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I don't have to save her. I will save her!—Ichigo, Bleach
A person (usually The Hero) has his entire motivation built around protecting a girl. Most of the time, it's his Love Interest, but it could also be his little sister, or his daughter. (Female cases do occur as well, but they've usually got a subtly different tone to them, and don't really fall under this trope - with the exception of lesbian-love-interest situations, where one of the girls basically play the 'male' half of it.) In Anime, the sentence "Zettai Ni Mamoru!" is likely to get used - if not spoken aloud, then thought.
Almost every time, some sort of complication will arise from this situation.
- She's an Action Girl and quite capable of looking after herself, most of the time. The hero has a hard enough time just keeping up with her, much less being of any use to her, and will often chastise himself for failing to live up to his perceived duty as a male. (This never happens in the 'lesbian' version, since the most combat-worthy of them almost automatically will take the male role.) Inevitably, however, she will get into trouble, at which point the hero's Hot-Blooded-ness will manifest and he'll become suddenly competent as he leaps to save her.
- He fails to protect her, and she winds up the Dead Little Sister, his Greatest Failure. In this case, she's more likely to be part of the backstory than the main cast. It might have been his Start of Darkness, as he went over to The Dark Side while seeking revenge, or went mad while seeking to bring her back. Or maybe he just cracked and turned into a Death Seeker. If she survived despite his failure, the effects will be less severe, but all of the above can still occur -- there's just a better chance of redemption later on.
- She's normal, and he's not... and the main reason she's even in danger is that someone is hunting him. Thus, he feels compelled to part with her, or run away from his other responsibilities to keep her safe. It almost never works. Note that most of the examples in It's Not You, It's My Enemies do not apply here -- for it to qualify, protecting that girl has to be the character's main driving motivation -- so, for example, Spider-Man wouldn't qualify, since he knows he has a greater responsibility to protect the entire city, and the world. (And let's not even mention One More Day...)
- He protects her, but at the cost of his life, or nearly so. If he dies, it could be a Start of Darkness for her, particularly if she has any kind of power. If he survives, it's more likely to work as a Berserk Button, but it might also compel her to try and push him away so he won't get hurt again.
- The girl turns out to be The Mole, or just plain bad news. The guy likely won't see this, even if other try to tell him - and it's fairly likely that he won't realize it 'till she finally stabs him in the back. It can turn out in a lot of different ways, but it's usually quite tragic. If he kills her in response, it'll probably turn out that she was acting under duress, and he'll be swallowed by grief and regret. If he dies by her hand, she'll probably realize that she really did love him, and be swallowed by grief and regret. But if he continued to insist on protecting her, even after she's shown her True Colors, she might realize that she really does love him before she kills him, and be redeemed by love...
- 'Protecting the girl' turns out to be more complicated and morally ambiguous than it sounds. Maybe she's got some sort of weird power that makes a lot of people fear her, or maybe the very layout of the world makes it impossible for her to live in peace. The hero may be forced to fight and kill more-or-less innocent people who attack her out of fear, or orchestrate rebellions and war in order to change the world for her benefit -- either way, there's bound to be a lot of victims, and the 'hero' will start to look less and less heroic...
- In the past, the girl did something for the guy. Either saved his life, pulled him out of trouble, gave him something he needed, etc. So the guy cherishes said moment in which the girl was there for him, feels indebted to her and swears to protect her as a way to pay her back for her help. Debts must be paid, after all... even if it involves pretty much going to Hell and back to not owe that girl anything.
Naturally, not all cases will fit neatly into one of these categories, and of course, there are cases where there isn't really any major complications - just a guy protecting a girl from the Monster of the Week, for as long as it takes.
Related tropes are numerous. Effectively, it is a subtrope of The Protectorate and The Champion. Bodyguard Crush is when the protection comes before the emotions. The Dulcinea Effect is when this absolute dedication pops up all of 10 seconds after he first sees her. Mama Bear is when it's a mother protecting her daughter instead of a father. This trope is part of the job description for Lady and Knight.
Warning! Some of these examples will be spoilers solely by virtue of which 'type' they get placed under! I Will Protect Her
She is an Action Girl herself
- Revolutionary Girl Utena lives, breathes, and eats this trope, and for once in the show's history, it plays it totally straight.
