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Escapist Character

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'"Every engineer dreams about saving the universe and having sex with aliens. This is much more glamorous than the real life of an engineer, which consists of hiding from the universe and having sex without the participation of other life forms. Consequently, ratings for Star Trek will remain high as long as they stay away from any realism."
The Dilbert Principle

So you just started watching this movie about a guy who is super-rich, super-talented, super-hot, long-lost royalty, and an Ideal Hero to boot. Sounds like your garden-variety Mary Sue, right?

Except that you don't mind at all. Instead, you're seeing yourself in their shoes and enjoying it. After all, everyone likes to fantasize about being awesome once in a while. You can argue over whether or not they're too self-centered, but they're definitely an Escapist Character.

While these are generally bad things, some of the most widely loved characters in existence are Escapist Characters with any number of Common Mary Sue Traits. While a badly written Escapist Character can come off as an Author Avatar, the key difference between the two is that while the former is the author's wish fulfillment fantasy, the Escapist Character functions as the audience's wish fulfillment fantasy.

Some members of the audience may identify with a character and others may not identify with the same character. Whilst many audience member's Wish-Fulfillment fantasies have common elements, they are not all identical. Thus, the distinction between this and a standard self-insert is very much a subjective matter.

Please remember that conceptually, neither Wish-Fulfillment nor Escapism are bad. Compare the Showy Invincible Hero. See also: I Just Want to Be Normal, I Just Want to Have Friends, I Just Want to Be Special, I Just Want to Be Badass; wishes that are fulfilled by escapist characters.

Compare/Contrast the Expectation Lowerer, a character that allows you to feel awesome by being much worse than you are; and This Loser Is You; a character who the creator feels is a representative of the audience. This trope has nothing to do with the Escapist film or website.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • This is the main premise behind the isekai genre, where a regular human from our world (given whom these stories are pandering to, it's not surprising this human is often a Japanese otaku) is trapped in a parallel dimension of some sort and (usually at least) becomes an overpowered badass saving the world with a group of attractive girls as his followers (Sword Art Online is one of the best-known examples of the genre). If handled poorly, such a protagonist is at a very high risk of being decried as a Gary Stu, but many examples of such characters (such as Momonga from Overlord (2012) or Rimuru Tempest from That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime) are widely beloved for their depth of character, quirkiness, wholesomeness etc., despite the fact that they basically break the universe they've been transported into over their knee with sheer power.
    • Some Isekai stories involve a main protagonist being reincarnated into a new fantasy world, giving them a second chance at life and an opportunity to make up for mistakes or regrets they had in their previous life, something the main protagonists point out themselves. A very specific fantasy that many people have in real life.
  • Dan Kuso from Bakugan Battle Brawlers is intended to be this for its intended target audience of young boys, being a typical kid who suddenly gains immense fighting power, is deemed worthy of using the titular Mons that give him that power, goes on adventures with a loyal group of friends, wins over rivals, becomes more and more stronger with every battle, always saves the day whenever faced with an enemy others can't handle, and by the end of the original anime becomes the strongest Brawler in the universe.
  • Black Bullet's Tina Sprout. It's generally agreed that many want Tina as their little sister instead of Enju (especially in America). It also doesn't help to note that Tina's personality does not fit into the typical Japanese stereotype of an American.note 
  • Ciel of Black Butler. An incredibly rich and beautiful Teen Genius that nearly everyone loves and respects who has an almighty Bishounen Battle Butler that can grant his every wish and can be extremely close to him at times? Not to mention his Dark and Troubled Past (which he was 'rescued from' by the aforementioned butler), Even the Guys Want Him, he works for the queen, and he owns the largest toy company in Britain... all starting before the age of twelve.
  • Bleach has Kurosaki Ichigo. A teenager who is an excellent student and beats the bullies in the face at the same time, skips school, gets more and more strength and fantastic super powers, practically free from adults and meets and later marries Orihime Inoue, a very kind woman who loves him from childhood many hot girls. Besides, he's based on Goku as many others Shōnen protagonists and has practically all of his good qualities. Who doesn't want to be him?
  • Sakura Kinomoto of Cardcaptor Sakura is one for the intended audience of young girls, being a spacey but kind-hearted girl who gains immense magical power, is deemed worthy of wielding the cards that grant her such power, wins over her rival, and befriends practically everyone she meets with The Power of Friendship.
  • Death Note:
    • Light Yagami. His villainous nature, perceived sexuality, fan fixations, and the fact that evil rocks doesn't hurt either. Besides, the power to get rid in a few seconds of every evil people (or those deemed to be so) and avenge injustice and prevarication is really tempting.
    • Also, L. Who doesn't want to just say whatever's on their mind, get whatever they want, afford to be picky about what work they take on, subsist on sweets and stay thin, and count putting on ratty old sneakers as "getting dressed up?" Not to mention he's a genius detective, and is implied to be incredibly rich.
  • Don't forget Nobi of Doraemon fame! Getting constantly picked at school and grounded at home seems a lot more bearable with a Do Anything Robot Buddy.
  • Dragon Ball has Son Goku. He is an All-Loving Hero who is The Ace and Hope Bringer among his friends and the universe at large. He is consider one of the strongest beings in the universe, regularly defeats super-powered aliens, androids, demons, and even gods, and can learn about any technique by just seeing it once. The fact that he was born weak and gained his strength through good old-fashioned hard work on top of being extremely talented endear him to a lot of people, which is part of why he is seen as a better main character than his son, who much more down to Earth. There's reason why he became a Fountain of Expies to many modern day Shōnen protagonists and often compared to Superman.
  • Elfen Lied: The protagonist has supernatural powers that grant her the ability to kill people like with telekinesis without effort and get rid of everyone who abuses or tries to make her suffers. Obviously, everybody out there seems to be part of the evil side of mankind, while also getting what they "deserve" by the hand of the protagonist. She even first unleashed her power as a child victim of an incredibly cruel bullying, avenging what she passed by making a bloodbath of her bullies when they decided to beat and kill an innocent puppy she had found previously. Her false friend who betrayed her by telling the bullies about the puppy (and who is also seen faking crying while maliciously smiling) is obviously killed too in the furious instant telekinetic revenge.
  • Fist of the North Star: Luckily, it's not too hard to want to be Kenshiro. This is a dude who beats enemies and blows them up like bombs on a day-to-day basis, and these enemies happen to be super evil that toys around with the weak just to be a bully because they have strength, so it's ALSO an escapism of upholding justice and beating evil in the most epic way possible. He protects the innocent, and more or less turns into The Messiah. He has to work at his victories and doesn't just get them handed over to him on a silver platter. This guy has coolness surrounding him like an aura.
  • Edward Elric and the entire profession of 'alchemist' in Fullmetal Alchemist is designed to make the fairly mundane science of chemistry into an awesome, flashy combat form. The alchemists shown in the series are almost all incredibly intelligent and dedicated scientists who also happen to be extremely combat proficient.
  • Alucard from Hellsing. Seras is also an example, as she goes from a police girl with a tragic past to an elite vampire soldier and even takes Alucard's position for a while.
  • Issei Hyoudou from High School Dx D starts as The Everyman inducted into the Occult Research Club, and spends the next twenty volumes becoming the envy of any normal guy. He's surrounded by beautiful, adoring women who have no problems sharing him, the other two guys in the club are his best friend and an underclassman who idolizes him, the most beautiful girl in school is his girlfriend, he's one of the most powerful members of his generation, he's now rich beyond his wildest dreams because his eccentric brother-in-law made a TV show about him, and he's on the fast track to becoming a noble in the demon world. Who wouldn't want to be him?
    • It could be argued that there are Escapist Character tendencies for most of the cast. There are many scenes that may and probably will go beyond suspension of disbelief, but the stylization with which Hirano pulls it off is so awesome that it can be excused on account of Rule of Cool.
  • Interspecies Reviewers: While any member of the main cast could count to an extent, Stunk is probably the best example due to being the sole human with (most likely) tastes similar to that of the readerbase. Not only does he get to have sex with dozens of super hot monster girls, he get paid good money to do it! Which he then promptly spends on sex with even more monster girls! Which he then gets paid even more money for!
  • In I Think Our Son Is Gay, there's an intensely escapist fantasy in Hiroki and his relationship with his mother Tomoko: the idea, for a gay person of any age, that your parent will be supportive and accepting of your sexuality, dedicating themselves to make sure that you feel comfortable even before coming out to them while simultaneously respecting your privacy in the subject, and wishing that the world and the people in your life will also accept and love you—in troper terms, helping you to defy Gayngst. There's a good reason why Tomoko's Fan Nickname is "Best Mom".
  • Giorno Giovanna from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind is a 15-year old high schooler and the son of the series' Big Bad, DIO Brando, who grew up in a broken home with a neglectful mother and an abusive stepfather, and only managed to gain a better life due to saving the life of a mafia member, whom he grew to idolize. Through this, Giorno developed a golden dream of refusing to let the innocent, let alone children, come to harm, a sentiment which any person who grew up in a broken home is very likely to reciprocate. He becomes a member of one of the most powerful mafias in the world, Passione, and strives to reform it from the inside, a task which many would want to perform, but feel like they're unable to go through with. Throughout his tenure, his fellow members on Team Bucciarati view him as a lowly, inexperienced greenhorn, but he eventually manages to earn their respect through repeatedly proving himself as an invaluable asset to their cause, which younger viewers are likely to resonate with due to their age masquerading their true talents. All through the story, Giorno repeatedly delivers karmic justice to other mafia members who would dare hurt innocent bystanders to further their goals, and by the end, he succeeds in overthrowing the Boss and converts Passione into a prestigious, charitable organization that helps those in need.
  • Kazuo Yamashita from Kengan Ashura is far from an idealized character, but his story arc can easily represent many people's Wish-Fulfillment. He's an ordinary middle-aged salaryman whose life gets turned for the better when the CEO of his company picks him to be the manager of their newly hired representative fighter, Ohma. As Ohma becomes builds up fame within the Kengan Association, Yamashita gets pulled into his spotlight; and, through a combination of luck and various misunderstandings, he manages to attract the attention, and eventually the favour, of some of the richest and most influential businessmen in Japan, and is even noticed by several world leaders. In short, he is able to reap most the benefits that Ohma's fighting career brings, but virtually none of the risks. By the end of the first series, he manages to show up his Mean Boss (who used to pick on him) when the two friends he made during the Tournament—both of whom are big-shot CEOs—personally came to pick him up from his old workplace as he starts a new company.
  • Love Hina's Keitaro Urashima. For everyone who ever couldn't get a date, what could be better than suddenly becoming the guy in charge of an all-girls inn, with an onsen, where practically all of them eventually fall for you? Sure, there's the physical pain inflicted on a nearly daily basis, but most would agree that it's Worth It.
    • Of course, this also pretty much applies to the protagonist in any harem series. Tenchi Muyo!, Maison Ikkoku, et cetera. Amusingly, one of the biggest complaints about these sorts of characters being wishy-washy ignores the fact that it's the easiest way to make an escapist character not feel openly exploitative of the situation.
  • Lupin of Lupin III. He's a Phantom Thief with a Heart of Gold, traveling the world stealing priceless artifacts with his masterful cunning, trying to score with recurring Femme Fatale Fujiko (or the Girl of the Week) and always managing to be one step ahead of both the law and his adversaries. As quoted from author Monkey Punch in an interview with Anime News Network:
    "Lupin is by far the character I most relate to. What I really like about Lupin is his freedom, his boundless freedom that allows him to do whatever he wants whenever he wants and never really be tied down to anything or anyone in particular."
  • My Dress-Up Darling:
    • As always in those kinds of Romantic Comedy anime, Gojo makes for a wish fulfillment character, being a male lead with poor social skills who suddenly finds himself among the charms of a beautiful girl that also respects and admires even his most embarrassing sides. There is an extra bonus in that, for a change, said girl does not deny her feelings for him and is actively (if in her own way) trying to ease their way into a relationship.
    • Kitagawa herself is seen by the female audience as a borderline wish fulfillment character, given that she manages to enter the cosplay scene with the adorable and handsome Gojo by her side, who she helps with his insecurities as he does for her. Furthermore, Kitagawa manages to be extremely confident in her nerdy interests all the while maintaining her beautiful gyaru looks that she's proud to flaunt, but it's especially the fact that Kitagawa is an understanding Nice Girl that also appeals to the female audience, who are happy the series subverts expectations by Kitagawa not engaging in mean-spirited or tsundere antics towards Gojo that are usually found with female leads in male targeted works.
  • Monkey D. Luffy from One Piece; an eccentric, friendly, and courageous pirate adventurer with strange and extraordinary elastic abilities who sails around the world on grand adventures with his True Companions, defeating deadly, notorious pirates, saving entire kingdoms, and rebelling against a corrupt government to follow his dreams, becoming one of the world's most famous pirates in his quest to become King of the Pirates. Many story arcs end with Luffy and his crew celebrating victories with massive parties, inviting all the friends and people they've helped to join in, and with Luffy being the Magnetic Hero that he is, it usually ends up spanning an entire island. Like many Shonen protagonists, Luffy is directly based on Goku, one of the most famous escapist characters in manga.
  • Haruhi from Ouran High School Host Club. A poor girl with incredible grades, great cook, and surrounded by five drop-dead gorgeous men (and one adorable one), who can resist their flirtations, and making snarky comments all the while? Yep, Haruhi definitely fits here.
  • Outlaw Star: Gene Starwind is almost certifiably the epitome of this trope: Hot, muscular guy with lots of Shirtless Scenes, awesom fighting skills, lecherous pervert who still scores booty all the time with various incredibly hot women, spends cash like popcorn yet never runs out because some bounty is always available for collection, has a highly sought after Cool Spaceship, commands a Badass Crew that is mostly female, follows his insane orders without much questioning and adores him and a Magical Girlfriend that loves him dearly and heals all his injuries via Intimate Healing. He wields a one of a kind Hand Cannon that is also a Wave-Motion Gun, and always leaves the bad guys screaming in frustration. He can act as an obnoxious, irresponsible Manchild all the time and get away with it without breaking a sweat.
  • Ash from Pokémon: The Series is a ten year old boy who doesn't have to worry about school or other problems most kids his age do. He's instead out on a journey across the world where he makes his own rules and does what he wants. He has a neverending chain of friends, both human and non-human, and several of them are attractive girls who Word of God notes are supposed to be eye-candy for kids. Ash himself is a bit of a Chick Magnet, though he's Oblivious to Love. Ash is a powerful trainer when he wants to be, has been noted as The Chosen One on more than one occasion, and even has spiffy powers such as aura. He also never ages. Ash being an escapist character is most pronounced in Pokémon: I Choose You!. In it, there are many scenes showing off how cool and free it is to be a Pokémon trainer. There's a Dream Sequence where Ash lives in a realistic world and goes to school. It's surreal and almost nightmarish to see Ash in such a mundane, lifeless world, which accentuates how much more freeing his life is from a normal ten year old's.
  • The titular problem children in Problem Children are Coming from Another World, aren't they? but especially Izayoi can be considered this - they are beautiful, smart, super strong and have awesome adventures, yet aren't annoying.
  • Kenshin from Rurouni Kenshin. He's a brilliant, talented swordsman who is considered the greatest in all of Japan. His sword skills are so legendary that he is a Living Legend who single-handily brought his side to victory during the war. And he did all of this when he was a teenager. Him being a chick magnet is also a bonus. Although for all his talent, Kenshin is a very broken individual who has been through several lifetimes worth of trauma started from when he was kid. It's not until the end of the manga that he finally gets a happy ending. Maybe you would want to be like Kenshin, but you wouldn't want his life.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • Usagi is one of these. She starts out as an ordinary school girl, then quickly gains magical powers, a small platoon of new friends, a destined love from a previous life, and finds out that she's a princess who's going to become The High Queen who rules the world sometime in the distant future. The anime makes it less so by giving her a desire to be normal again that wasn't nearly as present in the manga, showing that she ends up watching all of her friends die right before her eyes, and then deciding to sacrifice her own life to save the world in the finale of the first season. Her life isn't always glamorous, but it's ultimately played straight in that no matter how dire her circumstances become, she always perseveres and saves the day as the All-Loving Hero she's meant to be.
    • Tuxedo Mask may count as an example for the guys. He is a handsome young man who throws roses at monsters of the week, has both Usagi's and Rei's affections (anime-only), gets to fight alongside multiple women, and becomes a Happily Married couple with Usagi in an idyllic future where they rule the Earth together. This applies more in the manga and Crystal, where he's a prominent focus throughout and gets some useful attacks of his own, as opposed to the anime where he becomes Out of Focus after the first two seasons.
    • Given how popular Sailor Moon remains and the number of fandom-created Senshi, it's safe to say the characters are all escapist to some degree. No matter what happens, the Senshi are loyal to each other and pull through without long-lasting psychological damage. Going from an awkward adolescent to a badass fighter in an improbable outfit is a considerable upgrade for most people.
  • Lina Inverse from Slayers is this to many people. She's a beautiful, powerful sorceress who can level an entire city if she wanted to, lives her life as she pleases without letting anyone or anything get in her way, takes no shit from anyone, always wins in the end, not to mention she gets to eat a lot of delicious food without ever worrying about her weight. Of course, many of her best traits are also presented as flaws, so she still manages to be a well-written and likable character at the same time.
  • Chris Thorndyke from Sonic X came off as this. He was originally meant to be written as an character that the general audience can identify with, but due to his wealthy lifestyle and living with a family of famous relatives, as well as being best friends with Sonic the Hedgehog and helping him foil Dr. Eggman's plans, it seems like the writers wrote Chris as a character that the audience would like to be rather than a character the audience can identify with. Sonic is an even greater example, being a very powerful, world-famous superhero, surrounded by friends who like and respect him and a girl who’s madly in love with him.
  • Simon the Digger of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. His beloved adoptive brother is Kamina, he hangs out with Yoko and Nia, almost everyone around him is incredibly supportive and he ends up leading a rebellion against (in order) an earth-wide tyranny, then a universe-wide tyranny at the ages of about fourteen and then about twenty-one. In a world where mechs quite frequently do the impossible, he's literally the best Gunmen pilot there is.
  • In Vampire Hunter D, the main character is D, an impossibly beautiful half-vampire monster-hunter.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • Yugi Muto from Yu-Gi-Oh!. He's a Shrinking Violet who has the loyalty of a powerful and ancient spirit Sharing a Body with him, has a core group of best friends who stick by him through thick and thin, and eventually becomes a strong duelist in his own right. To a slightly lesser extent, The Rival Seto Kaiba could also be seen as this, being a super-smart billionaire Teen Genius.
    • Yuma Tsukumo. Unusual for the fact that he doesn't start out at one. Probably why he was hated among the franchise protagonist, for at least Yugi is meant to be a Vanilla Protagonist.

