These are special kinds of heroes who just dont care about their great power, or the fact that they're world-famous adventurers, or the idols of millions, and so on. Despite the great power they possess, they always defer to their friends or allies, and rarely want to take the spotlight, even when their friends encourage them to do so. This isn't caused by low self-esteem nor by guilt. The characters honestly and truly dont think of themselves as any better than anyone else, despite the great deeds they've done, or the inspiration they've become. In fact, such praise usually just embarrasses them.
Heroes of this type will often have their hands full with individuals who are Easily Impressed, and will often come to the aid of such a person and spend the rest of the episode trying to get them out of their hair or increase their self-esteem. The catchphrase for this sort of hero is "I was just doing my job" or "It was what anybody would have done" or "I'm Not a Hero, I'm...". They're also likely to point out who they think are The Real Heroes, or when told "you did it", respond "No, we did it." Humble heroes aren't too fond of flattery or grand gestures, and the simplest gesture is often the most valuable. They may not even protest a rank demotion, being too humble to care about rank at all.
This type of hero is often a result of Upbringing Makes the Hero especially if such a hero to have Muggle Foster Parents and be Happily Adopted. If a hero isn't this at first but becomes one later, it may be the result of a powerful instance of Break the Haughty. Going towards an even darker route, a villain who has undergone a Heel Realization and a HeelFace Turn usually feels the need to make up for the wrong they've done thereby becoming The Atoner, where they become a more humble person as a result of knowing the price of pride and arrogance.
One of the traits of an Ideal Hero. Tends to overlap with the All-Loving Hero as humility is usually one of these characters defining character traits and the Magnetic Hero as it's their humility to endears them into the hearts of everyone around them. Also usually a character trait of The Paragon as this type of hero wishes to set the example that power rests in the hands of everyone. This is often common in Nice Guys as well (particularly those with simplistic lifestyles or have little need for luxuries).
This is often a main characteristic of the Messianic Archetype and The Cape. See also Heroic Self-Deprecation, where the hero acts humble because he thinks he's a loser. Can turn into Martyr Without a Cause when taken to ridiculous extremes. Contrasts with It's All About Me, the Smug Super, and the Glory Seeker. If Beauty = Goodness, then expect the World's Most Beautiful Woman to also be the height of humility. They may be paired with a more arrogant rival and form an Insecure Protagonist, Arrogant Antagonist duo.
- In A Certain Magical Index, Touma Kamijou saves anybody in trouble he sees and has even saved the world a few times, but he doesn't care at all that nobody really notices his efforts.
- Eren Yeager from Attack on Titan gradually morphs into this as part of his character development. He goes from a stubborn hothead with severe anger issues to a more thoughtful and introspective person who admits he's not strong, and has made a lot of mistakes, yet continues to fight because many people have put their hopes in him, and even a weak person like him can make a difference.
- Son Goku from Dragon Ball, who only really cares about fighting strong opponents and pushing his limits as a martial artist, but has saved his universe several times over (and the Earth in specific a few more times than that). In Dragon Ball Super he openly says that he doesn't see himself as some kind of savior and that he helps people in need because that's how his grandfather raised him.
- Pretty much the entire main cast of Dragon Ball is this, fighting villains either out of self-interest or because it's the right thing to do. The heroes are more than willing to let Mr. Satan/Hercule take all the credit for the exploits because they don't care about the limelight and are perfectly content in their normal lives. The first episode of Super centers on Satan trying to give a 100,000,000 Zeni reward to the Z-Fighters since he doesn't feel right keeping the money they rightly earned; Vegeta rejects it outrightnote , and Goku almost does the same until Goten and Satan convince him that bringing home that much money would make his wife Chi-Chi extremely happy.
- Takiko Okuda of Fushigi Yuugi: Genbu Kaiden. (Overlapping, at least initially, with Refusal of the Call and consistently with Heroic Self-Deprecation.)
- Ippo Makunouchi from Hajime no Ippo. Aaaaaaw, Ippo.
- Subverted and Played for Laughs in Kaguya-sama: Love Is War. During the Kyoto class trip, Shirogane notices Hayasaka's Quiet Cry for Help and does resolve to help her, but his attempt to do so ends up making it worse, as Kaguya's brother manages to track them down. When Kaguya later thanks him in Chapter 187 for helping Hayasaka, he tells her that it was nothing, with the narrator saying that it really was "absolutely nothing". The way he says it makes it look like he is just humble about it, when it really is just him going along with what Kaguya thinks.
- Nanoha Takamachi from the Lyrical Nanoha series holds the title of the Ace of Aces, i.e. other aces acknowledge her as their better, — except she never actually uses it, or does anything else to stand out. The savior of several worlds and of countless lives resides in a small house in the suburbs of Midchilda, raising her daughter and occasionally showing up at work despite her maternal leave. The fact that her biggest role model seems to be her own mother Momoko, who is a bakery proprietor by trade, may have something to do with it.
- Ranka Lee from Macross Frontier remains modest even after becoming a super-star, and claims that saving people's lives with her songs isn't anything special.
- Tenma in Monster, who never takes credit for his good deeds and maintains that all people are equal despite conspicuously being better than everybody else in every imaginable way.
- One Piece has The Hero Luffy who despite having a lot of accomplishments on his belt enough to obtain a fleet of 5600 people, he turns it down saying he regards them as friends and that they should just do their own thing. This in turn allows them to form the Straw Hat Grand Fleet.
- Saitama of One-Punch Man is a bit zig-zaggy with humility. His goal is not fame and fortune, but he'd still like for people to appreciate him and his heroics. That and he was actually very upset when he realized that, after three years of independent hero work, he was recognized by absolutely no one because he wasn't registered with the Hero Association. But overall, he is a hero because he wants to be, and will gladly ruin his own reputation to prevent other heroes from being spat upon because one Ungrateful Bastard can't appreciate having his life saved. Genos considers this humility the greatest lesson Saitama didn't realize he was teaching.
