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The Top Five Traits that Make a Great Hero

On their quest to save the world, any exceptional hero should keep in mind many traits. Qualities like strength, moral integrity, honesty, bravery, and determination are all acceptable answers when posed with the question, “What traits make a great hero?” But I’ve compiled a list of five characteristics I believe to be the most important, and I’ve supplied a character that best represents each. Keep reading to find out the top five traits that make a great hero.

5. Courage: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear or difficulty.

In the first act, it’s happenstance for a hero to meet a foe that shakes them to the core. Regardless of whether it’s going toe-to-toe with a raging reptilian beast that’s fallen under the spell of a primeval necromancer or standing alone against the immeasurable tenacity of an army, a hero has no choice but to carry with them unmatched courage. Few heroes exhibit the amount of courage equal to that of the Hero of Time, Link. 

Photo courtesy of Polygon

A Hylian warrior of few…erm…no words that begins his journey with unheroic qualities like somersaulting, throwing pots and yelling, Link becomes the quintessential hero with all the courage in the world. Once his destiny is realized and his combat skills refurbished, he takes on otherworldly evils without so much as a blink of the eye. Without the presence of Link’s unmatched courage, Hyrule and all its inhabitants would never know peace again. 

4. Patience: the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.

When it comes to heroes, one must be virtuous. And as the adage proclaims, patience is a virtue. Now take a moment and try to come up with a hero’s quest that from beginning to end took only a day to complete. (Queue Jeopardy music.) Unless memory betrays me – which could be the case – I’m hard-pressed to recall such a journey. With that being said, no quest for righteousness and justice may have taken longer than the one completed by hero Ezio Auditore da Firenze.

Photo courtesy of Polygon

Arguably the greatest ever to don the hood, Ezio’s life as a highly-skilled assassin lasted nearly 50 years. In the five decades, hours and hours of meticulous planning and cunning espionage were performed which all testified to his – and my own – patience. While Ezio is certainly an all-time great hero that checks each box needed to achieve G.O.A.T status, let’s applaud his ability to walk slow, blend in and wait for the perfect moment to strike – no matter how long it takes.

3. Perseverance: continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition.

Long and tumultuous is a hero’s voyage. It’s never easy; pain and adversity come with the territory. And at times, they experience the loss of love and even life. But the most distinguished heroes are not easily broken. When faced with a test of metal, a hero keeps going. They respond with perseverance – something Ellie has come to master in a world of painful triumph.

Photo courtesy of Observer

Growing up, Ellie knew little of life before the fungal pandemic that ravaged America. Her early life was spent in an oppressive Boston military zone that made her callous and wishful of independence. After joining forces with her eventual mentor Joel, Ellie goes on to experience a life of trauma at the hands of the starving undead which, for a teenager, requires impeccable perseverance to survive. Few characters live a life akin to Ellie’s. But if there’s one thing more impressive than her perseverance, it’s her ability to kick major ass.

2. Compassion: sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.

In a nutshell, the purpose of a hero is to save those in need of being saved. And though it takes a degree of hardiness to be a savior of the downtrodden, it’s also necessary to display compassion. When it comes to fighting enemies, steadfastness and advanced physical prowess are the traits for the job. But tending to the needs of the common folk? That’s when compassion must take center stage. The character I believe shows compassion the best is none other than Horizon: Zero Dawn’s heroine, Aloy.

Photo courtesy of EuroGamer

Not only does Aloy show compassion for the people she’s exclusively agreed to protect, she also sympathizes with strangers and outcasts she finds along the way. Noticeably genuine compassion can be overshadowed by more obvious hero traits like the ones aforementioned or attributes like grit and strength. But what might be Aloy’s greatest strength – on top of resilience, intelligence, determination and several others – is her care for the oppressed. And that is one that can’t be taught.

1. Intelligence: the ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situations

The big number one goes without saying. Sure, characters like Goku or Crash Bandicoot can get away without having much more than a monkey-banging-two-symbols-together as a brain substitute, but for the most part, intelligence is crucial to a hero’s success. It’s essential for solving puzzles, engineering new robotic components, or simply communicating with natives. And if there’s a hero more intelligent than the likes of Lara Croft, please let me know. 

Photo courtesy of NeoGAF

Lara speaks several languages, is a walking historical encyclopedia and has yet to meet her match when it comes to solving puzzles. Not to mention, she’s extremely knowledgeable when it comes to fighting, weaponry and medical acumen. It’s no wonder she’s considered to be the First Lady of female heroes and has cultivated a career many heroes would dream of. Give it up for Lara, because there’s not a damn thing she can’t do.

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