Stock Light Novel Hero

"He stands out from the crowd a little bit and has a dark brooding edge to him that lets you know that he's the most important dude around. He's just generic enough to project yourself onto, but just stylish enough to look like a cool guy when the chips are down and there's an ass to be kicked."

The Light Novel counterpart to the Stock Shonen Hero. Since this archetype also comes from Japanese Media, it shares a lot of overlap but also plenty of differences. In fact, the Light Novel hero would probably be the Stock Shonen Rival in another series, if they weren't the main character.

While the Stock Shonen Hero is typically Hot-Blooded, Book Dumb, and starts off at the lower end of the Power Level food chain, the Stock Light Novel Protagonist is typically an Unfazed Everyman, Genius Bruiser, Deadpan Snarker or Stoic badass (except when he isn't) with power, skill or moral character that puts most other characters to shame. Further, very few shonen heroes are a Chick Magnet, and typically only have one "serious" Love Interest. The Light Novel hero commonly gains a harem, wanted or otherwise, without fail.

Appearance-wise, shonen heroes typically have outlandish costumes, bright and/or spikey hair, and rough facial features. The Light Novel protagonist is, more often than not, an Ordinary High-School Student, a NEET, or some other kind of Ridiculously Average Guy with dark and/or neat hair and soft facial features. Even in a fantasy setting, he'll probably be an attendee of the local Extranormal Institute. Costume-wise, the Light Novel protagonist wears either an ordinary high school uniform or some other simple outfiit, often equipped with a Badass Longcoat.

Shonen heroes are almost always part of a Fighting Series or Sports Story and form an action-oriented Power Fantasy. On the other hand, the Light Novel hero is a different type of Wish Fulfillment that can easily work in a mundane Slice of Life story. They are also a very common protagonist for an "Isekai" plot. note 

Even when action is involved, there are big differences. While shonen heroes focus more on "power growth" (utilizing spirit and training, and gradually improving up the ranks to prove their worth), the Light Novel protagonist is focused more on "power acquisition". Rather than training to improve their abilities, the Light Novel protagonist usually starts out already nigh-unbeatable, and typically "unlocks" new abilities as the story goes on. Not typically through training, but merely as a consequence of adventuring or overcoming the Monster of the Week. If the hero is a Non-Action Guy, then his growing Battle Harem is often how he faces the Sorting Algorithm of Evil.

Another way to put this is comparing the powers of a shonen battle manga hero to a muscle that has to be trained and developed, and the Light Novel hero's to a toolset required to progress the story. In fact, they may already have everything needed to succeed in the first place, but simply become a lot more stylish at it.

The Light Novel is markedly influenced by video games and mixes in Dating Sim and Visual Novel elements, such as the most common "acquisition" that the Light Novel hero makes being new members to his harem. The very act of romancing the harem may also be how power is achieved.

While this is not quite the Omnipresent Trope that its shonen cousin is (due to being newer), it's getting there. See our Analysis Page for a quick explanation on why this trope became so successful, so quickly.

See also Harem Genre for another genre it overlaps with, and Schoolgirl Series for one feminine counterpart.


