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Heroic Wannabe

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"The truth, Walker, is that you're here because you wanted to feel like something you're not. A hero."
Col. John Konrad, to Walker and the player, Spec Ops: The Line

A specific form of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism and the Wide-Eyed Idealist. A Heroic Wannabe is a person so intent on the idea of becoming a hero that that person is willing to do just about anything, and can tend not to think about what being a "hero" really means or what you have to do to become one. Darker cases may suffer from Black-and-White Insanity, or more seriously from being involved in Engineered Heroics.

Very prone to becoming a Tragic Hero and often have a Spirit Advisor or Cool Old Guy as an advisor trying to warn the character of the reality — not that the Heroic Wannabes will ever stop long enough to think about what they've been told. Is about equally played straight (usually as buildup to something bad or a Break the Cutie moment) or the character is used as Plucky Comic Relief in an otherwise serious show. Also, inevitably, prone to the Pretender Diss, from just about everyone else involved in the work in question. In stories involving themes about being A True Hero, this character may get chastised for their self-centered motives.

Compare The Chosen Wannabe, Never Be a Hero. Compare and contrast Big Bad Wannabe (A character desires to be a dangerous villain, but lacks the mindset and resources for the role.)

See The Gunfighter Wannabe, Super Zeroes, and Young Gun for Western-flavored variants of this character and the Kid Samurai for the Eastern.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Arifureta: From Commonplace to World's Strongest: Kouki Amanogawa is summoned to another world to be a hero and he takes his role with gusto, but while he is powerful, he is so stupid, naive, hypocritical, egotistical, suffering from major Black-and-White Insanity problems, and constantly underestimates his opponents and overestimates his strength that he becomes a liability and a nuisance.
  • Attack on Titan deconstructs this with several characters, showing the dangers of getting caught up in trying to be a hero.
    • Reiner Braun is greatly admired by his comrades for his strong sense of duty and tendency to put the needs of others before his own. He repeatedly puts himself at risk to save others, leading Connie to wonder if he's always been the sort to volunteer for the most dangerous tasks. Childhood friend Bertolt darkly notes it's always been one of his worst habits, confusing the others. In truth, Reiner was a troubled child that was raised believing that becoming a "hero" would reunite his broken family and save his people. Unlike the other children in the Warrior Program, he genuinely believed in the propaganda and thought exterminating the humans living within the Walls would make him a hero. When he realized everything was a lie, he began a downward spiral that would eventually lead to him going insane from guilt. After being exposed as the Armored Titan and essentially losing everything, he becomes a jaded Shell-Shocked Veteran desperate to prevent his younger cousin from repeating his mistakes.
    • Krista Lenz's traumatic past leads to her Stepford Smiler tendencies, and desire to be seen as a "good" person by others. This results in her essentially looking for a way to die as a "hero", so that people would praise her. When a comrade collapsed in the snow during a training exercise, she tried in vain to drag him back to the base camp. Ymir ended up calling her out for her behavior, pointing out that Krista hadn't asked for help in carrying their half-dead comrade and was fully prepared to get them all killed as long as people would end up praising her sacrifice.
  • Code Geass:
    • Interestingly, it's strongly implied that Lelouch Lamperouge is this, as indicated by several in- and out-of-universe factors. For example, he's a fan of Tokusatsu and Word of God says that his voice actorsnote  were chosen in order to show that Lelouch is trying very hard to be something that he's not.
    • His best friend Suzaku Kururugi is also this — Suzaku has the heroic motivation of making things better for his people, does not believe that the ends justify the means, and tries to sort things out diplomatically with his enemies in the hopes of getting them to see his point of view and end conflict peacefully. The problem is that he's in service of The Empire, which does not care about his people at all and fights tooth and nail to avoid being changed. His claims that the ends do not justify the means prove hypocritical because the empire he's supporting is complicit in such evils as genocide and any attempts to be an Internal Reformist are hampered by the fact that said empire could not care less about him. In fact, he often comes off as worse than Lelouch, due to his views occasionally dipping into Black-and-White Insanity. It's eventually revealed that this is because Suzaku killed his own father to avoid the latter getting Japan wiped out when Britannia first invaded. Suzaku harbors immense guilt not only for killing his father, but never being punished for it. While he does believe his rhetoric to some degree, his real motivation is to die in battle to atone for his sins.
  • Suppaman from Doctor Slump. Despite claiming that he is the "Champion of Justice", he is a petty Jerkass that's more than willing to get revenge on people that supposedly wronged him.
  • Reluctant Mad Scientist Dr. Hedo in Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero idolized superheroes to the point he wore a costume under his lab coat, and wanted to create the Ultimate Life Form to protect Earth. To that end, he created the sentai-styled Gamma twins with his funding from The Remnant of the Red Ribbon Army.
