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Monster Knight

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"For dragons to master the sword skills of men, hundreds of years of trial and error were involved."
Monsters are, well, monsters. They're uncouth, messy, dirty, disgusting, barbaric creatures with no sense of honor. The only times they do work together will more than likely resemble something akin to a horde than anything like a professional army.

But, that's a bit too Cliché for most writers, so it's not that surprising to see many monsters that aren't mindless brutes. Monsters that are trained, with a thought for technique, tactics, strategy, valour, and (perhaps) a sense of honor that would make them seem almost respectable. A monster that's also a true warrior. They may be serving a Monster Lord, or be part of an army or similar.

This kind of character is often a Cultured Warrior and a Blood Knight, although they don't have to be. They're also more likely to be a Noble Demon, and thanks to the resonance the hero may have for this character, they may be found on any place on the Character Alignment scale in contrast to the usual Always Chaotic Evil treatment the characters race may receive in other works. This is often a case of My Species Doth Protest Too Much, but doesn't have to be. Because Most Writers Are Human, these characters are often more humanoid-looking as a result.

Their possibly supernatural nature gives them a higher chance of being a Magic Knight, although the magic they practice is often more of a destructive and dark nature than average.

If you have an entire army of Monster Knights, they're almost guaranteed to be a Badass Army as well.

