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The Lady and Knight is a chivalric image that many of us probably know very well, though perhaps you didn't realize they come in two flavors. A staple in fiction everywhere, the Lady and Knight dynamic is at least Older Than Feudalism, though no doubt that whole era of Romantic adventure stories like King Arthur and Robin Hood perpetuated it. While it is very common in works set in a Medieval era or equivalent fantasy version, they can pop up anywhere, but even in modern settings they are usually meant to invoke that era's ideal image of a Lady and her Knight.
The iconic portrayal is of the Lady as a beautiful, admirable woman with dignity and nobility and The Knight as a strong, brave man of virtue sworn to protect her. The Lady and Knight, while originally female and male respectively, aren't always nowadays and either role can be played by either gender. While there is often a Bodyguard Crush involved, sometimes it's a chaste Courtly Love, and in same-sex couple versions there's somewhat less of a chance of romance being involved. In the past the Lady was often a Damsel in Distress, but now it's nearly as common for the Knight and his Lady to form an Action Duo or Battle Couple.
There are two particular variations of the Lady and Knight dynamic: the Bright Lady and White Knight, a good version, and an Evil Counterpart, the Dark Lady and Black Knight. While the types are fairly distinct, it's not unheard of for Ladies and their Knights to switch from one to the other, should they perform a Heel Face Turn or Face Heel Turn. For more information about the two different types, see the Analysis page.
Often there's some sort of ceremony or official pledging, accompanied by the knight giving the Lady a kiss on the hand or kneeling. Sometimes non-historical based works will slip something similar in as a tip off to the two character's relationship. In settings which support actual knights being in the work, if the Knight doesn't start off as an actual Knight, he is almost always formally knighted by the end of the work.
Compare Mistress and Servant Boy which has a similar dynamic, but the Knight is less about serving and doing menial tasks and more about protecting his Lady and his honor. If a servant also happens to be a Battle Butler however, they may overlap.
Bright Lady and White Knight
- Serenity and Endymion from Sailor Moon, both royalty as it turns out.
- And interesting take on this trope in Revolutionary Girl Utena feature both the Lady and the Knight being girls: Anthy Himemiya is the Lady, Utena Tenjou is the Knight. Zigzagged, actually! On one hand, Anthy's lady-hood comes from her being deliberately set as such by Akio. On the other, Utena wasn't exactly the best Knight, sinc she protected Anthy less for her actual sake and more for her own ego. It's only when Utena finds out all of these Awful Truths and decides to truly help Anthy rather than mollycoddling her to feel good about herself that they truly play the trope straight.
- Konoka Konoe and Setsuna Sakurazaki in Mahou Sensei Negima. Like Revolutionary Girl Utena, both are female.
- Zero no Tsukaima has the subversion of noblewoman Louise and her Knight Saito.
- Alucard and Integra from Hellsing could fall under this. Integra being a noblewoman (IE: Sir Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing) and Alucard being her loyal servant. Interestingly enough, Integra did dream of having her own knight by her side as a child, though she ended up with a vampire instead (though at least he acts like a loyal knight to her, horrific though he may be to her enemies).
- To be technical, Vlad Tepes/Dracula ("The Dragon") WAS (IS?) a Knight, at least historically speaking. Additionally, many people forget that a policeman's badge is a SHIELD, and with very good reason. One could consider a police officer to be the modern version of a Knight. If so, then Integra can also call upon her other Vampire Knight (no reference to the series of the same name), Seras Victoria.
- Euphemia vi Britannia and Suzaku Kururugi from Code Geass are a very literal example: she is a literal princess and he is soon knighted by her.
- Lacus Clyne and Kira Yamato from Gundam Seed and especially Gundam Seed Destiny.
- Technically it would be 'Captain and Supply Officier' but Lafiel and Jinto from Crest of the Stars fullfil the spirit of the trope. He defers to and protects her, while she is a princess with a drive to serve her empire. On other hand, since Jinto is arguably The Quisling, his fellow humans see them as the darker variety.