  • Fate/Prototype: Fragments of Sky Silver: Tatsumi Kitano eagerly joins the Holy Grail War when he learns about it, seeing it as a chance to become a hero, despite having no training or experience. Not only does he quickly get himself killed, he gets brought back as a zombie and forced to attack people until Assassin gives him a Mercy Kill.
  • Franken Fran has an extremely disturbing example, even by this series' standards. One of the Sentinels literally gets a high from pursuing vengeance, so whenever he gets in a fight he arranges for the maximum amount of collateral damage. Then he swears to the dead that he will avenge them and starts off anew.
  • America from Hetalia: Axis Powers is this. However, before WWII, he doesn't sport this attitude.
  • High School D×D: Cao Cao is the descendant of the original legendary hero Cao Cao. His greatest dream is to be called a great hero himself, to the point that he gathered the descendants and reincarnations of other legendary heroes and called their group the Hero Faction. Unfortunately, none of them understand that the point of a hero is to help people. Instead, they think the point of a hero is to become famous, and are willing to commit atrocities to achieve fame. Even when the protagonists tell Cao Cao that they are acting like villains and no one would ever call them heroes after the shit they have pulled, he refuses to stop. Later, after getting beaten several times, the Hero Faction seems to finally get it and aim to atone for their crimes.
  • Magical Circle Guru-Guru gives us two examples. First is main character Nike's father, who dreamed of being a Hero but was forced to give it up due to there being no evil to be Heroic at. He therefore raises Nike to become a Hero and, when evil does return, sends him out to battle it. The second example is Gail, who appears nearly Once an Episode, faces the current crisis claiming himself the 'True Hero', only to get beaten down and/or humiliated immediately after.
  • In My Hero Academia, registered superheroes get government funding, and successful superheroes get admiration from the public. Thus, there are a lot of people who take crime-fighting as a job for the money and/or publicity, with varying levels of competence. This attitude is so prevalent that a Hero Killer, Stain, has appeared seeking out superheroes with such vain motivations to kill them and has racked up a pretty high body count.
  • Sayaka Miki in Puella Magi Madoka Magica, once she becomes a magical girl (even dressed in a costume with a cape) sees herself as a hero, saving Mitakihara from witches and their familiars. Until it goes horribly downward with her once she realizes what she really is and what transpired from her not-so-selfless wish, confesses she's been stupid as she is driven to despair, and ultimately becomes a witch.
  • Utena Tenjou from Revolutionary Girl Utena desires to become the saintly Prince who saved her as a child, and most of the series deals with deconstructing, subverting, and arguably playing straight this concept as Utena is essentially sent through Hell and back, and that's before we find out that her memories of her encounter with the Prince are anything but fully accurate. Especially since the prince in question, Akio Ohtori, is the Big Bad and a manipulative domestic abuser.
  • Sailor Moon: Umino went through a period of running around in a Tuxedo Mask costume and trying to protect Naru and be her hero so she would fall in love with him. Since he's just a wimpy geek with no fighting skills, he doesn't accomplish much (except for one scene where he stops Zoisite from attacking Naru just by showing up because Zoisite mistook him for the real Tuxedo Mask and retreated), but Naru eventually falls for him anyway.
  • Katsushiro from Samurai 7 — the character notes even say that he was supposed to look like his equipment had never been in a real fight before. Kikuchiyo from the same series is similar, though more in a Plucky Comic Relief sense.
  • Leopold Scorpse from Scrapped Princess follows the heroine out of equal parts sense of chivalry and growing feelings for her.

    Comic Books 
  • In All Fall Down, several spring up after The Fall to fill the void of the ex-superheroes. They are permanently discouraged by The Ghoul.
  • The William Burnside Captain America, the infamous "Commie-Smasher" Cap, was retconned into this. He was a fanboy of the original Captain America and tried to become Cap during the Korean War, going so far to surgically modify his looks and voice to resemble Steve Rogers. When America lost the Korean War, Burnside lost his chance... until the Communist Red Skull appeared and he and his young sidekick Jack Munroe donned replica costumes of Cap and Bucky and used a Nazi reverse-engineered Super Soldier Serum to save the day. Too bad the serum was missing an important component and the two went crazy in their anti-Communism attacks
  • The aptly named superhero fanboy "Wannabe" in Seth Green's Freshmen, who was the only student out of the dorms when the Applied Phlebotinum exploded and gave all of his classmates superpowers.
  • Kick-Ass spawns a costumed superhero craze, so no wonder people start dressing up like him. The fact that he is a superhero wannabe himself adds to the hilarity.
