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 others 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 what's Beneath the Mask, they might realize that they really do 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.
A Sub-Trope of 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, they're a Cloudcuckoolander's Minder. Compare If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her....
- Flower Fairy: In Season 3 Episode 13, a flashback shows that Kukuru promised Princess Fanny that he will protect her and dispel all evil for her sake. Unfortunately, Kukuru ends up making a similar promise to An'an later down the line, completely forgetting about Fanny in the process. This is what persuades Fanny to become a villain.
- 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.
Chibi: Let's go, King-In-Chains! Let's do this! The Ubbows are under Honor Guard protection, you hear me? Honor Guard Protection!
- In Sleepless, war hero Cyrenic is charged with protecting Lady "Poppy" Pyppenia after an attempt on her life. He swears a magically binding vow to watch over her tirelessly as a Knight of the Sleepless Order. In return, Poppy swears to be worthy of his dedication.
Cyrenic: I shall not sleep. My eyes will ever stay open, never shall I rest until my time runs out. I shall not yield... ever will I watch over thee, never shall I waver until my time runs out. To thee, Lady Pyppenia, I make this vow.Poppy: And my time's path, whether given, borrowed, or spent, shall not break you from yours. Only time's will shall release you, or my word. And I swear to keep my word true and just... and hold your vow with mine own. To thee, Sir Cyrenic, I swear.
- In Strange (2022), Clea leaves one of the Blasphemy Cartel mooks alive as he feebly begs to be summoned to safety all to relay that the Shrouded Bazaar that is under her protection. In a subversion of the usual outcome of this trope, the Bazaar is attacked again while Clea was busy fighting Thunderstrike and the Harvestman.
Clea: Do not fear, worm. I will allow your magi to summon you to safety. Because I want you to tell whomever you report to... this place is under my protection. I am the Sorcerer Supreme, and I am warlord-born.`
- Subverted in Superman storyline The Coming of Atlas since nobody can understand his growls; but when Atlas attacks Metropolis, Krypto the Superdog fights him off, declaring his owner's beloved city is under his protection.
Krypto: Man loves [Metropolis]. I protect place for man. Krypto good boy.
- 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.
- Regarding the page illustration; Victor Von Doom, after saving Susan Richards's life and helping her deliver her and Reed's daughter safely, claimed as his reward the right to name the child, and so named her Valeria, after a lost love of his childhood. He then declared Valeria to be under his protection. The two of them have had an oddly sweet familial relationship since, with Valeria even calling him "Uncle Doom".
- Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia revolves around this. Wonder Woman gets bound by an ancient Greek rite (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.
- Adrian Tullberg's Addition To The Fray is set as an alternate ending to Civil War. Doctor Doom confronts Reed Richards about his decisions regarding the Superhero Registration Act and Reed ends up revealing the truth; he had planned to oppose the act until he received a package from SHIELD containing photos of Franklin and Valeria Richards in their beds (which could only have been taken by a drone that could get past the Fantastic Four's formidable security systems) with the written message, "Say nothing, and agree." Doom, of course, couldn't give a damn what happens to America's superheroes, the FF or Franklin, but as mentioned in the Comic Books heading, he has pledged his protection to Valeria, and he is furious that SHIELD would dare to threaten her. Let's just say his retribution is Biblical.
"Bear Witness...You and your masters will realize your sole purpose in this life. To serve as a warning to whoever, and whatever, shall soon replace you and your organisation. To threaten that child...is to Invite Doom!"
- In Beyond Heroes: Of Sunshine and Red Lyrium, Varric basically makes one of these once he learns that the only survivor of the Conclave explosion is Bethany Hawke. He informs her, and anyone else who asks, that he's not leaving the newly formed Inquisition as long as she has to be there, since her brothers aren't available to protect her.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cheshire (Miraculous Ladybug): Marinette promises, first to Plagg and later to the other kwamis, that she will protect them. Knowing that she means it, this leads to the kwamis to be worried for her.
- A Certain Droll Hive Mind: Touma promises to protect Misaka-11111. She decides not to mention that technically it's her fault she's being threatened.
The Network feels happy. Kamijou Touma has just declared that he is willing to protect us again.
