What Makes a Hero?

Heroes are defined as characters that defy odds and go on to complete their personal goals despite personal adversity. A hero is either a heroic person or an actual real person who, against great odds, combats great adversity in a timely, creative, and significant way. Just like other often gender-specific words, such as villain, hero, and the female protagonist, the hero is frequently used to describe any gender, although hero often only describes women. In popular culture, many comic book heroes are often considered to be heroes, because they overcome great challenges.


The most accurate definition of a hero, therefore, is someone who consistently acts in an extraordinary manner despite great personal risk or adversity. Sometimes this means that the heroic actions do not completely pay off but do bring about a benefit that humanity as a whole can greatly benefit from. For example, heroes such as Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, consistently battle villains and great odds to protect their own lives, family, and the world at large. And although sometimes their actions are not always entirely honorable, these heroes continue to do what they believe in most of the time, which is not always the most popular or ethical path.

However, just as with villains, heroes do not act in an evil way or pursue a specific goal to harm another person, merely out of a sense of obligation or self-preservation. However, some bad guys may use violence or other illegal tactics to accomplish their goals, which is why it is important to distinguish between the good and evil while still identifying a clear distinction between heroes and villains. Unfortunately, most children and adults have very little understanding of what constitutes a hero, what constitutes villain, and what motivates and drives a hero. Most commonly, individuals consider heroes to be people who live up to the greatest of their ability, usually above all others, and who display an exceptional level of moral courage. These are typically people who put themselves and others in danger for personal gain or to stop a vicious cycle of violence.

Some great examples of modern heroes are Batman, Superman, and The Hulk, who each demonstrates a unique level of heroism and true strength. Batman is a master detective and acts to stop criminals instead of simply apprehending them. Superman, on the other hand, saves the entire world and is the main protagonist in the comic books. In contrast, the last iconic super hero, Martin Luther King Jr., is not only a great man, but was also a great fighter and an amazing story teller. What these examples show is that heroes are not only human but can overcome great odds and fight against overwhelming odds to do what is right.

Finally, Achilles is known as one of the most noble of Greek heroes, but was his willingness to put his life on the line for others that made him truly one of the greatest classical heroes. Although he suffered injuries both before and after his death, Achilles’ selfless bravery was one of the main reasons why he became a beloved character in Greek Mythology. After his death, his tomb is dedicated to him in a way that is steeped in religious sentiment. In fact, the construction of the Temple of Aesculapius at Eleusis includes a carving of Achilles with all of his eight limbs.

All of these examples of classical heroes prove that heroes exist in all of our cultures and that they can be depicted in all types of media. The real lesson to be learned from all of this is that we should honor all of the classical heroes that have come before us and emulate their greatness. This will allow us to see ourselves in a greater light and see what it means to be a hero in our modern world. Whether you are a fan of classical myths or heroes like Achilles or Superman, hopefully you will find that you can act in a heroic way, every time you step into a room.

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