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Sometimes the Distressed Damsel isn't just a pretty and helpless love interest in need of rescuing; sometimes she's also a vital support beam for the continuing existence of a safe and happy world. Kinda makes dating awkward.
Much like a Virgin Powered Containment Field to a nasty Sealed Evil in a Can, the Fisher King (well, queen) of a kingdom, or a human Cosmic Keystone that makes sure the sun rises each morning, the heroes' Woobie is responsible for maintaining the Balance Between Good and Evil firmly in the Ghibli Hills side as opposed to Mordor.
Of course, this makes them the target of so many kidnapping plots even the parodies have become a Dead Horse Trope. Note that just plain killing the Barrier Maiden is rarely an option—either the villain becomes infatuated with her or he wants to Break the Cutie to The Dark Side and turn her into an Apocalypse Maiden, or there's a complex Black Magic ritual needed before he can destroy or steal her power. Simply killing will just make her reincarnate elsewhere...the list goes on and on.
The life of a poor Barrier Maiden is pretty sucky to boot (even more so than for a superhero's kid). She's usually treated as a MacGuffin instead of a person, is expected to make a Heroic Sacrifice if victory is on the line, and is usually chained to a temple or altar as part of her duties. As a job, maintaining the Containment Field or being a Cosmic Keystone usually isn't pleasant either: if the evil is becoming stronger or the Eldritch Abomination is weakening reality, she might end up dying either holding up the roof or when the barrier breaks.
Expect the Barrier Maiden to be a White Magician Girl, The Messiah, Apocalypse Maiden or Pollyanna. Male examples are pretty uncommon, but Atlas at least is a good one, making this Older Than Feudalism. See also MacGuffin Girl and Holy Child. Not to be confused with the Barrier Warrior, but they may occasionally overlap. Also not to be confused with a Maiden Barrier, which can also make dating awkward.
Anime and Manga
- Lucille Lilliant from Gundam X, who's put into a forced coma and locked inside a capsule for 15 years. A whole arc is about her using the last remains of her powers to contact Jamil, her former pupil, through Tiffa's body so they can thwart the enemies' plans to capture her.
- Also Maria Armonia from Victory Gundam, a powerful holy woman with Healing Hands and the puppet ruler of the Zanscare, as well as the Newtyope in charge of the Mind Rape device known as the Angel Halo.
- And later, Shakti Kareen...Maria's long-lost daughter, with exactly the same abilities.
- Yurin L'Ciel from Mobile Suit Gundam Age. How so? Due to her Psychic Powers, when the Veigans get a hold of her, they strap her to a MS cockpit and force her to becomer a living amplifier for Desil's own powers as he fights Flit, the boy that poor Yurin loves. To say It Got Worse is...an Understatement.
- The anime Blue Seed has Momiji, a girl from a family line whose daughters, descended from the aforementioned Princess Kushinada, must ritually sacrifice themselves (or not) to seal the dreaded Orochi from rising again. Things were fine until twin girls (the aforementioned Momiji Fujimiya and her older twin Kaede Kunikida) were born, "splitting" the bloodline and rousing the demon. Of course, it doesn't help that Kaede, who is as powerful as Momiji but much more knowledgeable as well as very embittered, has come to the conclusion that Utopia Justifies the Means.
- Ulrike and Ondine from Kyo Kara Maoh; being stuck in the same building for 800 years without cable would be torture.
- In Magic Knight Rayearth this is part of the job description of the Pillar of Cephiro, and is the factor that drives the Backstory and underlying plot.
- Asuna in Mahou Sensei Negima, mixing it with Action Girl.
- Modern-day high-tech example: Chise from Saikano is the ultimate weapon on whose shoulders the fate of Japan depends...and the invasion is underway. When she tries to take time out for dating, lots of people die. Which doesn't even begin to cover it, in the end....
- Saori Kido aka Athena from Saint Seiya frequently stood in this position. Notably in the Asgard (anime only) and Poseidon arcs, she uses her goddess' powers to delay Princess Hilda and Poseidon from flooding the planet and killing humanity. The effort was usually such a strain on her that it was a race against the clock for the saints to battle their enemies before time ran out and Saori died.
