A character who lives to help others, but in a way that shows those people how to help themselves. This character does not believe in Holding Out for a Hero. This character's ultimate goal is that one day, when the people need a hero, they can be the heroes themselves.
Lest this Aesop break in the telling (a person with superpowers telling Muggles how to live their lives?), the understanding Paragon will emphasize that each person must strive to goodness within their abilities.
A common form of this is a hero helping a town, and at the end, the people are inspired by this character's courage, and help fight off the Big Bad.
Values Dissonance can turn The Paragon into a Jerk with a Heart of Gold or a Designated Hero. Usually a Small Steps Hero, and justified that doing individual acts of kindness makes the world a better place overall.
- Medaka Kurokami from Medaka Box. Medaka denies it of course. Later, it is implied that she may have dropped her paragonic tendencies.
- Kamina from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, while widely recognized as a hero, mostly sought to bring out the heroism in other people. Having self-confidence rather than relying on a hero is actually a major theme in the series.
- Ironically, he is also somewhat of a subversion. He did not believe in himself all that much. However, he did believe in Simon and recognized his potential far before anyone else have. Seeing Simon's potential was what gave Kamina the assurance of being so confident, which in turn, allowed Simon to be more confident and bring out both of his potential.
- Indeed, it gets obvious that while Kamina was a paragon to both Simon and the whole Dai-Gurren Brigade, Simon was just as much of a paragon to Kamina, both relying on each other's support to be able to do good. Kamina's death later on was one of the main reasons Simon learned to become a true hero, stating that he still lives on in his heart. Kamina did, in fact, put up most of the show in front of Simon to inspire him to true heroism.
- Hakuoro in Utawarerumono. His opposite number actually gets sort of pissed at him for teaching the people all sorts of things and rapidly advancing their civilization, the logic being that it will create more conflicts. Inventions shared: Agriculture, steel production, teaching people to lead their own countries, medicine, modern chemistry, etc. Note, shared. He teaches the people to make these things for themselves.
- All Might from My Hero Academia fits and explores this trope: He decided that the only way to make society better, was to make them see something that they could believe and hold on to, so by becoming a Symbol Of Peace, he will inspire people to become better. Unfortunately, this also means that not only has he inspired fanatics such as Stain, but after he's forced to retire due to finally expending his powers, it leads to a new era for supervillains and criminals to come crawling out of the woodworks and uniting.
- His successor, Midoriya, shows signs of being this: During the time he was at UA, he helped Mineta to outgrow his cowardice and fight as well, Todoroki to deal with the issues regarding his father and even visit his mother in the hospital, Iida to become a better hero by leaving aside his revenge and focusing on saving people. While still a downplayed example because he's a rookie, he's already gotten plenty of his classmates to follow him and Aizawa himself lampshades how Midoriya is a large influence on his classmates. The fact that All Might saw this potential in Midoriya is precisely why he was chosen as his successor.
- The eponymous lead of Naruto seems to specialize in taking evil, psychotic, apathetic, or otherwise less-than-heroic characters and talking to them or beating them up until they decide to become heroes like Naruto. The only person who seems immune to it is Sasuke. Until the second to last chapter.
- Subverted with Griffith in Berserk. He's introduced as a very charismatic person and he seems to be a very good example of this in how he raises up the members of the Band of the Hawk. In particular, in his first meeting with Casca, he gave her a sword to kill her attempted rapist, and he helps transform Guts from a brute into a thoughtful soldier. However, he ultimately seems to only view others as pawns and in his epic Face–Heel Turn during the Eclipse, he betrays the people he previously motivated in the most horrific way possible.
- Nanoha fits this pretty well. She befriends several Anti-Villain characters, and does her best to show them that there are better alternatives. In the third season and after, she becomes an instructor in magical combat, as she has come to the conclusion that the way she can help the most people is to pass on the skills and knowledge that she has acquired.
- Ironically, Vegeta wants to invoke this towards the end of the Dragon Ball manga. When Goku suggests that Gotenks or Gohan could come and help them kill Buu, Vegeta tells him that it's now humanity's turn to shoulder some responsibility and has all humans share their energy with Goku so he can blast Buu with an enormous ki attack.
