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->''"I'm just doing the best I can to save you."''
-->-- '''Joe Lamb''' in response to a DistressedDamsel, ''Film/Super8''

Nowadays, an AntiHero is usually thought of as a badass, [[SillyRabbitIdealismIsForKids bitter]], [[HatesEveryoneEqually misanthropic]], [[BloodKnight violent]], {{sociopathic|Hero}} angry person, but this is a recent enough development to be known as a NinetiesAntiHero. For much of history, the term ''antihero'' referred to a character type that is in many ways the opposite of this.

In Myth/{{classical|Mythology}} and earlier mythology, the hero tended to be a [[IdealHero dashing, confident, stoic, intelligent, highly capable fighter and commander with few, if any, flaws]] [[InvincibleHero and even fewer real weaknesses]]. The classical antihero is the inversion of this. Where the hero is confident, the antihero is plagued by self-doubt. Where the hero is a respected fighter, the antihero is mediocre at best. Where the hero is brave and courageous, the antihero is frightened and cowardly. Where the hero gets all the ladies, the antihero can't even get the time of day.

In short, while the traditional hero is a paragon of awesomeness, the classical antihero suffers from flaws and hindrances. The classical antihero's story tends to be as much about overcoming his own weaknesses as about conquering the enemy.

As time has gone on, this portrayal has become increasingly popular, as readers enjoy the increased depth of story that comes from a flawed and conflicted character. Hence, the classical antihero has to some extent replaced the traditional hero in the minds of readers as the idea of what a hero should be. It is nowadays rare to find a hero who does not have at least a little of the classical antihero in him.

See also PunchClockHero. Compare SuperLoser and TragicHero. Contrast with TheAce and NinetiesAntiHero, but see also ByronicHero, who may or may not be a complex variation of a classical antihero. A {{sidekick}} to a classical hero that otherwise fits the role of the trope would be TheLancer.

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* In ''Manga/TwentiethCenturyBoys'', Kenji starts as this.
* Short, chubby, and no small amount a crybaby, Haruyuki Arita doesn't start out ''LightNovel/AccelWorld'' as anybody's idea of a hero. But by the end of the Dusk Taker arc, he is more than capable of dropping a villain like a bad habit.
* Rock (and Benny) from ''Manga/BlackLagoon''. The same can't be said for the other members of the Lagoon Company, though, who are pretty much {{Villain Protagonist}}s, though after CharacterDevelopment Rock becomes an AntiHero.
* Nobita from ''Anime/{{Doraemon}}'' is a total loser, a crybaby, and a lazy bum who prefers using tools to cheat than trying to improve himself, but he is naturally a kid with a gentle heart who can be brave and reliable when he needs to.
* ''Anime/DragonBallZ'':
** Gohan. He tries to play the IdealHero when he is the Great Saiyaman, but he's much closer to this trope since he's often plagued with self-doubt in himself, has no real love for fighting outside of sport (which greatly affects his power), and often depends on his father and Piccolo to protect him when he screws up (which has cost them both their lives at one point). He still fights to protect the world, despite his shortcomings.
** Mr. Satan tries to be an IdealHero to the citizens of Earth and everyone, save for the Z-Fighters, sees him as the savior of the universe. Truth is, Mr. Satan is an unapologetic GloryHound who stole credit for killing Cell from Gohan. He is more often than not scared of fighting anyone stronger than him and will bribe others to throw fights so he can keep his reputation. At the same time, he does have a noble heart and will fight to protect others, even if it means risking his own life. He helps Goku and Vegeta kill Kid Buu by using his heroic status to get the people of Earth to loan energy for the Spirit Bomb.
* Early on, Vincent Law of ''Anime/ErgoProxy'' is very poor material for a traditional protagonist; he's shy, awkward, holds little social standing, and works doing a very dangerous job. He considerably bulks up his credentials as the series progresses.
* Renton Thurston in ''Anime/EurekaSeven'', who eventually graduated into a proper hero.
* Yukiteru Amano of ''Manga/FutureDiary'' starts out as one. [[VillainProtagonist It gets worse]], later.
* Kei Kurono from ''Manga/{{Gantz}}''. [[TookALevelInBadass He gets better]].
* The eponymous main character of ''Manga/GoodnightPunpun'' fits this to a tee; there's nothing particularly exceptional or admirable about him. He's a good person at heart, but is meek, withdrawn, depressed, and bad with people. The story is about his growing disillusionment with life and how this turns him into a progressively worse person.