- Pictured above: Shun's Training From Hell and armor are heavily based on the legend of Princess Andromeda from the myths. One can guess what role he's filled more than once during battle...lampshaded very often when his backstory is explained and everyone wonders if Shun's destiny is to die for others like Andromeda was willing to do. He almost does once, for his friend Hyoga... and much later, when Shun turns out to be the Soul Jar for Hades, he IS willing to let himself be killed if it'll save the world. Too bad (but understandably) that Ikki could not bring himself to do so.
- In Soul Eater the Shinigami sealed himself to the ground of what became Death City in order to imprison the first Kishin, Asura. 800 years later, Asura gets out thanks to Medusa's Magnificent Bitch credentials, but for the sake of the manga's storyline Shinigami stays put. The anime, however, finds a way around that.
- In Star Driver this is a main focal point for the plot. The reason that the Humongous Mecha don't show up in the middle of the island is because there are four maidens that contain seals to keep them in Zero Time; the bad guys want to break the seals so they can use the devastating weapons in reality. The show starts right after the villains have broken the first seal. THE BM here is Wako, one of the Maidens: not only she's a valuable MacGuffin Girl, but anytime a fight starts she gets trapped in a force-field bubble. That's not being snarky; that is literally how it works.
- Reversed in Slayers Next. Lina Inverse is the only person who can destroy the world...but she's actually a Black Magician Girl. The bad guys spend most of the season pissing her off for just this reason.
- Kotori Monou from X 1999, who unbeknownst to her is one of the keys to the world's doom or salvation due to being one of the very few Dream Seers, able to see the future and enter people's dreams. Unfortunately, the girl is destined to die no matter which side The Protagonist picks... when Kamui chooses the Dragons of Heavens to protect her and her brother Fuuma, Fuuma becomes Kamui's Twin Star and near automatically has a Face Heel Turn, and one of his first actions is killing poor Kotori. But before her soul goes to Heaven, she tells her fellow Dream Seer Kakyou that the future is still undecided.
- Kurogane's mother from Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle was one of these. She was the miko to the local shrine which maintained the barriers keeping the demons at bay, and she was assassinated by Fei Wong Reed at a critical moment, resulting in the collapse of the barriers and the utter destruction of Kurogane's homeland, with himself as the Sole Survivor.
- Kushina Uzumaki from Naruto. She was the former host of the Nine-Tailed Fox, and later the seal keeping him inside Naruto was made of her chakra. She's also the rare Barrier Maiden who mixes this is Action Girl, since she was in a Battle Couple with her husband Minato aka the fourth Hokage.
- A sort-of unofficial example is Anko Mitarashi. After defeating her in battle, Kabuto spares her...only to keep her prisoner and barely alive, to slowly absorb Anko's chakra so he can get all of Orochimaru's power, coming from her Cursed Seal. Aaaaaaargh!. She's eventually saved, however.
- Both chosen children Naruto and Nagato could be considered male examples of this.
- The jewels inside the magical girls of Rakugo Tennyo Oyui are also what enforce the barrier around Edo. As far as barrier maidens go, though, they're pretty active in the field.
- The titular character in the manga version of Karin. Karin turns out to not just be a "blood creator", but a special kind of vampire named "Spirit of Psyche" that is born when the vampire species is struggling, so the blood Karin produces can bestow fertility in other vampires. Therefore, she's kidnapped by the Brownlick clan, which intends to first have the poor girl raped and forcibly impregnated so there will be more Psyche Vampires around, then feed from her blood to rejuvenate themselves -- even when that's almost invariably going to kill her. And Karin's Badass Family, logically, disagrees.
- A certain character in Haruhi Suzumiya is a barrier for herself; if she gets in a bad mood, or discovers her own volatile abilities, she's likely to unintentionally erase the entire Universe (while not even being aware that she'll do so). No one is sure what would happen if she died, but she seems to have created the current universe three years ago and made herself its God, so it probably wouldn't be good.
- In The Place Promised in Our Early Days, Sayuri ends up in a coma, which somehow prevents the giant tower from overwriting the world with part of a parallel universe. Destroying the tower might leave her in a coma forever, but waking her up could end the world (literally), so naturally they decide to do both.
