Heroes' Frontier Step

"Deep down you may still be that same great kid you used to be. But it's not who you are underneath, it's what you do that defines you."
Rachel Dawes to the future protector of Gotham City, Batman Begins

Making a Heroes Frontier Step is the polar opposite of crossing the Moral Event Horizon. It means committing an act completely unexpected and so noble, that it shows true heroism.

A character that makes a Heroes Frontier Step is not automatically labeled pure, but it shows that they have a good heart, and that they try to make people, or even the world around them better. Even antiheroes sometime make this Step.

A HFS is often a Crowning Moment of Awesome, and can shock both characters and viewers. Examples would be saving an enemy, making a Heroic Sacrifice, or actually saving the world. But this goes beyond. The action has to be so selfless, so heroic, that it makes you believe that there is some good in the world.


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     Anime and Manga 
  • Dragon Ball: Can you count how many times Goku saved the Earth? Or the universe itself? I lost track!
    • Vegeta starts the series as a villain, becomes a Kratos-like antihero on Namek, reluctantly helps Gohan finish Cell to avenge his son, then becomes evil again. But he decided to pay for his mistakes and fight the monster he indirectly brought back, even if he had to sacrifice himself, to protect his family. From this moment on, Vegeta isn't a villain anymore, and because of the valuable help he later gave to Goku, he is resurrected with all the "good people".
    • Piccolo, the DEMON Piccolo, son of another demon, dies to protect a human child.
    • Mr. Satan is a buffoon who never has any clue about what’s going on, and the weakest of the Z fighters. But this is one of the reasons that he is also one of the most heroic characters of the series. He became the best friend of a rampaging monster, whom he convinced to stop killing innocent without even fighting. He also convinced the earthlings to send their power to the Genki Dama, and put Vegeta in safety so Goku can attack. Even PICCOLO shows respect to Satan for his genuine heroism.
  • Monkey D. Luffy from One Piece saved many towns from tyranny, but wasn’t called a hero before he saved the Fishmen. And he changed the life of each member of his crew, whom he helps to fulfill their own dream.
    • The whole crew made a HFS when they declared war to the world to show how much they care about Robin.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman went through so many horrors, so many loss and torture than any man would put the costume in the closet. But he keeps going, keeps fighting villains who hurt him in more and more personal ways, to protect a corrupted city, without anything in return. And he never... kills... anyone. Never. For these reasons, the mere fact that he keeps coming back to protect Gotham is Heroes Frontier Step.
  • In Sin City, John Hartigan not only devoted his life and his honor to protect an innocent girl. He even committed suicide so Roark wouldn’t hurt her to get revenge on him.
    "An old man dies… a young woman lives. Fair trade. I love you, Nancy."
    • Marv is a murdering juggernaut and has so mental issues. But he killed only the criminals who made Sin City deserve its name. Yet, his Heroes Frontier Step is when he accepts to take the blame (and to get executed as a result) for murders he didn’t commit, that is the prostitutes and the woman he loved. Because if he didn’t, his mother would have been killed.
      • Oh, and like Hartigan, he saved a little girl (who was sold for sex) and brought her back to her mother.

     Film - Animated 
  • Disney movies have lots of villains, but they also have many pure hearted heroes to fight them.
    • Quasimodo didn't make a Step when he saved Esmeralda. No. His HFS is when he holds Frollo by the cape and doesn't let him go. He wouldn't let the man who mistreated him for years, killed many gypsies, including his mother, fall to his death. This short moment definitely solves the riddle: "who is the monster and who is the man".
    • Hercules became a God the same way he became a hero: by saving the love of his life at the risk of his own.
    • Being inspired by Hamlet, Simba lost his father to his evil uncle. But unlike Hamlet, Simba doesn’t have a dilemma. He makes his choice right away, despite the anger he feels.
    Scar: What are you going to do? You wouldn't kill your *own* uncle...?
    Simba: No, Scar. I'm not like you.
    • Aladdin is a poor street rat, who steals to survive. And what does he do after risking his life for a loaf of bread? He gives is to two little orphans. This one of the many selfless things he does along the series. One of the best is sacrificing his wish to become prince again to free his Genie.
      • Actually, he has a better one in Aladdin: The Series. When Mirage turns Jasmine into a monstruous snake, instead of rejecting her, Aladdin chooses to become like her, because of true love. Because of this, Mirage is forced to face her defeat and turn them back to normal.

    Film - Live Action 
  • In Back to the Future, Marty saved his father and made him a lot more self-confident, brought Doc Brown back to life, saved his timeline (well… he is the one who gave Biff the idea to change it), and attempted to save Clara, who he didn't know at all.
  • Forrest Gump saved many soldiers, gave his nihilistic lieutenant the will to live, and gave poor Jenny perhaps the only moments of happiness of her live.
  • In Pulp Fiction, Butch chooses not to escape and comes back to save a man from rape. The same man he had a deadly fight with minutes earlier.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Eddie Valliant risked his life to save a town of toons… and he hates toons!

