One of the archetypal heroes that have always entertained me the most is the Accidental Hero.
An Accidental Hero is known as:
Someone who is at the right place at the right time to save the day, or someone who does a great deed by chance. This is often written as a giant mistake that ended well in an unforeseen way.
Why do I love the accidental hero? There are many reasons.
1. They’re Comical
Accidental heroes are usually hilarious for two reasons. Either their giant blunder that led to their acclaim is entertaining, or watching them flounder to try to maintain their status is amusing. It all depends on how you right it. Say you should write it as a blundering doofus who manages to pull some incredible act, it’s great to watch him struggle to understand what’s going on.
Other times, it’s hilarious to watch the people give this character all the accolades that they do, even when it was obvious that it was all one glorious mistake. Either way, it can definitely provide a lot of laughs which is perfect for all stories, whether you’re writing a comedy or simply providing a little comic relief.
2. Great Character Study Material
How a person reacts to fame and possible power handed to him is an excellent tell for their personality. This is a great component to have in a piece that veers toward a character study. How someone handles a situation like this is an excellent plot point that can be used to delve into their deepest thoughts and feelings. Best part is, it can be used in any genre of fiction.
From Romance all the way up to Horror, how a person handles themselves in this situation can be used anywhere.
Say they’ve accidentally saved a baby from drowning, and now they’re the most eligible person in town? Do they date the hotty that wouldn’t give them the time of day before, or the person who truly loves them?
Say they’re the only one with a working car as they’re being chased by zombies? Do they save the whole group, or speed of all on their lonesome?
See what I’m getting at? It’s a great tool to examine someone’s character.
3. The Every-Man
The archetype of the accidental hero fits excellently with the idea of the “Every-Man”. You would know him as Joe Blow, or John Doe. Super heroes and warriors are great, but what about your average run of the mill human being doing their best to stay afloat in this brutal sea called life?
What better way to make your character that much more relatable. It’s a great thing when someone can read your story and go, “Wow, that guy/girl is just like me.”
Adding to that, now they can read your story and saw, “I totally would have done that in their shoes,” or, “What are you doing?”
It’s a great way to get, and keep people engaged.
4. Suspension of Disbelief
Considering all the movies and books that are popular right now have vampires/werewolves/super heroes/whatever that isn’t a plain human, this could really make your story stand it.
If the story really is about a traditionally non-heroic person who just stumbles into glory, imagine how much easier that would be to swallow.
Guys, life is weird, and if you live long enough you realize that the strangest things can happen when you’re in the correct rare situation. I’ve certaintly been in a few where it turns out a handful other uncommon scenarios had to align perfectly to make the environment necessary for an unlikely opportunity/moment/whatever you want to call it come into fruition.
With that theme in your story, the suspension of disbelief sky rockets.
You’ll rarely find anyone calling foul on that story.
So that’s four quick ways you could use the archetype. I’m sure there are plenty more. I’m curious, if you can think of another way, let me know in the comments below!
So what do you think? Agree? Disagree? Think I’m crazy? Whatever you think, please leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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