  • In Six-Gun Gorilla, the Gorilla accuses Blue-3425, an ex-librarian turned living video camera, of trying to spin the situation he's in so that he's the protagonist of one of the stories only people like him remember:
    Gorilla: You ain't a @#$%in' savior. And you ain't important on account'a your intentions, or your desires, or bein' in the midst'a the damn action. You're lookin' in the wrong direction.
  • Overdrive in The Superior Foes of Spider-Man is an odd example. He's not just not a hero, he's a fully-fledged villain, albeit one who tends to fanboy over superheroes in the middle of fights. But he's a villain who hasn't given up on his original plan to be a superhero and points out that the Heel–Face Turn path to The Avengers worked for people like Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch.
  • The heroine Wannabe from Todd Nuack's Wildguard had no powers (but wasn't about to tell anybody) and was desperate to be a real superhero.
  • Wonder Woman (2006): Maxi Man has super strength, but he's only qualified to sign signatures and has no training or know how when it comes to helping others or even defending himself. As he's no tougher than an ordinary human he ends up knocked out by a bit of debris while yelling at the agents assigned to protect him about how he is not useless and they are the ones who save the day when the roller coaster behind him starts coming down. He fits here rather than under Super Zeroes because he won his title in a lottery and is essentially a theme park mascot rather than a hero despite wanting to be one.

    Fan Works 
  • Danganronpa: Memento Mori: This is deuteragonist Daigo Bushida's Fatal Flaw; after finding himself in the Killing Game, he becomes so obsessed with the idea of being the hero leading everyone else that he's willing to throw away his life.
  • Half Past Adventure: This is one of the defining character traits of the main character, Macy.
  • In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, the Mega Crew are this, doubling as a shout out to The Dark Knight's Batman wannabes.
  • Surprisingly one of the chapters in Parentheses Anti Fluff Drabble has Ben perceiving himself as one.
  • Spectacular Seven: Moondancer sees herself as the hero of her story, but her arrogance, need for attention, and jealousy at Sunset for "stealing" Twilight from her clouds her judgment. She is so obsessed with getting her way, she would risk the world and release Tirek for a chance at glory.
  • Vow of Nudity: Walburt spends the early chapters boasting to Haara about how their "noble quest" is the start of their valiant journey that will turn them into heroes of legend. Once they actually reach the Genasi mines and he witnesses the cruelty and injustices on display within (beginning with the bodies of two dead miners left to rot after suffocating on toxic fumes), he quickly sobers up and abandons that sort of lofty talk.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Dark Knight opens with a group of Batman-wannabes trying to bust a mob deal, but get in over their heads within a few moments. The real Batman rescues and chastises them for trying to do Batman's job without Batman's training, experience, or equipment. In a Too Dumb to Live fashion, one of them is later captured and killed by the Joker.
  • Mr. Furious in Mystery Men cultivates an anti-hero persona; he rests his laurels on an exaggerated story where he lifted a city bus (he pushed it while the driver accelerated), and tries to lend himself mystery with false names like "Phoenix Dark," "Phoenix Dirk," "Phoenix Dark Dirk," and "Dirk Steel" before finally admitting his name is actually Roy. Subverted in that when faced with an actual crisis, he actually does become superhumanly strong and agile when angered.
  • In Richard Jewell, Jewell is portrayed this way, which causes the FBI to suspect him of Engineered Heroics.
  • In Rush Hour 3, Lee and Carter repeatedly run into a taxi driver named George while in France, who at first despises the duo for being violent Americans and have to be strong-armed into driving them, but after ending up in a Chase Scene against Triads and doing surprisingly well, he gets a taste for the adrenaline and begs them to get in on further "super-spy" action. The duo naturally decline since he's just a civilian, but they do take him up on his offer of chauffeuring them around for free. In the Post-Climax Confrontation, just as Reynard appears to execute a hostage, George appears to shoot the man dead.
  • Sonic at the beginning of Sonic The Hedgehog 2 is seen trying to foil a bank robbery in Seattle. While he does succeed, he also causes copious property damage in the process. Even the hostage he rescued, far from feeling grateful, told Sonic how much his attempt at heroism sucked.
  • Mysterio in Spider-Man: Far From Home attempts to become "the next Iron Man" by creating fake city-destroying monsters for him to defeat. However, he's in it more for the fame and glory than any real desire to do good, as well as to spite the memory of his old boss.
  • The Suicide Squad: Polka-Dot Man is a truly heartbreaking example. All he ever wanted was to be and feel special after the horrific experiments performed on him by his mother to give him superpowers. But his personality, amorality and some unspecified crime he committed cut that dream short. He gets a chance to achieve his dream in the climax after landing a serious blow on Starro, proudly declaring himself to be a hero shortly before he's crushed by the Conqueror.
