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Stock Shōnen Hero

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"Every challenge along the way, with courage I will face...
I will battle every day to claim my rightful place!
Come with me, the time is right, there's no better team...
Arm in arm, we'll win the fight, it's always been our dream!"
— The second verse to "Pokémon Theme"

After the massive genre-defining, global, and still ongoing success of Dragon Ball, its hero Son Goku quickly became the codifier for a wave of young male spiky-haired heroes in Shonen shows around the world. Goku himself is an expy of the Monkey King, Sun Wukong.

Most franchises will start with a big-hearted, energetic Kid Hero. Intellectually, he's nothing to write home about, but this average simple-minded boy is actually a cunning genius when it comes to the Serious Business of choice. He's got a natural gift that blows others out of the water. On the rare occasion he loses, he'll train so hard that he catches up to and outsmarts masters of the craft one after the other.

He takes pride in his strength, but his true power comes from his friends. Don't pick a fight with him, or anyone he cares about, because he never gives up and will find a way to beat you.

For as strong he is physically, he's got an equally strong sense of justice (often in those exact terms on official bios). He'll go out of his way to help complete strangers, sometimes show mercy on his enemies, and always stand up and speak out for what's right.

The simpleness of the trope allows for endless kinds of age-appropriate stories about growing up, making friends, overcoming rivals and occasionally befriending them, getting acknowledged for winning, being determined enough to work through your failings, and generally being a good person. All subjects that hit home with the target audience.

An encompassing trope that's usually some combination of Book Dumb, Hot-Blooded, Idiot Hero, The Gift, Unskilled, but Strong, Training from Hell, Instant Expert, The Determinator, Time to Unlock More True Potential, The Power of Friendship, All-Loving Hero, To Be a Master. Often tends to be a Big Eater, again harkening back to the trope codifier, Son Goku. He is usually Oblivious to Love if not an outright Chaste Hero, though it is common that he experiences a Last-Minute Hookup at the end of the series. If he is not Oblivious to Love, he may be a Dogged Nice Guy who is comically rejected by most girls or has Single-Target Sexuality for the female lead. May also include aesthetic tropes like spiky Shonen Hair, Primary-Color Champion (leaning more towards Red (or increasingly Orange) is Heroic), using elements like Pure Energy, the vigor of Fire, or free-spirited Wind. Since these guys tend to have Heroic Builds or otherwise be drawn in an attractive way, he may or may not also be a Mr. Fanservice in real life; either way, expect Hollywood Homely to be in play and for most female characters to find him unremarkable in comparison to his Stock Shōnen Rival, a la Naruto. Following Goku's example, the character is very likely to have Cross-Dressing Voices (an adult woman affecting the voice of a preteen/teenage boy) in Japanese versions; in English and other dubs, this is less common, but can still be seen in characters like Ash Ketchum, Luffy, and Naruto.

A nearly Omnipresent Trope in the genre as of the late '80s and beyond. See also Japanese Spirit. Compare its companion trope, the Stock Light-Novel Hero and contrast with its genre Distaff Counterpart, Stock Shoujo Heroine, who is also Book Dumb and friendship-oriented but is usually not as Hot-Blooded.

Naturally, this trope goes hand in hand with the Stock Shōnen Rival, the most common type of Foil for this archetype.