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    Played Straight 
  • High School D×D: Issei Hyoudou sits on the fence between this trope and Stock Shonen Hero. He looks and acts more like a shonen protagonist, but (aside from literally debuting in a light novel) fills the Harem Genre, Ordinary High-School Student and "power acquisition" requirements. He's the current host of the Red Dragon Emperor—a being so powerful that Angels, Demons AND Fallen Angels had to join forces to break up a fight with its Arch-Enemy. The harem aspect, however, is not by accident—Issei's greatest dream is to become the "Harem King".
  • Sword Art Online: Kirito is the most well-known example of the trope and quite possibly the Trope Codifier. He's an Ordinary High-School Student with a Badass Longcoat, an Invincible Hero, a Clueless Chick Magnet, and acquires new weapons or abilities without any sort of training whatsoever.
  • In Another World with My Smartphone: Touya Mouchizuki takes the trope to an extreme. He's an Ordinary High-School Student who dies and gets transported to another world, acquires a Badass Longcoat, and quickly becomes a Showy Invincible Hero with a harem. Unlike many shows of this type, however, this is the entire point—God feels guilty for killing him before his time and actively works to give Touya the best life ever, with nigh-unbeatable power and an endless supply of women willing to share him in marriage.
  • Date A Live: Shido is, of course, an Ordinary High-School Student. The necessity to build a harem, though, is baked right into the plot—the danger threatening the world are Apocalypse Maidens called "spirits" who can only be saved by falling in love with him and then kissing Shido, who absorbs their power into his body. This is because, before the story started, he was temporarily killed and resurrected to be capable of wielding Spirit powers without any drawbacks. When he achieves adulthood, he will have the potential to become a magical god.
  • Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody: Satou is a quintessential example of the trope, being an Everyman summoned into another world, who quickly gains an absurd level of power, can acquire new abilities basically any time he wants, and gains an ever-growing harem of pretty girls to accompany him. Even appearance-wise, he sports the standard short black hair and Badass Longcoat.
  • My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU: Different from other light novel heroes, The Protagonist Hachiman Hikigaya is a Genre Savvy that usually battles against this, mostly being an Ineffectual Loner and Snark Knight, but he eventually becomes a hero by his own: he's a Badass Bookworm who has the ability of quickly analyse and come to a fairly accurate conclusion of a person's hidden motivations and personality traits. Being obligated to help students as part of the Service Club, Hachiman is rediscovered for the others as a Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold, the main reason why eventually he gets an Unwanted Harem, starting with his club mates Yui Yuigahama and Yukino Yukinoshita.
  • A Certain Magical Index plays with this in regards to Touma Kamijou; sure, he may have an ability that is incredibly overpowered, but that doesn't mean he himself is invincible. In fact, his tendency to take quite the beating before winning and his Determinator status, as well as being an All-Loving Hero, put him closer to a Stock Shonen Hero than the typical light novel protagonist. Played straight, however, with his Unwanted Harem, most of whom were his former enemies.
  • Strike the Blood: Kojou Akatsuki has silver hair and often wears a hoodie, but other than that, perfectly fits the style of an LN hero. He's the Fourth Progenitor, by his own admission "the most powerful vampire in the world". Progenitors can summon an entire army of familiars—each one by itself a Person of Mass Destruction, but to awaken familiars he must drink blood. The familiars literally won't respect a "virgin" vampire, and some of them still won't respond if he only drinks blood from the same people over and over, thus requiring him to acquire an Unwanted Harem. Even if he didn't have to, though, Kojou's power, good looks, and desire to protect others draws a large number of girls (and some men) to him.
  • Campione!: Godou Kusanagi is another Ordinary High-School Student who winds up being The Chosen One that kills a god and thus becomes the seventh and youngest "Campione". He is even special amongst that elite group by defeating the God of Victory, whose power allows him to kill any other god once Godou understands the god's origins and powers. The moment Godou becomes a Campione, Erica throws herself at him and "permits" him to have other mistresses (although she insists he only have one) so long as it helps him fulfill his destiny. However, the fastest way to grant a Campione knowledge is by kissing them, and the Girl of the Week is usually the only one with the knowledge he needs.
  • Asura Cryin': Tomoharu is an Ordinary High-School Student who happens to have a best friend that's a ghost. However, it turns out that said "ghosts" are actually the power sources of Humongous Mecha called "Asura Machina". In addition to this, various factions become worried about Tomo's growing relationship with various beautiful demon girls, because any romantic and/or sexual commitment to a demon allows a human to gain a Familiar called a "Daughter". A human with both an Asura and a Daughter is called an "Asura Cryin"—a Person of Mass Destruction whose own powers erase both their memories and ability to love, driving them mad.
  • Akashic Records of Bastard Magic Instructor: Glenn Radars appears to be a subversion at first, as he's a Jerkass Apathetic Teacher at the local Wizarding School who openly complains about his job and students and was only forced to take it because he owes someone a favor, and appears to have very little power to speak of. That is, until he's revealed to be one of the strongest Mage Killers in existence; far from teaching his students incorrect things and slacking off, he's hiding his true power level: he's showing them how to actually practically apply magic to real world situations like the ones he's been in. Furthermore, the lengths he's willing to go to to protect his students from the Villains of the Week that target his class for one reason or another quickly earn the respect of nearly all the students he teaches, and the affection of most of the girls, so much so that the the title becomes inapplicable by the second novel, as he's lost the few Jerkass traits he was originally portrayed with.
  • Log Horizon: Shiroe is trapped in a game world along with many other players, and he happens to be one of the greatest strategists alive with the highest level cap (at first) in the game. His exploits earn him the affections of multiple women, and as he learns more about how the mechanics of the game world work, he learns that his abilities and his intellect are perfectly suited to allow him to break reality itself through Magically Binding Contracts.
