This trope is under discussion in the Trope Repair Shop.
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."
The Hero is a character who overcomes adversity and challenges by performing great acts that demonstrate their strength (physical or mental), ingenuity, and valor. In modern works, heroes are also often the primary source of goodness in the story or will fight on its behalf against a Big Bad. In contrast, heroes of classical works frequently engaged in heroics for what are now considered petty and jealous reasons, such as protecting their honor, pride, and vanity, as past societies put much more stock into such values than many societies do today. In this classical conception, being The Hero was more about accomplishing some great feat against a worthy opponent, rather than upholding and protecting some noble intention.
While The Hero is often The Protagonist and The Leader, these tropes are not the same. The Protagonist is the principal character of the story who drives the plot forward. The Hero tends to be The Protagonist (see Hero Protagonist) just because baked into the hero's definition is a forward-moving, basic narrative structure (hero faces some challenge and has to figure out a way to overcome it). The Leader, on the other hand, is simply a character who sits at the head of some group or organization. Often times The Hero will be The Leader because idealized versions of The Hero and The Leader share many of the same traits (strong, resilient, righteous, noble, proactive, morally upstanding, well-liked, charismatic, confident, brave, etc.), making The Hero a logical choice in the narrative to also be The Leader. That said, not all heroes are The Leader and not every example of the The Leader is also The Hero.
This page merely defines the broad concept of The Hero. See the list below for variations on this archetype and place all examples under one of these subtropes.
For other tropes about or related to The Hero, see Hero Tropes.
No examples, please. This only defines the term.
Prominent Variations of The Hero:<!—index—>
- '90s Anti-Hero: A violent, ruthless Anti-Hero with a gritty design and an aggressive and/or rough personality.
- Accidental Hero: Someone who made no plan to do anything noble, but unintentionally did something heroic.
- Action Hero: An archetypal protagonist of action-genre fiction featuring the hero of an action film or other entertainment which portrays action and adventure.
- All-Loving Hero: A heroic character whose love and compassion are unlimited.
- Amnesiac Hero: A hero who suffers from Identity Amnesia.
- Anti-Hero: A morally questionable hero, as opposed to a noble Ideal Hero.
- Arc Hero: The same old Hero, with a new partner or Anti-Hero foil in each major arc.
- Barbarian Hero: Archetypal badass, heroic barbarian.
- Broken Hero: A hero who's kind and cheerful despite their Dark and Troubled Past.
- Byronic Hero: A troubled, brooding, sometimes selfish outcast whose passions and strive towards a goal cause drama.
- Celibate Hero: Heroes who understand but prefer not to engage in romance and/or sex.
- Chaste Hero: A hero that is clueless about love or lust.
- Classical Anti-Hero: A mostly noble hero who suffers from flaws and hindrances that must be overcome.
- Comedic Hero: A hero prone to humorously foolish behavior.
- Comically Invincible Hero: An Invincible Hero that's Played for Laughs.
- Designated Hero: The story wants you to see this character as a noble hero, despite their villainous or morally ambiguous actions.
- Eternal Hero: A hero who always returns to fight evil in some form.
- Evil Hero: A villainous character who has a traditionally heroic job or the title of "hero".
- Fake Ultimate Hero: A "hero" whose heroics are actually all a farce and built on lies.
- Fallen Hero: An Anti-Hero or villain who was previously an Ideal Hero.
- Folk Hero: A hero who became the subject of popular myths and legends, though certain aspects of their reputation may have been greatly exaggerated.
- From Zero to Hero: A hero that came from very humble and often unremarkable origins.
- Guile Hero: A smart hero who uses wit, words, skill, and charm to gain victory over the evil-doers.
- Haunted Heroine: A heroine who's haunted by eerie events around her and ghosts of the past.
- Henshin Hero: A superhero who has distinct normal and powered "forms" and needs to actively switch between the two.
- Hero Antagonist: A good guy opposing the main character(s).
- Heroic Bastard: A hero born out of wedlock.
- Heroic Host: A hero whose great strength comes from something inhabiting their body.
- Heroic Seductress: A highly attractive but virtuous woman who uses her looks to advance her heroic goals.
