according to a supposedly-infallible Divine Prophecy, Pacifica is 'the poison that will kill the world' - specifically, she will destroy the world when she turns 16. As a result, virtually everyone wants to kill her, either out of fear, religious fervor, or greed for the huge bounty the kingdom has placed on her head. And Shannon is stuck trying to protect her from all that, preferably without killing anyone because he knows that Pacifica would blame herself for any lives lost...
- A Cruel God Reigns: Ian is determined to protect, love, and save Jeremy, but it gets complicated considering Jeremy Vehicular Sabotage Make It Look Like an Accident his father, even if Jeremy did have valid reasons...
- In Death Note Rem forces Light, under direct threat of death, to adopt this mindset towards Misa in regards to his plans during the events that lead up to the Yotsuba arc.
- In Detective Conan, the Anti-Villain Akemi Miyano is implied to have asked her boyfriend Shuichi Akai to promise that he would protect her teenaged sister Shiho - few hours before her own death. The twist is that he's fulfilling the trope, and even made an explicit declaration of protection to Shiho in which he referred to her as a princess and called himself her knight... but both of them are living under secret identities: he names himself Subaru Okiya, and she not only has been shrunk to a little girl's body but calls herself Ai Haibara.
- The Wonder Woman graphic novel The Hiketeia revolves around this. Wonder Woman gets bound by an ancient Greek rite (the Hiketeia) to protect a young girl, on punishment of painful death by the Furies if she breaks the oath. Unfortunately, Wonder Woman hadn't realized the girl is a murderer (with a pretty damn solid justification) on the run from Batman who's determined to bring her to justice. Batman won't back down and Wondy can't either, so they end up duking it out until the girl commits suicide.
- In the Death Note fanfic Broken Facades Light promises his father he will look after Misa. He didn't count on either of them becoming Kiras when he made that promise.
- Adrien/Papillon of the Miraculous Ladybug fanfic Le Papillon Rising likes to give these to Marinette. That ends up with self-sabotage, since she's his arch-enemy.
- In Tanz Der Vampire, Alfred is searching for Sarah and vows to protect her, at any cost.
I'll be tough, I'll be sly,
There is nothing I would not do or be
I will steal, I will lie
There is nothing I won't try
To find and save her.
- In NieR, the eponymous (assuming you use the default name) character's overriding desire to protect his daughter, Yonah, initially seems perfectly simple... and HE probably never realizes it was anything but. The player, on the other hand, will soon realize - by the second playthrough if not sooner - that he's been doing a LOT of really questionable stuff in order to protect and save her.
- In Sands of Destruction has a gender flipped version of who to protect. Toppi grows an attachment to Kyrie because of his positive ideals and swears to protect him. It's complicated in the since that Kyrie is a Person of Mass Destruction and has the power to destroy the world and Toppi really doesn't want that.
- Every protagonist in the Ar tonelico series on their heroine Reyvateils. However, this involved them getting into their minds and solve their inner conflicts. It isn't so bad until some of the heroines secretly want to kill or rape their interests in their mind worlds. And those heroes are dealing with ultra powerful magician singers here.
- Thunder Hawk in Street Fighter, specially Street Fighter IV. He has three driving purposes in his life: recovering his people's sacred lands, punishing Bison for killing his father and former chieftain Arroyo Hawk, and protecting his childhood friend and fellow tribeperson Julia. Then we see how horribly screwed up she and several other girls were thanks to Bison's Doll Project, in which he made them his Brainwashed and Crazy Bodyguard Babes. By IV, the poor girl has become an empty and emotionless shadow of the girl she used to be.
- All main routes of Hakuouki lead inevitably to this trope thanks to Chizuru spending a good four years in the constant company of the captains of The Shinsengumi, all of whom, aside from Sanan, develop protective feelings toward her and go out of their way to keep her with them and protect her, even though she's The Load and the Shinsengumi's situation becomes increasingly dire as events unfold. In Okita Souji's route, her Evil Twin Kaoru purposefully exploits the trope with malice aforethought to make poor Chizuru suffer by repeatedly creating situations that inspire Souji to protect her at his own expense.
