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Light Liege, Dark Defender

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He's not cowering behind her! She's just that badass.
A specific type of a two-character ensemble, where one is bright and personable but not necessarily good at taking care of themselves, while the other is "dark" in some way (traumatized, broken, or just gloomy and cynical) but supremely competent and fiercely devoted to (protecting) the other. In a case of Opposites Attract, the Liege may be attracted to the Defender's suffering, and may in turn serve as the latter's Living Emotional Crutch or even a Morality Pet.
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If the Light Liege is not aware of how Dark their Defender is, the latter is often a Poisonous Friend. Can overlap with Predator Turned Protector, Light/Darkness Juxtaposition, and Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl. Compare Psycho Sidekick and Lady and Knight (especially the hypothetical "Light Lady and Black Knight"). Compare also other "fierce protector" tropes: Mama Bear, Papa Wolf, Extremely Protective Child, Knight Templar Parent, Knight Templar Big Brother and Violently Protective Girlfriend. Contrast Rude Hero, Nice Sidekick.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Crimson Spell has a literal liege in Prince Vald, who's idealistic, friendly, and a sufferer of Chronic Hero Syndrome. He's not weak, but often ends up a Distressed Dude anyway because he's a melee fighter clashing with wizards. His defender, Halvir, is, by necessity, also a wizard—a sullen, cynical, black-robed curse magic expert with a Dark and Troubled Past who doesn't care about anybody but Vald.
  • The title character and her ex-rival Fate Testarossa in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's are the Light Liege and the Dark Defender, respectively. Nanoha is The Ace who manages to become friends with people even while she beats them silly, while Fate is a Broken Bird who lost everything in the previous season, and is introduced in this one by saving Nanoha from a very messy death. While Nanoha is by no means a slouch in magical combat, there is a tacit understanding that Fate has always been a little bit better.
  • Honey from Ouran High School Host Club is unrelentingly friendly and childish, to the point of acting like an elementary school kid ninety percent of the time. Always by his side is Mori, his quiet and intimidating cousin-slash-unofficial bodyguard, who looks out for his well-being. Played with in that Honey is an extremely capable martial artist by himself and Mori is actually Bodyguarding a Badass, Honey just chooses not to act like it, and that Mori is a genuine Nice Guy.
  • Madoka and Homura from Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Madoka is a kind, clumsy everygirl with a pink color scheme. Homura is a sullen, quiet time-traveling magical girl who seems hellbent on preventing Madoka from becoming one herself, at times violently stepping in to protect her.
  • Yona of the Dawn has Yona and Hak: Yona is a cheerful, somewhat overly sheltered princess while Hak is her reluctant bodyguard, together since they were children along with her cousin Soo-Won. When Soo-Won murders her father, she's forced to flee with only Hak for company, causing Yona to toughen up and Hak to start admitting his feelings for her. Despite being joined by a diverse cast, they have a bad mutual case of Cannot Spit It Out, allowing the dynamic to continue.

    Comic Books 
  • In Batman, Bruce Wayne has had this dynamic with most of his major Robins, with Bruce/Batman as the "dark" and Dick/Tim as the "light". The dynamic was inverted during the post-Final Crisis period where Bruce was believed to be dead, and Dick took over as Batman, with Dick remaining the "light" to the "dark" of new Robin Damian Wayne.
  • Cloak & Dagger had this as part of the duo's original dynamic. Both were somewhat insular and completely devoted to each other, but Dagger (the light wielder) was still an optimistic person, and fairly outgoing, which attracted the attention of other heroes willing to be friendly. Cloak, who is darkness personified, was much less friendly and tended to be quite off-putting to other people. But the quickest way to find yourself getting sucked into the Dark Dimension that was his cloak was to be perceived as a threat to Dagger. Those who knew about Dagger's powers being used to keep Cloak's hunger for life energy in check often mistook the relationship for Stockholm Syndrome, but Cloak proved repeatedly that he saw Dagger as more than just a convenience.

    Fan Works 
  • Soul Eater: Troubled Souls: Caius and Claudia sport this dynamic. Claudia is expressive, sociable, emotional, but The Load as well as a patient Morality Pet to Caius. Caius is a quiet, impersonal, focused spear fighter who is nonetheless Claudia's closest friend.
  • Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail: Chloe Cerise and Lexi share this trope. Chloe is the girl in a white dress, a kind heart and a creative mind. Lexi is cynical, brooding and has a bone to pick against the two who had him Buried Alive but wants nothing more than to help Chloe grow into a strong and confident lady. However, both of them also play with this: Chloe is armed with a donut holer for protection and is known to have a lot of resentment, anger problems and love for the macabre. Lexi is known to have dorky traits — like trying to cook food for Chloe and dancing the Lobster Quadrille — and he wears all white.
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    Film - Live Action 

