Ideal Hero

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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:
  • 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 (comics) is basically Marvel Comics' equivalent to Superman.
  • Mario and Link are always described as ideal heroes.
  • Sora of Kingdom Hearts.
  • After a parade of anti heroes and blood thirsty warriors in video games of all genres, almost a reconstruction, really, can be found in choosing to be a Paragon with Shepard in Mass Effect.
    • However, Paragon Shepard does enter Good Is Not Soft often (especially in Mass Effect 2) and every now and then breaks the law. But s/he only does so when s/he has no other choice.
      • Really, alternate titles for Paragon and Renegade could be Nice and Jackass. They both always get the job done, no matter what.
  • Eliwood of Fire Emblem.
  • 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).
  • Ferwin and Pyan Pau in The Spirit Engine 2. Charlotte seems to be this at first, but is actually a subversion.
  • Michael, a Knight of the Cross, in The Dresden Files.
  • The title character of Kimba the White Lion.
  • Optimus Prime from (almost) every incarnation of Transformers.
  • Hilbert in Last Scenario really, really wants to be this kind of hero, but he rapidly finds that he's in the wrong genre. He still manages to be much more heroic than is typical for the setting, and of five characters who Jumped At the Call, he's the only one who doesn't become a Fallen Hero.
  • 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.
  • 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