- The King of Fighters gives us Kyo Kusanagi. He is already willing to protect his Girl Next Door girlfriend Yuki to start with, but once he's told that she is a Barrier Maiden and that she was to be used in a Human Sacrifice, his desire to protect her goes Up to Eleven, and later the spirit of his rival's ancestors asks him to protect her among several other things.
- It's kind of a plot point in the KOF: KYO continuity. Ever since he was a kid, Kyo deeply wanted to protect his loved ones (in fact, he promises his mother Shizuka that he will do so when he's just eight years old), and that turned out to be one of the reasons why he was so powerful... but after gradually forgetting it in the middle of his turbulent life, he got Brought Down to Normal and then susceptible to being Brainwashed and Crazy by Orochi. Remembering how he began to fight as well as this purpose is what lets Kyo recover his lost powers and shake off Orochi's influence: this is sealed after his Warrior Therapist dad Saisyu undoes a staged Hostage Situation that he built to help Kyo and releases Yuki from an Unwilling Suspension. As Kyo rushes to catch her, his inner thoughts pretty much spell this trope.
- Also invoked by Adelheid "Adel" Berstein. He has sworn to himself to be the protector of his younger sister Rose, who also is his only living relative after their dad Rugal's death, and even when he seems to be an Aloof Older Brother he will NOT stop when it comes to shield her from any harm. The main reason why he became Heidern's source of information in XIII was his worry about how oddly Rose was acting around him — and with good reason, since she was Brain Washed by Those of the Past. When she's released from their mind control and collapses, Adel immediately rushes towards her to catch her in his arms.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mipha makes this promise to the protagonist, Link, which becomes a bit tricky when she dies in the line of duty. She manages to keep the promise, however, by granting him her magical healing ability after her soul is freed from captivity.
- In Katawa Shoujo, Hisao feels this way in regards to Hanako in her route. If you want to get her good ending you'd better drop that attitude when Lilly brings it up, because Hanako does not like it. At all.
- Other routes also touch the trope, either criticizing it or reaching a compromise between protecting/helping a girl and letting her be when needed. In example, Emi's path shows that Emi does need emotional protection due to refusing to make any deep relationships after her father's death in the accident that claimed her legs, and as long asa Hisao doesn't overdo it, he can protect her broken emotions; and in Rin's it turns out that Rin needs both protection (since she's under very heavy pressure from her well-intentioned but VERY pushy art teacher) and to be understood (because she has big problems on expressing what she feels if it's not through art)
- In Fate/stay night, Shirou really, really wants to protect Sakura. Unfortunately, it turns out she has a Superpowered Evil Side that is planning to give birth to an Eldritch Abomination that will destroy the world when it is born. Shirou's response is to seek out the Holy Grail so that he can get rid of her Superpowered Evil Side. And it works.
- In Tsukihime, one is given towards the end of Ciel's route. In this particular case, this is an 'I will protect you from your Superpowered Evil Side and from everyone trying to kill you because of your Superpowered Evil Side' variant. Unusually for the trope, it's the Action Girl Love Interest, Ciel, vowing to protect the Apocalypse Maiden protagonist, Shiki.
- In Little Busters!, Kyousuke's reason for most everything he does in the game is to protect Riki and Rin. Specifically, to make them stronger so they can survive without him after a bus crash claims everyone else's lives. Since he won't be around much longer, protecting them also means making sure Riki is able to protect Rin and doing everything he can to encourage him to give himself over to this view completely. In the end, Riki also vows to always protect Rin.
- In Shadowverse, this is part of Rowen's character. Which ironically backfired on him when his curse led to him accidentally killing his own squad, including Isabelle's fiance, Kyle. It appears his unwilling and uncontrollable dragon transformation is triggered whenever he feels the urge to protect someone. This continues to persist in the Morning Star's dream world, which then tips him off to the nature of his surroundings.
- In The Sims 3, if you have supernatural installed, your Sim can make a promise to protect another, especially if said other is a child or romantic interest.
- In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Dual Destinies a huge chunk of the plot is geared around this trope and how messy it got. Seven years before the game itself took place, a young man stepped in the murder scene of his mentor and saw said mentor's even younger daughter all covered in blood. Realising that the little girl would be accused and trialed for matricide, the man took a desperate bid and framed himself for the crime to protect her, despite knowing that he'd be screwed. And seven years later, he's in execution row and the now grown-up girl is desperately trying to get the sentence overturned... The man's name? Simon Blackquill, one of the game's prosecutors. And the girl's? Athena Cykes, Phoenix's assistant. And whether he fatally fulfills the promise or not, it depends on the player.