* ''Franchise/{{Gundam}}'':
** Amuro Ray and Kai Shiden from ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam''. Both get better; Amuro in particular develops into a KnightInSourArmor in ''Anime/MobileSuitZetaGundam'' and ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamCharsCounterattack''.
** Kou Uraki of ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam0083StardustMemory'' is not an AcePilot, has no psychic power, and has only a blind rage against the main antagonist (who doesn't even consider him a worthy opponent until half-way through).
** Saji Crossroads, Shinji Ikari's {{expy}} of sorts, during the second season of ''[[Anime/MobileSuitGundam00 Gundam 00]]''. [[TookALevelInBadass He gets better]].
* Akitsu Masanosuke from ''Manga/HouseOfFiveLeaves'' is a classical anti-hero, being an overly humble samurai with no self-esteem.
* Natsume from ''Manga/NatsumesBookOfFriends'' is a SociallyAwkwardHero with no self-confidence about people and a tendency to alienate what friends he does make by constantly lying to them to avoid causing a fuss.
* ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'':
** Shinji Ikari manages to save the day several times in spite of all his self-doubt, angst, and neuroses.
** WordOfGod describes Misato as this, too, but unlike Shinji, who is ResignedToTheCall, she is much more proactive in looking past her BrokenBird issues and moving forward (particularly by the tail end of the series).
* Usopp from ''Manga/OnePiece'' is pretty much this in the beginning and mostly in the Water 7/Enies Lobby arc.
* ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica'':
** Homura used to be a SuperLoser even with her TimeStandsStill ability. Some traumatic cycles later, she's a badass DarkMagicalGirl AntiHero with [[SuperheroPackingHeat loads and loads of guns]], and yet she's still losing... against [[HopelessBossFight Walpurgisnacht]]. Even with the universe's biggest literal DeusExMachina, technically she's still losing [[spoiler:Madoka]].
** Madoka spends most of the story struggling to cope with the horrifying things that happen to her friends, while being too scared to actually do much of anything. But she slowly overcomes her fears, and eventually summons the courage to [[spoiler:become a magical girl in order to fix most of the tragedy]].
** Sayaka is probably the "strongest" example. She's determined to be a hero, but she's barely decent at fighting, extremely angsty and emotional, and mostly unable to gain the attention of her love interest ([[LesYay well, the male one, anyway]]). She eventually breaks down completely and [[spoiler:becomes a witch]].
* Usagi Tsukino from ''Manga/SailorMoon'' is lazy, clumsy, cowardly, overemotional, ditzy, and BookDumb; but she is essentially a girl of good heart and IncorruptiblePurePureness. She grows into a stronger heroine as time goes on, although she continues to be a slacker in school.
* Rei Kiriyama from ''Manga/SangatsuNoLion'' starts the story rife with personal problems, socially detached, and barely able to take care of himself.
* Nozomu Itoshiki of ''Manga/SayonaraZetsubouSensei''. AKA Mr. Despair, he is constantly attempting suicide and angsting about the most ridiculous of things. Interestingly, he isn't an example of ThisLoserIsYou, as he's very good looking, intelligent, and comes from a very wealthy (if bizarre) family. In fact, the irony of his character is that he acts the way he does despite having these advantages.
* The protagonist of ''Literature/TheTatamiGalaxy'', who is something of a Zetsubou-sensei {{expy}}, and is described in some promotional materials as a "not-so-lovable loser".
* Simon from ''Anime/TengenToppaGurrenLagann'' started this way in a similar vein to Shinji, where he was constantly plagued by self-doubt and weakness with a major part of his relationship with [[HotBlooded Kam]][[RousingSpeech ina]] being that the latter constantly tried to have Simon grow beyond it. He overcame this in episode 11, being one of the series' most iconic moments.
* Tatsuhiro Satou of ''Anime/WelcomeToTheNHK'' is a highly unstable NEET who places all of the blame for his highly unstable life on a conspiracy organization known to him as the NHK. And yet he is ultimately a good-hearted person who wants to be a productive member of society, most of his angst stems from feeling he is unable to lead a productive life.
* Shigeo Kageyama from ''Manga/MobPsycho100'' is very much this - he's lackluster in most mundane aspects of life; starts the series incredibly out of shape; and his strongest attribute, his incredible psychic power, is something he fears and tries to avoid using. He's shy, unsure of himself, emotionally fragile, and often relies on others for emotional support. However, he's also dedicated to self-improvement, inspires a number of other people around him, and is the strongest psychic in the setting so far.