- Pokémon trainer Ash Ketchum is a Spirited Competitor who is immensely proud of his team, but he never lords it over his friends and he always helps those in need without demanding anything in return.
- Rosario + Vampire: The Newspaper Club has defeated several dangerous enemies that were dangerous to society, but they never print their heroic feats on paper. However, there are still some rumors about them, causing them to be The Dreaded for some students.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann's own Simon, who sees himself as nothing more than "Simon the Digger."
- In Tiger & Bunny, Kotetsu T. Kaburagi/Wild Tiger is considered to be mostly a joke of a superhero by his bosses and by people who watch HeroTV. Nonetheless, not only does he refuse to quit, but he insists on putting his heart and soul in superheroics, to the point that he gets a bit irritated when others don't show the same devotion to their jobs. When Karina/Blue Rose is struggling over her own priorities, she decides to ask him what makes him stick to it despite the frustrating, thankless nature of the job. His answer?
Kotetsu: I'm a hero because I want to save people. Isn't that enough of a reason? I don't really care if anyone acknowledges me or not.
- Played with concerning Yami Yugi from Yu-Gi-Oh!. Despite saving the world numerous times, winning every tournament he fights in, and being crowned King of Games, he does not go looking for fame, has no problem with his friends not addressing him by his title or true name, and is confident in his skills but only brings it up when he's about to take the wind out of the antagonist's sails. Played straight with regular Yugi, who never brags and is one of the sweetest of the show's characters, though it's somewhat justified considering he was not the primary architect of the above feats, and the series puts great emphasis on friendship and teamwork as an enabling force.
- Izuku Midoriya of My Hero Academia is this. Unlike some of his other friends, he isn't out looking for fame or praise, just fighting in what he believes is right. He seeks to be someone like his idol All Might, never lords over anyone with his Quirk and aids anyone in need. He's probably the only other hero to match Stain's twisted view of heroes.
- Being a reporter in his Secret Identity, there is no way that Superman is unaware of how the world views him. But he's denied being the world's greatest hero multiple times, usually remarking that The Real Heroes are the people who work to change the world every day who have no special powers. Humility is one of the character's core traits. Batman notes in one issue of Batman/Superman that the temptation to use his powers in order to force his will on others isn't something Superman battles, because the thought never even occurs to him. And that, more than his powers, makes Superman such a great hero.
- Captain America, and to be honest, that's the Aesop to his character. Captain America embodies what he believes to be the idyllic and optimal standards of his countrymen. If he believed he were better than everyone else, his principles would be wrong by default. This trope is the reason why most attempts of replicating Cap end in failure. That and shady government programs from across the world keep bringing in serial killers and sociopathic soldiers for their experiments with predictable results.
- Most versions of Spider-Man also fit this trope, following their initial Character Development. Peter could very easily have been the showboating jackass that Jameson likes to pretend he is. But he'd rather spend his time saving lives and battling supervillains than making himself rich.
- While he would rather devote his free time to saving more lives, Samaritan of Astro City attends tribute dinners and accepts awards only because he doesn't want to hurt the feelings of the people who give them to him.
- Before Samaritan, there was the Silver Agent, the example that others aspire to. When one hero praises the Agent after a battle by saying they could not have won without him, the Agent demurs by assuring him they would have found a way.
- Lucky Luke, probably inspired by the same Western trope as The Lone Ranger (see below). He never stays around after the problem is solved, when the townspeople (or sometimes the president of the United States) want to reward him for his heroic feats.
- The title character of Mark Millar's Huck is a superpowered Gentle Giant who likes to do good deeds and isn't interested in publicity.
- In Before Watchmen: Minutemen, Silhouette saves hundreds of children from exploitation, and yet never expects any adulation for it. This is sharply contrasted with the Silk Spectre, who actually hires people to pretend to rob jewelry stores so that she can very publically "thwart" them and look like a hero.
- Captain Marvel qualifies as well. While he's known as "The World's Mightiest Mortal", it's a title others have given him, not one he flaunts himself. He'll usually blush at any compliments given to him and accepts any praise with good-natured humor. It's implied that Billy's humility is one reason the Wizard Shazam chose him since flaws such as Pride were what caused Black Adam's fall.
- One idea posited is that when Cap mentions that he has the Strength of Hercules, he isn't bragging about his power. Instead, Cap is acknowledging the beings that have given their powers to him, and giving them credit for his heroic acts.
- Wonder Woman is not only a superhero but also a princess, but doesn't brag and takes everything and everyone seriously and earnestly, seeing for instance no shame in taking a job as a Burger Fool in Wonder Woman (1987) and after being late on multiple occasions due to her heroics considering herself unworthy to keep coming to work when her coworkers are trying so hard to make ends meet.
- Wonder Woman (1942): During the Golden Age there was a Running Gag in which people would attribute Wonder Woman's less public rescues to Steve Trevor, which drove him mad and had him occasionally yelling at his superiors. Even though he usually helped he didn't feel like he deserved any accolades or credit for something that someone else had primarily accomplished.
- In the Worm x Dishonored crossover fanfic A Change of Pace, according to the Outsider, Legend struggles with this, wondering if he's doing good because it needs to be done, or if there's an ulterior motive he doesn't want to admit.
- In Bait and Switch Lieutenant Commander Reshek Gaarra got a medal for saving the USS Spruance from a warp core breach, but he doesn't consider what he specifically did to be all that noteworthy, even though his captain did.
- Greg from Friendship Is Optimal: Always Say No is very modest about his heroic actions, and quick to pass them off as nothing special.
- Kyoshi from the Avatar: The Last Airbender fic Kyoshi Rising; she is uncomfortable with receiving special treatment from anyone, and insists that people call her "Kyoshi" instead of "Avatar".
- Racer and the Geek gives us Sunny Breeze, a badass veteran and unsung hero with a tendency towards self-deprecation.
- The uncle of Songs Uncle Sings is like this.
- Surprisingly, Stormfront from Stories from the Front. Surprisingly, because as a nymphomaniac Pegasus mare, she's exactly the sort of character whom one would expect to boast, but she doesn't — about anything. Save by implication, and only to her own diary.
