Praetorian Guard

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Whenever a story has an army, there's almost always some kind of elite group that serve as the guardians of the leader.

The Big Bad is much more likely to have a dedicated group of elite bodyguards than the story's Big Good or other equivalent-ranking good guy. This might be because the good leader often has a Kirk-like tendency to lead his soldiers into battle, even if logically it seems like a bad idea to have your leader be the first person you send into every potentially dangerous situation. Then again Authority Equals Asskicking. The occasional exceptions form the Hero Secret Service. Another notable exception is any fictional representation of the real-life Secret Service (typically American, but also occasionally Her Majesty's). A princess may also have a solitary male bodyguard that she sometimes finds herself attracted to (and vice-versa).

In Real Life, the Praetorian Guard was a special force originally intended to serve as a Roman general's bodyguard in combat, but the term was later restricted to the elite personal guard of the Roman Emperors. As a bodyguard unit, they proved to be a miserable failure: Nine separate emperors were killed by the guard, and many others were deserted or otherwise messed over by them. In some cases the Guard literally sold the Imperial office to the highest bidder, then turned on their new master when he failed to deliver on his extravagant promises.

Tend to favor Scary Impractical Armor, Bling of War and a Blade on a Stick. Despite their elite status, they have an unusual tendency to stand around not doing much fighting - of course, as long as their boss is keeping out of trouble, that's precisely their job.

Sometimes overlaps with Elite Mooks, Superpowered Mooks, and Amazon Brigade when they are Bodyguard Babes. If they are generally recruited from another nation, they are a Cadre of Foreign Bodyguards. If they never actually go into a fight, then it's just palette swapped normal infantry (the real Praetorian Guard were palette swapped standard legionaries; they wore nice purple tunics). May or may not be under the control of State Sec.

This item is available in the Trope Co catalogue.

Examples of Praetorian Guard include:

Anime and Manga

  • The Knights of the Round in Code Geass.
    • Also, the Zero squad. Don't do much difference in battles, but Kallen is very attached to her post as Captain of Zero's personal guard.
  • Zahard's Princesses, a bunch of action girls and ladies of war empowered by the ruler of the Tower of God.
  • In Bleach the Zero Division, tasked with protecting the Spirit King, has been alluded to, although neither they nor the King have appeared so far. However, the Zero Division's in-universe nickname is "the Royal Guard".
  • The Guardian Senshi (Sailor Mercury, Sailor Venus, Sailor Mars, and Sailor Jupiter) in Sailor Moon. Their purpose is to protect the future Neo-Queen Serenity. Also, in the manga, the Shitennou (Kunzite, Zoisite, Jadeite, and Nephrite), Prince Endymion's former generals; and the Sailor Quartet (Sailor Ceres, Sailor Pallas, Sailor Juno, and Sailor Vesta) Chibiusa's protectors.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn you can measure eliteness by the elaborateness of the mecha sleeves. Sinanju has goldplated sleeves and Frontal's royal guard have the same decorations but in white. Sure they also have spike should armor upgrades. Normal cannon fodder only have stripes.
  • The men of the Shogun's harem in Ooku form one as part of their duties. In a Japan decimated by a Gendercide plague, they're probably the largest group of armed men available.
  • FAITH (Fast Acting Integrated Tactical Headquarters) in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny. They're a ZAFT special ops unit that only answers to Chairman Durandal. While they're not the Chairman's bodyguards full-time, they do end up protecting him during the Armory One attack, and serving him during the Battle of Messiah.

Comic Books

  • Bionicle actually had a few examples of these:
    • Big Bad Makuta had the Manas crabs in the first year's storyline, and the Rahkshi in the Mask of Light
    • Roodaka and Sidorak both had troops of Kahgarak elite guards.
    • The Bohrok swarm had the Bohrok-Kal, which where deployed as soon as the swarm's Bahrag Queens where defeated.
    • Subversion: The Toa Hagah were originally bodyguards of the Makuta, but when they found out that the Makuta had become evil, they proplty did a Heel Face Turn and stole the Makuta's Achilles' Heel, the Mask of Light.
  • Marvel Comics' Black Panther has the Dora Milaje, an Amazon Brigade who have even managed to take down the Black Widow . In previous generations, they were also the king's wives, but T'Challa broke this tradition and freed the women from obligating themselves beyond protection.
  • Star Wars Legacy has the Imperial Knights, Jedi who are loyal to the Emperor, and are decked out in red armor sans helmets (see the page pic). Given that the Emperor in this setting isn't evil, neither are his Knights, though they can tend towards the arrogant Jerkass end of the scale. Of course, the Sith seize the throne, forcing Roan Fel into exile in the first issue of the comic. They also take their duty to the extreme. They must protect the Emperor from all threats - including himself. If an Emperor falls to The Dark Side, it is their job to try and redeem him, if that fails, then they must kill him. He does, and they do the latter.