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  • Dragon Ball:
    • Son Goku is the Trope Codifier, as most of the traits in the description are ones he introduced. He has noticeably spikey hair, is simpleminded sometimes to the point of stupidity, a Big Eater that can put away 40+ full course meals in one sitting, showed mercy to the evil emperor of the galaxy after he had just committed genocide of the Namekians and killed his best friend, got excited at the challenge when he was informed that robots were going to kill all of his friends, mastered techniques after one glance that took other people hundreds of years to develop. Even after becoming a master he still trains, believing there's no upper limit to self improvement, and is soon on par with literal gods (and on a first name basis with them). Goku is also an unbuilt example, as he's not as noble and unselfish as others inspired by him; if his friends or the world are threatened he'll surpass any and all limitations to pull out a win, but he mainly fights for the thrill of it and his final goal is always something for his own benefit (namely to get stronger).
    • Despite being one of the Trope Codifiers for the Stock Shōnen Rival, Vegeta also possess some of the typical traits of a shonen hero; he is a Hot-Blooded Determinator, with spikey hair, who seeks to become the most powerful warrior in the universe. It helps that, like Goku, he too is an unbuilt example of Stock Shōnen Rival.
  • Dan Kuso from Bakugan. Dan is a boy who really loves Bakugan and aspires to be the best brawler to ever live, which he achieves in the last episode of the first season. However, he tends to be impulsive and rash, which often leads him to trouble when his overconfidence gets the better of him. He is easily frustrated, which combined with his eagerness to brawl, causes him to complain a lot when he has to wait around in hiding, as shown in the first and second season. Dan, however, plays with the Idiot Hero trope. In the beginning, Dan played using raw power without any kind of strategy, only caring about winning and not the consequences that would follow. Because of this, he and Drago got into an argument that ended with Dan throwing Drago in the river. After losing a battle to Ryo and reuniting with Drago, Dan learned that there's more to Bakugan than just power. After that experience, Dan started using a little more strategy in his battles, allowing him to take on world-ranked Bakugan champions like Chan Lee.
  • Beyblade:
  • Ichigo Kurosaki from Bleach is a orange spiky-haired teenager who is determined to protect the vulnerable because he knows what it's like to be powerless. His mother was murdered in front of his eyes by a Hollow just before his ninth birthday and he doesn't want anyone to feel the way he felt about that. Three of the five story arcs are based around his determination to protect his friends (Rukia, Orihime and dealing with Uryuu's odd situation in the final arc). His genetic and spiritual inheritance means that his soul is made up of all four of the story's soul-types (Human, Soul Reaper, Hollow, Quincy) giving him enormous power. Soul Reapers can take decades or centuries to develop their power; Ichigo can surpass them after training for days. The villains keep "helping" him to power up because they want his power for themselves, but this just enables him to eventually defeat them. Unlike most shonen heroes, he actually gets good grades in school. He's very studious because he's conscious that the teachers are biased against him because of his odd-coloured hair. However, in battle, he fights instinctively instead of strategically.
  • Waku from Bokurano is eager to be Falling into the Cockpit. Out of the dozen main characters he gets the most emphasis early on and has the most "stereotypical" shonen protagonist traits, despite the series being seinen. He's boisterous, shouts while attacking, is Book Dumb, and is happy to become a hero. Waku is the Decoy Protagonist, as he dies before the first volume is done (episode 2 of the anime). This sets the tone of the series.
  • Denji from Chainsaw Man shares Naruto's blonde hair and orange color theme, and shares some traits of the archetype initially; however, their origins stem from extremely depressing circumstances. He's a Big Eater, but it's because he lived in abject poverty and frequently had to eat from the dumpster to survive, so when given the chance to indulge he can't help it. He often comes across as an Idiot Hero, but that's because he had no access to education or any real parental figures or intellectual stimulation, so he's not really stupid so much as emotionally and socially underdeveloped. This aspect of him slowly changes across the series as Denji becomes more self-actualized.
  • Allen Walker from D.Gray-Man isn't an Idiot Hero, but otherwise he fits the trope to a tee. He's a cheerful, kind-hearted, and compassionate young man with a strong sense of justice. He loves and wishes to save everyone — humans and Akuma alike. Nothing you do will make him give up or keep him down for long. He also is quite the Big Eater.
  • A Recurring Element internal trope to the Digimon franchise. Almost every season of the anime has a goggle-headed boy, who is predictably Hot-Blooded, probably good at soccer, extremely caring, uses a fire-breathing and/or dragon-like mon, becomes the most powerful team member, and is the glue that keeps the team together. Usually, over the course of the adventure, they tone down the hot-bloodedness and focus more on helping their friends and becoming a better leader. There are a few aversions, though: Tamers' Takato, who was a bit of a wimp to start but got stronger as it went on; Data Squad's Marcus, who didn't wear goggles but was hot-blooded to the point that he would physically punch Mega level evil Digimon with his bare fists; and App Monsters' Haru, who is explicitly bookish, utterly non-athletic, and much more restrained with his arc mainly being developing into that archetype of a leader who does courageous stuff for his friends.
  • Dr. STONE has two clear cases:
    • Taiju Oki is strong, hot-blooded, a Big Eater, not too bright and fiercely loyal to his friends Senku and Yuzuriha. The first few episodes focus on him as he attempts to survive in the post-petrification world and deals with his crush on Yuzuriha. Subverted in that he turns out to be a Decoy Protagonist; he's Put on a Bus after Tsukasa's Face–Heel Turn, and the story focuses on Senku for the rest of its run.
    • Chrome is incredibly passionate about science, believes in both The Power of Friendship and The Power Of Science to save the day, is determined to become the best scientist he can, and initially started experimenting as a child to find a cure for his crush Ruri. Subverted again in that he starts out as Senku's rival, trying to prove to him his intellect is superior. After realizing how far ahead of everyone Senku is, Chrome instead decides to become his apprentice.
