"I don’t just think I’m a hero. I will be the hero."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:
— Touma Kamijou, A Certain Magical Index
- In many games or settings, they'll be a Jack-of-All-Stats; a well-balanced fighter with decent power and speed, and sometimes some ability at magic.
- Most of the time, they'll use a sword or sword-like weapon as their weapon of choice, even in science-fiction settings where this makes less sense than a gun.
- In a fight, they will ALWAYS win (say 99.99% chance). Even if they lose, bet your life on it that they will win the Heroic Rematch.
- They will usually wear either red or blue (sometimes both), and if they've got a theme or powers, expect them to be fire-based. Electricity and light/holy are also common Elemental Powers for the hero.
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- 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 idea 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.
- 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.
- Paulie from Circles is a bold and shining example. Most of his actions and motivations are heroic and philanthropic.
- Pearl Jones in American Vampire is a straightforward and heroic protagonist who interestingly shares the position of the main character with Skinner Sweet, in a stark contrast.
- Alex Elder in Crimson is a vampire boy destined to save the world... Whether he likes it or not.
- 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.
- The Child of Love: Shinji, who is determined to try to be a better person and fight to protect the woman he loves and their baby.
- 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 matures and learns to be more confident, more selfless and braver.
- HERZ: Shinji. He tries to be a good person and making the right thing, and the fate of humankind rests on his shoulders.
- 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.
- Rainbow Dash takes up this role in Ace Combat: The Equestrian War.
- 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.
- Wonderful: Main character Taylor -a. k. a. "Wonder Red"- is a fusion between The Cape and a Toku hero. Inspired by her father, she becomes a hero to fight the villains and Eldritch Abominations ravaging her hometown.
- Thousand Shinji: Main character Shinji falls into the anti-hero side of the scale, but he fights giant monsters to save mankind from extinction.
- In The Story To End All Stories, the Doctor gathers together a group of heroes in order to find a way of defeating the Nothing once and for all.
- In Children of an Elder God, Shinji is the hero. He reluctantly joins NERV to fight Cthulhu and co and save mankind.
- In Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide, Shinji plays the hero role, fighting the latest creations of SEELE to save humanity.
- Once More with Feeling: After going back to the past, Shinji is determined to help and protect his family and save the world this time.
Films — Animated
- Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon is both this and The Leader towards the end of the first film. The entire point of the storyline is that he is The Woobie who stops getting laughed at for trying to be something he's not and finds he was one of them all along anyway as he takes on their largest enemy and wins.
- Every single Pixar movie has one.
- Woody from Toy Story. While he does let his jealousy of Buzz get the better of him at one point, he shows off his role as The Hero by trying to correct his mistakes, and he makes the welfare of the whole group a priority.
- Bob Parr (AKA Mr.Incredible) from The Incredibles, who is a superhero not only because of his powers, but because he wants to help people, as shown by the way he assists a little old lady when he's working in insurance.
Films — Live-Action
- In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker fits this trope so well that psychology textbooks show a picture of him in reference to the archetype of a hero. In parts of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, variations on "I won't leave you here. I have to save you" are his catchphrase.
- The fact that Luke is the Hero archetype was deliberate because George Lucas is said to have been heavily influenced by Joseph Campbell's ''The Hero With a Thousand Faces''. He does subvert The Hero trope in one major way though - he Did Not Get the Girl and The Chick ends up with The Lancer instead for one reason or another.
- The Prequel Trilogy makes it clear Obi-Wan Kenobi is the hero, not Anakin Skywalker. Obi-Wan is constantly praised as the ideal Jedi and a stalwart defender of the innocent, while Anakin has his own fair share of issues that keep from achieving his heroic destiny. We all know well how it turns out.
- The Force Awakens introduces Rey as the Sequel Trilogy's hero, who turns out to be a Force-sensitive Jedi-to-be in the same vein as Luke Skywalker from the original trilogy. The ending makes it clear that the next two films will be her story.
- Avatar: Jake Sully, who chooses what's right over what's easy, by siding with the Navi over his own people.
