Ideal Hero

"And the reason that she loved him was the reason I loved him too.
And he never wondered what was right or wrong. He just knew."
David Crosby and Phil Collins, "Hero"

Bob is a hero.

Scratch that. Bob is the hero.

He fights with honor — he never kicks opponents while they're down or uses dirty tricks to win a confrontation. If he takes to the battlefield, he fights with appropriate force and despairs having to see any bloodshed. His goodness is genuine, not some con, and he will always make the right choice even when people would never know he made the wrong one. He looks out for the little guy, stands up for what's morally correct, and serves as the role model for heroes — being their standard-bearer, in many ways — and as a beacon of character for villains — even prompting villains to give up their immoral ways.

The Ideal Hero is seen quite often in children's media, to the point where you could call it common. Oftentimes, the Ideal Hero in such stories will get rewarded, and plentifully so, for being a good guy through and through. What's more, he never struggles with himself, being The Hero from sunrise to sunset.

In stories for adult audiences, things are not that simple. Usually, the Ideal Hero does what he does because it's the right way to live. He gets rewarded for it less often (sometimes far less often) than not. What's more, he may even struggle with himself to make the right choice — but always (or almost always) makes the right choice in the end.

Done wrong, Bob can exemplify any of an array of the worst of good guy tropes, like Stupid Good, Lawful Stupid, and — in the worst cases — even a Knight Templar who refuses to allow any deviation from his strict moral code.

At one time, probably a Dead Horse Trope, but the Ideal Hero has been subverted and deconstructed to the point that it's experiencing a quiet resurgence of popularity, mostly as a reconstruction, but sometimes simply played straight.

Sub-Trope to The Idealist. Super Trope to All-Loving Hero, The Cape, Knight in Shining Armor, and Captain Patriotic. While The Hero is often an Ideal Hero, the former is the role a character occupies in a group while the latter is a character personality. See also Standardized Leader. Contrast Anti-Hero and Classic Villain. Can overlap to some degree with one of either Martial Pacifist, Technical Pacifist, or Actual Pacifist.

Examples:

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     Anime & Manga 
  • Touma Kamijou from A Certain Magical Index. The guy will do anything, say anything, help anyone, fight anyone (gender be damned), and throw himself in front of any person who is in need simply because he wants to. His Incorruptible Pure Pureness is so intense that he's even gotten multiple (and in some cases, all-powerful) villains to join his side.
  • Kenshiro in Fist of the North Star. Incorruptible, protective of all children and women, intolerant of evil and dedicated to bringing hope and joy to a world ravaged by nuclear fire. Anyone who knows his name cries joyful tears when he walks into town.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Akira Toriyama seemed to be unable to decide if Goku is this or a (thoroughly benign and heroic) Blood Knight Man Child. Specifically, Goku himself fulfills the trope by being the best man you'll ever meet or hear of, but will focus on his training to the exclusion of everything else, sometimes including family. This is justified by Earth coming under regular attack by superbeings both terrestrial and extraterrestrial, and the fact that Goku is, in practice, the Big Good of the universe at the end of the series (he's kinda busy sometimes). Goku also tends to fall under a mild case of Adaptational Heroism. In the dub and even in the Japanese anime, Goku's heroics are played up more. Toriyama originally wanted Goku to be a hero, but a somewhat questionable and selfish hero who grows stronger not to protect others, but to fight stronger people. He even says that he wanted people to wonder if Goku is really a good person. That changed a bit after Character Development took over and Goku became more heroic and unquestionably good. He is still selfish and will put a good fight above the safety of the world, but his heart is usually in the right place.
    • Gohan parodies one when he's dressed as the Great Saiyaman. When he's in Super Hero mode, he's a mixture of Power Rangers and Superman with his poses and grand speeches. When he's not in costume he is closer to a Classical Anti-Hero because of his self-doubt in his ability.
  • Maka Albarn from Soul Eater eventually becomes this. She starts out a bit short tempered, but over time, becomes a responsible, courageous, strong, caring, kind, honorable, intelligent and selflfless young girl.
  • Definitely Yusei Fudo from Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's. He wins every duel, is level-headed, always plays by the rules, always looks out for those in trouble, and generally ends up being liked by any non-villain who holds more than three minutes of conversation with him.
  • Digimon Xros Wars: Taiki Kudo would count. He lives to help anyone in need, and refuses to "turn his back on anyone", and strongly believes in the good of people and digimon.
  • Jonathan Joestar from Jojos Bizarre Adventure, he is merciful, polite and benevolent, and will always invoke Defeat Equals Friendship to his enemies. This is compared to...most of his descendants who do not share his lofty ideals.
  • Daiya Tsuwubuki of Gaiking: Legend of Daiku Maryu always fights fair, never loses sight of his goal, and always tries to help people in his actions. He never uses deception or trickery, and despises those that do.
  • While he's definitely more pragmatic and battle-hungry than most on this list, Saitama post Character Development from One-Punch Man is increasingly like this, finding a point to his otherwise completely unsatisfying heroic career by being a model to other heroes: humble, just, and kind to people who deserve it. Which, given how he originally wanted to be a hero to get famous, is a rather large shift.
  • In Endride, among the Ignauts there seems to be the idea that Demetrio can do no wrong. He's heroic, fair, talented in a fight but an advocate for non-violent change, and wants to empower the disadvantaged despite coming from the nobility himself.

