Greetings, Adventurers! Welcome to the Archive of Backstory and Plot Advancement! Who am I? Why, I am the Ancient Keeper, and I take care of the place. It is my job to dust the bookshelves, change the lightbulbs, polish the Lost Technology, and provide dottering, yet helpful exposition to any and all heroes who happen to stumble within my realm of influence. Want to find the way to the next plot point? I can point you there. Want to discover the true nature of the Government Conspiracy threatening mankind? You'll find that information in that red book on the back shelf three rows down. Want to know the secret past of the hero's father? Look in that pile of dusty, rolled up scrolls over there. Want a copy of the blueprints containing the schematics to the villain's Unstoppable Superweapon? I have that on microfiche. Just walk this way and I'll show it to you.

"You have chosen...wisely."

Oh, before I do so, as an Ancient Keeper, I am contractually required to ask you if you'd like to have a spot of tea with me, and then wistfully remark about how extremely lonely I am, not having seen a single living soul for several centuries now. How do I manage to look so good despite my advanced age? Well, it's easy when one is an android/Hologram/helpful ghost / Living Relic designed to fulfill viewer's expectations of what an Ancient Keeper of Knowledge should look like. Now if you would, walk this way...mind the creaking floorboards and that stack of stone tablets with the glowing cuneiform on it......

Huh? What's that? You say I look kind of creepy and you wonder if I can be trusted? I assure you, my good man, the information I reveal to you is not only entirely accurate, but extremely helpful. I am required to provide equal assistance to all visitors regardless of importance or heroic status, even if I AM in the employ of the Big Bad. Which I may or may not be. Also, I assure you, I do not have my own agenda and would not harm you in any way. Now if you'll just finish drinking your tea--which I assure you has not been poisoned—I'll show you the way to the Ancient Planetarium which will reveal to you the solar system where the parts to the series' Magical MacGuffin are hidden....

Oh, and please don't walk so close behind me. You're stepping on the hem of my impractically long robes. (My kind always seems to be wearing impractically long robes.) I may just be an android with limitless time on my hands, but even I hate having to scrub shoeprints out of my clothing...

Examples of Ancient Keeper include:

Anime and Manga

  • Slayers NEXT has Auntie Aqua, a wizened old lady and avatar of the Water Dragon King who guards the secrets of the Clair Bible.
  • Lilith from Yami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito.
  • At the end of the first season of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Aoi, AKA The Laughing Man, turns down Aramaki's offer to join Section 9 so he can remain sort of one of these for a massive, mainly automated library, that still keeps printed books. Given his age and the advanced medicine of time, he could quite likely stay in that position for well over a century, if he wanted.

Comic Books


  • In the film version of Aeon Flux, an Ancient Keeper guards the DNA archive floating above the city.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 example, from the episode Space Mutiny. The heroes stumble into the villain's headquarters and discover the creepy, Roddy macDowell-like old man who guards the people whom Kalgan has put "on ice."
  • Box from the film version of Logan's Run. He doesn't so much help visitors though as much as freeze them and turn them into foodstuffs. He's long since forgotten for whom the food was intended. Obviously.
  • The old Crusader in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: "You chose... wisely."
  • Vox 114 of the remake of The Time Machine might qualify.


  • The Guardian of the Dragon in the Warhammer 40,000 Horus Heresy novel Mechanicum.
  • Isaac the guardian of the cemetery of forgotten books in The Shadow Of The Wind and The angel's Game
  • In the Sword of Truth, there are a few of these scattered around the world, often by the wizards from the Great War. The Dream Caster's Wise Man (a hereditary position) and his last-second replacement; (his granddaughter, slightly averting this trope) are a good example: they keep one of the "Central Sites", a scattering of library/bomb-shelter/safehouse/crypt things.
    • The Blademasters in the Old World are an unusually not-frail example. They qualify because they kept the keys to the knowledge of how to unlock the titular Sword of Truth's "memory", allowing the user to Take a Level In Badass from the acquired skills of previous users, the knowledge of how to enter the Dance Of Death, and the history to allow Richard to break through the Barrier between the Old World and the New.