    Comedy 
  • Pee-wee Herman definitely qualifies as one of these. Living in perpetual childhood, he lives a fanciful life, constantly surrounded by toys and nifty gadgets, and, no matter the setting, always gets to have amazing adventures, and things can go his way in the end no matter what. This is amplified in Pee-wee's Playhouse, where he gets to hang out in a Cool House in a wacky fantasy world with a faithful, friendly group of wacky characters, including a genie who can grant any wish he desires and a self-describing example of the World's Most Beautiful Woman. During an in-character interview as the character, Paul Reubens stated that he thought he offered viewers "some sort of escape, y'know, back to childhood, maybe."

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics: Archie is a huge Chick Magnet with girls always falling into his lap, despite him not really doing anything. He also is a musician, is on the football team, lives in a pretty scenic town, has a lot of friends, and is above-average looking (bar his Early Installment Character-Design Difference).
  • Batgirl: Batgirl fulfills the female power fantasy function in the Batman comics. Barbara Gordon is a beautiful, learned and mature woman and kickass fighter who owns a cool bike and all kind of fantastic toys for fighting crime.
  • Batman: Grant Morrison actually talked about this and claims that for all the talk about how much of a fantasy Superman is, Batman is even more so:
    "Batman is obviously much cooler, but that’s because he’s a very energetic and adolescent fantasy character: a handsome billionaire playboy in black leather with a butler at his beck and call, better cars and gadgetry than James Bond, a horde of fetish femme fatales baying around his heels and no boss. That guy's Superman day and night. Superman grew up baling hay on a farm. He goes to work, for a boss, in an office. He pines after a hard–working gal. Only when he tears off his shirt does that heroic, ideal inner self come to life. That's actually a much more adult fantasy than the one Batman’s peddling but it also makes Superman a little harder to sell. He's much more of a working class superhero, which is why we ended the whole book with the image of a laboring Superman."
  • Black Panther: The strong, wise, and noble king of a powerful and extremely technologically advanced African nation untouched by the evils of colonization, and one of the smartest men in the Marvel Universe.
  • Captain America: Scrawny 4F artist from Brooklyn becomes a A1 Super-Soldier and the embodiment of all that is good and right about America.
  • Shazam!: Captain Marvel took up the Wish-Fulfillment a notch by taking Billy Batson, a boy within the age range of the target demographic, and giving him the ability to transform into a superhero very much like the one kids were into at the time. Unfortunately, the courts agreed with DC that it was a little too similar (which interestingly ended up with them in the same universe).
  • Deadpool: This is part of the reason why Deadpool saw a sudden burst in popularity after the release of the film adaptations of his comics. He achieves Success Through Insanity via an large arsenal of guns, swords, and other tools, he treats the Fourth Wall like it's nothing and can beat up those he doesn't like with little-to-no consequences.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: Scrooge McDuck is super rich and a Cool Old Guy, things keep going his way despite his cruelty to his nephews, and yet it's entertaining to see him mop the floor with his enemies.
  • The Incredible Hercules: Hercules is male power fantasy to a tee. He's a manly Handsome Lech who Really Gets Around and solves nearly every problem he encounters through Attack! Attack! Attack!. He has thus been most guys' personal fantasy made manifest for the last couple millennia.
  • The Incredible Hulk: The Hulk is a mix between This Loser Is You and this. Most people can relate to feeling like poor, downtrodden Bruce Banner at least once in their life and he can provide wish fulfillment by turning into an unstoppable rage monster that can curbstomp almost anything that pisses him off. Less so in later storylines, as his Hulk persona wrecked his personal and professional life.
  • Iron Man: Tony Stark's a billionaire playboy who has access to an awesome Powered Armor, and solve problems by blasting it. If that doesn't work, get another suit with even more fire power.
  • Johnny the Homicidal Maniac: The titular character is this to more misanthropic readers of comics. Sure, his life is pure misery and he hates everyone and everything around him (including himself), but all of us feel like that sometimes. Not all of us can blow off steam by going on a sadistic killing spree and get away with it.
  • The Punisher MAX: The Frank Castle character from the MAX imprint is particularly popular among those who strongly dislike criminals. Similarly, for obvious reasons, Frank is immensely popular among readers with right-leaning political tendencies, as well as among state officials such as police officers and military personnel. This inclination was even acknowledged in the movie American Sniper, where one of the main characters' fellow SEALs can be seen reading the first arc of the comic.
  • Richie Rich: Richie Rich, without a doubt, can be considered one of these. Who WOULDN'T want to be the richest kid in the world, who literally has everything, and yet somehow remains the embodiment of sweetness?
  • She-Hulk: She-Hulk, the Hulk's cousin and Distaff Counterpart is a straighter example. She's a brilliant lawyer who also happens to be a superhuman Amazonian Beauty.
  • Spider-Man: Spider-Man straddles the line between This Loser Is You and an Escapist Character pretty much constantly. No matter how much his life ends up sucking (Hero with Bad Publicity, dead parents and uncle, "rocky" love-life pre-MJ, One More Day) he's a superhero who gets to web-sling from skyscrapers and he always has a quip ready. There's also something very appealing about an everyman amongst so many other powerful superheroes (even more so when you consider how most Marvel Universe characters are everymen already).
  • The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Girl embodies the lighter and more wonderous side of comics. Notably, a Civil War (2006) tie-in featured Doreen lamenting that The Dark Age of Comic Books had led to comics losing sight of their escapist elements.
  • Supergirl: Supergirl was created in the Silver Age as a power fantasy for young female readers: a cute, kind-hearted 15-year-old girl who is powerful enough to make anything, including but not limited to move planets, outrace light, shrug bullets -and nukes- off, fly, breathe in space and travel to other planets and time periods under her own power to live all kind of adventures (such like taming and riding a dinosaur).
  • Superman: He's the Man of Tomorrow (i.e. he was supposed to be what ordinary people might dream of someday becoming), The Cape, the'' Ideal Hero, and The Paragon whom everyone looks up to, as well as an immensely powerful Flying Brick who put most of the Justice League to shame. And the name of his city, "Metropolis", comes from the Greek and Latin roots for "city," so Clark Kent is basically Everyman, Everywhere.
  • Tintin: The titular protagonist could possibly qualify as one of these; he's a successful journalist embarking on incredible adventures accompanied by a medley of unusual comrades. Not only that, but Herge himself admitted that Tintin's limited personality was a means of enabling readers to assume Tintin's position and experience such great adventures, and that writing the books provided him Wish Fulfillment, having initially conceived Tintin as an idealized version of himself.
  • W.I.T.C.H.: The titular Guardians of Kandrakar — Will, Irma, Taranee, Cornelia and Hay Lin — are this for the franchise's intended target audience of young girls. They were once ordinary school girls dealing with the troubles of growing up who, after becoming the Guardians, now have superpowers, go on exciting adventures and have near-singlehandedly saved the world a few times.
  • Wonder Woman: Wonder Woman was explicitly created to be a female power fantasy: she's as powerful as any man, without losing any of her femininity.
    William Moulton Marston: "Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don't want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women are. Women's strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman."
  • X-Men:
    • Kitty Pryde started out as the team's Naïve Newcomer, and grew up to be a badass ninja genius with a pet space dragon and lots of friends on earth and out of it. The fandom rejoiced of course, for they watched every step of this journey from Everygirl to Super-Special Heroine and wished they could be her (or "be with her").
    • Wolverine. So. Very. Much. After a while, it simply became a running joke with a Lampshade on his head much of the time.
    • Storm is almost as blatant a one of these as Kitty, being one of the most powerful members of the team, worshipped as a goddess, having mad fighty and thiefy skills, and being heart-stoppingly gorgeous. Sometimes this got carried so far that even for teenage dreamers, it became something of a running joke. For example, the infamous scene where a depowered Ororo somehow manages to defeat Cyclops in a Danger Room contest, using rules which he more-or-less could not lose under. She manages to dodge energy blasts moving at the speed of light, more-or-less, and it was so blatant that even many of the fanboys ended up saying 'what?' Even Chris Claremont, who wrote the Storm/Cyclops fight, seemed to realize it was a bit silly, as 50 issues later he retconned it by claiming that Cyclops was being psychically influenced at the time by Madeline, who wanted him to lose so he would retire and come live with her instead.
    • Psylocke is popular with many fans precisely because she's both sexy and has it all. Betsy is filthy rich, a literal supermodel, becomes increasingly powerful as time goes on, a master ninja, assassin, secret agent, adventurer and pilot, and of course, is quite possibly the most sexy woman in the Marvel Universe. Is it any wonder fans often want to be her, or rather, be with her?
    • Colossus is an unusual example in the superhero genre, as while many superheroes exist to serve as a power fantasy, Colossus's main purpose over the years has evolved into being a Romance fantasy. A Hunk with Chronic Hero Syndrome and Incorruptible Pure Pureness, Colossus could have stepped whole and breathing from the most wholesome books of the Romance Novel genre. Most of what he does and who he is is defined by his love relationships, another trademark of the romance novel love interest. The character ended up so much into this that was Reductio ad absurdum in Deadpool 2.

    Comic Strips 
  • The Outbursts of Everett True: You know those people who take too long at lines, are massive hypocrites, abuse animals, borrow money without returning it, or just generally piss you off every day? Do you wish you could beat up those annoying people with no consequences? Everett True can.
  • Dilbert: Dogbert. Scott Adams has even said that he represents the kinds of things he wishes he could get away with and say to people.
  • Jim Davis notes that one of the appeals of Garfield is the fact that he does what many people wish they could do, but can't. He eats what he wants when he wants, sleeps all day, watches all the tv he wants, never does any work, and is quick with a sarcastic quip about the situations around him.

    Fan Works 
  • The Night Unfurls:
    • Kyril Sutherland, the unkillable, unstoppable eldritch Genius Bruiser as depicted in this story. He represents the experience and reward of any Bloodborne Player Character that "got good" after dying numerous times, slaughtering beasts regardless of the skin they wear like a badass. Remember how in Bloodborne, Yharnam seems to be doomed no matter how many beasts the Player Character slays, and whichever ending they get? Here, the Hunter gets to make the world of Kuroinu a better place by purging it of the rapists and slavers who are dumb enough to be in his way. Sure, there will be people who would not be pleased with how murderous he is, but as long as he is effective and badass enough, earning the admiration and fear from just everyone would be a total cakewalk. Furthermore, he not only gets a harem by the end of the story (not that he's really happy with it), but also manages to be aware of that. Despite having little social expertise, he is able to maintain his celibacy while keeping a healthy distance with those who are pursuing for his affections. Kyril Sutherland sets a shining example to people who either has a mind as dense as a black hole, isn't into romance or any of that mushy stuff, or has relationship issues in general.
      Some may argue that with all the trauma he has to go through in Yharnam, together with dealing with the potential complexities as a squid-like creature, being Kyril, as opposed to being like Kyril may not be as appealing as it sounds like. On the other hand, the following perks will definitely show that being Kyril would be Worth It: you get to live in an abode both rent-free and disturbance-free (though he prefers a farm); you get to spend all the time in the world with your loyal, long-time companion whom you love all the same, and; should you feel bored, you can always go out and kill a few beasts for your own good, without any sort of repercussion whatsoever.
    • Kyril's four apprentices count as well. The first three (Sanakan, Hugh, Lily) are victims of war due to the Black Dogs' Rape, Pillage, and Burn, while the fourth, Soren, is a thief who constantly suffers from physical abuse by his superiors. All four of them start out as hapless civilians — no wealth, no prestige, no combat experience. People who would be NPCs in another story. Then they meet Kyril (see above), who becomes their sensei and gives them food, shelter, training, a paycheck, and a bunch of improbable-but-cool Mix and Match Weapons. Cue Taking a Level in Badass x4. Other escapist qualities include: an extraordinarily powerful being, far greater than you ever are, giving you the respect, encouragement, and empowerment you deserve, in a way that no other can; the simple desire to be badass triumphing any kind of trauma, misery, or personal demon; and lastly, the prospect that you don't have to be chosen, be a saint, be rich, be a royal, look hot, score dates, or be a suave, smart bastard, to make a difference.