  • In Fairy Tail, Natsu is a Destructive Savior (the whole Fairy Tail group is this, but Natsu is one of the most egregious examples), very Hot-Blooded (understandably because of his Playing with Fire Personality Powers), applies "Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!" whenever he can, never quits, no matter what, seriously believes in The Power of Friendship, shares the role of The Heart of the team with Lucy...
  • Shiki from Hiro Mashima's Spiritual Successor to Fairy Tail, EDENS ZERO, serves as a Deconstructed Character Archetype, particularly his obsession with making friends, as it only makes him come across as a creep or a weirdo. His tendency to put his friends' needs before his own very nearly leads to him getting marooned forever on a deserted planet when everyone he knows on his home planet — who are all robots — are on the verge of breaking down forever and have to pretend they've turned on him to get him to leave.
  • Flame of Recca: Recca Hanabishi, the main hero of the series, is a spiky-haired Ninja fanboy and an overall reckless but good hearted boy who is also quite Hot-Blooded and not very good with studies. With his own flame power and his own battle instincts (thanks to trying to imitate ninjas), he ends up facing many tribulations, turning many rivals into friends and allies and eventually overcoming his and his original clan's destiny.
  • Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star is a downplayed example, alongside his manga, as the series is the grandfather of modern shonen manga and thus he predates many shonen heroes who better fit this trope. While Kenshiro is a determined All-Loving Hero, he's also more brutal, serious and intelligent then most other shonen protagonists, as well as being older and quieter. However, he does give a good Bruce Lee impersonation that's loud and shouty whenever he uses his signature Hokuto Hyakuretsu Ken. He's also quite strong from the beginning and doesn't need to go through any more training to improve himself, unlike most modern examples of the trope.
  • Soma Yukihira from Food Wars! is a Fiery Redhead who enters the prestigious Tootsuki Academy to become a great chef. While he is at first looked down upon due to his humble background, he manages to survive the academy's cutthroat environment due to his determination, creativity and experience. Despite being very proud of his skills (he antagonizes the entire student body during his entrance speech where he practically calls the other students a bunch of losers for not having any practical experience in the kitchen), he is also very loyal to his friends, being willing to wager his position in the academy to save a school club from being shut down, and prevent Megumi from being expelled after she failed an exam.
  • Getter Robo:
    • Ryoma Nagare is one of the earliest examples. He's loud, likes to fight, is not very book smart and possesses superhuman strength. What makes him an unbuilt trope is that his idiot hero traits and love of fighting were quite figuratively and literally beaten into him by his father since childhood via Training from Hell, rather than just naturally being stupid. Another example is, while he generally desires to fight those who are a threat to humanity, and does show genuine horror and concern for the atrocities committed, he's not above injuring or killing those who he deems as a threat to him or mankind as a whole, even if it's fellow humans or even animals. His introduction has him assault a karate tournament who's majority of competitors are innocent of any wrongdoing in fit of revenge due to the karate association using underhanded tactics to blacken his fathers dojo's image and have it shut down. What makes this even more an unbuilt example is that even the revenge aspect was misplaced as his father's dojo was shut down due to overtly cruel, murderous fighting methods, a trait Ryoma had bred into him. His Blood Knight tendencies also border on Sociopathic Hero as he legit enjoys killing his enemies all while having a Slasher Smile. Another aspect is, despite his Idiot Hero status, he's very adept at technology, being able to utilize Getter Robo the first time (though he admits he did need training after, although it was offscreen) and being capable of using Professor Shikishima's crazy weapons and inventions. As well as this, he's got a more sarcastic, wittier, and at times, sardonic, dark sense of humour in contrast to most Shonen Heroes who are portrayed as really pure in thought, motive and word. He also thought Professor Shikishima's Death Seeker status was an act to scare the enemy that held him hostage and played along with it rather than believe he was genuine and try to talk him out of it, a case of not being able to read someone because they were legit nuts, rather than being dense like most idiot heroes.
    • His fellow pilot, Hayato Jin, has all the traits of the Stock Shōnen Rival. However he has traits of the Stock Shōnen Hero also. For starters, he's not really a rival at all, rather Bash Brothers with Ryoma due to them having their fight quite early on and joining him not long after. His while his Cynical aspects at times contrast with Ryoma, they both get along due to their enjoyment of combat and violence. At no point in the story does he ever feel the need to prove himself or feel any sense of hidden inferiority complex masked by a superiority complex. He can be hotblooded and passionate in the heat of battle rather than just cold and calculating. In terms of physical strengh, he and Ryoma are on par rather than it being a case were Ryoma has to catch up via training. While most Shonen Rivals act cool and superior in the beginning, only for this belief to be shattered later on due being Can'tCatchUp with the Shonen Hero surpassing them eventually, Hayato has this smug, over confident façade shattered early on initially when it's revealed he's Dirty Coward who loses his cool fighting something he can't understand or easily overpower. It doesn't even have anything to do with Ryoma at all. Afterward, once he gets accustomed to new threats, he quickly reverts to his calm, logical persona. Also, while most Shonen Rivals prefer to work alone and rely on their own strength, Hayato realizes quickly that going it alone will not help him saved Earth and instead chooses to rely on team work and The Powerof Friendship. This is mainly due to the fact that the Getter needs 3 pilots working in tandem and a lone wolf attitude will get them killed. Finally, where as the Shonen Rival needs the Shonen Hero to drive them to be better, Hayato actually outlives Ryoma in the 5th and final part of the manga Getter Arc, and is left to be the sole remaining member of the OG Getter cast who is left with the task of saving the Earth and humanity.

