The Hero

"I'm Luke Skywalker. I'm here to rescue you."

This guy is a hero, pure and simple. They're almost always right, are a friend to all their teammates, and morally superior - without the usual flaws of Good Is Dumb or Well-Intentioned Extremist, unless it's a comedic work. They have a well-rounded skill set. They're not as strong as The Big Guy, or as smart as The Smart Guy, or as sensitive and socially adept as The Chick, but they're close. They can personally accomplish a variety of goals, but their real superpower is getting the whole diverse set of personalities to focus and pull together. They'll always know who to ask for help, and when — and usually how.

Most often, they will be The Protagonist but there are exceptions to this rule. Just as often they will be The Leader or otherwise the shining star that holds the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits together, but there are exceptions to this as well. In a team lineup they will be front and center.

Other powers and skills common to the hero include:

Almost invariably, the Hero is male and The Chick is in love with him (unless she's The Hero or his sister and sometimes even then), as are any other members who happen to be women or gay or bi.

The primary romantic plot in the team will be between The Hero and The Chick, with The Lancer rounding out a triangle. (Bonus points if The Lancer is bisexual and is interested in both of them!) The Hero might also be a Chaste Hero or a Celibate Hero as an additional complication to romantic subplots.

If the Hero has too many of the "positive" qualities listed above, they may degenerate into a Marty Stu. If they're too generic, then they're an Every Man. They are sometimes the Only Sane Man trying to keep The Team together because they live in Dysfunction Junction.

The Hero and The Lancer usually have a special chemistry within The Team, either a Bash Brothers relationship or Red Oni, Blue Oni. They are often rivals with a strong mutual respect for each other, and are sometimes Heterosexual Life-Partners. They are likely to argue about who is The Leader, but as stated above, this role usually goes to the hero.

Traditionally, this role will not be filled by a woman unless all the other roles are already women (as is often the case in Anime). If so, there might not be a Chick in the group although there might be The One Guy.

The Hero does not HAVE to be The Leader, or the most intelligent. This is usually justified by them being the youngest, most inexperienced, and/or newest member of the team. Thus, their more senior teammates may reasonably see them as the Tagalong Kid or the Sixth Ranger, even if they're clearly the central protagonist to the audience. They may even be something of The Load if they're a Mouthy Kid or The Fool, but don't worry — in time, they will reveal their great potential, eventually swaying friend and foe alike to their cause. Even if they need significant growing up to reach that point. Eventually, The Leader they may very well become.

If there's a character cooler than the Hero, that character is generally Too Cool to Live.

See also The Ace, The Kirk, Messianic Archetype, The Chosen One, and Hero Protagonist. A superhero is, by the catch-all definition, a hero (often with superpowers) who dedicates their very life to... well, being a hero.

Note: It is important to remember that while the hero is usually also The Protagonist, they are not necessarily one and the same. Whereas the hero is defined by the character traits described above, The Protagonist is defined by their central role in the story. In Star Wars, for instance, Luke Skywalker is an archetypical example of The Hero and is more or less the Main Character of the original trilogy, but the prequel trilogy establishes the more antiheroic Anakin Skywalker as The Protagonist of the film series as a whole, even though he is a villain for more than half of the saga. See Supporting Protagonist for instances in which this is the case.

Note: A character can be The Hero of the story without being part of a Five-Man Band.

Examples

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    Comic Books 
  • Superman. Every hero in comic books, at one point or another, has been compared specifically to Superman, either in how he's similar or how he's different. Even in the case of antiheroes and indy comics, as more often than not, the first thing they'll do is take a swipe at the Superman mythos. The entire genre of superhero comics starts with him. And that's why Superman will always be the greatest, most iconic representation of a superhero.
  • The Marvel Universe has not one, but two characters who fulfill the trope:
    • Steve "Captain America" Rogers, former leader of the Howling Commandos, (generally) the present-day leader of The Avengers and the most heroic hero in the Marvel Universe. He tends to stand out, because Marvel is a big fan of the Being Good Sucks trope and is well-known for its variety of (well-nuanced and varied) Anti-Hero, Villain Protagonist, Fallen Hero and reformed villain characters.
    • Spider-Man: If Steve Rogers is the Soul of the Marvel heroes, Peter Parker is the Heart. We're talking about a guy who preaches the ideal of responsibility, pushes himself to his limits in the name of justice and morality and is able to rally even the most cynical of anti-heroes. Even Cap has expressed admiration at Spider-Man's heroism.
  • Cyclops was once the Hero for the X-Men universe, while Professor X was the Big Good: both characters have undergone a lot of reconstruction and retooling recently.
  • Archie Andrews from Archie Comics.
  • Quantum from Quantum and Woody, though he's often deflated by Woody.
  • The Justice League of America's original line consisted of seven characters who all fit this type in their own comics. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and Martian Manhunter. Superman would traditionally be THE Hero in this situation but, for example, Green Lantern Kyle Rayner filled this role as a sort of Kid Hero during Morrison's run, being new and being a replacement for the League's original Lantern Hal Jordan. In lineups with only one of these seven, that hero tends to be The Hero.
  • More than anyone else in the Astro City mythos, the Silver Agent is the paragon of the heroic ideal that all other heroes strive to achieve. The Agent's influence is so powerful that it inspires others millennia after his passing.

