A Guardian Angel is a benevolent supernatural entity, whose main function is to protect and guide a person.
The concept itself seems to originate in The Bible. In the Old Testament angels are described as entities that carry out God's will, which may include helping people in their personal affairs. New Testament makes a reference to personal angels. Over ages the concept evolved more.
Like cherubs' typical description evolved over time from Eldritch Abomination to a cute baby-like being, guardian angels became the "good angel" in a good angel-bad angel routine. The bad angels, too, originated from the same concept, as it was commonly believed, though non-canon, that there is a fallen angel following around people as well, as the fallen angels seem to attempt to recreate the celestial hierarchy.
Guardian angels, generally speaking, do not have as much power, they typically work in subtle ways and often act as a conscience. Sometimes they are even reduced to mere scribes, recording the person's good deeds, then there will inevitably be an imp that records evil deeds, so that it can be determined if a person's soul goes to heaven or hell (that's the canon in Islam).
Zoroastrism has similar entities called Holy Guardian Angels. They are more or less exactly like Christian Guardian angels, but interestingly they chose to help people themselves, as opposed to Christian Angels, which are God's servants.
In fiction, the role of guardian angel is sometimes held by a dead person, who may or may not have known the person they're guarding when they were alive, instead of by an actual angel.
Expect God Was My Copilot, as usually the person is not even aware that the guardian angel influenced anything or is even there. Expect Angel Unaware if he shows up in person. May also be a Spirit Advisor.
- In Hito Hitori Futari, human souls watch after living humans so that they do not accumulate too much evil.
- Sakura's mother in Cardcaptor Sakura has become one and is sometimes seen by Touya.
- Early on in Digimon Adventure, Patamon asks Takeru/T.K. what an angel is after seeing a painting of one and Takeru explains it as something special that watches over them, comparing angels like the Digimon. Patamon evidently takes this to heart because he evolves into none other than the angel digimon Angemon and his subsequent evolutions who fiercely protects Takeru whenever he is in danger.
- In PS238 having one of these is Guardian Angel's power. It does things such as prevent security systems from picking her up, stopping a sentient cloud of nanites from possessing her, protecting her from the rain, preventing anyone from delivering life saving treatment to her after it was temporarily shut off and preventing her moving on to the afterlife until she was resurrected by a classmate with healing powers.
- Clarence, the angel from It's a Wonderful Life. His task in the film is to convince the protagonist not to commit suicide by showing him how worse off the world would be if he didn't exist.
- The Bishop's Wife features Cary Grant as a guardian angel sent to help the bishop, Rev. Henry Brougham, who is stressed out with family and work problems mainly having to do with raising funds to build a grand new cathedral. In this version, guardian angels are caseworkers sent to help people on a case-by-case basis as answers to prayers, and when they are done with their work, they leave and no one remembers them.
- Liliom: Just as Liliom and his friend Alfred are about to try and rob the payroll, a creepy-looking knife sharpener hauling a cart shows up and briefly distracts Liliom. The attempt at distraction fails and Liliom is killed in the robbery. Later, in heaven, Liliom sees the knife sharpener again and is told that he's Liliom's guardian angel. Liliom appeals for help and the angel says "Too late."
- Given the nature of their relationship and what she turns out to be, Magali of Astral Dawn could be considered to be Caspian's guardian angel.
- Sookie's Fairy Godmother was studying up to be promoted to Guardian Angel in The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries.
- In Philip K. Dick's Eye In The Sky, at one point the protagonists end up in a world (actually a fundamentalist's personal mental world) where religious concepts are physically manifest and obvious. One of these are guardian angels, who can manifest as small mouths that whisper advice into a person's ears.
- In Gene Stratton-Porter's Freckles, after Freckles has let slip that he thinks she's an angel, he gives her food and she argues that he's her guardian angel.
- In Dora Wilk Series, Joshua becomes Dora's Guardian Angel after saving her life and attaining Glory State in the process. As they're best friends and she helps him as much as he helps her, neither minds much.
- In Good Omens, Azaraphale reacts with some horror to the suggestion that he is a random human's Gros Bon Ange. note .
I say, that's a bit personal, isn't it?
- The Dresden Files has several Guardian Angels standing about. They are very restricted in how they can act. Like all angels in the series, they must permit Free Will to take precedence. This means if a supernatural threat attacks those mortals under their protection, the angels can stop them cold. If a stupid kid with a gun comes against them, the mortal must defend himself from harm. One named one is called Amitiel and he stands guard protecting an office in a sort of Chicago Between, where the souls of good men who don't feel ready in Moving On have taken up continuing to fight the forces of darkness. Harry once tried using his Sight, which allows him to see the True Form of a thing and would strip away any veils or masks, on just the gun Amitiel bore at his side. All he saw was it change into a silvery sword before the guardian angel stopped Harry with a word, telling him it would hurt Harry to see that.
- More generally the "white-lighters" fill a very similar role, although they are deceased humans, not angels. The sisters' white-lighter watches over and helps them as a force of good and connection to the Big Good in the sky (i.e. God).
- Things get confusing later when actual Guardian Angels appear. Unlike Whitelighters, everyone has one, and people never see them—they just subtly affect your actions to keep you safe from things ranging from demons to accidentally dropping stuff.
- Touched by an Angel sort of does this, as does Highway to Heaven.
- Quantum Leap episode "It's a Wonderful Leap:" a woman claims she is Sam's guardian angel, and is there to help him help the person he leapt into. She can see Al, who is Invisible to Normals.
- The plot of Teen Angel: Marty dies, but hangs around his best bud Steve and helps him.
