A character archetype that frequently appears in The Hero's Journey, the Mystical Waif is usually a physically young girl (although she may be Really 700 Years Old) with a plot-significant power. While most commonly female, a Mystical Waif can be male, as long as he evokes feeling of protectiveness.
Ofttimes, she's a part of some mysterious, previously unknown society or race that possesses great magic, and she's not uncommonly the last of her kind. The bad guys usually want to exploit her powers to control/destroy the world, while the heroes want to save her out of chivalry or general contrariness.
Typically introduced as a part of the Call to Adventure, the Mystical Waif often appears to the hero seeking for his help while providing him with an exposition to the unknown aspects of their universe. Her introduction is what usually propels the plot from random adventuring to serious world-saving, as she recruits the rest of the party to help her collect the crystals, and she may spend some time as a Damsel in Distress before eventually joining the Heroes' team. If the story includes romance, she may eventually develop to be the Hero's Love Interest, or at least a contender for one.
Personality-wise, the Mystical Waif is usually pure-hearted and kind, although she may seem a little distant at times. She is also extremely naive about the world, and unfamiliar with even the most basic facets of the characters' lives — that is, she has No Social Skills, which can be Played for Laughs in the more light-hearted parts. She might not even speak the same language as the main characters' during her initial introduction to further highlight her cryptic nature. She can be selfless to the point of self-sacrifice at times.
Sure signs you're dealing with a Mystical Waif are odd hair colors; weird (by the standards of the fictional world), often futuristic-themed clothing; magical powers; blank, serious facial expressions; lots of ellipses in her speech; and an inordinate amount of attention from the villains. Frequently overlaps with Mysterious Waif, especially if her past or identity is kept hidden for most of the story.
She is a stereotypical party member in many RPGs. Gameplay-wise, the Mystical Waif is almost always magic-oriented, usually doubling as a White Magician Girl, or if more proactive, as Barrier Warrior or Squishy Wizard. She'll have weak physical stats, but strong magical stats and average-or-better speed. Her quality as a game character is almost entirely tied up in how powerful her attack spells are and whether anyone else has the ability to heal.
- Yagami Hikari from Digimon Adventure and Digimon Adventure 02, the human lightbulb. Also an Ill Girl, she is the only one to have a Crest (Light) that doesn't refer to an innate virtue or trait. The powers of this Crest usually manifest themselves in weird ways, and she has been shown as both 1) unusually self-sacrificing and 2) drawn to the Dark Ocean, because of her powers and walled-in emotional problems. She's also empathetic to the point of being borderline psychic, which sends her into two Heroic BSODs in 02.
- Reverie "Ren" Metherlence of Elemental Gelade is a mysterious and legendary weapon who is frequently rendered helpless and constantly protected by the main character.
- Wendy from Fairy Tail has elements of this in her introductory arc, including a Mysterious Past, bad guys wanting her (in the case of Brain), non-action status, bit of a Damsel in Distress, purehearted and kind, and The Medic. As the series goes on though she graduates to Little Miss Badass.
- Ophis "The Infinite One" in High School D×D is this. All she wanted was to kick Great Red out of the Dimension Gap and she became the Puppet King of Chaos Brigade just to fulfill her wishes. And then she joins Issei with most of her powers gone.
- Vivio of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, the main character's adopted 6-year old daughter who has differently colored eyes and was found trudging through the sewers while chained to a pair of cases containing Relics. She turns out to be the clone of the Sankt Kaiser, required by the Big Bad to activate the Saint's Cradle and packing enough power to match Nanoha blow for blow.
- My Hero Academia: Chisaki's "daughter" Eri is a particularly dark take on this, showing what can happen if the waif ends up in the hands of an enterprising villain. She's much younger than the rest of the cast (around elementary-school age), doesn't know much about the outside world, and has a ludicrously potent Quirk that can reset anyone or anything to an earlier state. This apparently works almost any way you'd like to interpret it, which makes it both uniquely powerful and incredibly dangerous. She ended up in the bad guys' hands after accidentally erasing her father from existence, just by touching him. A side-effect of her power is constant self-regeneration, so the villain has been dissecting her repeatedly to make Quirk-destroying bullets out of her flesh.
- Lala Ru from Now and Then, Here and There, who possesses the power to control water using a pendant that contains a vast reservoir of water. However, unlike most examples, she is neither pure-hearted nor kind. In fact, she hates all of humanity due to the utter HELL they put her through, and refuses to save the planet even though she has the power to do so. Until later, of course... but even then, you wish she hadn't.