"I knew enough to operate a welding torch and reseal the coolant line and I suppose they considered that worth a medal."
- In the Star Trek fan-made video Prelude to Axanar, this is how Captain Sonya Alexander describes fellow captain Kelvar Garth. She says that he likes to downplay his heroism during the Four Years' War, especially in the Battle of Cygnus III; he certainly does so, attributing his successful maneuver to luck and Alexander giving him the opening he needed.
- Kyoshi in Ageless felt guilty that she outshined Ban - the Avatar that led a splinter group of the water tribe to populate what would eventually become Kyoshi Island - so she made sure to erect a shrine for him.
- In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, Izuku is a Kryptonian with a whole host of Combo Platter Powers, including Super Strength, Nigh-Invulnerability, and seven types of vision. He doesn't think they're all that impressive when compared to All Might's Quirk, even as All Might's jaw is hitting the floor after hearing about Izuku's abilities. When he gets to U.A., he insists that he's just a normal guy when the rest of his class is gaping in awe at what he's capable of.
Kyouka: So I know you asked us to stop talking about you so much, but your power is really amazing, Midoriya.
Izuku: Yeah, people keep saying that, but I don't really think I'm that special. I'm only able to do all of that because of the way my body absorbs sunlight, so without that, I'm just a normal guy.
Itsuka: Good to know we can beat you just by sitting around for five billion years.
- In Codex Equus, there are many individuals of this type in the Codexverse, despite the setting being a World of Badass.
- As stated by her Codexverse entry, Scarlet Bell, known as "the Whistleblower", is rather humble and only sees herself as an ordinary pony who did the right thing. In fact, it's partially because of this that she moved to the Grittish Isles and lived a quiet life in Hornbridge, wanting to get away from the public attention she received for her actions as a filly. Furthermore, she serves as a living example of the potential for people to do good in the Codexverse, regardless if they're legendary heroes or not.
- Blue Suede Heartstrings is a justified example. Much like Elvis, Blue had a devoutly religious upbringing, and his humility became one of his defining traits. He hated being called "the King [of Music/Rock and Roll]" because he thought there were certain individuals who more than deserved his titles, and after Ascending to godhood, he preferred to appear as a mortal because he didn't want to be treated differently for it. Appropriately, one of his divine domains is Humility, which he uses to help redeem prideful individuals. It also led to him becoming friends with Fluttershy Posey of the Mane Six, being legendary individuals who are humble despite their great powers and positions. However, Blue's humility is also one of his biggest weaknesses - because of his experiences with arrogantly abusive celebrities/managers in the Second Age, Blue often gives himself too little credit even when it's well-deserved. To this day, Blue's friend, Prince Stoltur Skjöldur, the Deer god of Evil and Pride, has been encouraging him to have a little more pride in himself, as having too little pride is as bad as having too much. Many benevolent deities, including Queen Dazzleglow, are interested in Blue because of his humility, which they believe might help Equus break free of the malicious/complacent arrogance that is keeping it vulnerable to various disasters and cycles.
- Used against Severus Snape in Elsewhere, but not Elsewhen. After banishing Harry to an Alternate Universe, Voldemort strolls into Diagon Alley in the full light of day. When Dumbledore tries to confront him, Voldemort doesn't rise to the bait and instead gives Dumbledore all the rope he needs to hang himself by letting him declare Harry is safe. Pulling one of the kids' adventure books featuring Harry from Flourish and Blotts, he savages the entire line and the idea that he was ever the brilliant promised prince, instead showing his awful life at the Dursleys' and Dumbledore's willing complicity in it. This immediately destroys Snape's entire image of Dumbledore and prompts him to immediately attack him, certain in the knowledge he'd completely failed Lily's memory by collaborating with Dumbledore.
- A Dance On The Mats: Anon is a downplayed example. He's pretty damn snarky toward his opponents, but he'll always offer them genuine praise.
- Manolo from The Book of Life isn't one to brag about himself.
- Steve Rogers' humility in Captain America: The First Avenger is his defining trait and a major contributor to why Dr. Erskine chose him for the experiment. His mundane concern for others and refusal to impose his will on them makes him perfect for stopping movie hecklers and freeing prisoners-of-war from polytheistic ex-Nazi god-wannabes.
Red Skull: What makes you so special?
Captain America: Nothing. I'm just a kid from Brooklyn.
- The climax of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade hinges on Indiana Jones being humble enough to believe that a shabby cup belonging to a poor carpenter could be God's Holy Grail. Soon after the Grail is recovered, Jones is able to admit he cannot have that kind of power for himself and allows the Grail to drop into the Earth.
- In The Sandlot, the fact that Benny "The Jet" Rodriguez is the best baseball player in the neighborhood isn't something he particularly cares about; he just loves playing the game with his friends. In fact, the first thing he does when he knocks the cover off a baseball is berate himself for ruining their last one.
- The eponymous gunfighter in Shane refuses to be held up as a hero by the people he helps, and outright tells young Joey Starrett that the real heroes are people like the boy's parents, who are struggling to make a new life on the prairie.
- Peter Parker/Spider-Man as portrayed by Tobey Maguire in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man Trilogy even though he temporarily acts like a Big Name, Big Ego Jerkass in the third movie as a side-effect of the alien symbiont.
- Star Wars:
- Padme is like this in The Phantom Menace. Boss Nass is reluctant to ally himself with the Naboo because they have more-or-less treated the Gungans as an inferior species for years. So she doesn't bother trying to make excuses for it; she simply kneels and pleads with him for his help. Fortunately, it works.
- Obi-Wan. The Novelization of Revenge of the Sith describes him as "modest, centered, and always kind."
- Rey wins her battle against the fearsome Kylo Ren by surrendering control and allowing the Force to work through her. Even after such a great victory, she spends The Last Jedi insisting she's "nobody" and when offered a chance to become the most important figure in the galaxy by becoming Ren's co-emperor, she refuses and is content with being nothing.