Compare the Black Knight, Monster Adventurers, Dragon Knight and Wrestling Monster. May also overlap with Monster Allies.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Berserk:
    • Nosferatu Zodd combines this with a heaping helping of Blood Knight; he's a giant, monstrous brute even in his more human-looking form and something like a horned, winged minotaur in his monstrous one, and there's nothing he loves so much as a good fight with a Worthy Opponent. He has a sense of honor and grudging respect, and he is up for the occasional Enemy Mine when the situation warrants.
    • The New Band of the Hawk is filled with these guys (making it a pretty Badass Army ). Grunbeld, Irvine, and Locus in particular demonstrate a strong sense of fair play, refrain from Kick the Dog moments, and genuinely believe themselves to be the heroes. Their leader, Griffith, tries to invoke this, but is an utter monster beneath his angelic appearance.
    • The Skull Knight is an example insofar as he is no longer human, and has more knightly trappings (barded warhorse, sword, shield, and plate mail) than most. Unlike many examples, he does not appear to actually be evil, and since the death of Flora may be the closest thing the series has to a Big Good.
  • Bleach: Komamura is an enormous wolf man and Captain of Soul Society's 7th Division. For a long time, he was ashamed of his appearance and hid behind a helmet until it was broken and he decided to just go without it. It's eventually revealed that he and his clan were once human, but were banished to Buddhism's Animal Realm, which transformed them into animals. In the final arc, a Dangerous Forbidden Technique allows him to mostly regain his human form, but at the cost of being permanently transformed into a normal wolf once it's over.
  • Digimon: This is a very common theme for Digimon:
    • Leomon is a recurring example (especially in the anime), being a ferocious-looking lion-man who is also a noble and heroic warrior.
    • The giant bird Digimon Aquilamon is described as being highly respectful of decorum and unconditionally loyal to its master. Its traditional pre-evolution Hawkmon is also portrayed this way in Digimon Adventure 02.
    • The Royal Knights in particular are a group of thirteen Digimon loosely based on the Knights of the Round Table. They are high-ranking protectors of the Digital World, are at the direct service of the god Yggdrasil and put a huge amount of value on honor and codes of conduct. Even individuals of a "Royal Knight species" that aren't actually part of the group, like Takato's Dukemon from Digimon Tamers, tend to behave in a very knightly manner.
    • Digimon Fusion: Dorulumon turns his back on the Bagra Army precisely because they are not loyal to their own troops, putting them in harm's way just to preserve the general's "perfect" record. He is even more so in the comic adaptation, where it is revealed Dorulumon was the best warrior in a warrior society of other wolf monsters before taking their combat skill to the Bagra Army (he leaves the army for similar reasons and has even more guilt about his membership here, since he felt he disgraced his clan). The manga even gives Dorulumon a knight-like evolved form called JagerDorulumon.
    • Digimon Adventure: (2020) has CresGarurumon, a knightly Wolf Man decked out in gold armor that defeated a warmongering Zanbamon in the distant past. WereGarurumon is able to take on CresGarurumon's form when he and Yamato wield his weapon together against Zanbamon's evil spirit.
  • Goblin Slayer features a Goblin Paladin, who is heralded as the champion to the most inhuman, degenerated and vicious races in the setting, and yet he is explicitly a Holy Knight since he worships a non-evil deity (in his case, the God of Wisdom) but is every bit as depraved as his kind.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS: Garyuu, a mute, multi-eyed humanoid insect that acts as Lutecia's knight much like Erio acts as one for Caro. He ends up being one of the first villains in the season to pull a Heel–Face Turn, saving Erio and Caro before helping them protect Mid-Childa from Lutecia's out of control insect summons.
  • Centorea in Monster Musume is a knight, sometimes wearing a full suit of armor and carrying a sword (it's just a replica) and bow. She also often talks about honor, bushido, or a knightly code of conduct. She's more of a Cute Monster Girl than most of the examples here.
  • Monster Rancher: The wolf-like Tiger bandits, though the decayed state Moo's influence has brought on the world caused them to become less honorable (bandits), they avoid simply killing who they steal from even when it would be easy to do and under the right circumstance will accept duels in which they will not interfere on the behalf of their clan member until concluded. In addition there are also Centaur's band, who only joined Moo's cause because they were defeated by one of his big bad four and still reign justly in their realm otherwise, the martial artist Kato, the resurrecting guardian of the Jill village, Cinder-bird who willingly gave himself up to feed another monster who invaded due to starvation and the enlightenment seeker turned prized fighting champion, Most, who wishes to use what he learned to inspire the next generation.
  • Pokémon: The Original Series: The trainer-hating Bulbasaur, who later decides to challenge Ash to a battle to see if he capable of capturing it after Ash shows it there are honorable trainers.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica has a variant in Oktavia von Seckendorff, the Mermaid Witch who wears a set of plate armour and wields a sword. She is the Witch form of Sayaka Miki, who always wanted to be a hero of justice but who's perfectionism and inability to live up to her ideals led her to go insane.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann gives us Viral: A Beast Man with shark and cat genetics, he's got More Teeth than the Osmond Family and a vicious Slasher Smile to go with them. He also happens to be the most honorable character in the series.
  • In That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime it's relatively common within the Jura Tempest Alliance, as they are all monsters and are crafting a nation. Plenty are capable of fighting and quite a few fit the noble attributes nicely. Unlike most examples however, the vast majority here are truly heroic. The one that doesn't fit that is the Orc Lord and he's still a Tragic Villain who did what he did to try to save his people.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering: It's fairly common for Knights to also be typed as traditionally monstrous creatures.
    • Vampire knights are particularly common. Some, like Arvad the Cursed and the Blood-Cursed Knight, struggle against their curse and strive to remain noble warriors despite their cravings. Others, such as the vampiric conquistadores of Ixalan, embrace their cravings and become merciless predators against their foes. The Arrogant Bloodlord is notable for having a mechanic that kills it when it's blocked by a weak creature — its sense of personal honor is so strong that it would rather kill itself than be slain by a common soldier.
    • Shadowmoor's cinders, fire elementals left bitter and hateful by their smothered flames, posses some knightly cards as well. Examples include the Ashenmoor Liege, which rides a wolf, and the Kulrath Knight, which astride a giant bat hunts for the one who cursed its race.
    • Also native to Shadowmoor is the Hobgoblin Dragoon, which rides a giant cicada and fights skillfully with a lance.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! has a lot of these.
    • One example is "Zure, Knight of Dark World," a demon knight. The Flavor Text indicates he's a Noble Demon. There's also the "Beast of Talwar", who may not be as noble, but is certainly disciplined, as his Flavor Text notes that only a Master Swordsman among fiends is allowed use of the Talwar, and his art shows him Dual Wielding.
    • Any monster classed as a Beast-Warrior type has a high probability of being a Monster Knight. A good example is Wulf, Lightsworn Beast who is a Wolf Man, but is a member of a organization of holy warriors who travel through time to save those in need.

