The Hero

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I'm Luke Skywalker. I'm here to rescue you.

The Leader. The Captain. The Protagonist (well, usually). That shining star that holds the whole mess together. In a team lineup they will be front and center.

This guy is a hero, pure and simple. He's almost always right, is a friend to all his bandmates, and morally superior. He has a well-rounded skill set. He's not as strong as The Big Guy, or as smart as The Smart Guy, or as sensitive and socially adept as The Chick, but he's close. He can personally accomplish a variety of goals, but his real superpower is getting the whole diverse set of personalities under his command to focus and pull together. He'll always know who to ask for help, and when—and usually how.

Other powers and skills common to the hero include:

Almost invariably, The Chick is in love with him (unless she's The Hero or his sister and sometimes even then), as are any other members who happen to be women or Gay Option or Bi the Way.

If the Hero has too much of the "positive" qualities listed above, he may degenerate into a Marty Stu. If he's too generic, then he's a Standardized Leader. They are sometimes the Only Sane Man trying to keep the team together—smoothing over disputes with an Ordered Apology if need be. If this is the case fans might consider him to be dull compared to more entertaining members of the team, in which case he suffers from Designated Protagonist Syndrome.

The Hero and The Lancer usually have a special chemistry within the Band, either a Ryu and Ken relationship or Red Oni, Blue Oni. They are often rivals with a strong mutual respect for each other, and are sometimes even Heterosexual Life Partners.

The primary romantic plot in the band will be between The Hero and The Chick, with The Lancer rounding out a triangle. For a female Lancer who doesn't double as The Chick, they will likely be an Unlucky Childhood Friend. (Bonus points if The Lancer is bisexual and is interested in both of them!) The Hero might also be a Chaste Hero or a Celibate Hero as an additional complication to romantic subplots.

Usually, this role will not be filled by a woman unless all the other roles are already women (as is often the case in Anime). If so, there might not be a Chick in the group (although there might be The One Guy or the Non-Action Guy), and the prize for "most feminine" will go to The Hero or The Smart Guy.

The Hero does not HAVE to be The Leader, or the most intelligent. This is usually justified by him being the youngest, most inexperienced, and/or newest member of the team. Thus, his more senior teammates may quite reasonably see him as the Tagalong Kid or the Sixth Ranger, even if he's clearly the central protagonist to the audience. He may even be something of The Chick if he's a Mouthy Kid or The Fool. Don't worry - in time, he will reveal his great potential, eventually swaying friend and foe alike to his cause. Even if he needs significant growing up to reach that point.

Note that The Hero will very often have Vetinari Job Security, particularly if leading (or just being the glue that keeps together) a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits. The Lancer will not believe this until it's proven to him/her, of course, but it's nearly always true nevertheless.

And if there's a character Cooler than the Hero, that character is generally Too Cool to Live.

See also The Ace, The Kirk, The Messiah, The Chosen One, and Hero Protagonist. A Superhero is, by the catch-all definition, a hero (often with superpowers) who dedicates their very life to... well, being a hero.

Note: It is important to remember that while the hero is usually also The Protagonist, they are not necessarily one and the same. Whereas the hero is defined by the character traits described above, The Protagonist is defined by their central role in the story. In Star Wars, for instance, Luke Skywalker is an almost ridiculously archetypical example of The Hero and is more or less the Main Character of the original trilogy, but the Prequel trilogy establishes the more antiheroic Anakin Skywalker as The Protagonist of the film series as a whole, even though he is a villain for more than half of the saga. See Supporting Protagonist for instances in which this is the case.

Examples of The Hero include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Superman. Every hero in comic books, at one point or another, has been compared specifically to Superman, either in how he's similar or how he's different. Even in the case of antiheroes and indy comics, as more often than not, the first thing they'll do is take a swipe at the Superman mythos. The entire genre of superhero comics starts with him. And that's why Superman will always be the greatest, most iconic representation of a superhero.
  • Steve "Captain America (comics)" Rogers, Leader of The Avengers and the most heroic hero in the Marvel Universe.
  • Archie Andrews from Archie Comics.
  • Quantum from Quantum and Woody, though he's often deflated by Woody.
  • The Justice League's original line consisted of seven characters who all fit this type in their own comics. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and Martian Manhunter. Superman would traditionally be The Hero in this situation but, for example, Green Lantern Kyle Rayner filled this role as a sort of Kid Hero during Morrison's run, being new and being a replacement for the League's original Lantern Hal Jordan. In lineups with only one of these seven, that hero tends to be The Hero.