    Films — Animated 
  • Aladdin. In just 90 minutes he went from living off stolen food to having the friendship of an all-powerful-genie-Robin Williams, a flying carpet, the affection of the richest, most desirable girl in the kingdom, and an assured future as the next Sultan — and this status remains through two movies and 86 half-hours. That's pretty darn escapist.
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire Milo goes from being freshly fired friendless nerd to having an expedition financed to search for his dream. By the end of the movie he basically has everything he ever wanted.
  • A lot of the Disney princesses fit this example to a tee:
    • Cinderella is abused by her stepfamily and is only granted a break on the night of the ball. That night, she's granted a visit by her Fairy Godmother who gifts her a beautiful dress and a carriage and embarks her into the ball that changed her fate.
    • Ariel is a beautiful mermaid princess living in an underwater kingdom yet feels alienated by her hobbies and feeling misunderstood by her father. Eventually she manages to both live in the dream world she always yearned for and also catch the affection of the guy of her dreams.
    • Belle is socially isolated, but widely considered to be the most beautiful woman in town, is confident in who she is, and has a doting father who understands her. She's intelligent and well-read, and eventually finds love with someone who not only appreciates her not for her looks but who she is, but betters himself due to her influence.
    • Rapunzel may be locked up in her tower, but she spends her free time doing a lot of common pastimes. Her freedom comes in the form of a magical adventure where she meets the love of her live, her true origins, and gets definitely away from her abuser.
    • Moana is looked up to be the next chief in her beautiful peaceful island and everybody loves her. She has a special connection with the ocean and a magical destiny in tow.
  • Frozen: Queen Elsa definitely counts. There's a reason her Signature Song "Let it Go" is such a hit: in one catchy tune, she encapsulates many moviegoers' desire to cast away all their social hangups and be without restraints. Her ice powers, that can instantly weave dresses, craft enormous Ice Palaces, and conjure living snowmen, is the icing on the cake.
    It's funny how some distance makes everything seem small, and the fears that once controlled me can't get to me at all!
    It's time to see what I can do, to test the limits and break through!
    No right, no wrong, no rules for me, I'm free!
  • Vanellope Von Schweetz from Wreck-It Ralph, evoking sympathy from her situation as an outcast to becoming a Badass Adorable, has spawned a legion of cosplayers in a very short amount of time.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In American Dreamer, Cathy saw Rebecca Ryan as this In-Universe, even though the character seemed to take James Bond's apparent Sue traits up a notch.
  • The title character in 1981's Arthur. He's insanely wealthy, never has to work, has a loyal valet, can have just about everything he desires, travels in glamorous circles in New York City, and while he is The Alcoholic, he's still witty and a joy to be around. His only problems, as he sees them, is that his family and their peers are all too stuffy and he hasn't found true love, which of course is something money can't buy — and when he finally finds it, it's with a working-class woman he can't have without risking his inheritance, which hinges on an Arranged Marriage with someone who would bring him down to Earth. Ironically, it's pursuing love instead of money that finally leads him to achieving some maturity, and in the Happy Ending he still gets both. About the only thing he isn't, due to the casting of Dudley Moore in a role that was conceived with a performer like Warren Beatty in mind, is conventionally attractive — key word being conventionally. In the film, Arthur actually asks someone "Don't you wish you were me? I know I do" — which became the basis for one of the film's Taglines ("Don't you wish you were Arthur?").
  • Word of God states that Avatar's Navi were designed to be a whole race of these.
  • Marty McFly of Back to the Future fame is, like Peter Parker, somewhere between "everyman" and "cool guy you want to hang out with". He's good at playing guitar, skateboarding, hoverboarding, wooing ladies, escaping by the skin of his teeth, and video games — pretty much everything an Eighties kid or teenager would love. Plus, his best friend is a mad scientist who invents time travel, allowing both to have exciting adventures in past and future. Shame about his mother, though.
  • Bruce from Bruce Almighty. Aside from having a fairly attractive girlfriend and a steady job, he gets to spend several weeks with God's Powers, with which he could do absolutely ANYTHING he wanted (Aside from tell anyone he was God or affect free will), such as getting a promotion at work, revenge on people who'd done him wrong, making himself the world's greatest sex machine, making his girlfriend's boobs bigger, and getting himself an amazing car. Really the only reason all the bad stuff happened to Bruce was that he was stupid, and seemed to forget that he could, in his own words, "Clean everything up in 5 minutes if he wanted to".
  • The Man With No Name of the Dollars Trilogy is smart, handsome, intelligent, always wins, and is the sort of guy that audiences feel they want to be.
  • The lead character of Ferris Bueller's Day Off is popular, funny and rich. He has a hot girlfriend, does whatever he wants, and pretty much everything works out perfectly for him.
  • Indiana Jones: Travel the globe. Pick up chick. Punch Nazis. Find priceless artifact. Reveal ancient secrets. Get hounded by college girls. Repeat.
  • James Bond's movies had undergone Serial Escalation as the producers tried to outdo themselves with increasingly over-the-top quips, cars, gadgets, and Bond Girls. The Daniel Craig incarnation shows him being much more flawed.
  • Owen from Let Me In is a woobie and loner who is neglected by his parents and bullied and beaten up by his classmates. But then new neighbors move in, and the girl next door, Abby, is a beautiful and strange outsider. She encourages him, she shows him real affection and care for him, and she protects him. Eventually Owen leaves the town with his vampire lover Abby.
  • J from Men in Black definitely qualifies. He gets to wear a natty black suit, gets some awesome gadgets to play around with including an Amnesia Ray and the ray gun equivalent to a Cute Bruiser, a car that can drive on the ceilings of tunnels, and he STILL gets to out-cool Rip Torn and Tommy Lee Jones as well. He even manages to recruit a female MIB and avert the loneliness of the job. And he gets to save the world and hang out with alien pugs and chain-smoking worms all day!
  • According to Greg Sestero, Johnny from The Room (2003) was this for Tommy Wiseau. A well-liked, well-off man with a lavish apartment in San Francisco. Honestly, if it wasn't for his girlfriend cheating on him with his best friend, the film would have ended after the first sex scene.
  • Just about every single one of Adam Sandler's roles. As Honest Trailers put it, the dilemmas his characters face can be summed up as "He's too rich and his wife is too hot".
  • Scarface's Tony-fuckin-Montana was never intended to be this but the only thing anyone remembers of him is how hardcore he was and how epic his death was. Entire subcultures sprung up just to emulate his badassitude.
  • Smith from Shoot 'Em Up is a master of every firearm known to man, kills dozens of people in increasingly more creative ways, battles strawmen on both sides of the political spectrum, gets to have sex with Monica Bellucci, and rams inconsiderate drivers off the road without consequence.
  • Star Wars: One cannot forget the Jedi, and to some extent, the Sith, kicking ass throughout the galaxy with a glowing sword that can easily cut steel and the coolest Psychic Powers.
    • Luke Skywalker is possibly the most famous example of this trope ever. He's just an ordinary kid living on a whole planet of nothing, dreaming of leaving his dreary farm life behind and exploring the galaxy... and he gets to learn about the Force from two of the best Jedi masters alive, hang out on the coolest of Cool Starships, the Millennium Falcon, with its badass captain and copilot who quickly becomes his best friend, he turns out to be the brother of a princess son of the greatest Jedi ever to live, join the Rebellion and personally fire the shots that destroy the Death Star, and redeem his father from the Dark Side. And all it cost him was one hand and, um, his aunt and uncle!
    • Rey continues this trend in The Force Awakens. She's an orphan, abandoned by her parents and living all alone on a lifeless backwater planet, scrounging for scraps and hoping she has enough to trade to an obnoxious junk-trader boss so that he'll give her enough to eat. Then she gets to fly the Millennium Falcon, fight the evil First Order, become fast friends with the Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Luke Skywalker, and in the case of the latter, even wield his lightsaber in a fight against Kylo Ren. Firmly driven home in The Last Jedi with Rey, when it's revealed that she explicitly is not the child of anyone special. Unlike Luke Skywalker, you don't have to be the child of the greatest Jedi ever to live to have amazing adventures and epic Force powers — she gets to do it all on her own. The final shot of the film drives this home, with a Force-sensitive boy in child slavery, looking up at the stars, holding a broom like a lightsaber, and dreaming of becoming a Jedi. Just like all of us.
  • Sucker Punch invokes this both for the characters themselves and for the audience. To cope with the traumas in their lives, the girls create fantasized versions of themselves, who are badass warriors who mop the floors with robotic Nazis, orcs, and whatever else comes their way. Meanwhile, they invoke all kinds of daydreams the audience members have: piloting awesome mechas, mowing down enemy soldiers with machine guns, fighting robotic samurai with katanas, etc.
  • Liam Neeson's character in Taken is this for the middle-aged set. Despite being a middle-aged divorcee, he is still freakishly competent on his quest(s) to save his family (that does still love him, deep down), including rescuing his (explicitly) virginal college-aged daughter. And he is pretty much always right.