We wonder if we should inform him that we punched the girl who is bad at dressing like a panda in the solar plexus. We decide not to. It might confuse him. And we like the bit where he is willing to protect us.
- Fear The Superhero: Not quite protection, as Karasuba would never dream of forbidding or preventing Shirou from killing anyone. But she’s made it clear to him that if he kills Musubi she will be forced to kill him in return and Karasuba will help Musubi and Minato escape from Shirou, if she can do so without him noticing. Shirou doesn’t view this situation as worth the headache of trying to understand.
- 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.
- Fractured Fates: Kaneki Tenmaru 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.
- In Incarnation of Legends, the Legiones declares that Bell and Kojiro are under his protection during their stay in Rakia, handing them a special gold coin as proof of this. While grateful for the honor, the same coin feels like a leaden weight in Bell's hands because of how it simultaneously paints a target on his back.
- Kazuma V Tanya: Kazuma makes a vow to both of his little sisters after each of their births to do everything in his power to make sure they can live safe and happy lives, even if it should come at the cost of the world.
- In Naruto:Rend, Ichigo gives a solemn one to Hinata. He states that wants to be stronger for both her and Naruto since he owes Naruto a lot for looking out for and training him, but also adds that the two of them hit an emotional nerve for him since their relationship reminds him of his parents and he's terrified of his "weakness" causing them any harm.
- 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.
- Le Papillon Rising: Adrien/Papillon likes to give these to Marinette. That ends up with self-sabotage since she's his arch-enemy.
- Passion on Display: Bakugo gives one to Kirishima after saving him from being attacked by the homophobic students.
Kirishima: You did that...for me?
Bakugo: Tch. Of course, dumbass. And if anyone else touches you, I'll make sure there won't be anything left of them.
- Passing Days shows the many Servants making various promises of Vy's safety, all because she wanted to help them more than herself and no one else did before her. The first Grailed Servants in Achilles, Robin, and Saber Arturia all constantly come to Vy's aid even at the single hint that she is in danger, actively vowing to end the other party if they ever come close to hurting her.
- People Like Us: When Travis learns about how much suffering Arthur has gone through, he swears to protect him from the rest of the world no matter what, and this time he's determined to not lose someone he cares about.
- Pokémon Reset Bloodlines: Part of Ash's Heroic Vow is becoming strong enough to protect his friends after finding out Cilan, Dawn and Iris might be dead in the new timeline. It first comes 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 Safe Anchorage, Asha promises Jeyne that she'll always be safe as long as Asha is there, after hearing of the depths of Jeyne's abuse.
- Ships Ahoy!: After he becomes drunk on unicorn tears and gets into a nasty car accident, Oprah reveals to him that she's started taking karate classes to protect herself, but laments that she can't use her skills to protect her own partner. This is what causes O'Donahue to accept his romantic feelings for Oprah and vice versa, since the pair had only been viewing each other as friends up until that point.
- Synthesis: Len swears to protect Rin since the day her mother trusted him to take care of Rin if something happens to herself. He even pulls a Heroic Sacrifice to make himself compatible to the Kagamine program to save Rin after being fatally shot by a criminal.
- In Three Strikes:
- Count tells Mimic Squadron that they have to go through him if they want to get to Trigger. He tells her the same thing when she begs him to leave the area after he has been hit.
- Trigger makes one as well for Count, her family and her wingmen to Clemens after Mimic Squadron's second attempt to kill her and Count outs him as a traitor, that anyone that threatens them will face her wrath.
- Rosa, after seeing all of the death and destruction and feeling partly responsible for it, swears to herself that she won't let any more harm come to the refugees around her.
- White Sheep (RWBY): Jaune promises that Ruby will be absolutely safe from "Hentacle;" Ruby blushes. Of course, what Jaune actually meant was that he is in fact Hentacle and isn't going to hurt any of his friends. Even the previous times when Ruby was "captured" were actually just misunderstandings where Jaune was trying to keep her from hurting herself.
- In Who Will Fill a Coward's Grave, Cornelius Fudge of all people fulfills this when he's forced to arrange the transfer of Voldemort's most rabid Death Eaters to an ambush point under threat of torture/death to his wife and then him. The instant they're left alone, he arranges for her to leave to the Isle of Wight in secret with enough gold to move further and explicit instructions to not contact him in case things go pear-shaped and Voldemort comes for him.