  • Marvel Comics:
    • The Knights of Wundagore are an entire Tribe Of Hats who have this as their hat. They're all animals evolved into humanoid creatures by the High Evolutionary.
    • Planet Hulk: No-Name, the Gladiator brood. The brood were considered an evil swarming hive who while having a parasitoid method of reproduction, took the enslavement and torture of other species way too far. No-name, however, was captured and trained as a gladiator. Then "she" teamed up with the Hulk to liberate Sakaar from the Red-king with the rest of the war bound. So No-name was not a product of her own culture but proved Brood could be honorable under the right circumstances.
  • Requiem Vampire Knight: Vampire knights are a subversion since, just like the rest of their kind, they are the worst, cruelest sociopaths in the world, finding concepts such as kindness, love and honor to be completely abhorrent, though Requiem fits the trope closer than most as he display these qualities to an extent, and is viewed as an degenerate because of it. The Dystopian knights, on the other hand, play the trope straight despite their race being the embodiment of Reptiles Are Abhorrent, they do adhere to chivalry and honor even though its noted to be very out of place in this setting.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Labyrinth, while trekking through the Bog of Eternal Stench, Sarah meets Sir Didimus, some sort of strange dog-like knight monster astride a large regular-dog. His basic deal is standing on a bridge and declaring You Shall Not Pass!. Sarah eventually simply asks to pass and he allows her, deciding to join her on her quest.

  • The Traitor Son Cycle: Tapio Haltija is an Irk — a cross between an elf and an orc gifted with extraordinary magic powers that can compel people to do his bidding. Nevertheless, he's still a trained knight and participates in physical battles and tourneys.
  • Words of Radiance: Eshonai, the Parshendi Shardbearer, fits this to a T. She's noble, a leader among her people, but still firmly opposed to the human characters for complicated reasons that can't be overcome by a simple Heel–Face Turn.
  • This is the staple of Christopher Rowley's Bazil Broketail series. The eponymous hero and his kin there are essentially wingless, bipedal dragons, integrated into human society in the Argonathi empire and serving in its legions as heavy shock troops. In battle, they wield huge longswords and are clad in plate armor. Although technically they are not knights (there are no nobles among the dragons of Argonath), each one of them does have his (or her) own squire — a dragonboy, paired with them at a young age, who cares for their dragon's weaponry and equipment, as well as the dragon himself.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The titular main characters of Akumaizer 3 are a trio of honorable demon swordsmen from the Akuma Clan who chose to side with humanity rather than their fellow demons when they declared war on human society.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: "El Eliminati" were an all-male vampire order of duelists that strongly adhered to honor. Unfortunately, this means they had a hard time adapting to the modern world and have declined into being just a shadow of their former selves.
  • General Shadow in Kamen Rider Stronger is a majin who adheres to a code of honor, refuses to do things like harm children, and wants to defeat Stronger in a fair fight. In short, he's a literal Noble Demon.
  • Power Rangers had too many of these to list. Goldar probably counts as the most well-known one, and the Knasty Knight stands out as one of the first Monsters of the Week to fit the description.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Elmo's World: In an Imagine Spot from the Books episode, Elmo is cast as a knight. When he explains to the dragon that he is a monster, the dragon runs away in fear.

