In this age of nihilism, apathy, and losing faith in different aspects of whatever system to which we belong, it’s easy to forget hope, as they say, springs eternal and will guide us through the darkest storms. Throughout much of history, when real life figures fail to elicit hope, we’ve turned to fictional characters, who—unencumbered by harsh, deafening reality—can represent the positivity and resilience that cause us to try harder, do better, aim higher, and never get despaired too long. In the gallery below, you’ll find nine pop culture heroes who instill the most hope in the hopeless, from the likes of Luke Cage, Doctor Who, Wonder Woman, Star Wars Rebels, and The West Wing.
Now, as I alluded to earlier, this is not to say that there aren’t real living people who do the same thing, and are inspirations to us all. This is proven fact. However, like a security blanket or a snuggle with a fuzzy pet, watching the adventures of fictional heroes and heroines can give us a pure and unfettered glimpse at what “ultimate good” can be. A lot of the people on this list are comic book heroes, but not all—the only real criteria is that they spread hope through their deeds and words and their very image is a symbol of nobleness, humility, and strength under pressure.
Naturally, this is an incomplete list—my sleep-free brain could only think of so many—so please feel free to share your own go-to hopeful heroes in the comments below, or hit me up on Twitter on which good guys help you get through tough situations. Because we’re all in this together, folks!
Images: DC Comics, CW, Warner Bros, Netflix, Marvel, NBC, Saban Entertainment, BBC, Lucasfilm