    Fan Works 
  • A Crown Of Stars: Asuka wants to turn Shinji in the hero she knows he may be in lieu of the wimp he usually behaves like. At the beginning he is not enthused about the idea but later he decides he wants to become a hero for her.
    Shinji:“You want a hero? I can be one. You want the Shinji who eats Angels for breakfast? That can be me. That will be me. I can do anything now. Now that I have a cause, a reason to start over new.”
  • Advice And Trust: Shinji. Main character and pilot of the strongest Humongous Mecha in the series, he finds his motivation to become a hero after hooking up with Asuka.
  • Evangelion 303: In this fic Shinji takes the role. The main character and the Ace Pilot.
  • Hail To The King: Shinji. In this story Zone Fighter bonds with him and teaches him to be a hero. Shinji mature and learns to be more confident, more sefless and braver.
  • Last Child of Krypton: In this crossover Shinji is Superman. Thanks to the obligations and responsibilities his vast powers entail he matures and becomes a symbol of hope, courage and determination.
  • The Second Try: Shinji has learned -and lived through- the consequences of failure and he has a family to protect now, so he is determined to not squander his and Asuka's second chance and become a hero to save everybody. He succeeds.
  • Shinji And Warhammer 40 K: Pick the wimpy, reluctant anti-hero of Evangelion and feed him on bits and leftovers of the extremely dark and gritty Warhammer 40,000 universe and what you get? A heroic badass who cares for -nearly- everyone, wants to help everyone, hates seeing people suffering and is determined to defend humanity and destroy their enemies.
  • Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton: In this crossover Asuka is Supergirl. After discovering her powers she decides to use them to help people and earn a bit of extra praise. However she realizes before long her powers entail obligations and responsibilities, helping others actually feels good, and people actually expects a lot of her. She begins trying to live up to everybody's expectations, starting out the path to become a true hero.
  • Lieutenant Jazz is this in Transformers Meta.
  • Takato from the Tamers Forever Series. The strongest tamer and protagonist of the series.
  • Calvin takes on this role, as well as The Leader, in the Actionized Sequel Calvin and Hobbes: The Series.
  • Twilight Sparkle, just like in the original series, is this in the Pony POV Series.
  • Enterprise is both this and the Big Good in the Kantai Collection fanfic Pacific: World War II U.S. Navy Shipgirls. Being based on the most decorated American ship of World War II probably helps.