  • The Praetorian Guard in Gladiator just might be an example.
  • Star Wars
    • The Royal Guard in the films. Adorned in their blood red robes, and armed with lethal "force pikes." They serve basically as set dressing for the films, doing absolutely nothing but looking scary in the background. The prequels riff on this by making it look like we'll finally get to see one in action, but he gets smacked aside by Yoda and forgotten. Of course, scary outfits aside, at least one source confirms these are just Imperial Stormtroopers whom the Emperor believed stood out among the others, which wasn't exactly hard to do.
    • In Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and the Clone Wars animated series, General Grievous has a personal guard of MagnaGuard droids, who fight with electrostaffs and are skilled enough to fight Jedi in melee combat.
    • The Last Jedi features eight crimson-clad soldiers who were fanatically loyal to Snoke and were armed with an wider variety of weaponry than Palpatine's Royal Guard. And unlike Revenge of the Sith, they actually get to fight.
  • The Immortals of the Persian army in 300.
    • Don't forget that technically Leonidas's 300 are themselves his "bodyguard" for the purpose of leaving Sparta whith him.
  • In Forbidden City Cop, each member of the Chinese emperor's personal guard is an master of a different martial arts technique, except for Ling Ling Fat ("008"), played by Stephen Chow, who earned a spot through a family legacy. He's also the only one who lives to the end of the movie.
  • The Master of the Flying Guillotine and an unnamed mook with a robotic hand and hockey mask in Violent Shit III: Infantry of Doom.
  • Equilibrium: The real leader of Liberia Dupont has himself a group of Sweepers (designated with a green armband) protecting his office, as well as a group of bodyguards armed with katanas. They're not very effective against the hero.


