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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 Light Novel hero would probably be the Stock Shōnen Rival in another series, if they weren't the main character.


While the Stock Shōnen Hero is typically Hot-Blooded, Book Dumb, and starts off at the lower end of the Power Level food chain, the Stock Light Novel Protagonist 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 typically 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. Costume-wise, the Light Novel protagonist wears either an ordinary high school uniform or some other simple outfit, often equipped with a Badass Longcoat.


Shonen heroes are almost always part of a Fighting Series or Sports Story and form an action-oriented Power Fantasy. On the other hand, the Light Novel hero is a different type of Wish Fulfillment that can easily work in a mundane Slice of Life story. They are also a very common protagonist for an "Isekai" plot. note  Often ending up in said world through being summoned or reincarnation. If said world is an RPG-Mechanics Verse then they will likely be a Godlike Gamer.

Even when action is involved, there are big differences. While shonen heroes focus more on "power growth" (utilizing spirit and training, and gradually improving up the ranks 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 typically 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 heroes 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 Novel is markedly influenced by video games and mixes 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.

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 on 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.


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  • Kirito from Sword Art Online Abridged 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 sociopath 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.note  He also learns his skills along the way rather than being given them with no explanation.

    Light Novels 
  • Accel World: Haruyuki mostly fits the trope. He was once an Ordinary High-School Student, albeit a very unattractive one with a Non-Standard Character Design, who finds his life changed forever when he gets introduced to Brain Burst, an augmented reality game. As a Burst Linker, Haruyuki gains Powered Armor and fights other Burst Linkers. While he's fairly pathetic at first, he soon discovers he's one of the only Burst Linkers to have a Duel Avatar with wings, giving him the ability to fly and a huge advantage over everyone else. As the series progresses, he also acquires an Unwanted Harem of girls fawning for his attention.
  • Akashic Records of Bastard Magic Instructor: Glenn Radars appears to be a subversion at first, as he's a Jerkass Apathetic Teacher at the local Wizarding School who openly complains about his job and students and was only forced to take it because he was threatened to do so by his foster mother and appears to have very little power to speak of. That is, until he's properly motivated to work thanks to Rumia talking about her goals and dream. In his teachings he shows them how to actually practically apply magic to real world situations like the ones he's been in. Later it's revealed he's one of the strongest Mage Killers in existence, making it very likely he's holding back in the Wizard Duel. Furthermore, he's shown to be more heroic than thought as shown through the lengths he's willing to go to to protect his students from the Villains of the Week that target his students (or more specifically Rumia) for one reason or another quickly earn the respect of nearly all the students he teaches and the affection of two of his students. However this trope isn't truly played straight, but more played with since he's still a Gold Digging lazy bastard.
  • Arifureta: From Commonplace to World's Strongest both double-subverts and deconstructs the trope. In the case of the main character, it double subverts it as his life in Tortus is initially much worse than Earth, and Earth was pretty bad. After Hajime goes through hell, quite literally, he's forced into the trope when he meets Yue, falls in love with her, and then has a harem so unwanted, he's actually shot at them and they still insist on following him around and trying to get into his pants. The deconstruction comes from several supporting characters, Kouki, the "hero" and Yukitoshi Shimizu. Both of them get the nifty powers and abilities the average fan of isekai stories desire, but have personalities that show why such a thing is not always a good idea. Kouki has his "hero" title go straight to his head and makes him even more of an obnoxious twit than he was back on Earth, where he actually comes down on Hajime for the "crime" of getting assaulted, 4 on 1 by the school bullies, and then doubles down, thinking he's the indisputable paragon of virtue who is fated to save the world, and everyone must follow him, regardless of how stupid and reckless his actions are. As for the other one, Yukitoshi, despite being granted control of the powerful "Dark Magic," he's a total Super Loser who completely falls apart the moment even the tiniest thing goes wrong and insists that he should be the "hero" and lets his resentment blind him to the nature of the Demon race, as long as he gets to be a "hero" for them.
  • The Asterisk War: Ayato Amagiri is a talented fighter who claims ownership of one of the most powerful weapons in the world thanks to his enormous magical potential, becomes an instant celebrity amongst his peers and gains the affection of several girls across the Asterisk city. The family of one of the aforementioned girls has even considered putting him in an Arranged Marriage because of the possible political benefits such union could bring.