Film[edit | hide]


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Harry Potter, of course.
  • Jake of Animorphs.
  • Sam Temple from the Gone (novel) series.
  • Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings.
    • Interesting because Aragorn is not the protagonist, but he's clearly The Hero, and The Leader. This does make him a Supporting Leader though.
    • Even more interestingly, Tolkien himself made the argument that Sam could be considered The Hero of the Story, as he was the one whose story was closest to Bilbo of the previous book, who was definitely The Hero.
  • In the X Wing Series books, there are always two to three primary protagonists and viewpoint characters. One or two, depending on whether this book is part of Michael Stackpole's run or an Aaron Allston novel - and which Aaron Allston book - is the suboordinate who experiences more Character Development, goes through personal revelations and a personal plotline, gets beat up, and is generally a good person but not quite "pure", often having some dark guilt, flaw, or secret. The other primary protagonist is always Wedge Antilles, who leads, bounces back from setbacks, has a plotline that isn't really all that personal, and is rarely wrong.
    • 'Starfighters of Adumar, which is intensely Wedge-centered and has no other viewpoint characters, is the exception, and although Wedge is severely heroic and an Ace Pilot there too, he's not The Hero to the same extent.
  • Paul from Dune
  • Hector (for the Trojans) in The Iliad
    • Hector period, really. Among the Greeks and Trojans he's just the best guy. Not that he doesn't have his bad moments, but almost everyone else is a total jerk.
  • Hazel in Watership Down
  • Finn from Kingdom Keepers
  • Discworld usually subverts or averts this trope, often favoring the Anti-Hero instead. Carrot Ironfoundersson of the City Watch plays it straight, but he's not the central protagonist.
  • In Percy Jackson and The Olympians, we're lead to believe that Percy is the hero of the series. The hero is not who we thought he was. Luke Castellan takes up that role instead.
    • Percy is still The Hero of the series. He's just not the hero of the prophecy.
  • Fireheart in Warrior Cats.
  • In Death: Eve Dallas, but she is careful not to consider herself this.
  • Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels: Nicole "Nikki" Quinn is this for the Vigilantes. Jack Emery is this for the Big Five later on.
  • Garion in The Belgariad and The Mallorean
  • Roland in The Dark Tower


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Buffy of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • Angel from Angel.
    • At times he drops from the role of hero and becomes an Anti-Hero.
  • The Doctor.
    • While he fits this in most stories, he sometimes veers towards being an Anti Hero. The First Doctor was definitely not straight hero material.
  • Malcom "Mal" Reynolds, of Firefly, though he's more of a Lovable Rogue.
  • Max Evans of Roswell fits this to a T. His teammates frequently Lampshades it regularly asking him "What do we do now, Max?" even if sometimes they openly criticize him for his "passively watching" instead of taking action sooner, something that doesn't change when he's actually declared the king of his planet.
  • Col. John "Hannibal" Smith on The A-Team, though like Mal Reynolds, he's also kind of a Lovable Rogue as well as a Trickster. Notable for being most likely the only person in this trope to be over 50 years old.
  • John Crichton of Farscape.
  • Stargate Verse:
  • The Red Ranger in most Super Sentai and Power Rangers series. A few Red Rangers have been Lancers, but they still receive the most focus in the series.
  • Jamal from Ghostwriter.
  • Garland in Maddigan's Quest.
  • Leverage: Nate Ford is the Antiheroic Hero of Leverage Consulting and Associates.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series. Captain Kirk is this to the Freudian Trio of Kirk, Spock and McCoy.
  • Noah's Arc: Though not an action-based series, Noah fits in that he has virtually all the non-combat qualities listed above. He's the protagonist, is morally superior (frequently choosing Honor Before Reason), and compared to the rest of the group has a more balanced personality. He's the one who holds the group together, frequently reminding everyone how much they care about each other, and is almost always right in situations where he provides guidance/leadership. Even the wearing red/blue somewhat fits, as there are several scenes where he wears red specifically to make him stand out from the rest of the cast. He's also invariably front and center in any promotional photos and more often than not in scenes where the whole main cast is together.