  • The Imperial Sardaukar in Frank Herbert's novel Dune.
    • Later, the Fedaykin for Paul. In the film at least, they get Badass red right hands to signify their allegiance. Later still, the Fish Speakers for the God-Emperor Leto II.
  • The Kingsguard, the Queensguard, and the Rainbow Guard of A Song of Ice and Fire. They're supposed to be made up of the seven greatest warriors in service to the monarch at that time. Deconstructed with the Kingsguard; while at the start of the series the appointees are all appropriately badass, the command is transferred to Jaime "Kingslayer" Lannister in the first book, and things go downhill from there. As the books progress, members of the Kingsguard die in the war, and their replacements, instead of being selected for their skill with a sword or devotion to duty, are chosen for political reasons. Cersei eventually ensures that with the exception of Jaime (who is crippled and away at war) and Loras Tyrell (who was badly injured while trying to take a castle) all of the appointees are terrible fighters--so when she frames Queen Maegery for treason, Maergery has no choice but to select an incompetent fighter for a champion in her trial. It backfires spectacularly when Cersei herself is charged with treason.
    • The bloodriders serve a similar function for the Dothraki khals, although the khals are also expected to be very capable warriors themselves.
  • The Deathwatch Guards from Seanchan in The Wheel of Time. Lesser examples found in what non-Borderland countries have for standing armies, in contrast to the levies and lords' hirelings raised for large wars. Then there's the the Dragon Reborn's personal Maidens of the Spear, who have a "complex" relationship with Rand.
    • Elayne has the Queen's Guard, a unit of women whose uniform is designed to make people underestimate them.
  • The Fanatical Praetorians in Daniel Pinkwater's Young Adult Novel, a bunch of short guys in sailor hats organized by Kevin Shapiro to protect him, issue his orders and intimidate even the teachers at Himmler High School.
  • The Lord Rahl has two sets: Musclebound male bodyguards, and two thousand elite soldiers known as the First File. After Richard frees the Mord-Sith, they become a third set.
    • Jagang has his elite core of soldiers that guard him and spearhead assaults with the rabble as extra weight. They are bigger, tougher, stupider, and better-armed than the normal troops.
  • In the Aliens expanded universe, Praetorian Guards are larger, stronger, tougher xenomorphs whose purpose is to protect the hive Queen.
  • Lord Ebondrake from the Warhammer 40,000 novel Hammer of Daemons has his Ophidian Guard.
  • In Honor Harrington, Grayson steadholders (effectively higher-level nobility in command of the equivalent of states) has the Steadholder's Own tasked to protect them, though each Steadholder is limited to 50 armsmen to prevent anyone building up a private army.
    • At one point, Honor inadvertently creates a constitutional crisis when she forms The Elysian Space Navy, due to the above limitation on personal armsmen. This is averted by having her hand control of it over to Protector Benjamin, ruler of Grayson, who renames them The Protector's Own Squadron, effectively giving him a Praetorian Fleet.
    • Then there is the Queen's Own tasked to protect the Manticoran Royal Family
    • The Totenkopf Hussars which serve as the household guard of the Andermani Emperor and his family.
    • Queen Berry of Torch has a more ad hoc Praetorian Guard comprised of a mix of female scrag mercenaries and members of the Audubon Ballroom. They are later supplemented by members of the Beowulf Biological Survey Corp.
    • The People's Republic of Haven uses foreign Space Swiss mercenaries—they certainly wouldn't trust their own people. Their paranoia is justified, and the next government who rises to power after killing off the previous government uses State Sec troops for their personal guard.
  • The Emperor of Videssos (A Fantasy Counterpart Culture of the Byzantine Empire) from Harry Turtledove's books has a guard of pagan Halogai warriors. This may seem rather unlikely in a culture so obsessed with the doctrinal purity of their religion, but apparently the logic is that the Halogai can't get involved in such denominational squabbles and the palace intrigue that goes with them. And it's Truth in Television - the real Byzantine Emperors had a Varangian (Viking) Guard.
  • The Empire Of Man Series is all about one of these units- with its work seriously cut out for it. Within the first chapter, a plot by ambitious politicians of the Empire leads to the spoilt, nancy third-born prince and his Bronze Battalion being stranded with him on a serious Death World. It Got Worse, much worse ( and the prince got better).
  • The Palace Guard in early Discworld books, most notably Guards! Guards!. In later books, while Vetinari does keep the guards and gives them orders to accept all bribes, he relies mostly on Vetinari Job Security (and, if entirely necessary, his own assassin skills) to keep himself alive.
  • A number of the Primarchs in the Horus Heresy series have Praetorian Guards of one stripe or another - Fulgrim's Phoenix Guard, Ferrus Manus's Morlocks, Mortarion's Deathshroud, Sanguinius's Sanguinary Guard (not yet appearing on the page, but the recent re-release of the Blood Angels codex includes them). There are probably others, whose primarchs have not had their day in the limelight yet. Some definitely don't these, though, in particular thus far, Horus, Russ[1] and Magnus. The Emperor's are the most badass of all though - the Adeptus Custodes. And that ignores all the army commanders who have their own, including the infamous Lucifer Blacks in Legion whose leader is possibly the single most Badass Normal in the entire setting, after fencing a primarch to a standstill with an unpowered sabre, and wounding him.
  • In Falkenberg's Legion, Vice President Bradford attempts this by having Falkenberg organize a brigade composed of trusted party members and officers loyal to Bradford. Unfortunately for Bradford, Falkenberg is a little Genre Savvy, and uses the would-be Praetorian Guard to take the blunt of the fighting.
    • The government of Hadley also has a formal Presidential Guard, but their loyalties are questionable.
  • In Sergey Lukyanenko's Seekers of the Sky duology, the State (the Europe-spanning empire) had Praetorian Legions as elite troops. Several such legions are mentioned with the Grey Vests being the most Badass (they all had guns, a rarity in this world). Their counterparts in the Russian Khanate are the Semetskiy Guards. Nothing is known of the counterparts in the third power, China.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe
    • The Imperial Royal Guards wipe out small armies by themselves. Before the Empire, they were the Red Guard and were the security detail of the Supreme Chancellor.
    • There is also in some extent senate guards or senate commandos in the Clone Wars time-line, who are in charge of the protection of the galactic senators and representatives (how suprising) and can also assist regular forces on some missions. They are also humans for the most part, and not clones, unlike the regular army. They are considered an elite group.
    • Fate of the Jedi: Head of state Natasi Daala doesn't trust her own military forces, so she uses Mandalorians for several tasks besides just protection, like fighting Jedi, and massacring slave revolts. This is just like the successors of the Trope Namer, the Varangian Guard, made up of Vikings.
      • Even better fitting the trope, Star Wars Legacy 's Imperial Knights start up in this series, courtesy of Tahiri Veila.
    • In the Hand of Thrawn duology, Grodin Tierce was a Guardsman who had survived fifteen years after Endor, choosing to appear as a normal soldier because to do otherwise would be to seek special privileges. He served as the tactical, planning part of his Big Bad Triumvirate, though bit by bit he became more and more important in it. Really he was a clone of the now-dead Guardsman Tierce, with some of Thrawn's mind added in.
    • In Young Jedi Knights there was an arc with four Guardsmen trying to make it look like the Emperor lived again by editing holofootage of him, in direct violation of We Will Not Use Photoshop in the Future.
    • The X Wing Series had a more minor appearance. In The Bacta War, Ysanne Isard had a few Guardsmen around. The viewpoint character, unaware that the armor includes AC, pitied them. This was in a hot climate, and they had heavy scarlet robes.
    • The Slayers, named in honor of the Yuuzhan Vong war god, from the last book of the New Jedi Order.
  • In Belisarius Series, Kungas and his Kushans serve as this for Shakuntala. Interestingly she new them first as her prison guards but they were so effective and conscientious at this that she was perfectly happy to have them as bodyguards. They in turn were happy to serve a monarch they could respect.
  • Subverted with the Steel Inquisitors in Mistborn. Yeah, they're by far the most Badass of the Lord Ruler's minions and a couple of them accompany him at all times, but that's mostly because he doesn't like to do his own dirty work. He's actually far more powerful than any Inquisitor, illustrated in the climax of the first book when two characters take care of almost all the Inquisitors in the capital city and think they've won the revolution, only to be curbstomped by the Lord Ruler himself effortlessly.
  • In Animorphs, each Visser had his or her own personal guard unit. Visser Three's was the Blue Band Hork-Bajir.
  • In The Dresden Files, most notably seen in Summer Knight, the Fairy Queen of Summer and Fairy Queen of Winter both have respective Knights who would hold a piece of their power in exchange for loyalty and protecting them.