- Re:Zero: Emilia is a mysterious girl in a white dress and is capable of using ice (and eventually fire) magic. In Act 3, she is targeted by the Witch Cult, who intend to revive Satella, the Witch of Envy, by having her possess Emilia's body.
- Hotaru Tomoe/Sailor Saturn from Sailor Moon seems to have many characteristics of this trope. She is mysterious, ready for a self-sacrifice, and wears unusually dark clothes; she also has several mysterious powers even outside of her Sailor Senshi identity (although many of the other girls did too). Her situation is somewhat different, as there are three sides involved: Sailor Moon, who wants to save her; the Guardians of the Outer Solar System, who want to get rid of her as she poses a threat to the world; and the evil Death Busters, who want to destroy the world with her help. A couple seasons later, she joins the main cast, and her powers overlap somewhat with those of the White Magician Girl Cool Big Sis, Sailor Pluto.
- Yui in Sword Art Online is the textbook definition of this trope. A mysterious girl found wandering in the woods with no memory of how she got into the game, Asuna and Kirito quickly discover her secret powers when she confronts a power dungeon boss that downed both of them and take it out almost effortlessly.
- Kisara of Yu-Gi-Oh!, the white-haired and blue-eyed Egyptian and homeless, quiet, vaguely psychic, mysterious keeper of the spirit of the Blue-Eyes White Dragon who sacrificed herself to protect the only person who ever showed her kindness, High Priest Seto...
- Yukina from YuYu Hakusho appears young but, like her brother Hiei, is a demon and therefore may be much older than she appears. She is pure-hearted, kind, distant, naïve, and has blue (or, arguably, sea-green) hair. She is targeted by villains either for her gem-making powers (They come from her tears! Awwww!) or because the main characters care about her and she is no Action Girl. She occasionally serves as the group's healer, due to her abilities in that field.
- Child of the Storm has Luna Lovegood, who, like canon, is sweet, kind, decidedly strange, and deceptively powerful. Harry encounters her earlier than canon and being more Hot-Blooded than usual, takes on bullies on her behalf (something which, while well-meant, backfires). While her appearances are relatively limited (she only appears a few times between chapters 50 and 70 in the first book, and even more rarely after and in the sequel), she's extremely important (her death triggers Harry's first obvious manifestation of the Phoenix) and in the sequel it's revealed that she's now (following her death) the new Delirium of the Endless.
- One of the very first Star Trek fan clubs, "Spock's Scribes", published a journal with satirical fan fiction about young women passengers on the Enterprise who cause trouble. Spock's human cousin Samantha Scott, written by the only adult member of the club, was definitely one of these. The daughter of Amanda's sister Amelia and a Dr. James Scott (no relation), both physicians on planet XX Larid, she was Raised by Natives after her parents died in an earthquake, and picked up Psychic Powers from them. She caused and attracted random chaos on the ship.
- Bright has Tikka, a young elf found by two police officers in the middle of a gruesome crime scene. Though her being an elf isn't necessarily out-of-place (in this timeline, magical beings have always coexisted with humans), she is a Bright (i.e. a mage) and is hunted by her fellow renegade elves who wish to recover a wand she is guarding for their own nefarious means.
- Leeloo, the title character of The Fifth Element is a human weapon created to stop the Ultimate Evil who crash lands on the main protagonist's cab and they must find a way to save mankind.
- Nine-year-old Moksha from Once Upon A Warrior is a child with psychic powers, namely the ability to heal wounds, and containing a powerful inner aura that the main villain, Irendri the Sorceress, intends to covet for her invincibility.
- The Scorpion King: The fifth movie features Amina, the keeper of the Book of Souls though she is actually the Book herself which the heroes intend to use to stop the Evil Overlord Nebserek from rampaging over the tribes of Egypt. Unusually, the bad guys aren't pursuing her in specific, they want The Hero since Nebserek has a score to settle with him and its the protagonists using her to stop his evil instead.
- In Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel Monstrous Regiment, Wazzer Goom fits this trope, as the brutalised girl who becomes the spiritual channel for communications with the long-dead Duchess of Borogravia.