- Surprisingly, The Brave Express Might Gaine turns out to have one. It's Maito Senpuuji's girlfriend Sally Yoshinaga, the only person able to handle the Innocent Waves System that can give her boyfriend's Might Gaine Team the energy boost they need to finish off the Big Bad.
- One way to see the Elric brothers, Izumi Curtis and later Roy Mustang in both the Fullmetal Alchemist manga and second series. These four performed human transmutation (breaking the biggest alchemic taboo) and therefore took glimpses of the Door of Truth, meaning they're vital in the plans of Father and the Homunculi...
- Bleach has Ichigo's friend and Love Interest Orihime Inoue, an Extraordinarily Empowered Girl with VERY strong Barrier Warrior and Combat Medic skills. . . which can potentially raise the dead, among many other things. Which is why the Arrancar arc has her forced to go into enemy territory under threat of seeing her loved ones all murdered after losing important fights against the baddies, since their leader Sousuke Aizen has shown interest in her "gifts". In a subversion, while Orihime is genuinely powerful and her skills are very uncommon, what Aizen truly wanted was to use her to lure Ichigo into Hueco Mundo.
- Much later in the series, there's a Rare Male Example: the Soul King, whose existence is pretty much the origin and the center of everything that lives and exists. If he ever died or was killed, then the whole reality and universe (Soul Society itself, Earth, Hueco Mundo, etc.) would collapse and disappear. As such, the man is pretty much permanently locked in a Crystal Prison, and has been for thousands of years. . .
- Bleach's Spiritual Successor Burn the Witch has another Rare Male Example: Balgo Ywain Parks, Noel's friend who, in the original one-shot, managed to survive an encounter with a Dragon that masqueraded for years as his dead best friend, and tame another one who became his sort-of pet. All of this made him a Dragonclad aka one of the people who can interact with the Dragons in themselves, but according to the Top Horns of Wing Bind (the Western Branch of Soul Society), the guy has potential abilities that go beyond normal Dragonclad ones; ie, before the series started he bumped into a woman named Macy and made her a Dragonclad solely from that.
- Shin Kamiya from the CG movie Tekken: Blood Vengeance fits in here surprisingly well, since he's the Sole Survivor of a group of teens from the Mishima Polytechnical School who were experimented on by the headmaster, Heihachi Mishima, and thus his body has been modified to the point that he's almost completely immortal.
- An issue of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season Eight comic features a young woman performing this task for a demonic house and not feeling at all well thereby. The character was based on a mentally ill fan, who evidently liked it.
- Fantastic Five, a what-if future continuity of the Fantastic Four, sets Sue Richards up as one in a quite literal sense. It's used as a surprise twist: A massive rift in space-time was just about to tear a few dimensions wide open. Sue was critically injured trying to close it. So, as her final request, Sue's comatose body is suspended in a massive generating machine, on a space platform in interdimensional space, so her force field powers can keep the rift from breaking loose and destroying the universe. Reed stays with her in a lonely vigil, continuing his work for the Five on Earth through remote-controlled proxy robots that the group claims are cyborgs.
- The protagonist of The Sentinel (not the television show) becomes one such at the end of the movie, guarding the literal Gates of Hell (she partially qualified by being a failed suicide).
- Leeloo from The Fifth Element is another example of this.
- The titular character from The Golden Child is a rare male example.
- The Childlike Empress in The Neverending Story was a Fisher King for the land and her illness is thought to be what's causing The Nothing that's destroying Fantasia, but her sickness is actually due to her needing a new name. (Fantasia is failing because very few humans are visiting these days. The two problems are related and can be solved in a similar manner.)
- Ehlana, Queen of Elenia in the Elenium trilogy by David Eddings, serves as a Barrier Maiden during the first 2 1/4 books. The ghost of a dead knight comments to the series protagonist that "the darkness hovers at the gate, and Ehlana is our only hope of light." The action of the series mostly focuses around recovering the mystic artifact that will keep the poisoned queen from dying, and thus prevent the world from succumbing to the grip of evil.
- In The Elfstones of Shannara, one of the main characters is a Barrier Maiden. A bit subverted, in that a magical tree is keeping shut a rift to the Demonic Underworld, and it begins to die. The female lead, Amberle, is the chosen one, but we only find out in the climax that this doesn't mean she heals the tree - she becomes the tree. Which is a bit sad when you're a 12-year-old kid.
