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Barbarian Hero
Enemies? Crushed. Having them driven before you? Seen. Lamentation of their women? Heard.

The fact is, barbarian heroism has the advantage of a certain clear, solipsistic simplicity; any itchy kid can take up a big sword, pull on a loincloth, and set out to carve his way to glory, and some turn out to be good at it (or just lucky).

For extra effect, listen to this while reading this article : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onGWF8mz1Zw

Loin cloths, taut rippling muscles, oiled back, impressive weapons, the beard of a grizzly bear.

The Barbarian Hero is the ancient-era (or Future Primitive) Badass, armed with muscles upon muscles and a variety of very sharp bladed objects, whose job it is to kill lots of monsters and kick lots of ass. While he seems to favor Cool Swords (the bigger, the better) he's more likely than other heroes to have An Axe to Grind, Carry a Big Stick, Drop the Hammer or Flail Epically. A Mighty Glacier, or even a Lightning Bruiser, he's able to defeat wizards and giants despite having no magical abilities (in myth, this was often ascribed to divine ancestry). One of The Oldest Ones in the Book, but seems to be coming back into style recently.

This type of character seems to lean more toward the Anti-Hero side of the scale, and he may be the white sheep of an Always Chaotic Evil Barbarian Tribe. If he is modelled in any way on Genghis Khan, it generally means he will end up becoming King By His Own Hand and generally an example of Modest Royalty. His enemy will often be a Sorcerous Overlord: both an overlord for him to be anti-authoritarian against and an Evil Sorcerer for him to be physical and brave against to emphasise the ideal of combined physical and mental mastery.

Very common trope in popular culture and folklore ever since the Antiquity, and has lately been enjoying a revival.

Part Truth in Television before modern age, for less than intuitive reasons: usually "civilized" urban classes, despite having guaranteed access to better food, schooling and military training, suffered dearly for other flaws of lesser affluent societies than ours. Such as inbreeding pushed to ridiculous levels from King (out of choice) to commoners (out of lack of affordable transport to seek a mate outside village or city; this problem, incidentally, was solved by the steam engine: railroads!) and chronic diseases due to overcrowding and unsanitary conditions (like tuberculosis, dysentery, or skin diseases). The barbarian might have had a nasty, brutish and short life due to everyday violence and the need to provide for himself in face of danger, but at least he was far from everyday filth and crowding. Jared Diamond touched the issue when he discussed the evolution of the humans from hunter-gatherers to farmers.

Overlaps with Proud Warrior Race Guy, Noble Savage, and The Berserker. Often fond of being In Harm's Way.


Examples:

  • Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian is the most famous of the Barbarian Heroes and the Trope Codifier, and versions of the character have appeared in every medium, from the original short stories to later novels (new books are still published), several comic book adaptations, the adult-oriented comic magazine Savage Sword of Conan, a live-action television show, a children's cartoon, video games, and three feature films.
    • Additionally the character has inspired an entire genre of imitators, ranging from silly Groo The Wanderer to more serious fare like Red Sonja (a female Barbarian Hero).
    • In some ways Conan is an Unbuilt Trope. At least the original Howard version who only rarely wore a loincloth (usually to cast off excess weight when he planned to climb something) and was substantially more intelligent and articulate than the stereotype.

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     Anime and Manga 
  • Guts from Berserk definitely has a lot of Conan in him, especially in his younger days (Griffith has more than a little Elric of Melnibone in him, thus covering the whole spectrum). Word of God is that Guts is more directly based on Rutger Hauer's character in the movie Flesh And Blood (more mercenary than barbarian). Either way, don't piss him off if you value your life.
    • Conan more often than not was a mercenary, so it's not like you can't have two for the price of one.
  • Mugen. A Berserker, Blood Knight and former Pirate, he cares about little else than fighting, drinking, gambling and shagging and has nothing but contempt for all authority.