- Kekkaishi. Yoshimuri has sworn to protect Tokine, but while he has a great deal of raw power in the art of Kekkaishi, Tokine is vastly superior in terms of skill and refinement - so he can barely keep up with her, and usually ends up needing her help in a fight, rather than the other way around. (In truth, they're pretty evenly matched, but she's too proud to admit it, and constantly belittles his lack of skill - which he takes completely to heart, causing him to often convince himself that he was no help at all, even though his raw power was as important in defeating the Monster of the Week as her technique.)
- Claymore could be interpreted as having at least two of these.
- In Digimon Adventure, Takeru promised to Sora that he'd protect Hikari. Fast forward to Digimon Adventure 02 and Takeru still takes that promise very seriously even if Hikari by now can already take care of herself (provided an Eldritch Abomination isn't messing with her head). To wit, he is seen putting himself protectively in front of Hikari (episode 3), seemed angry at himself for accidentally leaving her stranded in the Digital World (episode 7), and doggedly searched for her when she was taken by the Dark Ocean (episode 13).
- In Dragon Crisis, Ryuuji does this for Ai. She is able to read his thoughts due to magical earrings she was wearing at the time. Although she learns that he's scared, he still tries to protect her, long enough for the Big Damn Heroes to show up to help him.
- Gin's relationship with Rangiku in Bleach mixes this and "Protecting her gets complicated". They met when they were Street Urchins, she was once severely beaten up by Aizen's cronies, then he promised to become a Shinigami so she wouldn't cry again... but not only she became an Action Girl in her own right, to protect her...he became the biggest Jerkass in Soul Society. Then, having failed to defeat Aizen, he dies, regretting how he couldn't avenge her and thinking he should have truly apologized to her. And then, we see her cry her heart out over his lifeless body...
- Also, Tia Harribel towards her Fraccion. In the wild, she lived as close as she could to a life of non-violence and starvation to defy the Social Darwinist laws of Hueco Mundo. Since then, she has been motivated to fight by a desire to keep her few friends from dying... and these friends are her Amazon Brigade.
- In Ookami-san, Hopeless Suitor Ryoshi Morino says almost the exact same words to Love Interest Ryoko Ookami, which consequently leads to the latter developing feelings for the former.
- Shuuyu has this problem in Ikki Tousen. He's a skilled fighter, even amongst his fellow 'reincarnated Romance of the Three Kingdoms warriors', but he doesn't have quite the same level of world-shaking power as his Bodyguard Crush, Sonsaku. The fact that Sonsaku is Oblivious to Love and a fight-loving Blood Knight does little to improve his situation - her first reaction to him declaring his intent to protect her even at the cost of his own life, is to ask if he's eaten something strange...
- The eponymous character of Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple has sworn to just about everyone in earshot that he'll become strong enough to protect the Love Interest, Miu. Naturally, since she's the granddaughter of the man who owns the dojo that Kenichi attends, she's a far better fighter than him.
- Guts from Berserk falls into both the first and second categories listed above. He did everything he could to save Casca during the Eclipse, up to and including chiseling off his own left wrist, and she was still raped in front of him by Femto. She survived, but her mind was completely gone. Her fate is most of what fuels his post-Eclipse Unstoppable Rage during battle and continuous Roaring Rampage of Revenge. Later, when Guts puts said roaring rampage on hold, his top priority is to protect Casca above all else - even from himself.
- While rather understated (as in it's clear to the reader, but he hardly shouts about it) it's plainly one of Soul's motivations for protecting Maka. He insists its because it's his job as a Weapon. Fits whether or not you view them as a canon couple. Jackie shows a similar angle towards Kim with aforementioned connotations. Though the basic sentiment extends to pretty much every Weapon/meister team and works both ways.
- While Akira and Mina generally fit in this category, it's complicated by the fact that they're pretty much a match for each other. Though to be frank if Mina had to watch her own back all the time she'd have absolutely no time left to, y'know, rule, and Akira has "protecting her" in his job description.
- In Pokémon Special, admittedly, it takes only a little while for Lady Berlitz to become an Action Girl, but nevertheless, Dia and Pearl swear to protect her with their lives after they learn the truth about the whole situation surrounding her though Dia did have a good idea of what was really going on the whole time and when her real bodyguards get banished into the Distortion World.
- In Code Geass, Lelouch does this for Kallen first by lying to her about using her in order to have her spared from going down with him when the Black Knights turn on him, and later by keeping her locked out of the Zero Requiem.