    Religion, Mythology and Folklore 
  • Hindu Mythology:
    • Most Asuras worth mentioning.
      • The Rakshasas were among the most monstrous, being multi-headed, fanged or tusked giants who preyed on mankind and were expelled from Brahma's realm after he created them by accident and was nearly devoured by them in his sleep. Yet they also studied vigorously, meditated, grew gardens and developed a sophisticated society during the time they ruled on Earth called Lanka. Ravana from the Ramayana, possibly the biggest bad guy in Hinduism, was honored for his respectable points after Rama, the avatar of the god of the universe, killed him.
      • Also featured in the same work as Ravana are creatures such as MahaBali, an Asura who aimed to conquer all of the worlds but had a respect for the arts, philosophy and holy men such that Vishnu was able to make him give up all that he conquered without resorting to violence. Jatayu the giant eagle/vulture is an example on Rama's side and used as an example when the giant monkey king Vali argues that Rama should not judge him by human morals, saying that creatures such as Vali and Jatayu display the same level of intelligence and appreciation for society and thus should be held to the same standards of fidelity and conduct.
      • There is also a passing mention to Tripurasura, a monster accidentally created by the sage Gritsamad and destroyed by Shiva. Despite his unnatural conception, Gritsamad raised Tripura as his own son and Tripura's diligent work gained him blessings from the deva Ganesh. Unfortunately this blessing caused him to grow proud and wreak havoc across various worlds, so Ganesh relented and helped Shiva, who was finding him particularly hard to get rid of. Still, his meditation on Ganesh's mantra and others qualified Tripura for salvation after death, unfortunately he returned as the demon Mahamada on Bali's order and started a religion based around himself and corrupting the established religions (luckily for all non demons, Shiva will be around to destroy him again)
    • Hanuman is a size-changing monkey man who is a passionately loyal retainer to his liege Rama. He takes any attack on Rama as an attack on him, and when Ravana kidnaps Rama's wife it is Hanuman who is to first to take up arms.
  • The English medieval epic Bevis of Hampton follows the adventures of a knight errant. In one episode, Bevis defeats Ascapart, a giant. Rather than kill him, Bevis makes the giant his squire (though it isn't specified whether the giant is ever knighted). Though largely forgotten today, the Bevis cycle was hugely popular in Europe and was translated into dozens of languages. He was especially popular in Eastern Europe where the giant was made into a centaur named Polkan.
  • Some medieval texts feature werewolf knights. Generally, they're Crusaders who use their lycanthropic skills on the battlefield but end up losing their human sides after they return home. Some scholars believe these stories are metaphors for what war does to soldiers.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Levistus, the Lord of the Fifth and one of the most powerful devils in the cosmos, who bills himself as the finest swordsman in the multiverse — when he's not encased in an iceberg, anyway.
    • Bel, Lord of the First, who was a general in the Blood Wars.
    • Some of the typical "monstrous" races are also playable races, and makes good knights. Orcs and minotaurs are common examples.
    • For all their Good-ness, some Celestial races are quite terrifying in appearance, but they can be knight either in spirit or as actual classes.
    • A number of creatures from the D&D Fight Club article series on the D&D 3.5E website fir the bill. One example is Taibo, the Ethereal Filcher Monk, who stands out since ethereal filchers usually care for little but stealing trinkets.
    • Legion Devils, as the footsoldiers of devilish armies. They wield powerful polearms and are skilled in fighting in formation, even having extra powers that kick in when they're in a group.
  • Warhammer: The Blood Dragons are a vampire bloodline made up of battle-obsessed knights that are honorable to a fault. They believe that only cowards feed upon the weak — the only ones that Blood Dragons will willingly feed on are powerful warriors and monsters. And as such, they wander the realm looking for stronger enemies to fight, living only for combat, the attainment of honor and the thrill of battle. Though it may seem that they're the friendly sort, they're still evil as hell though fairly pragmatic since their progenitor Abhorash advised his fellow vampires that preying on the innocent would drive other people and neighboring kingdoms against them (they didn't listen and that is exactly what happened).

