when another needs his aid,
He will dare to defy Death
even though he is afraid,
He works not just for glory
and he does it not for gain,
But because he knows that others
will be spared a greater pain."
This person is a hero, pure and simple. They're almost always right, are a friend to all their teammates, and morally superior—without the usual flaws of Good Is Dumb or Well-Intentioned Extremist, unless it's a comedic work. They have a well-rounded skill set. They're not as strong as The Big Guy, or as intelligent as The Smart Guy, or as sensitive and socially adept as The Chick, but they're close. They can personally accomplish a variety of goals, but their real superpower is getting the whole diverse set of personalities to focus and pull together. They'll always know who to ask for help, and when—and usually how. Most often, they will be The Protagonist but there are exceptions to this rule. Just as often, they will be The Leader or otherwise the shining star that holds the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits together, but there are exceptions to this as well. In a team lineup, they will be front and center.
The concept of The Hero is very old and every culture and peoples have had individuals they identified as heroes. On account of Society Marches On and Values Dissonance, the notion of what the hero signifies has changed and diverged a great deal from the ancient world to the early modern world to the present day. Heroes in the ancient world were compelling because they embodied virtues and qualities common to the experience of people at the time (War, Violence, Survival) whereas later generations would seek idealized values from their heroes because of their desire and yearning for a better world.
In Team Trope dynamics and speculative fiction, you may notice powers and skills common to the hero, including:
- In many games or settings, they'll be a Jack-of-All-Stats; a well-balanced fighter with decent power and speed, and sometimes some ability at magic.
- Most of the time, they'll use a sword or sword-like weapon as their weapon of choice, even in science-fiction settings where this makes less sense than a gun.
- In a fight, they will ALWAYS win (say 99.99% chance). Even if they lose, bet your life on it that they will win the Heroic Rematch.
- They will usually wear either red or blue (sometimes both), and if they've got a theme or powers, expect them to be fire-based. Electricity and light/holy are also common Elemental Powers for the hero.
The Hero is most often male and The Chick is usually in love with him. The primary romantic plot in the team is often between The Hero and The Chick, with The Lancer sometimes rounding out a triangle. The Hero might also be a Chaste Hero or a Celibate Hero as an additional complication to romantic subplots.
If the Hero has too many of the "positive" qualities listed above, they may degenerate into a Marty Stu. If they're too generic, then they're an Every Man (but please note that the Every Man does not have to be this trope or The Protagonist). They are sometimes the Only Sane Man trying to keep The Team together because they live in Dysfunction Junction. Because The Lancer is, by definition, The Hero's foil, The Hero and The Lancer usually have a special chemistry, either a Bash Brothers relationship or Red Oni, Blue Oni. They are often rivals with a strong mutual respect for each other, and are sometimes Heterosexual Life-Partners. They are likely to argue about who is The Leader, but as stated above, this role usually goes to the hero.
The Hero does not have to be The Leader. Indeed, since Villains Act, Heroes React, the hero often arrives on the scene a little too late, so his role and function in the story is more or less reactive and predetermined rather than ones that have been set or chosen by him which is counterintuitive to the role of The Leader. Indeed, The Hero is likely to get his marching orders from the Big Good. When heroes are leaders, expect them to be Frontline General or Badass in Charge. When they are merely part of a crew, expect them to start out as something of The Load if they're a Mouthy Kid or The Fool, but don't worry—in time, they will reveal their great potential, eventually swaying friend and foe alike to their cause. Even if they need significant growing up to reach that point. Eventually, they may very well become The Leader. In cases where Heroes Act, Villains Hinder, a leader hero can take a more proactive role in the plot.
If there's a character cooler than the Hero, that character is generally Too Cool to Live. See also The Ace, The Kirk, Messianic Archetype, The Chosen One, and Hero Protagonist. A superhero is, by the catch-all definition, a hero (often with superpowers) who dedicates their very life to... well, being a hero.
Note: It is important to remember that while the hero is usually also The Protagonist, a.k.a the main character, they are not necessarily one and the same. Whereas the hero is defined by the character traits described above, The Protagonist is defined by their central role in the story. In Star Wars, for instance, Luke Skywalker is an archetypical example of The Hero and is more or less The Protagonist of the original trilogy, but the prequel trilogy establishes the more antiheroic Anakin Skywalker as The Protagonist of the film series as a whole, even though he is a villain for more than half of the saga. See Supporting Protagonist for instances in which this is the case.
