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Literature / Forty Five Master Characters Heroes

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This is a summary of the Hero archetypes from 45 Master Characters: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters (see footnote on that page). Heroine archetypes can be found here, and several additional types under Support Characters.

Also listed are the villainous versions of the Hero archetypes; the book goes into detail on how each heroic archetype can become a villainous archetype.

Compare with The Complete Writer's Guide to Heroes & Heroines: Heroes.

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Quick Overview

The nine Hero archetypes are as follows:

  • Apollo: The Businessman
    • A logical, focused team player who is good at planning and enjoys performing his duties (unemployment is death to him) but poor at dealing with chaotic forces (including emotions and relationships).
  • Ares: The Protector
    • A physically oriented warrior who revels in competition and risk, defends his kin, and fears nothing anyone can do to him - except losing the ability to fully use his body (paralysis would be death to him).
  • Dionysus: The Woman's Man
    • A fun-loving, sensual man who can't relate to masculine pastimes but revels in the company of women, who helps the women around him to find their courage and realize their own worth - although the Dionysus himself often feels flawed and may never find the perfect woman he seeks.
  • Hades: The Recluse
    • A sensitive introvert with a rich inner life, a dreamer and philosopher who shies from people (conformity is death to him); he might yearn for love or companionship but is at a loss as to how to get it.
  • Hephestus: The Inventor
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    • A brilliant genius who has the greatest inventions that he uses to support the people of the world. His brilliant mind brings forth the greatest ideas on how to get the job done but always wants to keep focus (loss of creativity would be death to him).
  • Hermes: The Fool
    • A playful, carefree soul who enjoys his freedom and doesn't worry about consequences; he won't deliberately hurt others, but neither will he let himself be tied down to a relationship (and prison would be death to him).
  • Osiris: The Male Messiah
  • Poseidon: The Artist
    • A creative but emotionally volatile man who takes any criticism poorly (rejection is death to him); his behavior and reactions are not easily predicted, and even he may fear that he will harm those he loves.
  • Zeus: The King
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    • A powerful leader, even a bit of a control freak (loss of power is death to him), who demands obedience, provides for his family, and rises to any challenge, but sees emotions as weaknesses.

Their villainous versions are as follows:


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

Heroes:

    Apollo the Businessman 

    Ares the Protector 
  • Dante from Devil May Cry practically makes fighting into an art form. In fact, Devil May Cry encourages you not just to fight demons, but to do it in style.
  • Harry Dresden from The Dresden Files, though he fights with magic rather than weapons.
  • Alucard from Hellsing, though he definitely has Gladiator qualities as well, given how brutal and sadistic he is in battle. And he's not exactly sportsman-like in a battle. But on the other hand, he is loyal to the Hellsing Organization and its master, Sir Integra.
  • Yuri Lowell from Tales of Vesperia is the game's main protagonist, and a heroic example of a Blood Knight, as expressed by his dialogue when starting and finishing a battle.

    Dionysus the Woman's Man 
  • Casanova was said to be this way - not using women for his own needs at the expense of theirs, but rather caring for them as individuals and helping them to achieve a greater sense of self-worth. Unfortunately, Casanova got stuck with such a Don Juan reputation that we even use his name for The Casanova trope.
  • Jaune Arc from RWBY lacks confidence in himself, and starts off as a lousy Huntsman (and still is somewhat lacking in comparison to his peers). The first two people he befriends are Ruby and Pyrrha, due to his unassuming, friendly personality.

    Hades the Recluse 
  • Batman, while a philanthropist as Bruce Wayne, tends to operate along. He'll occasionally let Robin or Batgirl help him out on his missions, but he tends to fly solo. In addition he does have hints of The Businessman.
  • Calvin in Calvin and Hobbes: The Series is an unusual example - rich imagination and eventual manipulative tendencies fits this quite well.

    Hephestus the Inventor 
  • Tadashi Hamada and his brother, Hiro are this and The Male Messiah. Tadashi developed Baymax with the sincere hope that the healthcare companion would help people all over the world. He is dedicated to helping others no matter what the cost is to him, a statement undeniably proven when he makes the ultimate sacrifice in an attempt to protect his teacher. His brother, Hiro, picks up where he left off throughout the movie.
  • Seth Brundle in The Fly (1986) is a combination of this and The Recluse (having been working and living alone for at least six years). The shy, Adorkable scientist is unable to program his potentially world-changing telepods to teleport living beings until he falls in love and realizes the nature of "the flesh". Due to a subsequent Tragic Mistake on his part that slowly mutates him into a human-insect hybrid creature, his character arc ends with him fully becoming The Mad Scientist — desperate to find a way to retain his fading humanity and driven by the selfish instincts of an insect, the climax has him attempt to fuse himself with his lover and her unborn child.

