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One example of the Action Hero. With the emphasis on one.
You know this guy, because you have seen him a thousand times. He has the lead role in almost every action movie and video game and, like Bruce Willis or Will Smith, has a single role that he repeats over and over again.
Unlike the Featureless Protagonist, he does have fixed attributes, and they are always the same:
- Almost always American.
- Born to Blue Collar parents.
- Buzz-cut black or dark brown hair.
- And shaved, usually with Perma Stubble. Growing the Beard means developing personality.
- Usually a former soldier or police officer, very rarely in active service.
- Uses Handguns as his signature weapon. Rifles and submachine guns are always immediately discarded after using them.
- Chances are good his name is Jack or John.
- Either has a Dead Little Sister or is only in the action hero business because he has to save a loved one.
- Has no respect for authority, but his boss secretly admires him for this trait.
This character has become immensely popular as the protagonist in video games in recent years. The difference to an Featureless Protagonist is that those characters are left without real characterization to let the player fill the character with his own ideas, while the Action Genre Hero Guy follows a very specific set of traits as listed above.
If you can remember a character's name, he is probably not an example.
- Jake Sully from Avatar.
- Basically every character ever played by Sylvester Stallone.
- Justin Timberlake's character Will in In Time.
- Jason Statham.
Live Action TV
- Speaking of Growing the Beard: William Riker of Star Trek: The Next Generation is another example.
- G. Callen from NCIS: Los Angeles.
- The topic of this article.
- Chris Redfield from the Resident Evil series.
- Arguably Harry Mason from Silent Hill, who isn't an action guy, but fits all the other requirements.
- And not arguably Alex Shepherd from Homecoming, who fits the trope to a T.
- Dan Marshall from Binary Domain.
- Isaac Clarke from Dead Space.
- The default Commander Shepard from Mass Effect has the looks (and the name; John), but can develop a personality depending on how you play him.
- Both Mercury and Jacknife from Mirror's Edge.
- Nathan Hale from Resistance.
- Preston Marlowe from Battlefield: Bad Company.
- Solid Snake from the Metal Gear series started as one, but did develop a very detailed and unique personality as the series progressed.
- Same goes for his buddy Gray Fox, whose actual name is Frank Jaeger.
- Galen Marek/"Starkiller," the protagonist from Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.
- Nathan Drake from Uncharted fits almost every characteristic, except that he hasn't lost a loved one (he does what he does because he's a naturally curious adrenaline-junkie) and has sufficient charm to overcome his generic design.
- Jet Brody of Fracture.