- While the Archive from The Dresden Files doesn't actually prevent the destruction of the world by her existence, she is a repository of all mankind's knowledge and knows everything that is ever written down. Particularly in Small Favor, she's treated as quite possibly the single most badass Barrier Maiden in all of history.
- Jade Pearl, of Bridge of Birds, is a rather atypical Barrier Maiden.
- A rather darker example of the trope: in The Vampire Chronicles, the first vampire, Akasha, is in suspended animation and closely guarded in an underground vault by her vampire servants, since, while she herself is virtually indestructible, if she is harmed, all the vampires dependent on her would be destroyed. In ancient times, a usurper places her in the sunlight: while she only receives a tan, vampires around the globe burst into flame.
- There is a clear example in Tolkien's The Silmarillion: Melian the Maia uses her powers to guard and defend Doriath with a protection called the Girdle of Melian.
- Galadriel does the same with Lothlorien in The Lord of the Rings. It should be noted that it was Melian who taught Galadriel her stuff.
- Senna from Everworld serves as some sort of weird cross between this and Apocalypse Maiden. She's basically a living portal between Everworld and "the Old World" (ours), and several forces in Everworld want her for various reasons. An added twist: in a world full of murderous deities and a god-eating Eldritch Abomination, she intends to become the Big Bad herself.
- The Eternals from Fablehaven are a group of immortal Barrier People (not all maidens) who serve as the second lock to opening the demon prison Zyzyx. Immortality has not been kind to them, such that it is not actually all that difficult for them to be convinced to take their own lives. The Big Bad's Ironic Hell is to become one of them.
- Princess Jenna from Septimus Heap. Basically, the safety of the Castle depends upon her presence in the Castle, leading to both the plots of Magyk and Flyte as she is persecuted by DomDaniel and actually kidnapped respectively.
- Dawn of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the Key that holds closed the barriers between dimensions. Season Five centers around a Sealed Evil in a Can trying to leave Earth by using Dawn. Not only that, but near the end the heroes get into a discussion of what to do if the worst happens, and we get to watch Giles and Buffy argue over whether killing Dawn is an acceptable last-resort option...with Buffy finally stating flat out that if any of her friends try to harm Dawn, she'll kill them. Turns out she actually feels Dawn is part of her, and closer to her than Willow, Xander, or anybody...and she ain't doing the Angel-skewering thing again, not even to save the world.
- Lunagel (Rin) from Mahou Sentai Magiranger is the gatekeeper whose body and life keeps the evil monsters imprisoned in Infershia. Clare serves as her US counterpart in Power Rangers Mystic Force, though unlike previous gatekeepers, she nonsensically gets to stay alive when the gate is inevitably broken.
- A bit different in both versions. In Magiranger, her life force maintains the seal, so if she is killed, the gate will open. (The wheel thing above her head while she was captive, there in both versions, was to break the protection spell that normally makes this impossible.) In Mystic Force, the title of Gatekeeper is passed down, but fully sealing the gate killed Clare's mother, so it's said that opening it will kill Clare. The wheel thing was designed to tap that power. (She should still have died, though, and there wasn't even a Hand Wave. Rin, on the other hand, is in the clear, as it's not operating the gate that would kill her, but the other way around.)
- Princess Astra in the Doctor Who serial "The Armageddon Factor."
- The Keeper of Traken from the serial of the same name is quite possibly the inspiration for the Magic Knight Rayearth example. The Keeper has great power, but having to focus that power to maintain the Traken Union has to get And I Must Scream-y after having to do it and nothing else for years and years and years, but that's not the plot point that it is in Rayearth. Also, like Rayearth, there are still those who want to take the position despite knowing this.
- In Supernatural we get Lilith, the devil's right-hand man -- er, woman, I mean, demon -- who is the final seal holding Lucifer in his cell. Once she's dead, he's free to bring the apocalypse. Interestingly, there's a completely separate (male) character serving as the Apocalypse Maiden.