- Played for laughs in the Sleep Incense arc of the Ranma ½ manga. In one of Akane's dreams, she's a princess and has been captured by Shampoo, Ukyo, and Kodachi. After Ranma rescues Akane and swears his eternal allegiance to her, they immediately become Sickeningly Sweethearts. They almost have sex, right before that dream ends and the next one begins. Hilariously ironic, considering that the real Ranma and Akane are chockful of Belligerent Sexual Tension and refuse to physically display any affection for each other.
- Fate/Zero: This is the dynamic between Irisviel and Saber. Even Irisviel says so. This is to contrast the other half of team Einzbern.
- Sola-Ui wants to be this with Lancer, but it... doesn't work as expected, to put it mildly.
- More hilariously, this is the dynamic between Waver Velvet and Rider, despite Waver being a boy. OK, admittedly he has very high moral standards compared to the other Masters and is effeminate. The yaoi fangirls, naturally, don't miss this... and considering WHO this Rider is, they may not be that far off.
- Technically Recca is a Ninja but otherwise fulfills the role of the White Knight by being The Hero and pledging his loyalty and service to Yanagi, who in turn, is a Bright Lady by her compassion. She uses Healing Hands to help others but needs Recca to keep her safe.
- A very weird example exists in Baccano with Ladd and Lua. Ladd has traits of the white knight (attraction to Lua because of her gentle personality, protects her at the cost of his arm and is engaged to her) but he doesn't wants anyone to kill her because he wants to be the one to do it. Lua would be a bright lady (beauty, innocence, emotional support for her knight) if she weren't looking forward to being killed by him.
- Rare genderflipped example: Hungary (Bright Action Girl aka Knight) and Austria (Princely Young Man, thus he's the "Lady/Lord") in Hetalia. She once even ropes him into putting on a dress so he can be her "Princess"!
- Demon City Shinjuku has Sayaka Rama as the Bright Lady who decides to go into Shinjuku to face all the troubles there, and Kyouya Izayoi as the reluctant and harsh White Knight who initially doesn't want to go, but decides to do so to keep her safe.
- Bleach kinda invokes the imaginery with Ichigo Kurosaki and the two lead female characters, Rukia Kuchiki and Orihime Inoue:
- First, when Ichigo's home is attacked and Rukia is severely wounded trying to help him and his family, Rukia unlocks Ichigo's potential powers and gives him the weapons to fight back, leading to him becoming a Shinigami and protecting people like he's always desired. (And one of the persons they both protect is Orihime). Later she's taken away to be executed for exactly the same reason, leading Ichigo to go rescue her with Orihime (the one who actually came up with the idea), Ishida and Chad, and him ultimately facing her very powerful brother Byakuya for her sake.
- Later, after Rukia is rescued and Soul Society pardons her and acknowledges Ichigo as their savior, he fails to keep Orihime from being severely wounded in an attack and is really bummed about it, while Orihime also feels bad. The Genre Savvy Rukia takes him to Orihime's presence so they can talk it out, and then he promises to Orihime that he'll become stronger and protect her. He soon has to start filling his word: Orihime is forced to go into Hueco Mundo by the Arrancars, and Ichigo also goes rescue her with Chad, Ishida, Rukia and Renji on tow. The "Lady and Knight" imaginery increases steadily and even Ichigo's rivals repeteadly point out their Bright Lady and White Knight bond.
Grimmjow (after deliberately aiming for Orihime and seeing Ichigo shield her with his own body): "You want to protect her? How sweet"
Nnoitora: (after his subordinate Tesla takes Orihime away and Ichigo yells at him to let her go): “Hilarious! That’s the line of someone thinking, 'as long as the woman is unharmed...”
- Ryou Shirogane and Princess Amue from GoLion (despite Ryou's protests to the contrary), plus their counterparts Sven and Princess Romelle from Voltron (and Sven protests quite less).
- Once could also say that the GoLion/Voltron boys (Akira/Keith, Takashi/Sven, Isamu/Lance, Tsuyoshi/Hunk and Hiroshi/Pidge) begin as the White Knights to Princess Fala/Allura's Bright Lady, and in fact three of them have different degrees of Bodyguard Crushes on her (four, in the USA-only second season of Voltron) but in a subversion she later steps into in the battlefield and fights with them.
- The Princess Bride features another subversion as in the beginning Buttercup was haughty and arrogant but she grew into her role later, Westley being her Knight.
