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I'm Not a Hero, I'm...

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"I've never really thought as myself as a savior, I just want to fight strong opponents. But I can't just stand by and watch innocent people and animals suffer. That's what my grandpa taught me."

Often preceded by "You're a hero!" The Hero will respond: "I'm not a hero. I'm _____!"

Can be used in a variety of ways, including:

A subtrope of I Am the Noun. Compare I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder. Contrast The Chosen Zero.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Akame ga Kill!, when the naive and idealistic Tatsumi joins Night Raid, they are quick to inform him that they aren't heroes, they are assassins. Most of their targets just happen to be unpleasant people.
  • In Bokurano Aiko "Anko" Tokosumi thinks "We're not heroes," in the middle of her arc, after someone shoots and kills a kid who's pretending to be one of the pilots, in revenge for the thousands of people who were killed in collateral damage in Zearth's previous battles. She even expects that she'll "die alone, hated and forgotten" once this is over. That said, her appearance on TV, in which she makes an impassioned speech to the people of Earth, helps win many people over.
  • In Cardcaptor Sakura, Sakura protests that she can't be a Card Captor because she's Just a Kid.
  • In A Certain Magical Index
    • After his Heel–Face Turn, Accelerator rejects being called a hero, saying that a hero would be able to save the day without killing anybody.
    • Touma also reacts in confusion to being called a hero, simply saying "I just did what anyone would do, right?"
    • Mikoto in A Certain Scientific Railgun also denies being called a hero "like that idiot" (Touma), who is able to save everyone including the very villains he fights while she can barely keep her loved ones safe.
  • In Code Geass, Lelouch has one of these moments right after Euphie ended up going on an unintentional killing spree because of his Power Incontinence when a dying old lady asks him as Zero to save them.
  • In Dragon Ball Super Goku does this himself during a conversation with Android #17, remarking that he doesn't see himself as a hero, just a guy who loves fighting. He does admit that he can't ignore people in danger, which is the reason he fights the villains he does.
  • The catchphrase of Izumi Curtis, from Fullmetal Alchemist. Even though she's the one who trained the Elric brothers in martial arts and alchemy, she manages to make a Badass Boast out of declaring that she's (merely) a housewife. It gets subverted near the end of the Brotherhood anime when she gleefully exclaims she's an alchemist.
  • Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?: Ais Wallenstein says she is not a hero because she is obsessed with getting revenge for the death of her father at the hands of monsters and only saves people by coincidence by killing monsters, unlike pure-hearted people like Bell Cranel who actually care about saving people.
  • This is the prevailing attitude of jujutsu sorcerers in Jujutsu Kaisen - they're not heroes who are motivated by their desire to save innocent lives, but rather people with incredible powers who, more often than not, will use those powers for their own goals and survival. In fact, a jujutsu sorcerer with purely selfless intentions who goes through a Break the Cutie can end up being even worse than a selfish sorcerer, as seen with Suguru Geto. This often results in conflicts between different sorcerers as their goals clash or their impulsivity gets them into trouble.
    • In general, almost every sorcerer has a selfish reason for their being a sorcerer. Itadori wants to appease his consciousness and his grandfather's last words, Kugisaki wants to live in Tokyo, Maki wants to show up her family, Mai wants to stay with Maki, Mechamaru wants to have a normal body, Miwa wants to make money, and Gojo wants to feed his ego. This is averted by some sorcerers, of course - in particular, Nanami returned to the Jujutsu world after leaving it because he realized that Good Feels Good.
  • Shion Bladedarts in The Legendary Hero Is Dead! admits that he's no hero but rather a criminal because he purposely didn't completely seal Hell's Gate because it would cut off the mana supply to Earth and thus kill off his companion Anri. He could have actually avoided the trap that starts the series but at that point, he was already Driven to Suicide.
  • The Legend of Zelda (Akira Himekawa):
    • In the adaptation of The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games, when Impa notices the Triforce birthmark on Link's hand, Link gets very defensive about it, insisting that it means nothing and that he's just a regular person.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (2016), Link is very wary of being called a hero despite all the things he does for friends and strangers alike, because he doesn't believe he deserves to be called one after accidentally sending his town to the Twilight Realm.
  • One Piece: In the Fishman Island arc, none other than Luffy himself has one. Specifically, Jimbei asks him to be the "hero" of Fishman Island, to which Luffy informs him that he's a pirate, not a hero, and has no desire to be one. Luffy then gives an analogy about how a hero would share his meat with everyone, while a pirate would simply feast on it. He ends up agreeing to help anyway when Jimbei promises to give him some meat. Zoro gives a similar analogy later, except with booze instead of meat.
    • Note this is a case of 'they are really not heroes.' The Straw Hats and Luffy in particular just do what they want, always, regardless of the consequences. Most of the time, because they're nice people, this ends up being 'beat up the bastard who made my friend cry, who just happens to be the man who's oppressing this entire region, so I have subsequently liberated a country from tyranny.' But it's equally likely to be 'try to break my brother out of prison, and subsequently release thousands of dangerous criminals who will go on to hurt people out into the world.' Luffy never forgets that he is a pirate, even when his actions happen to benefit people, so he discourages heaping praise on him unless it comes in the form of an awesome meat-themed party.
  • Jack from PandoraHearts is very insistent that he's not a hero. It only ends up making him appear humble and sweet, not to mention more tragic and cute. Then it turns out he wasn't lying...