- Horribly deconstructed in Ayashi no Ceres. Shiso and Ceres have an Interspecies Romance-type marriage, with him as a human and her as a Magical Girl of sorts. After they're attacked and he cannot help her fight off their attackers, Shiso decides that he doesn't want to be The Load and asks Ceres to give him a part of her powers, so he can fulfill this trope. But said powers drive him literally crazy for Ceres, and It Gets Worse.
- Zenkichi towards the protagoinst Medaka. To become strong enough to stay by her side, he's become a capable fighter, though Medaka is still the strongest character. It's partially as an emotional anchor, since she was traumatized by a past failure. Averted as of chapter 117, when Zenkichi realizes that Medaka doesn't need a protector.
- Angel Beats! subverts this with Hinata and Yurripe here seeing as they're both immotal.
- In Sekirei, Minato often ends up doing this for the Sekirei he eventually becomes their Ashikbabi for. This helps win over many of them, such as Musubi, his first Sekirei, Kusano, and later Tsukiumi.
- Though it doesn't start out this way, protecting Hatchin becomes one of Michiko's main motives in Michiko to Hatchin. Later this trope is touchingly inverted when Hatchin proves to be pretty badass herself and says, almost line-for-line, that she will protect Michiko.
- In Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games, Peeta devotes himself to this cause for Katniss, who spends most of her time in the series kicking asses and taking names. He generally devolves into The Load in any situation which would traditionally require him to fight, meaning that she has to do the protecting and thus doing a great job inverting the trope.
- River Tam in Firefly is a subtle distinction she really did need and want Simon's protection, but that was because she was so erratic that she needed a stabilizing influence even with her powers.
- She wanted his love even more then his protection. Despite her powers and chaotic nature she seems to have always wanted to have someone to look up to. And Simon, despite his unimpressive appearance had an assertive personality and must have given other incompetent surgeons besides the one in Ariel cause to regard their lives as a burden.
- Of course, there's the scene in the movie where she flips the script on him.
River: You take care of me. You've always taken care of me! *Beat* My turn.
- Another Joss Whedon show: nearly everything Paul Ballard does on Dollhouse is to protect Echo.
- Arado Balanga from Super Robot Wars Original Generation 2 is a pretty good Mecha-Pilot, objectively speaking - but as a graduate of 'The School', he's at the bottom of the heap - especially compared to his partner, Seolla, who's one of the best, period. But he's sworn to protect her, and protect her he does - whenever she ends up in a pinch, he goes Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass, whether that means fighting off an otherwise-supreme opponent, or taking a bullet for her. Sometimes both.
- An odd twist on this for both Knights of the Old Republic if you're playing female. In the first, Carth knows damn well you could skewer him on a lightsaber and not muss your hair. Still does not stop him from admitting that trying to protect you is his reason to live after Saul Karath dies painfully. In the second game, Atton's overt about it. Bao-Dur is more subtle, but still frighteningly loyal to his "general." In both Carth's case and Bao-Dur's, the "protection" they offer is more or less trying to act as the Morality Pet for a female Player Character in order to help prevent her from falling to the Dark Side.
- Persona 3: It's a gender reversal, and it's after everything is over (until FES), but Aigis sort of qualifies with her wanting to protect the main character...who can certainly fend for himself.
- More literal in the end of the portable version, where the gender roles are the norm for this trope. Also note that many of the Female Protagonist love interests also fall under this.
- Al, towards his childhood friend Erel in Evil Zone. Yes, he's a very powerful Magical Boy Warrior and the Big Bad they're facing is a Game Breaker Sealed Evil in a Can, but she's a pretty skilled Cute Bruiser too.
- Tales of Graces: Main characters Asbel and Sophie actually argue over who gets to protect who, until Asbel challenges Sophie to a footrace to settle the matter...and loses.
- Probably for the best, though. Sophie ends up saving the group from certain death more than once throughout the game, and is canonically one of the most powerful fighters in the party ( Arguably THE most powerful member until about halfway through the main arc, when Asbel is given an opportunity to defeat her in single combat).