Live-Action TV

  • I, Claudius. After Caligua is assasinated (while being protected by German mercenaries, who presumably would be less open to conspiracy than Roman guards) drunken Pretorians annoyed at the imminent demise of their jobs find Claudius hiding behind a curtain and declare him Emperor almost against his wishes. Which is what happened in real life, though whether the real Claudius was as reluctant as his TV version is another question. The actual Praetorian Guard unsurprisingly play a fairly major role in the miniseries.
  • In the MacGyver episode "Humanity", MacGyver tangles with the K-Force, a group of Praetorian Guard still loyal to Romania's dead tyrant.
  • While they don't fully count as Praetorian Guards, Admiral Adama in the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica is occasionally followed by a group of Colonial Marine bodyguards. They don't become particularly noticeable until the second half of Season 4 though, when the Fleet is breaking apart and the Adama/Roslin leadership is barely keeping order. A rare case when a "good" character has Praetorian Guards following him and a pretty good way (at least in This Troper's opinion) of emphasizing the Black and Grey Morality and the Crapsack World status of the universe.
    • Roslin also had her own personal guard, consisting of non-military personnel (they were chosen from former private-security members and police officers) to avoid split loyalties between the military and the government.
    • Roslin's civilian guards are never seen again after their introduction in "Kobol's Last Gleaming"; later episodes have her and the Quorum guarded by Marines, perhaps signifying the increasing trust between Roslin and the military (which backfires on all concerned during The Mutiny).
      • A major argument against Adama's Marines and Roslin's Bodyguards being Praetorian Guards would be that they tend to have some Red Shirt and Face Heel Turn tendencies.
  • Near the end of the second season of Primeval, Oliver Leek refers to the small army of future predators he's gathered as his "very own Praetorian Guard". Of course, as soon as they're free of his control, they promptly eat him.


  • The song "March of the Varangian Guard" by the band Turisas is about (you guessed it) the Varangian Guard of the Byzantine Empire (see under "Real Life" below)