- The Imagin of Kamen Rider Den-O want to make their Alternate Timeline a reality by destroying the existing timeline. They travel to the past, laying destruction there, but the existence of Singularity Points (the Kamen Riders) prevent any permanent changes. The Big Bad then figures out that a special Singularity Point, called the "Junction Point", is the one keeping the timeline stable, and that the Imagins' victory will only be ensured by destroying the Junction Point.
- For crimes against the Olympians, Atlas, one of the Titans from Greek myth, had to carry the heavens (not the Earth itself, but the sky above it) for all eternity. He was ultimately turned to stone by Perseus for being a Jerkass to him on his way back; whether or not he was still aware is up for debate. But then Perseus was one of Hercules's ancestors.
- The above mentioned Princess Andromeda was stuck as one when her mother the Queen dumbly boasted that she was more beautiful than the Nereids. The very pissed-off Poseidon (whose wife Amphytrite was a Nereid) sent out a monster to punish her country, and to save her lands the poor girl was Chained to a Rock and set to be Fed to the Beast. The also above mentioned Perseus found out and released her, then they got Happily Married.
- An example from the Christian martyrology: the unnamed Princess from Saint George of Cappadocia's legend, as well as her Japanese counterpart, Princess Kushinada from the Orochi myths.
- Ashling from Lorwyn was supposed to be one of these, bringing the flamekin's fire through the transition to Shadowmoor. She didn't go along with the idea.
Once, there was a maiden...
- In Kingdom Hearts The Seven Princesses of Heart collectively have the power to reveal the keyhole necessary to get to Kingdom Hearts, the origin of life in the universe and a recurring MacGuffin. The bad guys do all they can to find the missing Princesses so they can fully take over.
- On a bigger scale, the Princesses' hearts of pure light repel darkness and keep all the worlds in the Realm of Light safe just by being there.
- Aerith Gainsborough from Final Fantasy VII is the only person who can summon Holy and save the world.
- Bastila Shan in Knights of the Old Republic, though this is due to her incredible skill with battle meditation and her telepathic link with a former Dark Lord of the Sith, so she is much more of an Action Girl than most Barrier Maidens.
- In the Seiken Densetsu, aka Mana, game series, The World Tree is not the same Mana Goddess that created the world as legend says, but is a person of some variety who became the new Mana Goddess/Tree the last time the world needed a new one. This is played to particularly devastating effect in Sword of Mana, the remake of the first game, in which the female protagonist plays this role. It's particularly devastating in Sumo's route since she's also the Love Interest of the main character there.
- In the Touhou games, the main character Reimu Hakurei maintains the barrier between Gensokyou (a sealed-off Fantasy Kitchen Sink) and the rest of the world. She's also very lazy, but she has a lot of innate power. "If [danmaku combat] wasn't just for play, no one could defeat her with any method." In fact, the Spell Card rules that turns combat into something more like a game for spectators to watch was created more for the sake of the youkai than for Reimu, since it allows them to win without killing Reimu and subsequently dooming the Magical Land they live in.
- The Legend of Zelda a Link To T He Past has seven of these (successors to the seven Sages in Ocarina of Time) maintaining the seal on the Dark World. Princess Zelda also takes on this role voluntarily in The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess, first when she surrenders to the Twilight King Zant in order to save her people from being massacred, and again later when she transfers her powers into Midna, to stop the imp from dying, and appears to die herself in the process.
- The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword does it again with Zelda, revealed to be the mortal reincarnation of the goddess Hylia. After you beat the sixth dungeon and meet up with her in the past, she reveals her identity and puts herself to sleep in the Sealed Temple to keep the seal on Demise intact. That's why if you manage to let The Imprisoned reach the temple even once...
- Likewise, Dragon Quest VIII featured seven descendants of the ancient seven sages who sealed Rhapthorne in the Godbird Sceptre, and who Rhapthorne had to kill (using others as pawns) to restore his corporeal form. The fate of these descendants is obvious.
- In Skyrim the Thalmor have made worshipping Talos illegal. Why? according to the lore, Talos is one of these, and if nobody worships him, along with the Heart of Lorkhan gone and the Dragonfires extinguished, Tamriel itself will cease existing.
- Princess Peach in the original Super Mario Bros.
- The Barrier Maiden thing was abandoned for a while, with Bowser's Motives changing from pure conquest to trying to win Peach's affection. However, more recent games have restored her Barrier Maiden status, though in a different form each time.