    Video Games 
  • Bloodborne: Most beast enemies fight with wild aggression due to having lost their minds to the Beast Scourge. And then the Old Hunters expansion pack introduced Ludwig the Accursed, the beast form of the very first Church Hunter and the guy behind the Ludwig's Holy Blade weapon. For the first phase of the fight, he'll be a standard beast, but in his second phase, he'll gain a massive SAN boost when the light of the Moonlight Greatsword falls on his face, and he will face you once again as Ludwig, the Holy Blade. In this phase he combines his monster form's strength with elegant swordsmanship to turn you into hunter confetti.
  • Dark Souls
    • The Capra Demon, a demon that is also a dual-wielding warrior.
    • Sen's Fortress is home to the Man-Serpent, a Lizard Folk-type enemy with a snake-like head and neck. The fight with sword and shield and are surprisingly adept with their weapons, though fairly slow. They additionally use their massive fangs in combat. Later games reinvented them into more common barbarian-type fighters rather than knights.
    • Sif, the Great Grey Wolf and loyal partner of Artorias. It wields Artorias's greatsword in its mouth and fights with spins, thrusts, and no small level of shrewdness. Encountering it in the Abyss in Oolacile will change the cutscene to have Sif recognize the player and howl mournfully since it has sworn to protect Artorias's grave, and the only way to get the Covenant ring needed to face the Four Kings is by defeating Sif.
  • Devil May Cry:
    • Sparda, also known as "The Legendary Dark Knight", was a demonic warrior who stood up for humanity against his kind and singlehandedly beaten the demons back to hell. Though he has a human form that resembles his children Dante and Vergil very closely, his true form is decidedly more appropriate for this trope.
    • Nelo Angelo, whom Dante comes to respect out of all the bosses in the first game. Makes sense, considering Nelo Angelo is quite clearly his brother Vergil.
    • The Holy Knights of Fortuna in the fourth game are a Church Militant organization inspired by Sparda that underwent an Ascension ceremony to become demons themselves.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Dragon Quest IX features the Wight Knight, a formerly heroic knight of a dead kingdom who has been trapped by the spell of a Succubus. Until defeated by the player, he doesn't realize that he has been dead for ages and the kingdom that he fought for has long since passed into history.
    • Dragon Quest V has the 'recurring Mandrake Major family of monsters. It is a Draconic Humanoid that wears a cuirass and helm, and wields a sword and shield in battle. The games generally depict them as being Magic Knights, in fact, in earlier Dragon Quest Monsters games, it can natively learn Gigaslash — a master-level magical sword technique that is typically exclusive to the The Hero characters from the main games (who themselves are Magic Knights).
  • Dragon's Wake: The Black Knight is actually an undead horror.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Several forms of lesser Daedra qualify throughout the series. Most notable on the Dremora, humanoid lesser Daedra who can often be found serving Mehrunes Dagon as his Legions of Hell. They wear heavy armor and use a variety of weapons, as well as magic. They refer to themselves as the "Kyn", meaning "the people" in the Daedric language, to separate them from other lesser Daedra, who they see as mindless animals.
    • Khajiit and Argonian players who chose to use heavy armor capture the visual aspect of this trope, and given both races tendency toward Stealth (thievery, assassination, guerilla warfare), can end up playing the entire thing straight if they stick to the Combat path.
    • This is common for Orcs throughout the series, as they favor heavy armor and melee combat. Though technically a race of Mer (Elves), Orcs face prejudice similar to the BeastFolk, but are also respected as strong and honorable warriors.
    • Oblivion:
      • The Golden Saints (Aureal) and Dark Seducers (Mazken) are two forms of lesser Daedra who protect the Shivering Isles and are pledged to serve the Duke of Mania and Duchess of Dementia, respectively. There is a certain level of rivalry between the two.
      • Jyggalag, the Daedric Prince of Order, is served by the Knights of Order, Tin Tyrant-like lesser Daedra outfitted head to toe in shiny metal armor.
  • Elden Ring: If the two examples shown are enough to go on, "shadowbound beasts" are huge Wolf Men who serve as loyal knights and bodyguards to an Empyrean (someone with the potential to ascend to godhood). Maliketh in particular seems to prefer walking on all fours, yet is one of the most graceful swordsmen in the game.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker: The evil Darknuts are jackal-headed monsters under their armor. They come in a number of different varieties, but all fight with sword and shield until stripped of their armor. Then they switch to kicks and punches.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: King Bulblin. The first time, he fights like a brute by just running down targets with his steed. However, he later dons a pair of bucklers to block Link's sword strikes and eventually faces off against Link in two one-on-one duels. Unlike many examples, he admits defeat honorably and disavows Ganon's service, becoming the Trope Namer for I Fight for the Strongest Side! in his sole line of dialogue.