- The Marvel Universe has not one, but two characters who fulfill the trope:
- Steve "Captain America" Rogers, former leader of the Howling Commandos, (generally) the present-day leader of The Avengers and the most heroic hero in the Marvel Universe. He tends to stand out because Marvel is a big fan of the Being Good Sucks trope and is well-known for its variety of (well-nuanced and varied) Anti-Hero, Villain Protagonist, Fallen Hero and reformed villain characters.
- Spider-Man: If Steve Rogers is the Soul of the Marvel heroes, Peter Parker is the Heart. We're talking about a guy who preaches the idea of responsibility, pushes himself to his limits in the name of justice and morality and is able to rally even the most cynical of anti-heroes. Even Cap has expressed admiration at Spider-Man's heroism.
- Pearl Jones in American Vampire is a straightforward and heroic protagonist who interestingly shares the position of the main character with Skinner Sweet, in a stark contrast.
- More than anyone else in the Astro City mythos, the Silver Agent is the paragon of the heroic ideal that all other heroes strive to achieve. The Agent's influence is so powerful that it inspires others millennia after his passing.
- Played for drama with Mikey Rhodes in Birthright. He is the typical "human boy trapped in a fantastic land destined to defeat the Ancient Evil" and is repeatedly referred to as "the Hero". However, he endures so much trauma from the horrors of the war he has to fight that when he actually confronts the Big Bad who tempts him with an offer he can't refuse (i.e. return home and be reunited with his family, which has splintered following his departure), he becomes disillusioned with his cause and becomes a Fallen Hero by siding with the main villain. It's later revealed that he was never supposed to be the hero in the first place, but after breaking away from his master's influence, he might become The Unchosen One.
- Paulie from Circles is a bold and shining example. Most of his actions and motivations are heroic and philanthropic.
- Alex Elder in Crimson is a vampire boy destined to save the world... Whether he likes it or not.
- Hellboy serves this role as the primary agent for the BRPD and despite being a demon destined to cause the Apocalypse, he is so pure and heroic that his blood cause lilies to sprout from the ground.
- The original line in Justice League of America consisted of seven characters who all fit this type in their own comics. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and Martian Manhunter. Superman would traditionally be THE Hero in this situation but, for example, Green Lantern Kyle Rayner filled this role as a sort of Kid Hero during Morrison's run, being new and being a replacement for the League's original Lantern Hal Jordan. In lineups with only one of these seven, that hero tends to be The Hero.
- Monica in Monica's Gang, appropriately enough. She is the title character and the main protagonist, and while she can be somewhat bratty, she is a good kid underneath.
- Reborn: Bonnie Black is the prophesized heroine that will save the afterlife realm of Adystria from the Dark Lord Golgotha.
- Superman. Every hero in comic books, at one point or another, has been compared specifically to Superman, either in how he's similar or how he's different. Even in the case of antiheroes and indy comics, as more often than not, the first thing they'll do is take a swipe at the Superman mythos. The entire genre of superhero comics starts with him. And that's why Superman will always be the greatest, most iconic representation of a superhero.
- Of the X-Men universe, Cyclops was once the Hero, while Professor X was the Big Good: both characters have undergone a lot of reconstruction and retooling recently.
- Ultimate Marvel: Spider-Man is this for the Ultimate Marvel continuity in general, and Captain America is this for The Ultimates.
- A Crown of Stars: Asuka wants to turn Shinji in the hero she knows he may be in lieu of the wimp he usually behaves like. At the beginning, he is not enthused about the idea but later he decides he wants to become a hero for her.
Shinji: You want a hero? I can be one. You want the Shinji who eats Angels for breakfast? That can be me. That will be me. I can do anything now. Now that I have a cause, a reason to start over new.
- Advice and Trust: Shinji. Main character and pilot of the strongest Humongous Mecha in the series, he finds his motivation to become a hero after hooking up with Asuka.
- In the Actionized Sequel Calvin and Hobbes: The Series, Calvin takes on this role, as well as The Leader.
- The Child of Love: Shinji, who is determined to try to be a better person and fight to protect the woman he loves and their baby.
- In Children of an Elder God, Shinji is the hero. He reluctantly joins NERV to fight Cthulhu and co and save mankind.
- Evangelion 303: In this fic Shinji takes the role. The main character and the Ace Pilot.