Music[edit | hide]

Like a bad play where the hero's right
And nobody thinks or expects too much


Mythology[edit | hide]


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • The Player Character of most video games in general.
  • Tidus from Final Fantasy X is clearly the main character to the player, but he's a late-comer to the other characters, who already composed the rest of a Five-Man Band before he showed up.
    • This is also an example of what can happen when The Hero and The Captain are not represented by the same character, or rather, when there is no Captain at all.
    • Yuna takes up this role in the sequel. Very interesting considering that she was The Chick in the previous game. She even fights like Tidus and uses one of his swords in her Warrior dressphere.
  • Sora from Kingdom Hearts was The Hero but not The Leader of his original Three Amigos Power Trio. That position went to The Lancer, Riku, who was older, bigger, stronger, and more adventurous. It was Riku's idea to build a raft and leave their home behind to visit other worlds. If Riku hadn't been a little too eager to seek his destiny, he might have become the de facto leader of a full Five-Man Band, with Sora and Kairi functioning as the team's heart and conscience. Sora might lead with his heart and by example, but Riku would have led with his head and from the front. Even after Sora formed a new Power Trio with Donald and Goofy, Donald was initially more the Leader due to his drive and seniority.
  • Kazuya Mishima was The Hero of the first Tekken, and his looks and background somewhat supports it. However he proves otherwise in the second series and forward.
  • Master Chief Petty Officer John 117 of the SPARTAN IIs. Not the strongest, fastest, smartest of the Spartans, or the best at anything at all, except in leading the others and always getting the job done. He is so unbelievably Mario in comparison that even though there is at least one SPARTAN that can do something better than him, he wins everything because there is nothing he is bad at. Nothing. And he knows it. That's why he was made The Leader of the rest.
    • Although Cortana says he has one thing the rest didn't: LUCK.
    • Another thing he is the best at is being the Bravest with a capital B, as said by Dr. Halsey herself. Spartans are by definition extremely brave and invulnerable (latter as symbolism, but proven with the best record of survival rate per engagement). However John takes it to the pure insane combined with his luck and courage to do the pure impossible even by Spartan standards.
  • The Player Character in almost every RPG ever written. The Jedi protagonist and the Exile in Knights of the Old Republic 1 and 2 respectively, the Spirit Monk in Jade Empire, the Hero of Neverwinter and Drogan's Pupil in Neverwinter Nights, the Kalach-Cha in Neverwinter Nights 2, Commander Shepard in Mass Effect 1 and 2, etc, etc, etc. It should be noted that there's nothing stopping the character being an Anti-Hero or even a Villian Protagonist.
    • Shepard stands out though in that s/he actually talks, giving him/her a more fleshed out personality (though you canstill choose that personality).
  • In the Disgaea series, protagonists Adell of Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories and Valvatorez of Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten play the trope straight, Laharl and Mao of the other two games being antiheros.
  • Sonic is both the hero of the series and Team Sonic's (Sonic, Tails, Knuckles) de facto Leader.
  • Mario, of course. He names the franchise, is the main playable character, is the Jack of All Stats, etc., etc.
  • Link from The Legend of Zelda is literally an incarnation of this Trope. In most of the core Canon, Link is specifically titled "Hero" of something: of Hyrule in the original and A Link to The Past, of Time in Ocarina of Time, of Winds in Wind Waker, Chosen Hero of the Gods in Twilight Princess, and Hero of Legend in Skyward Sword.
  • Fox McCloud of Star FOX.
  • Although there's the possibility of it being too obvious to be worth listing here, the majority of the main characters in every Dragon Quest game serve as the Hero, to the point that in Dragon Quest VIII the hero's default name is Hero. Nearly all of them have balanced abilities and use (or have the option of using) swords, and many of them have lightning and/or fire in their selection of attack magic. One of the only exceptions is the Hero from Dragon Quest II, who learns no magic at all and serves as the physical fighter of the party.
