Created By: Ekuran on April 23, 2011 Last Edited By: Jicragg on February 3, 2012
Nuked

Culture Hero

A group icon that changes the world through invention/creation or discovery.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Up for Grabs, Needs More Examples, Needs a Better Description.

A Culture Hero is a character that's an icon of a specific group (culture, ethnic, religious, etc.) due to being a discoverer or inventor that changes the world through what they found or made, respectively. They're usually one of the most important legendary figures of a people, and are sometimes it's founder. Prometheus may be the most iconic example, considering the fact that he stole fire from the gods and gave it to humans.

No Real Life Examples, Please!, as there's no set definition of an icon. Adding to the mythology section is fine, though.

See what The Other Wiki has to say on it in this article.


Examples

Film
  • Alfred Lanning is creator of US robotics which manufactures all the robots in the I, Robot movie universe. The robots in this movie would not exist if it wasn't for him.
  • In TRON and TRON: Legacy Kevin Flynn is known as the creator of the grid which is used by many characters in the original movie and its sequel.
Literature
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, there is an "Age of Heroes" of in-universe folklore, and one of them is Bran the Builder, who is believed to have constructed several important landmarks in the universe, including the nearly impenetrable fortress Storm's End, and the Wall which protects humans from the Others. It's believed that he imbued these structures with magic and/or built some of them with the aid of supernatural creatures.
  • In the Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series, the angel Raziel is the one who first created the nephilim/shadow hunters.
  • In Discworld, Mr. Shine is this to the trolls whenever he appears. More specifically he's a rare troll with a diamond body, which keeps his brain cool (troll brains are silicon based, making their intelligence inversely proportional to the temperature) and thus makes him a natural leader and diplomat. The fact he's shiny helps too, of course.

Live-Action TV
  • On Terra Nova, Commander Taylor, first man to set foot on Terra Nova's soil, is honored with a "Commander Taylor Day" being made a national holiday in the colony.
  • The Star Trek franchise has a few of these:
    • The Klingons have a warrior-Jesus analog in Kahless, the founder of the Klingon Empire and father of Klingon honor.
    • The father of Vulcan logic, Surak, is pretty much Space-Socrates.
    • Dr. Cochrane from Star Trek: First Contact. He's know of in the movie hundreds of years after his death, and without him there would be no warp drive.
    • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Darmok," the Enterprise meets a race of beings who communicate solely by relating stories from their mythology, which means that their conversation basically consists of nothing but culture heroes.
Mythology and Religion
  • Moses from the Old Testament received the ten commandments from God and led the Israelites for forty years in the desert.
    • Just about every religious founder could qualify as well.
  • The gnostic traditions of Christianity had various figures who first teach mankind how to escape the imperfect reality created by the Demiurge. Who it is varied from sect to sect but some figures include Jesus, Sophia, and Lucifer.
Anime and Manga
  • Gold Roger in One Piece is a culture hero for starting the great pirate era which was started from him inspiring many to go to the sea and sfind his hidden treasure the one piece.
Video Games
  • In Homeworld, Karan S'jet sacrifices the use of her body to control the mothership as Fleet Command. She becomes symbolic of the Kushan / Hiigaran people as a whole.
  • Paragons of the dwarves in the Dragon Age series are cultural heroes who are declared Living Ancestors, usually for making epochal scientific discoveries, such as Caridin's invention of the golems and Branka's smokeless fuel.
Web Comics: Light Novel
  • In Zero no Tsukaima, Founder Brimir, who apparently discovered void magic and the familiar summoning spell. He and his apprentices and sons are credited with founding not one, but four nations: Albion, Gallia, Romalia, and Tristain.