- Also averted, as Goku attempts twice to do this — once with Gohan during the Cell Saga and again with Goten and Trunks during the Buu Saga — but both times fail as those Goku chooses just don't have the fighting drive he does. This is why he recruits Uub at the end.
- Averted again with aforementioned ki attack. A majority of the human population don't even know who Goku is and don't know about any of his exploits despite him saving the world countless times, due to his efforts to keep a low profile. All they know is that some disembodied voice is asking them to give up their energy, and when they raise their hands and feel said energy draining away, naturally they get scared and assume said voice is malevolent. It's only when the Fake Ultimate Hero Hercule/Mr.Satan asks them to do it that they comply.
- In A Certain Magical Index, Touma Kamijou seems to have an unconscious gift for turning the people around him into heroes. Most people he defeats or saves eventually become inspired to do the right thing, using him as an example.
- In Fate/Zero, Rider gives a speech about this to Saber and Archer as they debate which of them was the greatest king. Saber defines true kingship as nobly sacrificing everything to protect one's subjects and accuses Rider of being merely a tyrant. Rider, though he doesn't fight the accusation and even admits she may be right, counters that Saber was never really a leader and ultimately a failure as a king, though Berserker would disagree with that assessment in his dying breathes. He explains to them that he pursued glory not just for its own sake but in order to inspire greatness in all those who followed him. He then dramatically ends the debate by revealing that his ultimate power is to summon the spirit of everyone to ever be inspired by him, an army of thousands of Heroic Spirits. By the end of the war, though he's ultimately killed by Archer, who proves to be mightier than even that army, Rider's friend Waver Velvet changes from a cowardly wimp to a true man thanks to his influence.note
- One Piece: The Revolutionary Army seem to follow that kind of philosophy. Rather than solving the problems of the people, they help and support people in a way so they can win their own battles.
- Spider-Man, in addition to being one of the most morally upright characters in comics, is pretty much this for the concept of "self-sacrifice". One comic has a darker version of this, beginning with a mugger killing some woman in an alleyway and a Punisher-style vigilante promptly killing the mugger. Spider-Man put him in jail, of course, and remarked, "What was he trying to do, anyway?" The answer is covered in the bookend — this time, a woman targeted by a mugger draws a knife and kills the mugger.
- Superman, because, come on. Superman. He is often called the Man of Tomorrow because it was once assumed that some day humans would evolve into superpowered beings like him, but also because he is an inspirational figure who humanity can become like. Among others, he inspired Steel to take up his legacy when he was dead.
- Nightwing. Superman admires him.
- Captain America, what with his incorruptible moral purity and all. This actually became one of the problems with Civil War: Whether the Pro-Registration side was in the right, or if they were going for something more gray-area, they put Cap on the anti side, so most readers, and some writers, naturally assumed they were the Good Guys.
- Despite being a franchise rife with Anti-Heroes, X-Men still manages to have a fair few of these. Most notable are Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, and Kitty Pryde. Special mention has to go to Cyclops, who used to be the Paragon for the entire mutant race. However, The Chains of Commanding and a long Trauma Conga Line have made him into an Anti-Hero who the X-Men disassociate themselves from.
- In both the Superman movies and the The Dark Knight Saga, this is the heroes' goal. (Although in The Dark Knight, Bruce expresses disapproval of the groups of men who dress like Batman in groups, A. because they often get hurt or killed, and B. because they use guns.)
- Spider-Man Trilogy: Though he doesn't set out with this as a goal, Spider-Man tends to succeed at this at least Once Per Movie, typically with nearby New Yorkers not known for their friendliness working together to save his life or even fending off some rather nasty villains.
- Kick-Ass is a straight example, his "Reason You Suck" Speech going viral on YouTube and ending up ultimately being responsible for the rise in costumed vigilantism and costumed villainy.
- From Marvel Cinematic Universe:
- Captain America is of course this. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, he gets on the PA system to inform SHIELD that the organization has been corrupted by HYDRA from the very start and call them to action.
Computer Tech: ...I'm sorry, sir. I can't launch those ships. Captain's orders.
Rumlow: [draws gun] Step away from the console.