    Film 

    Literature 
  • Harry Potter, of course. He succeeds not through force or power, but with goodness and connecting to others.
  • Romeo Montague from Romeo and Juliet.
  • Jake of the Animorphs series is a deconstruction of this role. He was unanimously chosen as leader based on these characteristics but the constant pressure and moral ambiguity of his role start to affect him as the story moves on.
  • Sam Temple from the Gone series. Mercilessly deconstructed with him by the end of Hunger, when he gets so fed up with the stress and dealing with everyone else's problems that he quits.
  • Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. While not The Leader, he follows the classic journey of self-discovery that is associated with the trope.
  • Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings is an interesting case:
    • He very clearly fills the role of The Hero and The Leader, though he isn't the chief protagonist, thus making him the Supporting Leader.
    • Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee both qualify for the role of The Hero in regards to the protagonist swept into adventure, and Tolkien seems to favor Sam for the part, as his journey is closest to that of Bilbo's in The Hobbit.
  • In the X-Wing Series books, there are always two to three primary protagonists and viewpoint characters. One or two, depending on whether this book is part of Michael Stackpole's run or an Aaron Allston novel - and which Aaron Allston book - is the suboordinate who experiences more Character Development, goes through personal revelations and a personal plotline, gets beat up, and is generally a good person but not quite "pure", often having some dark guilt, flaw, or secret. The other primary protagonist is always Wedge Antilles, who leads, bounces back from setbacks, has a plotline that isn't really all that personal, and is rarely wrong.
    • 'Starfighters of Adumar, which is intensely Wedge-centered and has no other viewpoint characters, is the exception, and although Wedge is severely heroic and an Ace Pilot there too, he's not The Hero to the same extent.
  • Paul from Dune
  • Hector (for the Trojans) in The Iliad
    • Hector period, really. Among the Greeks and Trojans he's just the best guy. Not that he doesn't have his bad moments, but almost everyone else is a total jerk.
  • Hazel in Watership Down
  • Finn from Kingdom Keepers
  • Discworld usually subverts or averts this trope, often favoring the Anti-Hero instead. Carrot Ironfoundersson of the City Watch plays it straight, being physically and morally strong, but he's not the central protagonist.
  • In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, we're lead to believe that Percy is the hero of the series. The hero is not who we thought he was. Luke Castellan takes up that role instead. However Percy is still The Hero of the series; he's just not the hero of the prophecy.
  • Fireheart in Warrior Cats.
  • In Death series: Eve Dallas, but she is careful not to consider herself this.
  • Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: Nicole "Nikki" Quinn is this for the Vigilantes. Jack Emery is this for the Big Five later on.
  • Garion in The Belgariad and The Mallorean
  • Roland in The Dark Tower
  • Trapped on Draconica: Daniar leads the group, she fights the battles, she has the Heroic Spirit. Its lampshaded by Ben in the bonus art how she gets the 'meaty story lines' despite not being The Protagonist.
  • Edward Cullen from ''Twilight.
  • Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games.
  • Mediochre Q Seth from the Mediochre Q Seth Series. At least, he starts that way, but later he slips into Anti-Hero territory.
  • Song at Dawn: Dragonetz is a good hearted and idealistic man at the center of the plot and the greatest threat to a set of villains, but he's not The Protagonist. That role goes to Estela.
  • Maximillian White in Bryan Miranda's The Journey to Atlantis.
  • Daniel Ruffino from The Leonard Regime.
  • Shadows on the Moon has Suzume, who also goes by the names Rin and Yue.
  • In the Tortall Universe:
    • Alanna of Trebond, who is deliberately a female The Hero in Song of the Lioness. Among other things, she uncovers a plot to usurp the throne, helps Jon improve relations between Tortallans and the Bazhir, and brings a number of Badasses back to the capital for the Final Battle.
    • Daine Sarrasri in The Immortals, who brings together humans, animals, and immortals as a Nature Hero.
    • Keladry of Mindelan in Protector of the Small becomes The Leader over the course of her quartet and gains noble and commoner friends as she challenges harmful traditions.
    • Aly in Daughter of the Lioness does this by being The Spymaster, finding unusual allies and third options for La Résistance.
    • Beka Cooper in Provost's Dog reminds her veteran cop partners of the idealistic reasons they joined the force and recruits fellow trainees (and friendly criminals) to help her solve a case that nobody's supposed to really care about.