  • Averted with Edward Elric of Fullmetal Alchemist. Despite being a Hot-Blooded Big Eater, he's also The Cynic, The Atoner, and a Badass Bookworm. Furthermore, he's rich and well-connected due to his military status, somewhat uncool, doesn't have many close friends to draw motivation from, and was already a powerful alchemist from the start, which is all brought up in one Omake questioning how he managed to get so popular anyway.
  • Shoyo Hinata from Haikyuu!!. He's a tiny, energetic, Book Dumb volleyball enthusiast with fiery orange Anime Hair who's at a disadvantage because of his height. Although inexperienced, he has incredible speed that allows him to become a team with Kageyama, is determined to get better at all costs, and learns The Power of Friendship through the series.
  • Gon from Hunter × Hunter is a compassionate Kid Hero with very spiky hair, is a one-in-ten-million Nen prodigy, and fiercely loves his friends and allies. Unlike other shōnen heroes, he has become something of an Anti-Hero over the course of the series and his bright-eyed personality has been called into question. He's more of a deconstruction than anything.
  • i tell c has Sakon Futatsuki. He's an enthusiastic newcomer to the police force who has a very idealistic outlook about heroism and justice. At first, he disapproves of Risa Aioi, a fellow detective who basically breaks the law to apprehend criminals in order to "fight poison with poison", but he is also concerned about her safety because she tends to put herself in danger in doing so, and is disgusted by the rest of the police department's ambivalence towards her (they consider her quite useful, but otherwise an expendable liability due to her criminal activities). It is actually lampshaded by another character (a self-proclaimed novelist at that), who says that Sakon is a cliched character.
  • Inuyasha from the series of the same name starts out as an Anti-Hero who wants to take the Shikon Jewel for himself and become a full-fledged demon, but as he starts to surround himself with friends he abandons that goal and starts fighting on their behalf as well. While he meets most of the criteria for this trope, he is definitely not Oblivious to Love, as he was previously in a romantic relationship with Kikyo and has lingering feelings for her for much of the series, while still picking up on a few hints from Kagome. The only thing that keeps his relationship with Kagome from progressing past Belligerent Sexual Tension is the fact that they're both Tsunderes who Cannot Spit It Out.
  • Yuji Itadori from Jujutsu Kaisen is a downplayed one. Yuji is a friendly, somewhat simple-minded teenager with spiky pink hair who naturally has superhuman physical strength. His motivation in becoming a jujutsu sorcerer is not To Be a Master, but to help as many people as he can so that he can have a meaningful death.
  • Atsuko "Akko" Kagari from Little Witch Academia (2017) is a Rare Female Example, and she's the main character of a Cute Witch series to boot. Even then, Akko, is loud, very impulsive, eats a lot, most of her misfortunes are played for laughs, wants to be a witch to follow her idol's foosteps, is not very knowledgeable, and makes up for her lack of smarts and talent by sheer determination. Both her childhood dream and lack of talent take a tragic turn when a certain event of her and her idol's past is revealed.
  • Hikaru Shidou from Magic Knight Rayearth is actually the main character of a shoujo series, but she has many more traits of this character type than those of the typical shoujo protagonist. She's a Hot-Blooded All-Loving Hero who's associated with fire and the color red, is very protective of her friends, has befriended some of her enemies and is Oblivious to Love. Her heroism takes a severe blow thanks to the traumatizing events of the end of the series' first half where it turns out that Princess Emeraude, who Hikaru thought she and her friends were supposed to rescue in order to save Cephiro, actually brought them to her world to kill her. Although she still tries her best to stay positive, it soon becomes obvious that it's really a mask to hide her own self-loathing since she feels those events were her fault, so much so that it creates an Enemy Without in the anime's second season. She manages to pull through in the end with help from her friends and from her own determination.
  • Maken-ki! deconstructs the Shounen Hero archetype by showing that overwhelming power and determination alone aren't enough to overcome differences in skill, intellect, and experience. Takeru's lack of book smarts and forethought is often a detriment to himself and those whom he's trying to protect. Which is why Haruko and the rest of the student council usually have to come to his rescue, even though he's stronger than they are.
  • Dating back to the 70's, there is a Trope Maker of this trope, though it took form of a giant robot pilot. Kouji Kabuto from Mazinger Z is the spiky-headed, Hot-Blooded pilot of the titular Mazinger Z and has many Idiot Hero tendencies, showcased with his Tsundere girlfriend Sayaka Yumi. Nevertheless, he's also very big on The Power of Friendship, befriending one of his school bullies Boss, and will fight to hell and back if it's about helping his friends. Said passion and determination ends up being the bedrock of a crossover series that very much runs with this and always featured him 99% of the time.