    Comic Books 
  • In the Avengers Academy story "Final Exam", Smug Snake Jeremy Briggs continues bragging to Finesse about how he can always try again, while she's bandaging his wounds. She says he's right, and walks away, leaving Jeremy - whose entire thing had been that there were no such things as heroes and villains - protesting that she was a superhero and couldn't do this.
    Finesse: Remember why we were recruited to Avengers Academy? Not because we were the best, or the most heroic. Quite the opposite. Because we were the most at risk of becoming criminals. Say hello to the bad guy.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2020): Richard Rider tries insisting to his therapist that he isn't a hero, but the man points out (several decades of heroism aside) Rich has saved the entire universe more than once, so yes, he absolutely is a hero, and he should stop telling himself he's not.
  • From the Justice League: Cry for Justice mini-series.
    Ray Palmernote : Have you ever had a sinus headache? So torturous you thought your head would explode? What if I shrank to microscopic size, entered your skull, then began to grow. Imagine how that would feel.
    Killer Moth: You're heroes, you don't act that way.
    Ray Palmer: (points to Ryan Choi) He's a hero. I'm Ray Palmer. Welcome to pain.

    Fan Works 
  • Kairi Niko in the Knights of the Old Republic fanfic Destiny's Pawn adamantly insists that she's "just a translator." Even after the Jedi all but shove a lightsaber into her hand, she's done some heroics looking for the Star Maps, and assembled the Ragtag Band of Misfits, she still considers herself Bastila's aide. Queue massive Heroic BSoD when the truth comes out...
  • Played straight in the Tamers Forever Series
    Daemon: Why can't you be a good boy and give up!
    Chaos: I'm a Virus, Daemon. I'm not a good boy.
  • Also played in Harry Potter fanfic "The Apothecary Knows Best". Severus Snape claimed to be just an apothecary when Harry called him a hero for having defeated a "Jester". (This fanfic's Dark Lord has his followers known as "Jesters" instead of "Death Eaters". Yes, this fanfic's Dark Lord is Albus Dumbledore. Long story)
  • In The Lord of the Rings fanfic Left, Sam tells Frodo about his fight with Shelob very matter-of-factly and he is surprised by how his master keeps harping on it.
  • In Rabbit of the Moon, Bell is christened the "Hero of the Street" for killing the Silverback and sparing Daedalus Street from its wrath, but he doesn't put any stock in it. After all, he hadn't been fighting to protect anyone and just wanted to get home. Not to mention his guilt over having to kill Gascoigne and Henryk, depriving a little girl of her last remaining family members.
  • In Incarnation of Legends, Kojiro considers himself evil and not someone to look up to. But he comes to care for Bell and realizes that Bell idolizes him as his personal hero. As a result, Kojiro strives to live up to that image, no matter how mindboggling it is for him.
  • The Keys Stand Alone:
    • In a case of Exactly What It Says on the Tin, George uses this phrase several times, and the others agree with him. All four hate being singled out to go on quests and perform heroic acts, especially when there are lots of other powerful, competent outworlders around to do these things—not to mention the city guards, who never do anything in these situations despite being the local cops. As John puts it, “We can't solve everyone's problems.”
    • Which is what happened to them in Real Life, essentially, which explains why they find it easy enough to turn down a girl begging them to save her 8-year-old sister, and why they almost turned down a request to save a dying baby.
  • Fate/Harem Antics:
    • Characters sometimes call out Archer/Francis Drake for her dirty tricks and other antics unbecoming of a hero. She says she's not a hero, she's a pirate.
    • While fighting Avenger/Jeanne Alter, Saber/Arturia tries to invoke an honorable fight as they are both knights. Jeanne mocks her and says she's not a knight, she's a witch who wants the world to burn.
  • In brilliant lights will cease to burn, Izuku, as the magical vigilante Deku, says this about himself to an amateur reporter who called him the pride of Japan.
    Natsuki: [asking Deku questions] You said it yourself. That kindness, that dedication to do good, that unwavering belief in the human spirit – you certainly walk the walk. You’ve become quite the hero yourself over these past few months.
    Deku: I mean, I’m not really a hero. More a vigilante than anything, really, technically.
  • Cras Vivere Para Bellum: In spite of what others say to him, Izuku doubts he could be a hero. (Primarily due to all the people he killed in his first life as John Wick.)
  • Fire Emblem Heroes: Kiran's Story Kiran constantly says this. Considering his personality and some questionable methods he uses... he's right, he's an Anti-Hero of the pragmatic kind.
  • Lost to Dust: Sakamoto Ryouma says he doesn't think of himself as a hero, just a guy who doesn't like to see people get killed. When Ruby Rose, who had been in a Heroic BSoD after Charlemagne said she is not a hero, talks to him, she is able to cheer up when she realizes she shouldn't care about being called a hero as long as she does the right thing.
  • Monstrous Compendium Online: Klein is shocked when he receives the Call and manifests paladin powers. Everyone else is just like "yeah, that fits."
    Tae: A paladin upholds the law, and the right. But first of all, he protects the people. The strong, and the weak; the noblest citizens... And the outcasts.
    Klein: But... but... C'mon, that's just what a decent guy does!
    Kunimittz and Dale: Paladin.