* Ichika Orimura from ''LightNovel/InfiniteStratos'' is brave, honest, quick to forgive, always wants to see the good in people and puts the needs of his friends above his own. Unfortunately, he isn't very bright, always jumps into conclusions and gets his ass kicked on a regular basis. His attempts to save his friends usually end with his friends saving ''him'' instead.
* Kazuma Satou from ''LightNovel/KonoSubarashiiSekaiNiShukufukuO'' only wants to have an easy, comfortable life in the [=RPG=]-style world he finds himself in. He has no interest in defeating the [[BigBad Demon Lord]] and even treats his own teammates as liabilities than assets. That said, he does care about his friends in his own way and when push comes to shove, he will do the right thing. His teammates also qualify to varying degrees.
* Sota Mizushino from ''Anime/ReCreators'' starts the series with low self-esteem, is more interested in anime and video games than on the real world and [[spoiler:is burdened with the guilt of indirectly causing his best friend's suicide]].

* Creator/RodneyDangerfield's entire shtick.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Early Franchise/SpiderMan, explicitly designed to be the first superhero with personal and internal conflicts besides super-villains and criminals. Spidey's runaway success was a major part of why such depictions came to be the [[TropeCodifier typical depiction of a hero]].
* Although Comicbook/{{Supergirl}} is usually considered a classic example of TheCape, when she starts out her career she is an inexperienced, naive, temperamental teenager full of doubts and insecurities who is not even sure of wanting to be a hero and makes tons of mistakes which she has learn from them.
%%* ComicBook/DylanDog.
%%* ComicBook/{{Empowered}}.
%%* Dave from ''Comicbook/KickAss''.
%%* WesternAnimation/DonaldDuck
%%* [[ComicStrip/{{Peanuts}} Charlie Brown]].
%%* ComicBook/GastonLagaffe

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
%%* The titular character of ''WesternAnimation/{{Megamind}}''. Yes, he's a [[VillainProtagonist supervillain]], but he's our protagonist and he fits this to a T, especially as his character *ahem* develops through the movie.
* Queen Elsa of ''Disney/{{Frozen}}''. She was born with godlike ice powers, but after accidentally injuring her sister with them, she becomes overwhelmed with angst about accidentally hurting people. Combined with the fact that negative emotions like fear and anxiety cause her to [[PowerIncontinence lose control of her powers]], her difficulties overcoming this angst end up being a main driving force in the plot.
%%* Blu from ''WesternAnimation/{{Rio}}''.
* Hiccup Haddock from ''WesternAnimation/HowToTrainYourDragon'' is physically frail, rubbish in a fight and would rather solve problems by talking than punching. As the son of a Viking chief, this leaves him about as out of water as a fish can get. ''Everyone'' worries what will happen if he ever has to become chief himself - not least Hiccup himself. [[TookALevelInBadass And then]] he becomes the first and best DragonRider amongst the Vikings...
* Vakama from ''WesternAnimation/{{Bionicle}}: Legends of Metru Nui'' fits this to a T, though elements of it can also be seen in the books and comics of the first third of the ''Adventures'' saga. Of all the Toa Metru, he's the one most wracked by doubt that he can be a Toa hero, much less the leader of a group of headstrong characters such as themselves, at least in part because of how [[TheMentor Toa Lhikan]] was captured by the Dark Hunters saving him. He struggles to come into his own mastering his powers and even when he does take charge, it's usually only in the heat of the moment and he's quick to pass off authority again, and he [[ItsAllMyFault blames himself the hardest when Lhikan dies and Metru Nui falls into ruin]]. By the second half of the ''Adventures'' saga and shown in detail during ''Web of Shadows'', he tries to compensate by becoming overly [[LeeroyJenkins aggressive and reckless in leading the team]], which gets them mutated into [[BeastMan Hordika]] and gets [[WhatTheHellHero him a whole lot of (not entirely undeserved) crap]], and the stress of all of this failure coupled with learning he and his team might not have truly been destined to become Toa in the first place drive him full-on into [[FaceHeelTurn temporary villainy]]. It's only near the end does he finally find a balance.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* Lester Burnham from ''Film/AmericanBeauty'' is a JadedWashout and HenpeckedHusband to a wife who is [[YourCheatingHeart cheating on him]]. The movie is about him [[GrewASpine growing a spine]], quitting the job he hates and standing up to everyone who gave him hell.
