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Only Good People May Pass

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So you got yourself a MacGuffin/treasure/other item of value. Great. But of course, you have to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. The problem? Ordinary security measures won't do it. The Big Bad has the power to break through any standard magical and/or technological method of protection in a matter of minutes. What to do?

Simple. Protect your item by placing it somewhere evil people can't go to. There are two basic means of doing this:

  1. Magically create a barrier that locks out anyone with an impure heart and secure the object there. Keep in mind, this kind of magic doesn't discriminate. Even good people can have impurities of heart, and you risk running into Pure Is Not Good.
  2. Place the object on ground that is innately sacred, such as a shrine, temple, or church. The sacred nature of the place should keep out evil people. (Keep in mind, whether or not this works depends on the rules of the universe you live in: sometimes Holy Burns Evil, in other works it's less powerful).

If all of the above work perfectly, expect the bad guys to use the MacGuffin Delivery Service.

Sub-Trope of Only the Pure of Heart and Only the Worthy May Pass. If you are not worthy to this place, then You Shall Not Pass! and sometimes prepare for a Fate Worse than Death. Usually this place is guarded by a Gate Guardian. Tangentially related to Phlebotinum-Handling Requirements and Trial by Ordeal.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The title character of Inuyasha once had to enter a cave that was protected by an enchantment that prevented anyone from going in for selfish reasons. Needless to say, this presented some difficulty for him.
  • The entrance to Paradise in Wolf's Rain. Darcia attempts to enter after being fatally poisoned by Cheza's blood and is spectacularly destroyed. Unfortunately this also prevents Kiba and Cheza from using the portal.
  • Heaven in Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt is shown as this. In fact, both titular angels were kicked out of there because of their deadly sins (including Lust and Gluttony) and now they have to gain their re-entrance with "Heaven Coins", getting them by destroying Ghosts in Earth and saving people in the process.

    Comic Books 
  • Sky Doll features Aqua, the world of (another) alien species who are devoted to harmony and peace. To keep aggression away, the method of entering Aqua expects that the individual seeking entrance can "purify their mind" through meditating in a specific place. It's proven not quite failsafe when an assasinator manages to enter by using a specific drug.
  • Hellblazer: The "All His Engines" story has John exploit this by summoning a bunch of demons inside a church (so they can't pass the door). Cue an Aztec death god, who is older than Christian rituals and thus could not care less about them, plowing through the wall and devouring them all.
  • The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: The Matrix of Leadership has a "morality lock" that ensures only the worthy can open it; the corrupt lineage of Primes that lasted up to Zeta Prime came about because they lost the real Matrix and used a fake, with Optimus Prime finding the real one after Megatron's betrayal. It's mentioned that certain non-Cybertronian religions are willing to accept "ability to open the Matrix" as proof of good character. When Rung creates twelve Matrices to defeat Functionist Cybertron at the climax of Lost Light, most of the main cast manage to pass the lock: Ratchet, Nautica, Swerve and Misfire, Rodimus, Lug, Riptide, Tailgate, Thunderclash, First Aid, Velocity, Roller, even Whirl. Later, at Megatron's retrial, Rodimus lies on the stand and claims that Megatron managed to open one.

    Film - Live-Action 

  • Philip Jose Farmer's Riverworld series. The entrance to the Dark Tower has a barrier which prevents anyone from passing unless they are sufficiently ethically advanced.
  • The Divine Comedy: While sinners are famously sent to the various circles of Hell depending on their greatest sin in life, the entrance to Hell (Limbo) is populated by "virtuous pagans": philosophers or good people in general but were unfortunately not baptized (being for the most part born before Christ). Among them, Dante put Homer, Plato and Saladin (due to being a Worthy Opponent during the Crusades; by contrast, the prophet Muhammad is in the circle reserved for those who create discord).
  • In Deltora Quest
    • For anyone who drinks from the Dreaming Springs, if they are of good will then they will visit the place they thought about while drinking in their dreams, but for those who are evil they will become transformed into trees.
    • Only those who are righteous with no evil intent can enter the City of Tora. If an evil being tries to, such as the Ol named Dain, they became greatly weakened and reduced to a sobbing mass.
  • This is the requirement of the final test to get the Philosopher's Stone in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Dumbledore specifically set it up so that only a good person who wanted the Stone, but not for their own use out of personal greed, etc. could get it. Therefore Harry, who just wants the Stone to protect it from Voldemort, is worthy, and Voldemort, who wants the Stone to achieve immortality, is not.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Reaper, Alan Townsend takes advantage of this to hide from The Devil after he wins his freedom from his contract. He hides in a cemetary, which is consecrated ground. This prevents The Devil from tempting him into sin.
  • The main purpose of the season 2 of The Good Place: After the revelation that The Good Place is revealed to be the Bad Place the whole time, thanks to a scheme of Michael who planned to have the four protagonists (Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani and Jason) torture each other. The four main characters all tried to be good by performing good deeds to get into the real good place.
  • In Arrow, the episode "Haunted" had Oliver and John Constantine finding a mystical place with a seal that warned only those pure of heart could pass. Constantine was under the impression that Oliver was a bad person so hand cuffs him and leaves him outside, but Oliver escapes and enters the room, proving he's actually good.
  • Stargate SG-1: Zigzagged Trope in "The Quest", when the team goes looking for a MacGuffin that can defeat the evil godlike Ori, but are forced to team up with the Ori's field general Adria and the former Goa'uld System Lord Ba'al to safely traverse the maze leading to the treasure. The final doorway is through a Stargate that automatically refuses entry to Adria, but lets Ba'al through. Daniel Jackson points out that the Ancients who designed the Gate probably didn't see the Goa'uld as a real threat compared to the much more powerful Ori.