- Some of the angels in Supernatural were supposed to be this. Prophets specifically are said to be guarded by Archangels, who can kick the ass of any being- mortal, demon, or otherwise- who threatens their designated Prophet.
- The Latinoamerican Telenovela Un Angel Llamado Azul (An Angel Called Blue) was about a little girl's guardian angel who falls in love with her teacher.
- In Married... with Children "It's a Bundy-ful Life", a Guardian Angel shows up to help Al. When he actually meets Al in person (who confirms that he's the person the angel needs to help), the angel unleashes a Big "NO!" and rants angrily at God for giving him this horrible assignment (and to stop playing videogames). He tells Al that he thought he was supposed to save a human soul.
- The '60s Fantastic Comedy The Smothers Brothers Show featured Tommy Smothers as Guardian Angel to his brother Dick.
- The Twilight Zone (1959):
- In "Mr. Bevis", J. Hardy Hempstead has been the guardian angel of multiple Bevis family members since one of them, hundreds of years before, performed an unspecified heroic act that earned such an angel as a reward.
- In "Cavender is Coming", Harmon Cavender is assigned as Agnes Grep's guardian angel to see whether he can improve her life in 24 hours and finally earn his wings.
- In Poets of the Fall's "Nothing Stays the Same," the singer compares the listener to an angel who stays by him through his moments of weakness and rumination.
- The titular character in the song "Camouflage" by Stan Ridgway (also covered by Sabaton on their album The Last Stand). The song is sung from the viewpoint of a young P.F.C. (Private first class) of the United States Marine Corps during the The Vietnam War. Alone in the jungle, he fears for his life when, unexpectedly, a "big marine" comes to his rescue introducing himself as "Camouflage". The two fight together through the course of a night making their way back to base, during which the PFC notices that Camouflage is unaffected by bullets and is capable of superhuman feats. Camouflage leaves the PFC after leading him to the edge of his camp. On his return, the PFC is informed that Camouflage has been on his death bed for the past week and died the previous night, his last wish being "to save a young marine".
- The Gumbo's small child Pasquale in Rose is Rose has a Guardian Angel, who usually looks just like little Pasquale with wings. When danger threatens, however, he morphs into a much larger, much more biblical version, with armor and a huge sword. It's implied that this is his true form, and just uses the other one to keep from frightening... well, everyone.
- In Safe Havens Samantha's grandmother is eventually promoted to guardian angel in order to look after the Mars mission. She got the job because Samantha's the commander of it. (Fun fact, her wings are actually made with dinosaur feathers.)
"Even if the afterlife, promotions are all about 'who you know'."
- In the opera Hansel and Gretel, the children's evening prayer sings of fourteen angels watching over them as they sleep. These fourteen appear in the ensuing Dream Ballet.
- In Magic: The Gathering, Avacyn was created by the planeswalker Sorin Markov to be a guardian angel for the people of his home plane, Innistrad. Unfortunately, after Avacyn broke free of the Helvault, the Eldritch Abomination Emrakul drove her to madness, causing her to become the Knight Templar Avacyn the Purifier. Sorin Markov was eventually forced to put an end to her, as she had become a threat that couldn't be ignored any longer.
- The Pokémon Gardevoir was based on the guardian angel — its Pokedex entries state that it will guard its trainer with its life, and its name is a portmanteau of the French words for "guard" and "duty". It resembles a beautiful young woman with pale white flesh, green hair, and red eyes that is wearing a long, flowing white dress. Even when male.
- Yumei-san in Girls' Love Visual Novel Akai Ito, of the dead-person variety. Saying that she's angelic would be a massive understatement. Look for Incorruptible Pure Pureness in the Akai Ito page for details.
- The main Player Character in Dragon Quest IX is a Guardian Angel.
- The lowest ranking Angels in the Shin Megami Tensei games are usually stated in the compendium info to be guardian angels of various people. They also tend to be dressed in BDSM gear of some kind, which gives this trope a bit of a darker turn.
- In the Town of Salem Coven DLC, there's the Guardian Angel role, who's only job is to keep her charge safe.
- In Sorcery101, Sorcerers who are demon-hunters have angels who watch over them and guide them but aren't allowed to interfere much. Cal in particular was Ally and her family's angel.
- In Misfile Cassiel has decided to assume this role towards Eponine, trouble is Cassiel is not that competent about it.
- In El Goonish Shive, Nanase gets a spell with this as its name which transforms her into the form of an angel and gives her the abilities needed to protect Ellen from Abraham.
- In And Shine Heaven Now, by the time of the climactic Battle of London, Jeeves and Wooster have been guardian angels for years, Bertie takes Sir Penwood as an apprentice one (necessary because they needed all the guardian angels they could get), and, in an Ironic Hell, Father Maxwell became one of these as 'community service' to get out of going to hell, but he has to protect Protestants-namely, Integra's dhampyr son.
- In Dragon Mango, her inexplicable survival makes Mango say she must have one.
- Daria did an episode where Quinn was convinced she had one.
- Melody Time: Johnny Appleseed has a guardian angel resembling a bearded old man wearing deerskin clothing and a raccoon hat.
- Heathcliff had a guardian angel that, in one episode, kept hitting him with the halo.
- Kenny from South Park, as his alter ego Mysterion, acted as a guardian angel to his younger sister Karen in the episode The Poor Kid.
- Johnny Bravo had one in "Johnny's Guardian Angel".
- Rugrats: Chuckie had one in an episode parodying It's a Wonderful Life (except replace contemplating suicide with contemplating running away.)
- Angel's Friends revolves round this trope. Most of the main characters are guardian angels, and most of the rest are devils sent to entice their charges to evil.