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Stock Light-Novel Hero

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"He stands out from the crowd a little bit and has a dark brooding edge to him that lets you know that he's the most important dude around. He's just generic enough to project yourself onto, but just stylish enough to look like a cool guy when the chips are down and there's an ass to be kicked."

The Light Novel counterpart to the Stock Shōnen Hero. Since this archetype also comes from Japanese Media, it shares a lot of overlap but also plenty of differences. In fact, the Stock Light Novel hero would probably be the Stock Shōnen Rival in another series, except in this case, we're seeing the story through his eyes.

While the Stock Shōnen Hero is Hot-Blooded, Book Dumb, and usually starts off at the lower end of the Power Level food chain, the Stock Light Novel Hero is typically an Unfazed Everyman, Genius Bruiser, Deadpan Snarker or Stoic badass (except when he isn't) with power, skill, ability, or moral character that puts most other characters to shame. Further, very few shonen heroes are a Chick Magnet, and usually only have one "serious" Love Interest. The Light Novel hero commonly gains a harem, wanted or otherwise, without fail.

Appearance-wise, shonen heroes typically have outlandish costumes, bright and/or spiky hair, and rough facial features. The Light Novel protagonist is, more often than not, an Ordinary High-School Student, a NEET, or some other kind of Ridiculously Average Guy with dark and/or neat hair and soft facial features. Even in a fantasy setting, he'll probably be an attendee of the local Extranormal Institute or just your average blue-collar joe taking jobs at the Adventure Guild. Costume-wise, the Light Novel protagonist wears either an ordinary high school uniform or some other simple outfit, often equipped with a Badass Longcoat.

While shonen heroes focus more on "power growth" (training hard, and gradually strengthening their abilities to prove their worth), the Light Novel protagonist is focused more on "power acquisition". Rather than training to improve their abilities, the Light Novel protagonist usually starts out already nigh-unbeatable, and typically "unlocks" new abilities as the story goes on. Not through training, but merely as a consequence of adventuring or overcoming the Monster of the Week. If the hero is a Non-Action Guy, then his growing Battle Harem is often how he faces the Sorting Algorithm of Evil.

Another way to put this is comparing the powers of a shonen battle manga hero to a muscle that has to be trained and developed, and the light novel hero to a toolset required to progress the story. In fact, they may already have everything needed to succeed in the first place, but simply become a lot more stylish at it.

The light novels are markedly influenced by video games and mix in Dating Sim and Visual Novel elements, such as the most common "acquisition" that the light novel hero makes being new members to his harem. The very act of romancing the harem may also be how power is achieved.

As the genre evolves, it has split into several types of stock Light Novel protagonists, with their Unique Protagonist Asset being tweaked depending on the setting:

While this is not quite the Omnipresent Trope that its shonen cousin is (due to being newer), it's getting there. See our Analysis Page for a quick explanation of why this trope became so successful, so quickly.

See also Harem Genre for another genre it overlaps with, and Schoolgirl Series for one feminine counterpart. See also Marty Stu for a trope this archetype frequently overlaps with.