     Comic Books 
  • The European comic Den has a nerdy Earth male Trapped in Another World where he becomes a musclebound warrior and Chick Magnet. Also likes to be naked.
  • Red Sonja
  • Claw The Unconquered
  • Marvel Comics's Arkon, from his own perspective (and that of his home dimension Polemachus); in-story Values Dissonance means he most often acts as an antagonist to mainstream Earth's superheroes.
  • Every character in The Warlord comic book. Travis Morgan, a USAF officer from modern-day earth, enthusiastically adopts the lifestyle when he is stranded in Skartaris, eventually becoming its greatest hero.
  • Parodied in Thrud The Barbarian, a comic strip that used to run in White Dwarf magazine. Brawn-to-brain ratio indicated by giving him a huge body and a grapefruit-sized head.
  • Parodied by Sergio Aragonés' Groo The Wanderer.
  • Cerebus the Aardvark was a direct parody of the Barry Windsor-Smith drawn Conan comic books for its first 50 issues.
  • Sláine who appeared in 2000 AD.
  • Hulk often has shades of this, but most particularly when he was on the sub atomic planet K'ai and later the alien world of Sakaar.
    • His son Skaar is a proud example of this, even getting nicknamed "Conan" when he arrives on Earth.
  • Marvel's Incredible Hercules.
  • Korrek from Man-Thing.
  • Ironjaw, from the eponymous comic from the long-defunct Atlas/Seaboard comics. The main character was a barbarian with an iron lower, well, jaw. He didn't get a lot of girls, especially since it was cancelled after 4 issues.
  • DC's Arak, Son of Thunder was a Native American whose canoe was washed out to sea as a boy, where he was found and raised by Vikings (they name him Eric, which he at first mispronounces "Arak," and the name sticks). He eventually winds up in the court of Charlemagne.
  • Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! had a time traveling canine named Bow-Zar the Barkbarian.
  • A monologue describing Marv in Sin City mentions he'd probably be right at home in a role like this. Unfortunately, Marv had the rotten luck of being Born in the Wrong Century where barely civilized, gigantic muscled men with honour codes and propensities for violence are in less demand.
    • Also, Frank Miller himself has described Marv as "Conan in a trench coat", making him a rare modern-era barbarian hero.
  • Before DC Comics got a hold of the property and introduced the "Prince Adam" thing, this was He-Man's backstory in Masters of the Universe. He was the greatest warrior in his jungle-dwelling tribe, who left to defend Castle Grayskull when he heard of evil forces seeking to plunder it and take over the world.

     Commercials 
  • Various forms of barbarians appear in Capital One commercials. Whats in your wallet?

