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Forest Ranger

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No fires or littering!... Seriously, this thing isn't for show.

No, we aren't talking about the kind fellow at the national park who wears the snazzy uniform.

We are talking about the forest-dwelling recluse who serves as a self-appointed guardian for their ancient and enchanted home. They may wear green in an attempt to blend in to their forest surroundings. They guard their forest with their bow slung across their back, and would rather take your hat off with an arrow than post a polite notice to please put out your campfire before you leave. In a Standard Fantasy Setting, expect at least one elf to be this trope.

The Forest Ranger may also be a Nature Hero and have similar associating tropes, however, the Forest Ranger is not a hero and may be a member of a large group of forest dwellers, such as an elven city, or even be a guard to such a city.

Primarily meshes with Archer Archetype, but Rangers wielding an axe or spear are also common. If they are more civilized, they might use Bow and Sword in Accord. Lesser known fact — the word "ranger" does not mean "one who fights from range", but "one who watches over a range". Like modern-day Park Rangers. So they are not at all limited to Archer Archetype. Not to be confused with bushranger, a term for a 19th-century Australian outlaw.

Supernatural variants, be they The Fair Folk, tree-creatures or Nature Spirits, may also be a Genius Loci. Compare Nature Hero and Mountain Man. Contrast City Guards.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Queen's Blade, Allyene moreso than her protege Nowa. They wield staves instead of bows and use the mobility and cover of the trees they protect.

    Card Games 

    Comic Books 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Broken Arrow: One of the characters who helps the hero along the way is a forest ranger. She carries a large survival knife and occasionally freaks out over the destruction of important natural features, to comedic effect.
  • "Crocodile" Dundee's titular hero is a modern-day version, although his home turf is a lot more arid than is usual for the trope.
  • The Slasher Movie The Ranger has a literal forest ranger serving as a villainous example, seeing himself as protecting the national park from people who trash it and using a hunting rifle (the modern version of the bow and arrow) as his weapon of choice alongside bear traps and axes, in contrast to the group of punk rockers from the city who serve as the protagonists. He also kidnaps the Final Girl in the hopes of awakening her more "natural" side.

  • "I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees..."
  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
    • The Ents were created for this very purpose, according to The Silmarillion. As the Shepherds of the Trees, their main reason for existence is to prevent humanoids from abusing forests and to prevent trees from getting homicidal.
    • Despite the name, the original fantasy Rangers, those among whom Aragorn lived in The Lord of the Rings, weren't this trope, being more partisans/marchwardens/monster hunters than guardians of nature.
    • The Elves often fit this trope to a lesser degree, being part of the reason why travelers are advised not to stray from the marked path. That said, this is not necessarily out of concern for nature, but because their own territories are concealed within the forests and they don't like uninvited visitors.
      • This is explicitly the case with the Green-elves or Laiquendi of Ossiriand in the First Age, who regard intruders as "unfriends" and who enforce No Trespassing with camouflage, stealth, and arrows.
  • The Fighting Fantasy gamebook Portal of Evil has the wood sprites, elvish guardians of the woods with bark-like skin.
  • Mercedes Lackey is very fond of this trope.
    • In her Heralds of Valdemar series, the Tayledras scouts fill this role, keeping people away from the dangerous Pelligras Forest, killing dangerous warped monsters like coldrake, and keeping the inoffensive magical creatures safe from other people and from magical threats.
    • In her Obsidian and Enduring Flame trilogies, the elven cities are protected by scouts of this nature.
  • Played with in The Wise Man's Fear. Fae archers stalk the forest surrounding the Cthaeh to kill anyone who talks to it, since it's omniscient and picks the ending to every conversation that causes the most chaos in the world.
  • The Witcher's short stories provide a dark deconstruction to this trope. There are Rangers who fit the general description, being master bowmen and spending most of their time in the forests — but they spend it hunting elves, dryads, rusalkas, and other non-humans, some in revenge of their kin who were murdered by the Scoia'tael terrorists, others simply for the reward or out of racist hatred.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has the Canon Foreigner Silvan Elves like Arondir, Revion and Medhor, who were stationed for 79 years in the Southlands to watch over the natives and make sure they don't make same mistake as their ancestors. They are the only Elves shown carrying bows with them and wear carved wooden body armor.