  • The main character (and arguably his sidekick, Boltie) of Super is this. He dons the identity of Crimson Bolt to take revenge on the criminal who stole his wife and to cope with the emotional trauma that it caused. His crime-fighting intentions are genuine, but he is by no means a traditional heroic figure.

  • Animorphs: In The Andalite Chronicles, Elfangor and Arbron were two rookies who eagerly joined the war hoping to become heroes. By the time they achieve this (Elfangor becoming a hero to the Andalites and Arbron becoming a hero to the Taxxons), they have learned War Is Hell and are jaded and full of regrets.
  • Taran of The Chronicles of Prydain starts out as this status, but over the course of the books, Character Development takes hold. And by the time he becomes a real hero he no longer believes in them.
  • DeGuiche in Cyrano DeBergerac, a cowardly, selfish, petty man who wishes to be just like his comrade Cyrano.
  • Discworld:
    • Malicia from The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents is a bit too Genre Savvy for her own good, and tries to cast herself as the Feisty Young Amateur Investigator who Saves The Day and Keith the piper as the comedy relief, when it's Maurice and the rats who are the real stars of the book.
    • Much earlier in the series, the cast of Sourcery included Nijel the self-proclaimed Barbarian Hero: a grocer's scrawny kid who was learning the art of "heroing" from a mail-order pamphlet, Inne Juste 7 Dayes I wille make You a Barbearian Hero!.
  • Older Than Steam: Don Quixote's was obsessed with becoming a knight (to the point of fighting windmills because he thinks they're giants).
  • In Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly, shiny-eyed Gareth loved heroic ballads and dreamed of great deeds... but he met his hero and other participants of the feat.
    "Poison?" Such foulness clearly pierced him to the heart. "Harpoons? Not a sword at all?"
    Jenny shook her head, not knowing whether to feel amusement at the boy's disappointed expression, exasperation at the way he spoke of what had been for her and hundreds of others a time of sleepless, nightmare horror, or only a kind of elder-sisterly compassion for the naivete that would consider taking a three-foot steel blade against twenty-five feet of spiked and flaming death.
  • Billy and the Alphas of The Dresden Files are somewhere between this, Ascended Fanboys and Girls and Jumped at the Call, as while they are basically a college D&D group, they became a pack of werewolves who are surprisingly good at what they do.
  • Par Ohmsford from The Heritage of Shannara desperately wants to be a hero, and is thrilled when he's given the chance to become one. However, unlike his cousin Wren, who is a capable Action Girl, or his uncle Walker, who has significant magic at his disposal and has lived alone in the wild for years, Par has never been anything other than a storyteller. Even his Master of Illusion powers don't help him much at first, he requires far more assistance than he thinks he does, and even after he gains Reality Warper abilities, he's captured and has to be rescued.
  • The title character from Joseph Conrad's Lord Jim. Unfortunately, the universe he lives in is not nearly as idealistic, and it is in part due to his own character that he ends up a Posthumous Character.
  • Sharpe: Poor Ben Perkins. He's made a Chosen Man, ignores the advice of an older and wiser man to turn it down, and ends up murdered by a traitor from his own side.
  • Tamora Pierce's Alanna is shown to have some elements of this when she first sets out to become a knight in Song of the Lioness, but it's not much followed up on.
  • Quentin Coldwater of The Magicians wants to find a life of adventure and heroism in Fillory, albeit mainly out a childish desire for stimulation and purpose in life. It ends up getting his friends hurt, heartbroken and even killed.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrow: Laurel wants to be a badass vigilante like her sister Sara, ex-boyfriend Oliver and his Team Arrow companions, but lacks the skills - and often the logical thinking - to manage it. Her Season 3 arc is her trying to hit the streets and save people to "let out the anger inside of her" only to get beaten up or saved by others. Oliver and Team Arrow aren't shy about telling her to back off, especially as they keep having to bail her out of trouble when they have other issues to deal with. On the other hand, this is also partly their fault as they refuse to work with her or train her, leaving her with with no way to get the skill she needs.
  • Batwoman (2019) has a more sympathetic example in "A Narrow Escape" where an unnamed woman wearing a cosplay Batwoman outfit tries to inspire Gotham after Kate Kane takes a 10-Minute Retirement. Mary twice has to treat her for serious injuries in her illegal clinic; after the second time Mary tells Kate she needs to put on the Batsuit again as good people are getting hurt in her absence.
  • Billie from Charmed. She even turns evil, but then turns right back once she realizes it involves killing something other than demons.