Agent 13: [as she and everyone else draw their guns] You heard him. Captain's orders.
- However, this video from Overly Sarcastic Productions argues that Captain America in Captain America: Civil War is a deconstruction as the ones on his side are following him because he's "Captain goddamn America", but the ones on the opposite side are opposing him because he's "Captain goddamn America" and thus realize there's no point trying to convince or persuade him otherwise because they're certain he believes he's doing the right thing.
- From Avengers: Age of Ultron, we have The Vision. Born to be Ultron's ultimate body, he nevertheless remained calm after his awakening, and explained that he is not the Avengers' enemies. They were right to distrust him at first, but he instantly gained their trust by casually handing Mjolnir to Thor.
- Captain America is of course this. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, he gets on the PA system to inform SHIELD that the organization has been corrupted by HYDRA from the very start and call them to action.
- Gleahan and the Knaves of Industry: Zig-Zagged. Gleahan acts as a Decon-Recon Switch, rushing into things that he knows are right and by doing so getting himself into danger. However, once everyone (especially Mark) is on the same page as him, they're generally on board with his quest. However however, toward the end Gleahan gets pretty ruthless as he carries out the final stages of his quest.
- This is practically a Universal Trope in Mythology. Without someone to aspire to be like, it's hard to worship anything.
- To some people, Jesus was doing this in the New Testament.
- The Istari in The Lord of the Rings were meant to be Paragons: "It was afterwards said that they came out of the far West and were messengers sent to contest the power of Sauron, and to unite all those who had the will to resist him; but they were forbidden to match his power with power, or to seek to dominate Elves or Men by force and fear." In the end, only Gandalf truly fulfilled this role.
- However letters Tolkien wrote towards the end of his life claim the two Blue Wizards were stirring up rebellions against Sauron in the East, which prevented his forces outnumbering those fighting him. And other notes of Tolkien imply Radagast was sent to protect the nature of Middle-Earth.
- In the H.I.V.E. Series, HIVEmind grows to fill this role, eventually sacrificing himself so that Otto can kill Overlord and get home safely.
H.I.V.E.mind: You are as strong as you wish to be.
- The Dresden Files:
- Michael Carpenter, modern-day Knight in Shining Armor has elements of this. His Evil Counterpart Nicodemus inverts it; he deliberately fashions himself as a paragon of evil rather than good.
- And Karrin Murphy, a policewoman and voice of morality to the protagonist, is also an example. Really, any Knight of the Cross is expected to be a paragon; it's basically their job to help people in need and battle evil. (If any Knight tells a lie or breaks a promise, the mystically-empowered blade they wield actually has a chance of breaking.)
- Many of Tamora Pierce's Tortall heroines are this, particularly Alanna from Song of the Lioness. She even says in the third book, Woman Who Rides Like A Man, something to the effect of "If I waited for things to change, they never would have," as an explanation for why people should work for change. Her success inspires numerous girls in and out of Tortall, and her Badass Normal successor Keladry from Protector of the Small inspires even more.
- Superman in The Reckoners Trilogy. Note that Superman doesn't actually exist in this universe. But in a world where every superhuman is, without exception, a sociopathic mass-murderer, some people still carry around his S symbol under the firm belief that some day, heroes will come. It's the closest thing to a religion left.
- Doc Thunder in Al Ewing's Gods of Manhattan is America's Greatest Hero, a super-strong, super-smart, super-kind champion that's half Golden Age Superman, half Doc Savage, who's protected New York City for over half a century specifically with the intention of being a role model to others. Justified in that he has very good reasons for hating fascism, and by extension its belief that humanity is a witless, amoral herd to be ruled by strength without mercy. Not to mention he's in a bisexual polyamorous relationship, meaning he and his closest loved ones would have no place under such a society. Plus, an inspired, well-intentioned citizenry actively makes his job easier, such as at the end of the book where he gets them to clear out of Grand Central Station in advance of a battle and go around the city warning others to stay away.