* The Dude from ''Film/TheBigLebowski''. Despite being the movie's protagonist, he's a lazy, drunken, jobless slacker, who screws up at most aspects of life. He's hopelessly out of his league when it comes to dealing with the KudzuPlot he's thrown, and in the end, [[ShaggyDogStory very little of what he does ultimately matters]]. But, he doesn't care; "the Dude abides."
* Wikus van de Merwe of the film ''Film/{{District 9}}''. Before the incident that [[spoiler:mutates him into a "prawn" alien]], he's a racist ObstructiveBureaucrat with little concern for the aliens in District 9. But one accident causes his life to be targeted from all sides, and when only a prawn is willing to help him, Wikus is forced to grow up.
* Most of the protagonists in Creator/KevinSmith's Film/TheViewAskewniverse qualify.
* Sgt. Neil Howie in the original version of ''Film/TheWickerMan1973''.
%%* Film/NapoleonDynamite.
%%* The portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg in ''Film/TheSocialNetwork'' teeters between this and NominalHero.
* The eponymous character of ''Film/MontyPythonsLifeOfBrian'', which makes all the funnier the fact that he is repeatedly mistaken for a MessianicArchetype.
* ''Film/TheAmazingSpiderMan'' and its [[Film/TheAmazingSpiderMan2 sequel]] depict Peter in a far more flawed fashion than [[Film/SpiderManTrilogy the previous films]], with him being ''far'' more temperamental, self-doubting, and with a bad tendency to make rash decisions without thinking about the consequences. However, reception is mixed on if this made him better (as its closer to the comics), or worse (it's harder to root for a guy who screws up like he does) than Tobey's [[TheWoobie Peter]] [[NiceGuy Parker]]. The sequel toned this down by making him far more grown up and developed, but it's still there.
** The next reboot, ''Film/SpiderManHomecoming,'' has him make mistakes so constantly that half his heroic actions in the film seem to be damage control for crises he himself created.
* In a similar vein, Superman in ''Film/ManOfSteel''. As this is Supes before he's came into his role as a superhero, he's far more self-doubting, angsty, and afraid of his powers than most depictions, and isn't quite as skilled in combat as previous versions, making him struggle to balance saving people and fighting villains, leading to more property damage than people would like.
* Ellen Ripley of the ''Franchise/{{Alien}}'' franchise. Especially pronounced in the [[Film/{{Alien}} first movie]]. The novelization expands on the notion that the crew of the Nostromo aren't exactly considered the cream of the crop. Ripley, in particular, is described as competent but "unimaginitive".
* Officer Jong-goo from ''Film/TheWailing'' is a [[CluelessDeputy fat, bumbling officer]] who can't get anything right, completely panics when he has to restrain a lone frail woman, gets no respect from his family or superiors, and according to one comment from his wife isn't exactly spectacular in bed either. It's only when his daughter falls victim to a curse that he has to TakeALevelInBadass to try and save her.
* ''Film/ScottPilgrimVsTheWorld'' brings us Scott Pilgrim, a 23 year old man living in Canada with no job and no signs of pursuing higher education, who owns almost nothing in the apartment he crashes at, has a bad history of emotionally hurting his exes, isn't dedicated enough to or good enough for his mediocre garage band, has his high school girlfriend pay for video games on a date, and deceives her so he can stalk another girl. He can fight. That's his only "heroic" quality.

* Creator/EvelynWaugh's first novel, ''Decline and Fall'', has ButtMonkey protagonist Paul Pennyfeather who is one of these in the way he is rather a pushover taken advantage of by the other characters.
* Frodo Baggins in ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'', who ultimately fails in his mission to destroy the One Ring and is increasingly haunted by the physical and emotional scars of his journey throughout the story and for the rest of his life. His older cousin Bilbo played a similar role in ''Literature/TheHobbit'', except with less PTSD and more reluctantly-tagging-along.
* ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'''s Rincewind as an inept wizard and DirtyCoward[=/=]LovableCoward who is the ButtMonkey of the universe. He's noticed it himself.
** ''Every'' Discworld protagonist is one in one way or another. Even ''Death'' is one.
* The narrator of Creator/FyodorDostoevsky's ''Literature/NotesFromUnderground'' is one of these, as is Creator/FranzKafka's Josef K. (of ''The Trial'').