Tabletop Games

  • The Purple Dragons of Cormyr in the Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms setting.
  • Most Headquarters units from Warhammer 40,000 have the option of purchasing bodyguards, be it a cadre of hand-picked Space Marine veterans, a mob of Ork Nobz, a Chaos warlord's Chosen, the disgusting little Nurglings that carry a demonic palanquin, the Tyranids' Tyrant Guards (literally bio-engineered to be walking meat shields), the Royal Court of a Necron Overlord and their Lychguard Bodyguards, or the lethal Incubi of the Dark Eldar (who come from outside the Kabal and are therefore unlikely to try to usurp power). In most cases these units spend the game with their commander, but in certain armies they can be split up to act as leaders for other squads.
    • The background material also features the Adeptus Custodes, golden-armored super soldiers bearing polearms with integrated storm bolters. Though the Custodes took to the battlefields of the Great Crusade during the Imperium's founding, since the Horus Heresy they have been consigned to Holy Terra where they guard the Imperial Palace, particularly the Golden Throne and the Emperor's inert form.
    • Note that the Praetorian Guard mentioned in Imperial histories is not this trope, being instead a pith-helmeted, red-coated Imperial Guard regiment from the planet Praetoria.
  • The High Elf White Lions of Warhammer Fantasy Battle act as bodyguards to the Phoenix King and the Maiden Guard for the Everqueen. The Reiksguard of the Empire serve as the Emperor's bodyguard. The Temple Guard of the Slann Mage-Lords for the Lizardmen. The Black Guard for the Dark Elf king. The Hammerers for the Dwarfs. Stormvermin for the Skaven. Tomb Guard for the Tomb Kings...
  • Seen in the BattleTech universe with the Draconis Combine's Otomo and the Capellan Death Commandos. The former may do more actual bodyguard work while the latter have plenty of other tasks to perform as well, but in both cases their loyalty is first and foremost directly to their respective House Lord.
    • The Clans have their "Keshik" units, which serve this function for their Khans.
  • In Eberron there the Brelish Citadel (aka Secret Service) which has four branches that represent various aspect of the trope. As the King of Breland is a good guy, this also makes them a good example of the trope. None of the branches actually report to the Brelish Parliament, instead answering only to the King himself. As representatives of the King, they can conscript any Brelish Civilians to help them, refusing is considered treason.
    • "The King's Shields" are warriors in charge of being bodyguards for the royal family and visiting foreign dignitary.
    • "The King's Swords" are an elite offensive task force serving the king.
    • "The King's Dark Lanterns" form an intelligence/counterintelligence agency, in charge of serving the King.
    • "The King's Shadows" are in charge of missions which the King of Breland wants no official ties to.
    • Outside Breland, the leader of the Thrane, both the Queen and the Speaker of the Flame, have their own Praetorian Guard. The Queen has the Knights of Thrane, while the Speaker of the Flame has a dragonhound. A magically bred animal that resembles a 6 legged mix between a dragon and a grizzly that automatically becomes loyal to whoever is the current Speaker of the Flame. It is sentient and even the cardinals of the church give it a wide berth. Of course, since the current Speaker of the Flame is an 11 year old girl, she treats it like a pet.
    • The head of house Thuranni has two Shadows (undeads made out of shadows) acting as his bodyguards.
    • The Undying Court of Aerenal depends on the Deathguard for protection.
  • In Traveller it is the right of High Nobles and The Emperor to maintain "Huscarles". These are different from private armies and merc bands because they have legal enforcement powers and are therefore only allowed to a certain nobles, notably those who are serving as provincial governors. Their form is naturally up to the GM. The most obvious form of Huscarl band might be a large clump of muscle but a game that involves Huscarls as a Nobles personal investigative team, for instance, might be worth considering.
  • The Seppun family bushi, known as the Miharu, serve the Emperor in this fashion in Legend of the Five Rings.