- The Dresden Files
- Harry Dresden. Harry is very humble. As one of the strongest Wizards of his generation, he could use his power to amass a lot of money and influence. Instead, he lives in a basement apartment with little amenities and works as a private investigator helping people. He depreciates himself and his own actions because while he has done some amazing and world-saving feats, he knows exactly how close he was to failure and how much came down to luck and his friends being with him. He would really like to just read a good book on the weekend or work on magical theory and item crafting. However, he follows the "Tao of Peter Parker" and when people need him, he will be there, whether it means helping his werewolf friends deal with magical fleas when he was getting ready for a date, or riding into battle against necromancers on a zombie t-rex. He resists the temptations of a Fallen Angel's shadow that lived in his head for a few years whose moniker is all about seducing her hosts into accepting the offer. He even turns the shadow against her original Fallen.
- Sanya Knight of the Cross, has saved countless lives in his fight against many dark foes. He genuinely arrives just in time. He is also agnostic, despite receiving his holy blade from Archangel Michael himself and like Harry, was possessed by a Fallen Angel but turned away from that path. He notes his belief in some higher power doesn't mean he cannot do this job of helping people. Whether there is a God, or God and the Fallen are just cosmic aliens, or he is just suffering from some delusion, his simple job of helping people is all that matters to him. He doesn't boast about his accomplishments or world-saving ventures. Perhaps best exemplified when he arrives at a burning apartment building with two people trapped on the second floor after the landlady, elderly and unable to help, screams, "Oh, God in Heaven, help us!" He saves them and the elderly landlady talks with him.
Mrs. Spunkelcrief: God in Heaven. He must have sent you to us, son.
Sanya: It was probably just a coincidence, ma'am.
- Harry Potter is mostly like this. Ron and Hermione have to convince him to teach them Defence Against the Dark Arts. Harry hates being famous for having survived the night of his parent's murder, hates being on the front page all the time, has to be brow-beaten into giving an interview despite the fact that giving it would help him, and doesn't want much to do with the Ministry of Magic and their propaganda plans, either.
Severus Snape refuses to believe that Harry is this and had him pegged as a Glory Hound with a swelled head even before he ever met Harry. This is pretty much due to Harry's resemblance to his father James Potter, Severus' enemy from Hogwarts. The two despised one another, with Snape viewing James as an arrogant guy (to be fair, even James' friends said he had a bit of a big head before growing out of it. On the other hand, James was quite talented in his schoolwork without really trying, a successful Quidditch player, and on good terms with most of the school outside of Snape.) Snape's willful ignorance of Harry's humility is a major reason the two had such a terrible relationship throughout the entire series even though Snape had made it his life's goal to protect Harry since he was also the son of the only woman Snape ever loved.
- Hufflepuff House has this as both a virtue and a flaw — Hufflepuffs do have plenty of proud accomplishments to their name, but the difference between them and the other three houses is that Hufflepuffs don't go around bragging about it. The reason this is also a flaw is that this leads to them being easily overlooked by others.
- In The Lord of the Rings:
- Gandalf describes the essence of heroism as humility: "So it is often with great deeds. Small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere".
- Frodo and Samwise are able to resist the lure of the Ring for so long because since they as simple country folk, the Ring's promises that they could be made kings or gods seem plainly ridiculous when their greatest wishes are to write a history book and have a nice garden.
- Aragorn may be the rightful king of Gondor, but his greatest role in defeating the Dark Lord Sauron is to merely walk up to his gates and distract his evil eye while untrained hobbits decide the fate of Middle-earth. Knowing he plays only a small part in a grand game, Aragorn is content to do his part as he was content to let the hobbits take the Ring to begin with.
- Captain Carrot of the Discworld is almost certainly the rightful King of Ankh-Morpork (the royal line has been presumed dead for centuries), (almost) never uses violence or lies, obeys orders, and pays for taking away items used as evidence. He's always described as being simple. The "Hero" part comes from the fact that "simple" isn't the same as "stupid".
- Also from Discworld, Word of God holds that Nanny Ogg is actually more powerful as a witch than the dreaded Granny Weatherwax, but she's taken great pains to ensure that Granny (her best friend) never finds out. Nanny would far rather play the part of wise-cracking sidekick and Cool Old Lady than have to live up to a reputation for being powerful, so she covertly arranges to back up Granny's much-lauded feats of Awesome while limiting her own domineering behavior to her own daughters-in-law.
- Star Wars Legends:
- In the X-Wing Series, Wedge is like this to a certain degree. He demurs when called the greatest pilot alive, calls himself "regular old Wedge Antilles", and doesn't mind being in the background. That said, he's supposedly got a huge ego which only shows at all a few times, and even then they are minor displays.
- By Legacy of the Force, now, he's got the ego. Once he tells someone that they know he wasn't involved in a plan, because that plan failed. He doesn't fail even when he tries. Justified. Character history has shown him to be generally "perfect", but he can recall someone who died by way of involvement in many of his tales. He feels intense guilt over what he does but takes pride in it. A bit of a Tear Jerker to see a guy mentally torture himself for things that aren't his fault.
- As noted, the novelization of Revenge of the Sith goes out of its way to describe Obi-Wan as one. It seems that Obi-Wan is the only being who doesn't understand how great a Jedi he iswhen the Council proposes to send their "most cunning and insightful Master" after Grievous, he has no idea who they mean. He's also surprised when Mace Windu—the guy who created his own form of lightsaber combat—refers to him as "the master of the classic form....Not a master. The master." Anakin, however, is a subversion, in that he does his best to act, think and feel as a Humble Hero, but is still burning with the ambition and entitlement insideall ripe for manipulation by Palpatine.
- Aquilius in Dark Creed. He's a Warhammer 40,000 Space Marine, who are usually well aware that they're worth ten Guardsmen in a straight fight and cop a massive attitude about that. Instead, Aquilius remains humble and respectful of the Guard even when he's lauded as the White Angel and exaggerated stories of his deeds are used to keep the morale of the entire planet's military up. (It must be noted that he had to be ordered to let the stories spread.)