  • MediEvil: Sir Dan Fortesque is a knight who was given credit for stopping an evil wizard in the past when in reality he was the first one killed in the battle. When said wizard returns and uses his spell to raise the dead, Dan reawakens as a skeleton in order to get a second chance to properly earn his place as a hero.
  • Might and Magic: Maximus is a recurring orcish knight, though there are multiple incarnations of him:
    • Maximus from Might and Magic III and reappearing in VII was an evil half-orc (visibly favouring his orcish ancestry, with tusks and green skin) knight that served as one of the pre-made characters.
    • Maximus in Heroes of Might and Magic I and II was a green-skinned, tusked Knight from either VARN or Enroth, serving with Morglin Ironfist and Roland Ironfist on Enroth.
    • Maximus from Might and Magic X and Heroes of Might and Magic VI is an Ashan-type orc, has tusks, and is a Knight. Might & Magic: Heroes VI gives the backstory of this incarnation: When war-chief Kunyak led the rest of the orcs in a slave uprising and exodus, Maximus' ancestor chose to remain living in the human lands. Maximus earned his position of knighthood through tournament combat.
  • Monster Girl Quest! has a number of examples. The Four Heavenly Knights stand out, being the four monsters who serve the Monster Lord, and of them Granberia stands out the most, being a master of the sword and preferring to fight against strong opponents.
  • Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny: Gogandantess (THE GREATEST SWORDSMAN OF ALL DEMONS). Despite being a pompous windbag he's also chivalrous and a Noble Demon to the point that the player character reacts with visible sadness when Gogandantess is mortally wounded in their final duel.
  • Pokémon:
    • Gardevoir and Gallade are inspired by knights (Gallade's design makes it more obvious, but the damsel-looking Gardevoir's Japanese name is Sirknight). They are described as being very honorable and putting their lives on the line when protecting something.
    • In Pokémon Black and White players can come across the Musketeer trio (plus Keldeo through downloadable content), whom ended a war between humans when Pokémon were getting caught up in it and whom become indignant (and more powerful) if you employ underhanded (or evil) moves against them.
    • Pokémon X and Y: Chesnaught, the grass Starter's final evolution, has a design derived from knights and one of its Pokedex entries describes it as using its own body to shield its allies from danger.
    • Zacian and Zamazenta from Pokémon Sword and Shield are themed on the sword and shield, respectively. They served the Heroes of Galar in defeating the Darkest Night, though when they're first encountered they lack their weapons and look decidedly more aged than when equipped properly.
  • Shadowrun Returns: Gaichu from Shadowrun Hong Kong was one of Renraku's Red Samurai before succumbing to HMHVV-K and becoming a ghoul. While this made him a pariah in Japanese society, he kept his sanity and personality intact, and still lives according to the bushido-inspired code he was raised to follow. He has even honed his swordsmanship to an even higher level than before, since ghoulhood made him even faster and stronger than he was before, but also cost him his eyesight.
  • Common across the Shining Series, which have various beast men sprinkled into its fantasy setting. Instead of human knights riding horses into battles, centaurs act as both, their human tops bearing armor and equipped with jousting lances or spears/javelins. Dragonutes are a race of draconic humanoids who typically wear heavy plate armor and fight with axes, maces or flails. Wolflings typically aschew armor to focus on speed and their own inherent strength (possibly with Wolverine Claws), but Zynga of Shining Ark bears a spear and shield. Birdmen are almost always equipped with swords and armor.
  • Undertale: Undyne, the spear-swinging, human-hating fish Lady of War in command of the royal guard. Also too honorable to attack you while you're on the phone or when you're in her house.
  • Vampire Night: Bathe'lemy was a knight in service to Comte Auguste that was turned into a vampire. He can also transform himself into a armored golem with blades in his arms.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade – Redemption: Cristof Romauld, the main protagonist. He was already an idealistic knight before becoming a vampire and he is driven during the entire game to rescue his love interest.
  • Vampyr (2018): William Marshal was a famous knight and an ancient vampire said to strongly adhere to chivalric honor. It's revealed that he still retains his knightly disposition as well as his faith in Christ (which is impressive considering faith is an anathema to vampires). The main protagonist himself, Jonathan E. Reid, is also supposed play the same role as Marshal's — protect Britain from the Red Queen's wrath, in one way or the other.

    Web Original 

Alternative Title(s): Monster Warrior