    Literature 
  • The human (or once human) Animorphs are this. They're 5 ordinary teens who are suddenly given the potentially limitless superpower of being able to become any animal they can touch, who then go out and save the world from brain infesting parasites. But, like many other instances on this page, this wears off as the series goes on. By then, the main characters feel totally isolated from others, are dealing with intense PTSD and grappling with incredibly huge questions of morality. They've discovered that War Is Hell, and they just want it to end.
  • Invoked and discussed at length in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, a novel about two Jewish-American comic book creators in the 1940s who create a popular superhero who becomes a major pop culture sensation. Their character is a crime-fighting escape artist literally called "The Escapist" who embodies the American public's desire to escape from the harsh realities of World War II, as well as the title characters' desires to escape (literally and figuratively) from their own problems; Joe Kavalier wants to help his family escape from Nazi-occupied Prague, and Sammy Clay wants to escape from his polio-stricken body and his repressed homosexuality.
  • Artemis Fowl doesn't have to go to school because his parents are either missing or bedridden. He has a Battle Butler and enough money to indulge a self-admitted childish belief in fairies and magic. Though only 12, he's treated like an adult.
  • Dagny Taggart of Atlas Shrugged. Whilst she is clearly an idealized author avatar, a significant portion of the book's female audience has found Dagny provides a satisfying fantasy for them, as well.
  • Lucy Pevensie — and to a lesser extent the other protagonists — are this in The Chronicles of Narnia. Hasn't everyone dreamed of finding themselves in a fantasy world they're destined to rule over?
  • There's Taran, from The Chronicles of Prydain. He goes from being an awkward, rather whiny Idiot Hero to being a brave fighter who participates in multiple battles and even is a war leader in the last one. He meets and holds council with the land's High King and multiple princes and noblemen, with one lord offering to name him as heir to his lands. He's wise (said lord wanted to adopt him because Taran was able to use his wits to end a long feud between two bickering noblemen), kind, and inspires the Common Folk to rise up and participate in the war against Arwan. The series also ends with him becoming High King and marrying the beautiful, clever princess Eilonwy. On the other hand, he only gets most of those things by sacrificing most things he desires, constantly feels the pain of those who died under his command, and ends the series with his friends leaving him, and him considering the position of High King to be mockery, initially.
  • Tavi of Calderon from Codex Alera. So what if everyone outclasses you? You can kick their asses anyway! And they don't really outclass you, you're just a late bloomer.
  • Conan the Barbarian and Tarzan were and are both this for fantasy fans of a certain age. Big, heroic badass of a guy who has grand adventures and (for Conan) gets lots of hot babes? Sign me up!
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses: Feyre. She goes from an impoverished, unappreciated and relatively ordinary girl to the love interest of not one, but two extremely attractive and powerful faerie lords, is turned into a Fae herself with all kinds of rare abilities, helps save the world from Hybern and becomes High Lady of the Night Court, living in peace and comfort for the rest of her life in a beautiful city surrounded by all her friends and family. Within about two years of becoming a High Fae, she also finds her soulmate and gives birth to a healthy child, both of which are said to be rare occurrences for Fae.
  • Ender Wiggin is a mix. On the one hand, he is the smartest kid in the entire Battle School, and while not the strongest is clever enough to crush much bigger and stronger foes with ease. He's constantly hailed as the only hope the human race has of defeating the buggers, and manages to win every battle of the war, as well as in the Battle School. That is really cool to read as a kid, especially when you get to imagine yourself playing through all the fun sounding battle simulation games Ender trains in. On the other hand, Ender is constantly targeted by bullies, the people who hail him as a savior of the human race have no respect for his mental health and well being beyond being able to defeat the buggers, and the stress eventually starts driving Ender a little crazy.
  • Tyler Durden of Fight Club basically exists to pass on Testosterone Poisoning to the men of The '90s. This was subtly parodied in the book, but lampshaded like a mofo in the movie.
    Tyler Durden: I look like you wanna look, I fuck like you wanna fuck, I am smart, capable, and most importantly, I am free in all the ways that you are not.
  • Harry Potter, before the Cerebus Syndrome set in, his character is almost entirely this in the first book. As an abused orphan he suddenly discovers that he is rich, famous, and oh yes, a wizard. The following six consist of him slowing learning a: the magic world is just as messed up as the muggle one and b: It Sucks to Be the Chosen One.
    • A good way to see this is by reading any of the later books (especially Order of the Phoenix) and comparing them to the first: don't want to be Harry Potter anymore, do ya?
  • The Heralds of Valdemar series tries to subvert this trope. It really does. But...about half its protagonists escape dreary (and/or abusive) lives when a magical white horse takes them away to have cool adventures, so a degree of escapism is unavoidable.
    • Of note, the main character of the Last Herald-Mage Trilogy, Vanyel Ashkevron, endures a whole lot of suffering. His baseline state in the last two books is lonely and overworked. Still, he's very beautiful, powerful, and incredibly capable and important. Everyone who dislikes him either comes around to loving him, comes to see him as a paragon they respect highly, or just dies. He also has a lot of Gayngst, but his father gets Character Development and comes to love him and regret his former harshness, something a lot of LGBT fans appreciate.
  • Honor Harrington: The eponymous heroine is a starship commander, the most victorious admiral in either of her two nations' histories, the first or second highest ranking officer in both militaries, a powerful feudal lord in both those nations, filthy rich from prize money and her landholdings, is genetically engineered to be stronger and faster than the average human, has several bionic implants, is one of the few humans to be mentally bonded with a friendly but badass alien companion, benefits from a medical technology that will keep her young, vital and beautiful for centuries, and ends up Married both to a handsome, intelligent man and his kind and loving wife. To top it all off, every one of her victories, titles and ranks was earned by her own hard work, talent, and fierce determination. If only all of our toils paid off as well as hers!
  • The House of Night, is filled with these. *ahem* The vampyre race is persecuted by humans, despite being superior to them both physically and aesthetically (and having superpowers). Because vampyres are more creative and passionate than any human, they are responsible for nearly all intellectual and artistic advancements, ever. They're all incredibly wealthy, and so socially progressive that their society is ruled entirely by women. Most importantly, upon reaching puberty, a human may be chosen by Nyx and taken away to become one of these glamorous creatures of the night. (To be fair, though, this same process may kill them.)
  • Sara from A Little Princess is in denial about her (unconventional) beauty, filthy rich yet sweet to everyone, treated unfairly by the antagonists who eventually get their comeuppance, extremely smart, Wise Beyond Her Years and can speak fluent French. She is still a likeable character, with a little help from Grandfather Clause.
  • Lord Peter Wimsey has elements of this: Dorothy L. Sayers created the character when she was desperately poor and got a certain satisfaction from making him the richest and most self-indulgent man in London.
  • Lisbeth Salander from the Millennium trilogy. An uber-hacker, punk bad-ass (but still vulnerable), slim-bodied (then conveniently well-endowed), absurdly wealthy, master-of-disguise bisexual Manic Pixie Dream Girl GENIUS with a strong sexual appetite and a sympathetic Dark and Troubled Past? What's not to want? Blomkvist certainly fits the trope, as well.
  • Nancy Drew, a globetrotting, beautiful, upper-class teenage detective whose wits and courage enable tons of adventures and inevitably save the Victim of the Week (escapism isn't necessarily selfish, after all). Some scholars consider Nancy a feminist icon because the publication of her series encouraged 1930s women to seek the same freedoms she had.
    Macleod: Autonomy is [Nancy's] right, won by her responsible and intelligent management of practically everything, and it is never seriously questioned. The enviable ease with which she exercises her total independence of adult authority is as impressive as the independence itself.
  • Bobby Pendragon in the Pendragon books starts out this way when he writes in his journal about how popular he is, how good at sports and school he is, his Cool Uncle taking him on adventures etc. He spends the rest of the first book stressed out about his Traveler mission, refusing its Call, and making mistakes. Not cool.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians. So what if you don't do well in school, and your stepfather is a jerk? You're really a super-powerful demigod with Poseidon for a father, and you get to do cool stuff from now on! You even get to go to a summer camp full of people just like you! (This is likely why Rick wrote it in the first place — his son happens to have dyslexia and ADHD. Coincidence? Unlikely!) Though as with Harry Potter, Cerebus Syndrome set in, and became more of an example of It Sucks to Be the Chosen One.
  • Pippi Longstocking. Why does she get Super-Strength, lots of gold, a horse, and no parents around to tell her what to do? Because that was your fantasy.
    • Karlsson on the Roof, by the same author, is an escapist character, as well. He more or less gets away with everything (at least in the '50's) a child wished they could get away with, and go too far with things like tormenting thieves.
  • Rachel and Kirsty from the Rainbow Magic series are these for younger readers; they hang out with fairies and save the world from Jack Frost all the time.
  • The Scum Villain's Self-Saving System:
    • Luo Binghe was written In-Universe by his author to be the ultimate straight male power fantasy self-insert as an all-powerful and invincible God-Mode Sue who gets to wreak bloody revenge on everyone who wronged him, conquer all three realms without breaking a sweat, and have a gigantic penis that he uses to have amazing sex with literal hundreds of women. In the actual Scum Villain story, however, he's more of a Deconstructive Parody of this kind of character with the narrative constantly lampshading how over-the-top his protagonist powers and Plot Armor are and showing that what he truly desires isn't power, a harem, or any of the stereotypical male power fantasy things, but true love and acceptance that his original self never got.
    • Shen Yuan is a straighter example of this trope: while far from immune from the Deconstructive Parody narrative making things more difficult or humiliating for him, he still gets to transmigrate into his favorite webnovel to fix all the Plot Holes that annoyed him, save and/or improve the lives of a lot of characters, and get the all-powerful and gorgeous original protagonist to fall madly in love with him without even intending to.
  • Sherlock Holmes can solve any case, no matter how bizarre, and can identify a person by a strand of hair inside a hat! And right so inhumanly often. (People tend to forget the cocaine addiction and original shut-in nature.)
  • The protagonist of the Tairen Soul series is saved from her abusive fiancé when the handsome Sorcerer King of the Fey literally descends from the sky to claim her as his divinely intended soulmate and make her queen of the Fey. All of this happens in the first three chapters, and the wish fulfillment only escalates from there — not that that's a bad thing. (Oh, and she's also a magical prodigy who's able to wield the six elements with enough power to intimidate experienced mages, the only one who can save the Fey and the Tairen races from extinction, and secretly incredibly beautiful. Fortunately her biological parents cast a spell to hide that.)