    Tabletop RPG 
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Dragon magazine #50 article "The Glyphs of Cerilon". One of the Symbols (clerical/priest spell) in the article causes damage to anyone of Evil alignment who tries to pass it.
    • Several spells do this, such as the mage/wizard spell Antipathy and the cleric/priest spell Forbiddance, which can be used to enchant just about anything to make a creature of any given alignment not wish to approach.
    • The Forgotten Realms city of Silverymoon has a variety of powerful magical wards, one of which bars entry to creatures with an evil Character Alignment who belong to a long list of species. Evil humans and demi-humans, however, are free to come and go.
  • Call of Cthulhu
    • The Elder Sign can block the passage of any creature of the Cthulhu Mythos (who are almost all evil).
    • Campaign setting Shadows of Yog-Sothoth, adventure "The Watchers of Easter Island". The Crystal of Noa is placed inside an Elder Sign to protect it from being stolen by the evil Deep Ones.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, there is the Black Library. Despite the imposing name, it is actually a catalog of all the known information regarding Chaos. The Eldar Harlequins that guard it are known to grant access to anyone they feel has both the need and the strength of character to be useful in the fight against Chaos. Notably, the Emperor of Mankind has entered.

    Video Games 
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne has three doors you can only go through if you are on a different section of the morality meter that was based on what Magatamas (power-up items)you had mastered thus far in the game: Light, Neutral, and Dark.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link: The Great Temple (the final dungeon of the game) houses the Triforce of Courage—and true to the item's name, the Temple's barrier will not open unless the entrant has placed six jewels in the other temples as proof of their courage. The final challenge, before the person can claim the Triforce itself, is to fight the evil within them.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: The entrance to the Sacred Realm (also known as the Golden Land) where the Triforce dwells is hidden and requires four sacred objects (the Kokiri Emerald, Goron Ruby, Zora Sapphire and Ocarina of Time) that are each protected by the various nations that populate Hyrule. Only possessing all four and then playing the Song of Time in the Temple of Time will reveal the hidden entrance, but this is technically possible if the items are stolen through nefarious means. The final test, however, is pulling out the Master Sword, which can't be touched by someone evil. Unfortunately, there's nothing stopping someone evil from waiting for a good person to do all that, and then step inside and enter the Sacred Realm themselves.
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker: At the conclusion of Ocarina of Time, the previous Chosen One that wielded the Master Sword was sent back to his original time, thus breaking the cycle of reincarnation which spawns a new Chosen One. The Tower of the Gods was created to test anyone who wanted to wield the sword in the future, and it requires three pearls that embody the virtues of the goddesses themselves to unlock it.

  • Very close to the beginning of The Order of the Stick, the heroes are fooled into helping The Psycho Rangers claim a powerful magic talisman. The final layer of protection for the talisman was a group of runes that wouldn't activate and reveal the room where the talisman was kept unless all three runes were touched by someone of pure heart. Naturally, various members of the Order were convinced or tricked into touching these runes.

    Western Animation 
  • El Tigre: During hero awards, they have in the doorway (where a metal detector would be in an ordinary building) a good and evil detector, meant to catch any bad guys trying to sneak in disguised. White Pantera buries the needle at good. His father, Puma Loco would likely bury the needle at evil and be carted off to jail. His son, Manny, as El Tigre, upon entering the machine, causes the needle to flail wildly between good and evil before finally exploding.
  • Samurai Jack: In "Jack and the Warrior Woman", the reality warping gem—powerful enough to send Jack back to his own time—is protected by a magical guardian who bars the way for all but the pure of heart. The guardian attacks Jack's companion for the episode, Ikra, revealing she was evil all along.
  • Here Comes the Grump: The Grump chases the heroes into a deep pit. As they fall, the heroes find themselves gently floating. Grump gazes into the hole and reads a message: "The good float lightly, but the bad will fall." Declaring "I'm just as good as any of them", Grump steps into the hole - and of course falls with a splat. Grump is further infuriated when he looks up and sees that his dragon is floating down.