     Film 

     Literature 
  • There's a lot of these in Terry Pratchett's Discworld:
    • Cohen the Barbarian is a deconstruction, as he was never defeated but also can't hold down a steady job as king of any of the kingdoms he conquered, is still barbarian hero-ing in his eighties. His Silver Horde included an eclectic bunch of ancient-but-still-mighty warriors, and an aged geography teacher.
    • Nijel the Destroyer, who is over six feet of rippling skin and bone with long underwear under his loincloth.
    • The entire race of Nac Mac Feegle, with the possible exceptions of the gonnagle and the kelda.
    • The Colour of Magic specifically notes that the Disc's hub is swarming with these types, the two appearing prominently in that book being Bravd (a parody of Fafhrd, below) and Hrun, who are both described as standard models if only slightly more intelligent than the norm.
    • There's even a bar for them in Ankh-Morpork, where brawls have a scoring system, and calling yourself "[Name] the Invincible" is considered a form of suicide.
    • Barbarian heroines on the Disc include Herrena the Henna-Haired Harridan, Cohen's daughter Conina and Vena the Raven-Haired, who's the same age as Cohen's gang and looks like a kindly old grandmother who happens to be dressed like Xena. There's also a brief mention in Eric of a "Red Scharron".
  • Non-Discworld Pratchett example: Erdan the Barbarian in the short story "Final Reward". While he starts off as a primitive barbarian, it takes him about a day to fit seamlessly into modern society, with his creator noting that he's "basically your total hero type" who can function anywhere.
  • Fafhrd in Fritz Leiber's stories, although he's kind of a subversion since he was trained as a skald (a singer of poetry) among the Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Vikings he came from and thus has a higher voice and more sensitivity than most of these characters.
    • Would that make him a Bard-barian? ...Sorry.
  • Kull the Conqueror. One of Robert E. Howard's earlier characters, and would later form the foundation of the man who would become Conan.
  • Lin Carter's Thongor of Lemuria novels.
  • Grignr from The Eye of Argon (if we use a rather loose definition of 'literature'.)
  • Almost every Alom feudal lord in Yulia Latynina's Wei Empire cycle. Especially from the Whitefalcon line, which gives us two especially awesome and Badass Barbarian Heroes: Marbod Whitefalcon in "100 Fields" (who once slaughtered the population of a castle from the inside, while unarmed and naked) and Kissur Whitefalcon in "Wizards and Ministers" and "the Insider".
  • Wulfgar, from the Drizzt novels. He actually comes to find that he can't get along in "civilized" society with the rest of the Companions of the Hall, and goes back home to Icewind Dale.
  • Beowulf from both the Old English poem and The Movie, although he's actually relatively civilised and wears lots of pretty armour.
  • In Jack L. Chalker's River of Dancing Gods series, middle-aged truck driver Joe finds himself reborn in a fantasy world as Joe, the Barbarian! With a mighty sword...Irving!
  • The Death Dealer, a novel series based on a series of Frank Frazetta paintings.
  • Speaking of Frank Frazetta, the 'modern' depiction of barbarian hero with rippling muscles and oily long hair is essentially his creation, especially thanks to a cover he painted for Robert E. Howard's Conan, copied and/or referenced often by many others afterwards.
  • Parodied with Conan the Librarian.
  • Achiles in The Iliad is almost the Ur Example.
  • Karsa Orlong of Malazan Book of the Fallen is what happens when this trope meets a whole lot of Deliberate Values Dissonance and gets dropped into a more traditional fantasy setting. Karsa's not "evil" per say, and certainly sees himself as a Barbarian Hero, but his casual attitude towards rape, murder, and theft do not make him popular with a lot of people in universe. And oh yeah, he thinks that wiping out civilisation is the best way to save humanity from itself. Word of God says that he is a very deliberate deconstruction of the "barbarian fantasy".
  • Liane the Wayfarer, the protagonist of the eponymous story in Jack Vance's Dying Earth series is a subversion. He's actually a lot like the original Conan, being a cunning Adventurer Archaeologist type, except that he's really more of a villain. He's arrogant, utterly amoral, and has no problem with killing innocents.
  • Paul Atreides in Dune after Going Native.
  • John Jakes, later famous for his historical novels, had Brak the Barbarian, circa 1968.
  • Parodied, like so many other Fantasy tropes, in Mary Gentle's Grunts!. Lord Blond Wolf, is a northern barbarian; complete with wolf-fur boots and cloak, huge blond braids and a really big axe. However, he's only 2' 7".
  • Thunk the Barbarian from John Moore's Heroics for Beginners, who tries to break into the Fortress of Doom at the beginning of the story, is a classic version bordering on parody.
  • Joe Abercrombie's Northerners, when they are the (relative) heroes, notably Logen Ninefingers.
  • Karl Edward Wagner's Kane was one of these for long stretches of his life, but he's unusually anti-heroic even by sword and sorcery standards and at times he's a sorcerous overlord. Finally he abandons this identity once he survives into the modern world and becomes alternately a biker or a scientist.
  • Subverted with Michael Moorcock's Elric, while there are parallels in terms of Elric and your standard barbarian hero having archnemesis wizards and going on all kinds of adventures. Elric is otherwise the deliberate opposite of a Barbarian Hero in every way. He starts off inheriting a decadent empire, he's the greatest wizard of his generation and is entirely civilized. He's also a homebody preferring to read books than fighting (or for that matter, living much of a life), until he's forced to by the machinations of his cousin.

     Live Action TV 

     Music 
  • Ensiferum's Wanderer depicts a figure very reminiscent of characters like Conan (With bare hands he has taken many lives/He's had a hundred women by his side) or Guts (But when sun sets and the cold arrives/With crushing solitude in the darkness of night).
  • Manowar loves this trope.
  • Rhapsody of Fire has the Nordic Warrior in their Emerald Sword Saga.