  • Bella Swan (for The Twilight Saga's target audience). Her oft-complained about blandness was not a result of bad writing, but a deliberate decision on Stephenie Meyer's part so readers can step into her shoes more easily and experience what it's like to be loved by Edward Cullen. She's a very ordinary girl who effortlessly catches the eye of the perfect boyfriend and his beautiful, powerful, wealthy family, is fought over or secretly desired by every guy she meets, becomes an eternally beautiful and powerful vampire, and has just the right special power to protect her new family from a vampire army (which was already a strong, wealthy, moral group even before it leveled up by gaining such a priceless asset as Bella: a vampire who can render herself and others immune to many of the most powerful weaponized vampire abilities).
  • Firestar from Warrior Cats starts out as a bored pet kitten who escapes into the forest to live freely. He's courageous, handsome, The Chosen One and overcomes oppression to become the first kittypet-born Clan leader ever.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The writers of The Bionic Woman invoked this by having Jaime use her bionics to accomplish mundane tasks, just like any other normal person would do in the same situation. Who needs a can opener when you have a bionic hand?
  • Breaking Bad's Walter White is an interesting version. He's a lower middle-class teacher who gets crapped on in every possible way, including getting cancer...and he completely manages to turn his life around by living a double life as a badass drug dealer, getting wealthy, and commanding the respect of hardened criminals. A lot of people can identify with his initial hardships, and so we root for him when he starts kicking ass. As the show goes on, this makes it all the more disturbing when he gradually loses touch with his humanity, his family dissolves, and he begins indiscriminately killing anyone who gets in his way — becoming a Villain Protagonist. Because we're encouraged to identify with him in the beginning, his downfall carries the implication that we could go bad just as easily as him if given the chance. Interestingly, Walt's Escapist Character status ends up working as something of a Secret Test of Character for the audience. As Walt gradually begins committing more heinous acts over the course of the series, there will inevitably come a point when the audience stops fantasizing about being him and starts seeing him as the villain — probably when he finally does something that the viewer would never do. By pinpointing his Moral Event Horizon, we also end up learning how far we would really go if we were put in his shoes and forced to make life-or-death decisions to survive in the criminal underworld.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Doctor. Owner of an effectively self-powering, Bigger on the Inside time machine that lets him go anywhere in time and space he feels like — and no matter where that is, his ability to save the day lets him get away with acting (and dressing) like a complete lunatic regardless of cultural norms. Oh, and his travelling companions tend to be attractive twenty-something women. He doesn't have to work at a job, finds money to be a queer social construct he doesn't entirely get the hang of, and can go anywhere in time and space. The Doctor, like many of his geek fans, is never a rugged, muscular, Action Hero. He prides himself in saving the day using his wit, humor, and intellect instead of fisticuffs and guns. He is quirky and eccentric but still seen as a thousand times more charismatic than the traditionally masculine types. Oh, and when he gets old, he can just change into a younger, often sexier body. No matter your age, that's pretty fun.
    • The Doctor's companions are an Audience Surrogate who also get to be more grown-up, cooler and more fun than the children. Many, many children in the UK have grown up wishing the Doctor would whisk them away for adventures in his TARDIS.
      • Susan Foreman was added to the show for this reason. The two teachers were needed for the show's original edutainment premise, and then an innocent teenager and close relative of the Doctor was added so children could imagine themselves aboard the TARDIS.
      • Leela was created because Philip Hinchcliffe was concerned that the show lacked a companion that little girls would want to be, rather than one who always got rescued or who didn't have any cool features. She's an extremely strong and highly intelligent Action Girl from a warrior tribe selectively bred to embody the Doctor's courage and passion, with highly aware senses and a great outfit. She gets to come with the Doctor and learn about the world (and stab robots).
      • Russell T. Davies stated that Rose was intended to be this. She is an Audience Surrogate already, but also a young woman from a London council estate (housing project for American tropers) who gets picked out of her boring life to find adventure and love (!) with an alien much cooler than her current boyfriend.
      • The cosplaying Petronella Osgood is explicitly a big fan of the Doctor's. She's almost the canonical Whovian and she gets to run with the Doctor. SQUEE!
    • Daleks. It's been noted for half a century that children strongly identify with Daleks — it's often suggested that it is because they act like bratty toddlers (even having Ambiguous Innocence) but get to exterminate adults, allowing children to explore anger and hate in a safe way. The 60s comics even used Daleks as heroes because this was what children wanted.
    • In "Pyramids of Mars", when the Doctor shows Lawrence Scarman into the TARDIS, watch how Michael Sheard (who plays Scarman) chooses to play it — his otherwise adult character suddenly starts acting like an excited child. Sheard said that he hadn't known how to perform the scene, but then decided that his job was to 'live the dream of the children in the audience'.
  • Gentleman Jack: Leading lady Anne Lister is this for the show's (massive) sapphic audience. She's an intelligent and strong-willed businesswoman who's about as close to being openly gay as you could be in the 1830s (as in, basically everyone knows except for the extremely oblivious, sheltered, or closed-minded). She dresses exactly how she likes to dress, standards of femininity be damned, travels when and wherever she pleases, doesn't allow men to bully or talk down to her, charms nearly every woman she's interested in, and refuses to apologize for any of it. She's totally confident and self-assured, and spends much of the show gleefully running rings around polite society, being so blatant and open that no one knows what to make of her. Most of the queer women watching the show either wish they were dating Anne, or wish they were Anne.
  • Hannah Montana is a textbook example for the preteen girl demographic of the show: an average, dorky, unpopular girl who is secretly a beautiful, glamorous pop star whom everybody loves.
  • House: Dr. House, despite the chronic leg pain and occasional mental breakdown, is really fun to watch because he skewers stupid people without mercy. And he pretty much always gets away with it. Who doesn't want to be able to tell coworkers and customers exactly what you think of them?
  • Harmon Rabb, Jr. from JAG comes across as this. His character imperfections are few and far between and they pale completely when compared to his strengths: an Ace Pilot, Perry Mason quality litigator, a resourceful man of action with Ultimate Job Security, Tall, Dark, and Handsome, and Friend to All Children
  • Since he's a James Bond Expy, it's not surprising that James West easily qualifies. His partner, Artemus Gordon, gradually develops into one as well.
  • Jane by Design's Jane is shaping up to be this. She has multiple potential love interests, a fantastic job that comes easily to her, and all problems she has are quickly resolved.
  • Jason King: Jason King writes best-selling novels, travels to exotic locations around the world, seduces beautiful women by the busload, and has a knack for getting himself into and out of tight situations. And he does all this with his own individual and peculiar sense of style.
  • Back in the 70s, The Six Million Dollar Man embodied this in some ways (though Steve did have some problems his bionics could not solve). Interestingly, the other in-universe characters provided some counterpoint, there was another bionic man who had turned out to be psychologically unable to handle it, and Steve's lady-love Jaime Sommmers had recurring problems of bionic rejection that made her superpowers something of a double-edged blessing.
  • Power Rangers and Super Sentai: Many people can get behind the concept. Being a group of ordinary people, who can transform into superpowered heroes at will, and save the world from the Monster of the Week. That anybody of any background can become a ranger, and that having access to cool gadgets and powers, and being able to pilot (or transform) giant robots to save the day.
  • Aaron Sorkin practically builds casts around this trope, with Sports Night and The West Wing being the two big ones.
    • Sports Night was once described as the office where everyone wants to work (in contrast to The Office, where everyone does). Issac is the ideal boss, Dan and Casey are the friends/co-workers you wish you had, and the loyalty of the characters to each other is extreme. Whenever a group member has a problem, expect the characters to do rally around them, even when doing so would be firmly at odds with their stated job duties. The characters and their choices are wildly improbable and idealistic, but they're the gateway to a world in which people do the right thing.
    • The West Wing: Keeping in mind the above, but with the stakes raised from "cable sports show" to "the White House." Would any White House staff member ever be so idealistic and willing to put principles ahead of politics, let alone be so bold in their politics? See their rivals as human beings first and enemies second? Of course. Almost the entire cast falls under this trope, but Donna, the audience surrogate (who is treated very well despite being an administrative assistant), Sam, Toby, and Leo stand out for being incredible idealists with improbable skill-sets.
  • Star Trek:
    • The concept of serving on a Starfleet ship as a whole can be a fantasy fufillment for many people seeking strange new worlds, new life, and new civilizations while going where no one has ever gone before. Working on a spaceship with cutting edge technology, encountering the unknown with coworkers and friends without the present day stigma of racial and sexual societal norms, meeting new alien species and handling intergalatic crisis through guile and human emotions are some of the best values that Star Trek has to offer. A few characters from Star Trek stand out for one reason or another:
      • Data and Spock serve as the same sort of wish fulfillment archetype for socially awkward Trekkies. To wit, they're smart, respected, physically powerful, long-lived, and they're blessed with loving and devoted friends even though they themselves have never managed to master human social skills.
      • Riker. Has a killer beard, grew up in Alaska, knows martial arts, plays trombone, will wipe the floor with you at poker, isn't afraid to break the rules, unflappable (well mostly)... And then he turns out to be an augment exile in one of the books. Squee!
      • Kirk, the handsome, two-fisted, galaxy-trotting captain who calls the shots and bangs the aliens.
      • Jean Luc Picard was a more educated, articulate, enlightened alternative to the pulp-reminiscent Kirk. Arguably, Sisko and Janeway were a Darker and Edgier alternative to both.
      • Wesley was intended to be this to young viewers; a kid who could hold his own and had skills gradually prove himself to the crew as someone useful.
      • Worf also became this in many of the more Klingon-centric episodes. The Proud Warrior Race Guy is usually pretty popular with the Fanboys.
  • Malcolm Tucker of The Thick of It might be fascinatingly unsympathetic, but much of his appeal comes from the fact that he's exactly the kind of asshole that we've all wanted to be at some point while working an unrewarding, low-paying job. He's got a Hair-Trigger Temper, he curses at every available momeent, and he always speaks his mind...because he knows full well that he's the smartest man in his field, and he's so valuable that his bosses would never dare get rid of him.

