Haven't I seen you before?note
One example of the Action Hero
. With the emphasis on one
You know this guy, because you have seen him a thousand times. He has the lead role in almost every action movie and video game and, like Bruce Willis
or Will Smith
, has a single role that he repeats over and over again.
Unlike the Featureless Protagonist
, he does have fixed attributes, and they are usually the same:
- Almost always American (and almost always Caucasian at that. And if not, But Not Too Black and/or But Not Too Foreign will usually be invoked.)
- Born to blue-collar parents.
- Buzz-cut, fade, bald, or fauxhawk (if the story is set after 2000) black or dark brown hair. note
- And shaved, usually with Perma Stubble. Growing the Beard means developing personality.
- Usually a former soldier or police officer, very rarely in active service.
- Can be an ex-convict instead of, or in addition to any of the above.
- When he was in the military he was overwhelmingly The Sarge, and is probably still called "Sarge" by his military pals.
- Uses handguns as his signature weapon. Rifles and submachine guns are always immediately discarded after using them.
- Almost always uses Good Old Fisticuffs as his fighting style, and if matched up against even an elite martial artist, will prevail.
- Will fight dirty.
- Chances are good his name is a monosyllabic simple name like Frank, Jim, Jack or John.
- Or he goes by an equally monosyllabic Red Baron title like Dutch, Duke or Spike.
- Or the world is permanently on Last Name Basis with him.
- Has a dead relative, a dead friend or is only in the action hero business because he has to save a loved one.
- Has no respect for authority, but his boss secretly admires him for this trait.
- A tendency to use One-Liners of varying quality.
- Usually smokes and drinks heavily.
- Typically drives a Cool Car or The Alleged Car.
This character has become immensely popular as the protagonist in video games in recent years. The difference from a Featureless Protagonist
is that those characters are left without real characterization to let the player project their own ideas onto the character, while the Action Genre Hero Guy follows a very specific set of traits as listed above.
If you can remember a character's name, he is probably not an example.
Compare A Space Marine Is You
. For a common alternative, see The Ahnold
- G. Callen from NCIS: Los Angeles, where his mysterious past is actually a subplot. G. isn't his initial; that's his name.
- Dean Winchester from Supernatural
- Jack Shepard from LOST.
- The topic of this article.
- Chris Redfield from the Resident Evil series, who fits all criteria except for the buzz-cut. Jake Muller in Resident Evil 6, though, hits the look hard and fast.
- And Alex Shepherd from Silent Hill: Homecoming, who fits the trope to a T. Except for the military background, which turns out to be a delusion to shield himself from a traumatic event.
- Murphy Pendleton from Silent Hill: Downpour seems a close enough match, with a status as a convicted killer serving as his hard-ass background.
- Dan Marshall from Binary Domain.
- The default Commander Shepard from Mass Effect has the looks (and the name; John), but can develop a personality depending on how you play him. He's also in active military service at the beginning of the first game.
- Jimmy Hopkins from Bully is a school-aged equivalent, having a tough, no-nonsense personality, an extreme dislike of authority, common "J" name and a shorn noggin. The hardass characterization stays pretty constant, but you can at least give him a different hairstyle later on.
- Both Mercury and Jacknife from Mirrors Edge.
- Nathan Hale from Resistance.
- Preston Marlowe from Battlefield: Bad Company.
- Solid Snake from the Metal Gear series started as one, but did develop a very detailed and unique personality as the series progressed.
- Same goes for his buddy Gray Fox, whose actual name is Frank Jaeger.
- Galen Marek/"Starkiller," the protagonist from Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.
- Though, funnily enough, the only reason he has the look down is because he was visually based off his voice actor, Sam Witwer
- Nathan Drake from Uncharted fits almost every characteristic, except that he hasn't lost a loved one (he does what he does because he's a naturally curious adrenaline-junkie) and has sufficient charm to overcome his (deliberately) generic design. Played with, though, in that he looks kinda like Nathan Fillion. The third game reveals that Nathan Drake isn't actually his real name. He's just some orphan who was a fan of Francis Drake.
- Jet Brody of Fracture.
- Deconstructed to hell and back with Captain Martin Walker from Spec Ops: The Line.
- Despite his inclusion in the above article, and his name being as nondescript as John or Jack in his native Serbian, Grand Theft Auto IV's Niko Bellic has a beard as thick as his layered personality, the latter of which is fleshed out (with the player's help, of course) as the game progresses.
- Subverted in Far Cry 3. While Grant Brody might fit much of the bill, both in background (ex-US Army reserve), personality (motivated by a want to protect his family), and appearance (short brown hair and slightly grizzled), he is not the Player Character, and he is killed off already in the tutorial level.
- Sergeant John Forge in Halo Wars.
- John "Soap" MacTavish in the Modern Warfare series (though you don't actually get to see his face until Modern Warfare 2, you'll just have to take our word for it in Call of Duty 4).
- Sam Fisher from the Splinter Cell game series.
- Dead or Alive 5 newcomer Rig has the appearance of one but his genre is cut from a different cloth, ultimately. Series regular Bayman was also redesigned in 5 to have a more "action genre guy" appearance (up until then he had unusually "soft" facial features for someone in his line of work).
- William Carter of The Bureau: XCOM Declassified.