  • Shigeo "Mob" Kageyama from Mob Psycho 100 is a complete inversion: he's visually uninteresting (given he's meant to look like a background, or 'mob', character), initially physically weak, withdrawn and stoic. He doesn't need to improve himself when it comes to his powers because he has an intuitive mastery over them, but he doesn't like to use them outside of work, much less show them off. He keeps his peers at arms' length at first because he's scared of hurting them with his powers, but because he's not deliberately unfriendly, he manages to grow a modest group of friends once he puts down his walls and lets others get to know him.
  • My Hero Academia:
  • Naruto:
  • Negima!:
  • Inverted with Shinji from Neon Genesis Evangelion. He's about as far from a stereotypical shonen protagonist as can be, especially for a mecha series. Shinji has a good heart but he's very docile and is Troubled, but Cute, with a lot of self-esteem issues and a fear of getting too close to others.
  • One Piece:
    • Monkey D. Luffy is three things: The Heart of the crew, a Leeroy Jenkins of a caliber so major that the rest of the cast tolerate him only because he wins as many fights as he starts, and the Idiot Hero of modern manga and anime. In point of fact, the only time that his incredible drive to keep fighting and his on-the-spot inventiveness failed him was during the Marineford arc, which was a massive Wham Episode.
    • Portgas D. Ace might qualify as a non-protagonist version. He's a Big Eater, he has a red and orange color scheme complete with fire powers, and he has an immense loyalty to his crew and friends, as well as being nearly as big a moron as his (adopted) little brother Luffy. On the whole, though, he ends up as a Deconstruction of the idea, since his Hot-Bloodedness leads to him being lured into a trap when he tries to avenge the death of a friend, and ultimately he's killed when another villain baits him by insulting his honor. He's the main character's big bro, it runs in the family.
  • Pokémon:
  • Another female example is Emma from The Promised Neverland, surprisingly, despite the series being mostly horror-mystery with some action. She's bright and energetic, rather impulsive, a little silly (though still way smarter than your average kid), is the most physically fit of the kids, a very quick learner including when it comes to fighting, and can will herself back on her feet through sheer determination after being stabbed through the abdomen. It doesn't get more shonen than that.
  • Zig-Zagged in Radiant. Seth is easy to identify as a shonen protagonist, being a Book dumb teenager with spiky black hair and a punch first, ask question later kind of attitude. However, he rapidly loses his happy go lucky demeanor to become a bit of a Knight in Sour Armor at times. He doesn't have any rivals and doesn't show any Blood Knight tendencies, often trying to defuse situation by speaking rather than punching.
  • Ranma Saotome from Ranma ½. Trained all his life to be a martial artist which he has natural talent for, has a Fun Personified personality, is a terrible student who borderlines on being Book Dumb, many of his story arcs are focused on training and learning new techniques, and he's a very Big Eater. Unlike most Shonen protagonists however, he possesses an Unwanted Harem. There's also the added twist that he turns into a girl whenever he's splashed with cold water, and his personality doesn't change at all in his female form.
  • Real Account has Yuuma Mukai, an All-Loving Hero, Determinator, strong, and a Nice Guy all around to the point of Chronic Hero Syndrome. He's ultimately a deconstruction as he only cares about himself, and his girlfriend before she unfollowed him (he's trapped in a survival game where they need followers to survive) who enjoys watching the carnage of others and doesn't care how many people he sacrifices to get what he wants.
  • Tsunayoshi "Tsuna" Sawada from Reborn! (2004) starts out as an inverted example, having low self-esteem and being easily discouraged from trying his best in almost anything, though he does have the stereotypical Shonen Hair down. He plays the trope straighter as the story progresses and he faces more dangerous enemies that may potentially harm his friends, He can become quite determined when he is in Hyper Dying Will Mode, and eventually he gains more confidence in himself as well.
  • Tougo from The Red Ranger Becomes an Adventurer in Another World plays this hilariously straight. He's passionate about anything and everything, is super strong and fast, and is a highly emotional guy with Chronic Hero Syndrome. He approaches everything with wide-eyed joy and wonder and is obsessed with the Power of Friendship, to the point that he will run out of power if people are holding grudges against one another near him!