- Lady and the Tramp: Lady's role is obvious by her name. Tramp acts as protector when she gets lost in the streets, but is at first reluctant to help her back to her home, as he is leery of humans; in a way, he's also trying to protect her from what he perceives is the shackles of domesticity. His irresponsibility does get Lady in trouble when they raid a chicken coop and she gets taken to the pound, and what she learns about his past there leads to a falling out. He redeems himself by saving Darling and Jim Dear's baby from a rat and eventually warms up to domestic life and becomes a White Knight.
- Shrek subverts both roles. At first Fiona acts the part of Damsel in Distress because of convention, but proves time and time again to be able to defend herself. Likewise, Shrek is only acting as the knight for his own selfish reasons, and has no romantic or chivalrous intentions towards Fiona, at first. He eventually does fall in love with her and the roles are played straight after that.
- Dragonheart has the literal knight Bowen and Kara, the rebellious peasant girl with whom he falls in love. Their holding these roles to each other is made more explicit in the novelization of the movie.
- Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland has Mirana, the White Queen, for its Bright Lady. She actually has two Knights, one being Alice as the presumed hero foretold by prophecy; the other is the Mad Hatter, although his 'knighthood' is more implied than outright stated.
- Star Wars: Lady Padmé Amidala and Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker. It ends in tears.
- Daenerys Targaryen and Jorah Mormont from A Song of Ice and Fire. Also applies to Daenerys's relationship with Ser Barristan Selmy, although there's nothing romantic about it; nonetheless, he still definitely functions as the Knight to her Lady.
- In The Wheel of Time, this is the purpose of the bond between Warders and Aes Sedai. This is also a case of Sword and Sorcerer.
- Notable examples include former Queen of Andor Morgase Trakand and Tallanvor, Former Amyrlin Seat Suian Sanche and Gareth Bryne, Egwene and Gawain, Elayne and Rand, and Tuon and Matt.
- Another notable example from The Wheel of Time are Moiraine and Lan, the first such pair introduced, and a straighter than usual example because Moiraine was posing as a regular noblewoman. Also, while Morgase and Tallanvor fit this trope, they are not Warder-bonded, and Elayne and Rand probably don't count because they spent so little time together.
- Mandorallen in the Belgariad is a White Knight with two Bright Ladies; he is devoted to the Baroness of Vo Ebor, but is also sworn to defend Ce'Nedra as the Queen's Champion.
- Multiple examples in Arthurian myth, but amongst the most notable would be Gareth and Lynette (where, oddly, they end up marrying each others' siblings).
- As noted in the film section, The Princess Bride has this with Westley and Buttercup. Buttercup's personal growth from stuck-up brat to more deserving of the Bright Lady title is much more prominent in the book.
- Sparhawk and Ehlana in the Elenium trilogy are this in the most literal of senses; Ehlana is Queen of Elenia, and Sparhawk is the Queen's Champion (and later husband).
- Taran and Eilonwy in the Chronicles of Prydain grow into this.
- Saint George and Princess Una in "Saint George and The Dragon".
- On Angel Angel accidentally kills a lady's knight (thinking he was a bad guy demon), and has to take his place in a joust for her unborn baby's soul.
- Only partial in Babylon 5: Marcus Cole is knightly but Ivanova is not particularly ladylike, at least not in the classic sense.
- Despite being a servant girl and a mercenary, Guinevere and Lancelot from Merlin are a stunningly accurate example of this trope, especially now that they've begun to grow into their legendary counterparts.
- This is a game mechanic in Ar tonelico games, with Reyvateils and their vanguards.
- It's also the reason why Cocona is so awesome: she's a Reyvateil, but she's a vanguard.
- In Dissidia Final Fantasy, this is the dynamic between Cosmos, the goddess of order, and her champion the Warrior of Light.
- Final Fantasy VIII has Rinoa and Squall - although it's worth noting that it's mostly Rinoa keeping them on the "bright" side of the archetype; Squall makes it very clear that he completely does not care about morality as far as keeping Rinoa safe is concerned. Edea and Cid Kramer are also a somewhat unorthodox example; he's not by any means a fighter, but he does everything he can to protect Edea and support her emotionally.
- Link and Zelda fit this in most if not all of their incarnations, probably most accurately in the original game, Twilight Princess, Spirit Tracks, and Skyward Sword.