Video Games

  • Half-Life 2 has the Combine Elite, the creme de la creme of the Combine Overwatch whose job is essentially as the final line of defence for the Combine regime and its head Dr. Breen. They only start to show up near the end of the game as it becomes clear that you're getting closer to winning.
  • While never seen, there are several mentions of a Lombax elite guard called the Lombax Praetorian Guard in A Crack In Time.
  • The Total War hybrid TBS / RTS series usually gives faction leaders and heirs special "bodyguard" units that accompany them into battle. Rome Total War, naturally, features the Praetorian Guards as elite heavy infantry.
  • San d'Oria has the Royal Guard, Windurst has the Patriarch Protectors, Bastok has the Mythril Musketeers, and there are also the Immortals of Aht Urhgan in Final Fantasy XI.
    • The Knights of Pluto act as the personal guards to the Alexandrian Royal Family in Final Fantasy IX.
  • The Blades of The Elder Scrolls, who also operate as the Emperor's spies.
    • The Buoyant Armigers, Ordinators, and Her Hands from Morrowind seem more in line with this trope.
    • In Skyrim, the Penitus Oculatus has taken over as the Emperor's bodyguard after the Blades got decimated by the Thalmor. While the Blades were basically dragon-slaying samurais, the P.O. is just wearing darker armors.
  • In World of Warcraft, the most famous royal guards in the game are Warchief Thrall's Kor'Kron Elite. Most other racial leaders just use regular city guards.
    • The Kor'kron in Shadowmoon Village in Outland are a stronger version.
    • Also, the Stormwind Royal Guard for Stormwind and the Royal Guard for Silvermoon are there, There are also Royal Dreadguards in Undercity as well as the Shields of Velen in Exodar, and as of Wrath of the Lich King the Royal Guards are level 80 elites, not to be trifled with.
      • Warcraft 3 also had the Naga Royal Guards as the most powerful non-hero units in the game, even moreso than the Doomguard.
        • Admiral's Elite Guard, the Chief Petty Officer and the Chief of Chaplains was the Praetorian guard of Admiral Proudmoore.
  • City of Heroes has Elite Mooks for virtually every faction in the game, and one or two even have a Praetorian Guard. The most noteworthy may be the Council's Ascendants, who are rumored to be the personal bodyguards of the Council's leader, the Center.
    • Then there is the alternate-dimension villain group called The Praetorians, whom are the evil version of the Freedom Phalanx hero group.
      • Incidentally, while the region called Praetoria is ruled by these alternate Freedom Phalanx members, who are known as Praetors, they are not Praetorian Guards. Their actual function serves as something between The Enforcer and ranking police official. Of course, considering who the emperor is, he hardly needs them.
    • The Bane Spiders are referred to as being Lord Recluse's praetorian guard in their descriptions.
      • Well, one of his attacks summons about six billion of them...
  • Halo 2 featured Honor Guard Elites and Honor Guard Brutes, who served as the personal bodyguards of the Covenant Prophets. Honor Guard Elites generally wielded energy swords or dual plasma rifles, while Honor Guard Brutes were immune to headshots (which were the Brutes' one weakness in Halo 2). They also had very big crown-like headwear that fanned out over a meter long, as opposed to the more practical helmets worn by regular Elites.
    • In Halo 3, the Brute Chieftain enemies are usually protected by a few Brute Bodyguards, who have slightly different-looking armor from the regular Brute soldiers.
      • The Bodyguards also supplant the Honor Guards from the previous game.
  • The equivalent in Lost Souls MUD was the Millenarian Guard, imperial guard of the fallen Altrian Empire. Their remaining legacy in the present day of the setting is the spectacularly enchanted armour that was reserved just for them.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 4, Liquid Ocelot has the FROGs, an elite group of all-female soldiers who protect him and clear paths for him. One could argue that the Beauty and the Beast Corps are also Praetorian Guards, though they are offensive rather than defensive units. All of the above have power suits that are far superior to normal mooks' battle gear.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3 has the Ocelot Unit, special Spetsnaz troops with distinguishing red berets that are only seen accompanying Ocelot.
  • Tales of Symphonia has the five Grand Cardinals, who double as bosses. The four Seraphim of Yggdrassil may also count, though at the time of the game all are either dead or rebelling against Yggdrassil, openly or otherwise.
  • The six God-Generals in Tales of the Abyss serve Van and double as bosses as well.
  • Gears of War 2 had Theron Palace Guards, a version of the Elite Mooks Theron Guards seen in the original Gears of War.
    • On the human side, Gears of War 3 has the Onyx Guard, who protect the Chairman of the COG as well as perform special operations under his direct command.
  • The Valsharess' precious Red Sisters.
  • The Superpowered Mooks Korean Nanosuit Soldiers in Crysis are supposed to be Big Bad General Kyong's personal bodyguards, which explains why they're so incredibly rare in the game (with almost all of them only seen in the level where you encounter General Kyong).
    • In Crysis Warhead, the Korean Nanosuit Soldiers seem to act as bodyguards for the new North Korean leader, Colonel Lee.
  • Likewise, the Superpowered Mooks nano-augmented Elite Guard in Project Snowblind are General Yan Lo's personal bodyguards, and only encountered in the General's bunker.
  • Likewise, the Sopot Elite Guard in Red Faction 2 serve as totalitarian dictator Sopot's personal bodyguards.
  • Dwarf Fortress activates the Royal Guard when the appropriate noble arrives at your fortress. However, they do nothing aside from sparring since their role is only to reassure the nobility that they are in no danger whatsoever.
    • In theory at least, they also accompany the Tax Collector on his rounds.
  • Quake II has the Tank Commanders, which guard the Makron's palace. The only difference between them and regular Tanks is extra HP and a wicked red-gold paintjob.
  • The Legend of Zelda has Darknuts and Iron Knuckles, which qualify in several cases as guardians for Ganon and Vaati.
  • Almost every time Slogra and Gaibon appear in the Castlevania series, they are serving as an additional line of defense for Death. Even as bosses.
  • The NOL of BlazBlue literally has the Praetorian Guard, which is composed of elite members of other NOL divisions.
  • Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, since it allows you to go to the Vatican, naturally has Papal Guards. They are Kung Fu-Proof Mook Lightning Bruisers dressed largely in black, have Badass Capes and use a Sword and Gun.
    • One could argue that the Assassin recruits Ezio acquires throughout the game come to represent this as well, certainly a full force of rank 12 Assassino would qualify as an elite fighting force in their own right. A rare example of the Player Character of a game having an elite guard.
    • Assassin's Creed: Revelations replaces the Papal Guards with the Janissaries, who are equally deadly.
  • Fallout: New Vegas gives Caesar several praetorian guards, armed with shotgun fists. Subverted in that the Guards aren't the best soldiers available, they are just extremely devoted to Caesar and his ideals.
  • Dawn of War: Dark Crusade has the Honor Guard units in the campaign. They are earned by conquering certain territories and are essentially a beefed-up version of regular units or sometimes (in case of unique and vehicle units) a regular unit that doesn't count into the Arbitrary Headcount Limit.
  • The first game of Homeworld has the Imperial Guard as an elite unit in the Taiidan fleet. First appears pursuing a deserter, before bringing out the biggest Taiidan task force of the final level and defending the Emperor's flagship.
  • Kid Icarus has a rare example of this trope not belonging to the Big Bad. Palutena has one in the form of the Icarus Army. Pit, the goddess' most loyal servant, is their leader.
  • The Bratgirls from Crash Of The Titans act as this for Nina. In Mind Over Mutant, the Stenches act as this for Cortex.
  • Soem games in the Aliens vs. Predator series have a special kind of Alien breed called Praetorians which function much like their real-life human counterparts did, namely protecting the Alien queen and the egg chambers from intruders. Their physical characteristics and behavior varies from game to game, with the version from Av P 1 and 2 having a large, triangle-shaped head like the queen, being larger, slower, and much tougher than the average Alien drone or warrior.
  • StarCraft the Overmind is guarded by Zerg brood called the Tiamat Brood, which are red in color. The bulk of their forces are air units, but they do provide special hero units in the campaign.
  • The Philip campaigns in the Hegemony Series have the Companion Cavalry, a strong heavy cavalry unit (and the only one for most of the beginning), and the first thing you do is have your king Philip join them.
  • Heroic version in Maple Story, the Cygnus Knights are this for Empress Cygnus. The principal five Knights - Mihile, Oz, Eckhart, Irena, and Hawkeye - are mentors for Player Character Cygnus Knights of the appropriate class, except Mihile, a relative newcomer who actually is the playable character.