  • Asura Cryin': Tomoharu is an Ordinary High-School Student who happens to have a best friend that's a ghost. However, it turns out that said "ghosts" are actually the power sources of Humongous Mecha called "Asura Machina". In addition to this, various factions become worried about Tomo's growing relationship with various beautiful demon girls, because any romantic and/or sexual commitment to a demon allows a human to gain a Familiar called a "Daughter". A human with both an Asura and a Daughter is called an "Asura Cryin"—a Person of Mass Destruction whose own powers erase both their memories and ability to love, driving them mad.
  • Bakemonogatari: Koyomi Araragi is your average guy possessed by the strongest vampire in existence and suffers from a desire to help any cute girl he meets even if he barely knows her. But in a world where problems are solved with words and not fighting, his powers are hardly useful. He's gotten his ass kicked to the point of death multiple times. In fact, his Chronic Hero Syndrome comes from a Friendless Background; his sense of self-worth is so low that the only way he feels useful is to sacrifice himself for someone. He does his best to help, but can't fix their problems for them—they have to do it themselves, and some of the arc resolutions make you wonder if his actions even made a difference at all. Furthermore, most of the girls he saves end up attracted to him. Sounds great, except that he enters a relationship with one of them very early in the story, and stays with her until the end. The way neither the other girls nor his girlfriend seem to care about the Unwanted Harem only shows that they're all really traumatized in some way or another, and it's not usually presented as something cute or healthy. In fact, Koyomi's inability to just reject his Hopeless Suitors ends up causing the main conflict of the Second Season of the novels, when Nadeko Sengoku ends up possessed by an evil god due to her insane love for him and threatens to kill him and Senjougahara if he doesn't go out with her instead...and everything above is mentioned in Kaiki's "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Koyomi, because all of it could have been avoided if he'd just had the courage to reject Nadeko, and continuing to act in a way that would convince her she still had a chance with him was just causing her to suffer for no reason.
  • Being Able to Edit Skills in Another World, I Gained OP Waifus: Nagi Soma is summoned to another world along with his entire highschool class when the schoolbus they were riding gets summoned there. Because he's Genre Savvy enough to ask King Nadla the proper questions regarding their situation, instead of simply going along with what the king says at face value, like the rest of his class does, the king has the royal knights literally throw him out with little more than the clothes on his back. The rest of the story is him getting one slave haremette after another dumped on him by circumstances beyond his control, and having to use his unique "skill restructure" ability to make them all into over-powered warriors, just to get by.
  • Bladedance of Elementalers: Kamito Kazehaya is the only known male Elementaler, a person who is able to make contracts with spirits. This, of course, means that he is the only boy to attend a school devoted to that craft, thus guaranteeing an Unwanted Harem. Also, he is secretly Ren Ashbell, the world's greatest bladedancer, capable of defeating just about any opponent singlehandedly once he gets serious. Further, he is contracted to two immensely powerful spirits: Est, one of the most powerful holy swords ever created, and Restia, another powerful sword which is the literal manifestation of the goddess of Darkness.
  • Campione!: Godou Kusanagi is another Ordinary High-School Student who winds up being The Chosen One that kills a god and thus becomes the seventh and youngest "Campione". He is even special amongst that elite group by defeating the God of Victory, whose power allows him to kill any other god once Godou understands the god's origins and powers. The moment Godou becomes a Campione, Erica throws herself at him and "permits" him to have mistresses (although she insists he only have one) so long as it helps him fulfill his destiny. However, the fastest way to grant a Campione knowledge is by kissing them, and the Girl of the Week is usually the only one with the knowledge he needs.
  • A Certain Magical Index plays with this in regards to Touma Kamijou, despite being one of the earliest and most copied examples. Sure, he may have an ability that is incredibly overpowered, but that doesn't mean he himself is invincible. In fact, his tendency to take quite the beating before winning, his Determinator status, as well as being an All-Loving Hero, put him closer to a Stock Shōnen Hero than the typical light novel protagonist. Played straight, however, with his Unwanted Harem, most of whom were his former enemies.
    • Accelerator, in a way, fits this to a T. If it only weren't for the fact that he used to kill 10,032 people to become a Level 6, so...
  • Classroom of the Elite: Kiyotaka Ayanokouji is revealed to be a deconstruction: Multiple hidden talents? He was trained at childhood to be the best at everything, to the point he only cares about winning. Gaining the attraction of women? Calculated moves to earn their trust and make them easier for him to manipulate. Moral conscience? He has no such thing. He only wants to protect himself and will only help people if it advances said least until he starts making genuine bonds with people like Karuizawa and Airi. And his insistence on having an ordinary life? All just to get out of the influence of his obsessed father, who believes that he's borderline invincible and unstoppable (which is true), making Kiyotaka vow to find a way to get his father disinterested in him.