  • Variation in Demolition Man:
    John Spartan: All right, then why don't you take charge and lead these people out of here?
    Edgar Friendly: I'm no leader. I do what I have to do. Sometimes people come with me.
  • Live Free Or Die Hard: McClane thinks he isn't really a hero. He knows people call him one, but he doesn't really think it's worth it:
    McClane: You know what you get for being a hero? Nothin'. You get shot at. You get a little pat on the back, blah, blah, blah, attaboy. You get divorced. Your wife can't remember your last name. Your kids don't want to talk to you. You get to eat a lot of meals by yourself. Trust me, kid, nobody wants to be that guy.
    Farrel: Then why are you doing this?
    McClane: Because there's no one else to do it right now, that's why. Believe me, if there was somebody else, I'd let them do it, but there's not, so we're doing it.
    Farrel: That's what makes you "that guy".
  • Something similar is done in the movie version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. "I can't be a wizard! I'm just Harry! Just Harry!"
  • The film version of The Hobbit has Bilbo utter this particular gem:
    Bilbo: I'm not a hero or a warrior... I'm not even a burglar!
  • Jack Reacher: The title character makes it clear enough for even the slowest-witted villain:
    Reacher: "You think I'm a hero. I'm not a hero — I'm a drifter with nothing to lose. You killed that girl to put me in a frame-up, and I mean to beat you to death and drink your blood from a boot!"
  • In Jumper, Griffin spits this at Davy as he walks off to what Griffin believes to be certain death; in his experience, Jumpers don't have the power to save anyone, as while the Paladins are ready, willing and able to kill entire families as collateral damage in killing Jumpers, all Jumpers can do is Jump away. The best Griffin's ever accomplished is escaping with his life after killing his enemies, and he's been Forced to Watch everyone he's ever cared for die at the hands of the Paladins.
    Griffin: You're not a hero! You're a Jumper! Don't you get it? You don't save the girl! You lose her!
  • Variation in The King's Speech: "I'm not a king! I'm a naval officer."
  • In The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, upon learning of the prophecy that they shall be heroes, the Pevensies provide this little gem:
    Peter: I think you've made a mistake. We're not heroes!
    Susan: We're from Finchley!
    *Later, speaking to the lion who likely made that prophecy*
    Peter: Aslan, I'm not who people think I am.
    Aslan: Peter Pevensie, formerly of Finchley.
  • In My Favorite Year, actor and matinee idol Alan Swann has a massive case of stage fright before he has to go on live, leading to one of these between him and writer Benjy Stone, a fan of his:
    Alan: Stone... I'm afraid. I'm afraid. That's why I couldn't get out of the car to see my Tess, my child.
    Benjy: Alan Swann, afraid? The Defender of the Crown? Captain from Tortuga? The Last Knight of the Round Table?
    Alan: Those are movies, damn you! Look at me! I'm FLESH and BLOOD, life-size, no larger! I'm not that silly God-damned hero! I never was!
    Benjy: To me you were! Whoever you were in those movies, those silly goddamn heroes meant a lot to me! What does it matter if it was an illusion? It worked! So don't tell me this is you life-size. I can't use you life-size. I need Alan Swanns as big as I can get them! And let me tell you something: you couldn't have convinced me the way you did unless somewhere in you you had that courage! Nobody's that good an actor! You are that silly goddamn hero!
  • Pulp Fiction:
    • Near the end, when Pumpkin and Honey Bunny are robbing the coffee shop, and the manager attempts to cooperate:
      Pumpkin: I don't know, Honey Bunny. He looks like the hero type to me!
      Honey Bunny: Don't take any chances. Execute him!
      Manager: Please don't! I'm not a hero. I'm just a coffee shop...manager...
    • Naturally, his character according to the credits was "coffee shop."
    • Of course, the robbers' definition of "hero" is "anyone stupid enough to make trouble for us." Criminals are funny like that.
    • Also this monologue by Jules, sort of:
      Jules: There's a passage I got memorized. Ezekiel 25:17. "The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and goodwill, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy My brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon you." Now... I been sayin' that shit for years. And if you ever heard it, that meant your ass. You'd be dead right now. I never gave much thought to what it meant. I just thought it was a cold-blooded thing to say to a motherfucker before I popped a cap in his ass. But I saw some shit this mornin' made me think twice. See, now I'm thinking: maybe it means you're the evil man. And I'm the righteous man. And Mr. 9mm here... he's the shepherd protecting my righteous ass in the valley of darkness. Or it could mean you're the righteous man and I'm the shepherd and it's the world that's evil and selfish. And I'd like that. But that shit ain't the truth. The truth is you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd.
  • Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse: In true anarchist fashion, Hobie Brown/Spider-Punk rejects being called a hero because of what the label represents:
    Hobie Brown/Spider-Punk: I'm not a hero, because calling yourself a hero makes you a self-mythologizing narcissistic autocrat.
  • Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over:
    • A variation. After exiting the video game, Arnold's, Rez's, Francis's, and Juni's respective secret, non-virtual identities. Various types of this trope occur in the conversation that ensues:
      Juni: Hey, wait a second. What happened to Francis the Brain, Arnold the Strong, and Mister Cool?
      Francis: Well, in the real world I'm not that smart.
      Arnold: I'm not strong.
      Rez: I'm not cool.
      Juni: Reality Check!
      Arnold: So, who are you out here in the real world?
      Francesca: (to Juni) Special agent, we need you.
      Rez: Whoa!
      Juni: I'm Juni Cortez.
    • The above declaration by Juni is also a reference to his facade as "The Guy," which was revealed shortly before the group's exit from the game.
  • In Team America: World Police, Gary decides "I'm not a hero! I'm a dick!" after a mission results in the deaths of innocent bystanders. A drunk he meets at a bar gives him a pep talk about dicks, pussies, and assholes that makes him feel a little better.
  • In the film, Twilight, Edward uses this trope to warn Bella to stay away from him.
    Edward: What if I'm not the hero? What if I'm the bad guy?
    Bella: You're not.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse: This occurs when Nightcrawler recognizes Mystique.
    Kurt Wagner: You can transform. You're her, the hero.
    Raven Darkholme: I'm nobody. I'm not a hero.
  • Zootopia: A justified self-deprecating example: as the titular city is plagued by fear over attacks caused by predators going savage, Judy, who blames herself for triggering anti-predator sentiments through her comments on predator biology at a press conference, has this to say when she's offered to become the public face of the police in order to reassure the population:
    Judy: I'm not a hero. I came to make the world a better place, but I think I broke it.