- The trope in itself gets lampshaded explicitely in the good ending, when Simon is released and Athena tearfully meets up with him.
Athena: "S-shame on you, Simon, for trying to throw your life away like that!"
Simon: "It was never my intention to just throw my life away, but some things in this world are more important that your own life. My honor-bound duty was to protect with my life... my mentor's beloved treasure!"
- The trope in itself gets lampshaded explicitely in the good ending, when Simon is released and Athena tearfully meets up with him.
- In Girl Genius, Agatha Heterodyne, Gilgamesh Wulfenbach, and Tarvek Sturmvoraus trade off on this relationship: they're all more or less madly in love (emphasis madly, also "mad"ly), and as heirs to the three most important dominions in Europa and strong Sparks they're generally quite badass. None of them particularly like the others' protective behavior, but it's hard to blame them given the stakes. Of course, just to twist the knife, there are slaver-wasp-related reasons why they can't be together...
- Silver in Above Ground wants to protect Lilith and help her return home safely. But he's in complete denial about it all because he knows the desire to protect is an unnatural bewitchment rather than a real feeling. It doesn't help that his pack is in a dire situation and they need money that Lilith could provide if they ransom her off to the Guild.
- Secret Squirrel is under orders to apprehend a rampaging panda named Won Ton, but cannot harm him because he's an endangered species. When all else fails, Secret proceeds to keep Won Ton under his "protection," and at the same time causing Won Ton to beat himself silly while trying to attack Secret. Won Ton is finally placed in our hero's protective custody for "endangering an endangered species."
I Owe Them My Life/Reputation/Health/etc.
- Hayate the Combat Butler: Hayate (the butler) to his mistress, Nagi. She saves him from his miserable life by paying off his debt to the Yakuza and giving him a home in her mansion and a job as her butler, with a promise to pay her back over years of work. But it never was about the money - the amount means nothing to her absurd wealth. She simply likes him from the start, while his gratitude quickly compounds with a deep affection and interest in her well-being.
- While Kenshin's devotion to Tomoe in Rurouni Kenshin fits in She Was the Mole, his relationship with Kaoru Kamiya fits here. She gives him a place to stay, emotional support, and the chance to stop Wandering the Earth; as such, he decides to protect her and their friends.
- Also by Watsuki, Kazuki from Busou Renkin gave this speech to an opponent (who also gave the same speech), when asked why he was protecting Tokiko. He said that it was because of Tokiko that he was still alive, so he would protect her and fight in her place. Kazuki's situation is actually a combination of type 1 and type 7, since Tokiko is a very capable Action Girl.
- In magico Shion is decided to save Emma from the curse of Echidna and faces really dangerous tasks with his extremely powerful magic that he obtain just to do so because... she gave him some bread
- In Code Geass (yes, again), a teenaged Xing-ke vows to protect Empress Tianzi after she saves him from execution. Years later, he keeps his promise. Spectacularly.
- In Detective Conan, Inspector Ninzaburo Shiratori decided to become a policeman instead of a lawyer thanks to a chance encounter with a pint-sized Manic Pixie Dream Girl who was a big fan of the police forces. When he talks to the girl after realising that the Action Girl Sato was not her, he soon promises to protect her with his own life no matter what. When she, the teacher Sumiko Kobayashi, is targeted by a killer who wants to silence her, Shiratori, Sato, Conan, Ai and the Detective Kids protect her and catch the culprit, and Shiratori gives her a proper Love Confession.
Orihime: Thank you, for protecting me until now. So please...
- In the "Princess and Dragon" chapters, Orihime reveals that Tatsuki had always protected her from the bullies that had prevented her from keeping her unusually-coloured hair at the length her beloved older brother preferred. When Tatsuki is defeated and almost killed by a Hollow, Orihime steps in to protect Tatsuki, motived by the gratitude and desire to repay the debt. Her resolve awakens her Barrier Warrior powers, which were already there but needed a bit more of a push to fully come to the surface.