- In Yoshi's Island DS, Baby Peach is one of the Seven Star Children who are born with great power. Bowser attempts to steal the children to take over the universe (this would include Kidnapping himself, which would result in a few time related issues...) Peach is actually one of the children who escapes capture, and assists Yoshi and Baby Mario in saving the others.
- In Mario and Luigi Superstar Saga, Peach's voice is the only thing that can awaken the Beanstar, which grants wishes. She avoids capture through clever use of a Birdo, and again by having Luigi crossdress as her.
- In Super Paper Mario, Peach and Bowser are a Barrier Couple. If they ever got married, the Chaos Heart would be formed and begin to destroy the world. Naturally, this is the first thing the Big Bad does in the first part of the game. Peach is so easily kidnapped...
- The Barrier Maiden thing was abandoned for a while, with Bowser's Motives changing from pure conquest to trying to win Peach's affection. However, more recent games have restored her Barrier Maiden status, though in a different form each time.
- Fatal Frame. It's eventually revealed that Barrier Maidens were used to ritually seal the Hell Mouth under the house. You find out that all hell broke loose because the barrier maiden had only just caught sight of another man at some point before the ritual.
- Fatal Frame 2: The BarrierMaidens are twin girls (or twin boys). One of them is sacrificed to hell...darkness...abyss thing to prevent it from devouring the village, while the other stay in the village to act as a living goddess of some sort. The real Squick part? The girl who is to remain alive must strangle her sister as an act of sacrifice. And that's just the beginning of the circle of tragedy that engulf a lot of people, including the protagonist Mio and her handicapped twin sister Mayu.
- Colette from Tales of Symphonia, the Chosen One, intended to sacrifice herself to keep the evil of the Desians sealed away. Really suffers for it, both for the cost of performing her mission, as well as most of the villains and even a few others treating her as a MacGuffin. Not to mention her mission is a complete lie told by the Desians themselves, who were never "sealed away," her actual purpose being to save her world by screwing over another one, and becoming a soulless vessel for the Big Bad's dead sister.
- Richea Spodune of Tales of Hearts is the non-sacrificial version, and a double serving. First, she's the only thing holding The Heartless in check. When she's temporarily incapacitated, the Zerom and their symptomatic Despir Sickness return to the world like a sledgehammer. Second, the Big Bad requires her power to activate the Space Whale to go release a world-eating monster (he has a reason, trust me). Her elder sister is also one, having fused herself to said monster to seal it away in the first place. Yet another variant example is a massive Power Crystal powering a barrier protecting the village of Norquin. The maiden here is dead, but it's said that her will to protect the village remains in the Psistone and powers the barrier.
- Furiae in Drakengard.
- The protagonist of Persona 3 is one of these, holding back Nyx, the Anthropomorphic Personification of Death - interesting justification for We Cannot Go on Without You. His Heroic Sacrifice makes the seal permanent.
- He was not only just holding back Nyx, but also Erebus, who is the Anthropomorphic Personification of humanity's anguish and wishes for death. If Erebus and Nyx made contact, then the world would end. The protagonist becomes a wall (sealed in stone and stuck to it, no less), destined to stand between the two cosmic horrors forever, or at least until humanity as a whole is changed and stops subconsciously wishing for death. This could mean that he's there to stay but his former companions resolve to do what they can to change the world. Considering three of them could live indefinitely - Aigis being a robot, and Elizabeth being...whatever Elizabeth is - it could be possible in the long run.
- The PSP portable version adds a female protagonist. Despite how she and the male MC aren't exactly the same characterization-wise, she fulfills the same role in-story -- and it includes becoming the local Barrier Maiden, too. For better or worse, she can fall in love with the Appriser of Nyx, Ryouji Mochizuki, which adds a Star-Crossed Lovers element here. And here we have three possible companions that could potentially survive until the day she's released: Aigis, Elizabeth, and Elizabeth's younger brother Theodore.
- Another spin of the Kushinada myth is used in King of Fighters 97 with Yuki, Kyo Kusanagi's Tsundere girlfriend. Since *she* is the last descendant of Princess Kushinada in these days, the Orochi clan abducts her and plans to kill her in the ritual that will bring Yamata no Orochi back into this world. She survives her ordeal thanks to Kyo, Chizuru and Iori, though.