    Literature 
  • A Certain Magical Index: In the fifth book Accelerator ends up becoming the guardian of Last Order, a perky and energetic "living admin terminal" to the MISAKA network, as part of his attempts at redemption. However, due to being an ex-Tyke-Bomb with No Social Skills and no real idea of how to "become a good guy", he tends to fight off threats to her in brutal and nightmarish ways.
  • Thaïs of Athens: The title heroine is a beautiful hetaira who relies on her social skills and insight to advance in life. Her slave Eris, meanwhile, is a Dark Action Girl — a failed priestess who would have been executed for breaking her oaths, had Thais not successfully negotiated for her life. Eris then becomes fiercely devoted to Thais, saving her from assassins on several occasions.
  • The Restaurant at the End of the Universe: This dynamic is present between the captain of the Golgafrinchians and his officer Number Two. Number Two is a brutish fellow who constantly gives unwanted status reports, brandishes a Kill-O-Zap gun to everyone, and takes great delight in taking Arthur and Ford as prisoners. The Captain, on the other hand, just wants to continue his years-long bath and lets Number Two do what he wants because it keeps him occupied.

    Video Games 
  • Ensemble Stars!: Eichi is the charismatic, friendly leader of the Student Council and of Yumenosaki's top unit fine, presenting himself to the world as a noble hero to the downtrodden. His devoted childhood friend Keito is strict, blunt, and scary, and leads Akatsuki, an intimidating unit created to engage in all the brutish behaviour fine could not be publicly associated with, all so that Eichi could pursue his dream. However, beneath his angelic exterior, Eichi can be downright vicious, and Keito is a lot more compassionate than he looks.
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses has two:
    • House leader and future empress Edelgard is assertive and ambitious, but outgoing and idealistic, and is associated with bright red. Her right-hand man Hubert deliberately cultivates a villainous chancellor type image, complete with all-black clothing, and is creepily interested in poison.
    • Dimitri is a model Prince Charming, friendly and humble to all he encounters. His loyal knight Dedue is reserved and intimidating, member of an ethnic group highly distrusted within Faehrgus, and would not hesitate to dispense of anyone who might stand in Dimitri's way.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Zelda and Impa. In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Princess Zelda's personal bodyguard is the ultra-serious and threatening Impa from the Sheikah clan, while Zelda herself is very cheerful and friendly. The same dynamic between Princess Zelda and Impa also takes place in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, and was later extended to the whole Sheikah tribe in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, where they are a race of albino Ninjas who have worked in the shadows to create dangerous Magitek technology to help defend the Hylians.
  • Yuri and Estelle in Tales of Vesperia. Estelle is a Spoiled Sweet Rose-Haired Sweetie of a princess who wears predominantly light-colored clothes and is unswervingly polite to everyone regardless of social status or even the occasional lack of manners from the other party. Yuri is a dark haired, dark-clothed Satisfied Street Rat who is frequently snarky with other people and is willing to do various morally grey and sometimes extralegal things to accomplish the team's goals and to protect Estelle.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Comics 
  • Princess November and Red from No Rest for the Wicked: November is a Magnetic Heroine who doesn't have many talents beyond bringing and keeping people together, while Red is a severely-traumatized Little Red Fighting Hood who was on the verge of violent insanity before meeting November, and grows extremely protective of her thereafter. As November's very first companion, Red also seems to have the closest relationship with her.

    Web Video 
  • Thomas and Deceit/Janus play these roles in Sanders Sides. While all the Sides do their best to care for Thomas, Janus not only embodies his capacity to lie but also his self-preservation instincts. Though it had been implied since his first appearance, this form of relationship between them is confirmed in Putting Others First, wherein Janus is forced to stop playing the villain in order to protect Thomas from his Morality, Patton, who has turned into a very large, very muscular frog.
    • Anxiety/Virgil is also the Dark Defender to Thomas, once he developed past a oneshot character for a collaboration with Lilly Singh to a Side that both embodies and experiences a heightened fight-or-flight reflex.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Dragon Prince, sorcerer Viren sees himself as the dark protector to the charismatic, thoughtful King Harrow. Harrow himself sees Viren as a ruthless schemer whose actions have needlessly imperiled their kingdom.
  • Wander over Yonder: Wander is a happy-go-lucky alien who likes to make friends with everyone he meets, even those who mean him harm. His Sapient Steed and best friend Sylvia, on the other hand, is more cynical and not above using her fists to solve problems. In fact, she used to be a ruthless bounty hunter before she met Wander. While she likes Wander, she often loses her patience due to the many times she has to save him from getting himself killed trying to help people.

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