  • Pegasus Seiya in Saint Seiya fits most of the criteria. He's the most immature of the main Bronze Saints, tends to be extremely rash and impulsive, often not thinking about the consequences, and he frequently jokes around when fighting. He subverts the Oblivious to Love part, though, as he evidently has a Bodyguard Crush on Saori, and would readily give his life to protect her no matter what. He also is the God of Determinator, no kidding, nobody seems to be able to kill him. Nobody.
  • Yasaka Hachiki from Shuukan Shounen Hachi. It's actually pointed out in-universe that he exhibits a number of traits of a standard "nekketsu" protagonist… and also that said archetype has become outdated.
  • Symphogear: Hibiki Tachibana is another Rare Female Example. She's Hot-Blooded, Book Dumb, and an All-Loving Hero who tends to scream really loudly during battle (though she doesn't call out her attack names like most examples, as the names of her attacks just pop up onscreen rather than being said out loud). Her companion Chris Yukine also has some of these traits, while adding in the Big Eater trope and having poor manners.
  • Simon and Kamina from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann embody different parts of this trope. Kamina is a borderline exaggeration of the Stock Shōnen Hero; he is very impulsive and Hot-Blooded and prone to rash decisions, and finds every opportunity to give bombastic speeches about his utter manliness. Meanwhile, Simon is depicted as a small, timid person similar to Shinji Ikari, who was deliberately written to be much bleaker than the typical shonen hero. Once Kamina bites the dust, Simon ends up building up his own strength and taking on characteristics of the Stock Shōnen Hero himself, albeit more successfully than Kamina.
  • Haneru from Tribe Cool Crew has some elements. He's a terribly Hot-Blooded kid with huge Anime Hair who has some Big Eater qualities. He's friendly and determined but lacks Idiot Hero qualities. Haneru isn't a fighter but a street-dancer, and is determined to be a great one.
  • Iruma from Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun is an almost complete inversion. He's gentle, a pushover, has no attack skills but is great at dodging, wants nothing more than not standing out (yet always manages to get the spotlight somehow), and initially did not have any goals in life other than getting through the day in one piece. However, he does have some Stock Shōnen Hero traits, such as believing in The Power of Friendship and being a Big Eater.
  • Nate from Yo-kai Watch is a more downplayed example, because the anime is a Slice of Life mon anime. For starters, Nate has the Shonen Hair and also wears red clothes. He can be selfish and bratty but Nate's heart is usually in the right place. Nate is one of the very few people who have a yo-kai watch, which allows him to interact with youkai, and it's implied Nate is special even amongst those few. When it comes to solving problems or (rarely) fighting battles, Nate calls upon his yokai friends to help him. Nate is not Oblivious to Love, but his crush Katie is.
  • Yugi Muto Yu-Gi-Oh! is a less straight example, in that the premise of the story relies more on intellectual battles than physical ones, meaning he averts the Book Dumb aspect often associated with this trope. He also is a lot more serious than the Hot-Blooded nature of many Shonen protagonists, but nonetheless does retain the All-Loving Hero aspect and befriends many of his past enemies. Yugi also starts on the lower end of the hierarchy, being an unheard of nobody who was constantly bullied and had to work his way up the top to become the King of Games. He also has a very impressive set of Anime Hair that puts even Goku to shame. The fact that Kaiba is a firm Stock Shōnen Rival Trope Codifier only further drives the point home.
  • Yuna from Yuki Yuna is a Hero is a Rare Female Example. She's a Hot-Blooded middle schooler Magical Girl Warrior. Yuna isn't very motivated in school and is Book Dumb (however she is very good at perceiving others emotions, though she downplays that). She has Big Eater traits (but not on the league of Cool Big Sis Fu), has a very strong sense of friendship, uses her fists during combat, and is a Plucky Girl who enjoys being a Hero even after learning the Awful Truth behind it. She is oblivious to the fact her best friend Togo likes her (and it's implied Karin does too). Yuna has red hair, however it turns pink when she goes into Hero form.
  • Yusuke Urameshi from YuYu Hakusho. He's short-tempered, impulsive, one of his most notable traits is his desire to fight which is more out of enjoyment of a good brawl, and he doesn't like killing if he can avoid it. He is a genius at fighting as noted by Genkai (his teacher) despite being noted on many occasions to be rather unintelligent, and, at times, just plain stupid. He possess a sense of justice, as he doesn't tolerate evildoers and always has a firm resolve to capture or even beat them for the sake of doing the right thing. Underneath his bold, cocky attitude, he has a joking and kind nature and he also is very protective of his friends.
  • The titular protagonist of Zatch Bell! is similar to Goku. Zatch is a determined, excitable young boy who has Super-Strength. He can literally eat an animal whole (bones and all, cooking optional) and is Oblivious to Love.