- Honor Harrington:
- Even after racking up an admiralty, uncounted medals, a wildly successful business enterprise, and a noble title in two different star nations, the title character still gets flustered when someone decides to give her some new accolade.
- Insofar as the Republic of Haven has a guardian angel, Thomas Theisman is it. He singlehandedly put an end to the Committee of Public Safety's Reign of Terror, personally shot the dictator in charge, resurrected the Old Republic from the ashes of history, built the Republic's Navy into a fighting force to be reckoned with by anyone in the galaxy, handed the absolute best woman for the job the acting Presidency on a silver platter (while steadfastly refusing it himself).... and at the end of the day, is still convinced he's just a decent officer and loyal citizen doing what anyone would do in his situation. No, Tom. You're really not. note
- Jake from Animorphs. From the very start of the series his friends look to him as their de facto leader, even though he is reluctant and sees nothing special about himself. He assumes command because the group needs and expects him to. After the war, the world looks to him as a famed hero, showering him with praise and admiration, but he definitely doesn't see himself as worthy of praise.
- Wilbur from Charlotte's Web. His only reason to achieve fame and admiration from others with the help of Charlotte is so that Farmer Zuckerman would let the pig live out his days instead of killing him for food. "Humble" is even one of the words Charlotte wrote on her webs praising Wilbur.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs's John Carter of Mars
"I do not believe that I am made of the stuff which constitutes heroes, because, in all the hundreds of instances that my voluntary acts have placed me face to face with death, I cannot recall a single one where any alternative step to that I took occurred to me until many hours later. My mind is evidently so constituted that I am subconsciously forced into the path of duty without recourse to tiresome mental processes. However that may be, I have never regretted that cowardice is not optional with me."
- Ruth Mallory of Someone Else's War genuinely thinks she's unintelligent and talentless, even though she's the one who puts an end to the evil army and makes it possible for the Child Soldiers to go home.
- Saionji Kiyohiko of Stone King never really feels he did anything worthy of a title like 'Ishio, the Stone King of Ibaraki'.
- Sandy Mitchell's Ciaphas Cain, THE HERO OF THE IMPERIUM, goes to great lengths to invoke this trope as part of his reputation. As Vail notes he frequently seems to truly fit the role, without even noticing: he is astounded when targeted by assassins, when there are so many more crucial targets — neglecting to notice that his death would have horrific effects on morale — and when assigned to General Zyvan's staff, attributes his success in persuading the general to anything except that it's him who's doing the persuading.
- Tortall Universe:
- Keladry of Mindelan, protagonist of Protector of the Small, has a habit of dismissing compliments from her friends and tries to claim that her accomplishments to training, luck, or something other than her personal merits.
- Beka Cooper tends to be very humble thanks to her Shrinking Violet status with a "just doing my job" attitude.
- The Hunger Games: Katniss Everdeen. Peeta may be an arguable case as well.
- The Swampling King: Subverted with Prince Josen; he spends all his time in disguise among the common folk, and they love him for it, but the truth is he just really doesn't want to have anything to do with the throne.
- In Dante's Vita Nuova, Beatrice is so devoid of Pride that it astonishes God and merits her entrance into the heaven of humility, sitting within reach of the Virgin Mary herself.
- The Lone Ranger. People normally figured out it was he who solved their problems only after he left.
- Hercules in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Not only is Hercules humble, but he is quite proud of his best friend Iolaus, being sure to point out to the attractive woman Iolaus is talking to that Iolaus has saved Hercules many times.
- Captain Apollo from Battlestar Galactica. One of the good examples is shooting the marooned Cylon Red-Eye to save a town on the planet Equilus without any thought of recognition and leaves the planet soon afterwards.
- Charmed: Leo never talks about his time in WWII, and considers himself a Failure Hero because he couldn't save his two best friends, but when convinced to go to a reunion (under the guise of being his own grandson), in a room full of war heroes everyone is honored to meet him, just because they think he's related to Leo Wyatt.
- Doctor Who: The Doctor, although capable of extreme, often horrifyingly destructive displays of arrogance when pushed too far, is extremely humble compared to his own race, the Time Lords. He's even stated that he really only wants a quiet life of sightseeing with his friends.
- Exploited in The Good Wife when Eli coaches A.D.A. Finn Polmar on a campaign interview. As a career campaign manager, Eli knows that humility plays well on TV, so he tells Finn to play straight the fact that he doesn't feel like a hero regarding the courtroom shooting where Will was killed.
- Star Trek:
- Worf and Martok are as close to this as can be expected for Klingons. Despite both being prime examples of the Proud Warrior Race Guy, they both care more about doing their duties and protecting the empire than fulfilling any political ambitions, despite what Chancellor Gowron seems to think.
- Captain Picard is also fairly modest about his accomplishments, as a visiting Klingon ambassador comments.
Picard: I have been...pleased to offer occasional assistance to the Klingon people in the past.
Ambassador Kell: Your modesty is very human, Captain. I will excuse it.
- Star Trek: Enterprise gives us Captain Archer. Despite being the man ultimately responsible for creating The Federation, he's more than happy to let others take the spotlight, and even rewrites one of his speeches to avoid taking credit for his accomplishments.
- Person of Interest: Harold Finch, despite being the man who built God, insisted that he wasn't special, and tried to teach the Machine that he wasn't worth more than any other human life (it doesn't work). Whenever he needs help from someone he had previously helped, he always asks politely and never implies that they owe him anything. The response is always a declaration of Undying Loyalty.
- Brooklyn Nine-Nine:
- Most of the main characters, while sometimes prone to showing off or letting their stubbornness cloud their views, are ultimately in police work because they want to protect people. Holt in particular has an incredibly impressive record, but he's never the one to bring it up. Even Jake, who can be an Insufferable Genius and desperately wants everything to go the way it does in badass action movies, proves himself to be doing this for the right reasons. If asked to choose between glory or doing the right thing, he'll choose the latter, no hesitation.
