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Analysis / Small Steps Hero

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In this page, we will analyze the Small Steps Hero trope.

To this hero, either doing good is always morally justified, even if you can't see the benefit, or there IS no moral truth, so your actions are what count. In either case, doing small, immediate good always supercedes Well-Intentioned Extremist. Usually because he or she is virtue-driven.

This hero is almost always The Paragon, The Cape, the All-Loving Hero, or some similar form of Incorruptible Pure Pureness, or if they aren't, then they may be a True Companion or Undying Loyalist to those types. Similarly, this hero may be Vitriolic Best Buds with the Heroic Neutral, whose primary concern is to only save people they know or recognize. The two of them will agree to Always Save the Girl, although the Heroic Neutral will only do so if "the girl" is someone they know.


The hero's mentality after the choice also tends to vary. Sometimes, this sort of philosophy leads to the Small Steps Hero's angst, since they ignored so many to save a few. But not uncommonly, this hero is very confident in their principles and tends not to blame themselves over their decision. If the time they spend saving one Innocent Bystander allows the bad guy to kill a Bus Full of Innocents, the person they blame is the villain, and no one else. Thus, the next step is to bring that Omnicidal Maniac to justice and make sure they never hurt anyone again.

The reasons they act this way vary. The hero may be too stupid or too incompetent to do anything else, they may be tied to a personal code or sense of honor, they may be too cynical to believe in a greater good, they may be unable to cope with the guilt of directly watching someone die, or they may be under the belief that they will become a Well-Intentioned Extremist if they ignore an innocent (any innocent) For The Greater Good. A Martyr Without a Cause may reason this way, being willing to sacrifice themselves to save one person while ignoring the fact it would leave no one around to stop the villain. If the savvy villain catches on, they can easily keep the Small Steps Hero at bay in this way by having no end of kittens to threaten whenever they're going to get caught.



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