Folk Hero

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

A Folk Hero is type of hero, real or mythological, who has become the stuff of legend through generations of retellings. The single salient characteristic which makes a character a folk hero is the imprinting of the name, personality and deeds of the character in the popular consciousness. This is evidenced by mention in folk songs, folk tales and other folklore. In modern times, folk heroes are also the subject of films, comic books and literature.

Although some folk heroes are historical public figures, they generally aren't, and even if they are they won't bear much resemblance to the real person. Because the lives of folk heroes are generally not based on historical documents, the characteristics and deeds of a folk hero are often exaggerated to mythic proportions. The folk hero often begins life as a normal person, but is transformed into someone extraordinary by significant life events, often in response to social injustice, and sometimes in response to natural disasters.

One major category of folk hero is the defender of the common people against the oppression or corruption of the established power structure. Members of this category of folk hero often, but not necessarily, live outside the law in some way. There is a strong tendency for them to be Guile Heroes.

The tradition is carried on nowadays in an "ironic" fashion in the form of the Memetic Badass - games of one-upmanship involving Chuck Norris or Bruce Campbell only really differ from embellishing the exploits of Cu Chulainn or Paul Bunyan in the fact that they're about living people, and as such are obviously fake.

See also King in the Mountain.

Examples of Folk Hero include:

Historically Documented Folk Heroes

Possibly Apocryphal Folk Heroes

Fictional Folk Heroes

Comic Books


Live Action TV



Web Original

Western Animation