- Minor character Detective Dave Majors is The Ace, and is a Living Legend to all the other cops in New York, to the extent that Amy and Jake compete for his attention when they get assigned to a case with him. However, Majors doesn't appear to notice this, and is incredibly down-to-earth and chill, to the point that you have to wonder if he even knows his reputation. When Amy rejects his request for a date, he's mildly surprised, as he's never been turned down before, but almost instantly shrugs it off and isn't the least bit upset with her.
- As Time Goes By: As revealed in the reunion special, when Lionel was in Kenya years ago he took on the financial burdens of supporting the family of a man who worked on his plantation but died, so all the kids could go to school and the mother would be well off. For this, the family calls him "Father." He never once spoke of it to Jean or mentions it in his book My Life in Kenya, despite being sure it must have come up at one point, but when Jean insists he never talked about it, Lionel just accepts he might not have and leaves the matter to rest. He just did what he saw as the right thing to do and did it. There is no need to fuss about it.
- Wallenberg: A Hero's Story: Wallenberg calls 20,000 people alive because of the papers he gave them "few".
- Mata Nui from BIONICLE is one of the most powerful beings in his universe, charged with watching over the biomechanical inhabitants of his robot body while preparing for the task of restoring his creator's dying world back to its previous state. Yet after being stripped of all that power by his worst enemy and finding himself a stranger on a desert world actually the planet he's supposed to restore, it says something that his first onscreen act is to stop himself from accidentally squashing a bug, apologize and then try to befriend it. He goes on to become a hero and savior to the tribes he encounters, saves others he's never met without any hesitation, and never once asks to be worshipped or even thanked for his actions. He even reveals he never liked considering himself a god to the inhabitants of his universe, simply a protector who failed in his task and now wants to make things right.
- Several teachings (especially the Tibetan variation) practice humility as part of their religion. In fact, it's one of the important traits for the state of enlightenment. In fact, Buddhism even teaches the concept of "emptiness" of one's self (known as Śūnyatā).
- Apparently, this trope is one of the reasons why Bhutan (a Buddhist kingdom) is considered to be one of the happiest countries on the planet and eighth happiest country, according to 2009 Business Week edition. Many Bhutanese don't own important luxuries that western countries value the most (i.e. expensive mansions, sports cars, HD TV, Internet, etc.), yet they are considered to be the happiest people in the planet because Bhutanese people don't have to worry about owning such luxuries when most of them live in simplistic lives. This was actually one of the Bhutanese government's concerns when they finally lifted their ban on television and internet.
- In the Gospels, Jesus asks those he heals and saves not to tell others of his great deeds and teaches his followers not to do good words so they can be seen (as the Pharisees do). Charitable acts and other good deeds should be kept between the hero and God; a secret from everyone else. "Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing."
- The Catholic Church claims that this is how visionaries, aka people who are allegedly chosen by [insert: God, Jesus Christ, Our Lady the Virgin Mary, etc.] to be given diverse revelations regarding the Faith, should behave. i.e Saint Catherine Laboure (who met Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal) didn't take credit for her visions and revelations, worked as a nun and nurse her whole life, and her identity as the actual visionary was only revealed after her death.
- Pope Francis has presented himself as a humble pastor rather than a grand figure and emphasized avoiding Pride in his teaching. One such gesture of humility has been choosing to reside in the Domus Sanctae Marthae guesthouse rather than in the papal apartments of the Apostolic Palace used by his predecessors. He is also known for favoring simpler vestments void of ornamentation, including refusing the traditional papal mozzetta cape upon his election, choosing silver instead of gold for his piscatory ring, and keeping the same pectoral cross he had as Cardinal. Not to mention many little things like calling a divorce, pregnant - and distressed - woman personally as detailed here.
- In the legends of King Arthur, Sir Gareth of Orkney comes in disguise as a kitchen boy who only asks food of King Arthur despite his noble appearance. He later gets knighted by Sir Lancelot by equaling him in combat and he later goes on the lady Lynette's quest to save her sister without revealing his noble blood for most of their journey and enduring her constant berating of his apparent kitchen boy status.
- Even though he's usually a Silent Protagonist, (Super) Mario is usually characterized like this.
- Mario's contemporary, Link from The Legend of Zelda is as well. Along with his trademark courage, being humble is generally his only canon personality trait.
- Despite saving the world twice from invading aliens, Kurt the janitor from MDK 2 refuses the fame he has garnered and is perfectly content to continue his cleaning duties aboard the Jammy Dodger.
- This is made into a sub-theme of Brütal Legend, where Eddie Riggs' profession as a roadie leads him to do all the saving-the-world work in the game, but defer all the credit to well-intentioned but functionally useless Rebel Leader Lars, echoing what he does in our world, where he does all the real work in managing the worst band in the world, but never shows his face. The finale makes it clear that the resistance is just humoring him and fully recognize that he's the real hero.
- Fire Emblem
- In Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, Ike is the poster boy for this trope, eventually renouncing his title of nobility and going back to his humble roots.
- Edward from Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn also counts. Despite being a core member of the Dawn Brigade, having lived his life on the streets and barely survived, by the end he decides to be a simple commoner, against the wishes of Queen Micaiah.
- Prince Seliph from Fire Emblem Seisen No Keifu is this too. He's always kind and almost a little shy when not fighting and openly wonders if he's truly fit and strong enough to bring down The Empire. His cousin Leif from Thracia 776 is pretty similar, too.
- And so is their companion, Ced, who remains kind and down-to-Earth while leading the Magi Squad and fighting for the freedom of the countries under the Grandbell tyranny. And when Seliph's group comes to recruit him, he even berates himself for not doing enough for the people in his eyes.
- Even more so, Morva from The Sacred Stones. He both led the Five Heroes and dealt the fatal strike to Fomortiis the Demn King, but refused to take credit for his heroic actions and instead of founding his own nation like his friends, he led a quiet life taking care of both Caer Pelyn and the Darkling Woods alongside his adoptive daughter, Myrrh, who later joins Ephraim and Eirika's quests. (Sadly, by that time, poor Morva... was killed and turned into a Draco Zombie. )
- Zero from the Mega Man X and Zero series. By the Zero series he believes that, as someone created purely to destroy, he has no place in trying to change the world, and instead uses his strength to support others who can, like X and Ciel.