    Myths & Religion 

  • Stege from the Cool Kids Table game Small Magic is a hunter who lives in the forest.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Druids, generally speaking, have this trope as their job description.
    • The Ranger class and many of its five million variants from all versions of Dungeons & Dragons also fits, depending on how you play it. There are a ton of prestige classes from 3rd Edition that are all about defending the forest.
    • Many of the primal classes in Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition, including the aforementioned Druids and Rangers, also count, especially the Warden.
    • The Scout subclass for Rogue in 5th Edition fits here, being a guerilla fighter that can survive and thrive in the wilderness.
    • In both the Greyhawk and Forgotten Realms settings, the goddesses Ehlonna and Mielikki respectively are considered to be this, with the latter being known as the Supreme Ranger, and both being basically stand-ins for Artemis when the latter is not also present.
  • Pathfinder includes several of these:
    • Among playable classes, rangers, druids, hunters, shifters, and some shamans all tend to revolve around this trope in some form or another, depending on how focused they are on protecting the wilderness from humanity versus protecting humanity from the worst of the wild's monsters.
    • Treants, leshies, other plant creatures, and many types of fey and kami likewise live to protect the wild places of the world against both the axes of civilization and creatures of dark magic.
    • Bliss dragons consider themselves guardians of animals and the wilderness, watching over sanctums of pristine wildland and expelling even fey and magical beasts that don't measure to their exacting standards.
    • The empyreal lord Cernunnos casts himself as an embodiment and protector of the wild places of the worlds, and his worshippers tend to be rangers, druids and other protectors of nature.
  • Warhammer:
    • Amber Wizards spend most of their time protecting the wilderness from intruders and despoilers. While they do deal with poachers and the like from time to time, they're mostly involved in preserving nature from the ravages of the Beastmen and other forces of Chaos.
    • The Wood Elves are extremely protective of their forests and will murder anyone who tries to cut them down. There's a specific class, the Waywatchers, for whom this trope is the entire job description.
    • Dwarf Rangers cross this trope with Mountain Man, their haunt being mountains and valleys rather than forests. Generally consisting of dwarfs who do not fit in their society, Rangers range overland routes and valleys between major dwarfholds alone or in small groups, keeping passes and roads open, hunting monsters, or keeping watch for orc troop movements. They fill a vital if unappreciated role in dwarf society.

    Video Games 
  • The Elvish Rangers from Battle for Wesnoth, and just about all Elves. And also the Woses.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy V's Ranger class uses bows, wears green, and summons animals to fight alongside it.
    • Final Fantasy VIII: Rinoa is a Mythology Gag to the job class and a shout out to this trope: She's a crossbow-using fighter who fights with a dog and lives in a city built in the middle of a giant forest.
    • Final Fantasy XIV: the archer class is obtained in the city-state of Gridania, a Hidden Elf Village in the Black Shroud that is largely populated by Wildwood Elezen. The main military organization of Gridania, the Order of the Twin Adder, has many archers in their ranks.
  • In Gauntlet the Elf Ranger wears green, protects the forest, and uses a bow.
  • Wood Elves and Grand Elves in Heroes of Might and Magic fall under this. The factions they are part of — the Sorceress' Town, Rampart, Preserve, and Sylvan in I and II, III, IV, and V respectively — generally follow this rule with their philosophies.
  • Warcraft:
    • High elves and blood elves (rangers), night elves (sentinels), and Undead elves (dark rangers) have these.
    • World of Warcraft has the hunter class, available to every race. Of special note is Nathanos Marris, who was the first, only, and last Human Ranger Lord of Quel'Thalas.
  • Dragon Age:
    • The Dalish elves have this aesthetic, although they're more territorial than custodial and never stay in one place for long if they can help it. A Dalish Warden is introduced keeping humans away from their camp, can get lines reflecting this archetype, and bow use is encouraged by the provision of better quality equipment in the Dalish origin story.
    • There is also the "Ranger" specialization for the Rogue class, which gives the character a +5 resistance to natural attacks and allows them to summon predatory animals to attack their enemies.
  • Dark Souls has the Forest Hunters, effectively The Wild Hunt, guarding Darkroot Forest and the grave of Abysswalker Artorias.
  • Rift has the Ranger rogue soul and The Beastmaster warrior soul.
  • The Ranger class in Neverwinter Nights and Neverwinter Nights 2, due to the games being technically in the Dungeons & Dragons universe.
  • Anden Goodmanner (and potentially the Princess, if leveled as such) in A Dance with Rogues. Anden is a clear, classic example of this, as he's an archer, who wears green clothing, an excellent tracker, feels comfortable in forests, and laments their mistreatment. He does possess a few differences in that he isn't hostile to people or self-appointed as a Ranger, but rather is part of a guild that maintains the safety of the forested roads to Betancuria and seems to observe the condition of the woods. Anden is also a human, instead of an elf, and what little is seen of the guild seems to be composed of humans as well.
  • The Ranger class from Majesty. Although their main function is as Bold Explorers who dispel the Fog of War, they also vastly prefer nature and wilderness to the city, have herblore enough to poison weapons or make healing potions from the plants your other heroes sow, and will team up with the highly anti-civilization Barbarians when they're present. Their guilds are mobile campsites, and once the whole place is explored they'll go off to more wild regions. They also wear green and fit the Archer Archetype. (Although it's downplayed, as they're more preferers of untamed forest than active guardians of it.)
  • According to their lores in Dota 2, both Traxex (Drow Ranger) and Lyralei (Windranger) are protectors/guardians of the forests. They're also very deadly with bows.
  • Wu Mhi from the Richman series eventually starts a national park in the forest where she grew up and protecting the animals from poachers with her trusty spear in her ending from Rich Man 7.
  • Gyromancer has Laska Terrado, a royal ranger who is assigned to help the mage Rivel track down a group of rogue knights in a large, magical forest. When she's killed there, she's revived in short order by the spirit of the forest, which considers her at least a potential protector.
  • Voden from Gigantic is a "forest-lord" who protects the wilderness from anyone who would despoil it. His methods seem to mostly involve shooting people with arrows and poisoning them with toxic spores.
  • Thorn from the Science Fantasy Battleborn checks on the boxes for a typical forest elf with her bow and arrows, and adherence to nature except she's more wild jungle than peaceful forest.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The Bosmer (Wood Elves) of Valenwood basically have this trope as a cultural hat. They are masterful archers and are bound by the "Green Pact", an agreement they made with their patron deity long ago to never harm or allow harm to come to the forests of Valenwood.
    • The Imperial Legion has a variation in the Imperial Foresters. During peacetime, they can be found in Cyrodiil's forests. During wartime, they serve as archers and scouts.
  • The Sniper from Team Fortress 2 has an aesthetic halfway between this trope and Great White Hunter, and clearly draws some inspiration from "Crocodile" Dundee despite not getting to spend much time in the actual countryside.
  • Warframe: Ivara invokes this aesthetic, and even comes with her own bow.
  • In Guild Wars 2 the Ranger is a class, focus on attacking alongside trained animals, and with moves that include setting traps and wilderness survival.