- Hail To The King: Shinji. In this story Zone Fighter bonds with him and teaches him to be a hero. Shinji matures and learns to be more confident, more selfless and braver.
- HERZ: Shinji. He tries to be a good person and making the right thing, and the fate of humankind rests on his shoulders.
- Last Child of Krypton: In this crossover Shinji is Superman. Thanks to the obligations and responsibilities his vast powers entail he matures and becomes a symbol of hope, courage, and determination.
- In Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide, Shinji plays the hero role, fighting the latest creations of SEELE to save humanity.
- Once More with Feeling: After going back to the past, Shinji is determined to help and protect his family and save the world this time.
- Enterprise is both this and the Big Good in Pacific: World War II U.S. Navy Shipgirls, fanfic of Kantai Collection. Being based on the most decorated American ship of World War II probably helps.
- Pokémon Reset Bloodlines: After the reality collapses due to Cyrus' manipulations, Ash is chosen by Arceus to go back in time with his memories intact and prevent it. The story follows him as he tries to adapt to the new world, facing many old and new challenges along his journey.
- Twilight Sparkle is this in the Pony POV Series, just like in the original series.
- Rainbow Dash takes up this role in Ace Combat: The Equestrian War.
- The Second Try: Shinji has learned -and lived through- the consequences of failure and he has a family to protect now, so he is determined to not squander his and Asuka's second chance and become a hero to save everybody. He succeeds.
- Shinji And Warhammer 40 K: Pick the wimpy, reluctant anti-hero of Evangelion and feed him on bits and leftovers of the extremely dark and gritty Warhammer 40,000 universe and what you get? A heroic badass who cares for -nearly- everyone, wants to help everyone, hates seeing people suffering and is determined to defend humanity and destroy their enemies.
- Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton: In this crossover Asuka is Supergirl. After discovering her powers she decides to use them to help people and earn a bit of extra praise. However, she realizes before long her powers entail obligations and responsibilities, helping others actually feels good, and people actually expects a lot of her. She begins trying to live up to everybody's expectations, starting out the path to become a true hero.
- In The Story to End All Stories, the Doctor gathers together a group of heroes in order to find a way of defeating the Nothing once and for all.
- Takato from the Tamers Forever Series. The strongest tamer and protagonist of the series.
- Thousand Shinji: Main character Shinji falls into the anti-hero side of the scale, but he fights giant monsters to save mankind from extinction.
- Lieutenant Jazz is this in Transformers Meta.
- Wonderful!: Main character Taylor -a. k. a. "Wonder Red"- is a fusion between The Cape and a Toku hero. Inspired by her father, she becomes a hero to fight the villains and Eldritch Abominations ravaging her hometown.
- In the quest Fusion Fic My Huntsman Academia, Izuku is firmly this, being the successor to the Symbol of Peace and Justice, his team's Jack-of-All-Stats, and the most profoundly idealistic and altruistic person in the series. Ozpin even calls him the "in case of emergency, 'Go Hero' button".
- 9 from... well, 9. Although 1 is the de facto leader on account of his number, 9 tends to perform most of the non-violent heroics on-screen.
- Manolo Sanchez, of the story Mary Beth tells the detention kids in The Book of Life. He is a sweet, compassionate young man who truly loves and cares for his family, his best friends and the town of San Angel very dearly.
- Rodrigo in El Cid is a knight on a quest to regain his honor by saving his home from an invading army.
- Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon is both this and The Leader towards the end of the first film. The entire point of the storyline is that he is The Woobie who stops getting laughed at for trying to be something he's not and finds he was one of them all along anyway as he takes on their largest enemy and wins.
- Every single Pixar movie has one.
- Woody from Toy Story. While he does let his jealousy of Buzz get the better of him at one point, he shows off his role as The Hero by trying to correct his mistakes, and he makes the welfare of the whole group a priority.
- Bob Parr (AKA Mr.Incredible) from The Incredibles, who is a superhero not only because of his powers, but because he wants to help people, as shown by the way he assists a little old lady when he's working in insurance.
- Flik from A Bug's Life, who starts out looking for heroes before realizing his own power to rid his home colony of the evil grasshoppers.
- Marlin from Finding Nemo. He sets out on an desperate journey to find his son, Nemo... though this allows him to realise and face his own fears and that Nemo is not as helpless as he believes.
