A folk hero is a type of [[TheHero hero]], real or mythological, who has become the stuff of legend through [[OralTradition generations of retellings]]. The single salient characteristic which makes a character a folk hero is the imprinting of the name, personality and deeds of the character [[{{Meme}} in the popular consciousness]]. This is evidenced by mention in folk songs, folk tales and other folklore. In modern times, folk heroes are also the subject of films, comic books and literature.

Although some folk heroes are historical public figures, they generally aren't, and even if they are they [[HistoricalHeroUpgrade won't bear much resemblance to the real person]]. Because the lives of folk heroes are generally not based on historical documents, the characteristics and deeds of a folk hero are often [[PowerCreepPowerSeep exaggerated to mythic proportions]].
The folk hero often begins life as a normal person, but is transformed into someone extraordinary by significant life events, often in response to social injustice, and sometimes in response to natural disasters.

One major category of folk hero is the defender of the common people against the oppression or corruption of the established power structure. Members of this category of folk hero often, but not necessarily, live [[{{Main/Outlaw}} outside the law]] in some way. There is a strong tendency for them to be {{Guile Hero}}es.

The tradition is carried on nowadays in an "ironic" fashion in the form of the MemeticBadass - games of one-upmanship involving Creator/ChuckNorris or Creator/BruceCampbell only really differ from embellishing the exploits of [[Myth/CelticMythology Cu Chulainn]] or Myth/PaulBunyan in the fact that they're about living people, and as such are obviously fake.

See also KingInTheMountain.

[[WMG: Historically Documented Folk Heroes]]
* Abe no Seimei
* UsefulNotes/AlexanderTheGreat
* UsefulNotes/JohnnyAppleseed
* [[Literature/TheAdventuresOfBaronMunchhausen Baron Münchausen]]
* UsefulNotes/BillyTheKid
* Black Bart Roberts
* UsefulNotes/{{Blackbeard}}
* Bonnie and Clyde
* Creator/BuffaloBill
* Captain William Kidd
* El Cid Campeador
* UsefulNotes/DanielBoone
* UsefulNotes/JuliusCaesar
* UsefulNotes/DavyCrockett
* Dick Turpin
* UsefulNotes/GeorgeWashington
* Geronimo
* UsefulNotes/GenghisKhan
* UsefulNotes/GotzVonBerlichingen
* UsefulNotes/HattoriHanzo
* UsefulNotes/HarrietTubman
* UsefulNotes/HernanCortez and [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Malinche La Malinche]]
* UsefulNotes/HughGlass
* [[Myth/{{Janosik}} Jánošík / Janoszik]]
* UsefulNotes/JanZizka
* UsefulNotes/JesseJames
* UsefulNotes/JoanOfArc
* UsefulNotes/NedKelly
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ned_Ludd Ned Ludd]]
* [[Literature/TheBible Judas Maccabeus]]
* Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary
* UsefulNotes/MaoZedong.
* UsefulNotes/MiyamotoMusashi
* UsefulNotes/MusashiboBenkei
* Mykola Sjuhaj / Nikola Šuhaj
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pancho_Villa Pancho Villa]]
* Paul Revere
* Pocahontas
* The Red Baron
* Rob Roy
* Rózsa Sándor
* Samson
* Skanderbëg
* Solomon the Wise
* Spartacus
* Stepan Razin
* UsefulNotes/TheodoreRoosevelt and his Rough Riders
* UsefulNotes/VladTheImpaler
* UsefulNotes/WongFeiHung
* Wild Bill Hickok
* William Wallace
* UsefulNotes/WinstonChurchill
* Wyatt Earp
* UsefulNotes/YagyuJubei
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emiliano_Zapata Zapata]]
* Numerous Saints built up "cults" at one point or another in history which tended to attribute various folk-tale like stories which are, at best, recognized as acceptable additions according to the Church. For instance, Saint Patrick driving out the snakes, sending a village into the earth for driving out his missionaries, meeting with the last great pagan Irish heroes and doing magic battles with Druids, for instance.