Also see Stock Light-Novel Calamity Princess, for one of his common Love Interests.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Dog Days: Cinque Izumi is a near-perfect example, even though he's one of the rare cases where he isn't from a light novel. He starts off as an Ordinary High-School Student where he was an ace athlete before abruptly being summoned to another world inhabited by animal people. In that other world he's The Chosen One and becomes The Hero with a very large Unwanted Harem comprised of the many girls there. He's the World's Best Warrior and is on the verge of becoming an Invincible Hero, being gifted with a Legendary Weapon and an assortment of powerful skills. Though personality-wise he's quite cheerful and fun-loving which is more in line with a Shonen hero.
  • The Dungeon of Black Company: A comedic take on the genre, Kinji Meiyuu is a shrewd, selfish businessman who managed to finally build his ideal lifestyle by accumulating a massive sum of wealth and power which allow him to live forever as a NEET and avoid the trap of being a salaryman. However, he is then whisked away to a fantasy world run by greedy and abusive corporations that force workers to toil in dungeons for rare materials. Refusing for this to be his new lot in life, Kinji begins hatching zany and risky schemes in order to be the one at the top of the hierarchy. Unlike most characters of this type, Kinji is definitely a Nominal Hero; there is very little difference between himself and the people he's up against. Also, while Kinji's fighting skills are practically non-existent, he's still crafty enough to be able to outsmart most threats he faces, and also gains a gang of loyal "friends" and powerful weapons to help him out.
  • Kemono Michi: Animal Mask is a powerful pro-wrestler who also happens to adore animals way too much. He is summoned to another world to fight the vicious, carnivorous demon beasts plaguing the world, but refuses to harm any "beast" or "beast person" (everyone else is a fair game, regardless of gender) and instead begins to tame them for his dream of opening a pet shop. Later his rival, Manchurian Ogre (nicknamed "MAO") is summoned to oppose him. The show takes the standard isekai tropes and mercilessly parodies them, with Animal Mask being exceptionally strong but considered a pervert and weirdo for how much he loves animals and beast men (to the point that the latter is comedically compared to sexual harassment).
  • Yoshichika Tsurugi of Luck & Logic basically fits this trope dead-on. He's the most powerful Logicalist in the country if not the world and a seasoned combat veteran, has the standard light novel protagonist appearance, and gets assigned to a squadron made up of nothing but cute girls (with one token guy). He immediately and effortlessly takes command from their leader (who's implied to have held the position for a very long time), and despite the girls being presented at the start of the series as capable fighters, they start needing to be rescued by him more and more the further the series goes on. In fact, this is lampshaded as the Rival Turned Evil (the aforementioned token guy)'s justification for his Face–Heel Turn is his jealousy that Yoshichika arrived and almost effortlessly managed to do everything that he himself had been working hard to do on his own, but never quite got there, which made him susceptible to being taken over by the Big Bad.
  • Parallel Paradise: Youta is a unique example of the Isekai Hero, an Ordinary High-School Student who violently enters the world (via falling from a third-story building window) he is the only male human being in the parallel world whose touch can cause Fantastic Arousal to any female character in the world. Unlike most examples, while he isn't a bad fighter, most of the female characters are much more skilled in combat than he is. Moreover, Youta Really Gets Around, but in the context of the world, this is also justified because most of the female characters cannot live past 19-20 unless he sleeps with them.

  • Redo of Healer's main character Keyaru is a dark example (picture Kaito without any informed consent), similar to The Rising of the Shield Hero minus the isekai part and with the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism turned so far into the "cynicism" end that it's at serious risk of breaking the scale. Main character Keyaru, a young apple farmer, finds out that he is a Hero destined to fight alongside a party of other legendary heroes. Unfortunately for Keyaru, his power is healing, and he's a healer of the empathic variety. Even more unfortunately, the kingdom where he lives is a hopelessly corrupt tyranny and a World of Jerkass, and the "heroes" he's to fight alongside are awful to match and don't really need much healing in the first place, so he's Made a Slave and mostly used as a pack mule and a sex toy. By the time he manages to break himself free of their hold, he is a deeply broken Villain Protagonist whose sole reason for existing is dishing out proportionately horrific revenge, almost always involving Karmic Rape galore. As usual for the trope, Keyaru is a Guile Hero with the obligatory "cheat" ability (turns out, the umbrella of what classifies as "healing" is much more more versatile than you'd think). His obligatory harem, however, is unusual - about half of it consists of people with a similar grudge to his to whom he's giving a chance to act out their revenge in return for helping him with his, while the other half were Brainwashed into joining.