Live Action TV

  • Perhaps the creepiest example occurs in the Twilight Zone episode, Elegy. Three marooned astronauts stumble upon a world where people seem frozen in time. An Ancient Keeper shows up and reveals that it's actually a giant cemetery. He then takes pains to ensure that the three astronauts become its next occupants.
  • The librarian Mr. Atoz in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "All Our Yesterdays". He offered to help the Enterprise landing party go back in time the way the rest of the planetary population had. (Note: "Atoz" was a joking reference to "A to Z", a logical name for a librarian.)
  • The creators of Battlestar Galactica suggest that Brother Cavil resembles this trope, especially during "Rapture" where he's prepared to kill D'Anna, and later box her entire line, in order to preserve the identities of the Final Five. We later discover that this is literally true in "No Exit".
  • Merlin has the Fisher king himself being the keeper in his castle. And asking for Mercy Kill when he has transmitted his knowledge.

Tabletop Games

  • In Magi Nation, the Orothean (uh, he's a merman) Blu guards the Archive, just as his father did, and his father before him, and so on until, apparently, the beginning of time.
    • In the video game, the main character comes and opens up Blu's Archive and discovers a pair of magic boots. Needless to say, Blu was pretty disappointed to learn his family spent ten generations guarding footware.

Video Games

  • 343 Guilty Spark from Halo. OK, he is trying to harm you (along with the rest of the galaxy), but he's in line with the other bits of this trope.
    • In all fairness, he assumed you knew what you were doing the first time, and after that he's just following what he's programmed to do... up until the third game, anyway.
  • Knights of the Old Republic loved this. There are no less than four of these in the game: a droid, a hologram, a sentient AI, and a tribe of living Precursors.
    • Bioware in general likes the trope. There's also the Prothean VI, Vigil, in Mass Effect, and the Guardian of the Sacred Ashes in Dragon Age - the latter owing more than a little inspiration to the old Crusader in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
      • That entire mission was a reference to "Last Crusade."
  • Ergo from Anarchy Online manages this despite for all the world looking like a floating head and nothing more. Mind you, that's just the local interface for a massive computer network spanning the entire dimensional region you're in and who is also well over 30,000 years old.
  • Impa and Sheik in the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time are somewhat ancient keepers. Impa is first met as a kid, explaining she is of the Sheikah race, a race dedicated to serving the royal family. She informs you of Kakariko Village and Death Mountain, as well as teaching you Zelda's Lullaby, an ancient royal family song, before disappearing with use of a Deku Nut. Ironically, Sheik later does almost exactly the same, being a Sheikah who informs Link of the ancient temples, before vanishing with a Deku Nut.
  • Chrono Trigger: The three gurus—they were Zeal's advisers, and inadvertently became Ancient Keepers when they got time-displaced.
  • The Master Librarian from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.
  • Dark Souls has Frampt and Kaathe, the two primordial serpents, two ancient beings that are very knowledgeable on the world's ancient history, who guide the player on two different paths regarding the fate of the First Flame. That said, their trustworthiness is very suspect


  • Phix in Wapsi Square, keeper of the Bibliothiki (a kind of archetypal library presumably containing every book ever written) is a female sphinx.
  • In Rice Boy, there was an unnamed six-armed guy in the library of Seen. He pretty much lived in the library, and was almost done reading every book there.
  • The Arachnaseus from Sluggy Freelance's "That Which Redeems" arc fills this role.

Western Animation

  • The desert library in Avatar: The Last Airbender has a huge Spirit Owl as its keeper.
  • Frostbite in Danny Phantom where he keeps the ancient Infi-Map.
  • Kim Possible has 2 examples of this. Sensei from the Yammanuchi School keeps the secrets of Mystical Monkey Power and the Lotus Blade, and Monkey Fist has a keeper for his mansion, and deals with similar secrets as Sensei.
  • Dungeonmaster from the animated Dungeons and Dragons.
  • Kuzco and Malina run into the Royal Chalice Keeper in the The Emperors New School who has apparently been guarding a bunch of chalices (including a very important one) for a thousand years. He's very deprived of human interaction and is quite stumped when Kuzco (somehow) beats his "Choose wisely" on the first pick...

Malina: "We've got to find the Chalice of Eternal Power!"
Royal Chalice Keeper: "Very well... 'tis one of these!" *displays entire table filled with chalices*
Kuzco: "Yeah, thanks for narrowing it down."
Royal Chalice Keeper: "Take your time and choose wisely..."
Kuzco: *picks up the chalice right in front of him after thinking for half a second* "Gooot it! Let's go." *leaves*
Royal Chalice Keeper: "Wait! You didn't take your time! Come back! Please don't leave me... my next coffee break isn't until October."

  • Daphne/Dafne from Winx Club, Bloom's dead sister, a nymph and protecter of the Dragon Fire, appears to Bloom in her dreams, speaking to her about discovering her past and telling her about her trials and that she's princess of Domino/Sparx.