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  • In One Piece (2023), just like his counterpart from the manga and anime of the same name, Monkey D. Luffy is ambitious, excitable and a bit of a simpleton but with a heart of gold and the charisma needed to rouse anyone with a good heart into being his allies. This is probably the most rare characteristic in live-action western shows.

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  • Parodied in the video Hiro The Dense -- Dense Shonen Protagonist. It's about a spiky-haired man named "Hiro" who is on a quest to become a knight. He comes to a castle to kill a demon lord. When he comes across a succubus, Hiro's ridiculously dense towards her advances and just wants to defeat a demon. Later, the demon lord tries to seduce him as well, but he doesn't understand her innuendo. When the demon lord breaks it down to Hiro that he was supposed to "lay the demon lord" (not "slay the demon lord"), he still has no interest in having sex with her because he's just interested in being a knight.
    • The sequel shows that the Demon Queen's family might just have a type.
      Demon Queen's Mother: It's just... your human is much like your father. As unlikely as it is, there is a narrow range of intelligence where a creature can still think, but will be too stupid to be affected by the strongest spells and enchantments...
  • Stinkoman from Homestar Runner is a parody of this archetype brought about when Strong Bad was asked what he'd be like if he were an anime character. Despite (or because of) Strong Bad's limited knowledge of anime, Stinkoman has a lot of Shonen trappings down pat, having an inexplicable mop of blue hair and single-minded passion for challenges and combat that he expresses with rip-roaring hamminess. His best friend 1-Up (Homestar's 20X6 equivalent) also nods to this trope; he wants To Be a Master but is Just a Kid.
  • Ruby from the animesque cartoon RWBY is a downplayed Rare Female Example, mixed with a Stock Shoujo Heroine. She's a young and energetic All-Loving Hero who wants to become a huntress to help people. She also has a red colour palette, is the product of a Heroic Lineage, and is unusually powerful for her age. She, however, lacks many traits such as being an Idiot Hero, being a Big Eater, being Brilliant, but Lazy, and being Oblivious to Love (though she is a Celibate Hero). Ruby's original hairstyle isn't particularly spiky, but she gets Spiky Hair in volume 7.
  • Billie Ignivento from Aventia has a lot of the traits, including blue spiky hair. He's an Idiot Hero, a Big Eater, and is always trying his best to achieve his goals.