     Mythology 
  • Older Than Dirt: Enkidu from The Epic of Gilgamesh. Even Gilgamesh qualifies (despite not technically being a "barbarian" since he came from what was then the most civilized culture on Earth — which wasn't very, back then), especially when he goes out on his wilderness journey.
  • Herakles. (Though as with Gilgamesh it's worth remembering that as the son of Zeus and Queen Alcmene of Thebes he has a civilized background in the myths. He ends up wearing the skin of the Nemean Lion later in life not just because it looks cool, but because it's arguably better armor than he could get otherwise.) But he carries a club instead of a blade.
    • It's the bronze age, so swords aren't primary weapons yet. And he's superhumanly strong; a sturdy club with decent reach (fashioned from a tree he uprooted himself) may actually make more sense than an axe or spear that could get stuck. He's also explicitly a superb archer.
    • The skin of the Nemean Lion could not be pierced by any arrow or spear, so Herc beat it to death with a club, then skinned it using its own teeth/claws. While he is usually depicted with a club, in various myths he used different weapons depending on what he was fighting (sword and torch for the Lernaean Hydra, arrows for the Stymphalian Birds, etc.).
  • Bhima, the third Pandava brother in the Mahabharata. He's not The Hero either - his two older brothers are Yudhisthira, The Captain of sorts and paragon of morality and ethical compass to all five brothers, and Arjuna, an outrageously skilled warrior of all forms and a borderline metaphorical god of archery. Bhima just fits here because of his temper and absurd levels of strength (notably ripping apart a man in half by the crotch) and stamina (survived being poisoned just because of his size, and was subsequently nursed to health by the Nagas - increasing his power another tenfold).
  • Common trope in Norse Mythology
  • Arguably Samson, one of the Judges of Israel. Among his exploits were killing lots of enemies bare-handed, ripping apart a lion bare-handed (and then eating the honey of the bees that took up residence in the carcass of said lion), burning down enemy fields by tying torches to the tails of foxes, killing hundreds of Philistines with just the jawbone of an ass (and then dropping a Bond-style one-liner immediately afterward), picking up the gates of an enemy city and just walking off with them, and finally, collapsing a heathen temple, killing hundreds of Philistines along with himself as one final act of holy badassery.

     Pinball 

    Podcasts 

     Tabletop Games 
  • The Warriors of Chaos of Warhammer are actually an entire faction of Barbarian Villain Protagonists, being a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Viking Age Scandinavia which worships the Chaos Gods. Particularly, every special character choice they have is this trope incarnated, then bloodsoaked, and then put in a bulky suit of inch-thick plate armour decorated with skulls and other assorted trophies.
    • Wulfrik the Wanderer in particular plays this straight, being a massive, hairy behemoth of man clad in intimidating armour and a big cloak made of giant-scalp who sails on his longship searching for the deadliest creatures and warriors to challenge to battle and then kill for the glory of the Dark Gods.
      • There's also something to be said of Wulfrik's backstory. After basically slaughtering every other Chaos Champion he came across, he then manages to defeat an entire army single-handed, and then at the victory feast he downs seven barrels of mead and boasts that he is the greatest warrior to ever live. These acts manage to impress even the Chaos Gods themselves, who then decide to curse Wulfrik to an eternity of warfare in order to have him prove it.
    • Then there's Valkia the Bloody, who is the female version of this trope and a demonic Valkyrie, armed with the spear Slaupnir and dedicated to Khorne, the god of Berserkers. She also used to be the Warrior Queen of a Norscan tribe before she was ascended to be the Sword-Maiden of the Blood God.
    • Subverted however by Sigvald the Magnificent, who despite coming from said barbarian culture, is a worshiper of Slaanesh and is therefore actually fairly civilized (read: decadent). At the very least, he is a connoisseur of fine wines... And if that wine is not to his taste, he will burn and pillage the city that made it before razing it to the ground. Ironically, despite consciously trying to avert this trope in-universe, Sigvald ends up playing it straight.
  • Warhammer 40K: The Space Wolves (Space Vikings) and White Scars (Space Mongols) chapters of Space Marines. Take your standard barbarian warrior, make him seven feet tall, give him Power Armor, a chainsword and a rapid-fire handheld missile launcher, and set him (and his brothers) loose on the enemies of Man.
    • Most Space Marines are ex-barbarians. The ones who aren't are either pseudo-medieval knights, psychotic ex-cons and gangsters, plus a smattering of IG soldiers. The Dark Angels chapter master makes most of the Space Wolves look downright civillized, he was a headhunting tribal savage before he got uplifted.
  • The Barbarian class in all editions of Dungeons & Dragons.
    • In 4th Edition Barbarian is one of the "Primal" classes, making it more spiritual in nature, as well as giving some "magical" gimmicks; a high level barbarian may literally turn into a volcano.
  • As Exalted is Trope Overdosed, there must of course be examples of this. The most prominent is Yurgen Kaneko, the Bull of the North. Yurgen was an old barbarian warlord who followed the ways of his people and walked out into a snowstorm when it became clear he was getting too old for the battlefield... and while out there, he was chosen by the Unconquered Sun to be one of his great heroes and kick ass in his name. Right now, he's currently giving the Realm one hell of a hard time defending its holdings.
    • First Edition suggested that the vast, vast majority of Lunars were such heroes, devoted to smashing the pillars of decadent civilization and bringing humanity back into the toughened fold of the world. This did not meet with much popularity, so it merely became a option for Lunars trying to find an alternative to the extant model of society (and it says a bit that the signature Lunar who's biggest on barbarism, Ma-Ha-Suchi, is just using his "experiment" as a reason to get back at the world 'cause he's not the prettiest anymore).
  • Barbarians of Lemuria lives by this trope.
  • The German small-press beer-and-pretzels RPG Barbaren! takes this trope to its logical conclusion: all player characters are manly male barbarian heroes out to demonstrate their manliness by winning fights (the more dangerous the better) and getting women, unattached or otherwise, to fall for their manly charms. (It's subtitled 'The Ultimate Macho Role-Playing Game' for good if somewhat tongue-in-cheek reason. That said, there actually is playable fairly rules-light role-playing game complete with an almost-plausible setting underneath said cheekiness.)