  • Date A Live: Shido is, of course, an Ordinary High-School Student. The necessity to build a harem, though, is baked right into the plot—the danger threatening the world are Apocalypse Maidens called "spirits" who can only be saved by falling in love with him and then kissing Shido, who absorbs their power into his body. This is because, before the story started, he was temporarily killed and resurrected to be capable of wielding Spirit powers without any drawbacks. When he achieves adulthood, he will have the potential to become a magical god.
  • Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody: Satou is a quintessential example of the trope, being an Everyman summoned into another world, who quickly gains an absurd level of power, can acquire new abilities basically any time he wants, and gains an ever-growing harem of pretty girls to accompany him. Even appearance-wise, he sports the standard short black hair and Badass Longcoat.
  • The Devil Is a Part-Timer!:
    • Well, to start with, Maou is The Devil (granted, only the latest in a long line of them, but still) and was the most powerful demon back in home world. On Earth, however, his power can't replenish itself without human emotion, which means each arc requires him to figure out a way to reacquire his abilities. He's rather unremarkable with plain black hair and a wardrobe that consists of Unislo and a fast food uniform. He's also quite intelligent and perceptive, having completely mastered everyday living on Earth in virtually no time at all. And finally, he of course winds up with an Unwanted Harem (albeit a small one). The overshadowing joke about all this, however, is that all he wants to be at the moment is to live as a regular part-time employee and Take Over the World by playing society's rules.
    • Emilia is the Hero Antagonist of the story and, thus, an inversion. But otherwise, Emilia fits the role of a Stock Light Novel protagonist including her massive fighting power that allowed her to almost single-handedly defeat Maou's forces. However, because she lacks the main character status, she lacks the rest of the trope's requirements, such as a harem.
  • Fate/Apocrypha: The protagonist was just a nameless Homunculus created by the Yggdmillenia to be a slave in the Holy Grail War, until he attempts to escape and gets heavily injured. The hero Siegfried sacrifices his heart to save him, dying in the process. Renaming himself Sieg in honor of his fallen savior, the protagonist goes on to become a leader to his fellow homunculii, a major figure in the war and one of the most powerful characters in the story albeit not without cost. He lacks the Harem traits though, as he's both Oblivious to Love and only one girl character is actually in love with him, though his male best friend (not that you could tell at a glance) isn't shy about his affection either.
  • Gamers!: This is parodied by way of subversion. While Amano has the plain appearance and Unwanted Harem, he lacks every other traits like skill or exceptional moral character, and the show repeatedly demonstrates that he has no interest in either. One short scene further cements this by demonstrating that a minor character, Misumi, actually has every cliche and characteristic that the standard SLNH would possess, but isn't concerned with his story at all.
  • Gonna be the Twin-Tail!!: Souji Mitsuka/Tail Red is a huge twin-tail fanboy who protects the world from evil aliens, earning an Unwanted Harem that consists of his childhood friend, the perverted scientist that gave him his powers, the Student Council President and even one of his enemies. The parody is that his superhero alter ego is a little girl, and he doesn't mind as long as he gets to enjoy his twintails, completely ignoring his harem. The one time he showed interest in the female gender instead of just their twintails, he lost will to fight for twintails, got stuck in his female form and even experienced a mild depression. It's only when he/she gets over it that Souji becomes more powerful than ever.
  • Hai To Gensou No Grimgar: Haruhiro and his party members aren't even close to being overpowered, nor are they particularly Genre Savvy or quick to adapt to the world they've been transported to. They struggle to defeat even low-level monsters, and most of the series is just focused on them trying to survive rather than going on an adventure. Which furthers the deconstruction: Haruhiro isn't the strongest party member, nor is he the main focus of the series. It's only due to the entire party that they're able to keep going. In any other series, they'd be the nameless, faceless background characters that the actual stock light novel heroes save.
  • High School DXD: Issei Hyoudou sits on the fence between this trope and Stock Shōnen Hero. He looks and acts more like a shonen protagonist, but (aside from literally debuting in a light novel) fills the Harem Genre, Ordinary High-School Student and "power acquisition" requirements. He's the current host of the Red Dragon Emperor—a being so powerful that Angels, Demons AND Fallen Angels had to join forces to break up a fight with its Arch-Enemy. The harem aspect, however, is not by accident—Issei's greatest dream is to become the "Harem King".