- John McClane, of Die Hard, serves as a deconstruction; his dedication to saving the day and Chronic Hero Syndrome destroy his marriage and strain his relationship with his kids, pushing him into cynicism. He only plays the part of the hero because there's no one else to do it.
- X-Men Film Series: Among the three main protagonists (Wolverine, Professor X and Magneto), Professor X is the most noble of the bunch. Logan is sometimes an Anti-Hero, and Erik is mostly a villain. The First Class trilogy explores three fundamental aspects of Charles Xavier: peace, hope, and love. In X-Men: First Class, he represents serenity (which is a synonym for peace), and he averts World War III. In X-Men: Days of Future Past, his younger self is a lost soul who gradually finds hope again, and this prevents a future where mutant-kind is exterminated by Sentinels. In X-Men: Apocalypse, he wields an ability which is just as powerful (if not more so) than his telepathy—The Power of Love; he vanquishes a Destroyer Deity with it.
- James Bond: Pierce Brosnan's Bond was specifically catered to '90s tastes and sensibilities in order appeal to the broadest audience possible (especially women, as the actor already had a built-in female fan base from Remington Steele), so his 007 was devised as a "sensitive action hero." As a result, Brosnan's Bond became the most romanticnote and the most violentnote in comparison to the other actors. Although Brosnan's average onscreen kill count is the highest in the franchise, revealing a more gentler side to his personality made his 007 more sympathetic and accessible to casual '90s moviegoers.
- Vlad III Dracula in Dracula Untold, who is a genuinely heroic figure in the most straightforward way - motivated to protect his family and save his kingdom by becoming a vampire.
- Jack O' the Green in Legend (1985). Can't get more heroic than rescuing a princess from an Evil Overlord who wants to plunge the world into eternal darkness.
- Harry Potter, of course. He succeeds not through force or power, but with goodness and connecting with others.
- 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.
- The Lord of the Rings
- Aragorn 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.
- X-Wing Series
- 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 subordinate 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 Atreides from Dune is a tragic deconstruction. He is the heir of a noble house whose father is murdered by The Empire and its corrupt accomplices that oppressed the people of the planet Arrakis. Paul is revealed to be the Chosen One and leads a revolution against this regime, effectively dethroning it in the process and ascends as a divine Emperor himself. Then the previously oppressed people he helped to liberate go on a jihad and slaughtering sixty billion people in his name, and Paul is completely helpless to stop it.
- 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.
- Garion in The Belgariad and The Malloreon, prophesied to be a Child of Light that will defeat the evil god Torak and rule as a sorcerer king.
- Roland Deschain in The Dark Tower is a Gunslinger, the western version of a Knight Errant and may as well serve this role to the greater Stephen King metaverse as a whole.
- Trapped on Draconica
- Daniar leads the group, she fights the battles, she has the Heroic Spirit. It's lampshaded by Ben in the bonus art how she gets the 'meaty story lines' despite not being The Protagonist.
- In the sequel, Legacy of the Dragokin her Benji wants to be this. The prologue is a dream of his where he saves a village from an evil overlord. In practice, he's a Supporting Protagonist because he's a ten-year-old Tagalong Kid.
- Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games initially fights to protect her family from being sacrificed in the titular games and ends up becoming an icon of the rebellion against the corrupt government of Panem.
- 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.
- 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.
- John Carter in the Barsoom series. He is characterized as a perfect warrior, an honorable gentleman and is the main protagonist for the first three books, which afterwards he is elevated to Big Good status. His son Carthoris takes up the role in Thuvia, Maid of Mars. Other examples include Ulysses Paxton in Master Mind of Mars and Tan Hadron for A Fighting Man of Mars.
Live Action TV
- Angel: Angel's journey of redemption at times involves him actively taking on aspects of this trope.
- 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 near the end, when Buffy Took a Level in Jerkass. And she's treated as The Hero over Buffy even before she saves the world.
- Farscape: John Crichton is the main character and generally speaking, the most heroic and idealistic of the Moya crew (although the idealism gradually fades away as time goes on).
