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    Shonen Protagonist
    Frienship, Effort and Victory
    Gender: Anyone
    Type: A hard-working and big-hearted hero who values his friends and his own growth.
    Species: Trope
    Status: Very Used
    Media of origin: Countless, especially in shonen anime and manga

    The shonen protagonist archetype is a character who has traits of a protagonist in shonen manga and anime.

    Why This Trope Surpasses Its Limits

    1. These kinds of heroes have to work hard to improve their capabilities.
    2. Many shonen heroes have grit, as they do not always win and have to push beyond their limits.
    3. No matter how many odds are against them, they refuse to give up.
    4. They fight for altruistic reasons, most notably to protect their friends.
    5. They grow not only in terms of abilities but also in terms of strength of character, as they grow as people throughout their journeys.
    6. They can be relatable characters, as they represent the fact that all people have their own goals in life, deal with obstacles and find ways to overcome them.
      • Their stories show that the destination is not what matters, but the journey and the experiences that are gained from it.
        • This is why, unlike traditional superheroes, shonen protagonists resonate with us.
    7. They are charismatic, as they can turn their enemies and rivals into friends and allies.

    Bad Qualities

    1. Many shonen heroes are known for being dimwitted, naive, reckless and/or impulsive.
    2. Most shonen heroes can be rebellious, mischievous, unruly and/or temperamental.
    3. These characters tend to suffer some plot armor.
    4. Like Shojo heroines, many shonen heroes refuse to kill their pure evil and/or too dangerous villains. Most times this leads to half-baked redemptions no one asked for, and the hero never learns and/or accepts that mercy doesn't always work.


    In order to fit the shonen protagonist archetype, a character must have at least 4 of the necessary traits.

    Necessary Qualities:

    • Heroic/honorable
    • Courageous/reckless
    • Energetic/Hot-Blooded
    • Pursues a big-end goal
    • Stubborn to a fault
    • Simple-minded/naive/impulsive/goofy
    • Optimistic
    • Hard-Working
    • A determinator (A type of character who refuses to give up, no matter the obstacles)

    Additional Qualities:

    • Believes in the Power of Friendship
    • Has spiky/unnatural hair
    • Possesses plot armor
    • Has unnatural hair color
    • Big Eater
    • Oblivious to love
    • Short-tempered
    • Has rivals/mentors
    • Mischievous
    • Rebellious
    • Has a character they look up to
    • Has a very tragic backstory
    • Is an underdog/outcast
    • Is a delinquent



    • Son Goku (Dragon Ball): He is the Trope Codifier. He started out as an energetic and spiky-haired Kid Hero who desires to become the strongest warrior in the world. He had a very low power level and has to train his abilities. Due to growing up in a forest away from civilization, he lacks a proper education and is rather book-dumb. But he lacks in brains, he makes up for in kindness to the point of turning his enemies into his allies.

    Cartoons and Comics


    Live-Action Television and Film



    Professional Wrestling

    Video Games

    • Sonic the Hedgehog: He is a fun-loving and thrill-seeking hedgehog who saves the world countless times. Being a hedgehog, he has quills that is equivalent to having spiky hair. It helps that the franchise has several Dragon Ball references, including his golden super form, Super Sonic.

    Web Animation/Comics/Original Series



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