  • Harry Potter has many of this, to contrast with the numerous Moral Event Horizon of the saga.
    • Neville Longbottom, whose parents became insane, and got bullied for years by other students when his grandmother wasn’t ashamed of him, grew from an insecure and powerless kid to a handsome and fierce fighter for the Resistance in his school. He was brave enough to insult Voldemort and kill his snake with the sword of Grinffindor (that you can get only if you have the bravery of a hero).
    • Dobby is the only house-elf to fight for his freedom, which makes him not only a slave, but also an outcast among elves. Yet, even if he has to punish himself afterward, he never stopped protecting Harry Potter, his first true friend. He even saved his life and many others at the Malfoy manor, even if it lead him to face his fearsome masters, and get killed by them. Rest in peace, wonderful elf.
    • While James Potter (who still is heroic) has feet of clay, Lily Potter is an angel. She sacrificed herself for her baby, and gave him a powerful protection. This made Severus Snape feel so much remorse that he decided to reject the Death Eaters and join Dumbledore to protect her, and when she was killed, to protect her son.
    • Snape himself never stopped saving Harry’s life, even though he hates him as much as he hated his father. Also, Snape was despised by everyone but Dumbledore until his death because no one knew that he was a double agent. Suffering so much hate and losing the love of his life, but still protecting people without letting them know, made Snape the bravest man Harry ever knew.
    • Albus Dumbledore is revealed at the very end to have been friends with a dark mage and share some of his views. He also had a weakness with power, and neglected his family. But the remorse pushed him to seek redemption, and to become not only the wisest, but also the most humanitarian of the Harry Potter universe. Dumbledore loves his school and treats his staff and students as family. He also tries to give chances to the villains, even to Voldemort.
    • And, of course, Harry Potter himself. Granted, he gets easily angry and often acts before he thinks. Can you blame him? He was bullied by his foster family for years. He had to face monsters, injustice, torture, loss of loved ones, and he wasn’t even an adult! Actually, he has much more Freudian Excuses than Voldemort to become a murdering psychopath. What does he do? He saves his bullying cousin’s soul. He saves his rival’s life (twice). He treats every species, including elves and goblins, as an equal. He spares his enemies. He feels pity for the man who ruined his life. And he saves every… single… person… in danger. He made lots of HFS before defeating the most dangerous wizard of all time!

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: The Doctor is an immortal alien, last of his species, who can go anywhere in space and anywhen in time. Does he try to conquer? To get more power? To get revenge for his destroyed planet? Nah, that’s the Master’s work. The Doctor didn’t choose his name for nothing: he wants to make people better. Anywhere he goes, he meets a threat, and stops it. For people he hardly knows. And he never stops to make a family, to settle, to have peace. He just keeps going, following his TARDIS’s will, and always saves as many lives as possible. But it goes beyond. The Doctor treats his enemies with respect. He gives them chances to stop, and doesn’t kill them if can be avoided (though sometimes, when pushed to the limit, he does punish them in a WORSE way). One of the best examples of the Doctor’s pure heart is in the "Last of the Time Lords", where after witnessing the world destroyed, the humans terrorized, and being humiliated and tortured by the Master, the Doctor defeats his worst enemy, who seems horrified. He goes to him… hugs him… and whispers three words that such a monster cannot bear: "I forgive you. " Being a Time Lord, he doesn’t have one, but two hearts. Two golden hearts.
    • Rose Tyler is perhaps one of the purest humans the Doctor ever met. Not only because she pities her enemies, or saved the world several times with him. She made a Dalek, YES, A DALEK feel emotions.

    Myth And Legend 
  • While the heroes of Greek Mythology seem less heroic today, they do have their moments.
    • Perseus saved his future bride from a rampaging monster.
    • Orpheus went down to HELL to save his wife.
    • Oedipus saved a town from a Sphinx.
    • Hercules saved much more from worse.
    • Odysseus went through a journey of misery to get back his kingdom and his family.

    Video Games 
  • Many of Final Fantasy heroes save their worlds.
    • Terra, from FF6 deserves a special mention: after Kefka destroyed the world, she stopped at a village of orphans and took care of them as a mother. She even went back to fight for them.
  • In Oddworld, Abe saves his whole race from slavery and worse.
  • In Fallout, you can make a post-apocalyptic world better through various Heroes Frontier Steps.
    • One of the best is in Fallout 3, where you can sacrifice yourself to purify the water of the waste lands and give them a better future. After stopping the Enclave, of course.
  • Sora from Kingdom Hearts saves every world he goes in from Heartless. But also, he willingly became a heartless himself to save Kairi.

    Western Animation 
  • All Dogs Go to Heaven has the best Heroes Frontier Step of Don Bluth’ movies. After being a Jerkass for all the movie, Charlie goes to save Anne Marie from drowning. But his watch (which represents his life) falls also in the water. Since he cannot save both, Charlie takes Anne Marie to safety first, fully knowing that when his watch stops, he will be sent to hell. This act of pure heroism is enough to bring him back to heaven.
  • Many Pixar heroes are heroic.
    • Woody is a great leader not because he is Andy’s favorite toy, but because he never abandons anybody, which is a toy’s worst nightmare: being abandoned. He saved even his rival Buzz and the horrible Lotso.
    • Sully is the first monster to ever befriend a kid, whom he protected fiercely. He also changed a horror factory (specialized in making kids scream) into a laughing factory.
    • Flik is the only ant to fight against the grass hoppers, with the help of insects of different species, and later his speech makes all the ants rebel against Hopper’s tyranny.
    • The Incredibles are a whole family who protect the world.
    • WALL•E pushed a whole spaceship of lazy fat people to go back to Earth to heal it.
      • The Captain also faced AUTO in very awesome way.
    • Marlin is the most cowardly fish in all the oceans, but he will cross them all to save his boy! He even made a shark cry.
      • Dory has a small memory, but she has a big heart. She follows Marlin (whose name she doesn’t even remember) through multiple dangers to save a little fish she never met!