- The Dresden Files: Through a horrifying series of events, the mantle of The Archive, the repository of all knowledge (including all the memories of the past Archives), was passed on to a newborn baby. To be exact, it's passed down the maternal line; her grandmother died relatively young in a car accident, and her 17 year old mother died in childbirth ( and, in fact, chose to die, not wanting to bear the Archive and bitterly resenting her newborn daughter for having a life ahead of her free of the burden). We first meet the Archive - dubbed Ivy by Harry Dresden - when she's barely 7 years old. She's tiny, resembling a little china doll, initially emotionally distant, has a degree of precognitive ability (previous seers such as the Pythia were the Archive using her knowledge of the past to predict the future), and is terrifyingly powerful. As in, in her second appearance, she goes toe to toe with an even dozen Fallen Angels in a trap specifically designed to restrict her powers and prevent her from escaping, and were it not for the gas she'd have got away clean, and the rest of the book has a lot to do with rescuing her. She's ''12.## When Dresden states that the White Council's assessment of her as being on par with the Summer and Winter Ladies is a significant underestimate, he's not kidding.
- Flute, in The Elenium trilogy by David Eddings, is a small girl who is revealed, slowly, to have greater magical powers than anyone else in the party. She can control time and animals, among other things. Eventually they find out that Flute is actually the goddess Aphrael, which explains everything.
- Luna Lovegood in Harry Potter Last of her line. Mother died when she was 9. Orphan's plot trinket = Butterbeer cork necklace and Dirigible plum earrings. Also pure-hearted and kind, distracted at times, weird, persecuted, absolutely adorable! Don't forget that she turns out to be pretty darned good at magic herself and can notice things that others don't.
- House of Many Ways features a little white dog who is actually named Waif, who had been living with Charmain's great-uncle William (Wizard Norland) for a short time. Waif is no ordinary dog, but a rare, magical enchanting dog. Later, we find out that Waif actually is the latest generation of the Elf Gift, which (or, as it turns out, who) is supposed to protect the royal family of High Norland. However, unlike most examples, besides having magical powers Waif does not act very mystical, but like an ordinary dog, who begs for scraps, overindulges on human food, and clings to Charmain who she has adopted as her owner.
- Maia, the child with the ability of Precognition from The 4400 fits many of the characteristics of this trope, with her slightly creepy otherworldliness (and, of course, her potentially important ability).
- River Tam from Firefly is the youngest member of the crew of Serenity, and aside from being a peerless genius and psychic, she apparently can shoot people without even looking and defeat small armies of berserk space pirates in hand-to-hand combat without trouble.
- Eleven from Stranger Things is a sci-fi-flavored version of this trope. She's a young girl with Psychic Powers and No Social Skills who Escaped from the Lab and is taken in and protected by the other main characters. Most of the series' villains are after her for one reason or another, and her abilities are instrumental in fighting off the supernatural forces that inevitably get unleashed in the process.
- Raven/ Rachel Roth from Titans (2018) hits most of important points of this trope. She is a teen girl with demonic magical power, appears in the main hero's life seeking his help, kicking a Call to Adventure, after some strange cult is trying to capture her. Her origins and powers drive the plot of Season 1, as her father is a interdimensional demon and wants to turn her into an Apocalypse Maiden. She also has the unusual physical appearance that comes sometimes with this trope.
- Ciri from the The Witcher (2019). She is very important to Geralt's story, as he is prophesied to meet her, with decades before she is even born, and when she is actually born she becomes his child of surprise. To go further, she is a teen princess whose mysterious magical powers of unknown origins, whose home was invaded and destroyed, forcing her to run away and search for Geralt. What's even worse, it's implied she is the reason why Nilfgaard invades Cintra and kills her family.
Once, there was a maiden...
...who fled a shadow, in the company of a friend.
They traveled through strange places, and among strange people.
"How can you trust me," he asked, "with such horror behind you?"
"Love endures," she said.
— The Scripture of the Bride
- Isabella/Catleia from Advance Wars: Days of Ruin., though being from a strategy game she obviously doesn't have the RPG stats part of the trope, being instead a decent all-round CO with a Game-Breaker CO power.
- Aveyond series has several.
- Aveyond 2: Ean's Quest has Iya, a failed Singer who was kidnapped by the Snow Queen to be used as a sacrifice to freeze the entire world. By the end of the journey, it is revealed that she is not a Singer, but actually a Song Mage, believed to only exist in legends.
- The third game has Stella, an amnesiac girl who was pursued by Gyendal because he needs her powers to activate the Orb of Light.
- Myst from the fourth game plays with this. She's a mist wraith, whose unique power sets include healing and shapeshifting. However, her younger brother fills the role better, as he's the one kidnapped by the bad guys to be used to summon Qetesh. The mist wraith queen (Myst's mother) kidnaps Boyle's dog and blackmails him into rescuing her son, and Myst serves as just another ally in the quest.
- Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite fits this trop to a T: She had a sheltered upbringing (The only character she had a relationship with prior to the game start was a giant Bird-Man called Songbird); she is naive and tries to help the people of Columbia; she has mystical powers; is of huge interest to the antagonist due to her aforementioned powers (And to the protagonist due to actually being his daughter) and gameplay-wise she fits the support role, giving you medkits, ammo, and salts. She takes a level in cynic after she is tortured by Comstock on an alternate timeline.
- Chains of Satinav has Nuri the fairy. The villain needs her for his evil plan (which involves an artifact that can only be used by a fairy, and she's the only one around), and has been searching for her. The main plot of the game gets into gear when the protagonist, Geron, finds himself duty-bound to flee his Doomed Hometown with Nuri in order to protect her even though, as his master explains to him just before his death, killing Nuri would stop the villain. She becomes Geron's Love Interest by the end as well. Being a fairy, Nuri has several magical abilities, though most of them cause her physical pain if she uses them. Dressed all in bright orange, and with feathers in her hair, she contrasts visually with most of the other characters in the game (who tend to wear neutral colors).
- Dragon Nest has Rose, the last of the Ancients who is able to see the future. She has been hunted by multiple factions seeking her powers, and the introduction quest for the Warrior and Archer classes is to rescue her from the clutches of goblins.
- EXTRAPOWER: Attack of Darkforce: Emerald, the Disc-One Nuke Psychic Child of the PMEC team. She's of uncertain origins, rarely says more than a few words at a time when she does speak, but is one of the most powerful members of the team due to her psychic ability. She's also something of a clairvoyant and knows when sometimes is about to happen, and seems to be able to detect people's intentions or trustworthiness.
- Final Fantasy is no stranger to this trope. Here are a few examples:
- Rydia from Final Fantasy IV — Last of the Summoners of Mist...
- Terra from Final Fantasy VI — Half-Human Hybrid of an Esper (the summons). Well...Thanks to the main character.
- Aerith from Final Fantasy VII — Last of the Ancients.
- Ellone from Final Fantasy VIII - mysterious past, flowing robes, special powers desired by both sides.
- Garnet from Final Fantasy IX — One of only two remaining summoners.
- This archetype comes up time and again across the Fire Emblem series:
- Genealogy of the Holy War has one for each generation, both of whom are Shamans. The first generation has Deirdre, a MacGuffin Super Person whom Manfroy needs to brainwash into marrying her half-brother, Arvis, in order to resurrect his master, Loptous, because she carried Loptous holy blood. The second generation, meanwhile, has Julia, daughter of Deirdre and Arvis; she carries Deirdre's major Naga holy blood, and as such is the only one beside Seliph capable of stopping Loptous.
- The midquel Thracia 776 gives us Manfroy's heiress and granddaughter, Sara. She claims that she could hear Eyvel's voice in her mind and that's why she wants to join Leif, because Eyvel, having been cursed by Veld's Petrify spell, something Sara can directly perceive and counteract, is a close acquaintance of the Lord she is facing.
- The Elibe duology has three: Sophia in The Binding Blade, and Ninian and her brother Nils in The Blazing Blade. All three of them are Really 700 Years Old half-dragons descended from human fathers, can sense the future, and fit quite well story-note and personality-wise. Furthermore, Nils and Ninian are strictly support units and are not able to attack or defend themselves, while Sophia is a Shaman instead (though she also has a healing touch, but in game proper, it's only used once and off-screen and promptly forgotten afterwards).
- Hidden City has several gender-flipped examples:
- The first one is Jacob, the player character's amnesiac friend whom he helped create a portal into City of Shadows. Shortly after their arrival, Jacob is kidnapped by the Shadow Cult for purposes that has yet to be known. It is later revealed that Jacob has been to the City before, and he seems to have a close connection to the House With Red Windows. He also have the exact same appearance to Leonardo, the purported founder of the City of Shadows.
- The Shadow Cult is also targetting Lucas Light, who possesses unique connections with the mystical forces in the City. He is able to materialize objects from the fog, and is able to tame the elusive ghostly deer. When Dr. Barry tries to study his powers, it inadvertently cause a sleep plague among the populace.
- Kingdom of Loathing parodies this with the Quiet Healer, who often drops the Amulet of Plot Significance.
- Alouette from La Pucelle Tactics hits enough of the required traits to fit here. Although not the last of her kind, she is found with amnesia, is mostly good with magic (although, as with all Nippon Ichi games, you can customize her as you like), is self-sacrificing and is the current Maiden of Light, even if she doesn't know it, which is a powerful position held only by one woman at a time and chosen directly by the Goddess.
- Shana from The Legend of Dragoon reeks of this trope. First she gets kidnapped and put in jail, then she turns out to be the moon child who will destroy the world. She exhibits the personality traits of this trope down to the letter.