     Video Games 
  • Rastan is one of the most well-known and archetypical arcade examples.
  • Both Player Characters in Magic Sword: Heroic Fantasy, although Player 1 (Alan) moreso.
  • The hero of Black Tiger (who may or may not be be named Black Tiger) is another example.
  • The Black Whirlwind from Jade Empire is somewhat like this, mixed with Boisterous Bruiser and Ax-Crazy. Virtually all his stories end up with him killing everybody in the vicinity, and it's mentioned that, like Marbod Whitefalcon above, he once stormed an entire castle, alone and naked. And drunk. Ninety-nine percent of what the Black Whirlwind does is apparently done under the influence.
  • Many Atari ST games in the late '80s and early '90s had barbarian protagonists, with Targhan, Torvak the Warrior, and Barbarian being prime examples.
  • Castlevania's Simon Belmont was depicted this way in his early appearances, as basically Conan with a whip. In fact, the figure and pose of Simon on the original Castlevania cover is taken directly from a Frank Frazetta painting. He's received several redesigns since then, but even at his most bishonen-y, Simon still looks like he could rip you in half with his bare hands, unlike many of the later Belmonts.
    • Subverted in the case of Gabriel Belmont. He was originally intended as one, but Hideo Kojima advised the production team to refine him to appeal to players better.
  • Minsc from the Baldur's Gate series. In a rarity for Barbarian Heroes in D&D-based games, not actually of the Barbarian class (Minsc is a Ranger instead).
  • There was to be a Human Barbarian origin for the Player Character in Dragon Age: Origins, but it was never implemented because the devs didn't have the time to produce the assets needed to sufficiently distinguish the Avvar (i.e. local barbarian) culture from the regular (civilized/feudal) Fereldan culture. Hence also the conspicuous absence of Avvar-related subplots in a game set in the region where the Avvars are supposedly a prominent ethnic group. There is, however, an Avvar origin in the Dragon Age pen-and-paper RPG.
  • Barbarian is one of the available classes in both Diablo II and Diablo III. The Barbarians as a race are given a different spin in this series than most, being not individual world-roaming anti-heroes but rather a heroic and honorable Proud Warrior Race charged with protecting a Cosmic Keystone. The non-canon, third-party expansion of the first game, titled Hellfire, also allowed a Barbarian class.
  • Duke Nukem is a Barbarian Hero with guns. Think about it for a second: Muscles like a Belgian Blue, irresistible to the ladies, armed to the teeth, constantly fighting with monsters, some of whom are clear cut Eldritch Abominations and finally he is rich, famous and powerfull. The only thing that sperarates him from the traditional Barbarian is that he did not go from rags to riches. Duke was pretty much born into being the most succesfull man ever.
  • The Warrior from the Gauntlet series fits this trope perfectly. Though the Red variant in Legends and Dark Legacy is the standard version, the other three colors offer different costumes.
  • "Grognak the Barbarian" appears as a fictional comic book character in Fallout 3 and seems to be a simple expy of Conan. Finding Grognak comics and reading them will increase your Melee Weapons skill in the game.
  • "Barbarian" was a playable class in Ultima III: Exodus. In a subversion of the trope, it was actually the worst character to play the game with, since the game system was very reliant on magic. As in an entire party of Squishy Wizards would get you a lot further than one of Barbarians. That said, an all-Barbarian party is one challenge for the game.
  • Rau from The Mark of Kri and Rise of the Kasai is basically Polynesian Conan (the stereotype, not the original). He's even directly addressed as "Barbarian" instead of his name sometimes.
  • Gogan, the Mighty Warrior from The Legendary Axe.
  • Played with in Final Fantasy IV The After Years: The Man In Black is a toweringly huge man, very strong with very high HP, extremely muscular, a Barbarian Long Hair, who wears only a kilt and cowl and wields a BFS—heck, said BFS is even called the Cimmerian Blade. However, since he is also Golbez, Anti-Villain of the previous game and Cecil's brother, he is extremely intelligent, highly proficient in magic, and at heart a very good man.
  • The main character of NieR in the Gestalt version of the game. In the Replicant version, he's instead a Bishōnen.
  • In Barbarian: The Ultimate Warrior the player controls a barbarian hero on a quest to save a beautiful princess from an evil wizard.
  • Ax Battler from Golden Axe, with expys Stern Blade in Revenge of Death Adder and Kain Grinder in Golden Axe III.
    • All of the playable characters in the Golden Axe series tend to fit this trope, but Ax Battler is the most archetypal.
  • Barbarian is a playable class in the MMORPG Age of Conan. Interestingly, this game makes the barbarian a rogue class with stealth skills rather than a brawling warrior archetype like most games do, as Conan was a thief in a lot of his stories.
  • Rose Sub in Trio the Punch is practically a Captain Ersatz of Rastan.
  • Although The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim gives you the opportunity to play as many other things aside from this, the promotional art for the "official" Dragonborn is shown to be a male Nord with the dress and demeanor of one.
  • Lykos in the TurboGrafx-CD game Shapeshifter. He is actually called a "barbarian lad" in dialogue.
  • The hero of the Amstrad CPC game Savage. "Gonad the Barbiturate" was how programmer David Perry described his character design.
  • Leo of Red Earth is a king who set off as a warrior when cursed into a Beast Man.
  • Rock from Soul Edge is a glaring example in terms of much of his backstory and his look of sporting a fur loincloth and carrying a huge battle-axe. He does subvert it a bit as he's a self-taught barbarian who's really a well-to-do British man marooned in the U.S.

