What is a Hero?

So lately I’ve written about my favourite female real and fictional heroes and villains, but what really is a hero? It’s one question which has come up when I’ve shared and talked about my blog posts. It may seem simple, however there are countless definitions of what a hero is and individual people consider different people heroes. In today’s post I want to explore what a hero is/isn’t and what I personally believe a hero is.

Google says a hero is:

noun: hero; plural noun: heroes; noun: hero sandwich; plural noun: hero sandwiches
  • a person who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.
“a war hero”
  • the chief male character in a book, play, or film, who is typically identified with good qualities, and with whom the reader is expected to sympathize.
“the hero of Kipling’s story”

(in mythology and folklore) a person of superhuman qualities and often semi-divine origin, in particular one whose exploits were the subject of ancient Greek myths.

Me as my favourite hero of the Discworld series: Susan aka Death’s Granddaughter

My expanded definition

Already we see a wide variety of types of heroes and people that can be classed as heroes. I’ll give you a few more types:

  • Superhero: some who uses powers, abilities, technology or other means to fight crime, injustice, villains (super or otherwise), monsters etc. These are often seen in popular culture.

“Thanks to the power of his hammer Thor saved the day.”

  • Reluctant hero: a hero that doesn’t want to be a hero

“Bilbo didn’t want to go on an adventure, but he did anyway and became a hero.”

  • Personal hero: this might be someone’s mum or dad or famous actor or even a fictional character. To me it is someone that I look up to who isn’t necessary a hero to other people, but they are to me.

“I want to be confident like Loki. He is my personal hero.”

  • Anti hero: to me is a character who isn’t a stereotypical hero. People often refer to the Wolverine as an anti hero because he doesn’t have the same sort of strict moral code as Captain America for example.

“Despite having blood on his claws Wolverine saved many lives.”

  • Symbolic hero: a person or character that represents an issue or a certain group of people. For example during the feminist movement Wonder Woman became a symbolic hero for many women. This is discussed further in the documentary ‘Wonder Women: the Untold Story of American Superheroines’ by New Day Films.*

“Wonder Woman is a symbol of female empowerment.”

  • Heroine: basically a female hero. These days however the term hero can refer to any gender of hero.

“The heroine of the story had beautiful, long blonde hair and lived in a tower.”

  • Role model: any sort of role model is a type of hero to me. The main difference is that our heroes are held in higher esteem than our role models. I think it might be possible to become a role model, but I think it’s a lot harder to become someone’s hero.

“My mum is my role model I’m going to be just like her.”

  • Childhood hero: some people or characters are mainly relevant during our childhood. Such characters might be Bob the Builder or Peter Rabbit. These characters may still be relevant for us today for example I still love the character of Peter Rabbit, but he’s not really a character I currently look up to.

“When he was younger he wanted to be just like his childhood hero Bob the Builder.”

  • Protagonist: to me a protagonist is the hero of a story. Now they may not actually be heroic or anything like that, but they are a hero in their own adventures. It’s like the saying how every villain is a hero in their own story. This is very true for all well crafted villains. For example there are even Marvel comics and soon a Disney+ series where the main character is Loki. When a character that is usually seen as a villain becomes the protagonist of a story they in a sense become a hero.

“Loki is the hero of the Loki Agent of Asgard Marvel comics.”


Personally for me a hero is anyone I look up to and want to be like. These people could be fictional or real. Often I choose the characters I cosplay based on who I admire from movies, manga, comics, anime and video games. Within their franchise they might be considered evil, but there may still be aspects about them I admire. I went into detail about why I admire Loki and Spider-man in my post explaining Stan Lee’s influence on my life. I may even do individual posts sometime on each of my favourite heroes.

Me as Sakura from Naruto

Some heroes I admire only once they’re developed as a character. I hated Sakura from Naruto however she developed into a character I can really admire, which is why I cosplayed her.

My real life heroes I admire because of their kindness, creations, artistry and/or personality etc. Sometimes I admire people because I relate to them and therefore I can see myself being as successful as them.

Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter series) is a hero of mine because of her drive to never give up. Endurance and perseverance are qualities I admire in all my heroes. I especially admire actors who play heroes (or even villains) and go on to be real life heroes.

I’m currently working on an assignment for my university studies about Stan Lee, so expect more blog posts on heroes…particularly Marvel ones.

So what do you think a hero is? Who are some of your favourite heroes? Can anyone be a hero?

Hopefully I’ll answer some of these questions in more detail in further posts….

*Edwards, K. Guevara-Flanagan, K. (Director). (2012). Wonder Women [Video file]. New Day Films. Retrieved November 27, 2018, from Kanopy.

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