  • An intern on Grimm is eventually outed as a hero-worshipper of the main character, Nick. He pretends to be a Grimm himself, believing that all Wesen must die and murdering two Wesen before Nick captures him. He is revealed to be a Wesen himself.
  • When Tim Kring was showing his wife the character ideas for his new show Heroes, she noticed that none of the Heroes enjoyed having their powers and that it was somewhat depressing. Thus, Hiro (get it?) Nakamura was born — as the personification of this trope.
  • Captain Freedom (played by Dennis Dugan) from Hill Street Blues, a homeless man with a penchant for justice who provided several Pet the Dog moments for the precinct's gruff detective, Mick Belker.
  • Jessica Jones (2015) season 2 sees Trish Walker living vicariously through Jessica's superheroics, to the point that she begins to desire having powers of her own, undercuts Jessica's own investigation into IGH, kidnaps Dr. Karl Malus at gunpoint and makes him perform a risky surgery on her.
  • Kamen Rider Taiga (of Kamen Rider Ryuki) kills his mentor and his best friend, all to fulfill his delusional wish of becoming a hero.
  • Boone from Lost is a particularly sad example. From his first scene in the pilot (giving CPR to Rose), he's constantly trying to be a hero....and failing miserably. he does the CPR all wrong and Jack has to save Rose. He fails to save Joanna from drowning, almost drowns himself and has to be rescued by Jack. He stands guard but falls asleep, allowing Ethan to kill Scott. Taken to the most tragic extreme, he climbs into the beechcraft in an attempt to radio the outside world, only for the plane to plummet off of a cliff, during which he sustains fatal injuries and eventually dies.
  • In The People v. O. J. Simpson, despite his abrasive nature, it's established that Johnnie Cochran genuinely wants to be a hero for the Los Angeles community and tries to use the trial of O.J. Simpson as a means to showcase his ideals of fighting discrimination. After winning Simpson's freedom, however, his rival Chris Darden lets him know that he'll only ever be remembered as the man who helped a wealthy, well-connected man beat a murder charge. Cochran is left in painful Stunned Silence after that.
  • Flynn from Power Rangers RPM in his childhood was a lover of comic books and wanted to help people. He went a little overboard - failing at being a cop (he tried to arrest the mayor's son), a fireman (caused water damage trying to save an old lady's goldfish) and in the Peace Corps (led a rebellion with the indigenous people). Unlike most examples, he actually gets to become a hero.
  • Joxer from Xena: Warrior Princess, who ends up making a Heroic Sacrifice to save Gabrielle.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Most of Nikki Roxx's more embarrassing or horrific defeats were half The Worf Effect and half this trope. She is a big strong wrestler but nowhere near as big or strong as she thinks she is, as seen in various runs such as All Pro, LLF and SHIMMER but none more apparent than TNA, where her efforts to be helpful lead to The Beautiful People, who eventually ended Roxxi's TNA career.
  • Phoenix, a bully out to rid pro wrestling of "all the plastic excuses for women" so she can then focus on "all the worthless men", who wants to be looked up to by "all the little girls". Like a true bully and unlike a hero, she tends to freakout in the face of opponents she knows can hurt her (MsChif, Boogeyman)
  • The unifying trait of the Lucha Family, most obvious with Leva Bates, who styles herself a superhero and feels the need to stop members of the locker room she knows have bad intentions but in a more subtle way, both Los Ben Dejos (Jay Rios and Eddie Cruz) think of themselves as motivational role models whose job is to elevate the spirits of the audience and locker room, which often sees them suffer indignities. Mia Yim meanwhile is another example of a wrestler who is big and strong but not quite to the extent she thinks she is.
  • Alberto Del Rio's gimmick after turning heel in the process of defeating Dolph Ziggler. He thinks of himself as a hero to the Latino people, but as Ricardo Rodriguez points out, Del Rio doesn't do much that is actually heroic. He was also matched up against Rob Van Dam, who was a baby face variety (unless you consider jobbing heroism).

  • Benjy from Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues is a kind-hearted boy who wants to use his newfound superpowers to help others and do good in the world. The problem is that said superpower turned him into a giant, acid-spitting bug monster that hulks out into an even bigger, monstrous form when his emotions are volatile.

    Video Games 
  • Duran from Avalon Code desperately wants to be a hero, but his cowardice prevents him from doing much of anything, leaving it up to Yumil (or Tia) to use the Book of Prophecy to inspire him.
  • In a much more twisted example, Quincy Sharp from Batman: Arkham Asylum. He has deluded himself into believing that he is Gotham City's true savior and that he is the only one who can make it better. Naturally, Batman has to rescue him.