     Web Animation 

     Web Comics 
  • Tur'geis and Die'tra Am'saag Sarghress are good Conan-like examples of this trope from Drowtales, save for not being main characters. Bonus points from originally being from Relic Hunters, a very Swords And Sorcery based side-comic/RPG on the Drowtales site.
  • In American Barbarian, the title hero and his family.
  • In Exiern Typhan-Knee was a typical loin cloth wearing, sword-swinging, over muscled, misogynistic barbarian hero and fully committed to living down to the stereotype. That is, until in the first few panels of the strip, where a run-in with the Evil Wizard Faden gave him a Gender Bender. Now "Tiffany", she is struggling to reconcile her views of women and previous adventuring with her new state. It does seem that being a woman has bumped her IQ up a few points though. She's still sword-swinging and over-muscled, however.
  • David Reddick's Legend Of Bill and its spin-offs explore this trope: Bill is the stereotypical intellect-challenged barbarian roaming the D&D landscape accompanied by the far more intelligent blue dragon Frank, meeting other deconstructed stereotypes (evil wizards, mysterious gipsies, knightly heroes, badass princesses). Although perhaps the most bad-ass psychotic-fighter barbarian of all in the Billverse is Barwench Sarah, a frustrated and put-upon inn skivvy whose approach to hospitality and customer care involves not breaking the customer's fingers provided the tip he leaves is acceptable.
  • The Ht'rok'din, ultimate ancestor of the Heterodyne family in Girl Genius fits the physical appearance, although given that his descendents are Mad Scientists, he's probably smarter than he looks.