Community Feedback Replies: 57
  • April 24, 2011
    fulltimeD
    Moses from the Old Testament received the ten commandments from God and led the Israelites for forty years in the desert.
  • April 24, 2011
    ladygem
    Real Life
    • Christopher Columbus, while he was not the first European in the Americas, it was his voyage that brought the "New World" to European attention and changed the world.
  • April 26, 2011
    ladygem
    bump

  • April 28, 2011
    jate88
    • In the Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series the angel Raziel is the one who first created the nephilim/shadow hunters.

    • The gnostic traditions of christianity had various figures who first teach mankind how to escape the imperfect reality created by the Demiurge. Who it is varied from sect to sect but some figures include Jesus, Sophia, and Lucifer.
  • April 28, 2011
    jatay3
    Solon the Lawgiver is the archetypical founder of the Athenian constitution.

    Lycurgus of Sparta is the founder of the Spartan constitution.

    This goes into folklore rather then real life though both these figures could conceivably have had as much effect as is credited to them. Ancient Greeks were fond of legends of heroic founders for their cities.
  • April 28, 2011
    troacctid
    No Real Life Examples Please. Real Life doesn't have heroes and villains.
  • April 28, 2011
    Ekuran
    People have their own heroes and villains. While it's obviously subjective (someone's hero is another person's villain and whatnot), a few people can be seen to fit the Culture Hero archetype.
  • April 28, 2011
    troacctid
    Nah, examples need to happen objectively and in-universe.
  • April 28, 2011
    Ekuran
    Considering the fact that wikipedia has a large list of real culture heroes, I'm going to have to say a resounding no to your suggestion.
  • April 29, 2011
    troacctid
    ^ Those are Oral Tradition, not Real Life. Notice how they all say "Mythology."
  • April 29, 2011
    Ekuran
    Putting real people into the mythology section is ridiculous, even if they qualify through an Oral Tradition.
  • April 29, 2011
    troacctid
    Cuz stories have heroes and villains, but Real Life doesn't, see? The Real Life Christopher Columbus committed genocide. Folk tales and legends aren't the same as real events.

    Anyway, that's the site policy. Just like if the trope appears in a newspaper, it's classified as Print Media, and if it shows up on a billboard you saw on the highway, it's Advertising.
  • April 29, 2011
    Ekuran
    Kind of like how a trope that's found in history goes to the history section, right? Oh, wait, that goes to Real Life.
  • April 30, 2011
    TBeholder
    so, uh, what exactly it is? "Any hero who became a legendary (whether the legend is accurate or not)"?
  • April 30, 2011
    Ekuran
    Apparently, it's:

    • A mythical or mythicized historical figure who embodies the aspirations or ideals of a society.

    or...

    • A mythical figure considered by a people to have furnished it the means of existence or survival, as by inventing their alphabet, teaching them husbandry, or stealing fire from the gods for them.

    The 2nd option is what I'm going for. As in, a guy who made or discovered something that changed the world. Like "stealing fire from the gods", discovering the Americas, inventing the wheel, or even "discovering" (i.e. receiving) the ten commandments from God.
  • April 30, 2011
    Ghilz
    I don't understand the " a character from a group (culture, ethnic, religious, etc.) "

    Aren't all people part of a group/culture/ethnicity? I mean, you cannot not have one... Wouldn't every inventor ever qualify?
  • April 30, 2011
    Bisected8
    In Discworld, Mr. Shine is this to the trolls whenever he appears. More specifically he's a rare troll with a diamond body, which keeps his brain cool (troll brains are silicon based, making their intelligence inversely proportional to the temperature) and thus makes him a nateral leader and diplomat. The fact he's shiny helps too, of course.
  • April 30, 2011
    Ekuran
    They have to be specifically associated with that group, and they have to change the world with what they made/discovered. Leonardo Da Vinci is considered one of the greatest inventors of all time, but he isn't specifically associated with Italy. Ben Franklin on the other hand is an archetypal American who "discovered" electricity, and therefore qualifies.
  • April 30, 2011
    troacctid
    Ban Franklin isn't a hero in real life, he's a hero in American folklore. In Real Life, he was a person.
  • April 30, 2011
    Ekuran
    It's been noted that you don't have to be heroic. It's quite clear in that detail, unless you haven't read the description and laconic, which I'm assuming you haven't.
  • April 30, 2011
    Ghilz
    Leonardo Da Vinci is considered one of the greatest inventors of all time, but he isn't specifically associated with Italy.