- Monsters, Inc.: Sully is The Hero, being the primary force behind wanting to do right by Boo, while Mike is The Lancer.
- D'leh in 10,000 BC embarks on a journey to rescue his fellow tribesmen as well as his beloved from raiders and finds out he is The Chosen One to dethrone a false god. For bonus points, his name in backwards spells "Held" (German for "hero").
- Avatar: Jake Sully, who chooses what's right over what's easy, by siding with the Navi over his own people.
- Grégoire de Fronsac in Brotherhood of the Wolf is a knight/scientist/explorer enlisted to track down and stop the Beast of Gevaudan, which has killed more than 100, and stumbles into something much bigger than he expected.
- Perseus in both versions of Clash of the Titans. While he is more Darker and Edgier in the 2010 reboot, his mission is to save Princess Andromeda from the Kraken and in Wrath of the Titans, he is the only one that can stop the end of the world being caused by the Titan Kronos.
- Cameron Poe in Con Air is one of the few moral convicts who gets caught in the middle of an hostile takeover from other criminals and is trying to do right thing because he couldn't live with himself if escaped and allowed the few innocents onboard die if he could have prevented it.
- John McClane, of Die Hard, serves as a deconstruction; his dedication to saving the day and Chronic Hero Syndrome destroy his marriage and strain his relationship with his kids, pushing him into cynicism. He only plays the part of the hero because there's no one else to do it.
- Vlad III Dracula in Dracula Untold, who is a genuinely heroic figure in the most straightforward way - motivated to protect his family and save his kingdom by becoming a vampire.
- Amsterdam Vallon in Gangs of New York is driven to avenge his father's murder, but is a decent fellow all things considered.
- Gleahan and the Knaves of Industry: Zig-Zagged with Gleahan. He definitely brings everyone together, and he's the only one on the team with a sword, but his friends have to rescue him from capture.
- Gods of Egypt plays with this trope by having Horus as the typical "heroic" main protagonist that wants to reclaim his throne usurped by his uncle Set and avenge his father's murder. With that said, he is very bitter and morose and needs to get pushed by Supporting Protagonist Bek into his journey.
- Angel in Hot Fuzz is an extremely competent and efficient By-the-Book Cop so good at his job he gets reassigned to a small town because he was making his co-workers inadequate, while the plot is him investigating a series of gruesome murders that nobody else except him cares about.
- Connor MacLeod for the Highlander movie series. Really, those with the MacLeod surname are inevitably going to serve as protagonists (the series is titled Highlander after all), but Connor was the original one.
- James Bond: Pierce Brosnan's Bond was specifically catered to '90s tastes and sensibilities in order appeal to the broadest audience possible (especially women, as the actor already had a built-in female fan base from Remington Steele), so his 007 was devised as a "sensitive action hero." As a result, Brosnan's Bond became the most romanticnote and the most violentnote in comparison to the other actors. Although Brosnan's average onscreen kill count is the highest in the franchise, revealing a more gentler side to his personality made his 007 more sympathetic and accessible to casual '90s moviegoers.
- Parodied in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle with Smolder Bravestone, who is clearly supposed to be the game's main protagonist since he has the best stats of all other playable characters with no weaknesses and NPCs refer mostly to him in dialogue. He is such over-the-top example it just hurts.
- The Killer That Stalked New York (a 1950 film Very Loosely Based on the 1947 New York City smallpox outbreak): Dr. Wood, the first doctor who meets Patient Zero Sheila Bennet (though he did not know she had the disease when he met her) and the doctor caring for the six-year-old girl who would go on to be the first diagnosed case of smallpox. The Health Commissioner puts him in charge of the effort to find whoever is spreading the disease.
- Gary "Eggysy" Unwin for the Kingsman series as the most recent addition to the titular secret organization in a mission to save the world from diabolical masterminds.
- Jack O' the Green in Legend (1985). Can't get more heroic than rescuing a princess from an Evil Overlord who wants to plunge the world into eternal darkness.
- Neo for the The Matrix series, since he is "The One" fated to save mankind from the Machines.
- Rick O' Connor serves as the main protagonist in The Mummy Trilogy being the hapless adventurer that frequently fights against the titular threats. The second movie also reveals that he is also a Medjai warrior of God and destined to defeat the Scorpion King.
- Caesar is the actual hero of the Rise of the Planet of the Apes trilogy. serving as the apes' guide and liberator. However, his trials and tribulations over the course of the movies put his heroism on the test and push him into the brink of darkness.