- Fate/stay night. Emiya Shirou. He does this twice. In Fate, he does this to Saber, despite Saber being motherfucking King Arthur. (To be fair, he HAD no idea who she really was AND had watched her get totally curbstomped by Hercules.) Fortunately, he's called out on this and eventually it gets deconstructed in the Unlimited Blade Works route (the second example), where it turns out that Shirou has a massive case of Survivor Guilt that causes him to totally disregard his own safety. Heaven's Feel also plays with this trope by having Sakura be, from Shirou's point of view, totally helpless... then you get closer to the end and she turns out to have an absurdly powerful Super-Powered Evil Side. Shirou promptly modifies his definition of "protect Sakura" to mean "get rid of Sakura's Super-Powered Evil Side."
- Avatar;The Last Airbender- when Sokka was still feeling guilty after losing his last girlfriend, he decided to make sure nothing happened to his other love-interest Suki. Of course, being a Hot Amazon, Suki is mostly bemused and slightly insulted by this- and eventually reveals the only reason she went with them was to protect Sokka.
Failed To Protect Her
- Code Geass gives us Suzaku and Euphemia. Initially a fairly straight and uncomplicated 'knight and princess' relationship, Euphemia's death at the hands of Zero pushes Suzaku off of his white horse, driving him into much more questionable actions, such as selling out his oldest friend to his worst enemy or releasing a powerful nuke in battle... and, in the end, he winds up supporting one of the bloodiest tyranies in history. Led by, you know, his oldest friend.
- Konoka and Setsuna's dynamic falls most closely under this, at least initially, but actually covers several variants. While Setsuna is heavily motivated by a backstory incident where she failed to protect Konoka, she also spends a lot of time trying to protect her by hiding the truth about magic from her, thus making it a case of It's Not You, It's My Enemies. Later on, she also very nearly dies while trying to rescue Konoka. Ultimately, however, her absolute dedication to protecting Konoka comes back to the old childhood 'close shave' where they were both lucky to survive. (Oh, and whether Setsuna's dedication edges into the territory of Schoolgirl Lesbians... is left as an exercise for the class.)
- Karasu of Noein is basically built around protecting Haruka, typically telling his opponent something along the lines of, "I will protect her with my life." This is because, in his opinion, he failed to protect her future self, though it is implied she willingly did a Heroic Sacrifice.
- Shinn Asuka and Stellar Louissier from Gundam Seed Destiny.
- The X-Files. Mulder and Scully could arguably fall under almost all of these, but this one is closest. While Mulder was always very protective of Scully, after her abduction in season 2, he snaps and after her return becomes obsessed with keeping her safe. He ditches her several times, much to her annoyance, and even asks her to sit out on cases for fear of her life. Of course, it doesn't help that he makes it obvious that the one way to hurt him is to hurt her, and so this protective streak becomes even more pronounced after she is kidnapped many times. Eventually, this also turns into "I Owe Her My Life", since Scully is no slouch in the protecting and rescuing department.
- Spike showed hints of this after Buffy died in the episode "The Gift".
- The recent Prince of Persia game has the prince play out this trope. He doesn't really care about the lost kigndom, or the Big Bad, or any of that - he's only fighting because Elika DOES care, and she's gonna put herself in harms way with or without him. In the end, she gives up her life to stick the Seal back on the Can of Evil, and he immediately snaps and tears the lid back off to ressurect her again. She is not happy about that.
- In Skyward Sword, Link arrives a few minutes late to save Zelda a few times, causing Impa to berate him.
I'm Only Protecting You From Me
- A twist on this can occur in Suikoden II. The Hero has somehow wound up leading La Résistance against The Empire, and his adopted sister has, naturally, wound up getting dragged along for the ride, despite being just about the only playable character NOT listed in the stars as one of his 108 destined companions. When she finally admits that she'd prefer to live quietly together, you have the option of agreeing with her, running away from your army and responsibilities along with her, thus demonstrating an alternate solution to the problem. The result is somewhere between a Nonstandard Game Over and a... well, Not All That Bad Ending. You actually DO get away, and live quietly together in a cabin in the woods somewhere far from all the war and strife... but of course, La Résistance fell apart, The Empire triumphed, and all your other friends probably died.
- Sluggy Freelance, of all places, has an example of this. Torg may have a lot of diversions, but there's only ONE thing he's actually SERIOUS about - and that's protecting Zoe. In an alternate universe overrun by demons, he soon gave up on trying to run La Résistance (since everyone there are Perfect Pacifist People), and instead just concentrates on keeping Alt-Zoe fed and away from trouble. Back in the real world, he forces her away so she won't become a target for Stalker with a Crush Oasis. With... mixed success.
