ByRichard Berrigan, writer at
I'm 35 years old, I am divorced, and I live in a van down by the river.
Richard Berrigan

We tend to group heroes into just a couple of groups. Sometimes it's the hero/antihero pairing. Sometimes it's the super/non-super classification. These classifications, while useful, leave a lot to be desired. Here are 9 types of heroes across multiple genres and mediums.

The Plucky Student

The stock hero of choice for shonen manga, this character's goal is to become the strongest/greatest/king-iest/whatever it is he has set out to be. This hero type is often very gregarious and pure of heart, even though he will try to fight virtually everyone he meets on his quest to find a worthy opponent to test his skills. He's always innocent and kind, and the enemies he tests himself against are often evil to a fault, although occasionally these evil characters will have a change of heart when they lose to the protagonist. It's an odd trope. You'd think it would take something like mercy and compassion to make evil guys change their stripes, but in the world of shonen manga, it just takes a thorough thrashing by a pure-hearted person. Characters that fit this type include:

• Goku (Dragonball Z)

• Monkey D. Luffy (One Piece)

• Naruto (Naruto)

• Natsu Dragneel (Fairytail)

• Yoh Asakura (Shaman King)

• Rocky Balboa (Rocky)

Friendly guy, loves to beat people up. Go figure
Friendly guy, loves to beat people up. Go figure

The Jaded Badass

The Jaded Badass comes in a few varieties. Sometimes he's trying to escape an evil past. He has done things he regrets doing. He may have worked for the government or a criminal syndicate. Sometimes he is an ex-soldier shaken by the horrors of war. This hero type is often reluctant to engage in battle again, since this is how he committed his original sins, but when he's finally forced to fight, it's like he invented combat. In manga and anime, the series gradually reveals just how powerful he really is. Just when we think we've figured out his whole bag of tricks, he'll surprise us with another trick or technique we didn't know he had. You know the bad guy is dangerous when this hero gets nervous, although sometimes the Jaded Badass will fake getting nervous just to throw off his opponent.

Characters that fit this type are:

• Spike Spiegel (Cowboy Bebop)

• Meliodas (Seven Deadly Sins)

• Garrison (Battle Chasers)

• Jessica Jones (Alias)

• Jason Bourne (Bourne Identity)

• Rambo (First Blood)

The classic jaded badass
The classic jaded badass

The Scrappy Tough Guy

This is the trouble-maker. The Scrappy Tough Guy fights everybody, not because he's out to prove he's the best, but because he just likes to fight. This hero type just does not play well with others. Combat is his preferred way of dealing with (or avoiding altogether) his emotions. He's usually withdrawn and cold, even around those he loves. Even his sweetheart gets frustrated with his lack of emotional connection. Behind their emotional walls, however, there's always a soft-spot for the good guys and his girl.

Characters that fit this type:

• Yusuke Urameshi (Yu Yu Hakusho)

• Inuyuasha (Inuyasha)

• Raphael (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

• Hulk (The Incredible Hulk)

• Wolverine (X-Men)

Nobody understands Cricket.
Nobody understands Cricket.

The Destined/Prophesied One

This hero is typically an unassuming hero. He is just a good person, with or without special powers or weapons, who is called to an epic destiny. He may be a hero in training, studying diligently under a wise master, or he may have latent abilities and skills he never knew about because of a divine birthright. This hero might have the power to claim a legendary weapon that no one else can raise. Video games and Disney movies use this hero type a lot.

Characters that fit this type would be:

• Link (Legend of Zelda)

• Po (Kung Fu Panda)

• Yugi (Yu-g-ioh!)