  • Handsome Jack, the Big Bad of Borderlands 2, is utterly convinced he's the hero who's going to use the power of the Vault to conquer and tame Pandora. Unfortunately, he's also convinced that he's justified in doing all sorts of horrible things to his employees (who are expendable), the people of Pandora (who are all "bandit scum" in his eyes), and anyone who gets in his way (like the Vault Hunters and the Crimson Raiders).
  • A big theme in Crisis Core where Sephiroth inspired desire to be heroes in Zack, Cloud and Genesis. Most of the game centers around their bumpy road towards achieving this.
  • At the start of Dhux's Scar, a man named Dario assaults the titular character, a cursed angel that's just vaporized a woman and her son. He gets his hands blown off and his head pulped for his troubles.
  • Almaz in-game title in Disgaea 3 is "Wannabe Hero" which pretty much says it all. Then Mao breaks the Fourth Wall to steal his title. Almaz is a downplayed example as he lacks the skill of a true hero (he decided to try to defeat the Overlord at level 5), but not the heart. His interactions with Mao ends up changing both of them for the better, and in the normal ending this ends up derailing the Big Bad's plans and elevates Almaz to the title of true hero.
  • BioWare did it with poor foolish King Cailan of Dragon Age: Origins, who walks straight into a trap set by his Treacherous Advisor Loghain at Ostagar due to his desire to be a hero like in the legends he loves and dies when Loghain turns his back on him and leaves him and every Grey Warden with him to die at the hands of the Darkspawn.
  • At one point in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, you must navigate the Cave of the Incarnate, a haunted locale filled with the lingering spirits of people who tried to fulfill the Nerevar prophecy before you came along and died in the process. The game is deliberately ambiguous on whether your character really is The Chosen One or just another Heroic Wannabe who was luckier than the previous ones.
  • Emiya Shirou from Fate/stay night wants to be a "Hero of Justice", following in his foster father's footsteps. Pretty much everyone around him tries to warn him of just what a bad idea this is, but it becomes the most pronounced with Rin and Archer in the Unlimited Blade Works route. In Archer's timeline, he took every opportunity he found to act as a hero, sacrificing everything else for the sake of others. His obsession led to him being ostracized and eventually killed as a scapegoat. Even when he died alone he didn't regret following his dream, but his existence as a Counter-Guardian changed that.
  • Shingo Yabuki from The King of Fighters series idolizes Kyo Kusanagi, to the point of mimicking his moves and speech. He's training to be as good as Kyo, and is convinced that he, too, can "shoot fire."
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Groose from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword thinks he's The Chosen One, mostly trying to be a hero for the Standard Hero Reward and the glory that such a thing entails. When Groose learns that he's not the Hero of Legend, he doesn't react well at first. But, thanks to some character development, he decides that he'll help Link become the hero that will save the world instead. Thus, Groose ends up becoming heroic only when he decided he didn't need to be a hero.
    • Hyrule Warriors has Linkle, a more idealistic example. A cuccoo farmer who believes herself to be the reincarnation of the legendary hero thanks to her grandmother saying so and giving her a mysterious compass. When she hears Hyrule Castle has been attacked, she takes this as a personal Call to Adventure and races off to go be a hero. The trope gets played with in that while her No Sense of Direction means she never catches up with the main conflict and her lack of common sense worries everyone she encounters, she learns to take care of herself and actually helps clean up a few of the A-plot's messes when the main party had bigger fish to fry. She'll never be the legend she thinks she is, but she's heroic all the same.
  • Conrad Verner from Mass Effect. He's Commander Shepard's number 1 fanboy but hasn't got the brains to recognize that he's not anywhere near skilled enough to follow his/her example and become a Spectre. It's up to the Commander to keep him from getting himself killed. Or not.
  • Copy X from Mega Man Zero is utterly convinced that he is the heroic savior of humanity and that the Resistance is filled with Maverick Reploids trying to ruin that. While his actions have resulted in humanity's comfort in the current energy crisis in the Crapsack World, it's come at the cost of him branding innocent Reploids for being Maverick on flimsy excuses and "retiring" them by the hundreds to conserve energy. It never seems to occur to him that trying to research new energy sources instead of genociding sentient beings would be a much more heroic thing to do, and those who try to call him out get branded as Mavericks too. Because how could a "perfect" copy of the great X ''ever'' be wrong, you ask?
  • Khamsin from Metal Gear Rising is the only member of the Winds of Destruction to have actually heroic intentions (liberating Abkhazia), and actually could be a hero if he could only work on his complete lack of social skills and get a brain in his skull. He's a lot like a certain depiction of Zangief in that he works for the "Winds of Destruction" and doesn't realize he's working for the bad guys.