Orihime: Don't cry! Because this time, I will protect Tatsuki-chan.
- Rukia was the one who unlocked Ichigo's powers by giving him hers, giving him the chance to protect others from supernatural threats. By doing so, she broke a cardinal law of Soul Society and was taken away to be executed; Ichigo's motivation to go into Soul Society with his friends to retrieve and save her comes from both Orihime coming up with the idea and his own desire to repay Rukia for what he did for him.
- In The Matrix slashfic Bringing Me To Life is a combined example of 1, 3 and 7. # 1 is - Smith, Love Interest, says he's going to protect Max from his abusive father because in a past life Max saved his life. #'s 3 and 7 - Max is also recovering his Past-Life Memories and, slowly, regaining his badass status.
- In Blackkat's Reverse, Kurama fixes Gaara's seal and shows kindness to him by affirming he's a little boy, not a monster, and introducing him to Naruto. Later in the story, Kurama gives the kid the full Comes Great Responsibility speech and asserts he should use his power to protect what's important to him, Gaara's answer is that Kurama IS what's important to him.
- Star Wars: Chewbacca owes Han Solo a life debt, because Han saved his life once.
- Rafael toward Skylar in Gives Light, but in this case, it's "I will protect him." Rafael's father, a serial killer, killed Skylar's mother many years ago, and Rafael feels responsible by proxy.
- Dembe to Red in The Blacklist. It's actually his job description as his bodyguard, and stems from Red saving him from a horrendous fate. But the list of people who owe Red favors and/or are ready to go through hell for him seemingly has no end.
- Tin Man A cross of "I owe her," "It gets complicated," and Living Macguffin get involved with the gentlemen who decide to travel with DG. Raw is pretty straightforward. She's a good person, and she was responsible for rescuing him from a nasty death. Glitch comes with because it's preferable to be confused and with someone than confused and alone. But it turns out that he was her mother's trusted and devoted adviser. Remembering who he was and learning who she is just makes him more determined to help. Cain's a mess. He agrees to escort DG and Glitch to Central (Emerald) City because he does owe them that much for freeing him, but the Mystic Man, his former boss, orders Cain to protect DG at any cost - and Cain's too damn honorable to disobey a direct order, especially as it turns out to also be the Mystic Man's Last Request. By the time it's discovered that DG is inadvertently responsible for the Witch's reign of terror, they've become too much True Companions to care.
It's Just That Simple
- Eyeshield 21: Non-romantic, but the main linemen of a team sometimes says that to his teammates. That is what their position is about.
- Murder Princess is a straightforward example. It takes Fallis a while to realize that she wants to protect the sweet, gentle (and very, very helpless) Princess Alita, but actually doing so never gets any more complicated than cutting down anything that threatens her or her kingdom.
- Akagami no Shirayukihime has the knight Mitsuhide who became the prince Zen's first retainer when the prince was still a child. While Zen is an accomplished swordsman in his own right by the time of the series he's not quite up to Mitsuhide's level. Mitsuhide's initial reaction to being assigned to the prince was some trepidation as he had hoped to serve under Zen's older brother it was mostly out of surprise and he has never considered turning down the position. He is completely loyal to the prince to the point that it sometimes concerns Zen.
- Blue Exorcist has the relationship between twins Rin and Yukio when they were younger. Yukio was bullied and Rin went to beat the bullies up just because they were picking on Yukio.
- In Unlimited Fafnir, Yuu does this to Iris. In a slight variation of the trope, he says if it comes down to it, he'll kill her himself to prevent her from turning into a dragon. Fortunately he doesn't need to do it after they manage to find a way to defeat the dragon attacking the school in episode 3.
- In Sunday Without God Julie promises to protect Scar after she has an identity crisis concerning her role as an emotionless gravekeeper and newfound human emotions. Ai and Alice think that sounds like a proposal and cheer him on, and he hastily adds he'll protect them too.
- Before the events of One Piece, Fishman Island was constantly preyed on, raided and enslaved by pirates all over the world. All of that stopped the moment Whitebeard came calling and declared the island as his territory without actually exploiting it.
