Day Eight: Heroic Hirelings

Welcome to Day Eight of the A to Z Challenge. For this year’s challenge, I’ll be examining different types of characters that can be found in international fiction. Today I’m looking at heroic hirelings.

Heroic hirelings are in it for the money. At least, at first. They start a new adventure driven by financial necessity and along the way encounter situations that draw out their inner hero.

Two characteristics that these characters tend to have are a disinterest in their actual job at first and a tremendous sense of courage.

Warning: This post contains spoilers from The Devil Wears Prada, School of Rock and Homecoming.

In It for the Money or Renown

These characters see their new position as either a way to make ends meet, or as a stepping stone to the next job. Andrea Sachs in The Devil Wears Prada, for example, has no interest in the fashion world. She just needs experience so she can get a job at a serious magazine. Dewey Finn in School of Rock starts working as a teacher because he needs the money. Heidi Bergman in Homecoming does her job, not because she has an interest in the furthering of science, but because she needs the position.

From Apathetic to Courageous

Heroic hireling usually end up valuing something more than professional advancement, which brings out a sense of courage. Heidi Bergman, for example, values the well-being of one of her patients, which pushes her to risk not only her job, but also her wellbeing. Dewey Finn’s concern for his students leads him to break rules that jeopardize his job. Andrea Sachs stands up to her boss in a way that jeopardizes the career she worked so hard to build.

Another attribute of heroic hirelings is that they tend to transform the world they enter, or at least the perception of one person within it.

This character spans many genres including action adventure, mystery, comedy and speculative fiction. Other examples of heroic hirelings are Korben Dallas from The Fifth Element, Erin Brockovich from Erin Brockovich, and Frank Martin from The Transporter.

Can you think of other stories with heroic hirelings?

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