    Hermes the Fool 

    Osiris the Male Messiah 
  • Jellal Fernandes from Fairy Tail, as of the Grand Magic Games, he formed the Crime Sorcière to eliminate all dark guilds.
  • Mytho from Princess Tutu always is willing to sacrifice himself to save others, even after he lost his heart to seal the monster Raven away.

    Poseidon the Artist 

    Zeus the King 
  • Makarov Dreyar from Fairy Tail is a benevolent leader of the Fairy Tail guild and helps them strive for the greater good. He has shades of the Male Messiah

Villains:

    Apollo the Traitor 
  • Mewtwo from Pokémon has an underlying resentment towards humans, but Depending on the Writer he is mixed with either The Gladiator (in the games) or The Punisher (in the movies).

    Ares the Gladiator 
  • When unrestrained, the Winter Knight's Mantle from The Dresden Files turns its bearer into this; a bloodthirsty, hypermasculine Control Freak who (ab)uses people without compunction.

    Dionysus the Seducer 
  • Gaston in Beauty and the Beast constantly goes after the main protagonist, Belle, despite her constant rejection of him. He doubles as The Gladiator.
  • Bacchus Groh (whose name even corresponds with Dionysus) from Fairy Tail, who isn't really a villain, but in the Grand Magic Games, he does steal Cana's top after beating her in a drinking competition, and wager with Elfman that if he should beat him, he gets to spend a night with Elfman's sisters.
  • Makoto Itou from School Days was widely hated by many anime fans for constantly sleeping around with so many other women.

    Hades the Warlock 

    Hephestus the Mad Scientist 
  • Shou Tucker from Fullmetal Alchemist is an infamous example. He combines his own young daughter, Nina, and her pet dog into a chimera, condemning them to a Fate Worse than Death.
  • Albert Wesker from Resident Evil creates all sorts of mutant monsters from numerous biological viruses.
  • Dr. Robotnick/Eggman from Sonic the Hedgehog has turned small woodland creatures into robots, and in Sonic Unleashed, he even split the planet open so he could harvest Dark Gia energy!

    Hermes the Derelict 
  • Arsene Lupin the Third, from Lupin III: A criminal because he cannot belong to the daily tedium. His need for freedom, risk, and women consumes his attention.

    Osiris the Punisher 
  • Light Yagami from Death Note wants to make the world a paradise with no criminals. He hopes to kill every criminal on earth, but is willing to kill any police officer hunting him down to achieve that goal.
  • Judge Claude Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame feels a strong need to punish all evildoers in the world, with no regards for whether or not he might be becoming one. Just like Light Yagami.
  • Adam Taurus from RWBY is driven by a hatred of humanity, wanting to punish them for what they did to him, and also wants to punish Blake Belladonna for leaving him, meaning he could also qualify as The Abuser.

    Poseidon the Abuser 
  • Big Hero 6:
    • Hiro Hamada temporarily becomes this when Yokai/Robert Callaghan dismisses the death of his brother as being Tadashi's] fault for trying to save him. He then attempts to use Baymax, a robot created by Tadashi to be a healthcare companion, to kill Yokai, however, [both his team and Baymax bring him back to his senses before he could do it.
    • Yokai/Robert Callaghan, the Big Bad, fits the description to a T: He's seeking revenge on Alistair Krei for his role in his daughter's perceived death and so consumed by his grief that he doesn't care about bystanders that might be hurt in the process. He also doubles as The Shadow as well.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Scar before his Heel–Face Turn fits the description to a T: A brutal, ruthless Serial Killer in a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the State Alchemists that annihilated his people. He's so consumed by his rage that he doesn't care about the consequences of his actions or bystanders that might be hurt in the process; after his Heel–Face Turn he has developed into The Protector.
    • Roy Mustang temporarily becomes this when he encounters Envy, who killed his best friend Hughes. He has burned them to the point of being reduced to their true form, then stamps them under his boot and prepares to charbroil them one last time. However, he ultimately averts Jumping Off the Slippery Slope thanks to his allies.

    Zeus the Dictator 


Comparing the Gender Roles

You can find this section on the Heroines page.


Examples of stories or series that play one type off another, so we can see how they interact:

    Anime and Manga 
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Scar develops from an Abuser into a Protector.
  • Princess Mononoke: Ashitaka is a fine example of The Male Messiah archetype. He ends up changing the lives of many characters in the story, most importantly the life of his Love Interest San. Through their interactions, she is changed from a Gorgon into an Amazon (see the Master Heroines article for more information on these two archetypes).

    Video Games 
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
    • Shadow the Hedgehog's (a Recluse) encounter with Amy Rose (a Maiden) in Sonic Adventure 2 completely changes his mind about the worth of humanity and reminds him of the true promise he made with his friend Maria (another archetypal Maiden).
    • While he is most definitely a Fool, Sonic also has a bit of The Male Messiah archetype within him. While he does not necessarily develop, everyone he meets is forever affected by interaction with him. Notable examples are Tails and Amy Rose, both whom develop into heroes in their own right after being influenced by the blue blur.


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