- Wedge Antilles is this for Star Wars Legends. If he disobeys orders from his superiors, you can take it for granted that these superiors were wrong, either morally or militarily (or both). If he resigns his commission to go after an enemy that the New Republic won't allow him to, you can trust that the enemy needed to be taken out. If there's a war on, he will pick the right side (though not necessarily start out there) even if it means creating the right side himself. To top it all, he's A Father to His Men, loyal to a fault to his friends, a devoted family man, and dedicated to the principles of the Rebellion and New Republic (sometimes more than they are themselves). It's hard to find a more consistent moral anchor in the Star Wars universe.
- The Virgin Mary saves souls in The Divine Comedy not by forcing them to be good, but by showing them her paradisiacal happiness and her mastery of the Seven Heavenly Virtues. In this work, Mary is presented by art throughout Purgatory as the cure for the Seven Deadly Sins and Mary herself allows Dante to travel through Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise so he understand the importance of accepting God's love.
- In military thriller Victoria, protagonist John Rumford takes up the old German Auftragstaktik and John Boyd's model of warfare as information management, with individual initiative as the key component. His leadership style heavily emphasizes the importance of getting his subordinates to think for themselves, and he always prefers to command by suggestion and example, rather than detailed orders. He also fills this role as a community organizer, helping Gunny Matthews rally the little people against the gangsters who terrorize their neighborhoods.
- Game of Thrones: Ned Stark's memory serves as this to many characters even after his death, lasting well into Season 4. All his children in various ways try to live up to his teachings and example, while the North thoroughly adores him. Even the Lords of the Vale, who knew him as a young man when he fostered with Jon Arryn, know him well. Even Jaime Lannister, who did not get along with him at all, resolves to try and redeem his honor by tasking Brienne with safeguarding Ned Stark's daughter Sansa with "Oathkeeper", a sword Tywin re-purposed from "Ice":
Jaime: You'll be protecting Ned Stark's daughter with his own sword.
- In The X-Files, the sinister group of shady conspiracies called "the Syndicate" views Fox Mulder as the Paragon of an ever-growing movement of conspiracy theorists-slash-whistleblowers (whose members also include characters like Max Fenig and The Lone Gunmen). In fact, the main reason why they don't just shoot Mulder is the fear a dead paragon would become an Inspirational Martyr to rally all the Tinfoil Hat-wearing nutjobs to start digging everywhere and eventually to discover their existence. Ironically, Mulder himself is hardly aware of this special status until well into the series.
- In Once Upon a Time, Emma's dubious about Henry calling her The Chosen One, but she is racking up an impressive record inspiring the cowed townsfolk into standing up for themselves and making their own "happy endings."
- In The Twilight Zone (2002) episode "Azoth the Avenger Is a Friend of Mine", the hero Azoth the Avenger encourages a boy to be brave enough to stand up to his abusive father, instead of relying on him to solve all his problems.
- The other swordswoman from Heather Dale's song, "One of Us".
- In Exalted, The Unconquered Sun functions as the Paragon of all Virtues, and exists as an ideal for all other beings to strive towards. Interestingly, his creation as The Paragon was intended by the Dragon's Shadow as an instrument of evil; his ultimate Virtue allowed the Dragon's ultimate evil to have something to define itself against, and his endeavors for people to emulate him gave the Dragon the opportunity to be against lots of people at once. This didn't work out well for the Dragon.
- Even Warhammer 40,000 has one in Sanguinius, Primarch of the Blood Angels. Though his brother Horus was put in command of all the Imperium's forces, as Horus lay dying, he remarked "Sanguinius. It should have been him. He has the vision and strength to carry us to victory, and the wisdom to rule once victory is won. For all his aloof coolness, he alone has the Emperor's soul in his blood. Each of us carries part of our father within us, whether it is his hunger for battle, his psychic talent or his determination to succeed. Sanguinius holds it all. It should have been his."
- Anyone reaching and holding Humanity value of 10 in the Old World of Darkness setting by default is this, as their sin threshold is 'selfish thoughts'.