- Astro City: When American Chibi decides to remain in the Unbodied's dreamworld to protect the native Ubbows from the King-In-Chains and prevent King-In-Chains from breaking through the dimensional barriers and menacing Earth, Samaritan acknowledges Chibi's heroism by making her a full-fledged member of Honor Guard. This leads to a truly awesome Badass Boast on Chibi's part:
"Let's go, King-In-Chains! Let's do this! The Ubbows are under Honor Guard protection, you hear me? Honor Guard Protection!"
- In the Star Trek: The Original Series fanfic Once Upon a Farmhouse, Kirk comes on classmates beating up Spock and tells Spock that [he's] never gonna let [the other children] beat him up again."
- In Field Of Innocence, Lu Ten promises his younger cousin Azula that as long as he's there, he'll always protect her. As he is Doomed by Canon, you can guess how well that works out.
- Part of Ash's Heroic Vow in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines is becoming strong enough to protect his friends after finding out Cilan, Dawn and Iris might be dead in the new timeline. It first come into play when Misty gets poisoned by Vileplume spores and ends up in danger of dying, he takes her to the Cerulean City hospital, despite her initial wishes of not to go there.
- In The Bridge after being accepted and forgiven for his past actions by Princess Cadance and Prince Shining Armor, Xenilla makes an earnest vow to fight till his last breath to keep the Crystal Empire and the royal family safe. Both played for laughs, such as him constantly monitoring Cadance during her pregnancy as his vow also extends to the health of her and Shining Armor's unborn child, and played very seriously in "Critical Research Failure". When Commander Tempest invades and petrifies the still-pregnant Cadance, Xenilla becomes absolutely livid and goes on the attack.
- In you can only use your own, Chara promises this to Asriel when they become his honor guard in the subtle difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul, and makes good on it three books later, in under my skin, there will be flowers.
- Memory, Sorrow and Thorn: Simon has a very difficult time spitting out his affection for Rebellious Princess Miriamele, despite the fact that he has a crush on her. Part of it is that he feels that she's so far above him socially that his desires will remain unrequited, although he fantasizes about rising to her station or her falling to his. Of course, they keep getting thrown together in perilous circumstances, and after he's knighted, he resolves to become her champion and protector as a way of dealing with the situation. In the end he discovers that it wasn't their stations keeping them apart at all, but Miriamele's self-doubts and fears of being forced to assume the throne and make a political marriage. And of course he turns out to be the rightful king anyway, so he solves the problem of her entering into a loveless marriage by marrying her.
- In Heart of Steel, Alistair's efforts to turn Julia's mangled boyfriend into a cyborg companion for her instead produce a deranged, jealous monster who is willing to do anything to keep Julia under control, including kill her. Alistair has already promised Julia that he intends no harm to come to her while she's a guest, and since this is kind of his fault, he vows to protect her.
- In Desert And Wilderness, Staś is Nel's protector. They even discuss Lady and Knight once.
- The Dresden Files: Harry declares this towards a projection of his daughter who has been kidnapped by the Red Court. Also somewhat deconstructed due to the lengths to which he is prepared to go in order to get her back.
Harry: Hang in there, kid. Dad's coming.
- The first book of Relativity ends with Michael thinking a declaration of protection for his sister. He can't tell her, however, because she doesn't know his superhero identity.
- In The Goblin Emperor, Maia's bodyguards are required to swear an oath to protect him with their lives, and commit ritual suicide if they fail. There's also Csethiro Ceredin, who, after Sheveän kidnapped Maia and tried to force him to abdicate, possibly planning to kill him later sends him a letter in which she declares that if the person who hurt Maia knew how to fight a duel, she would challenge her to one.
- Booth is very much this to Brennan in Bones, even before they became an Official Couple. On the one hand, his "alpha male" need to protect her tends to rub Brennan the wrong way. On the other hand, as she once observed, "I find it interesting that I'm only afraid of snakes when Booth is around to be jumped upon."
- Castle does this for Beckett in the episode "...Boom" when a serial killer blows up Beckett's apartment:
Montgomery: You need to go home and get some sleep.
Beckett: Sir, I don't have a home.
Castle: Yes, you do. It's a secure building with an extra bedroom, with people who care about you. With the Federal detail at the door, it's the safest place in the city.
Beckett: Thank you, Castle, but I couldn't.
Castle: You can and you will.
- Doctor Who: The Doctor does this several times.