- Lufia herself (and her analogues in the other games). She is kinda out-of-place in human society because she's actually a Sinistral, and the other Sinistrals want her to help them stay alive and do evil things, of course. She is also portrayed as cute, innocent, and a love interest of the hero, and of course, has lesser physical stats but uses magic well.
- Mega Man Legends 2 has Sera, who plays the part perfectly, until after you collect the keys, when she takes over the ship and reveals herself to be the villain of the game.
- Anne in Mitsumete Knight. No wonder when you're a Cute Ghost Girl with heavy backstory, blue hair, mysterious atmosphere, and crucial importance to the heroine's and the game's storyline.
- In the interactive romance novel Moonrise, Alice is a young woman who begs the player to protect her. Over time, she slowly reveals she has supernatural empathic abilities, which causes various supernatural factions to fight over her. In addition, various characters suggest that somewhere out there The Chessmaster has manipulated events to boost her powers.
- Subverted in Phantasy Star III with Maia, who is a mysterious, solemn, white-haired maiden who washes up on the beach, has no recollection of her past, and gets abducted by a dragon on her and Rhys' wedding day. Turns out the dragon is her shapeshifted brother, her amnesia was entirely mundane, and there's nothing unusual about Maia herself except that she's a princess. She doesn't even use magic.
- Fina from Skies of Arcadia practically defines this trope - she's a futuristically-dressed, kind, naive, shy girl with the highest magic attack and most potent healing abilities in the game, who is a descendant of one of the lost Ancient Civilizations and is doggedly pursued by the Valuan Empire (due to the fact that every member of her race gets their life force from one of the Silver Moon Crystals, and the only other member of the race the Big Bad has access to is The Dragon and is therefore not expendable) to the point that the game begins with botching the Valuans' first kidnapping attempt. The game revolves around her, in fact; the part of the game you spend neither helping her on her quest (which, to hammer the trope home, is to collect all of the Moon Crystals to stop the villains from using them to destroy the world) nor trying to save her is about one dungeon long, and it's at the very start of the game between bringing her to your hometown and the Valuans destroying it to get to her. Oh, and she's also one of the hero's two Love Interests alongside the Girl Next Door.
- Visas Marr from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2, though older than the archetype, otherwise fits this: she is sole survivor of the destruction of her planet, her species (Miraluka) are blind normally but "see" using the Force, and she speaks in strange ways. She can be sacrificed, if the player chooses to do so.
- Rosalina, at least in Super Mario Galaxy, with her tragic backstory and enigmatic nature. Her other appearances eventually avert this, revealing she's quite a bit more resilient and playful than most examples.
- Julius from Sword of Mana is a very rare example, seeing as he's male and an antagonist to boot. He's still the Last of His Kind, exclusively uses magic, has a Mysterious Past, and is integral to the plot of the villain, who out-and-out hijacks his body eventually. His... uh, friend Dark Lord (the other main antagonist) seems to know exactly who and what he is and is implied to be sheltering him from the prejudice of the world while simultaneously keeping him from falling completely to evil.
- Sophie in Tales of Graces. Mysterious, plot-relevant past? Check. No Social Skills? Check. Futuristic clothing? Check. Long lilac hair? Check. She's everything but physically weak though.
- Kanna from Three the Hard Way She's a Really 700 Years Old alchemist, who is secretive and enigmatic in personality, and seems to know the Big Bad quite well. Gameplay-wise, she's a unique character with a relatively low physical and magical abilities, but can create and have access to alchemical weapons that can easily decimate Bosses. Despite being relatively useless in normal battles, one of the strongest party member actually remarks that they don't stand a chance against the Big Bad without her.
- Avril from Wild ARMs 5 hits almost every single criteria for this trope. Silver hair, serious expression, unfamiliarity with customs, amnesia, sought by the antagonists, good with magic (although this is customizable), and Really 700 Years Old.
- Despite being male, Joshua from The World Ends with You is a good example of this trope. He randomly makes a pact with Neku, is arguably Really 700 Years Old, and in a twist ending turns out to be the Big Bad, who does a HeelFace Turn after the final boss.
- Xenogears gives us Emeralda, who in addition to being Really 700 Years Old is a Voluntary Shapeshifter. She fits this trope so perfectly, it's damn scary.
- Melissa in "Fortissima's Treasure Hunters". She was apparently encased in a large green crystal for several generations, is able to shoot fire from her fingers, speaks a backward language (literally! The words in her speech balloons are spelled in reverse), and her eyes glow when she sleeps.