Zero: I never cared about justice, and I don't recall ever calling myself a hero. I have always only fought for the people I believe in.
- Mass Effect:
- Paragon Shepard is like this. A sufficiently noble Shepard will eventually get a mission to rescue drugged hostages wandering among the terrorists. If you manage to save every one of them, when Admiral Hackett calls back to thank you, you can tell him you were "just doing your job." Given what a Scrappy Level this mission is, that's one humble hero. At one point in Mass Effect 3, s/he even wonders why Hackett essentially made him/her the leader and human ambassador of the multi-species fleet, despite the fact that s/he's the only reason most of them even agree to be in the same room together.
- In the same vein, Ryder can be one of these, passing off some of their accomplishments as nothing, or a team effort.
- Andromeda teammate Jaal is somewhere between this and a heroic self-deprecator. His family includes several top-flight badasses, from his grandmother down to (most of) his siblings, and Jaal himself answers directly to the head of La Résistance when first met. The only one who doesn't seem to realize what a big deal he is... is Jaal.
- Sonic the Hedgehog: Miles "Tails" Prower is more humble than his speedy, blue friend. Not that that's hard.
- In Disgaea 4, no matter what he accomplishes (be it starting a rebellion, defeating Badass Freakin' Overlord Zetta, or challenging God himself), Valvatorez will always insist he is merely a simple Prinny Instructor that relies on his comrades and the power of sardines.
- T. Hawk from Street Fighter IV. He's become quite beloved by his people, the Thunderfoot tribe whose lands he recovered from M. Bison... but he has repeatedly refused to become the chieftain despite his merits since he believes he's too inexperienced and young for such a task.
- Similar to T. Hawk above, Nightwolf from Mortal Kombat is one of Earthrealm's defenders and is known for his politeness, selflessness, and humility, a stark contrast to the comically inflated ego of the (still well-meaning) Johnny Cage.
- White Knight Chronicles: You. No, seriously. The game features an incredibly robust character creator that you use to create the "Avatar" character. In terms of the game, the avatar serves as Exactly What It Says on the Tin for online multiplay but also tags along as a Heroic Mime for the main story quest. the story plays out and the avatar generally keeps silent, but is clearly with the main party in the cutscenes, despite being one of the main players in a fight for the fate of the world.
- In Dawn of the Dragons, the turnip-picking farmhand turned dragon-rider isn't exactly thrilled about his/her rising status as a Living Legend but plays along to keep up morale.
- Although Terry Bogard is known by his massive badassery all around the world (and sometimes even crossover universes), he doesn't boast about it half as much as he has right to. Many of his quotes in KOF XIII are borderline self-deprecating.
- Star Trek Online: Ja'rod, son of Torg, captain of the IKS Kang and the first genuinely good member of the House of Duras we've ever met. In the backstory he was offered a seat on the Klingon High Council for his exploits but refused:
"Until I have fully proven my worth to the Empire, I do not deserve to be in your number. I will return to Qo'noS as a hero, or not at all."
- Halo. The Master Chief views himself as a soldier doing his duty and nothing more, though you wouldn't guess it from the man who saved the galaxy. Twice.
- Poppy from League of Legends is referred to as The Chosen One who will bring glory to Demacia, but she has never considered herself a hero, much less the Hero of Demacia.
- Amaterasu from Ōkami. She the sun deity of Nippon who is destined to rid the land of demons but makes no point of establishing her identity to the people she helps. The office of Celestial Envoy exists so that someone will tell the world what she has done for them since she won't do it herself.
- Rean Schwarzer from The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel is this especially in Cold Steel III where he tells people that he's just some run of the mill guy and not some national hero.
- Yakuza: Downplayed with Kiryu. Kiryu is The Ace and masters a wide variety of skills over the course of seven games. He will downplay his accomplishments in most fields, but happily engage in a Badass Boast when it's time to remind someone why they call him The Dragon of Dojima.
- In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, Bob once got a Congressional Medal of Honor for saving the world. He keeps it on his mantle, tends to forget it's there, and most of his neighbors don't seem to realize he has it.
- In Girl Genius Jiminez Hoffmann saves a king's life and puts an end to a war that has lasted generations. He treats it as no big deal. And gets chewed out for it because that war was the only thing keeping the people involved from waging war upon the surface. Luckily they end up turning their combined forces on the Other instead.
- Captain Marvel's introduction in Justice League cemented him as this, stating "It was nothing, really" when he received a compliment. It's worth pointing out that the person complimenting him is Batman, and the reason for said compliment was that Cap took down the Parasite in seconds when several other heroes failed to slow the villain down. Elongated Man even points out that Cap was blushing at the praise and tells Cap not to be so modest.
- Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man, frequently has chances to snatch up glory in both his personal and superhero life. He avoids such chances, not only because of risk but because he's just not that kind of guy. Still snarky, though.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- Twilight Sparkle is the personal student of the supreme ruler of the nation, is perhaps the most powerful unicorn alive, and has personally been involved in saving the world on multiple separate occasions. Despite all this, she doesn't brag and actually gets a bit timid when her assistant Spike brags about her. She seems more interested in learning about magic and spending time with her True Companions. She retains her humble nature even after she is turned into a princess with a rank that equals her teacher's; blushing and giving an embarrassed grin when acknowledged or praised is something characteristic of her.
- All of the Mane Six. While Rainbow Dash does have the occasional Glory Seeker moment, the girls don't talk loudly about their achievements and would rather spend their time hanging out together between them or with their families than being celebrated for their exploits. They may be willing to confront powerful antagonists, but only because it's the right thing to do and they greatly care about their beloved land.
