Benjamin Van Tourhout, PhD in the Arts

Fictional heroes have been considered as moral exemplars and as entertaining and soothing characters. Their creators, however, do not work in a vacuum. Therefore, the emergence of heroic narratives is closely connected to a specific space and time context. In this thesis, I propose a heroic cycle which consist of three different heroic types creators use to cope with events in reality. This cycle consists of the classic hero, the flawed hero, and the contemporary (post 9/11) type of hero which will be defined and described as a hybrid hero. This hybrid hero became very popular in recent years act on all sorts of media platforms (from novels to TV-series, from movies to games.) Within this text the construction and conceptualizations as a fictional character and as moral challenger in today’s fiction is discussed. The hybrid hero challenges both audience and creators on empathic, moral, and narrative levels and is a contemporary symbiosis of heroic and villainous features.


  • Prof. dr. Bart Philipsen (supervisor, KU Leuven)
  • Mr. Kris Cuppens (co-supervisor, LUCA)

Research Unit: Music & Drama

Duration: completed 2018