Literature / 45 Master Characters - Heroes

This is a summary of the Hero archetypes from 45 Master Characters: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters (see footnote on that page). Heroine archetypes can be found here, and several additional types under Support Characters.

Also listed are the villainous versions of the Hero archetypes; the book goes into detail on how each heroic archetype can become a villainous archetype.

Compare with The Complete Writer's Guide to Heroes & Heroines: Heroes.

Quick Overview

The nine Hero archetypes are as follows:

  • Apollo: The Businessman
    • A logical, focused team player who is good at planning and enjoys performing his duties (unemployment is death to him) but poor at dealing with chaotic forces (including emotions and relationships).
  • Ares: The Protector
    • A physically oriented warrior who revels in competition and risk, defends his kin, and fears nothing anyone can do to him - except losing the ability to fully use his body (paralysis would be death to him).
  • Dionysus: The Woman's Man
    • A fun-loving, sensual man who can't relate to masculine pastimes but revels in the company of women, who helps the women around him to find courage and realize their own worth - although the Dionysus himself often feels flawed and may never find the perfect woman he seeks.
  • Hades: The Recluse
    • A sensitive introvert with a rich inner life, a dreamer and philosopher who shies from people (conformity is death to him); he might yearn for love or companionship but is at a loss as to how to get it.
  • Hephestus: The Inventor
    • A brilliant genius who has the greatest inventions that he uses to support the people of the world. His brilliant mind brings forth the greatest ideas on how to get the job done, but always wants to keep focus (loss of creativity would be death to him).
  • Hermes: The Fool
    • A playful, carefree soul who enjoys his freedom and doesn't worry about consequences; he won't deliberately hurt others, but neither will he let himself be tied down to a relationship (and prison would be death to him).
  • Osiris: The Male Messiah
    • A spiritual leader focused on his mission, willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good, bringing wisdom and transformation into the lives of those he passes.
  • Poseidon: The Artist
    • A creative but emotionally volatile man who takes any criticism poorly (rejection is death to him); his behavior and reactions are not easily predicted, and even he may fear that he will harm those he loves.
  • Zeus: The King
    • A powerful leader, even a bit of a control freak (loss of power is death to him), who demands obedience, provides for his family, and rises to any challenge, but sees emotions as weaknesses.

Their villainous versions are as follows:


Hero Examples

Villain Examples

Comparing the Gender Roles

You can find this section on the Heroines page.

Examples of stories or series that play one type off another, so we can see how they interact:

Princess Mononoke
  • Ashitaka is a fine example of the Messiah archetype. He ends up changing the lives of many characters in the story, most importantly the life of his Love Interest San. Through their interactions, she is changed from a Gorgon into an Amazon (see the Master Heroines article for more information on these two archetypes).

Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Shadow the Hedgehog's (a Recluse) encounter with Amy Rose (a Maiden) in Sonic Adventure 2 completely changes his mind about the worth of humanity and reminds him of the true promise he made with his friend Maria (another archetypal Maiden).
  • While he is most definitely a Hermes, Sonic also has a bit of the Messiah archetype within him. While he does not necessarily develop, everyone he meets is forever affected by interaction with him. Notable examples are Tails and Amy Rose, both whom develop into heroes in their own right after being influenced by the blue blur.

Alternative Title(s): Master Character Heroes