- Spider-Man, of course. Ever since he learned that With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility, he always did what he did because it was right, even when it sucked.
- In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker fits this trope so well that psychology textbooks show a picture of him in reference to the archetype of a hero. In parts of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, variations on "I won't leave you here. I have to save you" are his catchphrase.
- The fact that Luke is the Hero archetype was deliberate because George Lucas is said to have been heavily influenced by Joseph Campbell's ''The Hero With a Thousand Faces''. He does subvert The Hero trope in one major way though - he Did Not Get the Girl and The Chick ends up with The Lancer instead for one reason or another.
- The Prequel Trilogy makes it clear Obi-Wan Kenobi is the hero, not Anakin Skywalker. Obi-Wan is constantly praised as the ideal Jedi and a stalwart defender of the innocent, while Anakin has his own fair share of issues that keep from achieving his heroic destiny. We all know well how it turns out.
- The Force Awakens introduces Rey as the Sequel Trilogy's hero, who turns out to be a Force-sensitive Jedi-to-be in the same vein as Luke Skywalker from the original trilogy. The ending makes it clear that the next two films will be her story.
- X-Men Film Series: Among the three main protagonists (Wolverine, Professor X and Magneto), Professor X is the most noble of the bunch. Logan is sometimes an Anti-Hero, and Erik is mostly a villain. The First Class trilogy explores three fundamental aspects of Charles Xavier: peace, hope, and love. In X-Men: First Class, he represents serenity (which is a synonym for peace), and he averts World War III. In X-Men: Days of Future Past, his younger self is a lost soul who gradually finds hope again, and this prevents a future where mutant-kind is exterminated by Sentinels. In X-Men: Apocalypse, he wields an ability which is just as powerful (if not more so) than his telepathy—The Power of Love; he vanquishes a Destroyer Deity with it.
- Jake of the Animorphs series is a deconstruction of this role. He was unanimously chosen as leader based on these characteristics but the constant pressure and moral ambiguity of his role start to affect him as the story moves on.
- John Carter in the Barsoom series. He is characterized as a perfect warrior, an honorable gentleman and is the main protagonist for the first three books, which afterwards he is elevated to Big Good status. His son Carthoris takes up the role in Thuvia, Maid of Mars. Other examples include Ulysses Paxton in Master Mind of Mars and Tan Hadron for A Fighting Man of Mars.
- Garion in The Belgariad and The Malloreon, prophesied to be a Child of Light that will defeat the evil god Torak and rule as a sorcerer king.
- Eurico the Presbyter is a Catholic priest-turned-knight that takes up arms to defend three things: Christendom, his homeland and the love of his life, the noblewoman Hermengarda.
- Roland Deschain in The Dark Tower is a Gunslinger, the western version of a Knight Errant and may as well serve this role to the greater Stephen King metaverse as a whole.
- Discworld usually subverts or averts this trope, often favoring the Anti-Hero instead. Carrot Ironfoundersson of the City Watch plays it straight, being physically and morally strong, but he's not the central protagonist.
- Paul Atreides from Dune is a tragic deconstruction. He is the heir of a noble house whose father is murdered by The Empire and its corrupt accomplices that oppressed the people of the planet Arrakis. Paul is revealed to be the Chosen One and leads a revolution against this regime, effectively dethroning it in the process and ascends as a divine Emperor himself. Then the previously oppressed people he helped to liberate go on a jihad and slaughtering sixty billion people in his name, and Paul is completely helpless to stop it.
- Sam Temple from the Gone series. Mercilessly deconstructed with him by the end of Hunger, when he gets so fed up with the stress and dealing with everyone else's problems that he quits.
- Harry Potter, of course. He succeeds not through force or power, but with goodness and connecting with others.
- Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. While not The Leader, he follows the classic journey of self-discovery that is associated with the trope.
- Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games initially fights to protect her family from being sacrificed in the titular games and ends up becoming an icon of the rebellion against the corrupt government of Panem.
- Hector (for the Trojans) in The Iliad is regarded by many as the actual protagonist of the story, among the Greeks and Trojans. Considering that next to Achilles and Paris, he's just the best guy trying to defend his homeland from the Greek invaders. Not that he doesn't have his bad moments, but almost everyone else is a total jerk. And also the fact that the story ends with his funeral making it a solid case of a Downer Ending.