    Fan Works 
  • Deconstructed with Charon in Cinders and Ashes: the Chronicles of Kamen Rider Dante. The Ace who is dressed in all black and whose love interest is the Stock Light-Novel Calamity Princess, with the fanfic adding in that he's an isekai protagonist. Charon lampshades how he's meant to represent the common Japanese teen by saying how he'd be able to blend in. However, when talking with Syo, he brings up how he could barely remember the life he had before reincarnating into Earthmelia, having an identity crisis in the process. He also brings up how the constant fighting with the Avalon Brigade has been leaving him fatigued, reflecting how long-spanning these sorts of stories go.
  • Fate Revelation Online: Subverted with Kirito. He's one of the front-line players, but he's Overshadowed by Awesome by most of the other people in the guild he's not quite joined. Illya is the best mage in the game bar none (and a decent warrior besides), Shirou is the best warrior in the game bar none (and a decent mage besides), Asuna is universally well-rounded, and everyone else has a Rare Element that helps them stand out from the crowd. Kirito, by contrast, merely has the Ether element, which works best when you have another element paired with it. This isn't always a bad thing—since Kirito isn't trying to hide his strength, he's able to give the Moonlight Black Cats a lot more help than canon, and they don't get slaughtered when they face an unexpectedly powerful enemy. Likewise, he never really gets a harem because all the girls are helped by other people instead of him. His only love interest is Asuna.
  • Infinity Train: Seeker of Crocus has Augustine Sycamore become one of these as he's a dark-haired scientist who gets transported onto the Infinity Train, has an advantage because he has a Garchomp with Mega Evolution, and later obtains his own Persona. He also is an All-Loving Hero and later a Genius Bruiser after some Training from Hell in the Monster City Car (ruled by another light novel hero in Rimuru Tempest). He even gets a Badass Longcoat that, through the author notes, is to reflect that he's essentially an isekai protagonist.
  • Zig-zagged for the Good Hunter from The Night Unfurls. Appearance-wise, he plays it straight: unkempt black hair flecked with grey; a face that would've been handsome had it held more expression; a lean build; and the dark grey Coat, Hat, Mask. He also plays it straight occupation-wise, starting out as a regular sellsword taking small jobs of cleaning up orcs and bandits (similar to an average blue-collar joe taking jobs at the Adventure Guild), eventually being promoted into knighthood and lordship (though he loathes the paperwork). As for anything else, however, it's zig-zagged: he made his way to the foreign land of Eostia, neither summoned nor reincarnated; he is overpowered, but he got his power via going through a From Nobody to Nightmare ordeal throughout his Dark and Troubled Past, coming out a Shell-Shocked Veteran who is secretly an Eldritch Abomination; he's a pragmatic '90s Anti-Hero instead of an all-loving one yet cares about doing good nonetheless; and he only becomes a Chick Magnet with a harem after 20+ chapters, not in the middle or the beginning of the story. The one aspect that really makes this protagonist stand out is his interpersonal relationships (not that kind of relationship, mind you), for the Good Hunter interacts with people other than a number of suitors, including his confidant, his apprentices, and his company, definitely not strictly limited to a number of female characters who only rotate around him. The harem in question? To the Hunter, it's a "problematic area".
  • Sword Art Online Abridged: Kirito is a deconstruction given that it's an Abridged Series that pokes fun at the genre. He's far from the Nice Guy Hero that are common to the genre, being a Jerkass who holds little regard for human life and part of his Character Development being learning to care. While he's similarly overpowered, he's also a Smug Super who loves rubbing it in everyone's faces. He starts off as a Chick Magnet who attracts girls, but his obnoxious personality always repels them away before he acquires his Unwanted Harem, with only Asuna so far being able to remain romantically involved with (Lisbeth gets over her feelings for him, but they remain Vitriolic Best Buds). He also learns his skills along the way rather than being given them with no explanation.

  • Kagerou Project kicked off its plot with Shintaro Kisaragi, a dour loner and the newest member of the Mekakushi Dan. He starts the story as a Hikikomori and skips school constantly, but back when he went he found the material to be too easy. It takes him meeting the rest of the gang to start opening back up and understand the eye powers they've all been given. He also has some of the most significance in the story: he was personally friends with Ayano before her passing, of which drew him into being a hikikomori in the first place, it's his actions in Route XX that inadvertently doom the timeline, and his eye power, "Recording Eyes", has been secretly aiding him in each timeline and is critical to ending the loop once and for all.