    Flawed statement. Italy was not s single country during that time.

    Still, Leonardo was a Florencian, so he would be an example.

    I still dont understand what you mean by "specfically associated"
  • April 30, 2011
    Ghilz
    Taking one of your examples:

    Christopher Columbus, while he was not the first European in the Americas, it was his voyage that brought the "New World" to European attention and changed the world.

    But Chritopher Columbus isnt associated with Italy (his country of origin). Heck, alot of people don't know he was italian and think he was spanish.
  • April 30, 2011
    Ekuran
    Association means he's intrinsically part of a group's history (Known trough it's Govt., military, entertainment/media, etc). Do you really think Da Vinci left much of a cultural impact Florence (or think of him as a man of Florence), cause I sure as hell don't. The Culture Hero has to be an icon of the specific group in question, and Da Vinci isn't.
    He's associated with the Americas. As in, he's a Culture Hero of the Americas, even though he came from Italy.

    Why? Because he "discovered" it, and in doing so he became an icon of the New World.
  • April 30, 2011
    Ghilz
    And Da Vinci was one of the biggest geniuses of the Europes, having worked for three kingdoms. Or is Europe less of a place than the Americas? He's an icon in florence, there's a museum of him there. Italy'a biggest airport is named after him.

    But clearly, he's not part of the history of either Italy or florence.

    He painted the MOST FAMOUS PAINTING IN THE WORLD while in Florence. But clearly thats not what you consider a cultural impact.

    So again, what does associated means?

    John A Macdonald was the first prime minister of Canada. Is he an example?

    Is Louis Pasteur an example?

  • April 30, 2011
    Ekuran
    Kind of figured you'd go with the Europe (or Europes) route. I was trying to avoid that, mostly because this trope needs an anti-example. Congratulations on adding an example. Now if you want to be productive, find someone who discovered or created something that changed the world but is not famously known/connected by/with a specific group.

    Try this. Or this. Now apply that to a specific group by way of it's culture.

    John A Macdonald didn't discover/invent shit.

    Louis Pasteur was a french scientist that made massive contributions with his work in microbiology (and therefore, qualifies for the world changing part with his discoveries). Was he a cultural icon of the French people? No? Then he's not an example.
  • April 30, 2011
    Ghilz
    Pasteur is, for the french. Theres an institute named after him. There's stamps with his face on him.

    For Macdonald No, but I am sure helping creating Canada changed the world for canadians. He's a cultural icon for canadians.
  • April 30, 2011
    Ekuran
    Then feel free to edit Pasteur in.

    As for Macdonald, it would depend on if this trope should be expanded to include founder's of a specific group, which is probably a trope on it's own. Or we could just add it as an Internal Sub Trope, but I would like a consensus on that.
  • May 1, 2011
    cathstuart
    Forget Columbus, what about Marco Polo? He was Italian, is celebrated as an Italian, ''The Travels of Marco Polo" constantly in print for 800 years emphasising he was Italian, and inspiring all those other Italian and Spanish explorers (including Columbus) to go find the New World. Italy didn't exist at the time, he was a merchant of the Venetian empire, but he's goddam Italian now.
  • May 1, 2011
    cathstuart
    Also, if you want to control/micro-manage the trope more, refine your trope description. Seems like it's inspiring lots of quibbling about what qualifies...
  • May 1, 2011
    Ekuran
    Okay, a group icon that changes the world through invention/creation or discovery. We're also arguing if a founder of a group qualifies as well, or whether it should be it's own trope.

    Now if someone could help flesh this out, I'd be greatly appreciative.