- Also in this category, in World of Warcraft, is Anveena Teague, who is the embodiment of the remaining energies of the mystical Sunwell. Eventually, she sacrifices herself in order to help the players defeat Kil'Jaeden, and perhaps restore the Sunwell.
- Summoners in Final Fantasy X would qualify except for Yuna, of course, who breaks the cycle.
- A villainous version also appears in Final Fantasy X in Yunalesca. She tells the heroes (and every group that had made it that far for the past thousand years) that not only must the Summoner sacrifice herself to save the world, but one of her guardians. Then, in order to leave Zanarkand, fight Sin, and save the world for real, she must be killed.
- Shana, from Legend of Dragoon. At first, one thinks of her just as The Chick and The Medic, but then everyone finds out she is the Moon Child, the only being able of resurrecting the Virage Embryo, last boss of the game. Until she is used by Melbu Frahma for this purpose, no one, not even her, is aware of her real identity.
- Misha, one of the three potential love interests in Ar tonelico.
- Rare male example: Martin Septim in The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, like the other Emperors before him, is the only person who can carry out the ritual that seals the barrier against Oblivion. At the end, Martin sacrifices himself, sealing the barrier forever.
- Sakuya from Okami is a cherry tree spirit and powerful protector. Her guardian saplings protect the nearby lands from evil, and their corruption not only weakened her into a coma but allowed evil to flourish. Amaterasu's missions largely revolve around restoring her saplings, culminating in Sakuya being restored and "refreshed".
- Kukuru from Arc the Lad I & II.
- Dragon Quest VII has a particularly cruel version, with the warrior Matilda, as she's being used by the monsters as a Barrier Maiden sealing away their hostages. Making matters worse is that she's a Broken Bird due to her past: her brother tried attacking the monsters' stronghold, but the other villagers chickened out, leaving him to fight until his death waiting for the promised backup that never arrives.
- In the Girls Love Visual Novel Akai Ito, this is the job of whoever is taking the role of Ohashira. The first Ohashira was Otsune, and in the present day it's Yumei. The Ohashira essentially become a ghost to seal the soul of Nushi with all the might of her soul. It's quite similar to the myth of Sakuya mentioned above. In fact, a character named Sakuya was really attached to Otsune.
- Nostalgia has one in Fiona. She is the only one who can touch the tablet fragments, thus preventing the bad guys from collecting them without her. She also has to die to seal the Big Bad away.
- It was in Mega Man Zero 2 did we finally find out what happened to the hero of the previous series. He used his physical body to seal the Dark Elf, a powerful Energy Being that is the cause of the World Sundering between the X and Zero series. This leaves X in borrowed time, only appearing to Zero as an Energy Being himself. Destroying X's physical body would release the Dark Elf, which would mean another mass genocide if she's in the wrong hands. And it just so happens to be the goal of the Big Bad of Zero 2.
- In Dark Souls, Gwyn, Lord of Sunlight, is this by virtue of being the Lord of Sunlight. In actuality, his real purpose as a Barrier Maiden is that he sacrificed himself by Linking the Fire, turning him into the fuel that allows all fire in the world to continue existing. Whether or not that is a good thing is an entirely different matter.
- Samurai Shodown:
- One way to see Nakoruru after her Heroic Sacrifice of SamSho II. She was supposed to have died, but it was retconned into her becoming a mix of Nature Heroine and protective spirit who remains dormant until the world's in danger and needs her to protect Mother Nature.
- The second game also has four Rare Male Examples: the four men who host the "Shining Souls", required to power up the game's Big Bad. Too bad that these guys (Jubei Yagyuu, Neinhart Sieger, Kyoshiro Senryou and Haohmaru) are all badass fighters who refuse to step aside, and when they are actually caught, they're saved by Amakusa's Good half, who desires redemption.
- Hazuki Kazama is a girl from a ninja clan who used her powerful sealing techniques to tame and seal two inmensely strong spirits, Enja and Suija, in the swords of her two older brothers, Kazuki and Sougetsu. Too bad that Amakusa heard about Hazuki's abilities and took a hold of her for the worst...