  • Nok-Nok the Goblin Hero from Pathfinder: Kingmaker, a comedic example. He knows his goddess has made him The Chosen One who will become a great goblin hero, but being a goblin he has no clue as to how we will become one. As such he latches himself onto the Player Character in the assumption you're there to guide him to his heroic destiny, which the player character can either encourage or refocus onto his near-supernatural ability to make everyone around him laugh with his hero-wannabe antics.
  • Persona:
    • In Persona 2: Innocent Sin, there's a young girl who's convinced that she's the reincarnation of the Mayan warrior Ixquic and ends up being used by the bad guys as she tries to be a great heroine. It eventually leads to her being trapped in a burning building. Poor thing. Thankfully, she survives the experience and pulls herself back to reality again, deciding to become a manga artist instead.
    • In Persona 3, most of Junpei Iori's motivation to help SEES is based on his desire to be a genuine hero. This desire causes him to rush into dire situations without any forethought, become intensely jealous of the Main Character for his role as The Captain of the group, and even reveal his Secret Identity to a girl to gain recognition (a move that later backfires horribly). He eventually grows out of it, though, and by the time of "The Answer", he is arguably the most level-headed member of the party.
  • Miyamoto from the Richman series is a bit player or a mere employee of a movie magazine who dresses and acts like a samurai since he watch too many history drama, and he's mocked for connecting anything with bushido and speaking old fashionly. However, unlike most of the examples, he actually has some improvements like having a Friendly Rivalry with a ninja named... Ninja.
  • Spec Ops: The Line:
  • Luke fon Fabre from Tales of the Abyss. All it takes is Van telling him that he'll be a hero to get him to completely ignore everything everyone else in the group tells him (even his long-time best friend and the one who practically raised him, Guy), split off from them when they're in a city infected by dangerous miasma, and then unleash a power he can't control when Van tells him to, resulting in the destruction of Akzeriuth and the deaths of hundreds of people. So basically, he goes from a Heroic Wannabe to Nice Job Breaking It, Hero all in one go. Yeesh.
  • Illidan Stormrage from Warcraft grew up being told he had a great destiny because he was born with rare golden eyes. Being told that all his life fed his ego and much of his personality revolves around how he has to be the one to save the day and get the girl, though he grows to resent his twin brother Malfurion for being the one to actually do that in the War of the Ancients. Eventually he became a Well-Intentioned Extremist and Unscrupulous Hero branded as a villain by those around him. Best summed up in a quote of his in World of Warcraft's Well of Eternity dungeon:
    Illidan: I will be the savior of our people! I WILL FULFILL MY DESTINY!
  • This trope is built into the game mechanics for Yandere Simulator. If you kill someone in front of a witness, their reaction will be based on their persona- Dangerous (the Student Council), Strict (Teachers) and Heroic (some students) will attempt to apprehend you themselves, Social Butterflies will run to a place with people (and call the cops), Teachers' Pets will tell their preferred teacher, Loners will run out of school and then call the cops, and Cowards will run away, but not call the police. However, certain students have others that they're particularly close to, like Saki with Kokona, Pippi with Ryuto, the Basu sisters with each other, the Photography club with each other, and anyone you've matchmade with each other. When you kill one of such a pair where the other can see you, it doesn't matter what their personality is- they're coming after you as if they had the Heroic persona. And you'd better be ready for a struggle because their strength will be maxed out, even if they were incapable of self-defense beforehand.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: Jaune enters Beacon Academy because he's driven by the desire to be a hero like multiple generations of his male ancestors have been. He is tormented by the idea that he's just a walking joke and that he constantly seems to fall short of what a hero is supposed to be. Being unable to save lives, including those he cares deeply about, takes an enormous toll on him. It's not until he goes through this that he begins to understand the price of being a hero is far more costly than the fairy tale depictions of them present. In Volume 9, he is so tormented by his failures that he unintentionally holds the Paper Pleasers hostage for years just to experience the cheap thrill of saving lives, sabotaging his own, and even Team RWBY's, attempts to get home as a result of his misplaced fears of the Tree. Seeing the reincarnated forms of the Paper Pleasers making a beautiful sculpture out of the water that destroyed their previous forms makes him realise what he's been doing. Weiss tells him that even the greatest heroes fail; he needs to stop holding himself to impossible standards and just accept he's a brave and good person who tries his best. Finally accepting the truth enables them to travel to the Tree and locate Ruby; when he's exposed to the Tree's hallucinogenic smoke, an image of Alyx — whom he once tried and failed to help as the Rusted Knight — tells him that he was never the hero, but that if he does truly want to be one, then he needs to be himself and try his best. Only by accepting what everyone's been telling him about his unheroic behaviour is he able to begin the process of growing out of the trope.