  • Rob in An Outcast in Another World tries to downplay his own heroic accomplishments sometimes. No one ever lets him.
  • In The Broken Earth Trilogy, Danel refers to Essun as being like a hero of lore, to which she thinks this trope in response, seeing all of the people she's killed and failing her daughter as clearly showing she's no hero.
  • Discworld:
  • In Gone, this attitude plays a huge role in the character of Sam, the Designated Hero of the FAYZ. Phrases reminiscent of the trope are consistently repeated throughout the books.
  • In the Harry Potter series, Harry verbalized this trope a few times throughout the series. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows he experienced somewhat of a fleeting Dialogue Reversal with Ron after Ron's return and redemption.
    Ron: I'm sorry. I'm sorry I left. I know I was a — a— (trails off)
    Harry: You've sort of made up for it tonight. Getting the sword. Finishing off the Horcrux. Saving my life.
    Harry: Stuff like that always sounds cooler than it really was. I've been trying to tell you that for years.
  • In This Immortal, Conrad's reaction when confronted with Diane's adoration towards his former identity Konstantin Karaghiosis is to reject it, although he later uses it to talk her into trusting him on whether someone else should live or be killed. It is also Played for Laughs when they check into a hotel in Athens only for Conrad to get the suite, a room famous for having been Konstantin Karaghiosis' headquarters during the Radpol Rebellion — pretty much everything in that room is adorned with a plaque commemorating the occasion:
    "The stain on this wall was caused by a bottle of beverage, hurled across the room by Konstantin Karaghiosis, in celebration of the bombing of Madagascar.
    Believe that, if you want to.
    Konstantin Karaghiosis sat in this chair
    , insisted another.
    I was really afraid to go into the bathroom."
  • In Twilight, Edward uses this trope as an attempt to warn Bella to stay away:
    What if I'm not a superhero? What if I'm the bad guy?
  • The Wheel of Time:
    • Mat "I'm no bloody hero!" Cauthon, usually said after he does something heroic. He is the variety that thinks he can ignore the call, even though he's actively doing heroic things. Doubly obtuse, since he has gifted memories of hundreds of people throughout time - if there's one person who could objectively judge him a hero, it should be him.
    • The Dragon Reborn stopped being this and pendulumed into Designated Hero syndrome, impressive because he is a bona fide, prophecy-certified, world-changing hero. He came around to a true, self-admitted hero in the final few books.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the first season of Arrow, Oliver is noticeably annoyed when Diggle tries to make him help random people outside of his crusade against the Undertaking. "You don't seem to understand what it is I do." In this case, it's not humility, it's simple facts. In season one, he really wasn't a hero, he was just a guy on a revenge kick who happened to be targeting criminals. It was only in season two that he reversed that trend.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "The Gift":
    Giles: ...[Buffy] couldn't take a human life. She's a hero, you see. She's not like us.
    Ben: ...Us?
    [Giles smothers Ben to prevent Glory from ever returning]
  • In the Season 1 finale of Burn Notice, after blackmailing the second largest drug kingpin in Miami via a "dead-man bomb", the kingpin asks Michael who he is.
    Michael: I'm Michael Westen. I used to be a spy.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Fourth Doctor story "The Horns of Nimon" features a boy named Seth who is regarded as a hero on his home planet of Aneth, to the point where he is sent with the young people who are to be sacrificed to the Nimon in the hope that he will destroy the Nimon and put an end to the sacrifices. However, he tells Romana that he is no hero and never wanted to be a hero; he just "chanced to be around when things happened." To further complicate matters, his friend Teka (who is among the would-be sacrifices) believes in Seth's heroic reputation and Seth doesn't want to disillusion her, so he asks Romana not to tell Teka what he has just said.
    • Donna Noble frequently puts herself down by saying "I'm nothing special; I'm just a temp from Chiswick". As it turns out, she's destined to become the Donna-Doctor to stop the Daleks from exterminating reality.
    • Done again in "The God Complex". In order to save Amy Pond, the Doctor must break her faith in the idea of him as a hero.
      The Doctor: I stole your childhood, and now I've led you by the hand to your death. But the worst thing is, I knew. I knew this would happen. This is what always happens. Forget your faith in me. I took you with me because I was vain, because I wanted to be adored. Look at you, glorious Pond. The girl who waited for me. I'm not a hero. I really am just a madman in a box. And it's time we saw each other as we really are. Amy Williams. It's time to stop waiting.