  • Fate/Apocrypha: The protagonist was just a nameless Homunculus created by the Yggdmillenia to be a slave in the Holy Grail War, until he attempts to escape and gets heavily injured. The hero Siegfried sacrifices his heart to save him, dying in the process. Renaming himself Sieg in honor of his fallen savior, the protagonist goes on to become a leader to his fellow homunculii, a major figure in the war and one of the most powerful characters in the story albeit not without cost. He lacks the Harem traits though, as he's both Oblivious to Love and only one girl character is actually in love with him, though his male best friend (not that you could tell at a glance) isn't shy about his affection either.
  • Knight's & Magic: Ernesti Echevalier is a former otaku reincarnated into another world where Mecha are the primary combat tools, and immediately manages to increase his kingdom's technology level by a comparable magnitude to what it took the kingdom's best military minds hundreds of years to do in the past despite being only in middle school, gets a carte blanche from the king to engage in adventure wherever he likes with a small band of his True Companions, and eventually almost singlehandedly saves another small kingdom from an invasion by The Empire, all the while treating warfare as nothing but a fun game because he's just that overpowered. He lacks the appearance (as he's a silver-haired, androgynous preteen boy) and the harem (as only one girl shows signs of attraction toward him, and because of their age it's ambiguous whether it's truly romantic or just platonic in nature), although those are justified as the novel is for a younger demographic than what's normally intended here.
  • Seikoku no Dragonar: While not quite The Stoic nor an Ordinary High-School Student, Ash has a Unique Protagonist Asset in that he and his sister can ride any Dragon besides the one that belongs to him. In only a few chapters/episodes, he goes from being on the lowest end of the power spectrum to one of the highest as a Dragonar, with various characters promising that he isn't even close to his fullest potential. He's also the only known person whose Parr, Eco, has human form. In addition to the aforementioned Eco, he also has several girls who are either in love with him or want to have his child for a variety of reasons. And that's not even getting into the other things related to being the Knight of Avalon which make him even more special.
  • Bladedance of Elementalers: Kamito Kazehaya is the only known male Elementaler, a person who is able to make contracts with spirits. This, of course, means that he is the only boy to attend a school devoted to that craft, thus guaranteeing an Unwanted Harem. Also, he is secretly Ren Ashbell, the world's greatest bladedancer, capable of defeating just about any opponent singlehandedly once he gets serious. Further, he is contracted to two immensely powerful spirits: Est, one of the most powerful holy swords ever created, and Restia, another powerful sword which is the literal manifestation of the goddess of Darkness.
  • No Game No Life: Sora fits most of the criteria; he's a NEET that is unparalleled in both his gaming skills as well as his guile. While it's a plot point that Immanity are the "weakest" species in Disboard, Sora instead sees this as the ultimate strength and he only becomes more formidable as he defeats and forms alliances with the various other species. And lastly, the main reason he fits this trope more than his sister is because he gains a veritable harem of hot women (including said sister) who either love or become his "property" by one means or another.
  • The Asterisk War: Ayato Amagiri is a talented fighter who claims ownership of one of the most powerful weapons in the world thanks to his enormous magical potential, becomes an instant celebrity amongst his peers and gains the affection of several girls across the Asterisk city. The family of one of the aforementioned girls has even considered putting him in an Arranged Marriage because of the possible political benefits such union could bring.
  • Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle: Lux Arcadia is the legendary Black Hero that destroyed his own empire to save innocent people, is the only guy in an all-girls school (which means an Unwanted Harem), saves the newly formed kingdom (ruled by one of the girls in the aforementioned harem) on a regular basis and, along with his sister, is the only good person in family of hideous and pathetic excuses for human beings.
  • Despite not actually being from a light novel, Yoshichika Tsurugi of Luck & Logic basically fits this trope dead-on. He's the most powerful Logicalist in the country if not the world and a seasoned combat veteran, has the standard light novel protagonist appearance, and gets assigned to a squadron made up of nothing but cute girls (with one token guy). He immediately and effortlessly takes command from their leader (who's implied to have held the position for a very long time), and despite the girls being presented at the start of the series as capable fighters, they start needing to be rescued by him more and more the further the series goes on. In fact, this is lampshaded as the Rival Turned Evil (the aforementioned token guy)'s justification for his Face–Heel Turn is his jealousy that Yoshichika arrived and almost effortlessly managed to do everything that he himself had been working hard to do on his own, but never quite got there, which made him susceptible to being taken over by the Big Bad.
  • Infinite Stratos: Ichika Orimura is the only male in the world that can pilot the titular Powered Armor, which means he is the only male in a school dedicated to training IS pilots and gets an Unwanted Harem. He is also a pretty good homemaker, dedicated and passionate about his beliefs and draws strength from his conviction to protect his loved ones. Unlike other examples of this trope, though, Ichika is not overpowered. His successes are due simply to his determination, courage and whit. In addition, he has no idea that the girls have feelings for him and the series derives lots of its humor from his lack of romantic awareness, until it is later implied he only pretends to be unaware of the girls' romance towards him as to avoid getting into further trouble with them.
  • Kämpfer: Natsuru Senou gets dragged against his will in a fight between Kampfers, superpowered girls who act proxies in a war between two planets. Since all Kampfers are female and Natsuru is a male, that means he is transformed into a girl upon becoming a Kampfer. His female form attacts the romantic interest of almost every guy and girl in his high school, with only one girl interested in his male form, and he remains oblivious to their interest because he is already in love with one girl who is actually working for the bad guys and is not above manipulating Natsuru in both forms to get what she wants. To top it all off, any meaningful development of the Kampfer war is largely put on hold for what's basically an ecchi comedy focusing on Natsuru's love life.

