Heroes — 7 x 7 Archetypes

So whether you’re telling a story, imparting a lesson, aspiring for greatness or borrowing traits as everyday heroes, start by looking at our litany of 49 hero archetypes and why heroes do what they do.


We weren’t the first to look at heroes. We won’t be the last, Yes we looked at Jung’s archetypes. They have an allure among sociologists, storytellers and spiritualists alike. There is a reason Jung’s synthesis has so much sticking power, his ontology spans time and cultural spans, with globally identifiable representatives.

Jung’s Archetypes — Source; Conor O’Neill
Heroine’s Journey — Source: HeroineJourneys.com (Victoria Lynn Schmidt)

Hero Archetypes — 7x7

We’ve provided our view on the 49 core hero archetypes below. We full well recognize a few things:

  • heroes can operate and move across the spectrum, it’s why we love reading about them, whereas they may have eye-of-the-storm superpowers, their emotional DNA is frequently in some sort of transition or turmoil
  • even though a hero might be best described by one box — they may have a different demeanour or belief system than their assigned archetype, we have tried to archetype them as a centrepoint realizing there might be heroes that operate across a range:

What Can You Take From the 7x7 Hero Archetypes

This work was conducted as a six part series on heroes with a wide array of analysis. Here’s part one, part two and part three. It’s early days yet, but we think we might have stumbled on something foundational, a Rosetta Stone on how we see our superheroes and how we build our own version of everyday heroism. Here’s five things you could convey from this work:

  • self reflection — how to weigh your own selves vs those of superheroes?
  • team reflection — whether in business or public life, there are social parallels, what is the dominant heroic type of the groups you associate with?
  • practical interpretation — tear off the cape, deconstruct the bat cave, and take away the magic lassos and these are still imminently relatable characters - Superman is a the ultimate immigrant story, Batman is the ultimate self-made man story, and Wonder Woman is about the struggle to walk the line of lean-in warrior strength and endless compassion.
  • literary development — storytelling is so powerful, whether you author stories as lessons or ends to themselves, which heroes do you place at the heart of your tales and who is ancillary? and why?
  • heroism as a sociology study — our heroes are reflections of society and cultures, as much as they may be the creation of individual writers and artists, they really are a mirror of society, both supporting the prevailing cultures or recognition of a growing counter culture

The 7x7 Archetype Profiles — A Full Exploration


The Charismatic Charmer — the supernatural or uncanny ability of some heroes to influence, inspire or persuade others; a mysterious, elusive quality that draw people to them; standing in contrast to legal or traditional authority; these heroes have some exemplar or near-divine elements of personality not accessible by ordinary humans; this power is legitimized by followers, inspiring loyalty, reverence and obedience; charismatics usually exhibit an infectious energy, sharp wit & insight and an inner clarity unhindered by doubt or guilt, but can lead to narcissism that feeds on itself and the volatile cult of personality e.g. Kurt Wagner/NightCrawler, Starfox (Eternals), Harley Quinn, Dionysius (Greek mythology), James Bond


The Disruptive Jesters — people not taking themselves too seriously, causing havoc; loved for their sly irreverence, originality and humor but can offend easily and let comedy take precedence over effectiveness and efficiency e.g. Deadpool, Loki, Plastic Man


The Redeemers — heroes trying to prove to themselves they are better than they have been; harnesses the idea that past suffering may have redemptive qualities, important developmental opportunities, foster humility, elevate compassion, encourage social action, and/or provides higher order meaning and purpose e.g. Iron Man, Hawkeye, Odysseus, Boromir (Lord of the Rings), Jean Valjean (Les Misérables)


The Gung-ho Action Heroes — compelled to action easily, thrill seeker, physiological arousal from the pursuit of power, happiness or dreams, embraces the path of a hero and gladly accepts the associated risk sometimes without thinking e.g. Starlord, Ellen Ripley (Alien), Rick Grimes (Walking Dead), Han Solo, John Wick


The Engineered Heroes — designed with purpose to be faster, smarter or stronger than everyone else, effectively of their own design and making, ingenuous, resilient and self-made, may waver in loyalty to their builders, architects and/or their own creations e.g. Iron Man, Ant Man, RoboCop


The Anti-heroes — perform good but lack heroic traits like idealism or morality, ambiguous protagonists — complex characters who have a dark side; despite a flawed exterior, making a history of bad decisions, and even a questionable moral code; an antihero is ultimately guided by good intentions with the means justifying the act, goal driven and pragmatic in achieving their mission e.g. Billy Butcher (The Boys), Daredevil, Black Widow, Dexter

  • Hamartia : the hero’s tragic flaw that leads to their downfall
  • Hubris : the hero’s excessive or unreasonable pride
  • Peripeteia : the sudden change or reversal of fortune
  • Anagnorisis : ‘recognition’ where hero learns something about themselves and the world
  • Nemesis is the unavoidable punishment for the hero
  • Catharsis is the hero’s inevitable downfall


The Vigilantes — take justice in their own hands, seek out justice their own way outside of the sanctions of the law; can straddle the line between hero and villain and invariably bump up against the establishment e.g. The Shadow, Punisher, Red Hood, Zorro


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Making Sense of the World’s Biggest Challenges & Next Grey Swans — curating and creating knowledge through observation, informed futurism, and analysis🦢