- Twilight Sparkle's human counterpart in the Equestria Girls series is also extremely humble despite her amazing intelligence. She doesn't brag about her being the number one student at a very elite academy but thanks to the jealousy and bullying from other students, her humility becomes self-loathing. It takes becoming friends with the other counterparts of the Mane Six and Sunset for Human Twilight to fully become a humble hero. Even becoming an alicorn princess doesn't make her haughty; she rarely invokes her title.
- Kim Possible fights supervillains and saves the world as a hobby, but plays it down whenever she gets attention for it, and when a movie producer decides to make a film about her, it doesn't seem to have ever occurred to her that her adventures would be worth retelling. As she would say, "No big."
- Bugs Bunny can sometimes be this or at least act the part. In his earlier cartoons, he tended to be an Attention Whore with Jerkass tendencies, but those traits were handed over to Daffy Duck, and Bugs became much humbler, even if he did take a casual level of pride in his fame and fortune that annoyed Daffy to no end. (Of course, this being Bugs, it's just as likely that he's annoying Daffy on purpose.) In one short, a mad scientist tries to take his brain:
"Sorry, Doc, but I need what little I've got."
- Shadow Raiders: Graveheart has kept The Alliance together in their war against The Beast; his catchphrase is "I'm just a miner".
- Penny from Inspector Gadget is content with letting her bumbling uncle bask in the glory and fame of dozens of monumental achievements, even though almost all of the credit for them is rightfully hers.
- Saint Walker from Green Lantern: The Animated Series, when asked who he is when first meeting Kilowog, introduces himself as "merely a conduit of hope." This is of course, right after he takes down a giant Red Lantern battleship with a single punch.
- Mike Chilton in Motorcity has done a lot of good for the residents of the titular underground civilization, and is somewhat famous (infamous in Detroit Deluxe) for it, but is still very down to earth about his accomplishments.
- Optimus Prime in Transformers is this in his many incarnations.
- In the Spiral Zone episode "Profiles in Courage", a reporter tries to get each of the Zone Riders to describe his/her own heroism. Instead, they praise their teammates and the brave civilians who have helped them out. Lampshaded when the frustrated reporter asks Dirk "Don't you people ever talk about yourselves?"; Dirk's response is a Little "No".
- DuckTales (2017): Donald Duck. While in his younger days he was "one of the greatest adventurers of all time!", now he's a Retired Badass who just wants to lead a normal, boring life and ensure a good, safe upbringing for his nephews. Of course, although he wants to be done with adventure, it seems adventure's not quite done with him.
Storkules: You're a hero, whether you want to be or not.
Donald: I do not. But thanks, friend Storkules.
- Aerrow from Storm Hawks. Despite often displaying a cocky attitude in battle, he's remarkably down-to-earth. In "Second Chances", he was reluctant to take part in the team's newfound celebrity lifestyle, saying it wasn't what being a Sky Knight was about.
- The titular Samurai Jack is highly skilled in several areas of combat, especially in the way of the sword, and he frequently delays his quest to return to his own time by helping people in need. He's also quiet, polite, and never brags about his accomplishments or the fact that he's a prince.
- Cincinnatus: In 458 BC, when the Romans needed someone to lead them during their war with the Aequians and the Sabines, they gave retired-Senator-turned-farmer Cincinnatus absolute dictatorial authority when it came to dealing with the situation. Sixteen days later, after winning the war, he resigned as absolute ruler of Rome and went back to his farm. Twenty years later, in 439 BC, when the Romans were at war with the Plebians and again needed effective leadership, they again gave Cincinnatus absolute power, and again, as soon as the crisis was over, he gave it back and went back to farming.
- The 1st American President, George Washington. After the Constitution was written he was selected as the first president unanimously by the Electoral College and while various parties thought up ideas like fancy garments and royal titles, Washington himself insisted on setting a precedent of humility, dressing in standard gentleman's attire (for the time) and came up with and enforced the simple term, "Mr. President." He was reluctant to take a second term as President but did when asked, again being elected unanimously. However he flat out rejected a third term, setting a precedent for two-term presidents (something that would only be written into law a century and a half later when FDR finally broke the precedent) and retired to his plantation. As a Cultured Badass, he was greatly inspired by Cincinnatus (he was one of the founding members, and the first President, of the Society of Cincinnati, an organization devoted to the ideals of Cincinnatus).
- From the perspective of Imperial Japan, Hideki Tojo is one such example. In his own words, "I am just an ordinary man possessing no shining talents. Anything I have achieved I owe to my capacity for hard work and never giving up."
- Einar Gerhardsen, Norwegian prime minister for eighteen years. He was known for his modest living - he lived in a flat in the eastern part of Oslo, not having a standard that surpassed any other citizen at the time. When he visited a factory or industrial plant, he made a point in making small talk with the workers, stressing the point that he was one of them - and in fact, he started out as one. This tradition was not held up by later Labor prime ministers in Norway, who, rather than speak with the workers, preferred to speak to them.
- Most if not all living recipients of the Medal of Honor, Victoria Cross or any other countries highest decorations for valor in combat insist they were just doing what they had to do, and there's nothing special about them. Of particular note is Captain Charles Upham, the only combat soldier ever to earn the Victoria Cross twice. On being told of the award, his response: "It's meant for the men."
- El Santo claimed in a newspaper interview that he was utterly confused about how he got so popular. To this day, over thirty years after his death, he's still a legend.
- By all means, Jackie Robinson was an example of this.
- The donors behind the Kalamazoo Promise. And, by extension, anyone that donates their time or money anonymously.
- Some of the main, philosophical teachings of Tae Kwon Do are to be respectful of all peers and to not be too much of a braggart. In fact, many martial arts attempt to teach this to their students. Sadly, this doesn't always work.
- Stanislav Petrov made the decision to not launch a nuclear missile during a false alarm, even though if he followed protocol he should have done so. His heroism wasn't acknowledged until after the fall of the USSR (the Soviet military actually reprimanded him for not taking better notes during the incident). When asked if he wanted anything for saving the world, he asked for a vacuum cleaner and said he didn't really feel like a hero because anyone should have done what he did.