* Gilbert Norrell of ''Literature/JonathanStrangeAndMrNorrell'', while a skilled magician, is a humorless and petty character who is far from evil enough to be an EvilSorcerer, but also far from sympathetic (or interesting) enough to be a traditional hero.
* Creator/JohnLeCarre's spymaster George Smiley is like this as a contrast to Literature/JamesBond, living in the more cynical side of the SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism, and as opposed to Bond being stylish and a ChickMagnet, Smiley dresses poorly and is a cuckold.
* Lily Bart from Edith Wharton's ''House of Mirth''. Let's see: fails at anything and everything she tries her hands at? Check. Only ever succeeds at alienating the few people who genuinely do care about her? Check. Is a whiny, insufferable {{Jerkass}} with an entitlement complex bigger than Brazil? Check. [[spoiler:Dies at the end]]? Check.
* Lola from Kit Whitfield's ''Benighted'' is pathetic, self-loathing and self destructive, turning away from or turning on anyone who might help her.
* Mick "Brew" Axbrewder from Creator/StephenRDonaldson's ''Man Who'' series, a self-pitying alcoholic who makes [[Literature/TheChroniclesOfThomasCovenant Thomas Covenant]] look like [[WesternAnimation/GarfieldAndFriends Binky the Clown]].
* Linden Avery in the second ''Literature/ChroniclesOfThomasCovenant'' trilogy. Becomes a more standard heroine in the third trilogy. Stephen Donaldson is very fond of taking classical antiheroes and transforming them.
* Flinx of the ''Literature/HumanxCommonwealth'' series. He [[IJustWantToBeNormal just wants the universe to let him be]]. Too bad he's TheChosenOne and TheCallKnowsWhereYouLive, not to mention that he has a hidden romantic streak and a not-so-hidden streak of curiosity that constantly gets him into trouble.
* Amir, the narrator of ''Literature/TheKiteRunner'', starts out as a coward hiding from his past but grows throughout the story and is redeemed to become a 'true' hero.
* [[HeroicWannabe David Levin]] of ''Literature/{{Everworld}}''. He improves as time goes on.
* Mr. Rochester of Literature/JaneEyre.
* Jason of the ''[[Film/JasonAndTheArgonauts Argonautica]]''.
* Peter Keating of ''Literature/TheFountainhead'' is [[AlternativeCharacterInterpretation either this, a deconstruction of this or a Type II AntiVillain]]
* Billy Pilgrim of Creator/KurtVonnegut's ''[[Literature/SlaughterhouseFive Slaughterhouse-Five]]''.
* Hank Thompson, the protagonist of ''Caught Stealing'' by Charlie Huston is this at first, a promising high school baseball player who wrecks his leg then , after a car accident where a friend of his is killed slowly spirals down into an alcoholic slacker, Then after inadvertently getting involved with conflicting criminal elements he [[TookALevelInBadass levels up]].
* Elric of Melnibone is a cursed prince who ultimately fails to escape his doom, killing everyone he loves with his bloodthirsty sword.
* ''Literature/AMagesPower'': Eric is a ShrinkingViolet who freezes whether confronting monsters or his crush. When things go wrong, he blames himself. [[TricksterArchetype Tasio]] thinks it's tons of fun to guide him into a mercenary guild.
* ''Literature/TheBehemoth'' Roger Harding is [[JadedWashout failed graduate student]] turned librarian with NoSocialSkills, a [[TheCynic cynical worldview]], and an [[DesperatelyCravesAffection un-reciprocated crush on his best friend,]] [[DoggedNiceGuy whom he puts on a pedestal]]. Everything remotely heroic he does comes out of [[ReluctantHero a reluctant]] [[TheResenter and resentful]] [[TheFettered sense of duty]].
* ''Literature/ThePowerAndTheGlory'' The Whiskey Priest protagonist is a deeply flawed example of his profession. He is an alcoholic, and a coward, and has even fathered a child. He is well aware of his flaws and his cowardice, which fills him with self doubt and guilt. He does nevertheless does remain a priest, and performs his priestly functions.
* Danny, the protagonist of ''[[Literature/NemesisSeries Dreadnought]]'', is granted the powers of the eponymous superhero and spends most of the book convinced she doesn't deserve them.