- Game of Thrones:
- The Starks are the most classical in terms of heroes, honor-bound warriors devoted to each other. Notable examples include:
- Jon Snow. Though the series has so many viewpoint characters claiming enough prominence (such as Tyrion, Arya, and Daenerys) than having just a single protagonist, Jon fits the classic fantasy heroic archetype closer than everyone else and is even acknowledged by the author himself. After serving under Jeor Mormont, Qhorin Halfhand, and the wildlings, he has some serious Character Development and emerges as a skilled warrior, a natural leader, and a dutiful man committed to his vows with a strong moral code and sense of justice that earns the admiration of his fellow brothers, who leads the raid on Craster's Keep and the Battle of Castle Black. By Season 6, he unquestionably is this role for the North storyline (having restored the Starks back to power) if not for the whole of Westeros, as he is the only leader aware of the White Walkers' danger, and wants to gather as many forces as possible to withstand their arrival.
- Ned Stark is genuinely heroic and indisputably the hero for Season 1. Even three seasons after his death, he casts a long shadow with nary an episode gone by that his memory isn't invoked or referred to.
- Robb Stark is one of the closest fitting characters to the fantasy hero archetype: a noble, kind, and a natural leader who fights for independence and justice.
- Stannis Baratheon serves as a deconstruction. He is just, dutiful, and the rightful heir to the Baratheon dynasty, but his staunch commitment to duty and utter lack of charisma make him cold at best and villainous at worst. Despite apparently being The Chosen One, he commands the smallest faction, which drives him to assassinate his younger brother and submit to Melisandre's Toxic Friend Influence.
- Lord Beric Dondarrion, leader of the Brotherhood Without Banners is a subversion. One of the most altruistic characters in the show, he fights for the smallfolk by killing and stealing from the armies occupying in the Riverlands, but he is also willing to do anything in service his cause and his new god, including holding Arya Stark for ransom and betraying Gendry to Melisandre.
- One more tricky example is Margaery Tyrell. While she is very ambitious and willing to use others to get her means, she is also a genuinely good person that cares about the smallfolk and her family. She becomes the main protagonist in King's Landing in seasons 5 and 6, with Cersei and later the High Sparrow as her antagonists.
- The Starks are the most classical in terms of heroes, honor-bound warriors devoted to each other. Notable examples include:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Sheppard in Stargate Atlantis. His ability to connect with and inspire people is unmatched on the series.
- Star Trek: The Original Series: Captain Kirk is strong-willed, brave, and quite often shows the best side of humanity (e.g. showing mercy to defeated opponents). He's part of the Freudian Trio of the show, along with Spock and McCoy.
- Teen Wolf: Scott McCall. 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 protector of everyone within the story, opposite Stefan. She is the main female character of the series.
- Elliot of El Goonish Shive, he's brave, naturally drawn to defending people that need it, and acts a balance for his more eccentric friends.
- Any, from M9 Girls! is both The Protagonist and the heroine of the story, having shown her concern for the Girls' safety over her own. She has self-appointed to be The Leader, though the Girls don't really acknowledge it.
- Cale'Anon Vatay of Looking for Group is a textbook example. He starts the comic as a "lone and righteous wolf", but quickly accrues a group of fellow adventurers, including the warlock Richard as his Lancer, whom he develops a close - if somewhat dysfunctional — relationship with. He is not the most intelligent of the bunch, clearly failing to recognize evil early on, but often displays quick thinking and good strategizing ability, especially after taking numerous levels in badass. (He is definitely the newest to adventuring of the main characters, having started out the comic with a healthy dose of Wide-Eyed Idealist.) Considering the actions of some of his group members, he can also be seen as an Only Sane Man. He fights with two swords and eventually shacks up with the resident Action Girl.
- "Wastelanders Anonymous": Although this is an ensemble piece, Benjamin acts as the catalyst that brings the characters together. Anne also has some of The Hero in her but not as much as Benjamin. Paradoxically, Benjamin hasn't got a clue that he's the catalyst. Both he and Anne think Anne is the real catalyst.
- In Kidd Commander, despite acting sometimes silly or being impulsive, Phineas is more than she appears, knows much more than she shows, and is stubbornly and patiently gathering friends to reach her goal.
- 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.