Taking a Bullet for Her
- Super Robot Wars Gaiden. Ricardo takes a bullet for Tytti, saving her life... but leaving her Allergic to Love due to losing him.
- This is one possible outcome at the end of Dragon Age: if a female Grey Warden has a romance with Alistair, he will refuse to allow her to sacrifice herself to kill the Archdemon, taking the choice out of her hands and doing it himself unless she takes the precaution of leaving him behind at the gates before heading to the last battle.
- Resident Evil 2, and quite literally, in the case of Leon and Ada. Crossed with The Mole scenario.
- The Big Daddies of Bioshock Are willing to die to protect the little sisters.
- Happened in Girl Genius when Lars -- a traveling performer previously renowned for his cowardice -- threw himself in front of a sword to protect the eponymous protagonist, Agatha. He died, and she went nuts, temporarily going into full Blood Knight mode, and attempting to basically take on the entire army of Wulfenbach singlehandedly. (Well, with a little help from her Mecha-Mooks...) She got over it, with a bit of chemical assistance, but now seem hell bent on making sure nobody else dies for her. (Cue Gil and Tarvek winding up in one of the above-mentioned 'She's an Action Girl' situations, as she works harder to protect them than the other way around.)
She Was The Mole
- Rurouni Kenshin. Specifically, the 'backstory'. Back when he was still an assassin, Kenshin fell in love with a woman named Tomoe - who was actually a spy planted by the Shogunate to find his weakness and eliminate him. The details are awfully complicated, but after The Reveal, she ends up dead along with her employers, and Kenshin swears never to kill again...
- Revolutionary Girl Utena probably fits best under this, and is a very genderqueer example, what with Utena deliberately taking on the persona of a Fairytale Prince. She fights solely to protect the Rose Bride, Anthy... but at the end, it turns out Anthy was in on the whole thing, and was in fact following Akio's will, from being involved in his manipulations behind the scenes to doing everything he told her to . . . EVERYTHING. Even worse, Utena realized that she was NOT sincere in her desire to protect Anthy: she was doing this to bolster her own ego. After this, Utena is severely disillusioned, becoming a Knight in Sour Armor, but comes to forgive Anthy after realizing just how much torment she's been in for hundreds and thousands of years, also realizes that she can redeem her own mistakes for Anthy's sake, and resolves to truly save her from more suffering via giving her the boost she needs to take her destiny in her own hands.
- This Ugly Yet Beautiful World sees Takemoto swear to protect Hikari no matter what, within minutes of first meeting her, though in his defense she's the spitting image of the ideal girl he was fantasizing about earlier that day, and their meeting was quite interesting in itself, too. However, even SHE isn't aware that she's actually a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds... and he is someone who was born to stop her. Hence, this could just as easily go under the 'It Got Complicated' header.
- Resident Evil 2, and quite literally, in the case of Leon and Ada. Crossed with Take a Bullet scenario.
Protecting Her Gets Complicated
- Obviously, Code Geass, where Lelouch's desire to give his younger sister, Nunnally, a 'world of peace' leads him further and further down the path of darkness. When she finally finds out what he's been doing in the name of helping her, she's horrified and becomes an easy prey for Schneizel's manipulations.
- Toshiro Hitsugaya and Momo Hinamori in Bleach. As a kid, Momo was the only child in the neighborhood who wasn't afraid of Hitsugaya due to his burgeoning ice powers. As they became Shinigami, he swore that he'd protect her and pretty much kill anyone who ever made her bleed a little... But when Momo was horribly broken and then almost killed by the man she loved, Sousuke Aizen, Hitsugaya tried to avenge her, and was almost killed himself. When Momo got better and reclaimed her Action Girl credentials, she and others were horribly defeated by Allon. And then... Aizen used his powers to trick Hitsugaya and other captains into stabbig Momo to almost death, thinking they were stabbing him. OUCH, it definitely got complicated.
- Also, after Karakura is attacked and Orihime is seriously injured, Rukia brings Ichigo to her to apologize for not being able to shield her, and then Ichigo makes the promise that he will protect her from then on. Considering that later she was forced into a cruel Sadistic Choice that involved her going to the villains's HQ and Ichigo then goes to rescue her, it got complicated and then some more (though later it gets better.). The trope is reinforced when Ichigo brings himself Back From the Dead when he hears Orihime scream in horror for his death at the hands of Ulquiorra.