* Both Paul and Indira of ''Literature/AlienInASmallTown'' are guilt-ridden neurotics just trying to pull their lives together.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* Dave Lister, Cat and Arnold J. Rimmer from ''Series/RedDwarf'' start out like this, although Rimmer is both a neurotic loser and a [[JerkAss smeghead]]. Lister once good-naturedly described himself as a "bum", while Rimmer would call him a lazy slob. Cat was vain, self-centered to the point of callousness, and not very smart... not surprising given that his species had evolved from a single, pregnant female housecat 3 million years ago (imagine the inbreeding), and even other cats considered him a moron. All three [[CharacterDevelopment became more competent]] in the course of the series, but they never quite lost their essential quirks, their [[BigDamnHeroes good qualities]] (such as Lister's selflessness and sense of fairness) merely became more pronounced. Or, in the case of Arnold Rimmer, who had no redeeming qualities, Rimmer had a run-in with his AlternateUniverse counterpart [[TheAce "Ace" Rimmer]].
* ''Franchise/KamenRider'':
** Shinji Kido from ''Series/KamenRiderRyuki'' is pretty much a live-action expy of Shinji Ikari, a good-natured buffoon who, for the majority of the series, is the only Rider attempting to stop the other Riders from killing one another. He never succeeds and for most of the series is plagued by his inability to save the Riders from destroying each other.
** Chihiro from ''Series/KamenRiderAmazons Season 2'' is the franchise's biggest example, he's a NiceGuy and a good fighter in his own right who has faced several issues throughout the series, as he is plagued by his urge to eat humans due to his nature as an Amazon and his desire to regain Iyu's humanity. And it gets worse once he was revealed to be the [[spoiler:source of the lysogenic Amazons outbreak]], he considers himself as a monster and he was horrified of it after [[spoiler:he killed the ones who tries to put him in stasis]].
* ''Series/{{Scandal}}'': Quinn is more this, as opposed to an AntiHero.
* In the context of science-fiction TV history, ''Series/DoctorWho'' was originally one of these. Pre-''Who'', space travel on TV featured handsome, youthful spacemen aligned with heroic, paramilitary forces. But the Doctor, at his core, is Jack Kerouac in space and time--a dropout from his own people who now just travels around like the '60s never ended. Also, in the William Hartnell days, Ian Chesterton was the male lead, and the Doc was a selfish anti-hero.
** Averted by the Brigadier in [[{{DoctorWhoS26E1Battlefield}} ''Battlefield'']]. Like many of the companions, he knew he wasn't perfect but was more concerned about defeating the bad guys than his self image.
-->'''DESTROYER''':[[{{EvilGloating}} Pitiful. Can this world do no better than you as their champion?]]
-->'''BRIGADIER''': Probably. [[{{StiffUpperLip}} I just do the best I can.]]
* Gai in ''Series/ChoujinSentaiJetman''
* Michael Dugdale in ''Series/{{Utopia}}'' is a rather hapless and borderline suicidal civil servant working for the UK's Department of Health and is blackmailed through various means by TheConspiracy into working for them to [[spoiler: bring about a SterilityPlague. By the end of the series, he's broken into a potentially fatal quarantine zone to retrieve biological samples, stormed a SecretGovernmentWarehouse with a shotgun and torched it, saved his wife ''and'' his marriage, brokered a deal with the conspirators to leave him alone and given a home to a little girl whose family was murdered]].

* Willy Loman from ''Theatre/DeathOfASalesman''. A little, pathetic man, broken by his chase after a dream that isn't true.
* Woyzeck from the [[Theatre/{{Woyzeck}} eponymous play]] is considered the first true Antihero, as opposed to the classic tragic hero.
* Everyone but Ricky Roma in ''Theatre/GlengarryGlenRoss'' qualifies, but with particular attention paid to Shelly Levene.
* Theatre/{{Hamlet}} was conflicted and emotional before it was cool.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Travis Touchdown, of ''VideoGame/NoMoreHeroes'', a porn-obsessed Otaku without anything resembling a social life. He's also a NominalHero, however, eagerly slaughtering opponents and rarely showing any remorse for his killings.
** VideoGame/NoMoreHeroes2, meanwhile, deconstructs this by giving him more of a moral compass as well as an animal magnetism that puts him back closer to being a classical hero by the end of the game.
* Raiden is largely considered to be this in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid2SonsOfLiberty'', though he becomes more of a JerkAss Antihero in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid4GunsOfThePatriots''.
