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->"''Oh, you're my unlikely hero,''
->''I tried so hard but you won't surrender.''"
-->-- "Unlikely Hero" by Music/TheHoosiers

What would happen if you replaced a MarySue with a well-written RidiculouslyAverageGuy without changing the plot? This trope is a character who gets involved in all sorts of craziness in defiance of all reasonable logic. Basically, they can't even take a vacation without becoming TheChosenOne or saving the world. Whereas to a MarySue, it's all in a day's work, this character often finds all the craziness surrounding them annoying and must rely on the remainder of the cast to keep their life from becoming [[FinaglesLaw an even worse]] [[LoserArchetype disaster]] [[StatusQuoIsGod than it already is]].

Often, the character has [[TheSlacker little interest]] in ever becoming a {{hero|es}} and is basically happy being a RidiculouslyAverageGuy as long as they get a better job / win the contest / get a date with the hottie / etc. Typically, the character is either a KidHero who would rather play video games, or a DeadpanSnarker who has become slightly jaded and GenreSavvy after saving the world 12 times last year. Often PlayedForLaughs.

See also WeirdnessMagnet and ItBeganWithATwistOfFate. Compare ActionSurvivor. If the character seems more likely as villain than hero, but ends up on the side of good anyway, they might be a NominalHero. If the hero is 'unlikely' due to not being selected by destiny but heroing on anyway, they are TheUnchosenOne.

Compare TheRealHeroes where ordinary people deserves credit for their good deeds.



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Ash Ketchum from ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}''. He has come back from the dead thrice, been TheChosenOne of countless legends, is one of the few that can manipulate Aura, saved the world countless times, and has helped more people than you could possibly imagine. [[DudeWheresMyRespect There's like maybe three people outside of his friends who respect him in some fashion.]]
* Kyon from ''LightNovel/HaruhiSuzumiya''. {{Justified|Trope}} by a series of cosmic events so ridiculous it's pretty much a parody of the stereotypical ChosenOne. And by "ridiculous cosmic events" I mean [[spoiler:God wants to get in his pants]], or if you take it to WMG [[spoiler:he IS God]].
* Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata's series ''Manga/{{Bakuman}}'' has the two main characters being told that the problem with their manga is the utter lack of ''special'' main heroes, and that their series' tend to suffer from average people as heroes.
* All ''Anime/{{Doraemon}}'' movies have the FiveManBand (or just Nobita) doing something just to satisfy their wants with Doraemon's gadgets. Thus making them end up having to save the world or PlotDevice creatures countless times.

* Most of the ''ComicBook/SinCity'' heroes are often on the lower rungs of society and try to live normal lives. They just keep getting wrapped up in the craziness of the city against their wills.
* Rick Jones from Creator/MarvelComics has elements of this. He is more of an Unlikely ''Sidekick'', though. He's just a normal guy who has ended up being the sidekick to a number of heroes from [[ComicBook/IncredibleHulk the Hulk]] to ComicBook/CaptainAmerica, usually because he stumbled onto the wrong place at the wrong time.
** Then he becomes a superhero of his own right as A-Bomb.
* ComicBook/ScottPilgrim. The fact that he was played by Creator/MichaelCera in the movie doesn't help either.