    Web Comics 
  • Dellyn Goblinslayer in Goblins is presumably this (Ranger class, Bow and Sword, half-tree), but he seems to be more inclined to city life now. Then again, he agreed to go adventuring again, so...
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: In that Plague Zombie infested world in which Raising the Steaks applies to all non-feline mammals, army scouts have the duty of killing the Plague Zombies in forests surrounding human dwellings to help protect the non-infected animals and humans alike. Lalli is a night one by profession, taking the shifts during which the infected individuals are the most active.
  • Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic : Cadugan is the guardian of Wyldwood Forest, protecting and helping the animals and magic beings. Hence he is initially not too friendly with Charlotte who has chased pixies for her supper and Lucas who was hunting foxes in the forest before.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: Huntress Wizard fits this trope to a T.
  • Craig of the Creek: The Green Poncho is a mysterious kid who wears a green hooded poncho and uses a bow and arrow to keep kids from crossing the bridge leading to the neighborhood on the other side of the creek. He is not protecting the wooded area itself per se, but rather the kids in Craig's neighborhood from being subjugated by The King of the Other Side of the Creek, a tyrant who bosses the other kids around and punishes anyone who doesn't do what he says.
  • Gargoyles: The Guatemala gargoyle clan have made it their mission to protect "The Green". They destroy equipment to protect the rain forest but are careful not to harm the locals, only scare them.

    Real Life 
  • Interestingly, rangers in both the "fantasy warrior" and "national park" senses actually stem from the same source. In Medieval Europe, a ranger was someone employed to guard and maintain royal forests, which were essentially game preserves for the nobility. Since everything in such a forest was considered the personal property of a lord or even the King himself, poaching was a major crime; part of the ranger's job was to catch poachers and other trespassers, in addition to serving as foresters and gamekeepers.
  • Roger's Rangers during the mid-18th-century colonial North America whose mission was to protect British settlers from raiding Native Americans and their French allies. In the North American wilderness, the European style of standing armies and linear warfare did not work in the woods because the Native Americans did not play by the same rules. They would fight using ambush and Hit-and-Run Tactics. The concept of the "Ranger" was to take frontiersmen who are able to live in the wilderness and adopt the Native American's guerrilla tactics and Beat Them at Their Own Game. The Rangers did two things in history: they patrol and they raid. The idea of "Ranging" or being a borderer means protecting the boundaries of your nation or your home.