     Western Animation 
  • Parodied in Dave the Barbarian, where the main character is a wimp (with a wimpy name) and prefers not to fight, though the image is accurate.
    • Played straighter with his little sister Fang. Who is not a monkey!
  • Korgoth from Korgoth of Barbaria is a deadpan parody of the trope, specifically parodying Thundarr and Conan.
  • Thundarr the Barbarian.
  • Darkwolf in Fire and Ice is a straight example of the trope.
  • One of the stories in Heavy Metal concerns a nerdy kid who gets transported to a fantasy world in the body of a musclebound barbarian (and the voice of, for some reason, John Candy) named Den.
  • An episode of The Fairly Oddparents featured Timmy getting transformed into a barbarian thanks to Jorgen.
  • The Dungeons & Dragons TV series had Bobby become this.
  • Masters of the Universe is a strange variation. In He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) He-Man spends half the time as a Conan the Barbarian type hero and the other half in his secret identity as Prince Adam, who's closer to King Arthur than to this trope. He switches back and forth with a Captain Marvel type transformation, "By the Power of Grayskull!", and fights alongside other Barbarian heroes in the Cyber Punk Barbarian Arthurian World that is Eternia. However, his sister, She-Ra, has basically no trace of this trope. Claims that He-Man was based the Conan movie are false.
  • Superman actually became one of these briefly in the episode of Justice League, "Hereafter", after having been transported to the distant future, where humanity had long since been wiped out, with only Vandal Savage remaining. A red sun hung in the sky, rendering Superman powerless, leaving him to venture forth through the wilderness with only his natural strength (which is still nothing to sneeze at), his wits, a sword he forged himself from an iron bar, and a pack of wolves that followed him once he killed their former pack leader.
  • Parodied in WordGirl with the villain Nocan the Contrarian, a barbarian warrior who speaks in opposites.
  • Ronal The Barbarian and more fittingly the rest of his clan.

     Real Life 
  • Most prominent Viking saga heroes qualify and are indeed, the primary inspiration for this trope's existence. After all, no one's more badass than the Vikings.
  • Alexander the Great bears more then a few traces of this trope. His personal hero was Achilles, his goal in life was to win glory and become known as a mighty warrior (his own words). And his conquests look less like a monarch carrying out a carefully planned Realpolitik and more like a raider on a rampage, or even like a Great White Hunter on a safari. On top of that, proper Greeks certainly considered him a barbarian themselves, as the kingdom of Macedon was on the periphery of Greek civilization and barely regarded as civilized itself (and most definitely not as "Greek"). The irony kicks in when it is pointed out that, on the other hand, he was cultured and trained by the best scholars. His teacher was Aristotle, in fact; and whenever he found any interesting items on his conquests, he would send them back to his teacher to study.
  • Arminius, leader of the Germanic tribes that annihilated Roman Legions in the Battle of Teutoberg Forest, was later portrayed as this trope by various German Nationalists. Again, Arminius had actually spent quite a part of his life living a civilized life among Romans.
  • Almost any badass outsider to a "civilized" nation counts actually. Barbarians don't think of themselves as barbarians. Its just that to them, everyone else is a silly sissy.
  • Representing the Turkic and Mongol peoples are Genghis Khan, Tarmashirin Khan, and Oghuz Khagan.

Appeal to NatureRomanticism Versus EnlightenmentBlack and White Morality
Badass UnintentionalHeroesBenevolent Mage Ruler
Ancestral WeaponDark Age EuropeBlade on a Stick

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