  • How NOT to Summon a Demon Lord: Diablo pokes fun at the genre by exaggerating the cliches to ridiculous levels. He's a Godlike Gamer and a shut-in NEET back in the real world before he is abruptly summoned into an RPG Verse where he becomes his overpowered player avatar, and finds that everyone around him is laughably under levelednote . He gets a harem of two girls fighting over him from his very first appearance, however the twist is that they actually get turned into his slaves by accident so he technically owns them, and he keeps acquiring more girls after that. He's unusual that he's not a bishonen human, but a imposing demon lord. What distinguishes him from most unlike most examples of this trope, he roleplays the mean, selfish Demon Lordnote , meaning he generally doesn't show altruistic traits on the surface like the typical light novel protagonist. This extends to the relationship he has with the girls, who he is quite perverted towards including groping them on a few occasions. It takes scratching the surface and getting to know him better to see his nicer side underneath who is willing to help his girls when they are in trouble.
  • I Couldn't Become a Hero, So I Reluctantly Decided to Get a Job: Raul was once one of the strongest Heroes of his world and led a party of other Heroes against the forces of the Demon King. However, at some point during their adventure, someone else got to the Demon King first and slew him, meaning that the war was over and there was suddenly no need for Heroes like Raul. With no other prospects, he's forced to take a job in a department store. However, this is turned upside-down when Fino, the Demon King's daughter, starts working at the same store and troubles from his past begin popping up. Raul's skills as a Hero come in handy for dealing with these problems, and his bravery and Nice Guy status still draw the attention of an Unwanted Harem.
  • In Another World with My Smartphone: Touya Mouchizuki takes the trope to an extreme. He's an Ordinary High-School Student who dies and gets transported to another world, acquires a Badass Longcoat, and quickly becomes a Showy Invincible Hero with a harem. Unlike many shows of this type, however, this is the entire point—God feels guilty for killing him before his time and actively works to give Touya the best life ever, with nigh-unbeatable power and an endless supply of women willing to share him in marriage.
  • Infinite Stratos: Ichika Orimura is the only male in the world that can pilot the titular Powered Armor, which means he is the only male in a school dedicated to training IS pilots and gets an Unwanted Harem. He is also a pretty good homemaker, dedicated and passionate about his beliefs and draws strength from his conviction to protect his loved ones. Unlike other examples of this trope, though, Ichika is not overpowered. His successes are due simply to his determination, courage and whit. In addition, he has no idea that the girls have feelings for him and the series derives lots of its humor from his lack of romantic awareness, until it is later implied he only pretends to be unaware of the girls' romance towards him as to avoid getting into further trouble with them.
  • The Irregular at Magic High School: One of the oldest Trope Codifier, especially for the Extranormal Institute variety of trope. Further, unlike many later characters like this, the traits associated with the trope are analyzed or deconstructed. Thanks to its heavy political themes, Tatsuya Shiba discovers this trope's setbacks. Invincible Hero? His soul was changed when he was still in his mother's stomach, and in childhood was forced to become Child Soldier to master the most powerful magic known to man so that he could guard the Yotsuba family forever. Many people, however, fear a possible Beware the Superman scenario and would rather keep their distance from him. The Yotsuba family even created Miyuki to restrain him. Stoicism? Not by choice. To prevent him from destroying the world on a whim, the Yotsubas altered his brain chemistry and made him unable to feel any strong emotion, except for his love for his sister Miyuki.
  • Isekai Cheat Magician: Taichi Nishimura seems like a pretty standard example, being an Ordinary High-School Student where he was whisked away to another world full of magic, swords, and monsters. While there he discovers he possesses overwhelming magical powers which is so great he was considered a 'cheat'. However what sets this series apart is Taichi isn't the sole protagonist, sharing the spotlight with a girl named Rin who is the identical situation to him of being trapped in the world with cheat magic powers.
  • Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?: Bell Cranel seems to be a cross between this and Stock Shōnen Hero. He starts off being deemed weak by everyone and rejected from most familia, which led him to a steep learning curve of training to increasing his power and actually has to be rescued several times. However he is able to rapidly grow in strength compared to everyone else due to his unique skill Realis Phrase, going from being overwhelmed by a Minotaur to being the one to defeat the borderline Hopeless Boss Fight. While he is introduced as a Harem Seeker who goes dungeon crawling to try and pick up girls, this gets dropped early on and he ends up being a Chick Magnet who acquires his own Unwanted Harem. Unlike most light novel protagonists, his physical appearance stands out due to being a Heroic Albino and he doesn't belong to any modern society which is reflected in his fashion. In addition, while he isn't exactly an Idiot Hero he has been known to have a Horrible Judge of Character, being naive and overly trusting.