- The Tenth Doctor pulls this off in his first adventure, "The Christmas Invasion":
The Doctor: By the ancient rights of combat, I forbid you to scavenge here for the rest of time. And when you go back to the stars and tell others of this planet, when you tell them of its riches, its people, its potential, when you talk of the Earth, then make sure that you tell them this... It. Is. DEFENDED!
- The Eleventh Doctor is quite fond of these.
- It is, in fact, one of the first things he does when he has his faculties around him. in "The Eleventh Hour" he allows the Atraxi to read his mind, showing his previous selves in action, and asks "Is this planet protected?"
- In "The Power of Three" he tells a levitating alien cube that earth and its people are precious to him, and that he will defend them to the death, if need be.
- In "The Bells of Saint John", after he recovers Clara Oswald's consciousness from a Spoonhead android, the Doctor sends a message over the WiFi network, "Under My Protection".
- He declares this again in "Nightmare in Silver" about the young children that the Cybermen have begun to convert.
- Rory Williams. He loves his girlfriend, later fiancée, later wife, and will do anything to protect her. A lot of the time they protect each other for example, Rory fails at sword-fighting a fish vampire, so Amy destroys it with a mirror. However he then goes to guard her comatose body for 2,000 years, becoming the legendary Last Centurion. He seems to develop something of a complex.
Rory: And she knows that wherever she is, I am coming for her. Always.
- The Tenth Doctor pulls this off in his first adventure, "The Christmas Invasion":
- Game of Thrones:
- Faithfully serving Renly as a member of his Kingsguard is Brienne's quiet way of expressing her (unrequited) love for him.
- The Hound finally admits he's interested in protecting Arya for more than just her ransom in "The Children".
- Toward the end of Season Six, Tyrion swears to Daenerys, "I believe in you. It's embarrassing, really. I'd swear you my sword, but I don't actually own a sword." When Daenerys tells Tyrion she needs his counsel, not his protection, he answers, "It's yours. Now and always."
- Marvel Cinematic Universe:
- Jessica Jones (2015): As much as Jessica initially insists this is not the motivation for her actions, it's clear to both Trish and Kilgrave that she would do anything to protect Trish. Trish is alternately frustrated and touched by this.
- Daredevil (2015): Throughout the show, while Matt rarely admits it, he is very protective of Karen Page's safety.
- When putting Karen up at his apartment after she escapes Wilson Fisk's attempt to have her killed in jail, Matt reassures her I will keep you safe, Karen," a promise he keeps when he rescues her from the assassin Fisk has sent to her apartment to attack her when she attempts to retrieve the Union Allied pension file.
- Which gets called back in the season 1 finale when Matt assures Karen, I told you I would keep you safe, Karen. When he [Fisk] came after you over Union Allied. That hasnt changed.
- Throughout season 2, we see that Matt continues to be very protective of Karen. His first engagement with Frank Castle sees him taking the guy on when he's shooting at Grotto and Karen with a sniper rifle. A few episodes later, when Karen admits to breaking into Frank's house, Matt and Foggy both get mad at her, but Matt admits he's mostly just scared that she could have gotten hurt. He tackles her to the ground and shields her from the bullets when Reyes is gunned down in front of them. In the season 2 finale, when the Hand kidnaps her and a bunch of other people Matt has saved as bait, he's so worried about Karen that he can't focus on tracking the hostages that Elektra has to calm him down, and when he does rescue the hostages, he can't resist stopping to make sure Karen is okay before she goes.
- Dean Winchester (from Supernatural) has dedicated his life to protecting his brother Sam (despite the fact that Sam can protect himself, and often doesn't want Dean to risk everything to protect him).
- "The Fragile" by Nine Inch Nails, with the refrain "I won't let you fall apart".
- Rascal Flatts' "I Won't Let Go".
I will stand by youI will help you throughWhen you've done all you can doAnd you can't copeI will dry your eyesI will fight your fightI will hold you tightAnd I won't let go
- "Parachute" by Chris Stapleton: "Say the word and I'll be there for you / Baby, I will be your parachute"
- Despite providing the quote at the top, which suggests a 'It Gets Complicated' situation, Squall of Final Fantasy VIII really does get it that easy. In order to protect Rinoa, the girl who finally brought him out of his sarcastic, just-dont-care shell, and taught him what love was - all he has to do is beat up all the villains. Then everything is all right.