    • Another DQ Hero-Subversion, in V the hero plays the role as more the party's priest, and his son is the legendary hero. Ironically though the son of the priest hero from V can't function without his father's help considering that the son is inexperienced, and he doesn't know what he's doing.
  • In Final Fantasy XII, Ashe, while not the protagonist, is probably the most standard hero in the series.
  • Rush Sykes of The Last Remnant.
  • Crono from Chrono Trigger
  • Dean Stark from Wild ARMs 5. You can do anything as long as you don't give up
  • Devlin McCormack from The Orion Conspiracy. Unlike a lot of games out there, he is different. How so? For starters, he is a middle-aged guy who has a number of issues. He was not a good father or a good husband. He does feel bad about it. His son and wife are both dead. He fought as a soldier in the Corporation War. However, the game demonstrates that he seems to prefer using his brains and guile rather than a gun and physical combat. He also engages in lying, petty larceny, blackmail and some Shoot the Dog moments. The Chick is also not attracted to him. With all that said, he does lead the charge more than once in the game.
  • Rosalyn from Okage is another case of the hero not being the player character, generally being a superb Hero's Guild Member and overshadowing Ari. But then, everyone does that last bit.
  • Septerra Core has Maya as this.
  • Fear Effect has Hana Tsu-Vachel/Mei Yun in this role.
  • Played straight in most of Fallout 3, but subverted in four of the five add-ons (Broken Steel being a continuation of the main storyline, very heroic, and something of an Author's Saving Throw for the original ending). The main game revolves around one man's dream to bring free, radiation-free water to the Wasteland, and how his child either achieves or subverts that dream.
    • Operation Anchorage requires the player to aid one of the least sympathetic non-psychopathic factions in the game (who only exist as a faction because they broke away from a group that decided it was more important to protect innocents from 8-foot-tall genocidal mutants than to hoard technology).
    • The Pitt forces the player to choose between allowing miserable slavery to continue in the name of rebuilding the only working steel mill on the east coast and finding a cure one of the most devastating mutations in the Wasteland, or freeing the slaves by replacing a Reasonable Authority Figure with his treacherous lieutenant, who then plans to use his former Lord's infant child to find a cure as fast as possible, her health be damned. Also, it is implied that choosing the latter will allow the steel mill to rot, a significant setback for rebuilding.
    • Point Lookout has the Lone Wanderer caught between a Badass and a Chessmaster. While none of his actions are decidedly heroic or villainous, he gets outsmarted by brain-damaged drug addicts and (depending on what side quests he follows), a 200-year-old death trap. Both these events paint the hero as more of a gullible imcompetent than anything else.
    • Mothership Zeta is mostly a fight for survival, ending with the player willingly destroying a craft capable of traveling to other planets. That, you know, aren't ruined.
  • In the Video Game/Fable series, Heroes are a classification of people in Albion who possess the disciplines of Strength, Skill, or Will, and as such have extraordinary fighting and magical abilities. The player character in each game has control over all three disciplines, and can either play this trope straight or horribly invert it.


Web Comics[edit | hide]


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Sasha Hunter is an undoubtable one in Greek Ninja.
  • Neil Sinclair of Survival of the Fittest is arguably the hero of the series. He might not always make the right calls, but he's about the only character who retains his moral high ground throughout the game, and strives ceaselessly to save as many people as possible. He has the distinction of being the only character ever to form an effectual pro-escape group. Which has a good chance to have succeeded, cliffhanger and Pyrrhic Victory notwithstanding; if nothing else, it's the closest the students have ever come to beating the system.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

Conventional TV wisdom has it that girls will watch shows about boys, but boys won't watch shows about girls. During test screenings, though, boys said they didn't care that Korra was a girl. They just said she was awesome.