- When Homura Akemi in Puella Magi Madoka Magica was caught in a witch barrier, Magical Girl Warrior Madoka Kaname saved her. She then vowed to help her and protect her in return. She failed, however, and Madoka died. Then Homura made her contract with Kyubey, and specifically hoped to protect Madoka and avert her death. She failed each time, but kept on trying...
- At the End of the second Rebuild of Evangelion movie, Shinji, who on this point had pretty much given up on all his hopes, witnesses his Love Interest Rei being eaten by an Eldritch Abomination. He then proceeds to return from his Ten-Minute Retirement to rip her directly out of the bastard, claiming that he doesn't care what happens to him or the world, he will DEFINITELY save her. Too bad that his rescue attempt ends up triggering the apocalypse... Thank God for Kaworu's Intervention.
- Things start off simple for Melan in Brigadoon Marin and Melan. His job is to protect the Creis, who happens to become his friend and eventually his Love Interest. Then it turns out that she's not the Creis after all, and protecting her means taking time out from his REAL mission.
- A very interesting case happens in Baka and Test. Resident Yandere Shouko is absolutely obsessed with Brilliant but Lazy student Yuuji, and at first it seems like she's just crazy. But then in episode 11 of Season 2, it goes into their backstory, and her reasons are explained. Yuuji pulled a Big Damn Heroes moment to save Shouko from three boys who tried to bully her after she tried to stop them from writing some vicious lies on his PE clothing. He tried to come up with an excuse not to help, but in the end saves her anyway. Although he tries to pass it off as nothing, Shouko is really touched by that action, and she vows to his mother to marry him someday. His mom happily agrees to support her efforts as well... which then sort of helps explain why she tasers him, ties him up, pokes his eyes out when he's looking at other women, and drags him to the movies in chains.
- The Sword and Sorcerer team Shannon and Raquel from Scrapped Princess are solely motivated by their oath to protect the titular princess, Pacifica. Shannon is the one that most closely match the trope, being a guy and all - since they were raised as siblings, his affection for her is more big-brotherly than romantic, but they are Not Blood Siblings, so it gets... ambiguous at times. As for complications, well, according to a supposedly-infallible Divine Prophecy, Pacifica is 'the poison that will kill the world' - specifically, she will destroy the world when she turns 16. As a result, virtually everyone wants to kill her, either out of fear, religious fervor, or greed for the huge bounty the kingdom has placed on her head. And Shannon is stuck trying to protect her from all that, preferably without killing anyone because he knows that Pacifica would blame herself for any lives lost...
- In Nie R, the eponymous (assuming you use the default name) character's overriding desire to protect his daughter, Yonah, initially seems perfectly simple... and HE probably never realizes it was anything but. The player, on the other hand, will soon realize - by the second playthrough if not sooner - that he's been doing a LOT of really questionable stuff in order to protect and save her.
- In Sands of Destruction has a gender flipped version of who to protect. Toppi grows an attachment to Kyrie because of his positive ideals and swears to protect him. It's complicated in the since that Kyrie is a Person of Mass Destruction and has the power to destroy the world and Toppi really doesn't want that.
- Every protagonist in Ar tonelico series on their heroine reyvateils. However, this involved them getting into their minds and solve their inner conflicts. It isn't so bad untill some of the heroines secretly want to kill or rape their interests in their mind worlds. And those heroes are dealing with ultra powerful magician singers here.
- In Katawa Shoujo, Hisao feels this way in regards to Hanako in her route. If you want to get her good ending you'd better drop that attitude when Lilly brings it up, because Hanako does not like it. At all.
- Other routes also touch the trope, either criticizing it or reaching a compromise between protecting/helping a girl and letting her be when needed. In example, Emi's path shows that Emi does need emotional protection due to refusing to make any deep relationships after her father's death in the accident that claimed her legs, and as long asa Hisao doesn't overdo it, he can protect her broken emotions; and in Rin's it turns out that Rin needs both protection (since she's under very heavy pressure from her well-intentioned but VERY pushy art teacher) and to be understood (because she has big problems on expressing what she feels if it's not through art)
- Thunder Hawk in Street Fighter, specially Street Fighter IV. He has three driving purposes in his life: recovering his people's sacred lands, punishing Bison for killing his father and former chieftain Arroyo Hawk, and protecting his childhood friend and fellow tribeperson Julia. Then we see how horribly screwed up she and several other girls were thanks to Bison's Doll Project, in which he made them his Brainwashed and Crazy Bodyguard Babes. By IV, the poor girl has become an empty and emotionless shadow of the girl she used to be.