  • Is This a Zombie?: Ayumu Aikawa was an Ordinary High-School Student until one day he died. But soon after he gets brought back to life as a zombie. Though he's not the stereotypical flesh-eating, mindless, rotting zombie. He's an intelligent, attractive Friendly Zombie who doesn't act any different to how he was back when he was alive. Really the only difference is being brought Back from the Dead he now boasts an assortment of powers such as a Healing Factor, Super Strength, and being Nigh Invulnerable. Also, he has his own Supporting Harem of girls who are all supernatural creatures, including the very necromancer who brought him back to life.
  • Kämpfer: Natsuru Senou gets dragged against his will in a fight between Kampfers, superpowered girls who act proxies in a war between two planets. Since all Kampfers are female and Natsuru is a male, that means he is transformed into a girl upon becoming a Kampfer. His female form attacts the romantic interest of almost every guy and girl in his high school, with only one girl interested in his male form, and he remains oblivious to their interest because he is already in love with one girl who is actually working for the bad guys and is not above manipulating Natsuru in both forms to get what she wants. To top it all off, any meaningful development of the Kampfer war is largely put on hold for what's basically an ecchi comedy focusing on Natsuru's love life.
  • Knight's & Magic: Ernesti Echevalier is a former otaku reincarnated into another world where Mecha are the primary combat tools, and immediately manages to increase his kingdom's technology level by a comparable magnitude to what it took the kingdom's best military minds hundreds of years to do in the past despite being only in middle school, gets a carte blanche from the king to engage in adventure wherever he likes with a small band of his True Companions, and eventually almost singlehandedly saves another small kingdom from an invasion by The Empire, all the while treating warfare as nothing but a fun game because he's just that overpowered. He lacks the appearance (as he's a silver-haired, androgynous preteen boy) and the harem (as only one girl shows signs of attraction toward him, and because of their age it's ambiguous whether it's truly romantic or just platonic in nature), although those are justified as the novel is for a younger demographic than what's normally intended here.
  • Konosuba:
    • Kazuma is a light-hearted parody of the trope. When he first arrives in his new world, he thinks he'll be overpowered, but turns out to have some of the weakest stats, aside from luck. And his teammates form the very definition of an Unwanted Harem, as each one of them is hilariously incompetent except for VERY specific circumstances as well as have character flaws which indicate very questionable levels of sanity.
    • Kyouya, Kazuma's rival and foil, is the epitome of this trope: an extremely attractive Chosen One with an overpowered sword and his own adoring harem. The irony is that Kazuma's harem includes the heroine, Aqua, who Kyouya thought was his main heroine, but it turns out she forgot all about him. In fact, Kazuma's entire harem hates Kyouya and, despite denying it, adore Kazuma for various reasons.
  • Log Horizon: Shiroe is trapped in a game world along with many other players, and he happens to be one of the greatest strategists alive with the highest level cap (at first) in the game. His exploits earn him the affections of multiple women, and as he learns more about how the mechanics of the game world work, he learns that his abilities and his intellect are perfectly suited to allow him to break reality itself through Magically Binding Contracts.
  • The Master Of Ragnarok And Blesser Of Einherjar: Yuuto was an Ordinary High-School Student and a bit of a history nerd. He's summoned to the magical world of Yggdrasil to help the Wolf Clan win battles against their neighboring clans and, by the time the story begins two years later, his strategies and knowledge of future technology have helped him evolve into the Patriarch of the Wolf Clan as it expands and absorbs several other neighboring ones. This earns him not only the reverence of the clan, but (by way of the "chalice oath" system of fealty in this world) the loyalty and love of several beautiful girls, who he adopts as daughters or sisters, and all of whom want to bear his seed.
  • Maoyuu Maou Yuusha: Yuusha is the Legendary Hero fated to defeat Maou, the Demon Lord. To this end, he was born with absurd skill and power well beyond that of any human or demon, capable of defeating entire armies with ease. However, when he meets Maou (the Demon Queen), he learns that she's a very wise and benevolent woman who knows that even if this war comes to an end, nothing will change. She instead proposes that the two of them join forces to introduce the very primitive and socially backward world to concepts such as agriculture, advanced economics, and social reform. However, this causes him to to feel that he's become useless outside of the occasional use of force when peaceful measures won't work. Further fitting the trope, he turns out to be quite the Chick Magnet, with both the Demon Queen and the Female Knight vying for his well as many more female admirers who desire him as well.