[[WMG: Possibly Apocryphal Folk Heroes]]
* Creator/{{Homer}}
* Myth/KingArthur
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Henry_(folklore) John Henry]]
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hua_Mulan Hua Mulan]]
* UsefulNotes/SarutobiSasuke
* Myth/RobinHood
* Myth/WilliamTell
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spring-heeled_Jack Spring-Heeled Jack]] - also a Folk ''Villain''.
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lalli Lalli]] (though more like folk anti-hero)
* Literature/AraTheHandsome
* Literature/TillEulenspiegel
* [[Literature/{{Nibelungenlied}} Siegfried the Dragon Slayer]]

[[WMG: Fictional Folk Heroes]]

[[folder: Comic Books ]]

* ComicBook/{{Asterix}}
* Franchise/{{Batman}}
* Franchise/TheFlash
* ComicStrip/ThePhantom
* Radio/TheShadow
* Franchise/{{Superman}}
* ComicBook/CaptainAmerica
* Franchise/{{Tintin}}


[[folder: Film ]]

* The Man With No Name (''Film/DollarsTrilogy'')
* Keyser Soze (''Film/TheUsualSuspects'')
* Max Rockatansky (''Film/MadMax'')


[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* The Hero of Canton, the man they call Jayne (''Series/{{Firefly}}'')
* The Doctor (''Series/DoctorWho'')


[[folder: Folklore ]]

* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Bunyan_(lumberjack) Paul Bunyan]]
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pecos_Bill Pecos Bill]]
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiraiya Jiraiya and Tsunade]]
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sigurd Sigurd]]
* Big Joe Mufferaw
* Joe Magarac
* Alfred Bulltop Stormalong


[[folder: Literature ]]

* Literature/DonQuixote
* El-ahrairah (''Literature/WatershipDown'')
* Franchise/{{Tarzan}}
* Franchise/{{Zorro}}
* Mr. Badger (''Literature/TheWindInTheWillows'')
* Literature/TheEpicOfGilgamesh
* Literature/{{Beowulf}}
* [[Literature/TheOdyssey Odysseus]]
* Hong Gil Dong
* Martin the Warrior (''Literature/{{Redwall}}'')
* ''Literature/RedMars'': "Big Man", with a brief appearance by (and fight with) Paul Bunyan.


[[folder: Video Games ]]

* Commander Shepard (''Franchise/MassEffect'')
* The Warden - "The Hero of Ferelden" (''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'')
* Hawke - "The Champion of Kirkwall" (''VideoGame/DragonAgeII'')
* The Inquisitor - "The Herald of Andraste" (''VideoGame/DragonAgeInquisition'')
* The Lone Wanderer (''VideoGame/{{Fallout 3}}'')
* ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls''
** Ancient FounderOfTheKingdom Indoril Nerevar is one to the [[NobleSavage Ashlanders]] in ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIIMorrowind Morrowind]]''. They've even kept alive an ancient prophesy foretelling his {{Reincarnation}} despite it being suppressed by the [[CorruptChurch Tribunal Temple]].
** The [[PlayerCharacter Dragonborn]] of ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim Skyrim]]'' already has a folk song being sung about them by the end of the game.
** From the series' backstory, Reman Cyrodiil, the [[FounderOfTheKingdom founder]] of the Second Tamriellic Empire, is considered one in Cyrodiil. Reman is considered a "cultural god-hero" and the "Light of Man", held right up there with St. Alessia and [[GodEmperor Tiber Septim]] himself as the greatest Imperial leaders in history.
** Likewise, Tiber Septim, founder of the Third Tamriellic Empire who [[AscendToAHigherPlaneOfExistence ascended after his death]] as [[DeityOfHumanOrigin Talos]], the Ninth Divine. He was the founder of the first truly pan-Tamriellic empire and is revered simply in general as a great hero of mankind.
* Braum, the Heart of the Freljord from ''VideoGame/LeagueOfLegends'' has shades of this, his character background framed as a bedtime story from grandmother to grandchild.


[[folder: Web Original ]]

* Webcomic/{{Poharex}}
* Saddy Dumpington (''WebAnimation/HomestarRunner'')


[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* Optimus Prime (''Franchise/{{Transformers}}'')
* WesternAnimation/BugsBunny
* Soos from WesternAnimation/GravityFalls