     Comic Books 
  • Superman, consistently, but given an especially provocative portrayal in Kingdom Come, where Superman plays this trope straight, subverts it, and reconstructs all over the course of the story. In fact that ends up being the way they challenge the Invincible Hero in many of his better stories, putting things in front of him that could legitimately compel him to break this character type or putting him up against less ideal sort of hero (frequently Batman) to make a case for being an ideal hero versus being a more "pragmatic" hero. Some of his most crippling defeats were victorious battles that could only be won by breaking one of his rules.
  • DC Comics' Captain Marvel:
    • During the Bronze Age and Modern Age, Billy became characterized as even more ideal and pure than Superman. Superman felt pressure as The Ace and The Paragon to get things done, since everyone looked to him for aid. Captain Marvel, however, always did what he thought was right and utterly refused to compromise that in any way.
    • New 52 Billy Batson, while rougher around the edges than pre-52 Billy, is still inherently a good kid, no matter how hard he tries to be a brat to other people. He puts on a tough act but he is very much a child. Half of the job of the Justice League (notably Cyborg) is trying to get him to grow up and realize how much good he can do with his powers instead of creating ping pong tables from thin air.
  • Captain America is Marvel Comics' moral equivalent to Superman. Little wonder, then, that the two would be combined into the character Super-Soldier in the Amalgam Universe.
  • Spider-Man is mostly this in his own series and team ups, aside from doubting himself, being a goofy motor mouth and being generally awkward, he is Marvel's most lovable and warm hearted hero who always does the selfless and right thing for anyone and anything in his career only second or rivaling the Captain himself and in the future is destined to be the greatest hero of all according to Cable.
  • Tintin, a teenage detective/reporter. He'd risk his life to save yours, even if you just tried to kill him not five minutes prior; he's just that noble and uncompromising on his principles. In spite of being that forgiving towards his enemies, he's also a textbook case of Good Is Not Dumb.
  • AstÚrix is one of these - kind, does the right thing all the time, won't fight physically unless there are no better options even though he has super strength, always stands up for people who are suffering, and plays by the rules. However, he also has a sneaky side, especially in earlier stories.
  • Power & Glory is all about playing with and subverting this trope. While A-Pex may resemble an all-American superheroic ideal, it's all a media manipulation job by his government creators, and the real person is far from an ideal anything.
  • The Silver Agent of Astro City is the paragon of the heroic ideal that all other heroes strive to reach for. His heroic influence is powerful enough to inspire others millennia after his death.
  • Surprisingly, considering her genetic progenitor, X-23 is increasingly becoming more and more like this. Although raised to be a Living Weapon and constantly having to fight against her Tyke Bomb conditioning, Laura is selfless, idealistic, and constantly searches for something noble to aspire to and be inspired by, to the point she almost breaks down when she finds herself in the shithole that is the Ultimate Universe and realizes that there's actually places even worse than her home reality. No matter the situation, she will always try do the right thing.

