10 Hero Archetypes with Examples  

As archetype means a typical example of something or some person, a hero, too, is an archetype. There are several types of hero archetypes. These range from classical hero archetypes such as Odysseus to common hero types of this postmodern age. The top ten hero archetype examples are as follows in order.

 Example #1

Tragic Hero Archetype

Such type of hero archetypes tops this list due to their popularity and certain character traits. Tragic heroes usually possess great qualities such as boldness, courage, intellect, sagacity, patience, and resilience but with a tragic flaw. It is also called an error of judgment due to which they suffer downfall and evoke pity and fear or catharsis in the audience. Some of the best tragic hero archetypes are as follows.

  1. Odysseus in Odyssey by Homer
  2. Antigone in Antigone by Sophocles
  3. Oedipus in Oedipus, The King by Sophocles
  4. Hamlet in Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  5. Romeo in Romeo and Juliet in William Shakespeare

Example #2

Epic Hero Archetype

Although these types of hero archetypes match the qualities of tragic heroes, they lack some features due to which they do not match the catharsis that the tragic heroes evoke. Yet, they, too, come at the top of the list of their hero archetypes due to their nobility, legendary features, and superhuman qualities. However, they also do not seem to join the category of superhero archetypes as they still perform heroic and not superhuman deeds. They have appeared in the classical epics. Some of the best examples of epic hero archetypes are as follows.

  1. Achilles in Iliad by Homer
  2. Odysseus in Odyssey by Homer
  3. Beowulf in Beowulf by Anonymous
  4. Enkidu and Gilgamesh in the Epic of Gilgamesh by Anonymous

Example #3

Classical Hero Archetype

As the title suggests that these hero archetypes are from the classical age. It is not that the classical heroes have had just some traits as compared to epic or tragic heroes, they have some great skills and abilities that bring them at the top of the list among contemporary heroes. These skills include the ability to fight, cleverness, or agility. Although they live among human beings, in one or the other way, they demonstrate this superhuman quality to save humanity or serve the public. They differ from epic heroes in that they have just a few traits as opposed to epic heroes having noble lineage and a good upbringing. That is why this category of the archetype is placed third. Some of the best classical hero archetypes are as follows.

  1. Harry Potter in Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling
  2. Skywalker in Star Wars

Example #4

Everyman Hero Archetype

Such archetypes are just ordinary persons without having any heroic qualities or character traits. These people undergo normal circumstances but when they face odds, they show grit and values like those of heroes. Yet, they do not have heroic qualities of courage, resilience, or warrior nature. Despite lacking these qualities, the display of common compassions, feelings, altruism, and love makes them heroes of ordinary people. Readers and audiences relate themselves to these characters for their self-correction. Some of the examples of everyman heroes are as follows.

  1. Anonymous Narrator in Fight Club by Chuk Palahniuk
  2. Common Man in A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt (play)
  3. Leopold Bloom in Ulysses by James Joyce
  4. Jonathan Harker in Dracula by Bram Stoker
  5. Walter Mitty in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber
  6. Winston Smith in 1984 by George Orwell

Example #5

Superhero Archetype

As the title suggests, such types of archetypes possess qualities that do not normally fall in the domain of human beings. They surpass the human domain and achieve abilities and character traits that make them show superior qualities. Such heroes fight crimes, protect the public, and use super powers and excellent skills to save the public from demons, ghosts, or even vampires. Their main aim is to make the world a better place for ordinary people. Some of the best superhero archetypes are as follows.

  1. Maximo, Big Little Book Series by Russel Winterbotham
  2. Captain America by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon (Cartoon series)
  3. Lady Luck in The Spirit Section (Comics)
  4. Phantom Lady in Police Comics
  5. Spiderman, Batman, the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor and Power Girl, etc.

Example #6

Byronic Hero Archetype

As the title suggests, a Byronic hero archetype is based on the qualities suggested by Lord Byron, a popular romantic poet. Such heroes are often sullen, inscrutable as well as prickly. They are, however, rich in romantic feelings and passions. Interesting thing is that as they are based on Byronic qualities, they are often flawed, suffering from psychological scars, yet have strong morals. Their leading character trait is to attack the existing ethical framework and challenge the existing beliefs. Some examples of the Byronic archetypes examples are as follows.

  1. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  2. Faulkland in Caleb Williams by William Godwin
  3. Rochester in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  4. Edmond Dantes in The Count of Monte Christo by Alexander Dumas
  5. Pechorin in A Hero of Our Times by Mikhail Lermontov

Example #7

Anti-Hero Archetype

Such types of archetype characters do not have heroic qualities like several other archetypes. They, rather, possess non-heroic or anti-heroic qualities such as immorality, dishonesty, treachery, and even greed. They, however, try to reconcile with the existing social fabric by curbing these wrong traits. When they undergo some mental conflict, they face the issue of choice between right and wrong, which places them in the category of heroes. Some of the best anti-hero archetype examples are as follows.

  1. Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald
  2. Shylock in The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
  3. Becky Sharp in Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
  4. Satan in Paradise Lost by John Milton
  5. Holden in The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
  6. Stephen Dedalus in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
  7. Meursault in The Stranger by Albert Camus

Example #8

Mentor Archetype

Such types of hero archetypes are either heroes or companions of heroes. Such characters often lack the main heroic qualities of waging a war, going to fight, showing physical strength, or demonstrating grit. However, they have old-age experience and skills that make them guide others as well as heroes present near them. Such characters equip heroes with the necessary skills. They save heroes just in the nick of time to assist them to save the world. Some of the best mentor archetype examples are as follows.

  1. Glinda in The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
  2. Dumbledore in Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
  3. Thomas Nightingale in Rivers of London by Peter Grant

 Example #9

Lover Archetype

A lover archetype or such types of characters are involved in passionate love with some other characters. It seems that they wear their heart on their sleeves, but actually, they are devoted to their affection. They even put their safety at stake when they are protagonists. Despite living in luxury and beauty, they end up in tragedy. Most of these lover archetypes become the embodiment of love, attraction, beauty, and devotion. Some of the examples of the lover archetype are as follows.

  1. Romeo in Romeo and Juliet in William Shakespeare
  2. Angel Clare in Tess d’Urberville by Thomas Hardy

Example #10

Redeemer Archetype

Redeemer types of archetypes are characters who bring redemption to their people, tribes, or nations. They pay for the transgressions of their generations and bring absolution for them. Some of them even assist others in atonement, while at times, they also help others rise up from disgrace and face the world. Some of these archetypes are religious, while some are not so religious. Yet, salvation lies in the ways they suggest through which they help others. Some of the best redeemer archetypes are as follows.

  1. Beowulf in Beowulf by Anonymous
  2. Sir Henry Baskerville in The Hounds of the Baskerville by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  3. Adam in Paradise Lost by John Milton