- The Lord of the Rings
- Aragorn is an interesting case. He very clearly fills the role of The Hero and The Leader, though he isn't the chief protagonist, thus making him the Supporting Leader.
- Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee both qualify for the role of The Hero in regards to the protagonist swept into adventure, and Tolkien seems to favor Sam for the part, as his journey is closest to that of Bilbo's in The Hobbit.
- In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, we're lead to believe that Percy is the hero of the series. The hero is not who we thought he was. Luke Castellan takes up that role instead. However Percy is still The Hero of the series; he's just not the hero of the prophecy.
- Song at Dawn: Dragonetz is a good hearted and idealistic man at the center of the plot and the greatest threat to a set of villains, but he's not The Protagonist. That role goes to Estela.
- In the Tortall Universe:
- Alanna of Trebond, who is deliberately a female The Hero in Song of the Lioness. Among other things, she uncovers a plot to usurp the throne, helps Jon improve relations between Tortallans and the Bazhir, and brings a number of badasses back to the capital for the Final Battle.
- Daine Sarrasri in The Immortals, who brings together humans, animals, and immortals as a Nature Hero.
- Keladry of Mindelan in Protector of the Small becomes The Leader over the course of her quartet and gains noble and commoner friends as she challenges harmful traditions.
- Aly in the Trickster's Duet does this by being The Spymaster, finding unusual allies and third options for La Résistance.
- Beka Cooper reminds her veteran cop partners of the idealistic reasons they joined the force and recruits fellow trainees (and friendly criminals) to help her solve a case that nobody's supposed to really care about.
- Trapped on Draconica
- Daniar leads the group, she fights the battles, she has the Heroic Spirit. It's lampshaded by Ben in the bonus art how she gets the 'meaty story lines' despite not being The Protagonist.
- In the sequel, Legacy of the Dragokin her Benji wants to be this. The prologue is a dream of his where he saves a village from an evil overlord. In practice, he's a Supporting Protagonist because he's a ten-year-old Tagalong Kid.
- Tiago from Vampiros do Rio Douro is an college student that takes up arms against the Seven vampires when they are unleashed from the slumber, in addition to being the main protagonist.
- X-Wing Series
- There are always two to three primary protagonists and viewpoint characters. One or two, depending on whether this book is part of Michael Stackpole's run or an Aaron Allston novel - and which Aaron Allston book - is the subordinate who experiences more Character Development, goes through personal revelations and a personal plotline, gets beat up, and is generally a good person but not quite "pure", often having some dark guilt, flaw, or secret. The other primary protagonist is always Wedge Antilles, who leads, bounces back from setbacks, has a plotline that isn't really all that personal, and is rarely wrong.
- 'Starfighters of Adumar, which is intensely Wedge-centered and has no other viewpoint characters, is the exception, and although Wedge is severely heroic and an Ace Pilot there too, he's not The Hero to the same extent.
- The A-Team: Col. John "Hannibal" Smith, though he's also kind of a Lovable Rogue as well as a Trickster. Notable for being most likely the only person in this trope to be over 50 years old.
- Angel: Angel's journey of redemption at times involves him actively taking on aspects of this trope.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- Buffy Summers is the Chosen One, who brings together others to support her. It is her job to kill bad guys For Great Justice.
- In Season 9, Faith has become this to some, including Willow, and stands as perhaps the best example since Buffy's name is mud after she did what she had to do and Angel more an obsessed Anti-Hero. Officially she is The Slayer, despite Buffy being Back from the Dead. In-Universe and out, she is treated as one of the nicer characters near the end, when Buffy Took a Level in Jerkass. And she's treated as The Hero over Buffy even before she saves the world.
- Deus Salve O Rei: Afonso is the crown prince of Montemor and the main lead driven by justice, righteousness and kindness.
- Farscape: John Crichton is the main character and generally speaking, the most heroic and idealistic of the Moya crew (although the idealism gradually fades away as time goes on).