- Final Fantasy XIII has Lightning and Snow vowing to protect Serah. Why? Because Serah is Lightning's sister and Snow's fiancee. It doesn't matter that she's been branded a l'Cie and enemy of the world Cocoon—once Lightning realizes that it's not a weird lie to get around her disapproval of Snow, she jumps on the Purge train to get her back. And even after Serah appears to die by crystallization, Snow refuses to leave her statue and takes up her last wish to protect Cocoon. As Lightning says later:
"It isn't a question of can or can't. Some things in life you just do."
- Devil May Cry 4 provides another fairly straightforward (and heartwarming) example with Nero's half of the story with his Love Interest Kyrie. Though for a while it looks like he failed.
- Gungrave. The protagonist's major goals is to get revenge on the main villain, and to protect the daughter of his former love interest from the main villain. By using a lot of dakka.
- Fire Emblem
Azama: I want to...protect you.Azama: I want to protect you BEFORE you get injured. Because I want to live a long and happy life...with you by my side.Effie: Are you saying what I think you're saying?Azama: Yes. At first, I was annoyed with your selflessness. It seemed impractical. But as I've come to admit to myself, it has a certain charm. I also admire your fearlessness in the face of unbelievable danger.Effie: Azama...Azama: Please, let me finish. I've never said this beforeto anyone! I...I love you.
- Regarding the games in general, the people that play them invoke this trope by not wanting any of their units to fall in battle, as until the remakes of the Archanea games for the DS their deaths were always permanent. If a single unit dies, chances are that a player will restart the entire battle. Heck, even if permadeath is disabled, some players may be tempted to restart the battle anyway!
- In Fire Emblem: Blazing Blade for the GBA: Dorcas's wife Natalie is an Ill Girl. He wants her to get better, and so he joins a bandit group. Once Lyn knocks sense into him (and Natalie does too, if the player makes them talk), Dorcas decides to keep fighting for her until he gathers enough gold to buy the medicine. It's just as simple as that, for him.
- In Fire Emblem Fates, if he marries Azura on the Golden Path, then the Male Avatar swears to protect her forever. He doesn't care who or what threatens her; he'll always stay with her and keep her safe, and unlike the other two paths, he succeeds.
- This is not the case in most versions, but in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, it's why Link is The Chosen One to begin with.
- Although it has an example further up the page, Tales of Graces also qualifies here, because "protect your friends" is basically the theme of the game - it gets subverted and played straight and spun and re-used in every conceivable way. In fact the characters use the word "protect" well over a hundred times in the course of the game. This has not gone unnoticed.
- In The Sims 3, you can have a Sim vow to protect another Sim.
- Dorian will make one of these in Dragon Age: Inquisition if "In Hushed Whispers" is completed. In the Bad Future, when the Herald of Andraste expresses their anxiousness over what will become of them, Dorian offers some gentle reassurance.
"I'm here. I'll protect you."
- In Little Busters!, Kyousuke feels this way towards Riki and Rin, and tries to encourage Riki to develop it towards Rin. In one of the final Bad Ends, when all of their other friends have died, Riki quietly promises to Rin that he will always protect her. She asks if he's proposing, and the player is given a choice whether to agree or not.
- In the first season of his route of Starship Promise, Atlas Molniya drops an unorthodox version when he informs the protagonist that he intends to protect her from the Union out of pure spite. The effect is still the same, especially given the vehemence of his phrasing.
Atlas: I wouldn't spit on them if they were on fire! So if they want you, then... then they'll have to rip you from my cold dead fingers.
- Adventure Time has Simon Petrikov, AKA The Ice King protecting a very young Marceline either during or immediately after the Mushroom War. It seems to be that he simply chose to look after her because she was scared and alone. Could arguably fall under the "complicated" category, but that's less to do with her being dangerous and more because using his powers drives him incrementally more insane. He needs to stay sane for her sake; if she weren't around, he probably would have quickly given into the madness just from using his powers to protect himself.
- Steven Universe; During the song "Stronger Than You" in the episode "Jailbreak", Garnet informs Jaspar, "I won't let you heart my planet, and I won't let you hurt my friends."