* ''VideoGame/LesterTheUnlikely'' from the SNES game of the same name starts out as such a wimp that even turtles scare him. He does become more heroic about halfway through the game, however.
* Almaz from ''VideoGame/Disgaea3AbsenceOfJustice''.
* Cloud Strife of ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'', although he [[JerkassFacade pretends to be a prick]].
* Captain Martin Walker for most of the beginning of ''VideoGame/SpecOpsTheLine'' comes off as one of these his actions only cause disaster for both him and the people of Dubai. [[spoiler: As the game goes on though it becomes more and more clear that he is actually a delusional VillainProtagonist desperately trying to be the hero of a situation far out of his control.]]
* James Sunderland of ''VideoGame/SilentHill2'' easily meets the criteria.
* The eponymous character of ''VideoGame/{{Iji}}'', especially in the earlier parts of the game.
* Though he more commonly plays the part of {{Sidekick}} than TheHero, [[Franchise/SuperMarioBros Luigi]] could fit the bill insofar as being a LovableCoward whose flaws are made more prominent than those of his IdealHero brother, Mario. In particular, [[VideoGame/LuigisMansion the times he has]] [[VideoGame/LuigisMansionDarkMoon to go it alone]] portray him without the series' trademark StockSuperpowers (which in his case are usually better than Mario's).
* ''Franchise/MassEffect'': Commander Shepard can be played this way in ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'',as it's possible to fail multiple loyalty missions and lose squadmates if the wrong decisions are made. Regardless of player's choice, Shepard becomes this in ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'', given that Shepard loses allies and fails some missions. [[HurtingHero The effect of holding the fate of the galaxy in his/her hands is very noticeable.]]
* Tails in ''Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog'', particularly around the Dreamcast era. Whereas Sonic is self-assured, confident, and a bit on the cocky, egotistical side, Tails is more restrained and uncertain whether or not he should defer to Sonic's heroism to solve a problem. He usually finds the strength and willpower to face the challenge alone but he frequently has to talk himself into the heroics whereas Sonic jumps in feet first with no second thoughts.

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* Lucas of ''VisualNovel/SilverCrisis'' starts off as weak, too reliant on his friends in battle, and overall is [[TheLoad considered a burden by Lucario.]] His constant losing streak and uselessness causes his already low self esteem to make him feel more and more worthless and pathetic, causing him to be overly cynical over the concept of MightMakesRight. However, he recognizes his lack of strength and works hard to overcome it at every chance he gets. He never loses his faith in others, his friends, and knows how important trust and the help of allies truly are, always working to help Lucario realize that. He eventually overcomes his weaknesses through CharacterDevelopment.
* Riki Naoe from ''VisualNovel/LittleBusters'' starts out meek, passive, and overly reliant on his friends. The reason he's so dependent on them is because they were the only people there for him in [[OrphansOrdeal the aftermath of his parents' death]]. It's gotten to the point where Riki is content [[AlwaysSecondBest living in the shadows of his friends]]. Throughout the heroines' routes, he goes through CharacterDevelopment and becomes more self-reliant.

* ''Webcomic/MegaTokyo'''s Piro probably fits. He's getting better, though.
* [[spoiler: The post-scratch Kids]] in ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'' eventually realize that, due to the symbolism of [[spoiler: being in a void session]], they are destined to simply sit around, get distracted by romantic subplots, and wait for the plot to continue without them.
* Cherry from [[CherrysCure Cherry's Cure]] has physical limitations, is slow mentally, and knows all of these things. But is still the hero of the story. She's convinced she can't do what's asked of her, but needs to.
* ''Webcomic/{{Prequel}}'''s protagonist, [[BrokenBird Katia Managan]], is severely lacking in any type of trade or [[NoSocialSkills social]] skills . She is constantly self doubting and insecure, and for the most part, most of her endeavors in the story so far have [[FailureHero ended in failure]]. She's getting better but very slowly and not without a lot of effort on her part.


[[folder:Web Original]]
* Raimi and Kamimura from ''WebAnimation/BrokenSaints''.
* The "Knights of Good" from ''WebVideo/TheGuild'', except [[TokenEvilTeammate Tinkerballa]].
* Aquerna, of the Literature/WhateleyUniverse. She is one of the [[SuperheroSchool Whateley Academy]] Underdogs, with laughable powers that make her a campus joke. She has self-esteem problems, and is no longer welcome in her own home since she turned into a mutant. Her combat final story and her Christmas story are all about her personal life and her personal problems, even if some action intrudes into the plot.