- Estelle and Flynn from Tales of Vesperia count, though the fact she keeps slipping from his watch could count as a subversion.
- Radiata Stories: Jack apoints himself Ridley's White Knight on the Fairy path and not only protects her but lifts her spirits with endearingly corny jokes. in personality they're the Bright couple but to the humans they're the dark couple, yet Gerald praises him for having the balls to turn against his entire race for the sake of his girl. For her part Ridley is a Bright Lady Ojou who is trying to do what she think is right, and is grateful for Jack's support.
- Fire Emblem loves this trope:
- Nyna and Camus in Fire Emblem Akaneia. Sorta. It's WAY more complicated in the end.
- Edain and Midayle in Genealogy of the Holy War. Lachesis and Fin, if we go for the Oosawa manga.
- Miranda and Connomore (possibly) in Thracia 776. Her ending only says she married "a certain knight", but the only one who fits in such a description is Connomore.
- Lyndis and Kent in The Blazing Blade. To a smaller degree Eliwood and Ninian (she isn't royalty, but he has swore to help and protect both her and her brother Nils), as well as Priscilla and either of her love interests. Though only Erk manages to marry her.
- Eirika and Seth in The Sacred Stones. Arguably, also Eirika and Forde. Played with in regards to Tana and Cormag: he doesn't become her Knight unless one gets their shared ending, which implies that she knights him in her personal service rather than her kingdom's.
- Elincia and Geoffrey in the Tellius series. Arguably, also Micaiah and Sothe and especially at the end, where they can marry and she becomes the Queen of Daein..
- Fire Emblem Awakening: Chrom and either Sumia or Sully; Lissa and either Frederick or Lon'qu, Gaius/Maribelle, Henry and Maribelle (with Henry even referring to himself as her "knight in blood-stained armor). From the second generation, Lucina and Gerome (even when he looks like a Black Knight and is more cynical than the standard White one)
- Fire Emblem Fates: each of the kingdoms in the story, Nohr and Hoshido, has two princes and two princesses, and each one has two retainers that he or she can fill the trope with. The Avatar him/herself can gather several companions to fill this with too, their ranks changing on the path chosen.
- Fire Emblem: Three Houses: Princess Edelgard and Hubert. Prince Dimitri and either Dedue or Ingrid. Arguably, Prince Claude and Hilda.
- Sorta, Kyo Kusanagi and his girlfriend Yuki in The King of Fighters's Orochi Saga. More specifically, in KOF 97 since it reveals that Yuki isn't the Girl Next Door that we all think she is, but the reincarnation of Princess Kushinada, a legendary Barrier Maiden who is to be ritually sacrificed to bring back Orochi into this world. Kyo then learns about it from Yashiro, Shermie and Chris, and he is NOT pleased.
- Ilana and Lance from Sym-Bionic Titan.
- The Winx Club fairies and the Specialists, and especially Stella (who is a Princess) and her boyfriend Brandon (who is Prince Sky's partner as well as a literal Knight)
- Princess Cadance and Shining Armor in My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic.
- A way to see Princess Allura and the Paladins in Voltron: Legendary Defender, and like in the original, it's eventually subverted when she joins them in the fights.
Dark Lady and Black Knight
- Code Geass has the gender-flipped pair of Lelouch as a Fallen Prince and Kallen as his bodyguard Ace Pilot Black Knight.
- Queen Beryl and Evil!Endymion from Sailor Moon, for the mind-control type.
- Lina Inverse and Gourry Gabriev from The Slayers. Interestingly, they're actually quite heroic, though Gourry is definitely the more heroic of the pair, with Lina being more of a Type IV Anti-Hero than anything.
- Tao Jun and her mind-controlled zombie puppet kung-fu guy Lee Pai Long from Shaman King -- until Lee Pai long is released from his mind control, develops real feelings for her and they both turn good, becoming an example of Bright Lady and White Knight.
- Princess Samedare and the Lizard Knight Yuuhi from The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer. A rather strange example, since she is actually trying to save the earth, but only so she can destroy it herself. Not to mention she's a Manic Pixie Dream Genki Girl and doesn't seem like a villain at all until she opens her mouth to say she's going to destroy the world.