    • The episode "Robot of Sherwood" basically revolves around how the Twelfth Doctor makes a point to protest the notion. At the end of it, he and Robin Hood agree that while they might not be heroes, they might inspire heroism in others with the stories of their deeds. Clara's opinion on the matter is that while he might not always do the right thing, the fact that he tries to do his best where he can is what really counts.
    • In "Death in Heaven", Missy offers the Doctor an army with which to conquer the universe for its own good. In response, he has a breakthrough and starts listing all the things he isn't — a good man, a bad man, a hero, a President, or an officer. He's an idiot with a box, a screwdriver, and some friends, same as ever.
    • From "Smile":
      The Doctor: I don't sort things out. I'm definitely not a policeman.
      Bill: Well, you live in a police box.
      The Doctor: That's a pure coincidence.
  • In the Firefly episode "Jaynestown", criminal/mercenary Jayne is considered a hero by the locals after dropping stolen money on them a few years before. He only dropped it to lighten his damaged aircraft in order to escape capture... and he threw his partner out first. He has a change of heart about basking in their adoration:
    Jayne: You think somebody's gonna just drop money on you? Money they could use? Well, there ain't people like that... there's just people like me.
  • Used hilariously by Martin in the Frasier episode "Bad Dog." After Frasier spends days trying to expose Bulldog for the fraud he is after accidentally preventing a gunman from harming people, Martin exposes him in a matter of seconds simply by shouting "Hey Bulldog, that man's got a gun!" in front of the crowd of people honoring him for his "heroic act", causing Bulldog to use his own mother as a human shield. The crowd see through what happened before and turn on Bulldog. Upon which, Martin explains to Frasier:
    Martin: I'm not a hero, I just wanted you to shut up.
  • Hawkeye (2021): When Clint admits to Kate that he was the infamous Ronin, a heartbroken Kate can barely believe it.
    Kate: You were a hero.
    Clint: I was a weapon. I was aimed by the right people at the right targets.
  • Alex Trebek insisted on being called the host of Jeopardy!, not the star. He qualified that the stars of the show are the contestants and the game itself.
    • Same with Drew Carey on The Price Is Right. In fact, when the Emmy nominations for outstanding game show host come out, Drew insists his name be left out.
  • The introductory exposition in Legends of Tomorrow uses this. Don't call them heroes... they're Legends.
  • Kamen Rider Saber: Touma Kamiyama rejects being called a a hero. He is a novelist, always wanted to be a novelist, and simply got dragged along by the events. There is also a more sinister reason: Storious set up most of the story as an epic saga of battle between good and evil and cast Touma as the "hero figure". By refusing to cave into his demands, Touma ruins Storious' enjoyment of the whole thing, thus taking away the only thing he ever wanted.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Galadriel tries to convince Halbrand to reclaim his place as the rightful king of the Southlands, but he warns her he is not the hero she seeks, as it was his ancestors that sided with Morgoth and lost the war.
  • Lost: As Richard Alpert attempts to convince her to join "Mittelos Bioscience", Juliet Burke, who is going through something of an emotional breakdown, tells him: "Whatever you think I am, I'm not. I'm not a leader, Mr. Alpert. I'm a mess."
  • Once Upon a Time: When August (Pinocchio) tries to convince Emma that the curse trapping Storybrooke is real, she refuses to believe it and says that if the town is relying on her, "[they're] all screwed."
  • Sherlock:
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • In the episode "Empok Nor", Garak (under the influence of drugs) has been twisting the knife about Miles O'Brien's participation in an incident that occurred while he was serving in the Federation-Cardassian war under Captain Maxwell; O'Brien led an attack on a Cardassian encampment and was dubbed "the Hero of Setlik III".
      Garak: Maybe it's true... maybe you're not a soldier anymore.
      O'Brien: You're right. I'm an engineer.
      [O'Brien then saves himself by activating the improvised bomb that his soldier instincts had called for and his engineering skill had built]
    • Li Nalas was hailed as a legend in the Bajoran Resistance during the Occupation, with most people proclaiming him Bajor's greatest war hero. In "The Homecoming", he confesses in private to Commander Sisko that he was no hero — he was just some dumb kid who got stupidly lucky and managed to kill an infamous Cardassian leader while the man was bathing in a river. Sisko tells him how he became a hero doesn't matter, and that Bajor needed a larger-than-life figure at that point to avoid plunging into civil war.
  • A variant is used in Supernatural:
    Meg Masters: So you think you're some kind of a hero?
    Sam: No.