    Live Action TV 
  • Angel: Angel's journey of redemption at times involves him actively taking on aspect of The Hero.
  • The A-Team: Col. John "Hannibal" Smith, though he's also kind of a Lovable Rogue as well as a Trickster. Notable for being most likely the only person in this trope to be over 50 years old.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Buffy Summers is the Chosen One, who brings together others to support her. It is her job to kill bad guys For Great Justice.
    • In Season 9, Faith has become this to some, including Willow, and stands as perhaps the best example since Buffy's name is mud after she did what she had to do and Angel more an obsessed Anti-Hero. Officially she is The Slayer, despite Buffy being Back from the Dead. In universe and out she is treated as one of the nicer characters at the end, when Buffy Took a Level in Jerkass. And she's treated as The Hero over Buffy even before she saves the world.
  • Dawson's Creek: Dawson Leery.
  • Doctor Who: The Doctor. While he fits this in most stories, he sometimes veers towards being an Anti Hero. The First Doctor was definitely not straight hero material.
  • Farscape: John Crichton.
  • Firefly: Malcom "Mal" Reynolds, though he's more of a Lovable Rogue.
  • Ghostwriter: Jamal.
  • House of Anubis: Nina Martin.
    • When she leaves, it's Eddie.
  • JAG: Harmon Rabb.
  • Leverage: Nate Ford is the Antiheroic Hero of Leverage Consulting and Associates, as shown by his role as The Leader and his commitment to helping those in need.
  • Maddigan's Quest: Garland.
  • Merlin: Merlin/Emrys.
  • Noah's Arc: Though not an action-based series, Noah fits in that he has virtually all the non-combat qualities listed above. He's the protagonist, is morally superior (frequently choosing Honor Before Reason), and compared to the rest of the group has a more balanced personality. He's the one who holds the group together, frequently reminding everyone how much they care about each other, and is almost always right in situations where he provides guidance/leadership. Even the wearing red/blue somewhat fits, as there are several scenes where he wears red specifically to make him stand out from the rest of the cast. He's also invariably front and center in any promotional photos and more often than not in scenes where the whole main cast is together.
  • One Tree Hill: Lucas Scott.
    • However, after Lucas leaves in Season 6, Nathan becomes the hero of One Tree Hill.
  • Revolution: Charlotte "Charlie" Matheson. However, she is too young and inexperienced to be The Leader.
  • Roswell: Max Evans fits this to a T. His teammates frequently Lampshades it regularly asking him "What do we do now, Max?" even if sometimes they openly criticize him for his "passively watching" instead of taking action sooner, something that doesn't change when he's actually declared the king of his planet.
  • Scandal: Olivia.
  • Smallville: Clark Kent, as he goes through the experiences that will shape him into Superman, one of the most classic examples of The Hero.
  • Stargate Verse:
    • Colonel O'Neill in Stargate SG-1 initially, then Colonel Mitchell in seasons 9 and 10.
    • Colonel Sheppard in Stargate Atlantis. His ability to connect with and inspire people is unmatched on the series.
    • Colonel Young in Stargate Universe.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: Captain Kirk is this to the Freudian Trio of Kirk, Spock and McCoy.
  • Supernatural: Originally, Sam Winchester, most notably from season's one to six.
    • According to Eric Kripke, Sam was modeled after Star Wars hero and protagonist, Luke Skywalker.
  • Super Sentai and Power Rangers series (most of them): The Red Ranger. A few Red Rangers have been Lancers, but they still receive the most focus in the series.
    • A partial exception is Tommy, who is originally the Sixth Ranger in the first season, but in the middle of the second season, becomes the leader as the White Ranger. He then stays on as leader in Power Rangers Zeo, but becomes the red ranger then.
  • The Kamen Rider series are almost always named after The Hero of said series. In the Heisei series, most of these characters tend to be primarily red or blue in their base forms.
  • Teen Wolf: Scott Mc Call. He is not especially bright (fortunately he has a Hypercompetent Sidekick, Stiles), but he is unfailing in his willingness to protect and help others. Even Jackson.
  • The Vampire Diaries: Stefan Salvatore. Often referred to as a Tragic Hero, Fallen Hero, Ideal Hero and even a Byronic Hero.
    • At times, Stefan drops from the role of hero and becomes an Anti-Hero; Stefan currently fits this trope as of Season 3.
    • Elena is his female counterpart. She is the protectorate of everyone within the story, opposite Stefan. She is the main female character of the series.

    Music 
  • Holding Out For A Hero by Bonnie Tyler is all about this.
  • Mentioned in Blues Traveler's "Runaround."
    Like a bad play where the hero's right
    And nobody thinks or expects too much

    Mythology 

    Visual Novels 
  • As long as he's sane, Keiichi Maebara from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni plays The Hero but not the leader since the real commander of the group is Mion.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Neil Sinclair of Survival of the Fittest is arguably the hero of the series. He might not always make the right calls, but he's about the only character who retains his moral high ground throughout the game, and strives ceaselessly to save as many people as possible. He has the distinction of being the only character ever to form an effectual pro-escape group. Which has a good chance to have succeeded, cliffhanger and Pyrrhic Victory notwithstanding; if nothing else, it's the closest the students have ever come to beating the system.
  • Sasha Hunter is an undoubtable one in Greek Ninja.
  • Averted when Church of Red vs. Blue magnanimously declares it doesn't matter if he's the hero. Tucker is swift to inform him that he is nowhere near "hero", and suggests "participant" or "bystander" instead.

Alternative Title(s):

The Heroine