|See also:||Grovelfic, Accusation Fic|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
Hero Bashing is something of a mixture of both character bashing and the tall poppy syndrome: the hero (in the classic Joseph Campbell sense) is the canonical center of attention, the focus of the show, and thus needs to be taken down. Only then can the playing field be level, and secondary characters can come into their own.
The leveling mechanisms used are pretty similar across fandoms. The talking points are usually along the lines of: the hero is uptight and whiny; the hero is moralistic and judgmental; the hero uses the people around him/her and doesn't really care about them; the hero is self-centered, selfish, and arrogant; the hero puts themselves and their beliefs first; the hero always gets their way, the hero is "weak" for having doubts or getting emotional about a situation.
A good chunk of the time, shipping plays a big role in the bashing. A hero who is canonically paired or implied to be in love with a character the fans prefer with someone else is often treated as "in the way" of the fan-preferred pairing hooking up.
Common targets of Hero Bashing
- Buffy and Angel in the Buffyverse
- Duncan in Highlander
- Clark Kent in Smallville
- Harry Potter
- Aang in Avatar: The Last Airbender
- Korra in The Legend of Korra
- Ash Ketchum in Pokemon
- Tsukino Usagi in Sailor Moon
- Yuuki Miaka in Fushigi Yuugi
- Captain Kirk in Star Trek
- Mario in the Super Mario Bros franchise
- Madoka Kaname in Puella Magi Madoka Magica
- Shinji Ikari in Neon Genesis Evangelion
- Cloud Strife in Final Fantasy VII
- Squall Leonhart in Final Fantasy VIII
- Riley Matthews in Girl Meets World
- Scott McCall in Teen Wolf
- Leonard Hofstadter in The Big Bang Theory
- Dawson Leary in Dawson's Creek
- Almost every Fire Emblem protagonist has been hit with this, but the most common targets are Corrin from Fates, Chrom from Awakening, Eirika from The Sacred Stones, Micaiah from Radiant Dawn, Celica from Echoes, Eliwood from Blazing Sword, and Edelgard von Hresvelg and Dimitri Alexandre Blaiddyd from Three Houses.
- Bella Swan in Twilight
- Bloom in Winx Club
- Son Goku in the Dragon Ball series
- Rufus and Amberly in The Dreamstone
- Doug Funnie in Doug
- Keith Kogane in Voltron: Defender of the Universe and Voltron: Legendary Defender.
- Roj Blake in Blake's 7
- Steven Universe
Hero Bashing in meta
Like character bashing, entire communities and archives have formed around cutting the hero down to size, which in turn created groups such as the Duncansluts or Jimbabes, fans who reacted by supporting the hero character. Sometimes the types of attacks on the hero were so frequent and so standard that generic defense letters were created.
Hero Bashing in fiction
In fanfiction, as opposed to nonfiction canon analysis and discussion, Hero Bashing can result in both grovelfic and apologyfic, where the heroes must abase themselves to other, more preferred characters in order to display the proper amount of humility for being at the center of the show's attention. Frequently, the task of teaching the hero the error of his/her ways is handed to an OFC, who then gets to monologue and explain at length why the hero is so, so wrong in his approach to friendship and his world view. (Also frequently, this character shares many traits with a Mary Sue and can result in accusations of Issuefic, definition 2.)
Hero Bashing in slash
In slash fiction, especially in fandoms with one main pairing, there is an ongoing tension between fans of the hero character and fans of the sidekick character. Hero bashing happens at the same time as Wussification of the sidekick and the two go often hand in hand. The bashed hero is often painted as cruel, insensitive, and in need of a severe chewing-out if he wishes to make it up to the sidekick and prove himself worthy of his love. Other times, the hero is relegated to a Satellite Love Interest for the sidekick, who inexplicably becomes the "real" lead character of the story.
"[Name]" should be the hero instead/is the real hero!"
Hero bashing is frequently accompanied by the belief that the sidekick, secondary protagonist, side character, or even antagonist is the real hero of the story or should at least be the focal point. Fans who believe this will back up their argument by putting heavy emphasis on the character's moments of development or exaggerating them to sound like they took up more of the story than they really did. Examples include the Team Rocket Trio in the Pokemon anime or Rosalie Cullen from Twilight.
In cases where the secondary character, sidekick, or antagonist do have their own story that runs parallel to the hero's, fans will dismiss the hero's story as just a side plot or criticize it more harshly. Examples of this include Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender and Lucina from Fire Emblem Awakening.
Implications of prejudice
If the hero is a character of color or a woman and is bashed in favor of a secondary white male character, this can come off as racist or misogynist, especially if the fan believes the secondary white male "should" be the hero instead. This is especially a concern in Teen Wolf fandom (lead of color Scott McCall is bashed in favor of the white Stiles and Derek) and Avatar: The Last Airbender fandom (Zuko appears light-skinned, Aang is a light-skinned boy of color).
Meta & Further Reading
- You Big Bully! by Rachel Sabotini
- Examining the weak-willed anime male lead by Yumeka (2011) - "A recent post by lostty over on Anime Princess discussed the ever prominent fan activity of bashing anime’s many weak-willed male leads. lostty considers most hate for these guys “unjust.” I tend to agree and would like to examine why…"