  • The Dark Knight soundtrack has a piece titled "I'm Not A Hero" and correlates with the scene in which the page quote is delivered.
  • Daniel Balavoine's song "Je ne suis pas un héros" (I am not a hero) repeatedly states that pop singers should not be considered as heroes by their fan base. But he was not only a famous pop singer, he also was a musician and a composer, he was quite smart and some of his lyrics were like poems. And he donated a lot for charity, he stood against racism, and died young. If he was not a hero, he was close to be one.
  • "I'm not a hero! I'm not a savior! Forget what you know/I'm just a man whose circumstances went beyond his control." Styx's "Mr. Roboto" definitely fits. "The modern man/Who hides behind a mask" indicates this is probably the Tomato in the Mirror usage.
  • Josh Groban's "In Her Eyes:" I am not a hero/I am not an angel/I am just a man...
  • My Chemical Romance's Welcome to The Black Parade uses this.
    "I'm just a man, I'm not a hero
    Just a boy who wants to sing his song
    Just a man, I'm not a hero
    And I don't care"
  • Bruce Springsteen's "Thunder Road": "Well I'm no hero, it's understood/All the redemption I can offer, girl, is beneath this dirty hood/With a chance to make it good somehow..."
  • Nickelback song Hero: "They say that a hero could save us; I'm not gonna stand here and wait... And now that the world isn't ending, it's love that I'm sending to you. It isn't the love of a hero, and that's why I fear it won't do..."
  • The message of the Black Veil Brides has always centered around being who you are and standing up for yourself. As a result, they have gathered a large fanbase that worship them. While the boys love their fans and support them through their music, they've always said that they were just guys in a rock and roll band. 'Nobody's Hero,' a song from their album 'Wretched and Divine' expresses this viewpoint. They will support you, they will help you, but in the end they are only human, not heroes.
    "I can lead you to salvation yet I am just a man.
    I'm a loaded gun, an only son.
    I'm nobody's hero.
    I've come undone, I'm on the run.
    Yeah I'm nobody's hero."
  • Kiss' "Just A Boy" from Music from "The Elder" has "I'm no hero, though I wish I could be; I'm just a boy..."
  • Rush's "Nobody's Hero", a song about AIDS:
    "But he's nobody's hero
    Saves a drowning child
    Cures a wasting disease"