* Joe in ''Film/JoeVersusTheVolcano''. [[http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099892/]]
* In ''Film/TheRelic'' movie, Margo's just a scientist... who manages to kill the monster. (In the book, Penderghast--a [[MarySue Marty Stu]] albeit a likable one--kills it unspectacularly.)
* Another example: ''Film/DetroitRockCity'' has four pseudo-stoner losers spend the first half getting into trouble, then the second half just getting the favor of God itself as they luck out on everything.
* Ash in the original ''Film/TheEvilDead1981'' is all over this trope. He works in the hardware department of [[BlandNameProduct S-Mart]] and is just a regular guy. By the end of the film, he's in near-hysterics and is covered in mud, blood, and his own excrement. Of course, in [[Franchise/EvilDead the sequels]], [[TookALevelInBadass this changes dramatically]].
* Lionel in ''Film/{{Braindead}}''/''Dead Alive'' is a great example of this trope. He starts out the movie as a timid man living with his mother, and ends up dispatching all the zombies with a lawnmower.
* Carl Frederickson and Russel from Pixar's ''WesternAnimation/{{Up}}''. Just try explaining them someone who's never seen the film. One's an elderly septuagenarian, the other is an overly enthusiastic boy scout who's never been to the wild, and together [[TheyFightCrime they fight evil]] in Venezuela.
* Shaun in ''Film/ShaunOfTheDead'' never wanted to be a hero saving his loved ones from the ZombieApocalypse, he just seemed to be the one could could deal with it pragmatically.
* Joe from ''Film/{{Idiocracy}}''. As is stated, he is average in every way.
* Also from a Creator/SimonPegg movie, ''Film/TheWorldsEnd'''s Gary King is an unemployed, [[spoiler:suicidally depressed]] ManChild trying to relive the glory days of his youth by going on a drunken bender with his former friends. He and his friends (well, [[spoiler:two of them]]) also fight off and survive a horde of body snatching robot duplicates and he's eventually the one to tell [[spoiler:the Network]] to fuck off an leave humanity to its own devices. All of this during the aforementioned bender. [[spoiler:He becomes a more conventional hero AfterTheEnd by fighting for the now [[FantasticRacism discriminated-against]] Blank versions of his friends.]]

* Caspian Knoll of ''Literature/AstralDawn'' is this. Even he doubts he could be that important until he rises to the occasion.
* Rincewind in ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' is basically this. All he wants is to be bored and eat potatoes, and all he has to help him is some [[GenreSavvy narrative savvy]], [[CunningLinguist a knack for languages]] and [[DirtyCoward running away]], and The Luggage. But he's basically been chosen as the hero of the Disc.
* Tavi in ''Literature/CodexAlera''. The whole series started because he was looking for some lost sheep, though eventually it becomes apparent that [[spoiler: he was actually the heir apparent to the entirety of Alera.]]
* [[Literature/TheHobbit Bilbo Baggins]]. Possibly the ur-example.
** His nephew [[Literature/TheLordOfTheRings Frodo]], to a lesser extent. (Of course, this was probably the whole point. Gandalf figured that Frodo was beneath notice to Sauron, and could successfuly fulfill the most vital mission. This may, in fact, be why he wanted to recruit Bilbo in the first place, to earn the trust of the folk of the Shire again.)
** The title character of ''Farmer Giles of Ham''.
* Richard of the ''Literature/SwordOfTruth'' considers himself this for the first book and part of the second. He finally accepts his powers and heritage, and the responsibilities that come with them.
* In ''Literature/ThoseThatWake'' and its sequel, most of the main characters are this, particularly Mike, Laura, and Rose.

* The English pop band The Hoosiers had a [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fa1T7SdkDXE song]] named this that played with this trope. Not to mention [[EarWorm it was rather catchy]].

[[folder:Myth and Legend]]
* Sir Percival was originally the meekest and most naive of Myth/KingArthur's knights, having gained repect gradually through several misadventures. Eventually, he is, in one version of the Grail Legend, one of two knights (along with Galahad) to find the Grail. (Unfortunately, most versions after that tend to leave him out, only giving credit to Galahad.)

