The cowardly lion (a trope named after Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz) is a protagonist that manages to accomplish daunting, often heroic tasks despite their own fears and doubts.
Why This Trope Rocks
- Their timidity and evident insecurities make the character extremely relatable and innately human.
- Their stories would be more challenging to the viewers, as their actions would be more unpredictable and different than those of a traditional hero.
- It highlights the fact that the line between heroism and fear makes for good character development, especially when some of them are underdogs.
- People tend to identify with characters who have anxiety and personal fears, as the audience can feel and understand the fear that these guys have.
- Especially since they often are afraid of many things that most people aren't and have some level of insecurity, but whenever push comes to shove, they remove their fears and doubts in order to get work done and often save the day.
- Just like anti-heroes, they are usually more sympathetic and complex than traditional heroes, as they face more internal conflicts that make them do what's right and grow as a person.
- They, alongside the Underdogs and Determinators, represent that we have to beat the odds and overcome obstacles in life through diligence and dedication.
- They practically inspire people to face their own fears whenever trouble is at stake and/or to keep their loved ones safe, no matter how horrific it seems or looks.
- Despite what they're capable of doing and achieving at what they do, most of them still remain scaredy-cats.
- Some of these characters can be too nice for their own good or are unintentionally self-deprecating about their inner strengths (due to insecurity of course).
- Some of them can be too much of a coward to the point of being downright awful, annoying, and/or unlikeable.
- Especially when some of them can chicken out with no remorse and integrity when they need to help their friends (or themselves even!).
Examples of well-written cowardly lions
- Arnold Perlstein (Magic School Bus)
- Carl Wheezer
- Courage the Cowardly Dog
- Dave the Barbarian
- Dirk the Daring (Dragon's Lair)
- Icahbod Crane (Sleepy Hollow)
- Izuku Midoriya (My Hero Academia)
- Jeremy (The Secret of NIMH)
- Krillin (Dragon Ball)
- Luigi Mario
- Miles "Tails" Prower
- Mr. Satan (Dragon Ball)
- Mrs. Brisby (The Secret of NIMH)
- Neville Longbottom (Harry Potter)
- Peter Puppy (Earthworm Jim; a mutated example)
- Ron Stoppable (Kim Possible)
- Ron Weasley (Harry Potter)
- Rex (Toy Story)
- Shaggy Rogers
- Vila Restal (Blake's 7)
- Willow (Angry Birds Stella)
- Xander Harris (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Examples of poorly-written cowardly lions
- Arnold the Armadillo (Bubsy)
- Cyril Figgis (Archer, Seasons 1-10)
- Diddy Kong (Donkey Kong Country TV Series)
- Lester the Unlikely (Lester the Unlikely)
- Mega Man (8)
- Mega Man X (Mega Man X7)
- Reggie (Free Birds)
- Teela (Masters of the Universe: Revelation)