  • Konosuba: Kazuma is a light-hearted parody of the trope. When he first arrives in his new world, he thinks he'll be overpowered, but turns out to have some of the weakest stats, aside from luck. And his teammates form the very definition of an Unwanted Harem, as each one of them is hilariously incompetent except for VERY specific circumstances as well as have character flaws which indicate very questionable levels of sanity. Kyouya, his rival and foil, is the epitome of this trope: an extremely attractive Chosen One with an overpowered sword and his own adoring harem. The irony is that Kazuma's harem includes the heroine, Aqua, who Kyouka thought was his main heroine, but it turns out she forgot all about him. In fact, Kazuma's entire harem hates Kyouya and, despite denying it, adore Kazuma for various reasons.
  • The Devil Is a Part-Timer!:
    • Well, to start with, Maou is The Devil (granted, only the latest in a long line of them, but still) and was the most powerful demon back in home world. On Earth, however, his power can't replenish itself without human emotion, which means each arc requires him to figure out a way to reacquire his abilities. He's rather unremarkable with plain black hair and a wardrobe that consists of Unislo and a fast food uniform. He's also quite intelligent and perceptive, having completely mastered everyday living on Earth in virtually no time at all. And finally, he of course winds up with an Unwanted Harem (albeit a small one). The overshadowing joke about all this, however, is that all he wants to be at the moment is to live as a regular part-time employee and Take Over the World by playing society's rules.
    • Emilia is the Hero Antagonist of the story and, thus, an inversion. But otherwise, Emilia fits the role of a Stock Light Novel protagonist including her massive fighting power that allowed her to almost single-handedly defeat Maou's forces. However, because she lacks the main character status, she lacks the rest of the trope's requirements, such as a harem.
  • When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace: Andou is the sole male member of the Literature Club, with every other member being part of his Unwanted Harem (in addition to the Student Council President). The catch is that, after the Mass Empowering Event that grants he and the other girls superpowers, his ability turns out to be the weakest of all of them with absolutely no combat or support utility whatsoevernote . He is also a massive chuunibyou obsessed with indulging his overactive imagination and living on Rule of Cool. However, these traits are also what not only endears him to the girls, but also makes him the pillar of their lives; without his Genre Savviness, none of the girls would have the slightest idea what to do with their incredible powers, nor their own personal failings. He also takes advantage of this very trope by convincing an enemy with Power Parasite abilities to steal his powers by telling her that main characters always start the weakest and become the most powerful.
  • Gonna be the Twin-Tail!!: Souji Mitsuka/Tail Red is a huge twin-tail fanboy who protects the world from evil aliens, earning an Unwanted Harem that consists of his childhood friend, the perverted scientist that gave him his powers, the Student Council President and even one of his enemies. The parody is that his superhero alter ego is a little girl, and he doesn't mind as long as he gets to enjoy his twintails, completely ignoring his harem. The one time he showed interest in the female gender instead of just their twintails, he lost will to fight for twintails, got stuck in his female form and even experienced a mild depression. It's only when he/she gets over it that Souji becomes more powerful than ever.
  • I Couldn't Become a Hero, So I Reluctantly Decided to Get a Job: Raul was once one of the strongest Heroes of his world and led a party of other Heroes against the forces of the Demon King. However, at some point during their adventure, someone else got to the Demon King first and slew him, meaning that the war was over and there was suddenly no need for Heroes like Raul. With no other prospects, he's forced to take a job in a department store. However, this is turned upside-down when Fino, the Demon King's daughter, starts working at the same store and troubles from his past begin popping up. Raul's skills as a Hero come in handy for dealing with these problems, and his bravery and Nice Guy status still draw the attention of an Unwanted Harem.