- Amaterasu of Ōkami. She, as the Matron God of Nippon, can bestow all sorts of blessings upon the world, such as slicing obstacles in half (up to and including boulders blocking roads) and revitalizing dead flora. Very often, she (and by extension, the player) employs her powers in a way that makes it look as though the ones actually achieving her feats are mortals, in order to give them the initiative and confidence to keep striving for the greater good of the land and to praise the gods. This does backfire at least once, namely with Susano, a rather incompetent warrior that misinterprets Amaterasu's help as mockery from the Gods for his laziness and uneffectiveness
- The Avatar in the Ultima games. Becoming the paragon of the Eight Virtues is explicitly the plot of Ultima IV.
- Depending on the ending, you turn out to be this kind of guy in Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal. In the good ending, it is specifically mentioned that you'll end up spawning a host of imitators.
- In Dragon Age, Dwarves that distinguish themselves with truly awesome deeds and/or inventions are literally called Paragons. Revered as "Living Ancestors" (the Dwarves worship their ancestors instead of gods and regard Paragons as such whether or not they are actually dead), the Paragons are meant to serve as examples for Dwarven society to follow. The most recent Paragon Branka, for example, earned her status by inventing smokeless fuel which burned hotter and cleaner, simultaneously boosting production and reducing things like black lung. The Paragon Caridin earned his rank by building the Anvil of the Void, the key to creating Golems. The Paragon Aeducan made the hard call of cutting off Orzammar from the rest of the Deep Roads when the First Blight threatened annihilation while all the Deshyrs argued over whose thaigs to save. To gain the allegiance of the Dwarves, you have to get one of these Paragons to help you settle the Succession Crisis over Orzammar's throne. At the end of the game provided you are playing as a Dwarf and didn't sacrifice yourself to slay the Archdemon, you become a Paragon. If you sacrificed yourself, you become a Paragon posthumously.
- Persona: The player protagonists in Persona 3, Persona 4, and Persona 5 are these, to the point where the entire Social Link/Confidant system revolves around them serving as a guide for their friends and allies.
- The Prophet/Medivh in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. His entire goal was to help the Horde, Alliance, and night elves stand against the Burning Legion without needing the aid of a Guardian.
- In the manual, it also says the tauren are trying to provide an example for the no-longer demon-possessed orcs, so as to avoid their falling back into corruption.
- Though since the world is ending around them and yet the Horde and Alliance are fighting more than ever, it becomes a little odd that the Prophet hasn't shown up again to knock some sense into them.
- Though he does not talk much in Dissidia: Final Fantasy, The Warrior of Light is this to the other warriors. It's even the name of his fighting style.
- Turning the main character into this is the end goal in Zettai Hero Project. Starting off as a spineless bystander, he ends up helping the people help themselves and inspiring the entire world into not giving up hope against the Final Boss. As an aside note, he was actually a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass BEFORE he got the belt, having protected his little sister at the age of 8 by being a meat shield from a cannibal/rapist/killer. The only reason he seems spineless is because of a HORRIBLE home life that basically snuffed his Heroic Spirit down to a tiny ember.
- Garlot (Gulcasa)'s usual messianic behavior verges on this at certain points of Blaze Union, especially when the mission of the day involves lecturing some sense into the local townspeople (as in the battlefield "Waves in the Grain") or a despairing teammate. This is a kind of inverse Cerebus Retcon — Yggdra Union demonstrates that all of his allies and the citizens he winds up ruling are all willing to follow his example and take up arms for him and Bronquia in times of need in the most depressing way possible; Blaze Union is just going back to explain how this came about.
- Mass Effect:
- Commander Shepard can fit this trope depending on some choices made. Actions and dialogue choices include as much you resolving the situation as prompting others to get out and make a difference on their own. News reports after particular Paragon events often report how your influence has inspired those you met to do the right thing. Other examples include Captain Anderson and (for a Krogan) Urdnot Wrex.
- Wrex is noteworthy in that he had attempted to be a Paragon long in the past, but gave up. He tried to guide his people towards a path of rebuilding and reclaiming their world, but his own father tried to kill him for it. If he lives through the first game, Shepard's paragon-ism inspires him to try again. Wrex establishes himself as a progressive clan leader with immense influence over the other clans. Notably, this was due to Shepard's example restoring his hope in making another attempt to save his people.
- If you honestly assist him in the third game, Wrex (and Bakara) become the paragon leaders for all the Krogan.