  • May 3, 2011
    Koveras
    Paragons if the dwarves in the Dragon Age series are cultural heroes who are declared Living Ancestors, usually for making epochal scientific discoveries, such as Caridin's invention of the golems and Branka's smokeless fuel.
  • November 30, 2011
    matsuiny2004
    Film
    • Dr. Cochrane in Star Trek First Contact is know of in the movie hundreds of years after his death since without him there would be no warp drive

    Live Action TV
    • There is also the inventor of the transporter mentioned in the show star trek enterprise. It was created by Dr. Emory Erickson.
  • November 30, 2011
    darkapothem2000
    I've read the trope description, the above comments, and Wikipedia's article of the same title, and now I'm quite confused as to what this trope is / what its qualifications are... As it stands, it seems too internally conflicted to contribute anything meaningful to the wiki.

    Is this just meant to be a trope version of the dictionary/wikipedia "culture hero?" If so, Needs A Better Description; specifically, in regards to historical figures, I think the mytho-historical aspect (that is, the fact that it's REAL person who over time becomes something of a mythical figure) needs to be emphasized, as in "This is a historical figure whose exploits/achievements resonate so much with a particular culture/ethnicity/group that he/she becomes a part of their mythology." For instance, Johnny Appleseed is listed as a cultural hero of the United States despite having not invented/discovered anything.

    Or is this now supposed to be something entirely different and distinct from the dictionary/wikpedia Culture Hero? In that case, Needs A Better Title. Discuss, please, my head hurts and as it stands I'm not even sure this is tropable.

    Oh, and enough with the immaturity... please and thank you.
  • November 30, 2011
    matsuiny2004
    Anime and Manga
    • Gold Roger in One Piece is a culture hero for starting the great pirate era which was started from him inspiring many to go to the sea and sfind his hidden treasure the one piece.
  • November 30, 2011
    matsuiny2004
    Film
    • Alfred Lanning is creator of US robotics which manufactures all the robots in the I,Robot movie universe. The robots in this movie would not exist if it wasn't for him.
    • In Tron and Tron Legacy Kevin Flynn is known as the creator of the grid which is used by many characters in the original movie and its sequel.
  • November 30, 2011
    Ekuran
    ^^^I had tried to limit this to the laconic. Someone who is an icon of a group due to their discoveries or inventions/creations. I tried to tone down the ambiguity regarding the mytho-historical aspects of a Culture Hero described in the wikipedia article that inspired me to make this trope, because I thought that would make it confusing as to who would be defined as a Culture Hero.

    It seemed this proposal of mine was doomed to failure, though, as we didn't have a standard upon which we could call someone a Cultural Icon. In other words, this trope is a Sub Trope of a trope that doesn't exist, which led to confusion and annoyance for the parties involved, and for that, I am sorry.

    Perhaps I should have started a Cultural Icon trope instead?
  • November 30, 2011
    Jordan
    • In A Song Of Ice And Fire, there is an "Age of Heroes" of in-universe folklore, and one of them is Bran the Builder, who is believed to have constructed several important landmarks in the universe, including the nearly impenetrable fortress Storm's End, and the Wall which protects humans from the Others. It's believed that he imbued these structures with magic and/or built some of them with the aid of supernatural creatures.
  • December 1, 2011
    fulltimeD
    @OP: I wouldn't count Erickson, the inventor of the transporter. He was never mentioned before or after the one episode he appeared in. Cochrane on the other hand is a great example from sci-fi.
  • December 1, 2011
    darkapothem2000
    @Ekuran: I really like the idea behind the trope; I haven't yet seen anything on the wiki that explores or defines elements of mythologies within fiction, and I absolutely think this could make for a great trope. I do, however, think that the criteria and scope of this trope need to be much more carefully defined before launch.

    So, I suggest that this trope apply only to works of FICTION - that is, only figures in fictitious mythologies should be listed as examples. "Real life" mytho-historical figures should be given only in the description as a supplement to the definition.