  • Myriad Colors Phantom World: Haruhiko Ichijo is a Chick Magnet, Bishōnen, Ordinary High-School Student in a world where supernatural creatures known as phantoms roam free. He joins a club where students accept jobs in handling phantoms, with his club being full of girls that make up his Battle Harem. He also possesses special ability to seal phantoms in his sketch book.
  • My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU: Different from other light novel heroes, The Protagonist Hachiman Hikigaya is a Genre Savvy that usually battles against this, mostly being an Ineffectual Loner and Snark Knight, but he eventually becomes a hero by his own: he's a Badass Bookworm who has the ability to quickly analyse and come to a fairly accurate conclusion of a person's hidden motivations and personality traits. Being obligated to help students as part of the Service Club, Hachiman is rediscovered for the others as a Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold, the main reason why eventually he gets an Unwanted Harem, starting with his club mates Yui Yuigahama and Yukino Yukinoshita.
  • Nidome no Yuusha: Deconstructed with Ueki Kaito. Possibly the darkest deconstruction to date. Summoned against his will, home and family destroyed outside his knowledge, he spent three years struggling to save the new world from the Demon Lord, only to have his "companions" turn on him when he succeeds, get hunted down like an animal for a year, and stabbed to death by said "companions" as they're happily patting themselves on the back rejoicing at "the death of evil" and whining about how long it took them to kill him.
  • No Game No Life: Sora fits most of the criteria; he's a NEET that is unparalleled in both his gaming skills. In addition, and the main reason he fits this trope more than his sister, is because he gains a veritable harem of hot women (including said sister) who either love or become his property by one means or another. What distinguishes him from most light novel protagonists is he's not a stereotypical Nice Guy, being incredibly arrogant and often manipulates those around him for personal gain, along with the fact he's in all aspects still a normal human and defeats others using his own wits rather than any powers that he acquires along the way. It's a plot point that Immanity are the "weakest" species in Disboard, Sora instead sees this as the ultimate strength and he only becomes more formidable as he defeats and forms alliances with the various other species.
  • Overlord: Ainz (aka Momonga aka Satoru) is an interesting variation in that he's not a human but a lich, finding himself incarnated as his MMORPG character In a World... that shares a lot of similarities with said MMO, but he soon discovers it's not the same as being inside the game. While he does possess ridiculous power (being at max level and inheriting everything from his former guild), he also tries to avoid flaunting it for fear of other players hearing about him and deciding to kill him (and he constantly misjudges just how overleveled he is compared to the rest of the world), and most of his early plans involve recruiting many unique-ability-having people (as it seems neither he nor his allies can learn new abilities) to work for him to round out Nazarick's skillset. His lich body also constantly suppresses his emotions for good or evil, and he finds himself committing ever more atrocities without batting an eye in the name of his utopia. He also has an Unwanted Harem, but he simply can't benefit from it in anyway, lacking the necessary parts or even emotions for love (and of the three girls, none are human, one was programmed to be a necrophile, one is In Love with Your Carnage, and another was accidentally programmed to love him as a joke). Finally, he went through an edgelord phase a few years back and is now thoroughly ashamed of what it produced: a Large Ham NPC prone to Putting on the Reich and Gratuitous German.
  • Re:Zero: When he first arrives in his new world, Subaru assumes he's gained powerful magic or some other talent, but initially has none. The only unique ability he gained is to start over from a "save point" after he dies, which is only a blessing considering the horrible ways he constantly meets his end. Gaining a harem (with a couple of reciprocated loves but also others with varying degrees of interest) means he has more people to protect or save. And one of those girls, Satella, the Witch of Envy, leaves a trail of corpses whenever she makes an appearance. To top it all off, all of the ability acquisitions he gains throughout the series are extremely nerfed compared to the original users or have conditions that Subaru cannot match, making them completely useless.
  • The Rising of the Shield Hero: The series begins by lampshading the usual formula, having protagonist Iwatani Naofumi constantly point out all the traits taht make him a standard Light Novel hero, right up to him being summoned to another world. The subversion starts immediately after that, with him being only one of four heroes summoned, the only one of the four that isn't a confident badass, the only one of the four that isn't a Godlike Gamer, and the one unfortunately chosen to bear the shield, a weapon that even the people that summoned them snub their noses at. He quickly learns why: the shield has no offensive power whatsoever, meaning he struggles to even kill the weakest enemies, meaning that he can't earn any XP to level up, and even when he does level up, it still only increases his defense and just makes the next level even harder to achieve. Thus, he is continually disrespected at every turn, and though his first party member is an incredibly beautiful woman, she winds up betraying, robbing, and falsely accusing him of attempted rape, thus destroying the little respect he had to the point that the entire world sees him as pure scum. This event is the Cynicism Catalyst that defines Naofumi's personality for the rest of the series, as he decides to play up his role as a Jerkass Hero because no one will take him seriously otherwise. Later points in the story slowly start the Double Subversion, with Naofumi starting to learn more useful abilities, and gaining a party of female charaters that could technically be considered a "harem".