    Manhua 
  • 13-Dot Cartoons was incredibly popular in Hong Kong in the '60s and '70s, but mainly among a much lower economic class than its Fiction 500 protagonist. Its audience could never afford the fancy clothes she wears or all the things she buys. Plus, since she's a dimwit, readers got to feel good about themselves even as they wished they were someone else. Notably, after the growth of Hong Kong's economy there no longer seems to be as much of a market for the series.

    Music 
  • Eminem likes to imagine his public role as a variation of this, discussing it in numerous songs like "The Real Slim Shady", "Sing For The Moment", "The Monster", and many others. While his Slim Shady persona is a clear Anti-Role Model, he also serves as an Indulgent Fantasy Segue for his audience with his revenge fantasies against his abusive family and school bullies that have wronged him. Eminem hopes his music helps his audience express feelings of fear and rage and hopes it will give them the energy to stand up for their own selves - in the same way as Eminem himself was a nerdy Bully Magnet getting abused at home who found escapism listening to N.W.A as a kid. (But don't... literally emulate Slim Shady, though. Unless you want to end up like Stan.)

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Kenny Omega derives a lot of his popularity from being the projected self-image of every geeky teenager who's ever wanted to be big and strong enough to stand up to their tormenters. He's famous for his unabashed love of video games, anime, and science-fiction — but he also happens to be a handsome and highly charismatic athlete with the physique of a linebacker. If your average wrestler is a high school football player all grown up, Kenny is their timid classmate who got mocked for reading manga in the cafeteria.
  • "Anti-authority" stables like the New World Order, D-Generation X and Bullet Club embody this trope. What disillusioned young person didn't wish to be part of a group of Anti Role Models that got the upper hand against pesky authority figures and do-gooders nearly all the time? Even longtime wrestlers are able to gain new fans by turning heel and adopting an attitude.
  • Much of the appeal of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin was that he said whatever he wanted and did whatever he wanted, got to beat up vile authority figures, and then cracked open a cold beer or six afterward. His act also involved infrequent use of Cool Trucks, to the point several monster trucks ran some variation of the "Austin 3:16" name under an official WWF license.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Escapist Character is the central premise of all tabletop role-playing games. From Bunnies & Burrows to Exalted, they all focus on allowing the players to run characters who aren't bound by the rules of that pesky Real Life.
  • Jace Beleren from Magic: The Gathering was explicitly designed to be this for the game's largest demographic, he is a shy, introverted creative person in his late teens to early twenties and he is the most popular of the game's colors among the fanbase (blue). He is also known for his great power, very strong cards, and anime hair. The official game font used for card titles as of Magic 2015 is even called Beleren.

    Toys 
  • Barbie is meant to be every little girl's fantasy come to life. She's been a doctor, a zookeeper, a fairy princess, The President, an astronaut, and many more, all while being as attractive and glamorous as they come.
  • The classic incarnation of Bratz was meant to portray a sort of idealized life for its target audience, essentially encouraging them to imagine themselves in the Bratz' shoes — they are loyal, fashionable friends who are popular at their school, know and partake in what's hip and get to hang out with a large group of like-minded friends, including a set of boys who pine for their affections.
  • Masters of the Universe: By the thinking of the original creators, kids have almost no authority or control over their lives. So what could be more irresistable for one than to be a Master of the Universe - to get to shout, "I have the power!"
  • The 2003-06 incarnation of Polly Pocket was pretty much designed to have the toyline's target demographic imagine themselves in her shoes; she's amazingly rich (up to and including having her own private island), fashionable, has a loyal group of friends that she formed a band with, and is the most popular girl at her school. Who wouldn't want to be like her?