Western Animation

  • Good-guy Elite Guard: Jazz and Sentinel Prime serving Ultra Magnus in Transformers Animated.
  • Transformers briefly had the Wreckers be such a guard for the team's political sponsor, Emirate Xaaron, until his untimely death.
    • Interesting, the Decepticon Ravage was part of one such guard for the last surviving Autobot Overlord...and promptly betrayed him in favor for Megatron. His Autobot counterpart Nightstalker, though, sacrificed himself for his liege.
  • Azula of Avatar: The Last Airbender was introduced with the red-clad royal guard. However, they're not much more useful than usual, and Azula gets rid of them once her lieutenant screws up her plans.
    • Later on the Dai Li serve a similar purpose for her.
  • In G.I. Joe, Cobra had the elite Crimson Guard who, amongst other duties, served as bodyguard to Cobra Commander.
  • The Shredder from the 2003 onwards Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series had the Foot, and then the Elite Foot who appeared from behind him, all the time, with massive straw hats. And big weapons.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Princess Celestia has a pair of grey unicorns who appear to be her throne room guards, and a pair of white pegasi who guard her while she travels. The pegasi have been shown to have British Royal Guard stoicism, even when prodded by Rainbow Dash.
    • Princess Luna has her own pegasi guards, who wear black & purple armor and sport demonic bat wings.
    • Funnily enough this is a subversion of how the trope usually goes, since the Big Good of the story has a Praetorian Guard yet none of the villains do. Nightmare Moon relied purely on her personal vast magical power, Discord is a one Draconequus apocalypse on his own. Queen Chrysalis has an army, but it doesn't seem to comprise any elite guards.

