"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. 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
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:
, 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
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
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.
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.
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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.
- Steve "Captain America" Rogers, leader of The Avengers and the most heroic hero in the Marvel Universe.
- Cyclops is the hero of the X-Men universe, while Professor X is the Big Good.
- 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.
- Elizabeth Swann-Turner and Will Turner are the Pirates of the Caribbean version of this. Used loosely, as heroes aren't as pure in her world.
- 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.
- Avatar: Jake Sully, who choses what's right over what's easy, by siding with the Navi over his own people.
- 9 from... well, 9.
- 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.
- Flik from A Bug's Life, who starts out looking for heros before realizing his own power.
- Marlin from Finding Nemo.
- Monsters, Inc.: Sully is The Hero, being the primary force behind wanting to do right by Boo, while Mike is The Lancer.
- Balian for most of Kingdom of Heaven
- Angel in Hot Fuzz
- 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.
- Duke from G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.
- Max from Elysium
- Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
- Neo from Robot Holocaust.
- Manolo Sanchez, of the story Mary Beth tells the detention kids in The Book Of Life.
- 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.
- 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.
- Despite (or expectedly due to) being a Genius Bruiser, Roy from The Order of the Stick is The Hero instead of The Big Guy or The Smart Guy.
- Torg from Sluggy Freelance, though when he's in one of his "wacky moods" you'd never realize it.
- Lance from Gold Coin Comics, ultimately.
- Julie from Our Little Adventure, but mostly because the rest don't really want that job.
- Elliot of El Goonish Shive.
- 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 of 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.
- In Sinfest, Storytime Zombie defines the good guy as the hero who gets to win in the end.
- Homestuck has three: John Egbert for the pre-Scratch human session, Karkat Vantas for the pre-Scratch Troll session, Jane Crocker for the post-Scratch human session, and Meenah Peixes for the pre-Scratch Troll session.
- "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.
- Named after his Birthdate, Twentyfifth Baam from Tower of God.
- 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.