    Video Games 
  • Kay Faraday from Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth is any fangirl's dream. She's a perky, smart thief who gets to tag along with Ensemble Dark Horse Edgeworth, is Gumshoe's bestest friend ever, most everyone is at least nice to her (even Jerk with a Heart of Gold Lang), and she even has a tragic past matching Edgeworth's so they have even more in common.
    • In the previous games, Maya, Ema, and Trucy can count as this as well. They all get to tag along and help out investigating crime scenes, are clever enough to make at least one helpful observation or contribution, become close friends with Phoenix or Apollo, and have some talent that really helps out (Maya's channeling, Ema's forensics techniques, and Trucy's magic tricks).
  • Asura from Asura's Wrath is definitely one of these. He's extremely powerful, and can punch out planet sized objects. He seems to subvert this somewhat, in that when his Old Master Augus thinks the way an escapist character should; fighting, eating, drinking, and sleeping with babes, Asura seems to not like it much, and is only focused on retrieving the daughter the 7 Deities took from him.
  • Batman himself in Batman: Arkham Asylum. Something is just so fun about terrorizing the inmates that it doesn't matter that, as normal, Batman is Crazy-Prepared. When one terrified opponent asks "What ARE you?", the urge to reply (out loud) "I'm Batman" is almost irresistible. This is to the point the developers, Rocksteady, explicitly stated that their games are about making the gamers feel as if they're Batman, making them fight like Batman and think like Batman.
  • Bayonetta is a badass glasses-wearing Hot Witch who summons demons with her Prehensile Hair and has a wide range of weaponry including a quartet of guns - two of which are attached to her shoes. She also gains some temporary power ups from eating lollipops.
  • Eddie Riggs from Brütal Legend embodies the zeitgeist of mid-to-late-2000s metalhead culture. He is a jaded roadie who feels his love for classic overdriven guitar riffs is underappreciated in the era of teen-oriented emo and Nu Metal music. He ends up in a world where his roadie skills allow him to create war machines and his guitar can make the emo kids' heads explode.
  • The entire Command & Conquer series bar 1 or 2 exceptions has faceless protagonists as the respective Commander or General of your chosen side (and even if not, the player characters are generally very cool). This allows players to freely act like any kind of military commander they would like to, while building giant bases, training swarms of infantry and sending out dozens of awesome tanks in all shapes and sizes, alongside mecha, aircraft and sometimes battleships. Or occasionally lone commandos who can cause more damage than Superman. Most games put the fate of the world into the player's hand and allow their side total domination of the world, while they serve (and sometimes usurp) awesome characters like Kane, Stalin, Yuri and others, who hand out military honours and congratulatory remarks by the bucket load.
  • The protagonists of the mainline Danganronpa games. The Closed Circle setting means they get to hang out with quirky, fun-loving teenagers all day without adult supervision, show off their brains by solving trials, and grow close to a cute, smart girl... and have to watch all their closest friends get horribly murdered, but details. This goes double for the extra modes where the killing game doesn't occur, meaning nobody has to be traumatized and none of the students you like die gruesomely.
    • In-universe, it's heavily suggested that the persona 'Celestia Ludenberg' is one to Taeko Yasuhiro. Taeko is a painfully generic Japanese schoolgirl, having a name that's basically 'Jane Smith', liking a common snack, with a completely plain appearance. When she discovered she did have something that stood out (her talent at games of chance), she took the opportunity to completely reinvent herself as an Elegant Gothic Lolita with a cool name, royal demeanor, unflappable poise, less common tastes (i.e. liking 'royal milk tea'), and intriguing title as the Queen of Liars. She gets uncharacteristically upset when her fellows uncover her mundane true identity during the third trial.
  • Dante of Devil May Cry. A witty, snarky, badass Half-Demon Hunter of His Own Kind who does all kinds of ridiculous over-the-top stylish stunts in both gameplay and cutscenes and runs his own kickass Demon Hunting business. Who wouldn't want to be as cool as him? Though he borders on subversion in the first game: sure he wields incredible power and kicks a lot of ass, but he's also shown to have a lot of Survivor's Guilt, be the Angsty Surviving Twin and can even verge on Sad Clown, depending on how his fears and traumas are interpreted. Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening on the other hand, takes this trope and runs with it.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim:
    • The Dragonborn, in spades. You start out as a random nobody who is about to get executed by mistake in the context of a rampaging Civil War, with Dragons suddenly showing up. Then it turns out you are some kind of Humanoid Abomination with the ability to absorb dragon's souls in order to get their power, as well as The Chosen One to save the world. You then proceed to take several level in badass, gain several titles, help end the Civil War by joining the side you want, join various factions to eventually become their leader, become the champion to various Draedric Princes, get various loyal followers and generally shape the country to you fantasy. And it's awesome.
    • The setting itself also appeals to this. You're essentially in Fantasy Scandinavia, in a land where fantasy Vikings and fantasy Romans are battling for control, where dragons roam, or as many fans had pointed out you're in Game of Thrones where fantasy Starks and fantasy Lannisters are battling for control, where dragons roam, and GoT is one of the many many many mods that can further the idea. Massive predators lurk, evil elves plot in the shadows, and thieves, werewolves, wizards, and assassins do their work. Everywhere you go, there's monsters to kill, bandits to put to justice, evil wizards to defeat, vampires to slay, and countless more badguys to battle. And when you're not looking for things to fight, there's the an absolutely jaw-droppingly wondrous environment to explore.
  • Lots of Final Fantasy protagonists.
    • The characters in I and III lack names, encouraging the player to name them after themselves and their friends.
    • Cloud Strife of Final Fantasy VII is a criticism of this trend, as it turns out he's an insecure and pretentious young man deluding himself into thinking he's a cool fantasy badass himself, and the overall moral of his character arc is to Be Yourself. However, it's fair to say that the reason he sticks so deeply in fans' hearts is because he's strong, intelligent, stylish, has cool magic powers, rides a motorbike, has a kickass BFS, and is so respected for his competence and so charismatic that he can act like an outrageous, negging Jerkass and still be adored by all the girls. (And all the boys.) Many of his appearances in his spinoff media and cameos emphasize this side of his character, to wildly popular but somewhat mixed results. Final Fantasy VII Remake moves back towards celebrating Cloud's outrageous coolness and Chick Magnet gorgeousness while at the same time letting him be "cringe-worthy", but, without the Heroic BSoD that occurs in the full story, it comes across as just another aspect of the escapism — Cloud's a useless nerd who can't talk to girls, just like you, but he's now in the Sexier Alter Ego of a peerless Super-Soldier whose social issues don't obscure his better side.
    • Noctis and Prompto in Final Fantasy XV. Noctis is a good-looking prince with the sexiest Cool Car ever to appear in the series, proficiency in absolutely every weapon, ridiculous magic powers over dimensions itself that all his friends are dependent on, a great outfit, a beautiful princess he's already engaged to, and a gaggle of friends who think he's the greatest thing ever. Prompto used to be an awkward, shy fat kid who lost weight, came out of his shell, and is now cool enough to hang around someone as cool as Noctis.
  • Sol Badguy from Guilty Gear is a rebel Bounty Hunter rocker who likes Queen and can turn into a badass half-dragon and Curb Stomp most of the cast with only half his potential power. His character is so absolutely over-the-top that he'd be a textbook Gary Stu if he wasn't so damn cool, or if he didn't actually have quite a rough past.
  • Gordon Freeman from Half-Life. Genius MIT graduate working in a secret research facility turned Action Survivor in the first game, then in the second he fills a role of leadership for an oppressed humanity. All of this mainly with a crowbar. He's essentially this trope in video game form. Could have something to do with him being a Silent Protagonist.
  • Master Chief in the Halo series, and especially Noble Six from Halo: Reach, since customization allows the player to identify even more with the Spartan who just happens to be as "hyperlethal" as Chief — and can even be female.
  • HuniePop is deliberately set up to let you be one of these. You, the main character, start out as a shy virgin who can barely even talk to girls, and, with some help from Kyu the love fairy, end up having sex with several beautiful girls, including a catgirl, an alien, the aforementioned Kyu, and finally the goddess of love herself, Venus. And you do it all by, essentially, playing Bejeweled.
  • Rico Rodriguez of the Just Cause series. Manly, yet suave, with a magic parachute, whose literal job is "blow everything in sight up"? It's like playing as the forgotten lovechild of James Bond and MacGyver.
  • Sora from Kingdom Hearts got to live out millions of kids' childhood dreams of being involved in various Disney Movies. Add being The Hero into the mix and he's officially become the Escapist Character we all dreamed of being as kids.
  • Meta Knight from Kirby. He's a Badass Adorable warrior who can not only go toe to toe with the greatest warrior in the galaxy and not only win, but win handily twice. Not to mention, he has a giant airship that looks like him, along with an army of loyal minions that are willing to die for him and follow him to the ends of the galaxy if they need too.
  • This trope is Commander Shepard from Mass Effect to a tee. You can choose to be the ultimate hero or the ultimate bad ass, you can customize Shepard to be most like yourself, most of the characters have a crush on you, and you go around saving the world and kicking ass, as well as becoming an intergalactic celebrity on a regular basis.
  • Solid Snake from Metal Gear is a subversion. The series starts by setting him up as an absolutely archetypal action hero (particularly the 80s action, Kurt Russell type), a classic Escapist Character. As the plot progresses, the player learns exactly how miserable and shattered Snake really is. Unfortunately, some players missed the point; Kojima decided to be a touch less subtle in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and gave us Raiden (an extremely vicious aversion of the trope) instead.
    • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots also highlights how unhealthy it can be to use first person shooter games as part of your escapist fantasies; not only does Snake have a lot of disdain for how warfare has changed due to social attitudes and technology, Big Mama has a long speech about how it helps mould people into viewing warfare as being just a game and possibly becoming soldiers themselves for the wrong reasons. To really drive home the point, it even shows an image of someone choosing to play the game, while emphasising how bad these games are! Moral of the story is that Kojima really doesn't want you to admire Solid Snake, or any FPS heroes who are like him. Snake's looks have faded (well, somewhat) and his body is breaking down, and he doesn't end up particularly important in saving the world either, instead merely acting as a disposable bodyguard to a plan hatched and implemented by Otacon, Sunny, Naomi... and Big Boss. Of course, he's still depicted as a cool and romanticised hero, so there's a definite Do Not Do This Cool Thing aspect to this.
  • Considering Overwatch setting about heroes, some characters really fit the bill more than others. Those that stand out include:
    • Tracer, a beamingly cheerful British pilot who totes a dual gun and perpetually cheerful, always constantly positive and fighting for common good in the world, with her motto being "The world could use more heroes." Helping things are the fact that she can reverse time and reappear in a place several seconds before her. Bonus points for being unashamedly lesbian and not being discriminated for it, making more lesbian people feel more awed by her.
    • Lucio, a funky Brazilian DJ who doubles as a freedom fighter and struck against a corrupt corporate from harming his people, becoming famous for that and spreads the good message of unity and freedom. He's loved by a lot of people, very social (except against anyone from that corporate) and his music, helped with his tools, can either heal people or stimulate them to move faster.
    • D.Va, a 19-year-old South Korean Gamer Chick who is an undefeated Starcraft pro, being conscripted by her nation's military in order to fight off giant robots that invaded her country, never losing optimism despite the horrors she went through and in fact streams her battles to lift her people's spirits and in battle, likes to pepper gaming jargon in battles, and also doubles as a celebrity.
  • The Phantom Thieves from Persona 5. The first arc involves an abusive and predatory gym teacher who gets away with everything until the protagonist and his friends stumble upon the power of Persona, which lets them fight back and force him to change his ways. They then proceed to help other teenagers defeat the adults who are ruining their lives in a similar way, before moving up to fighting the corrupt government.
  • Most Pokémon protagonists. You're a young child around 11 — 16 traveling the country without any adult supervision, and you never have to go to school. You get to fight villainous teams using often times cute animals with extraordinary powers. You become the best trainer in that region within a few months.
  • This is part of the reason why Chell from Portal is so beloved by female gamers. Who wouldn't like to be super intelligent and determined, with boots that allow you to survive any fall, and a gun that allows you to warp reality itself?
  • Alex Mercer in [PROTOTYPE]. Why? Shapeshifting with no squick, easy Instant Expert, and by the end of the game is a God-Mode Sue. However, everyone has wanted to be able to pick up a taxi and run down the sidewalk killing hundreds and that's just something you can do at the beginning. This game is the only stress relief you'll ever need.
  • Apparently, Tim Schafer designed Raz from Psychonauts to be this. This is why he's human; originally, the game was going to be about a psychic ostrich.
  • This is the point of the many, many player-named Shin Megami Tensei protagonists who only speak when the game prompts the player for dialogue choices: You get to put yourself in the perspective of some ordinary teenager who soon learns they they have access to demon-summoning abilities, whether it be through an impossibly high-tech wrist-worn computer or being granted the power to summon them without technology. You soon take levels in badass, decide for yourself what's the right way of reshaping the world and act accordingly, and eventually gain access to legendary gods and goddesses at your command.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sonic himself is one of these. He's fast, powerful, and incredibly acrobatic and has several powerful transformations. He’s also world-famous and very often written as being a Chick Magnet. Who wouldn't want to be him? His rebellious attitude towards authority and his laidback, casual demeanor only help to further allow the player to project themselves on the Blue Blur.
    • Shadow may be even more obvious. He's almost as strong as Knuckles, as fast as Sonic thanks to his jet rollerblades, uses guns, cars, cursing, and can choose whichever side he wants be on at any given moment. He's immortal, very intelligent, and pretty much has magical/super powers along with several transformations.
  • While most Touhou Project protagonists could well count, Sanae Kochiya seems to have been created specifically with this in mind, maybe even as an Audience Surrogate. She is a rather geeky human from the Outside World who gets to personally come to the fantasy world of Gensokyo, live with goddesses and experience the beautiful danmaku battles firsthand, a dream that many fans of the series share. She quickly adapts to her new environment and seems to have a lot of fun dueling the locals. She is not exactly a small fry on the Gensokyan steep power scale, either. The fact that she is a descendent of a deity and has (admittedly minor) divine powers herself does not hurt, either.
  • The Main Character of Summertime Saga is one for horny teenage boys. Despite being relatively plain in all other respects, he's hung like a moose, has sex with nearly every woman in townnote , gets the Alpha Bitch to dump her boyfriend for him, beats said Jerk Jock boyfriend into a pulp after humiliating him, and gets to hang out with Mario, John Wick, and Ivanka Trump before almost single-handedly disposing of The Mafiya, avenging his father's death, and ending up with a Cool Car, a beach house and a loaded bank account, and possibly becoming a father several times over (without the burdens of things like child support or having to invest any time in raising babies).
  • Tomb Raider: Multiple uses:
    • Lara Croft was probably the first video game character gamer chicks could project themselves onto. While it's debatable how twisted the character became since her first game to being mainly exploited for sex appeal, the fact remains she's an educated, badass, world traveling explorer and ass kicker extraordinary who is never portrayed as a victim and always in control of the situation. "She was Indiana Jones, but witty, measured, sophisticated. She shot first and asked questions later. She screamed only when seconds from death. She never, ever needed saving."
    • Tomb Raider (2013) seems to bring Lara down a bit from being so larger than life in an attempt to make her more relateable, but she still remains an untrained twenty something post grad with more academic know how than a chief archeologist, and once she takes a level in badass (a prerequisite for any origin story) she becomes unstoppable, taking out dozens of mooks (some of them several times larger than her) in minutes.
  • Wario is one of these. He's rude and crude with a thirst for wealth and treasure, doesn't abide by that pesky golden rule, and isn't afraid to speak his mind. He gets to consume junk food 24/7, fights bad guys with ease, has a loaded bank account, owns his own personal gold mine, several castles, multiple Cool Cars and even stadiums, and even owns and runs a successful video game developer/publisher.
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order: The Hero, William Joseph Blazkowicz, or B.J. for short. Implacable Man? Check. Older Than They Look? Check. Determinator? Check. Happily Married? Check. Master in being a soldier? Check. Hope Bringer? Check. Killing Nazis in the horde, in the most brutal ways possible? Check.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna ~ The Golden Country: Lora is a 27-year-old who is one of the "commonfolk", being a mere mercenary and being the only one of the 9 protagonists who isn't a royal or a Blade. She lives with, and is in love with, a man who happens to be the most renowned Blade in all of Torna, and gets along perfectly with said royals and their Blades as she sets off on her quest to find her mother, getting swept into the larger conflict to defeat Malos and even getting knighted. While she is presented as the main character of the game, in-universe she wouldn't be seen as this due to Addam's greater fame and reputation and his being The Hero of the Aegis War itself, making her situation easy to relate to and look up to for many people.