    Video Games 
  • Rean Schwarzer from The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel possesses an array of cliches that fit this trope. He's The Leader of Class VII, Chick Magnet extraordinaire that as of Cold Steel IV has up to eleven women all vying for him romantically, a Super Robot that only he can pilot, is adopted to a noble family, has a Superpowered Evil Side with no idea how he got it, is an overall Nice Guy and polite to other people, and is considered The Chosen One by a lot of characters (his master names Rean the one true successor who will learn the true meaning of the Eight Leaves One Blade sword style, his biological father names Rean the national hero of Erebonia, and Ishmelga), along with other characters from the Liberl and Crossbell arcs, believe that he's the center of everything. Unfortunately, even all these tools are not enough for him to win the day. In fact, he's on the losing side at the end of three games and things go From Bad to Worse for him. It literally takes a Deus ex Machina on top of a time travel plot to actually make him win the fourth game in the Erebonia arc.
  • Itsuki Aoi of Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE is an Ordinary High-School Student and Ridiculously Average Guy with a very indistinct design of a basic school uniform and short neatly-trimmed bluish-black hair in a cast where most have more unique features. He is granted superpowers, the job of being an idol, and a rapid promotion to team leader despite his lack of interest or experience at the role. Despite his unassuming design and personality, he manages to become a Clueless Chick-Magnet and all of the female members of the cast fall in love with him as if in a harem.
  • Tokyo Xanadu: Kou Tokisaka is a downplayed version of the trope. While he fits most of the criteria of being a typical light novel heronote  When it comes to his actual combat skills in the Eclipse, he is far from being an Invincible Hero, and this is demonstrated by his amateur fighting style and lack of understanding of his own Soul Device when he first obtains it.. Kou's growth throughout the game is instead the result of him working together with his friends and fellow X.R.C. members as part of his Character Development. In addition, he has no harem to speak of. The closest thing he has to harem are his female alliesnote ,but with the exception of the latter, the other girls show very little romantic interest in Kou, and they consider him more of a friend than anything (and in fact, Sora and Mitsuki get Ship Tease with other male members of the party). Also his group is balanced out by an equal amount of male students as well, who can equally bond with Kou in friendship events just as much as the girls.
  • Hyde Kido from Under Night In-Birth hits a few ticks from this trope. Namely, he's a rather plain-looking high schooler who awakens to a powerful ability and has quite a few girls implied to have deeper feelings for him. He does however subvert the usual personality traits, being an Idiot Hero. While he does acquire a powerful ability, he's considered a complete greenhorn compared to the more experienced cast members and he's firmly Unskilled, but Strong. Makes sense given the developers being the ones who made a spin-off to a visual novel.

    Visual Novels 
  • Grisaia Series: Yuuji Kazami is a Decon-Recon Switch of the trope. He fits most of the criteria: incredible skills, a growing Unwanted Harem, a stoic persona, a compulsion to help others, and an average appearance. However, his backstory reveals the circumstances under which he gained most of these. He suffered years of Parental Neglect in favor of his far more intelligent and talented older sister, which turned into abuse from his father after their cash cow died, culminating in his mother's murder. Yuuji killed his father in retaliation before being picked up as a Child Soldier by a terrorist who also sexually abused him. Some time later, he was then trained and raised by a female mercenary, who also took him as her lover before she, too, died and left him all alone. By the time the series begins, Yuuji is a suicidal, broken shell who wants to lead a "normal" life for a while and only helps the girls that eventually form his harem because he promised his deceased master that he'd help five people in need before he killed himself. However, the various games and the anime have numerous ways that Yuuji can finally earn his happy ending and live happily with some, or all, of his harem.
  • An early but very influential example is Shiki Tohno, a seemingly normal teenage everyman with short black hair... and the ability to permanently kill anything, a Superpowered Evil Side, and extensive childhood training in assassination that lets him instantly detect supernatural beings and kill them easily.
    • This is a Nasuverse staple, with Shirou Emiya following right after Shiki, though his orange hair stands out more. He's also an everyman - just one who happens to be a magus with the power to copy any weapon he sees. While initially incompetent, unlike most modern examples, he learns fast and is deceptively intelligent.
  • In a similar vein to the Nasuverse, the Masadaverse occasionally creates leads like this with Ren Fujii being perhaps the most straightforward of the bunch being a snarky everyman who just wants to maintain his everyday life yet is dragged into a supernatural conflict with no say in the matter, gaining various female love interests along the way. And it is revealed he was designed this way on purpose by Mercurius to act as the hero in his little opera. Quinn meanwhile falls into the "Princess" Heroine style, though unlike usual she is a frontline brawler using only her fists.