* Every main character in ''Machinima/RedVsBlue'' qualifies on a comedic level, but a dramatic example exists in Leonard Church, who is a hilariously bad shot, can't seem to accomplish anything, and, in particular, constantly fails in what seems to be the only driving force in his life: being with his ex-girlfriend, Tex.
* Taylor Hebert, of ''Literature/{{Worm}}'', a bullied teenaged girl with cripplingly low self-esteem, who finds her escape in going out in costume. Her power is relatively weak (the ability to control insects), and her main victories come from working with other parahumans instead of defeating her enemies alone. Worm is as much about her growth as an individual as it is about TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt.
* Jaune in ''WebAnimation/{{RWBY}}'', who is the only main character not good at fighting [[spoiler:and faked his transcripts to get into Beacon Academy]]. Most of his character arc involves resolving his shame over that. Incidentally, much of his interactions with [[KnightInShiningArmor Pyrrha]] exemplify how the two hero archetypes play off each other.
* [[{{Nerd}} Eugene]], the clone of WebVideo/MatthewSantoro. Due to his clumsiness when [[PragmaticHero Matthew]] sends him to sneak into the research facility to steal the antimatter so it won't destroy the world, he [[spoiler: accidentally drops the jar of antimatter, killing him and Matthew]].
* [[Literature/TheTalesOfPaulTwister Paul Twister]] is portrayed as a strange mix of this and modern AntiHero. His "Paul Twister" persona is a snarky thief-for-hire whose soul has a bunch of chaotic Void power bonded to it, causing him to disrupt and destroy magic everywhere he goes, and when he's being Paul he deliberately plays up the badass image he's crafted of the personal... but he really doesn't like it; he only does it because it's one of the few ways he can make a living. The rest of the time, he's a geek from modern-day earth [[TrappedInAnotherWorld trapped in a fantasy world]] and he's in over his head. He [[NonActionGuy doesn't like to fight, and tends to lose the few fights he gets into,]] almost every plan he makes blows up in his face and [[IndyPloy forces him to improvise his way out of the resulting mess,]] and being a 21st century guy in a Renaissance-tech-level world means [[FishOutOfTemporalWater he has very little in the way of useful skills,]] aside from [[AntiMagic the Twist.]] And yet for all his awkwardness and self-doubt, when the pressure's on, he'll find some way to use either [[ScienceHero science]] or [[GuileHero trickery]] to save the day.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The eponymous lead of ''WesternAnimation/CourageTheCowardlyDog'' for very [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin self explanatory]] reasons. That is, until he gets dangerous and saves the day each episode.
* Fenton Crackshell from ''WesternAnimation/DuckTales1987'' was extremely good at counting, which is how he became Scrooge's accountant. But he often screwed up everything else, and he also was a dork, who had grown up in a trailer park. And when he gets a girlfriend, he becomes painfully hen-pecked. And yet, he was the super hero Gizmoduck, and he also saved the day four times without his Gizmoduck suit!
* Marinette from ''WesternAnimation/MiraculousLadybug'' is a clumsy, shy, and unconfident junior high school student, who has the ability to transform into the superheroine Ladybug.
* Gumball from ''WesternAnimation/TheAmazingWorldOfGumball'' is unathletic, not the sharpest tool in the shed, and lacks maturity, yet he's also bitterly self aware and snarky, all traits that make him as likely to cope with the WorldOfWeirdness he inhabits as likely he is to get in over his head.
%%* Franchise/ScoobyDoo and Shaggy.
* Cody in ''WesternAnimation/TotalDrama''. First season, Cody was a standard hero, but developed less heroic traits in the third season.
* Lincoln Loud in ''WesternAnimation/TheLoudHouse'' is an unathletic, rather [[OnlySaneMan ordinary boy in a family with ten extremely diverse sisters]], who despite being [[JackOfAllStats all-around skilled at what they can do]] still feels [[MasterOfNone inadequate at how much better they are]] and more often than not has allowed his own selfish ambitions get in the way of his relationships with his family. Despite this, he genuinely loves all of his siblings, tries to set things right, and will take the fall if need be.
* WesternAnimation/SpongeBobSquarePants, especially in the post-movie seasons, where the {{everyman}} aspect of his character gets phased out and his negative traits become more obvious.