- Game of Thrones:
- The Starks are the most classical in terms of heroes, honor-bound warriors devoted to each other. Notable examples include:
- Jon Snow. Though the series has so many viewpoint characters claiming enough prominence (such as Tyrion, Arya, and Daenerys) than having just a single protagonist, Jon fits the classic fantasy heroic archetype closer than everyone else and is even acknowledged by the author himself. After serving under Jeor Mormont, Qhorin Halfhand, and the wildlings, he has some serious Character Development and emerges as a skilled warrior, a natural leader, and a dutiful man committed to his vows with a strong moral code and sense of justice that earns the admiration of his fellow brothers, who leads the raid on Craster's Keep and the Battle of Castle Black. By Season 6, he unquestionably is this role for the North storyline (having restored the Starks back to power) if not for the whole of Westeros, as he is the only leader aware of the White Walkers' danger, and wants to gather as many forces as possible to withstand their arrival.
- Ned Stark is genuinely heroic and indisputably the hero for Season 1. Even three seasons after his death, he casts a long shadow with nary an episode gone by that his memory isn't invoked or referred to.
- Robb Stark is one of the closest fitting characters to the fantasy hero archetype: a noble, kind, and a natural leader who fights for independence and justice.
- Stannis Baratheon serves as a deconstruction. He is just, dutiful, and the rightful heir to the Baratheon dynasty, but his staunch commitment to duty and utter lack of charisma make him cold at best and villainous at worst. Despite apparently being The Chosen One, he commands the smallest faction, which drives him to assassinate his younger brother and submit to Melisandre's Toxic Friend Influence.
- Lord Beric Dondarrion, leader of the Brotherhood Without Banners is a subversion. One of the most altruistic characters in the show, he fights for the smallfolk by killing and stealing from the armies occupying in the Riverlands, but he is also willing to do anything in service his cause and his new god, including holding Arya Stark for ransom and betraying Gendry to Melisandre.
- One more tricky example is Margaery Tyrell. While she is very ambitious and willing to use others to get her means, she is also a genuinely good person that cares about the smallfolk and her family. She becomes the main protagonist in King's Landing in seasons 5 and 6, with Cersei and later the High Sparrow as her antagonists.
- The Starks are the most classical in terms of heroes, honor-bound warriors devoted to each other. Notable examples include:
- Leverage: Nate Ford is the Antiheroic Hero of Leverage Consulting and Associates, as shown by his role as The Leader and his commitment to helping those in need.
- Noah's Arc: Though not an action-based series, Noah fits in that he has virtually all the non-combat qualities listed above. He's the protagonist, is morally superior (frequently choosing Honor Before Reason), and compared to the rest of the group has a more balanced personality. He's the one who holds the group together, frequently reminding everyone how much they care about each other, and is almost always right in situations where he provides guidance/leadership. Even the wearing red/blue somewhat fits, as there are several scenes where he wears red specifically to make him stand out from the rest of the cast. He's also invariably front and center in any promotional photos and more often than not in scenes where the whole main cast is together.
- Roswell: Max Evans fits this to a T. His teammates frequently Lampshades it regularly asking him "What do we do now, Max?" even if sometimes they openly criticize him for his "passively watching" instead of taking action sooner, something that doesn't change when he's actually declared the king of his planet.
- Smallville: Clark Kent, as he goes through the experiences that will shape him into Superman, one of the most classic examples of The Hero.
- Star Trek: The Original Series: Captain Kirk is strong-willed, brave, and quite often shows the best side of humanity (e.g. showing mercy to defeated opponents). He's part of the Freudian Trio of the show, along with Spock and McCoy.
- Stargate-verse: Colonel Sheppard in Stargate Atlantis. His ability to connect with and inspire people is unmatched on the series.
- Teen Wolf: Scott McCall. He is not especially bright (fortunately he has a Hypercompetent Sidekick, Stiles), but he is unfailing in his willingness to protect and help others. Even Jackson.
- Ultra Series: Whoever is the Ultra's human host/form — always a brave and compassionate young man who sees the best in people and desires to make the world a better place. The Ultras themselves certainly share many of the same sentiments.
- The Vampire Diaries:
- Stefan Salvatore. Often referred to as a Tragic Hero, Fallen Hero, Ideal Hero and even a Byronic Hero. At times, Stefan drops from the role of hero and becomes an Anti-Hero.
- Elena is his female counterpart. She is the protector of everyone within the story, opposite Stefan. She is the main female character of the series.
- Holding Out For A Hero by Bonnie Tyler is all about this, a song dedicated to good guys.
- Mentioned in Blues Traveler's "Runaround," as its lyric imply that characters can do right by anyone else.