  • Seikoku no Dragonar: While not quite The Stoic nor an Ordinary High-School Student, Ash has a Unique Protagonist Asset in that he and his sister can ride any Dragon besides the one that belongs to him. In only a few chapters/episodes, he goes from being on the lowest end of the power spectrum to one of the highest as a Dragonar, with various characters promising that he isn't even close to his fullest potential. He's also the only known person whose Parr, Eco, has human form. In addition to the aforementioned Eco, he also has several girls who are either in love with him or want to have his child for a variety of reasons. And that's not even getting into the other things related to being the Knight of Avalon which make him even more special.
  • Skeleton Knight In Another World: Arc Raratoia was an otaku gamer who one day fell asleep and woke up in the body of his online game avatar, which has the appearance of a Knight in Shining Armor on the surface and a skeleton underneath. He is substantially more powerful than other characters with endless grinding having pushed his level to a maximum of 255, which grants him Super Strength and an assortment of mystical powers. While he doesn't quite have a harem yet, he does encounter and help out a lot of girls on his adventures so he's getting there.
  • Slave Harem in the Labyrinth of the Other World invokes the trope. He not only actively chose to go to this New World, but was actively warned that return would be impossible. He actively seeks out sex-slaves, purchases them purely to have sex with them, which he does, and doesn't do anything that different from the locals except being quite talented and seemingly having an eye for "recruiting" very, very talented individuals (said sex slaves) to staff his adventuring party that most others somehow overlooked and dismissed. In fact, the sex slaves are all well aware that he purchases them purely for the sex, and the fact that he actually needs them to fight in labyrinths is only a convenient excuse. He doesn't escape the trope entirely, however, because he genuinely loves his slaves and not only secretly unlocks more and more potential in them, but actively pampers them like crazy.
  • Strike the Blood: Kojou Akatsuki has silver hair and often wears a hoodie, but other than that, perfectly fits the style of an LN hero. He's the Fourth Progenitor, by his own admission "the most powerful vampire in the world". Progenitors can summon an entire army of familiars—each one by itself a Person of Mass Destruction, but to awaken familiars he must drink blood. The familiars literally won't respect a "virgin" vampire, and some of them still won't respond if he only drinks blood from the same people over and over, thus requiring him to acquire an Unwanted Harem. Even if he didn't have to, though, Kojou's power, good looks, and desire to protect others draws a large number of girls (and some men) to him.
  • Sukasuka: The main character, Willem, was a standard light novel protagonist 500 years before the main story. He acquired a formidable number of skills and abilities in typical light novel hero fashion. However, his strength ultimately had zero impact on humanity’s fate. His final battle was a Senseless Sacrifice and everything he held dear was destroyed by the 17 Beasts. He learns this unfortunate fact after being unfrozen 500 years later and discovering he’s the last living human. To add insult to injury he lost most of his fighting ability due to being petrified for so long, resulting in him being forced to remain a bystander while others fight and die in his place. SukaSuka shows just how insignificant even a Stock Light-Novel Hero is in what is basically a Cosmic Horror Story.
  • Sword Art Online: Kirito is the most well-known example of the trope and quite possibly the Trope Codifier. He's an Ordinary High-School Student with a Badass Longcoat, a Clueless Chick Magnet with a Battle Harem, and is known to be a stoic Ineffectual Loner. He's a Godlike Gamer in an RPG-Mechanics Verse which allows him to become the World's Best Warrior of SAO, routinely gets given new abilities and skills such as his Dual Wielding, and he's an Invincible Hero with most enemies being fodder to him. He also quickly climbing the ranks in other virtual-reality games as well and is able to keep defying the limits the System has set. This is subverted in Alicization where despite this arc shifts the series closer to the Isekai genre, Kirito himself moves away from the usual cliches for this character archetype. He is a lot more underpowered than previous arcs as he has to gradually learn about the new world and work towards power, unlike previous arcs where he was often at his peak when he took on obstacles. Also the girls that join his Supporting Harem each arc has largely been replaced largely absent and he by a Bash Brothers dynamic with Eugeo.