- It's worth noting that the game's morality system literally refers to this particular style of action as "Paragon". (Actions taken from a less idealistic mindset are called "Renegade".)
- Every Pathfinder in Mass Effect: Andromeda is urged to become this, to set an example with a first step that the rest of the Initiative will follow. It's even truer for Ryder considering they are the only ones establishing colonies and first contacts, and if none of the original made it, the new Pathfinders will learned as they go... the way Ryder did before them.
- Deconstructed in Metal Gear. The Boss' ideas for the world is grossly misinterpreted by her successor, resulting in conflict that led to the dawn of War Economy.
- In Fire Emblem Awakening, Emmeryn fulfills this role when she throws herself off the cliff in Chapter 9, inspiring much of the Plegian army to desert from King Gangrel's plan to destroy Ylisse.
- The Guild Wars expansion, Nightfall, adds the Paragon profession- more often than not, the Paragon is used less for the martial skills and more for their party-wide buffs, so it could be argued that the Paragon uses his speech to inspire his allies to be the best they can be.
- Vyse, The Hero from Skies of Arcadia, fits this trope so well that he may as well just marry it. He pretty much convinces everyone in the entire world to fight against Lord Galcian and Valua by the end of the game. Seriously, Gondor Calls for Aid taken to it's greatest extreme, and he doesn't really "call" as much as "everyone turns up and asks if they can help out".
- Hamil in Tears to Tiara 2. His Aura plan is to revive all lost and suppressed knowledge and share and spread them far and wide. His empire will be peaceful and rich not by loot, conquest, and military force, but by abundance in agriculture, industry, and trade.
- Link in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is called such by the Greater-Scope Villain in the final battle. He certainly inspired Groose's better nature.
- In Tin Star (Choice of Games), in the epilogue, your actions and personal Karma Meter will influence the character and actions of the people you met during your time in Lander County. This means if you consistently acted with honor, upheld the law and maintained public order, people around you will take the lesson to heart; you can even get a character canonized as a saint for their virtues.
- In The Elder Scrolls, the Proud Warrior Race Nords hold several of their greatest historical heroes up as prime examples for what every Nord should aspire be. These include:
- Ysgramor, the Atmoran Founder of the Kingdom who vanquished Skyrim's Falmer (Snow Elves) which allowed the ancestors of the Nords to settle there.
- Talos, the Nord name for Tiber Septim, founder of the Third Tamriellic Empire, who ascended after his death to become the "Ninth Divine" and God of War and Good Governance. Banning the worship of Talos is a major cause of the 4th Era Skyrim Civil War.
- Those who are Dragonborn, rare mortals gifted with immortal Aedric Dragon souls by the chief deity of the Divines, Akatosh, to serve as natural predators toward Dragonkind. Many great leaders and heroes in Nordic history were said to be Dragonborn, including the Player Character of Skyrim.
- Princess Cadance does this for the Crystal Ponies in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, who were too thoroughly broken by King Sombra's tyranny to resist him. After recovering the crystal heart, she offers it to them and rallies them to use it's power to defeat Sombra once and for all.
Princess Cadance: The crystal heart has returned! Use the light and love within you to ensure that King Sombra does not!
- Legend of Korra: Korra's actions over the course of the series have inspired her teammates and other allies to follow her example of making the world a better place. This came across strongly by the end of Book 3: Korra is severely injured after fighting Zaheer, but Tenzin is inspired to have the new Air Nation follow her example. In the years that followed, people came to see that the Avatar is more than just a hero—she is an ideal, inspiring other heroes to come out of the woodwork, some good, and some bad in the case of Kuvira.
- Steven Universe has Rose Quartz, who led the rebellion against the Homeworld to save the Earth. In regards to her followers, she helped Pearl, a member of a Servant Race, to become more than just what she was meant to be. "The Answer" reveals that she was also this to Garnet: she gave Ruby and Sapphire a place to be themselves as a fusion and also accepted their fusion, stating that how they felt was more important than how she felt about it. This though borders deconstruction later, when it's revealed that she was this just for her fellow Gems. Up until she met Greg, she thought of humans the way we think of puppies.