- 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.
- This is the entire premise of Finding Nemo. After losing the rest of their family — Nemo's mother and all of Nemo's siblings — Nemo's father, Marlin, vows to protect him at all costs. The plot follows Marlin's efforts to save Nemo when Nemo is kidnapped to be a pet in a dentist's aquarium.
- The Super Mario Bros. Movie: Toad makes such a declaration to convince Peach to let him come along on her and Mario's quest. It works since she notes that he's brave enough to join them on their quest. While he doesn't get to do much defending, his loyalty pulls through when he doubles down on it when Peach tells him to escape with the others and escape Bowser's wrath. He ends up being who saves Peach from a forced marriage thanks to smuggling an Ice Flower in her bouquet.
- 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. But the truth is, 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.
Tony: I have to protect the one thing that I can't live without. That's you.
- While Simon spends most of the television series protecting her, in the tie-up film Serenity, River flips the script on him and promises to return the favour when he gets shot by Reavers.
River: You take care of me. You've always taken care of me! [Beat] My turn.
- Spider-Man: During one of Spider-Man's fights with the Green Goblin, the latter is accosted by a crowd of angry New Yorkers:
New Yorker: You mess with Spider-Man, you mess with all of New York!
- Star Wars:
- Chewbacca owes Han Solo a life debt, because Han saved his life once, as depicted in Solo.
- In the prequel trilogy, Anakin Skywalker vows to protect Padmé Amidala when she's threatened by assassins and, later, when he starts having premonitions of her dying in childbirth. In fact, his determination to protect her at all costs is a big part of why he falls to the Dark Side and becomes Darth Vader, as Palpatine had promised him he could use the Dark Side to save Padmé. Ironically, Anakin's actions post- Face–Heel Turn are what cause Padmé's death. He doesn't take it well.
- In Dan Abnett's Brothers of the Snake, Priad promises to protect the farmers. Turns out they are cultists trying to capture one of them for Human Sacrifice.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. At 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 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 killing 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 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's 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.
- 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.
- Kallen has sworn to protect her little sister, Ariel, who is the only family she has left. The problem is that Ariel wants to kill her because the sisters are on opposite sides of an Order Versus Chaos conflict.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- Raybearer: Tar made one to Dayo when they were children. She remembers this event right as her ehru-brainwashing forces her to near-fatally stab 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 you
I will help you through
When you've done all you can do
And you can't cope
I will dry your eyes
I will fight your fight
I will hold you tight
And 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"
- "'Till The Morning Comes" by The Grateful Dead:
Tell you what I'll do
I'll watch out for you
You're my woman now
Make yourself easy
- In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, Luna is more physically imposing than her best friend Ivy and makes it a habit to look out for her, telling her as such when Ivy worries about the government agent sent to hunt them down.
- 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.
- "Dear Theodosia" from Hamilton is a sweet declaration of protection and Parental Love Song from Hamilton and Burr to their respective children Philip and Theodosia.
You will come of age with our young nation
We'll bleed and fight for you
We'll make it right for you
If we lay a strong enough foundation
We'll pass it on to you
We'll give the world to you
And you'll blow us all away
Some day, some day
- 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."
Shirou: If I can't protect her, Emiya Shirou can just die here!
- Galaxy Angel: In the first game, Forte has an event with Tact where she states that she wants to make him into a man she can trust to watch her back. Should she be chosen as the romantic partner, when she takes the mission to clear the route for the Elsior's escape, she states in her Love Confession that she wants to protect the man she fell in love with.
- 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. For 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 as 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 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.
- 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 explicitly 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 than your own life. My honor-bound duty was to protect with my life... my mentor's beloved treasure!
- 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 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.
- 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 the 3rd episode of DEATH BATTLE! Season 9, Tanjiro VS Jonathan Joestar, after fatally wounding Tanjiro with Sunlight Yellow Overdrive and finding out that Nezuko was Tanjiro's sister rather than one of Dio's minions like he initially thought, Jonathan states that he will protect Nezuko with his life before stopping Tanjiro's heart with Hamon. While the fight ended with Nezuko hesitating to take Jonathan's hand, Word of God would later confirm that she had accepted his aid.