    Religion and Mythology 
  • The Bible. No, really. In the Book of Amos. (Note: Other translations have was instead of am, averting this trope.)
    Amos: I am not a prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet; for I am a herdsman and a grower of sycamore figs. (Amos 7:14, NASB)

    Video Games 
  • Brunwulf Free-Winter, Skyrim's resident non-racist Nord of Windhelm, is a veteran of the Great War against the Aldmeri Dominion and often hailed as a war hero by those around him. He disagrees.
    Brunwulf: They call me a war hero. I'm no hero. Just a soldier who didn't want to die.
  • In Fallout 2 it's Played for Laughs, as many other dialogue lines through the game. After finishing the main quest, many characters will treat you like a hero. If you speak with Father Tully, he'll praise your actions and you're given the choice of saying the following:
    Chosen One: Yes, I tangled with the Enclave. They started it — I finished it. But don't get me wrong, Father. I'm just a man, trying to make his way in this unforgiving world... I'm no hero.
  • In Final Fantasy X, when Wakka refers to Auron as a "legendary guardian," he replies "Legendary guardian? I was just a boy. A boy about your age, actually. I wanted to change the world, too. But I changed nothing. That is my story."
  • In Fire Emblem Engage, some of the Emblems react this way in their Bond Conversations with the army's members, but Sigurd is the most insistent. Given that, in his home universe, his rashness led to him invading two local nations and unwittingly helping his country annex them, laying the groundwork for it becoming The Empire, before he lost his wife and got most of his allies killed, this is very understandable.
  • The Master Chief from Halo finds himself saying similar things a lot, though this is less out of humility for his actions and more because he is uncomfortable with lots of attention.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • In Kingdom Hearts II, after Auron saves Sora, Donald, and Goofy from Hades, this exchange occurs before giving them his name:
      Sora: You're really good? Are you some kind of hero?
      Auron: No. I'm no hero. I'm just an...
      Sora: Huh?
    • Hercules also exhibits the "loss of confidence" by the book in the same game. Thankfully, he gets better.
    • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep has Terra. When Zack calls him a hero after being saved, Terra dismisses the notion. Only for Zack to clarify that being a hero isn't Terra's decision, it's for everyone around him to decide. Whether he likes it or not, Terra is a hero to both Zack and the cheering crowd around him at the time.
  • League of Legends has Poppy, a Yordle whose shtick is that she believes herself to merely be the herald of The Chosen One destined to wield a legendary hammer she carries with her, completely oblivious to her own strength and talent while using it to instead wander aimlessly in search for her hero. Her character selection quote plays this up: "I'm no hero, just a yordle with a hammer!"
  • Rean Schwarzer in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III has repeatedly stated that he's no hero and he's just some random guy who teaches at a military academy. This despite having participated in the Civil War in the second game and having genuine accomplishments on his belt. Part of this is because he's a Humble Hero but the bigger reason is that the Evil Chancellor forces him to become Erebonia's national hero with all the burdens that it entails.
  • A typical Paragon Shepard from Mass Effect, while seeing the importance of someone serving as a symbol to inspire, generally tries to downplay his/her heroics, feeling that s/he's just doing his/her job.
  • In Mega Man Zero 4, Dr. Weil tries to invoke Thou Shalt Not Kill against Zero because that's what heroes like him do. Unfortunately for Weil, Zero never considered himself a hero, he is just fulfilling his duty of ridding the world of a madman and mass murderer like Dr. Weil.
    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. I won't hesitate... If an enemy appears in front of me, I will destroy it!
  • For a series in which over 90% of the characters are veteran soldiers, Metal Gear is amazingly pacifistic and permanently deconstructing the ideal of the '80s and '90s action hero. It's particularly emphasized in the first and fourth games of the main series when Solid Snake rebukes Ascended Fangirl Meryl, who claims to have trained to become a soldier all her life because she was inspired by him.
    Snake: "I'm no hero. Never was, never will be. I'm just an old killer, hired to do some wetwork."
    Snake: "All the heroes I know are either dead or in prison. One or the other."
  • In a TV ad for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, before rescuing a villager from being eaten by a griffon, Geralt says "This world doesn't need a hero. It needs a professional."

