Ideal Hero

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

And the reason that she loved him was the reason I loved him too.
And he never wondered what was right or wrong. He just knew.

David Crosby and Phil Collins, "Hero"

Bob is a hero.

Scratch that. Bob is the hero.

He fights with honor—he never kicks opponents while they're down or uses dirty tricks to win a confrontation. If he takes to the battlefield, he fights with appropriate force and despairs having to see any bloodshed. His goodness is genuine, not some con, and he will always make the right choice even when people would never know he made the wrong one. He looks out for the little guy, stands up for what's morally correct, and serves as the role model for heroes—being their standard-bearer, in many ways — and as a beacon of character for villians — even prompting villains to give up their immoral ways.

The Ideal Hero is seen quite often in children's media, to the point where you could call it common. Oftentimes, the Ideal Hero in such stories will get rewarded, and plentifully so, for being a good guy through and through. What's more, he never struggles with himself, being The Hero from sunrise to sunset.

In stories for adult audiences, things are not that simple. Usually, the Ideal Hero does what he does because it's the right way to live. He gets rewarded for it less often (sometimes far less often) than not. What's more, he may even struggle with himself to make the right choice—but always (or almost always) makes the right choice in the end.

Done wrong, Bob can exemplify any of an array of the worst of good guy tropes, like Stupid Good, Lawful Stupid, and—in the worst cases—even a Knight Templar who refuses to allow any deviation from his strict moral code.

At one time, probably a Dead Horse Trope, but the Ideal Hero has been subverted and deconstructed to the point that it's experiencing a quiet resurgence of popularity, mostly as a reconstruction, but sometimes simply played straight.

Super-Trope to The Cape (trope), Knight in Shining Armor, Captain Patriotic, and The Messiah. While The Hero is often an Ideal Hero, the former is the role a character occupies in a group while the latter is a character personality. See also Standardized Leader. Contrast Anti-Hero and Classic Villain. Can overlap to some degree with one of either Martial Pacifist, Technical Pacifist, or Actual Pacifist.

Examples of Ideal Hero include:

Anime and Manga

  • Akira Toriyama seemed to be unable to decide if Goku was this or a (thoroughly benign and heroic, mind) Blood Knight Man Child.
    • Specifically, Goku himself fulfills the trope by being the best man you'll ever meet or hear of, but will focus on his training to the exclusion of everything else, sometimes including family. This is justified by Earth coming under regular attack by superbeings both terrestrial and extraterrestrial, and the fact that Goku is, in practice, the Big Good of the universe at the end of the series (he's kinda busy sometimes).
  • The title character of Kimba the White Lion.
  • Definitely Fudou Yuusei from Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's. He wins just about every duel, is level-headed, always plays by the rules, always looks out for those in trouble, and generally ends up being liked by any non-villain who holds more than three minutes of conversation with him.

Comic Books

  • Superman, consistently, but given an especially provocative portrayal in Kingdom Come, where Superman plays this trope straight, subverts it, and reconstructs all over the course of the story.
    • In fact that ends up being the way they challenge the Invincible Hero in many of his better stories, putting things in front of him that could legitimately compel him to break this character type or putting him up against less ideal sort of hero (frequently Batman) to make a case for being an ideal hero versus being a more "pragmatic" hero. Some of his most crippling defeats were victorious battles that could only be won by breaking one of his rules.
  • Captain America is basically Marvel Comics' equivalent to Superman.


  • Michael, a Knight of the Cross, in The Dresden Files.
  • R. A. Salvatore's Forgotten Realms character Drizzt Do'Urden, the heroic dark elf ranger who rebelled against the evil of his people and fled to the surface world, where he had to overcome a huge amount of prejucide, but always remained unquestioningly true to the ideal in his heart that made him rebel in the first place.
  • Although not the main character, Carrot Ironfounderson from the Discworld series is a walking paragon of an Ideal Hero.


  • The song Holding Out For A Hero by Bonnie Tyler

Where have all the good men gone and where are all the gods ?
Where's the street-wise Hercules to fight the rising odds ?
Isn't there a white knight upon a fiery steed ?
Late at night I toss and I turn and I dream of what I need

Professional Wrestling

Video Games

Western Animation