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For a morally ambiguous character who is to be seen as such by the audience, see antihero and its related subtropes.
Also not to be confused with Supporting Protagonist, which is when the story just focuses on a character other than the hero.
In so-called 'guy movies', this is sometimes associated with an implausibly attractive woman inexplicably respecting that he came forward with this information and allowing it to wipe away all fault for what he originally did, despite the fact that most reasonable human beings would never want to see him again. Note that Values Dissonance can sometimes be a factor with this since the exact definition of what constitutes heroism has changed over time; a character that comes across as a Designated Hero to a modern audience might well have been The Paragon when the story was written in Feudal Japan or Ancient Rome.
Of course even in modern society people will have different standards of what constitutes heroism.
The level of designation falls on a spectrum; in more minor cases it's where an Anti-Hero is treated as an Ideal Hero, while a theoretically extreme case would be a character that a sensible work would treat as a monstrous villain being The Hero (or a mild antihero when the audience feels that the term antihero is ).An extremely common plot associated with this character is their riding the coattails of a misunderstanding or undeserved reward until they finally feel guilty about it — and are allowed to keep it at the end anyway.This kind of plot does happen with deliberate antiheroes as well but in those cases it is obvious that it is considered wrong and more often than not, leads the characters to become more genuinely heroic by the end.Can also be related to Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, where a character who seems like a nice person turns out to be a mean person deep down.For a character who can be rude and antisocial, but still ultimately heroic, see Good Is Not Nice.