    Fan Works 
  • Last Child of Krypton: In this story Shinji is half-kryptonian. Since his powers began manifesting he used them to try to help people because he is genuinely good, caring, kind-hearted, and hates seeing people hurt and suffering. In a instance Kaji notes that despite of being a tad cynical he really believes Shinji when he tells he would never hurt people and he only wants to help.
  • Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton: As she undergoes Character Development Asuka begins to truly try to live up to this lofty ideal. At the beginning she becomes Supergirl to earn a bit of extra praise, but later she realizes everyone automatically think that she is a paragon of morality and decency because she has those powers, and she really does not want to let anybody down.

    Film 
  • Godzilla: Mothra is an ideal hero, as she represents compassion and respect for humanity's right to live. This can mainly be interpreted by the fact that she is mainly guided by the Shobijin, two twin fairies who sympathize and often befriend numerous humans.

     Literature 
  • R. A. Salvatore's Forgotten Realms character Drizzt Do'Urden, the heroic dark elf ranger who rebelled against the evil of his people and fled to the surface world, where he had to overcome a huge amount of prejudice, but always remained unquestioningly true to the ideal in his heart that made him rebel in the first place.
  • The Odyssey features Odysseus, who may well be the Trope Maker, making it Older Than Dirt. However, in The Iliad he's not so admirable. And in ancient times Odysseus had detractors, who thought that an Ideal Hero shouldn't rely so much on guile. Actually, it's pretty debatable if he's this trope, but he is the Trope Maker. Why? Well, Greeks had different ideals than this website and the current world, so while Odysseus is the perfect Greek Hero, to us modern readers he can really seem like a sneaky, selfish Jerk with a Heart of Gold as opposed to this. It's just Values Dissonance, really.
  • Although Solomon Kane is typically classified as a Anti-Hero, he could arguably fall under this instead. He never compromises his princples, nor does he question what the proper course of action is when he encounters someone who needs help (or, if they are beyond help, someone who deserves to be avenged). In The Blue Flame of Vengeance, he even tries to talk one of the villains into giving up the fight and walking away from the evil men said villain has entangled himself with; when the villain refuses to accept his offer and subsequently dies, Solomon becomes visibly grieved.
  • King Arthur and Galahad definitely, and a lot of the other knights of the Round Table come close.
  • Simona Ahrnstedt usually gives her characters some flaws, even if they're not villains. And the only male exception is Johan Stierneskanz from Íverenskommelser. He's basically perfect and flawless, the lily-white Nice Guy in a story with three jet-black villains.
  • In the series Acacia the Acacian prince Aliver Akaran - the man is compassionate, honours his word, forgives his enemies without hesitation...etc. He dies for that, but gets better in the end before dying again though not before reforming the Acacian empire and bringing world peace
  • A Song of Ice and Fire deconstructs this. The Starks and Daenerys Targaryen follow a moral code modern readers find commendable, but it also hampers their common sense and makes them very judgmental to those who can't be to moral. At the same time, particularly in the case of the Starks, it gains them followers whose loyalties are absolute, as The Boltons are finding out.
    • Ser Davos Seaworth (later Lord Seaworth) is very much this. He loves his wife and sons, shows Undying Loyalty to his King Stannis, his Brutal Honesty so impressing Stannis he is named Hand of the King, and he acts as a Morality Pet to Stannis, trying to talk him out of doing bad things and smuggling Edric Storm of Dragonstone for fear Stannis will burn them. Davos was a smuggler before the series, though.
  • In Fate/Apocrypha Saber of Black, aka Siegfried, was basically what Shirou Emyia wanted to grow up to be. He spent his whole life serving and saving people and never regretted it. Like Shirou, this is deconstructed when he realizes he never had any real desires of his own and decides to be more selfish. That his "selfish" act consisted of him tearing out his own heart to save someone he had just met tells you everything you need to know about his character.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Percy Jackson, though reckless and mischievous, is still undoubtedly this. Even his Fatal Flaw (excessive loyalty to his friends) only reinforces how heroic he is. The Darker and Edgier The Heroes of Olympus Sequel Series makes him into more of an Anti-Hero by playing up his fatal flaw, which is one of a number of reasons why it's been less well-recieved by the fanbase than the original series.
  • Corporal Carrot in Discworld, in stark contrast with the series' typical more cynical (though nevertheless undoubtedly heroic) protagonists. The narration in Men at Arms mentions that for an ordinary person, being as honourable as Carrot is in Ankh-Morpork would be suicidally idiotic, but Carrot gets away with it because he's really, incredibly, almost superhumanly likeable.
  • The Bible:
    • Jesus, obviously.
    • Also, Job, who is explicitly stated to be a flawless man.
  • Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird represents the ideal of what a human should be: brutally honest, highly moral in all aspects of his life, a tireless crusader for good causes however hopeless, respected by everyone including his opponents, and a virtual pacifist.