- Princess Emeraude and who everyone thought was Big Bad, Zagato from Magic Knight Rayearth. No one could see that one coming.
- Witch Medusa Gorgon and Mind-controlled Dr.Stein from the Soul Eater anime.
- Genderflipped variation: Ashram and Pirotess from Record of Lodoss War.
- Witch Hunter Robin: Amon and Robin play with the trope. Robin is seen as the Dark Lady by many because of her heritage and some of her actions are brutal considering what the rest of the team does, but at heart she's a Bright Lady trying to do what's right. Amon ultimately betrays both Zizain and SOLOMON to protect Robin from danger and is seen as a Dark Knight whose gone rogue, though he wavers back and forth. Robin herself calls him her "watch dog" because he will make sure she survives unless she loses herself to her power. At which point he will kill her himself.
- Mobile Suit Gundam has an interesting pair in Lady of War Kycilia Zabi and her Dragon, Smug Snake and Sissy Villain M'Quve. While M'Quve may not look the part of the Black Knight, he plays it very well, plotting all of Kycilia's strategies, doing her dirty work, and finally engaging the Gundam in a one-on-one duel on her behalf; his last thoughts, as he dies, are of her.
- In Black Lagoon, Yakuza Princess Yukio Washimine and her Badass bodyguard Ginji Matsuzaki are this. It ends in tears.
- The Marvel Comics version of Thor was often opposed by the Enchantress and the Executioner; the latter wielded an axe rather than a sword, but the basics of this trope were in full effect. The Enchantress also tried something similar with the original Power Man (Erik Josten) and later magically brainwashed the heroic Black Knight into serving as her champion for a brief spell.
- Marvel's versions of Morgan Le Fay and Mordred fit this trope in stories set in the Camelot period. Ironically, the hero who opposed them was the aforementioned hero called the Black Knight.
- This was the basic gimmick of the 1980s Batman villainess Nocturna, who used a narcotic perfume and went through two criminal "Black Knights" called the Night-Thief and Nightshade before trying and failing to make Batman her champion.
- Snow White's Evil Stepmother the queen, and the huntsman whom she sends to kill Snow White. Though the Huntsman draw the line at killing an innocent girl and tricks the Queen into thinking he has, when he actually lets her go.
- An odd, gender-flipped example in Armored Core From the Ashes. Ghost is a masterful Chessmaster and Magnificent Bastard, and is paired with Fiona Jarnetfeld, a severely Yandere, insane pilot who used to be normal, but prior to the story, was subjected to Mind Rape by Ghost... who she happened to be in love with at the time. However, this is heavily subverted - although his 'Knight' does much of his dirty work, Ghost is an even more competent pilot (explicitly stated to be the best on Earth, tied with Kruger, his Arch Enemy and the story's Hero Antagonist; this naturally leads to discussion later on of whether they can qualify as gods because of their power), and will often deploy onto the battlefield if things are looking particularly bad to deliver a Curb Stomp Battle on his enemies (unless Kruger is involved, in which case you either end up with a massive high-speed battle, while the two discuss deep philosophical matters of good and evil, right and wrong, and whether Ghost's actions are justified or not, or one of the two calling a full retreat (which Ghost's Knight may not always obey).
- For that matter, Ghost used to have a weird example of this with a Bright Lady-Black Knight pairing with Holly. He outranked her, but he often insisted that she stay behind and not get herself into trouble, and she could give him orders and he'd obey. Of course, after Holly got Laser-Guided Amnesia, didn't remember Ghost, and Ghost pulled a sort-of Face Heel Turn to go into opposition against all mankind as part of a Plan, this pairing was promptly broken up and replaced with the even stranger one listed above.
- The Red Queen and Knave Of Hearts in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.
- As suggested under Multiple Media below, the film Excalibur is an example of the modernized Arthurian Legend version of the trope.
- This proves to be the situation in the James Bond film The World Is Not Enough: The Dragon/Black Knight is Renard; the Sorceress archetype is Elektra King.
- This sounds exactly like Charissa, Duchess of Tolan and Lord Ian Howell in Deryni Rising.
- Though the "Black Knight" type is dead by the beginning of the film, later revelations make it clear that this was the arrangement that Brigid O'Shaunessy of The Maltese Falcon had with at least two men prior to her failed manipulation of Sam Spade.
