The Paragon

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

The Messiah lives to help others, but often does it in one of three ways (give or take overlap): Martyr Without a Cause, Honor Before Reason, and The Paragon. This character 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.

Although if this character is in a story that features super powers, the character knows normal people need some help, but when it comes to things within their abilities, the paragon intends to be an example for them to follow.

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.

If The Paragon works under the Big Good and decides he could do a better job, beware The Paragon Always Rebels.

Values Dissonance can turn The Paragon into a Jerk with a Heart of Gold or a Designated Hero.

Compare The Cape (trope), Captain Patriotic, Fixer Sue, A Protagonist Shall Lead Them, The Paladin.

Contrast Anti Role Model, Never Be a Hero.

Examples of The Paragon include:

Anime and Manga

  • Kurokami Medaka from Medaka Box.
  • 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 because he didn't really have much self-confidence himself. He just played a good show of it and relied on Simon.
    • 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.
  • Naruto (the titular character 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.
  • 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 (both of whom had surpassed Buu at that time) should just come and 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.
  • Touma Kamijo from A Certain Magical Index seems to have an unconscious gift for turning the people around him into heroes.

Comic Books

  • One Spider-Man comic had 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
  • Captain America


  • In both the Superman movies and the Dark Knight Trilogy, 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.)
  • 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 villainry.

Folklore and Mythology

  • So many characters from Mythology.


  • 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.
    • We don't really hear that much about any of the Istari other than Saruman. Radagast the Brown's role, for instance, appears to have something to do with animals and he may have fulfilled his role completely.
      • Actually, it is stated, both in the Silmarillion and in Tolkien's letters that while Radagast never truly fell, he became too enamored by nature and animals and neglected his duties. The blue wizards also fell under Sauron's control, but they weren't as powerful as Saruman.
        • He revised this just before his death - the "blue wizards" supposedly had a pivotal offscreen role by weakening Sauron's forces in the east.
  • Atlas Shrugged: Who is John Galt?.
  • Michael Carpenter, modern-day Knight in Shining Armor from The Dresden Files, has elements of this. His Evil Counterpart Nicodemus inverts it; he deliberately fashions himself as a paragon of evil rather than good.
  • Many of Tamora Pierce's Tortall Heroines are this: Alanna even says in 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.

Live-Action TV

  • The Syndicate in The X-Files views Fox Mulder as The Paragon of an ever-growing movement of conspiracy theorists-slash-whistleblowers (part of which are The Lone Gunmen). In fact, the main reason why they don't just shoot him is the fear that a dead paragon would become a banner to rally all the tinfoil-wearing nutjobs to start digging everywhere and eventually discovering 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."


  • The other swordswoman from Heather Dale's song, "One of Us".

Tabletop Games

  • 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."

Video Games

  • Amaterasu of Okami.
  • The Avatar in the Ultima games. This was explicitly the plot of #4.
  • Depending on the ending, you turn out to be this kind of guy in Baldur's Gate: Throne of Bhaal. In the good ending, it is specifically mentioned that you'll end up spawning a host of imitators.
  • In Dragon Age Origins, 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. The Paragon Caridin earned his rank by building the Anvil of the Void, the key to creating Golems. 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.
  • Kyle Hyde in Hotel Dusk: Room 215.
  • The Main Characters of Persona 3 and Persona 4 are these, this being the entire point of the Social Link system.
  • 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.
  • In 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 inspiried 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 Pargon 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, Wrex establishes himself as a progressive clan leader with immense influence over the other clans.

Web Comics