- Hero of Another Story: Non-major character(s) who have their own adventures you usually just don't get to see them.
- Hero Protagonist: A hero that's also The Protagonist of the story.
- Hero with Bad Publicity: A hero that the general public hates.
- Hidden Agenda Hero: A hero that's definitely on the side of good, though their motivations are a mystery.
- Hollywood Action Hero: The hero of a Summer Blockbuster Action-Adventure Movie.
- Homegrown Hero: A hero that comes from the same country or place as the Target Audience.
- Homeless Hero: Heroes that live in squalor.
- Horrifying Hero: A hero whose looks and abilities are on the horrific or monstrous side.
- Humble Hero: A hero who does not brag and remains modest of their accomplishments.
- Hurting Hero: A hero who experiences a lot of hardship and tragedy but manages to keep going despite it and save the day.
- Ideal Hero: An honorable and morally good hero who fights for noble causes.
- Idiot Hero: A hero who acts like an idiot all the time.
- Kid Hero: The hero is below the setting's age of majority, which can contribute its own set of pros and cons to their heroics.
- Kleptomaniac Hero: A hero that goes around taking everything they consider valuable, from other people or from places, without issue.
- Magnetic Hero: A hero with remarkable personal magnetism gains friends and allies with astonishing ease.
- Nature Hero: Heroes with an affinity to nature and the wilderness or derive their powers from such.
- Nerd Action Hero: An Action Hero that possesses several traits of the typically non-heroic Stereotypical Nerd.
- Nominal Hero: Someone who advances a heroic cause with neutral at best motives. Often verging on Villain Protagonist.
- Omniscient Hero: The Omniscient is a main character.
- Part-Time Hero: A hero who tries to live a normal life between heroics.
- Pragmatic Hero: A hero who does not always adhere to idealized heroic traits if it gets in the way of protecting the greater good.
- Prodigal Hero: A character who lives in the lap of luxury, but then run away from home, live in exile for a period, and return home to save the day.
- Propaganda Hero: A hero who is made into the symbol of a cause.
- Punch-Clock Hero: Characters who are not morally good most of the time and consider heroism just a job.
- Science Hero: A hero who uses technology/(super-)science.
- Scrap Heap Hero: A washed-up hero who decides to get back in the game of heroics.
- Secular Hero: A hero who explicitly lacks religious beliefs.
- Showy Invincible Hero: An Invincible Hero whose main draw comes from the flashy and creative ways they defeat their enemies.
- Small Steps Hero: A Hero who does immediate good and worries about evil later.
- Socially Awkward Hero: A hero who is more afraid of social situations than of actual dangers to life and limb.
- Sociopathic Hero: A hero who is The Sociopath, who still fights for a heroic cause, with their cruelty being played seriously.
- Stock Light-Novel Hero: Specific recurring heroic lead of Light Novels who bundles stoicism, snarkiness, being a Genius Bruiser, accumulation of power, and admirers. Often an Unfazed Everyman. Also usually Trapped in Another World.
- Stock Shōnen Hero: The archetypal hard-working, big-hearted, Hot-Blooded, mostly unintelligent, and friendship-oriented hero of Shounen works who's proud of his strength.
- Stock Shoujo Heroine: Archetypal take on the heroine: a relatably awkward young girl who comes to embody The Power of Friendship and The Power of Love.
- Superhero: A hero with superhuman abilities who (most of the time) wears a colorful costume and acts in the public interest.
- Terror Hero: A hero who targets the fears of villains.
- Tragic Hero: A hero whose Fatal Flaw ends up being their undoing.
- Underhanded Hero: A hero skilled in deception, trickery, thievery, and manipulation and uses those for the greater good.
- Unscrupulous Hero: An exceedingly ruthless, very flawed yet otherwise well-intentioned, Anti-Hero.
- Unlikely Hero: A character who doesn't fit the heroic ideal and often doesn't even seek to be a hero, but nonetheless ends up engaging in heroism.
- War Hero: A character who served/serves in the military and has been decorated for heroism on the battlefield.
- Zombie Apocalypse Hero: An Action Hero specific to Zombie Apocalypse stories.