    You could, if you want, keep the "Real Life" heading to include examples where a mytho-historical figure is subverted in a work of fiction -- but then again, that may not be under the scope of this trope. Like you've said, this is potentially a Sub Trope of a relatively unexplored area, so you could always leave it to other tropers to fill in the gaps.

    EDIT: If this were to become the case, then this trope would become a subtrope of Mythopoeia and perhaps a sister trope of Creation Myth.
  • December 1, 2011
    fulltimeD
    • Star Trek franchise:
      • The Klingons have a warrior-Jesus analog in Kahless, the founder of the Klingon Empire and father of Klingon honor.
      • The father of Vulcan logic, Surak, is pretty much Space-Socrates.
  • December 1, 2011
    matsuiny2004
    could someone add my one piece example, I robot example and tron example?
  • December 1, 2011
    darkapothem2000
    • In the Star Trek The Next Generation episode "Darmok," the Enterprise meets a race of beings who communicate solely by relating stories from their mythology, which means that their conversation basically consists of nothing but culture heroes.
  • December 1, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    Not sure if these count:

    film:

    Live Action Telvision
    • On Terra Nova, Commander Taylor, first man to set foot on Terra Nova's soil, is honored with a "Commander Taylor Day" being made a national holiday in the colony.

    Videogames:
    • In Homeworld, Karan S'jet sacrifices the use of her body to control the mothership as Fleet Command. She becomes symbolic of the Kushan / Hiigaran people as a whole.

    Webcomics:

    Edit: Thought of another one:
    • In Zero No Tsukaima, Founder Brimir, who apparently discovered void magic and the familiar summoning spell. He and his apprentices and sons are credited with founding not one, but four nations: Albion, Gallia, Romalia, and Tristain.
  • December 2, 2011
    TBeholder
    Archetype Hero?
  • December 12, 2011
    darkapothem2000
    Bump
  • December 13, 2011
    Noaqiyeum
    The name Culture Hero implies a parallel to the existing Action Hero, Guile Hero, and Science Hero.

    Simply changing it to Cultural Hero would fix that, for me, though.
  • December 13, 2011
    SchrodingersDuck
    Webcomics
  • December 17, 2011
    TBeholder
    Needs a definition better than "a subject of hero worship by some defined group for some or other or neither reason". IMHO.
  • December 17, 2011
    fulltimeD
    Agred with Noaqiyeum. Cultural Hero would be more accurate.
  • December 30, 2011
    TBeholder
    Science Hero is the one who beats the monster with science. Sorry, with SCIENCE!. What exactly this implies as a parallel? I remain puzzled.
  • January 1, 2012
    Noaqiyeum
    The format of the name as [Broad Abstract Quality] Hero. A Science Hero wins through science. A Guile Hero wins through guile. An Action Hero wins through action. Obviously, therefore, a Culture Hero wins through culture. But that's not what the trope is about, so the title is kind of misleading.

    Again, merely changing it to Cultural Hero would fix that. Cultural Icon, which was also used, would work as well.
  • January 11, 2012
    TBeholder
    Yes, but this one happened to be so broad it became completely abstract. That is, still no meaningful definition here.
  • January 11, 2012
    ScanVisor
  • January 22, 2012
    ginsengaddict2
    bump - looks Ready To Launch
  • January 22, 2012
    Noaqiyeum
    Are you sure? There was still some fierce debate going on in the comments...
  • February 3, 2012
    TBeholder
    For one it's still unclear what it's supposed to mean at all, if any. The description still gives a subject of hero worship by some defined group for some or other reason with a link to the Hivemind at the end instead of any attempt at more articulate explaining.
  • February 3, 2012
    troacctid
    I don't think it's ready to launch. Still some issues here that haven't been addressed.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=1hlamui0dqp0xdcec7qoubeh