- Similarly, the relationship between Agnes and Harry Jones in The Big Sleep. Like O'Shaunessy's partners, Harry dies to protect the ultimately disloyal and uncaring Agnes.
- Cersei and Jaime Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire fit this trope to a T. Both are amoral schemers. Jaime solves problems with his sword and is totally devoted to Cersei. Cersei, for her part, uses her sex to get whatever she wants, and schemes with the best of them.
- Opal Koboi and Briar Cudgeon have this Dynamic in Artemis Fowl The Artic Incident. Opal is the Ojou who does her techo-wizardy from a safe distance and Cudgeon is the Fallen Hero in the thick of things. "I shall be the hero of the resistance and you shall be my princess."
- Appears in C.S. Lewis's The Silver Chair. While the knight (Rillian) is mind-controlled and doesn't realize that his Lady (the Queen of the Underworld aka the Lady of the Green Kirtle) is dark, it's very common for Black Knights to be mind-controlled by their Dark Ladies. And he immediately jumps ship when he's released from the spell, killing the Queen when she transforms into a huge snake and tries to kill him.
- Various modern-day versions of Arthurian Legend treat Morgaine Le Fay as the partner or boss of Mordred; the actual legends and romances don't reflect this, but the story of The Green Knight has some shades of this trope.
- Vocaloids Rin and Len, as the Daughter of Evil and Servant of Evil, respectively. The 14-year-old queen rules with an iron fist, squandering money seized from her people and executing protesters. Her twin brother acts as her knight, shielding her from hatred and allowing her to retain her childlike innocence. When a foreign prince favored a green-haired lady over her, she ordered her brother to murder her and everyone else with green hair, not realizing he'd fallen in love with that girl. When the people finally revolt against her, they exchange clothing and he dies in her place.
- Morag and the Wight Knight in Dragon Quest IX. She cast a spell on him in order to force him to fall in love with her, allowing her to destroy the Wight Knight's home kingdom of Brigadoom without interference. She then sealed herself away with him until an earthquake woke them up and broke the curse she had on the Wight Knight.
- Seifer and Edea while she's possessed by Ultimecia in Final Fantasy VIII fill these roles - Edea in fact invokes the trope, using Seifer's "romantic dream" and knightly aspirations to manipulate him. He doesn't quite realize initially that he's more of a Dark Knight than a Bright Knight, or at least is in quite a bit of denial about it for a while.
- In Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2 Haman Karn and Milliardo Peacecraft have a plotline which has shades of this, and their Special Combo dialogue explicitly references it:
Haman: Show me how a knight fights!
Milliardo: Show me how a Lady fights.
- Touhou: Yuyuko Saigyouji and Youmu Konpaku, of the Eastern variety. The dark lady is a ghost, the black knight (ok, Samurai) is a half-ghost who robs Gensokyo of its spring in her name. They get better, though it takes a hell of a befriending on behalf of the protagonists.
- Ar tonelico: Mir and Ayatane.
- Fire Emblem:
- Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones genderflips it with the undead Emperor Vigarde of Grado and Dame Selena Fluorspar.
- Fire Emblem Awakening has Gangrel and Aversa, with him as the Lord and her as the Knight. Or so it seems, she's on the side of Validar rather than Gangrel's.
- Fire Emblem: Heroes has an Anti-Villainous example with Princess Veronica and the Mysterious Man who turns out to be her older brother, Prince Bruno.. There's also Queen Hel and both Líf and Thrásir.
- Fire Emblem: Three Houses: The above mentioned duos of Edelgard/Hubert and Dimitri/Dedue can become Anti-Villain versions if their routes (Crimson Flower and/or Azure Moon) are not chosen.
- Spoofed in an episode of The Tick with the overweight grotesque Venus and her wimpy inventor husband Milo.
- In Winx Club there's a Dark Lady/Dark Knight example with Darcy and Riven. In the 4Kids version, he is put under a spell, while in the original version, he works with Darcy willingly. Luckily, Riven has a Heel Face Turn.
- Prince Lotor and his Amazon Brigade (Acxa, Narti, Ezor and Zethrid) in Voltron: Legendary Defender.