  • Sword Art Online: Alternative Gun Gale Online: LLENN is a rare female example, but nonetheless still falls into this due to being Wish Fulfillment for a Feminist Fantasy. She starts off as an ordinary college student who decides to try out VR gaming. Upon landing in Gun Gale Online she gets given an advantageously short and speedy avatar which made her one of the deadliest players in the game. Noted for being able to defy the conventional laws of physics and proving to be a Godlike Gamer in her own right, she ends up single-handedly winning the first Squad Jam tournament and becomes Famed In-Story. While the harem aspect is mostly absent due to her being a female, she still ends up garnering a few female admirers to her annoyance.
  • That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime is a pretty ridiculous take on this trope. Rimuru Tempest was once an ordinary otaku human who died and got reincarnated in another world that was magical. The twist however is he got reincarnated, as the title suggests, as a slime. He discovers that the nature of his reincarnation granted him the unique Predator Skill that allowed him to quickly amass power by absorbing enemies he defeated and acquire their abilities, so that after a few weeks he's already an Invincible Hero. He gets an assortment of girls following him in a Supporting Harem and as much as he'd like to give up his virginity, as a slime he now lacks the equipment necessary, and to complicate matters further he ends up acquiring a humanoid form that has a female appearance.
  • Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle: Lux Arcadia is the legendary Black Hero that destroyed his own empire to save innocent people, is the only guy in an all-girls school (which means an Unwanted Harem), saves the newly formed kingdom (ruled by one of the girls in the aforementioned harem) on a regular basis and, along with his sister and Aeril, is the only good person in family of hideous and pathetic excuses for human beings.
  • When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace: Andou is the sole male member of the Literature Club, with every other member being part of his Unwanted Harem (in addition to the Student Council President). The catch is that, after the Mass Empowering Event that grants he and the other girls superpowers, his ability turns out to be the weakest of all of them with absolutely no combat or support utility whatsoevernote . He is also a massive chuunibyou obsessed with indulging his overactive imagination and living on Rule of Cool. However, these traits are also what not only endears him to the girls, but also makes him the pillar of their lives; without his Genre Savviness, none of the girls would have the slightest idea what to do with their incredible powers, nor their own personal failings. He also takes advantage of this very trope by convincing an enemy with Power Parasite abilities to steal his powers by telling her that main characters always start the weakest and become the most powerful.
  • World Break: Aria of Curse for a Holy Swordsman: Moroha is a first-year student at an Extranormal Institute which instructs "Saviours", students who can use powers gained from Past-Life Memories. Almost instantly, he gains the attention of two girls who were once his lovers in a past life, which also means that with two reincarnations to draw from, he has more innate power than anyone else at his school. In fact, it immediately becomes clear that he is an S-Rank Saviour—only seven of which exist, including him. And his power is so immense that he still puts the other S-Ranks to shame, easily defeating two of their ranks when they threaten his friends. As the story progresses, he only acquires more powers and gains the affection of more women.
  • Youjo Senki: Tanya Von Degurechaff is a very dark take on the genre that turns the cliches on its head. It involves a cynical aetheist Japanese HR manager who was a jerkass to his workers, leading one of them to murder him by pushing him in front of a train. The man was then confronted with a being who claimed to be GOD, only for the bitter atheist to not only refuse to believe the God (who he dubs "Being X") but to challenge him on how the world didn't need any faith. Angered by this, Being X punished him by reincarnating him a world of constant magic and warfare, in the body of a little girl named Tanya Von Degurechaff, who finds herself as a powerful unstoppable sorceress fighting in what resembles World War I. While the empire she serves sees her as a hero, Tanya is concerned for no one but herself and only seeks to further her own power and self preservation.

    Video Games 
  • Tokyo Xanadu: Kou Tokisaka is a Deconstruction of the trope. While he fits most of the criteria of being a typical light novel hero; a Stoic Ordinary High-School Student who is also a Ridiculously Average Guy and an everyman who likes to help out people in need, even if it isn't his own business, and obtains his Soul Device through "power acquisition" to defeat otherworldly monsters called Greeds, that's where the similarities end. 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, in contrast to his classmate Asuka Hiiragi, who is far more powerful and experienced than he is. 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 allies; Asuka, Sora, Mitsuki, Rion, and even his Childhood Friend Shiori. 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. Not to mention that 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.

    Visual Novels 
  • 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.
  • 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 Parental 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.