  • Re:Zero: When he first arrives in his new world, Subaru assumes he's gained powerful magic or some other talent, but initially has none. The only unique ability he gained is to start over from a "save point" after he dies, which is only a blessing considering the horrible ways he constantly meets his end. Gaining a harem (with a couple of reciprocated loves but also others with varying degrees of interest) means he has more people to protect or save. And one of those girls, Satella, the Witch of Envy, leaves a trail of corpses whenever she makes an appearance. To top it all off, all of the ability acquisitions he gains throughout the series are extremely nerfed compared to the original users or have conditions that Subaru cannot match, making them completely useless.
  • The Irregular at Magic High School: Thanks to its heavy political themes, Tatsuya Shiba discovers this trope's setbacks. Invincible Hero? His soul was changed when he was still in his mother's stomach, and in childhood was forced to become Child Soldier to master the most powerful magic known to man so that he could guard the Yotsuba family forever. Many people, however, fear a possible Beware the Superman scenario and would rather keep their distance from him. The Yotsuba family even created Miyuki to restrain him. Stoicism? Not by choice. To prevent him from destroying the world on a whim, the Yotsubas altered his brain chemistry and made him unable to feel any strong emotion, except for his love for his sister Miyuki.
  • Classroom of the Elite: Kiyotaka Ayanokouji is revealed to be a deconstruction: Multiple hidden talents? He was trained at childhood to be the best at everything, to the point he only cares about winning. Gaining the attraction of women? Calculated moves to earn their trust and make them easier for him to manipulate. Moral conscience? He has no such thing. He only wants to protect himself and will only help people if it advances said least until he starts making genuine bonds with people like Karuizawa and Airi. And his insistence on having an ordinary life? All just to get out of the influence of his obsessed father, who believes that he's borderline invincible and unstoppable (which is true), making Kiyotaka vow to find a way to get his father disinterested in him.
  • Suka Suka: The main character, Willem, was a standard light novel protagonist 500 years before the main story. He acquired a formidable number of skills and abilities in typical light novel hero fashion. However, his strength ultimately had zero impact on humanity’s fate. His final battle was a Senseless Sacrifice and everything he held dear was destroyed by the 17 Beasts. He learns this unfortunate fact after being unfrozen 500 years later and discovering he’s the last living human. To add insult to injury he lost most of his fighting ability due to being petrified for so long, resulting in him being forced to remain a bystander while others fight and die in his place. Suka Suka shows just how insignificant even a Stock Light Novel Hero is in what is basically a Cosmic Horror Story.
  • Maoyuu Maou Yuusha: Yuusha is the Legendary Hero fated to defeat Maou, the Demon Lord. To this end, he was born with absurd skill and power well beyond that of any human or demon, capable of defeating entire armies with ease. However, when he meets Maou (the Demon Queen), he learns that she's a very wise and benevolent woman who knows that even if this war comes to an end, nothing will change. She instead proposes that the two of them join forces to introduce the very primitive and socially backward world to concepts such as agriculture, advanced economics, and social reform. However, this causes him to to feel that he's become useless outside of the occasional use of force when peaceful measures won't work. Further fitting the trope, he turns out to be quite the Chick Magnet, with both the Demon Queen and the Female Knight vying for his well as many more female admirers who desire him as well.
  • Hai To Gensou No Grimgar: Haruhiro and his party members aren't even close to being overpowered, nor are they particularly Genre Savvy or quick to adapt to the world they've been transported to. They struggle to defeat even low-level monsters, and most of the series is just focused on them trying to survive rather than going on an adventure. Which furthers the deconstruction: Haruhiro isn't the strongest party member, nor is he the main focus of the series. It's only due to the entire party that they're able to keep going. In any other series, they'd be the nameless, faceless background characters that the actual stock light novel heroes save.
  • Bakemonogatari: Koyomi Araragi is your average guy possessed by the strongest vampire in existence and suffers from a desire to help any cute girl he meets even if he barely knows her. But in a world where problems are solved with words and not fighting, his powers are hardly useful. He's gotten his ass kicked to the point of death multiple times. In fact, his Chronic Hero Syndrome comes from a Friendless Background; his sense of self-worth is so low that the only way he feels useful is to sacrifice himself for someone. He does his best to help, but can't ix their problems for them—they have to do it themselves, and some of the arc resolutions make you wonder if his actions even made a difference at all. Furthermore, most of the girls he saves end up attracted to him. Sounds great, except that he enters a relationship with one of them very early in the story, and stays with her until the end. The way neither the other girls nor his girlfriend seem to care about the Unwanted Harem only shows that they're all really traumatized in some way or another, and it's not usually presented as something cute or healthy. In fact, Koyomi's inability to just reject his Hopeless Suitors ends up getting him into trouble and kickstarting conflict later down the line.