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Quint: You have city hands, Mr. Hooper. You been countin' money all your life.

Hooper: All right, all right. Hey, I don't need this... I don't need this working-class-hero crap.

When a character or group of characters is shown to be highly intelligent and capable precisely because he didn't do fancy things like go to school or study or stuff, that makes him cool. They did everything on the job. As a result, he has all this great timeless common folk wisdom that solves every problem.

This character tends to be disdainful and negative to characters who learn things through books. However, there is a variation of a Working Class Hero who reads book when not in the theory- this character type is more common in socialist and communist literature, which usually works specifically to avert Working Class People Are Morons.

Related to Farm Boy. See also Book Dumb.

Examples of Working Class Hero include:


  • In Invasion! , Bill Savage was a lorry driver before the Volgans attacked, and his working-class common sense is frequently what allows him to succeed where the top military see no chance of victory.


  • In Jaws, Quint fulfills this trope, dismissing Hooper's knowledge of sharks outright basically because he's a college kid, and showing himself to be super-competent as regards sharks, having the chutzpah to demand triple the offered reward in exchange for taking the shark down.
    • Arguably subverted, at least in the movie. Quint lets his pride cause him to ignore important advice from Hooper, and ultimately gets killed for it. Hooper, although not exactly effective in his own right, at least survives at the end.
      • Arguably double-subverted. Hooper was originally supposed to die earlier in the shark cage scene, but the scene was ruined because the 14ft shark tore the miniature cage apart before the miniature stunt-double could get in. The footage ended up being so incredible that they actually rewrote the movie to accommodate the shark's ad-lib. The way the original script went, both supposed experts ended up as fish food!
  • Seems to be the main point of Armageddon, where our heroes are oil drillers, none of whom exceptionally intelligent (with the exception of one character who specializes in geology and hides his intellect behind acting like a perv), but who get to save the day by being astronauts and drilling a giant hole in the killer meteor. It is stated, outright, that apparently it's easier to teach drillers to be astronauts than it is to teach astronauts to be drillers. Buzz Aldrin would like to have a word with you.
    • This one is debatable because it was a matter of how much time they had available for training. Offshore oil drilling is an extremely specialized technical field, and the only real "astronaut-y" task the drillers have to learn is how to operate in a space-suit, something that wouldn't take too long, since they're supervised the whole time anyway. It's not that the astronauts are incapable of learning, it's that there isn't time to teach them.
  • A deconstructed take on this appears in Gran Torino with Clint Eastwood: He's implied as not being a terribly intelligent or academic fellow, but he has lots of common sense wisdom and is totally effective at dealing with young gangsters. The drawback being, of course, that he comes off as incredibly racist.
  • The ultimate everyman is John McClane of Die Hard fame. He learned everything he knew from on the job honest policing in the NYPD. Then becomes a generic Supercop in Die Hard 4.0.


  • The Joads from The Grapes of Wrath. Just like everyone else, they flee to California to try and escape the worst of the Great Depression.
  • Étienne Lantier, Maheu and Souvarine in Emile Zola's Germinal.
  • Sam Vimes from the Discworld books is just a beat cop in the town watch who moves up through the ranks to become Captain and has a Duke-ship thrust upon him against his will. The ruler sends him as a diplomat/ambassador where he uses street smarts to beat the bad guys.
    • In more recent books we have Harry King, who built an empire on collecting and recycling garbage, after starting out as an urchin. However, he does recognise that fancy book learnin' can be useful at times. He is also impressed that William de Worde knows what a tosheroon is due to his love for the written word.
    • Unseen Academicals could also be regarded as a Deconstruction, exploring how an actual Working Class Hero may end up being criticised for their achievements.
  • Wedge Antilles never went to an Imperial academy, and New Republic military academies didn't form until well after he became a serious Ace Pilot. Just in general his education isn't detailed, but it can be inferred that he got a lot of it on the job. He doesn't look down on people who were trained by the Empire, though, since so many of his friends and comrades are ex-Imperial.
  • Sam Yeager in Turtledove's Worldwar series. A minor-league ballplayer with an interest in science fiction who eventually becomes an Army colonel and the military's chief advisor on dealing with the Lizards, ultimately traveling to Home certainly qualifies.
  • Richard Sharpe is a great officer because he fought his way up from the ranks, defeating prejudice from the aristocrat-dominated officer corps who know far less about what warfare is like for the common soldier. Because of this Sharpe focuses on what he knows is important from his battlefield experience instead of getting hung up on theory like the book-taught officers. However, this trope is subverted in one way--Sharpe has a great respect for the upper-class William Lawford, who taught him how to read while they were imprisoned together in India.

Live Action TV

  • A lot of the recent Discovery/History Channel reality/documentary shows have focused on this, including Ice Road Truckers, Ax Men, American Loggers, Deadliest Catch and Dirty Jobs. The shows often emphasize the danger of these jobs to the workers, painting their struggles as epic battles for their lives, or for the betterment of ours.


  • Subverted by the John Lennon song "Working Class Hero", in which the working class are duped into feeling like heroes by those with power:

 And you think you're so clever and classless and free

But you're still fucking peasants as far as I can see


 My generation is zero

I never made it as a working class hero


Tabletop Games

  • Most Everyman Hero types in Feng Shui are this in a nutshell.


Video Games

  • Atlas in Bioshock. Not.
    • More of a double subversion actually. Atlas beguiles the masses and subverts the trope, but also subverts the Self Made Man trope.
  • Chris and Troy from Freedom Fighters start out as plumbers. (They are also an allusion to Mario and Luigi, as both are siblings, one is fat and the other is thin).

Web Comics

Web Original