List of folk heroes

This is a list of folk heroes, a type of hero – real, fictional or mythological – with their name, personality and deeds embedded in the popular consciousness of a people, mentioned frequently in folk songs, folk tales and other folklore; and with modern trope status in literature, art and films.

Historically documentedEdit

Antiquity (up to 450 AD)Edit

Middle Ages (450–1500)Edit

Early modern period (1500–1800)Edit

Modern period (1800–present)Edit

Possibly apocryphalEdit

  • Samson – Israel, one of the judges, who became a legend due to his superhuman strength.
  • King Arthur – Britain, legendary British warlord said to have united the Britons against the Germanic invaders, with the support of the Knights of Camelot.
  • Beowulf – Scandinavia, legendary Geatish hero later turned king
  • Cúchulainn – Ireland, folk legend and the pre-eminent hero of Ulaid in the Ulster Cycle.
  • Moremi Ajasoro – Nigeria, Yoruba queen and heroine of Ife
  • Till Eulenspiegel or Tijl Uilenspiegel – Germany and the Low Countries, trickster and jester.
  • Fionn mac Cumhaill – Ireland, warrior, leader of the Fianna. Primary figure in the Oisin cycle.
  • Fong Sai-Yuk – China, martial arts folk hero.
  • Grettir the Strong – Icelandic outlaw.
  • John Henry – United States, mighty steel-driving African-American.
  • Hercules – Greece, strongman and demigod.
  • Homer – poet credited as the author of The Iliad and The Odyssey.
  • Robin Hood – England, outlaw usually associated with the motto "Steal from the rich, give to the poor".
  • The Three Musketeers – France, some highly skilled musketeers particularly fictionalized by Alexandre Dumas.
  • Hua Mulan – China, heroine who disguised herself as a man to join an army.
  • Hung Hei-Gun – China, martial arts folk hero.
  • Ilya MurometsKievan Rus', heroic knight from the Russian bylinas.
  • Merlin – Britain, the greatest Mage to have ever existed, it's unknown if he was real and if he was an alchemist or a priest.
  • Nai Khanom Tom – Thailand, master of Muay Thai.
  • Nasreddin Hodja – Seljuk Empire, Muslim philosopher and wise man.
  • Miloš Obilić – Serbian knight, assassin of Ottoman sultan Murad I.
  • Odysseus – Greece, legendary king of Ithaca.
  • Ragnar Lodbrok or Lothbrok – Sweden and Denmark, legendary Viking king.
  • Rummu Jüri – Estonia, outlaw who stole from the rich to give to the poor.
  • Molly Pitcher – American, Military woman who carried water pitchers for American soldiers in the Revolutionary war
  • Siegfried – Germany, the legendary dragon-slaying hero in Nibelungenlied.
  • Sundiata Keita – Mali, founder of the Mali Empire and king of the Mandinke people.
  • William Tell – Switzerland, hunter began the rebellion against the Austrians.
  • Twm Siôn Cati – Wales, robber and trickster nicknamed the Welsh Wizard.
  • Achilles– Greece, hero of the Trojan War, the greatest of all the Greek warriors


  • Pecos Bill – United States, giant cowboy who "tamed the Wild West".
  • Paul Bunyan – United States and Canada, giant lumberjack of the North Woods.
  • Chen Zhen – China, martial artist who fought against Japanese aggression in pre-World War II China.
  • Febold Feboldson – United States, farmer who could fight a drought.
  • Martín Fierro – Argentina, hero of the eponymous poem by Jose Hernandez.
  • Koba – Georgia, folk hero whose legend bears a resemblance to Robin Hood.
  • Joe Magarac – United States, steelworker made of steel.
  • Kintarō – Japan, legendary figure often depicted as a very young boy with superhuman strength.
  • Momotarō – Japan, legendary figure from the Edo period who defeated a band of ogres.
  • Baron Münchausen – Germany, "Baron of lies", rode cannonball and went to the moon.
  • Juan Bobo – Puerto Rico, trickster folk hero.
  • Alfred Bulltop Stormalong – United States, immense sailor whose ship was so big it scraped the moon.
  • Väinämöinen – Described as an old and wise man with potent magical powers.
  • ZorroSpanish California/Mexico-United States, a masked vigilante.


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