The slayer of beasts, the voice of reason in a world of insanity, the One: He goes by many titles, but in the end, he is simply Hero.
(Note: Before you even ask, next week will be about the Heroine, because she deserves her own post.)
I have my own categories of the hero, as follows:
The Traditional Hero: This is the hero of legend and myth, the human (or non-human, depending on the genre) usually possessing above average strength, intelligence, or skills. He can also be a hybrid, half-human and half-super human (God, mythical beast, Angel, etc.). Within his first introduction, you know that this is the hero. He tends to make an entrance. He also rarely turns down a battle. If he loses, you can bet that he’s going to go find whatever tool he needs to come back and kick ass (this is the traditional Hero’s Journey).
The Everyman Hero: This hero could easily blend in with society, and that’s because he is blending in…at least at the beginning of the story. He has the same everyday problems that we do (relationship drama, bills, a family). Unlike the Traditional, who is himself an unusual circumstance, the Everyman gets thrown into an unusual circumstance. He may not have the special tools the Traditional has, so he has to think on his feet and maybe recall some skills from a current or former occupation.
The Anti-Hero: He defies all the traditional values of a hero. Stuff like loyalty, honesty, and fighting for the common good? Not for him. He is the rebel, the one who identifies with the antagonist more than a reader would care to admit. Still, he may have a hint of a soft spot, something that gives him a reason to help the poor schmucks that are annoying him with their cries for help. He’ll help, if only to shut them up. He has at least one potentially crippling or deadly flaw, like excessive drinking or drugs.
The Unlikely Hero: This one is bit different from the Anti-Hero. The Unlikely is not usually cast into a hero role. This could be a non-threatening character, a shy or meek type person who really doesn’t think he’s up to the task that is being put on him. He’s not alone, because no one else believes he can pull it off, either. At least Anti-Hero has the luxury of being a badass; Unlikely has all the odds stacked against him from his first introduction. He usually succeeds thanks to substantial help, divine intervention, or sheer dumb luck.
Not all heroes fit perfectly into these simplified compartments: the newest upgrade of James Bond would probably be a combination of Traditional and Anti-Hero, for example. Harry Potter could be Unlikely with a touch of Traditional and Everyman.
Where does your hero fit?