- Silver in Above Ground wants to protect Lilith and help her return home safely. But he's in complete denial about it all because he knows the desire to protect is an unnatural bewitchment rather than a real feeling. It doesn't help that his pack is in a dire situation and they need money that Lilith could provide if they ransom her off to the Guild.
I Owe Her My Life/Reputation/Health/etc.
- Hayate the Combat Butler: Hayate (the butler) to his mistress, Nagi. She saves him from his miserable life by paying off his debt to the Yakuza and giving him a home in her mansion and a job as her butler, with a promise to pay her back over years of work. But it never was about the money - the amount means nothing to her absurd wealth. She simply likes him from the start, while his gratitude quickly compounds with a deep affection and interest in her well-being.
- While Kenshin's devotion to Tomoe in Rurouni Kenshin fits in She Was the Mole, his relationship with Kaoru Kamiya fits here. She gives him a place to stay, emotional support, and the chance to stop Wandering the Earth; as such, he decides to protect her and their friends.
- Also by Watsuki, Kazuki from Busou Renkin gave this speech to an opponent (who also gave the same speech), when asked why he was protecting Tokiko. He said that it was because of Tokiko that he was still alive, so he would protect her and fight in her place. Kazuki's situation is actually a combination of type 1 and type 7, since Tokiko is a very capable Action Girl.
- In Magico Shion is decided to save Emma from the curse of Echidna and faces really dangerous tasks with his extremely powerful magic that he obtain just to do so because... she gave him some bread
- In Code Geass (yes, again), a teenaged Xing-ke vows to protect Empress Tianzi after she saves him from execution. Years later, he keeps his promise. Spectacularly.
- Tin Man A cross of "I owe her," "It gets complicated," and Living MacGuffin get involved with the gentlemen who decide to travel with DG. Raw is pretty straightforward. She's a good person, and she was responsible for rescuing him from a nasty death. Glitch comes with because it's preferable to be confused and with someone than confused and alone. But it turns out that he was her mother's trusted and devoted adviser. Remembering who he was and learning who she is just makes him more determined to help. Cain's a mess. He agrees to escort DG and Glitch to Central (Emerald) City because he does owe them that much for freeing him, but the Mystic Man, his former boss, orders Cain to protect DG at any cost - and Cain's too damn honorable to disobey a direct order, especially as it turns out to also be the Mystic Man's Last Request. By the time it's discovered that DG is inadvertently responsible for the Witch's reign of terror, they've become too much True Companions to care.
It's Just That Simple
- Murder Princess is a straightforward example. It takes Fallis a while to realize that she wants to protect the sweet, gentle (and very, very helpless) Princess Alita, but actually doing so never gets any more complicated than cutting down anything that threatens her or her kingdom.
Live Action TV
- Rory Williams from Doctor Who. He loves his girlfriend, later fiancée, later wife, and will do anything to protect her. A lot of the time they protect each other- for example, Rory fails at sword-fighting a fish vampire, so Amy destroys it with a mirror. However he then goes to guard her comatose body for 2,000 years, becoming the legendary Last Centurion. He seems to develop something of a complex.
Rory: And she knows that where-ever she is, I am coming for her. Always.
- Despite providing the quote at the top, which suggests a 'It Gets Complicated' situation, Squall of Final Fantasy VIII really DOES get it easy. In order to protect Rinoa, the girl who finally brought him out of his sarcastic, just-dont-care shell, and taught him what love was - all he has to do is beat up all the villains. Then everything is all right.
- Devil May Cry 4 provides another fairly straightforward (and heartwarming) example with Nero's half of the story with his Love Interest Kyrie. Though for a while it looks like he failed.
- Gungrave. The protagonist's major goals is to get revenge on the main villain, and to protect the daughter of his former love interest from the main villain. By using a lot of dakka.
- Fire Emblem 7: Dorcas's wife Natalie is an Ill Girl. He wants her to get better, and so he joins a bandit group. Once Lyn knocks sense into him (and Natalie does too, if you make them talk), Dorcas decides to keep fighting for her until he gathers enough gold to buy the medicine. It's just as simple as that, for him.
- This is not the case in most versions of The Legend of Zelda, but in Skyward Sword, it's why Link is The Chosen One to begin with.