     Live Action TV 
  • While Batman may be a parody of sorts, the fact of the matter is that this incarnation of Batman wants to be the Incorruptible Paragon and inspiration to the Gotham City masses.
  • Wonder Woman is the same; if you watch her whole show, the number of times you'll think "She could've handled that situation a little better" is somewhere around zero.
  • Captain Picard of Star Trek: The Next Generation is the pinnacle of 24th-century enlightened humanity, to the point that he's chosen as their representative when Q puts the species on trial. He favors diplomacy to force whenever possible, respects all forms of life, has no greater desire than to learn and explore, and knows exactly when to disobey the Insane Admiral or violate the Prime Directive.

    The only time this portrayal is played with is in Star Trek: First Contact when he briefly becomes consumed with getting revenge on the Borg even at the expense of his crew. When Lilly confronts him and compares him to Captain Ahab, he realizes his mistakes and regains his nobility. An argument once given in the eternal Kirk vs Picard debate was presented as such: Kirk is the kind of Captain and leader who many people would love to go on an adventure with and have a beer with afterwards, Picard is the kind many would willingly follow right into hell itself.

    Music 
  • The song Holding Out For A Hero by Bonnie Tyler may possibly be describing one of these:
    Where have all the good men gone and where are all the gods?
    Where's the street-wise Hercules to fight the rising odds?
    Isn't there a white knight upon a fiery steed?
    Late at night I toss and I turn and I dream of what I need...

     Roleplay 

     Video Games 
  • Hilbert in Last Scenario really, really wants to be this kind of hero, but he rapidly finds that he's in the wrong genre. He still manages to be much more heroic than is typical for the setting, and of five characters who Jumped at the Call, he's the only one who doesn't become a Fallen Hero.
  • Fate/stay night: No matter what the route, Emiya Shirou tries to be an Ideal Hero. However, the story challenges the idea of the ideal hero and whether it's really an attainable goal for any psychologically normal person. The answer it comes to is no, not really, and it won't make you happy to be one either. It's still an admirable goal even if you can't do it, though, and even the bitter Archer (an Alternate Future version of Shirou) still finds the dream beautiful.
    • His adopted father Kiritsugu further deconstructs this trope, as he learned throughout his years as a Hitman it is impossible to save everyone. His goal in the grail war is to make the world a better place, too bad it was all in vain.
  • The Hero of the Quest for Glory series can be played this way, while The Paladin is this trope. The player is outright told by Rakeesh that the Paladin must do what is right, even if the right thing to do isn't lawful (in Quest for Glory III he breaks the law to give food to a convicted thief). His powers are also based around honorable behavior (doing good deeds, being honest) and performing dishonorable acts will cost him the use of his abilities.
  • Leonhardt Raglen in Record Of Agarest War is the most heroic protagonist out of the entire series as he is selfless, responsible, all-loving, willing to sacrifice his life for a little girl who is hunted by his very own nation, and is Badass enough to kill the guy who killed him in the first place.
  • Artix von Krieger from Artix Entertainment games: AdventureQuest, DragonFable, MechQuest, and AdventureQuest Worlds can be this. He's a magic Knight in Shining Armor who is incorruptible, noble, polite, and protects the innocent. However he's also a Blood Knight who hunts The Undead and really loves it.

     Web Original 
  • Skyhawk, one of the superheroes of Boston in the Whateley Universe. He always tries to do the right thing, and stands for morality and righteousness. Most of Team Kimba views him as a big dork, and his determination to do things the right way very nearly got Generator and Bladedancer killed by supervillains.

     Western Animation 
  • Samurai Jack: the titular character himself. Even though he has his low moments, ultimately he never gives up on doing the right thing - helping the innocents, defending the weak, setting right what once went wrong.
  • Reconstructed in Adventure Time with Finn the Human. Finn is essentially a paladin, but this causes him to not know what he's doing when placed in a situation where the right thing to do is unclear. However, the Adventure Time universe runs enough on Black and White Morality for him to still be this trope most of the time.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/IdealHero