I Want to Be a Real Man

"He's a man! Such a man! He's a real, a real man's man!"
William Regal's (old) WWE theme

This is the character who is always trying to be the Ideal Man, usually by being brave, responsible or chivalrous. He sometimes has some kind of inferiority complex due to an overbearing older sibling or father. Is sometimes heard shouting about being a man at the top of his lungs while posing dramatically on a rock (bonus points for crashing waves or a sunset). Generally on their way to being a Badass of some form. Occasionally has an Ill Girl younger sister or Keet little brother.

Oh, and never mention any child-like or cute attributes he might have.

Compare with the The Idiot from Osaka, Hot-Blooded and Badass, contrast Emo (in any of its forms), often overlaps with Loser Protagonist. Also heavily overlaps with I Just Want to Be Badass given that the concepts of Bad Ass and manly are frequently interconnected.

Not to be confused with I Wanna Be the Guy, which is more Macho Masochism than it is manliness. Or Become a Real Boy, which is not about seeking manliness but humanity.


  • "Old Spice! Take a look what you've done! You've made a sexy man right out of my son!"

Anime and manga
  • G-On Riders: Ichiro's reason for nearly everything he does.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Touji is very much this type, everything he does in the series is to help or protect his friends and family.
  • To Love-Ru: Ren spends an entire episode of the anime trying to get more manly so he could marry Lala. Until he sneezed, causing his other half, Run, to take over.
  • The Tower of Druaga: Jil is like this sometimes, especially in the first episode.
  • Practically the whole premise of Ranma Ĺ - Ranma constantly wants to reaffirm his masculinity, which is made more difficult due to his annoying habit of turning into a girl at inopportune times.
    • In his case, it's at least partly because his father made a vow that Ranma would have to commit Seppuku if his mother ever thought he wasn't a real man.
  • This is stated to be Usopp's dream in One Piece
    • Chopper qualifies too. In the Skypeia Arc, after he fails to protect the Merry from having the mast burned he jumps up onto the railing and begins shouting about how he's going to become 'a real man!' and never let his True Companions down again. WHILE ON FIRE FROM SHEER DETERMINATION TO DO JUST THAT.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann ...Where do we start!?
  • This was Hani's original intention in Ouran High School Host Club before he was convinced by Tamaki to join the Host Club. He failed spectacularly.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!'s Jonouchi, and his quest to become a "True Duelist" with honor and pride in Battle City.
  • In Captain Harlock, this is the defining characteristic of Tadashi Daiba, in both the first anime series and in the "Endless Odyssey" OAV series. In the latter, in fact, Daiba's father is so convinced that Daiba must become a man that he makes Captain Harlock promise to kill Daiba immediately if, for whatever reason, he thinks that Daiba cannot become a man — a promise that Harlock has no compulsions about breaking, even if this means getting himself killed.
  • The titular character of Kunisaki Izumo No Jijou aspires to be one, mainly because he got fed up on being always mistaken as a girl.
  • Yukimura from Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai hopes to achieve this by emulating Kodaka. Despite being a girl.
  • The purpose of the Otokojuku ('Man School'/'Manly Tech') in Sakigake!! Otokojuku is to mould Japanese Delinquents into ideal men.
  • From his childhood, Hiroki of Junjou Romantica continually talks and worries about performing masculinity properly, leading to many of his relationship issues later in life, such as feeling unable to vocalize something as simple as "I want you to stay over tonight" because it shows weakness/sentimentality. Fortunately for him, his boyfriend overcompensates with his earnest and lovey-dovey behaviour.

Films — Animated
  • Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa lampshades this with Alex wanting to prove to his dad he's a real lion, and Marty doing a little bit of the Deadpan Snarker that everybody thinks when somebody pulls the old "this'll show them I'm a real man" lines.
    Alex: Maybe my dad will think I'm... I want to show him I'm a real lion.
    Marty: (sarcastically) As opposed to a chocolate lion.
  • Mulan has a song called I'll Make a Man Out Of You where a training montage takes place where the army recruits get better and better at being soldiers. Particularly Ping, the kicker being that the audience is well aware that "Ping" is the very female Mulan in disguise.
  • This is part of Hiccup's motivation at the beginning of How to Train Your Dragon. He wants to slay a dragon to prove that he can be a tough Viking like his father the chief.
    • The subject is brough up again in the spin-off series Dragons: Riders of Berk. A portrait of Hiccup and Stoick has Hiccup looking more muscular than he is in real life, making him feel like his father is disappointed in him. This prompts Hiccup to go on a dangerous treasure hunt that even Stoick was unable to finish.

Films — Live-Action

Live-action TV
  • Somewhat common in Disney programs, though its generally toned down.
  • Troy Barnes on Community, a character trait which leads to him being possibly the most responsible member of the study group.
  • Frontier Circus: In "Never Won Fair Lady", Red Buttons plays the milksop son of a famous general sent to the circus to toughen him up. After falling in love with the female lion tamer, he decides he wants to become brave.

Professional wrestling
  • "Tough Man" Andy Leavine of WWC fame.
  • Also, WWE's Santino Marella, though his methods to prove his manhood were, questionable, such as trying to enter the "Miss Wrestle Mania" Battle Royal.

Video games

Web Comics

Web Video
  • Folding Ideas: The Foldable Human sees this as Jack's motivation for rebelling against society and starting a Fight Club. The reason why Jack wants to be considered masculine, according to him, is because he wants to feel like he fits in. Unfortunately, this doesn't cause him to become more responsible or brave, so much as more violent.

Western animation
  • In an episode of Futurama, Kif tries to be more masculine to impress Amy and her parents. The main way he does this is by smoking, which causes a very bad reaction.
  • In one episode of Kim Possible, Ron discovered that his certificate of manhood (signed after his bar mitzvah) wasn't signed. He decided to strive for manliness.
  • This is one of Sokkaís motivation is Avatar: The Last Airbender. Itís partly caused by the residual sexism of the Southern Water Tribe, but a lot of it also comes from him being a "Well Done, Son!" Guy caused by his father and all the men in his tribe going to fight in the war, and leaving him, a twelve year old boy, in charge of his village. The fact that he accidentally let his girlfriend turn into the moon probably didnít help, either.
  • Dipper Pines also wants this in Gravity Falls. He shows great dislike for being called adorable, and the episode 'Dipper Vs Manliness' is all about this trope.
  • In The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, Flapjack desires to be a real adventurer and this is often equated with being manly. A recurring character named "A Real Adventurer" is even a shirtless block of muscle. Unfortunately, he takes most of his advise from Captain K'nuckles.

Real life