    Web Comics 
  • From Homestuck, Dave claims not to be a hero at one point as part of his insecurity complex at being not as awesome as John or his Bro.
    TG: im not a hero
    TG: my bro was
    TG: john is
    TG: im not
  • Il Persona: Everyone in Starlight City sees Rade and the other Diavolo agents as heroes for mass-murdering their enemies in the Republic of Sol. Rade is one of the few who realizes he is with the bad guys for being an assassin, especially when torturing his enemies with unstable magic is seen by the twisted Starlighters as a virtue.

    Web Original 
  • In the Welcome to Night Vale special live episode "Old Oak Doors":
    Intern Dana: Carlos, thank you. I may get to see my mother and my brother again because of you. You are a hero.
    Carlos: I’m not a hero. I’m a scientist!
    Intern Dana: Well, then "scientist" will always be my word for hero.

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of Batman Beyond, a Fantastic Four-ish group called the Terrific Trio goes insane and tries to set off a nuclear reactor. Terry tries to stop their leader by reminding him that he's supposed to be a hero.
    Magma: No... I'm an accident. Real heroes, they make a choice. I never did.
  • Elisa in Gargoyles (specifically in "High Noon") says she's no hero; she's just doing her job. Not that this stops her from fighting tooth and nail to save her friends when she isn't on the job...
  • In The Hair Bear Bunch episode "I'll Zoo You Later," the superintendent praises Peevly as a hero for corraling two bank robbers and the runaway Bunch. Peevly says it's simply "all in a day's work."
  • In the Justice League Cadmus arc, The Question tries to assassinate Lex Luthor in order to avert a dark alternate future. He reasons that a known Crackpotnote  like him could go rogue without surprising people, but if a hero were to breach the Thou Shalt Not Kill policy, the whole world would go to hell. (He was probably right.)
  • In Jackie Chan Adventures, Jackie would like nothing more than to do his job as an archaeologist and leave the heroism to the authorities.
  • Kim Possible: Ron's dad does this to the Mathter before a math-based brain battle in "Mathter and Fervent."
    Mathter: And what kind of hero are you?
    Mr. Stoppable: I'm no hero. I'm Actuary of the Year.
  • Megas XLR: Look, Red, I'm no hero. I'm just a guy from Jersey.
  • Graveheart, the Protagonist and Leader of The Alliance in Shadow Raiders, says this a lot.
    Graveheart: I'm not the man to lead this alliance.
    Jade: Aren't you?
    Graveheart: C'mon, Jade, look at me! I'm just a miner.
    (lengthy clip show with Graveheart saying "I'm just a miner" over and over and over and over)
    Jade: You have no idea how tired I am of hearing you say that.
  • Teen Titans (2003): "I'm not a hero. I'm not out to save the world. I'm just a girl with a geometry test next period and I haven't studied."


Video Example(s):


His Last Vow

Sherlock tells Magnussen what he is instead of a hero before shooting him dead.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / ImNotAHeroIm

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