• Luke Skywalker (Star Wars)

• Frodo (Lord of the Rings)

• Willow (Willow)

• Arthur Pendragon (The Sword in the Stone)

• She-Ra (She-Ra: Princess of Power)

• Duncan McLeod (Highlander)


The Technical Pacifist

I'm borrowing this term from because it's the most apt term. The Technical Pacifist disagrees with violence on principle but uses it anyway. He believes in peace and compassion above all else. Oftentimes this hero will suffer the greatest abuse that any hero can endure: wounded pride. The Technical Pacifist will swallow his pride for the greater good because he believes in a cause that is beyond himself. He will stubbornly seek out diplomatic solutions, sometimes to the point of disillusionment. When he is driven to employ violence, he's not happy about it, but he'll do it better than anyone else because he's fighting for innocent people, not himself.

Characters that fit this type include:

• Vash the Stampede (Trigun)

• Superman (Superman)

• Flash (The Flash)

• Kwai Chang Caine (Kung Fu: The Legend Continues)

• Calibretto (Battle Chasers)

Everyone's doing the Iron Man pose these days.
Everyone's doing the Iron Man pose these days.

The Glory Hog

Perhaps the polar opposite of the Technical Pacifist, the Glory Hog's only concern is for glory, honor, attention, adoration, and above all else, pride. The title of "Egomaniac" would suit him well. This is the kind of hero who often shouts "For ______!" before wading into a fierce melee. He might be a warrior from a proud warrior heritage, and he's usually quick to go to war in part because he will not let any slights go unanswered. War is often his solution to everything, especially if avoiding one will cause him to look weaker than his ancestors. Characters that fit this type are:

• Conan (Conan)

• Thor (Thor)

• Wonder Woman (Wonder Woman)

• Tony Stark (Iron Man)

• Red Sonja (Red Sonja)

• Peter Venkman (Ghostbusters)

• Apollo Creed (Rocky 1 & 2)

For more screen time!
For more screen time!

Man on a Mission

Vigilance and responsibility define this hero. This hero type has a duty to perform and will stop at nothing to see his mission carried out. He will sacrifice much in pursuit of his mission, including financial well-being, relationships, physical health, and even the lives of his friends. He's often a soldier, but he can also be an obsessed vigilante. In either case, he is singularly devoted to his cause and will never be deterred or dissuaded. A variant of this hero type would be a hero who doesn't have a "noble" mission.

Characters who fit this type would be:

• Leonardo (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

• Steve Rogers (Captain America)

• Frank Castle (Punisher)

• Dragon (Savage Dragon)

• Natasha Romanova (Black Widow)

• Erza Scarlet (Fairytail)

• Abbey Chase (Danger Girl)

The quintessential man on a mission
The quintessential man on a mission

The Thinker

This is the detective, inventor, and sage. His most powerful assets are his razor-sharp mind and his endless knowledge of valuable information. He will often shed light on difficult circumstances when other heroes aren't sure of what to do. His expertise is often technical, but he can also be street wise.

Characters who fit this type include:

• Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows)

• Donatello (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

• Gandalf (Lord of the Rings)

• Egon Spengler (Ghostbusters)

• Spock (Star Trek)

Kirk's secret weapon
Kirk's secret weapon


Some heroes don't fit neatly into these single categories. Some heroes share more than one type, and while I can't conceive of all the overlaps, here are a few blended category heroes.

Jaded Badass + Technical Pacifist = Rurouni Kenshin (Rurouni Kenshin)

The Destined/Prophesied One + Man on a Mission = Jack (Samurai Jack), Master Chief (Halo), Black Panther (The Avengers), Simon Belmont (Castlevania), He-Man (He-Man and the Masters of the Universe)

Man on a Mission + Technical Pacifist = Spider-man (Spider-man)

Scrappy Tough Guy + Glory Hog = Lobo (Lobo), Vegeta (Dragonball Z)

Glory Hog + Man on a Mission = Hal Jordan (Green Lantern), Captain Kirk (Star Trek), Darkwing Duck (Darkwing Duck)

Man on a Mission + The Thinker = Batman (Batman)

Technical Pacifist + The Thinker = Angus MacGyver (MacGyver)

I've tried to be as inclusive as possible. Did I miss one of your favorite characters? Post his/her grouping(s) in the comments below.


Latest from our Creators