Web Original

Real Life

  • Named after the guards to the Emperors of Rome.
  • The Varangian Guard of the Eastern Roman Empire were Vikings employed by the Emperor as his personal bodyguard.
  • Napoleon's Imperial Guard, which was also used as a reserve in some battles. It got pretty big though, by the invasion of Russia it had around 100,000 troops. Above-average height was a prerequisite for membership, which is why Napoleon is stereotyped as being so short.
    • Napoleon himself was only a little bit on the short side, an inch or so below average, but by surrounding himself with six-foot-plus giants, he made himself seem very short indeed by contrast.
  • The United States Secret Service handles this for the President and other officials, as well as visiting diplomats. Interestingly, this is barely 10% of the manpower: the rest serve as federal police attached the Department of the Treasury, where they investigate (among other things) counterfeiting. Also, a little-known division of the Secret Service is the C.A.T. or Counter Assault Team, which is made up of former US Military Elite types. These are the guys who travel around in the presidential convoy and stay at the White House in full combat kit with one objective: stopping assaults on the president.
  • Mexico has the Presidential State Major. You see them, and you could swear you're looking at a detachment of American SOCOMs.
  • Swiss Guards is the name that has been given to Swiss mercenary soldiers who have served as bodyguards, ceremonial guards, and palace guards at foreign European courts from the late 15th century until the present day. They are now represented in some sense by the Papal Swiss Guard, which is the only Swiss Guard that still exists (they guard The Pope).
    • If you visit the Vatican, you will see them. Their uniforms look like a cross between Stuart doublets and hose and stripy red, blue and orange pyjamas. They are everywhere!! However - they are armed, and not only with sabres at their hips. They are also very devoted, very religious, and do not suffer fools, especially people who laugh at their uniforms.
      • Interesting historical fact: the Swiss are allowed to have soldiers on their home soil and the Vatican only. The Swiss Constitution expressly forbids their natives from serving in any other military or as mercenaries, after the Swiss gained a reputation for being the deadliest mercenaries the world had ever seen.
  • The SS started as a personal military bodyguard for Hitler, intentionally meant to remind people of Napoleon Bonaparte's Imperial Guard and the Praetorians.
    • When the SS grew, the members assigned to Hitler's security detail became the Praetorians within the SS. Himmler, even as head of the SS, didn't have full authority over them. The Wehrmacht also had a unit assigned specifically to protect Hitler.
  • Real Life overlap with Amazon Brigade occurred in the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi's Bodyguard Babes.
  • Most monarchies had a Life Guard for the king or emperor at some point. Those that have survived, such as Britain, still retain Guard regiments, which are typically rotated between ceremonial and frontline duties to keep them honed.
    • Musketeers of the Guard (French: Mousquetaires de la garde), were the guards for the King of France. The protagonists of The Three Musketeers are part of said group.
  • The Janissary Guard of the Ottoman Empire gets a special mention for the inflation it suffered. Originally it only consisted of a few hundred slave-soldiers who had been taught to fight from childhood. Over time their numbers increased until practically the entire army was Janissaries, they recruited openly from the free population, most of them didn't do any fighting or have skills for that matter and they killed several sultans for thinking it was time to put the guard down.
  • Mao Zedong had a personal guard that did the same function, and guarded him just like a Roman emperor-something that's not supposed to happen in a supposedly egalitarian society.
    • This might be traced from China's Imperial Guard. It existed in various forms over the ages, and was noted for recruiting foreigners, including Russians captured in illegal settlements along the frontier. It was briefly featured in Shanghai Noon, as the Chinese lead played by Jackie Chan was a (rather clumsy) member of it.
  • The Soviet Union also had a praetorian guard in the form of the Kremlin Regiment, who were used to arrest any member of the Party if needed, guard Lenin's tomb, and march daily near the Russian version of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. These guards fought in WWII, being entrusted with the defense of the Kremlin itself, and killing some 1,200 German troops (they were arranged as snipers to do this). The Kremlin Regiment still serve the Russian Federation today.
    • Said Kremlin Regiment was eventually part of the KGB's 40,000-man Ninth Directorate, and even known by the nickname 'Praetorians' in some circles, charged with providing security for the party members and their families, securing government telephone lines, and operating the Moscow VIP subway, Metro-8. Given that, in more than 70 years, no Soviet head of state was ever assassinated, despite Civil War, World War, and succession, they seemed to do their job. They were also the most visible portion of the KGB, wearing dress uniforms in their marches around Red Square.
    • Before all this, the Red October era Soviet Russia had the Latvian Riflemen. Before this, the Latvian Riflemen were a general military unit of men conscripted in the Baltics to fight Germany in the Great War.
  • The Imperial Guards regiments in Tsarist Russia had a habit, like the original Praetorian Guard, of killing emperors who crossed them. Just ask Peter III, who hinted he might send them to fight Prussia - in which they were yet to raise a finger. Or Paul I, who was fanatical about parade ground neatness. The Decembrist Revolt of 1825 was also the result of Guard rebelliousness.
  • In feudal Japan, during the Edo periode, there were the "hatamotos", literally "those who gather around the flag", who were a hand-picked force of elite samuraï under the direct command of the shogun and who had privileges almost in par with those of a Daimyo.
  • For much of history only empires with an efficient tax system or simply a lot of stuff to tax inefficiently had the revenue stream to field a standing army. Most monarchs had only a Praetorian Guard directly answering to themselves and had to rely on subordinate interests to provide the rest of the force, typically according to treaty and often with labyrinthine arrangements(this house owes ten knights, this tribe owes a hundred horse archers, this town owes five ships, whatever)that provide a hodgepodge sort of coalition looking rather like a modern American forest fire camp rather then a bureaucratized army. This could have rather painful results. For a while for instance the only way a King of Scots could enforce law in the Highlands was to hire another clan to beat up on the clan that displeased him which of course simply put off the problem as the clan that got beat up remembered. This situation in fact was something of the origins of the "Knights of the Round Table" or "Charlemagne's Pallidins" trope as back then the guard would be used in action as one of any king's chief policy instruments rather then merely as palace security simply because there was no choice.
  1. well, strictly speaking he had the Wolf Guard, but they seemed to be used more as his public foil, rather than as a bodyguard