    Webcomics 
  • Tedd Verres of El Goonish Shive has a shapeshifter girlfriend and access to transformation technology. Elliot is also somewhat of this trope having recently developed superpowers particularly with respect to his reaction to being able to fly.
  • The title character of The Fancy Adventures of Jack Cannon. Sure, he doesn't get all the chicks (at least not yet), but he can beat you down faster than you can say, "Look out! Jack Cannon's about to punch you with his kung-fu-like action!"
  • Lyle Phipps of Great is perhaps the ultimate example of this trope. After being brought to the edge of the Despair Event Horizon when losing his job and his wife on the same day, he decides to hell with it and swears that from that day forth, he would be a badass. Which he promptly does. He goes to a bad part of town and challenges a street gang. Not only does he win, he becomes their leader, and helps the now-Neighborhood-Friendly Gangsters deal with their emotional issues. This eventually leads to him meeting a beautiful woman who marries him, and the two of them take over Lyle's new father-in-law's noodle shop, becoming multi-millionaires whom everybody looks up to. He also has such great charisma that he is able to create a self-help program that actually works, through sheer force of personality alone. Eventually, however, his wife becomes a better chef than him, leading to him going off on his own to improve himself some more, but realizes that he doesn't need worldly success to be happy, and contents himself with running a small noodle stand at the park.
  • The Kids in Homestuck (at least in the early arcs before things get really dark). They essentially end up living in a RPG Mechanics 'Verse where they acquire a variety of awesome abilities, craft lots of cool powerful items, fight monsters, and go on epic quests, all while getting to make friends (well, for a loose definition of "friends") with a bunch of alien kids.

    Web Originals 
  • The Bastard Operator from Hell stories became popular with system and network administrators and help desk personnel in the 1990s and 2000s, since the titular BOFH could get away with doing things to his users and other staff that tech support people frequently wished they could (up to and including blackmail, gaslighting and property damage).
  • This trope forms the core of the "comfort character" ideal on social media. It doesn't matter which character one may choose for that status, they generally need to have some traits one can identify with and find comforting in a way.
  • Dragon Ball DC: Kakarot Kent. He is a Composite Character of Son Goku and Superman, who were already famous examples of this trope.
  • Kirk in The Gungan Council is based heavily off of the Kirk, and generally flew around in a ship blowing up things and getting lots of tail. However, averted due to having a terminal disease.
  • Discussed in Izzzyzzz's video essay about Mary Sues. Izzy describes how most Sues are created by teenaged authors and artists, and that being a teenager is generally terrible, especially if you're a nerdy type who gets picked on at school and have trouble making friends. Many kids use their art and writing both as a creative outlet and a form of escape, and that often takes the form of a self-indulgent, idealized character who the creator either sees themselves in or wishes they were, who gets to have fun adventures and be beloved by everyone and have epic magic powers and Impossibly Cool Clothes and a sword while they're at it. For a lonely, bored teen, it's quite therapeutic and fun.
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-1230 is built on this. It's a book where you read it, and the next time you fall asleep you enter an extremely complex dream world where you are the protagonist of a troubled land. These worlds change depending on the user's expectations of fantasy adventure and years can pass inside the dream though you are not asleep for any longer than normal. The book has a consciousness and appears as a benign old man, but he warns users against trying to substitute their personal fantasy for reality. Though classified as Safe, all personnel accessing 1230 are required to undergo psychological examination before and after using the book, after an incident where a professor (who was also an avid player of tabletop roleplaying games) tried to enforce I Choose to Stay and committed suicide when the attempt to keep his personal fantasy going on forever failed.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: Finn the Human Boy lives in the fantasy world of every kid's imagination, enjoys fighting evil with Charles Atlas Superpower, and has a talking, stretching dog as his brother and sidekick. When he's not adventuring, hangs out with the likes of a living video game console and a sexy, fun-loving, and all-around fun vampire girl in a Treehouse of Fun with a room full of gold. Unfortunately, things get rougher as he grows older. Namely, dealing with different sides and hidden secrets of his friends, the ramifications of being (possibly) the last human alive, and most painfully, dealing with his love life with very little guidance and no prospective romantic partners that match both his age and his species. note 
  • Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog: Sonic in an ace of a superhero who always wins against the bad guys, usually very easily. He’s powerful, clever, and the fastest thing alive, as well as being very popular with girls and a world-famous celebrity who’s loved and respected by everyone. To drive the point home, Sonic’s sidekick, Tails, idolizes him and talks a lot about how cool he is.
  • Amphibia: Marcy Wu is living out the dream of anyone who's ever read a Trapped in Another World story and found themselves saying "I Wish It Were Real." Unlike Anne, she takes to Amphibia Like a Duck Takes to Water, becoming absolutely beloved in the city of Newtopia and having been taken in by the King himself, who is a fatherly mentor figure towards her. She trains in both combat and magic, and takes several levels in badass compared to the absentminded nerd she was back home. In Amphibia, her smarts and love of fantasy fiction are what make her cool and competent, and she and her two best friends are having an amazing adventure in a world beyond her imagination. Her whole situation is likely to be the envy of any socially awkward, nerdy viewers. And all this takes a turn for the worse in the second season finale, which reveals she selfishly got herself and her friends stuck in Amphibia on purpose, and doesn't even realize what she did was wrong until she sees her friends' horrifed reactions. To make matters worse, the events of the show end up deepening the already-present cracks the the trio's friendship, when her whole motivation was to make sure they could stay together. Oh, and the wise and benevolent mentor she found? He's a tyrant who was only using her, and stabs her In the Back as soon as she turns on him. Her desire to live out her fantasy made her very easily manipulated, and cost her and her two dearest friends everything.
  • Ben Tennyson from Ben 10 for all kids who would like to turn into superpowered aliens and go on exciting adventures. Even more so in the sequels, where he eventually gets Famed In-Story and becomes a Chick Magnet.
  • Bugs Bunny. As Chuck Jones put it: "We love Daffy because he is us, we love Bugs because he is as wonderful as we would like to be." This could very well be the appeal of the Karmic Trickster, defying the laws of physics to stay several steps ahead of your foes in the most hilarious way possible.
  • Danny Phantom: Before Daniel Fenton was turned into a half-ghost, he was your typical down-on-his-luck 14-year old dealing with bullies and the turmoil of school life. After getting mutated, he now gets to have amazing adventures fighting evil, takes on his tormentors with ease, meets all kinds of wild and crazy beings and has near-singlehandedly saved the world a few times. He is also a Chick Magnet and although he starts out as a Hero with Bad Publicity, he later becomes loved by the public, to the point that he appears on magazines, newspapers, and billboards, and gets mobbed by fans.
  • The leads of shows like Dexter's Laboratory, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, The Fairly OddParents!, and Codename: Kids Next Door. What kid didn't wish for an Improbably High I.Q., Fairy Companions, or access to a secret organization loaded with Bamboo Technology to invent or wish their imagination to life and help them out of childhood's many jams? Even relatively normal kid protagonists are still able to go out and have amazing adventures without adult supervision.
  • DuckTales (2017):
    • Scrooge McDuck is rich beyond belief, talented at nearly everything, is smart and able to think his way of everything, and has a loving family and employs colorful and interesting people. Who wouldn't want to be in his shoes?
    • In spite of his Jerkass behavior, Gladstone Gander is so lucky, people can't help but wonder what things would be like if they had his kind of luck.
  • Futurama: In the 20th century, Philip J. Fry was your typical down-on-his-luck Idiot Manchild who would never amount to anything. 1000 years into The Future, and he's landed a steady job traveling the cosmos, interacting with all sorts of crazy aliens and robots, and has even been instrumental in saving the world a few times.
  • Gargoyles: David Xanatos. Xanatos is rich, successful, charismatic, handsome, a fighter capable of taking on the world's greatest warriors in single combat, and so intelligent that he named two different planning tropes, always coming out on top. The catch? He's the villain. Though the Gargoyles are our heroes, and Xanatos must often be stopped for the good of others, it's hard not to want to be the Evil Genius Xanatos is presented as.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic gives us an In-Universe example in the form of the Daring Do books that Rainbow Dash becomes a fan of. Daring Do is an Adventurer Archaeologist in the vain of Indiana Jones who is fast, strong, smart, and an all around capable explorer who always gets the treasure and beats the bad guys. It's safe to assume that pretty much every pony in Equestria wants to be like Daring.
  • Phineas and Ferb, especially Phineas, are imaginative brothers who have the know-how to build awesome inventions that can make everyone happy, have a loyal circle of friends, get to meet all sorts of wacky characters and beings, and even have a pet who leads a double life as a secret agent.
  • Rainbow Brite: Wisp enters Rainbowland seeking to return it to its former glory. In the end, she becomes Rainbow Brite, the leader of the Color Kids, who are in charge of making the world a brighter place. She has the ability to take down powerful villains with ease, explores fantastical settings, gets to meet all sorts of wonderful and wacky characters and beings, and has a loyal companion and even two pets who are nearly always by her side.
  • Spoofed in an episode of The Simpsons with Biclops, a nerdy superhero who wears glasses that resemble Milhouse's and spends his time beating up jocks.

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