  • Mori Jin in The God of High School is a Monkey King Lite like Goku, with all the secondary characteristics that come with it. He's an Idiot Hero with spiky hair who's also a Big Eater, and as for having The Gift, he's able to channel Sun Wukong himself in battle and obtain power equivalent to a Physical God.
  • Mob Psycho 100: Mob is an inversion of this archetype — he's kind of average-ish intelligence, emotionally stunted, hates fighting, and the few friends he has are less to bolster an already existing confidence and more to keep what little he has from collapsing in on itself. In addition, while he does get spiky hair when his powers flare up, his usual 'do is a round, subdued bowl cut.
  • One-Punch Man: In the past, Saitama fit the Shōnen-hero mold perfectly, with spiky hair, a love of fighting, and a drive to get stronger and fight more powerful opponents. However, he eventually got so powerful that the things a Shōnen hero lives for became too easy to excite him, resulting in Saitama eventually losing his passion... and his hair.
  • Steamgear Inc: Ax wants To Be a Master - more specifically, she's striving to be a Steamgear Defender. Announces her full name and her goals to everyone she meets. Young, energetic, and outgoing, with a strong sense of justice. A competent fighter, but oblivious to the way the world works. Canonically asexual, making her a Chaste Hero.

    Western Animation 
  • Finn of Adventure Time is a deconstructed example. At the series' start, Finn was a simple-minded yet righteous Kid Hero who lives to right wrongs and go on dangerous adventures. The problems started when he slowly came to see the Graying Morality of the world around him, and his impulsiveness bit him in the buns as he entered adolescence without anyone qualified to offer him any helpful wisdom or guidance, leading him to make some really dumb moves and blow his chances with two Love Interests. Nowadays, while he's never stopped being a hero and fighting evil, he's a lot more of a mature Mellow Fellow, a sharp contrast to the early days when "I'll slay anything that's evil, that's my deal!" was his Signature Line.
  • Avatar Aang, the titular protagonist of Avatar: The Last Airbender, has many of this archetype's characteristics owing to his show's anime influence. He is a naive, energetic Kid Hero who lends a hand to everyone in need, and as the Avatar, he has a natural gift for bending the elements, and indeed has the latent ability to become the most powerful bender on the planet. However, he is a youthful Keet as opposed to a masculine Hot-Blooded hero, he lacks the Big Eater component common to shonen heroes, and he actively dislikes fighting, unlike most shonen heroes who love doing so.
  • Ace Ambling of Ballmastrz: 9009, although he serves as the deuteragonist rather than the main character. He's an energetic, pure-hearted kid who keeps his team together with The Power of Friendship, and he has a latent ability where he can fuse with his ball, which gives him an advantage in and out of The Game.
  • Ben 10 is a hotheaded Kid Hero who saves the day from alien (and sometimes human) bad guys. He can turn into 10 (and more) different aliens with powers and skills, which he improves on over time with the help of his badass grandfather and magic-using cousin. His stock shonen rival counterpart would be Kevin Levin.
  • Cleopatra from Cleopatra in Space is a hot-headed, impulsive, loyal, hero, who relies on her friends. She is highly Book Dumb, constantly ignoring her class lectures if not skipping them outright, but she uses her instinct to save the day. She also finds out she has the ability to absorb power and release it back out.
  • K.O. of OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes is an obvious parody of this type. He's Hot-Blooded, hammy, loyal, kind, and always eager to battle evil and learn a new fighting move. He's also very stupid, but luckily the Troperiffic nature of the setting ensures his foes are Obviously Evil enough for him to succeed. For bonus points, he's voiced by Stephanie Nadolny, who voiced kid Goku in Dragon Ball and Gohan in Dragon Ball Z.
    Radicles: Is that kid really brave or really stupid?
    Mr. Gar: Both.
  • Luz Noceda from The Owl House is a Rare Female Example. She has spiky hair, is an All-Loving Hero, always wants to go on adventures, and while she’s far from stupid, tends to not plan ahead and often has her head in the clouds.
  • The eponymous Steven Universe is something of a Shoujo-esque take on the archetype. Steven Quartz Universe's an excitable Large Ham All-Loving Hero who wears his heart on his sleeve, tends to act without thinking, extends a kind hand to anyone, and cherishes his family and friends above all else. However, his energy is more Keet than Hot-Blooded, he's In Touch with His Feminine Side, and is also The Heart who prefers to make friends with his enemies rather than fight them, which fits with the series' emphasis on love and understanding. That said, he's still a Super-Strong Child who will fight if need be and has expressed a drive to get stronger, though it's less out of any inherent desire To Be a Master and more about living up to the legacy of his mother and predecessor, Rose Quartz, who left a great void to give birth to him.


Video Example(s):



An amnesiac young girl who wakes up with no memories as she falls to Hekseville. There, she meets Dusty, a strange black cat that gives her gravity-shifting powers. She quickly embraces a superhero role within the city of Hekseville as a gravity shifter. Her adventures eventually take her to the ends of the world, where she is allowed glimpses of her clouded past.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / StockShonenHero

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