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Gordon Freeman of ''VideoGame/HalfLife''. Just an average everyday theoretical physicist until that fateful day, he ended up fighting off hordes of aliens while beating back those pesky black ops trying to keep him quiet, then ''goes into the other dimension to fight the creatures on their own turf, culminating in defeating their all-powerful overlord to prevent the entire earth from being invaded by the things''. And all this with a magical satchel of fairly common weaponry with the occasional science fiction import.
* U-1 of ''VideoGame/GitarooMan'' is a really unlikely hero. Basically, he came back to his house after getting beaten up, which prompts his dog to teach him how to Gitaroo. ''Right after'', a demon with an axe threatens to chop U-1 in half, and the next thing you know, he's actually from a bloodline that automatically makes him the ChosenOne for a faraway planet. I don't get it either, just go with it.
* Harry Mason of ''VideoGame/SilentHill1'' is an example. A writer in his early thirties is thrown into a situation of trying to find his loved one after a car crash by searching the creepy town from Hell which is full of monsters. The manual even states that he has no experience of using a firearm.
** All of the main ''Franchise/SilentHill'' series games invoke this trope with two exceptions. Harry Mason is followed by James Sunderland in ''VideoGame/SilentHill2'', a clerk. Heather in ''VideoGame/SilentHill3'' is a teenage girl with no particular skills. Henry Townshend of ''VideoGame/SilentHill4'' is probably a photographer. Travis of ''VideoGame/SilentHillOrigins'' is just a truck driver. ''VideoGame/SilentHillHomecoming'' introduces the first possible action-oriented hero, ex-Spec Ops soldier Alex Shepard, except [[spoiler:Alex is an insane teen or young man who is deluded about being a Special Forces soldier, and the game gets most of the military details right ''except'' when it comes to Alex acting and looking like a green beret]]. ''VideoGame/SilentHillShatteredMemories'' brings back Harry Mason, and ''VideoGame/SilentHillDownpour'' introduces our second possible exception to the rule, Murphy Pendleton, an escaped violent convict. So to wrap up, we have a clerk, a photographer, a truck driver, a [[spoiler:schizophrenic young adult]], a convict, a writer, and a teenage girl, and most of them [[DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu Punch Out Cthulhu]] at least once.
* They weren't the true heroes of the game, but in ''VideoGame/PokemonColosseum'' the Kids Grid were a small organization of hackers that secretly opposed the Ciphers and acted as Wes' primary source of information in the game. Because they were only children, the Ciphers mistakenly believed them insignificant, and left them alone, which proved a mistake.
* In ''VideoGame/BadDayLA'', the protagonist is a homeless man that was once a Hollywood agent. He was just trying to survive when shit hit the fan in Los Angeles.

* Torg from ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'' is just a normal ([[{{Cloudcuckoolander}} if kind of ditzy]]) guy, but just keeps stumbling (sometimes literally) into situations where demon lords or {{Mad Scientist}}s or supervillains are threatening him, his friends, or the world at large.
* The title character of ''Webcomic/TheInexplicableAdventuresOfBob'' is described as the World's Most Average Man who has suddenly become a WeirdnessMagnet. He has proven himself a hero repeatedly, mostly just by having courage, compassion, and integrity rather than any obvious action hero traits.
* ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick''. Seriously. These guys are all mid-level, mildly incompetent half of the time, make dubious after dubious strategic choice, break every doomsday device they encounter, and they get over-shadowed by any paladin or arch-nemesis that crosses their way. How come they have their own webcomic, and it's such a hit? Lampshaded in comic [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0901.html #901]] by the [[MinionWithAnFInEvil Monster in the Darkness]] even, when trying to convince Xykon [[spoiler:not kill the people he recognizes as O-Chul's friends.]]
-->'''[=MitD=]:''' Think about it. Which of these sounds like the hero you need to worry about: The last paladin of a conquered city, beaten but never broken, sworn to stop the evil lich who wiped out his holy order -- or some random fighter guy you already snuffed once?

* Ayla Goodkind of the Literature/WhateleyUniverse. He was just supposed to be the ShelteredAristocrat who would grow up to run the biggest MegaCorp in the world. He wasn't supposed to get superpowers. He wasn't supposed to become part of Team Kimba. He wasn't supposed to be a WeirdnessMagnet who can't let SuperheroSchool Whateley Academy without running into a supervillain. Or a flock of them.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Droopy, in about half the Creator/TexAvery shorts in which he appears, plays the DesignatedHero to Red, who's often victimized by Wolfie, Butch or Spike. [[BewareTheNiceOnes Then they wind up pissing Droopy off...]]
* Fry in ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}''.
* Coop in ''WesternAnimation/MegasXLR'' is just a fat slacker who obsessively plays video games and works on his automotive craftsmanship. He also happened to stumble upon the titular HumongousMecha at a junkyard and got it for a steal, modifying it to work with his car. All the while, he remained oblivious about its importance until he finds himself face to face with a girl from the future and is reluctantly chosen to be the hero because only he can pilot it at that point. From there, he mostly regards this role as secondary to eating and playing video games.
* In the ''Franchise/{{Ben 10}}'' franchise, the titular character obtained the Omnitrix by accident. While he uses it for selfish reasons from time to time, his first thought when he got it as a ten year old was that he can be a hero. The ChronicHeroSyndrome continued on from there.
* Timmy Turner in ''WesternAnimation/TheFairlyOddParents'' movie Wishology. He was mistakenly believed to be TheChosenOne to defeat The Darkness, but he was able to save the universe by [[spoiler:befriending it]].