  • Chris in Errant Story. Unfortunately for him, in this webcomic, you actually have to be seriously dangerous to be a main character.
  • Dave Strider of Homestuck exhibits some Heroic Wannabe traits— he's expressed a fixation on becoming a "hero" and seems to be willing to sacrifice anything to save his friends. Except the former isn't true— Dave's childhood Training from Hell inflicted by his older brother ruined the concept of heroism for him. Dave doesn't want to fight, get hurt, see blood, or hear metal noises, but the narrative keeps forcing him to adopt a "reluctant hero" role.
  • Anthony, of The Players Guide To SISU, is desperately struggling to be seen as a full-fledged hero, but hasn't made it yet. Possibly because of his elf obsession.

    Web Video 
  • Miles Luna in Ten Little Roosters believes himself to be the hero of the bit and does show some heroic tendencies, such as trying to find a way to escape the studio and trying to find and stop the killer. He even goes so far as to don Lindsay's Ruby Rose costume with the belief that thinking like her will help.

    Western Animation  
  • Billy Billions of Ben 10: Omniverse decides to create his own hero team in order to compete with Ben. It barely lasts more than a week before the teammates tear each other apart.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: In "Littlest Planeteer", a young boy named Jason is obsessed with becoming a hero and saving the day. Since he keeps charging forward without thinking and trying to use things he knows nothing about (up to and including the Fire Ring), he just keeps making things worse.
  • Danger Mouse: The opening of the episode "There's A Penfold In My Suit" has Penfold putting on one of DM's jumpsuits under the delusion it will make him as heroic as DM.
  • Catman from The Fairly Oddparents keeping trying to be a hero, but he's so stupid and crazy that he just becomes a nuisance.
  • Green Lantern: The Animated Series: Prince Ragnar of Betrassus was obsessed with becoming a Green Lantern. When he was told that the power rings seek out new wielders upon their current ones' death, he decided to murder Duloc, his planet's current Green Lantern hoping that the ring would come to him. It didn't work as the ring instead went to his sister, Queen Iolande, so he tried to kill Kilowog to get his ring but was found out. He eventually did get the power he sought in the form of a Red Lantern Ring, fueled by his rage and newfound hatred for the Green Lanterns.
  • Booster Gold from Justice League is a thrill-seeker from the 25th century who traveled back to our time to become a hero for fame and fortune, and because of this he is only trusted with the absolute lowest-profile jobs like crowd control. Ironically he ends up saving the day, unbeknownst to anyone else in the league (as they were busy fighting Mordru) when he saves a scientist who had been left with a black hole in his chest after a bungled experiment. He doesn't get any fame or glory; in fact, he gets outright chewed out by Batman for abandoning his crowd control post, but at least Dr. Tracy Simmons knew of his heroism and invited him out to dinner.
  • A bumpkin mouse dressed up as Mighty Mouse to impress his girlfriend. She's not, and the little guy is overcome by bullying cats. Just as they're about to pounce, the real Mighty Mouse arrives, beats up the cats and lets the bumpkin take credit for it.
  • Moomintroll of The Moomins. He tries to be the hero so very, very hard.
  • In The Owl House, Emperor Belos is ultimately revealed to be this. As spelled out by the Titan in the finale, all of Belos' actions in the series—including trying to genocide the witches of the Boiling Isles—are driven by his incessant need to be the hero of his story, uncaring of who he hurts along the way.
  • Princess Morebucks from The Powerpuff Girls dreams of becoming a Powerpuff Girl, but her brattiness, ineptitude, and sheer poor disposition make her a terrible hero, to say the least.
  • On South Park, the members of Coon and Friends manage to do some good deeds in their superhero identities, but are no match for Cthulhu, with the exception of actual superheroes Mysterion/Kenny and Mint-Berry Crunch/Bradley. The Coon/Cartman is a darker example: self-aggrandizing at best, his attempts at "heroics" easily dissolve into wanton acts of evil because, as Mysterion puts it, he can't tell the difference between "good" and "good for him." Especially considering that, up until Cthulhu shows up, The Coon's "heroic" acts consist almost entirely of ruining other superheroes so that he'll be the only one around.
  • In the episode "Cyborg the Barbarian" from Teen Titans, the antagonist is a barbarian named Krall who conspires with a witch to send an army of slug-like monsters to attack his people so he can defeat them and become a hero. However, the creatures prove too strong for Krall, so he asks the witch for strength to defeat them and she brings Cyborg from the future. When Cyborg finally learns of Krall's treachery and confronts him, he begs the witch for the power to defeat Cyborg and is turned into a larger version of the slug-creatures. He then attacks his people a final time, now commanding the monsters.
    Krall: I may have failed you as a hero, but I will triumph as your conqueror!