- A giant dragon ,who is Ryu's mother, in Breath of Fire 2 is seen blocking the door that leads to the final dungeon to keep the Big Bad from coming out. In a normal ending, Ryu replaces her since she dies.
- Fire Emblem is LITTERED with Barrier Maidens and the occasional Barrier Lord:
- The Jugdral games have three:
- In the first part, both Cigyun and her daughter Deirdre carry minor Lopto blood, making them targets of tyhe Lopto cult that wants to revive the aforementioned Evil God. Since Cigyun is dead already, they seek and ultimately capture the still living Deirdre, wiping her memories (including those of her marriage to the main character, Sigurd) and have her marry the other carrier of the minor Lopto blood - Cigyun's other son, Lord Arvis of Velthomer.
- The second part reveals the existence of one of the twins born to Deirdre and Arvis: Princess Julia. While her brother Prince Julius is the Apocalypse Lord due to his major Lopto blood, Julia inherited another Heroic Lineage: the Naga bloodline, coming from Deirdre and her father Kurth. Since Deirdre was killed by Julius, Julia becomes a key part to stop the Lopto cult's plans to bring their God forth, and even more so after she joins the cast led by her other brother, Deirdre and Sigurd's son Seliph.
- One of the Elibe games has two as well. They're the siblings Ninian and Nils, who are the party's Bard and Dancer. It turns out both siblings are half-dragons from their mother's side, and therefore the Big Bad (their Archnemesis Dad, though he doesn't remember them) wants to force the two to use a magic gate known as the Dragon's Gate so they can summon the Dragons who are at the other side. At the very end, either both siblings or Nils alone (if Ninian decides to stay in Elibe) go back to the world beyond the Gate and seal it from there, assuring that no human will use it again.
- Fates has Corrin's birth mother, Queen Mikoto. A powerful Combat Medic and shrine maiden, she uses her magic to cast a magic barrier over Hoshido itself: any Nohrians who cross the borders with foul intentions will lose the will to fight automatically, and thus will be forced to retreat. The Big Bad and Bigger Bad use a series of Loophole Abuses via causing an explosion from an Evil Weapon (Corrin's sword Ganglari) and then sneaking in a non-Nohrian enemy, and as a result Mikoto is murdered - the barrier then vanishes and this allows Nohr to step into Hoshidan lands, kicking off the war that drives the plot
- Three Houses turns out to have several, but mostly in the Cindered Shadows DLC. In the past, the Four Apostles (Aubin, Chevalier, Noa and Timotheos) tried a sacred ritual known as the Rite of the Beginnings to bring the Goddess Back From the Dead, but failed to do so and exiled themselves to the most hidden places in Fódlan. In the present, the descendants of said Apostles (Yuri Leclerc, Balthus von Albrecht, Constance von Nuvelle and Hapi) are hidden in a place named Abyss, and become key parts in the Anti-Villainous Big Bad's plan to enact a second Rite so he can bring back the woman he loved. . .
- The Jugdral games have three:
- Snowman from Homestuck is an evil Barrier Maiden—no one will kill her because they know if they do the whole universe will end, and she takes advantage of this to torment Spades Slick without fear of retribution.
- Varla from Dungeons and Dragons is both this and a Reality Warper. Poor, poor little girl
- Will Vandom and the other Guardians from WITCH may be partial examples, as the Veil that separates the worlds is drawn from the Heart of Candracar and the resulting drain on their power makes them weaker during Season 1, Will having the worst of it since it deprives her of any offensive ability; she doesn't even know what her elemental affiliation is! When the Veil is lowered in Season 2 all the Guardians receive a power boost as their powers return, Will gaining the power of Quintessence which is Shock and Awe, the ability to animate objects and give personalities to electrical appliance among other abilities.
- In South Park Bigger Longer and Uncut, Terrance and Phillip are the only two people preventing the apocalypse from being brought about.
- The Multiverse in Turtles Forever is tied to the existence of the original Ninja Turtles; if they die, then say bye-bye to the multiverse.
- Arguably, Princess Allura from Voltron: Legendary Defender. It's explicitly said that the Lions' existences were tied to her Life Energy by her Disappeared Dad.