- 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. 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 from abandoning her at the end of Volume 3. 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 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.
- Girl Genius:
- Happened early on 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
Tarvek: Agatha — just say the word — and I'll do everything in my power to sort this fellow out for you.
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!
- Kill Six Billion Demons: 10 Vigilant Gaze's first acts as he returns to the physical world are to help 82 White Chain to remind her of what she initially stood for, and then to fight Juggernaut Star when the Thorn Knight starts to hurt her (all the while chewing Juggernaut Star for the way they and the rest of the angels have been treating White Chain for centuries).
- The Order of the Stick: Inverted, funnily enough, with Action Girl Haley and her Non-Action Guy boyfriend Elan.
Elan: Don't worry, you'll protect me.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Sasha Waybright, though she's a toxic friend, genuinely cares about her two best friends with all her heart and she's a Determinator about getting back to them and getting them back home. In her first major appearance, after she's effectively sort-of gained her freedom from the cell where Grime was originally holding her, she privately makes a vow to her photo of Anne and Marcy that she'll find them and get them back home.
- In "Snow Day", Anne Boonchuy vows to protect the people of Wartwood from whatever's been causing the annual disappearances whilst the townsfolk are frozen during Hiber-Day, although Hop Pop cautions her that it's quite a workload. At the episode's end, she notes that Polly almost got eaten on her watch after she slacked off, although she nevertheless saved her and furthermore found out how to stop future disappearances from happening.
- In Season 2, Frobo is very protective of Polly. He outright vows to save her when Andrias tries to kill her, and he loses his life (temporarily) in the process of doing so.
- 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.
- Final Space: In "The Ventrexian", a flashback shows Avocato vowing that he'll keep Little Cato safe, even if he has to give his own life to protect him. (Which he kinda did in Season 1).
- The Owl House: In "Escaping Expulsion", Amity Blight intervenes to save Luz Noceda from the Abomaton 2.0:
Amity: Stay away from my Luz!
- Pibby: Pibby promises BunBun that she'll always protect him... only for him to be consumed in the next scene. Pibby is later horrified to see a giant BunBun coming out of the ooze.
- Secret Squirrel: 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."
- She-Ra and the Princesses of Power:
- Deconstructed. Catra always took the brunt of Shadow Weaver's abuse as the Unfavorite, and Adora was constantly trying to protect her. However, Catra was always in Adora's shadow and never received recognition for her accomplishments, whereas Adora was always praised and loved by everyone; it likely didn't help that the Horde frowns upon displays of "weakness", and continually being protected by someone else would likely make one appear weak. Catra was envious of her, and after Adora left, she felt abandoned. She then obsessed around ruining her former friend's life and blamed her for everything. Her behaviour worsens until Catra pushes everyone away in her insane quest to finally beat Adora, rejecting every chance she has at happiness.
- Adora later makes one for Glimmer, saying that Angella told her to take care of Glimmer, and that's what she intends to do. This one is also deconstructed. First, Angella actually said "take care of each other", and Adora took it as an instruction for her specifically to protect Glimmer because, thanks to her Dark and Troubled Past, taking every available responsibility on her own back is what Adora does. Second, Adora's traumatic past also gave her a tendency to protect people in overbearing and controlling ways, denying them their agency and trying to fence them in to keep them safe — something that Glimmer, possibly the most stubborn character in the show, was never going to take in stride. Adora's efforts to protect Glimmer end up being read as attempts to undermine her authority and this combines with all the other stressors on their relationship to split Glimmer off from the other two members of the Best Friends Squad.
- Steven Universe:
- During the song "Stronger Than You" in the episode "Jail Break", Garnet informs Jasper, "I won't let you hurt my planet, and I won't let you hurt my friends."
- Downplayed but still present in the 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:
Amethyst: I feel like, I don't wanna say, "What about me?", okay?! And I don't wanna be bent out of shape, I don't wanna be stuck in the past, and I'm 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! I'm ending it RIGHT HERE! I am the Ding Dong Sunshine Future –- your friend FOREVER! ...And I'm not going to fall apart on you.