Like a bad play where the hero's right
And nobody thinks or expects too much
- The word "Hero" comes from Classical Mythology. It was derived, from Heracles, however, serious Values Dissonance kicks in because while many did slay horrible monsters that threatened the people, the heroes from Classical Mythology could be just as bad as their Gods, since they were free to do what they want.
- King Arthur is the Trope Codifier of this trope for Medieval England, as well as the Big Good. The Knights of the Round Table also qualified for any tale that focused on them as they lived up as paragons of chivalry by defending the weak and standing for justice. They might as well as be considered the superheroes of their time period.
- Robin Hood fits this role among the Merry Men in nearly every adaptation, since he is the plucky rebel leader who steals from the rich to give the poor.
- The Bogatyrs from Russian Mythology and Tales were the Slavic equivalents to the Knights of the Round Table: legendary warriors that protected the land from monsters, beasts and invading steppe hordes.
- Saint George is one of the most iconic examples of this trope in Christian tradition: a brave knight rescuing a princess from the dragon. Something so simple, yet it's extremely influential in encapsulating classical heroism.
- The eponymous character of the Popeye comic strip is this. He is a very noble (but ignorant) being and is very loyal to his girl Olive Oyl and will give anyone the benefit of the doubt, even his rival Bluto.
- Neil Sinclair of Survival of the Fittest is arguably the hero of the series. He might not always make the right calls, but he's about the only character who retains his moral high ground throughout the game, and strives ceaselessly to save as many people as possible. He has the distinction of being the only character ever to form an effectual pro-escape group. Which has a good chance to have succeeded, cliffhanger and Pyrrhic Victory notwithstanding; if nothing else, it's the closest the students have ever come to beating the system.
- As long as he's sane, Keiichi Maebara from Higurashi: When They Cry takes up takes role as (according to Rika and Hanyu) he is the "piece" that brings change to Hinamizawa. Because Hinamizawa is a village so traditionalist and unchanging that its people have begun to stagnate, it is very important that he comes and stirs up their preconceptions - in particular, changing the ostracising attitude that many have towards the Houjou family.
- Vincent in the CPU Championship Series "Vincent Saga". Agent Naomi Winters and Tony share this trope in Season 4 because Vincent being Killed Off for Real in the Vincent Saga's Grand Finale ENDGAME. Skillshare|Kirby could also be considered this due to him beating Blood Falcon, who killed Vincent in ENDGAME.
- Dreamscape: Dylan is the lead, a Determinator, and (reluctantly) saves the world from evil threats.
- The Most Epic Story Ever Told in All of Human History: Epic-Man saves a "poorly drawn alien cat" from falling to its death during the trailer, and is implied to be taking on this role for the series proper.
- Elliot of El Goonish Shive, he's brave, naturally drawn to defending people that need it, and acts a balance for his more eccentric friends.
- In Kidd Commander, despite acting sometimes silly or being impulsive, Phineas is more than she appears, knows much more than she shows, and is stubbornly and patiently gathering friends to reach her goal.
- Cale'Anon Vatay of Looking for Group is a textbook example. He starts the comic as a "lone and righteous wolf", but quickly accrues a group of fellow adventurers, including the warlock Richard as his Lancer, whom he develops a close - if somewhat dysfunctional — relationship with. He is not the most intelligent of the bunch, clearly failing to recognize evil early on, but often displays quick thinking and good strategizing ability, especially after taking numerous levels in badass. (He is definitely the newest to adventuring of the main characters, having started out the comic with a healthy dose of Wide-Eyed Idealist.) Considering the actions of some of his group members, he can also be seen as an Only Sane Man. He fights with two swords and eventually shacks up with the resident Action Girl.
- Any, from M9 Girls! is both The Protagonist and the heroine of the story, having shown her concern for the Girls' safety over her own. She has self-appointed to be The Leader, though the Girls don't really acknowledge it.
- Despite (or expectedly due to) being a Genius Bruiser, Roy from The Order of the Stick is The Hero instead of The Big Guy or The Smart Guy, since he leads the titular adventuring party and driven to stop the evil lich Xykon - initially to fulfill a blood oath that his father made to defeat him, but then deciding Xykon needs to be stopped.
- "Wastelanders Anonymous": Although this is an ensemble piece, Benjamin acts as the catalyst that brings the characters together. Anne also has some of The Hero in her but not as much as Benjamin. Paradoxically, Benjamin hasn't got a clue that he's the catalyst. Both he and Anne think Anne is the real catalyst.