Some people have problems with a male character if he’s too much of a square bear. I personally think it’s rather important that we have these characters in our social consciousness. They are, more or less, the kinds of guys that boys and men should strive to be.
Here’s a list of some fictional good guys who go the extra mile (in no particular order; I’ll try not to drop too many spoilers to anything, if any):
Steve Rogers starts out as a scrawny little guy who is rejected from service in the U.S. Army because he is too frail. He volunteers to undergo an experimental procedure which turns him into the super-soldier, Captain America.
What I think a lot of people miss about Cap is that, though he loves his country, he doesn’t blindly follow orders from the government; he fights for a truer sense of freedom and liberty, and for people who cannot fight for themselves. People who dismiss Captain America simply because of his name and the fact that he wears a flag are missing out on an awesome hero.
I also like how he’s so polite to everyone (when he’s not knocking their teeth out with his shield).
Ned Stark, the unfortunate protagonist of A Game of Thrones. The first word that comes to mind when I think of Ned Stark is “honor.”
While discussing Ned, someone once told me that Ned’s honor—and all honor—is simply for the sake of appearances. I was annoyed, but didn’t respond right away. Thinking about it later, I concluded that this person was simply wrong. Honor isn’t just about appearances; honor can drive you to do the right thing, whether or not anyone else is aware of it.
Though a lot of Ned’s honorable acts are public and preserves his family name, I believe Ned would do the honorable thing even where no one’s looking. That’s why he’s awesome and that’s why he’s on this list. There’s also some internet speculation as to Ned’s past that, if proven to be true in George R.R. Martin’s later books, would make Ned all the more awesome as it implies he sacrifices some of his own honor for others.
That’s right, curly haired Cory Matthews from the 90’s sitcom, Boy Meets World and the new Disney Channel series, Girl Meets World. Cory might try too hard to be cool sometimes, he might be a bit judgmental of people he thinks are a bit weird at first (he usually comes around and becomes more open-minded), and, yeah, there’s that time he kissed that Lauren girl while he’s going out with Topanga, but it’s pretty undeniable that Cory is an overall good guy.
The fact that Cory manages to stay a virgin until marriage is pretty impressive.
The boy who lived. Harry suffers a lot throughout J.K. Rowling’s iconic series, but it’s probably through his suffering that he learns to be as sympathetic as he is. Sure, he’s a bit quick to judge certain people who are arguably more awesome than he is (e.g., Snape), but Harry’s sense of right and wrong is usually impeccable.
Harry epitomizes the characteristics of Gryffindor in that he is brave and chivalrous (honorable, like our boy Ned up there); could do with a bit more of that Ravenclaw intellect, though.
Old Ben Kenobi.
After The Phantom Menace, Obi-wan is basically the ideal Jedi. He’s calm, wise, and uses force—and the Force—only as necessary. He even one-ups Cory Matthews by staying celibate his whole life (as far as I know, anyway).
Ewan MacGregor does a great job at making Obi-wan likable. Fun Fact (that lots of people might know by now): Ewan MacGregor is in all three of the Prequel movies, and his uncle is in all of the Original Trilogy as Wedge Antilles. I hope they get someone related to them to be in the new movies.
Fun Fact #2: Characters of the names Biggs and Wedge show up throughout Square Enix video games, and are named after the characters from Star Wars.
I just realized that Doug is like an animated version of Cory Matthews. As such, there’s not all that much to say about him. They’re both kind-of-dorky, average kids with a somewhat large (and attractive) nose and a strong sense of compassion (maybe ’cause they’re both the middle child). Unlike Cory, though, Doug has a talent for art as evidenced in his Quail Man comics and journal-writing. If Doug was made a decade later, he would’ve been a blogger; if it was made now, maybe a vlogger.
Ross in Friends may be the nicest guy in all of sitcom history (except when he keeps forgetting Mona). He values knowledge, respects his parents, is nice to his sister (most of the time), and cares about pretty much everyone. When he’s in love with a girl, he gives her everything (though he can be a bit jealous).
Though Ted Mosby and How I Met Your Mother outdoes Ross with Ted’s ridiculous acts of service for his various women (e.g., crazy Christmas lights for sad Robin), I think Ross always comes off as more legitimately heartfelt in his acts (e.g., that prom video).
Rick Hunter is an ace fighter pilot from the animated series, Robotech (adapted from three separate Japanese anime series; in the Japanese version, his name is Hikaru Ichijo). Like many others on this list, Rick is sympathetic and compassionate; he’s also downright heroic with his dogfighting (that means aerial combat in fighter jets, not fighting actual dogs). Though he kills countless Zentraedi in combat, he is quickly accepting of the fact that his best friend is in love with one of the aliens, and is in support of Zentraedi refugees who come to the humans seeking asylum.
The only questionable thing about Rick that I can think of is when he accidentally peeks in on Minmei when she’s showering–but, you know, she screamed when she saw that rat so he thought she needed help. Really.
So, let’s end this list with the most iconic, and possibly most-hated on “boy scout” hero ever: the Man of Steel. I’ve heard it numerous times, from numerous people: Superman is too powerful; he’s too good; he’s too boring. Well, to those people, I say, “Superman’s not boring—you’re boring.” That, or some better thought out argument.
Really, though, a lot of people seem to think a (superhero) protagonist needs to face physical danger in order for the story to be good. I think that’s wrong. The tension can come from the hero’s emotion and personal life, and I think some Superman writers do that rather well.