Thanks to ParagonEsquire for the inspiration!
I agree, Tidus probably is one of the most heroic Final Fantasy protagonist from the entire franchise. As ParagonEsquire puts it:
He has little personal stake and loses the most by completing his journey. The other protagonists risk everything, but Tidus knows he loses everything to do the right thing, but he still pushes on.
And he’s not really the hero of Final Fantasy X, Yuna is. Not in the traditional sense. From a literary standpoint, a hero:
is a person or main character of a literary work who, in the face of danger, combats adversity through impressive feats of ingenuity, bravery or strength, often sacrificing their own personal concerns for a greater good.
This was Yuna in Final Fantasy X and X-2. She has all of the characteristics of a hero:
In fact, Yuna’s character illustrates the reality of a hero, in that it’s not always romantic or idyllic.
So then where does this leave Tidus? Tidus is pretty unconventional as a hero. He’s listlessness when thinking about his father. He has ‘daddy issues’, whines and hides scared boyishness behind a happy-go-lucky personality.
In this sense, he’s more of an anti-hero. Not in the same way Cloud or Squall is, but in the sense that, like some anti-heroes, he’s:
bewildered, ineffectual, deluded, or merely apathetic.
Tidus is a subversion of the anti-hero, which is, in turn, a subversion of the hero.
TVTropes actually lists him as a Classical Anti-Hero, believe it or not.
Much of Tidus’ development revolves around overcoming this. He’s plagued by his inferiority complex over his dad, is completely clueless to all the politics happening around him, and even considers himself the outsider of the group.
Tidus is a cheerleader who doesn’t fit Lawrence Kohlberg’s stages of moral development, which is:
Level 1 (Pre-Conventional)
- 1. Obedience and punishment orientation (How can I avoid punishment?)
- 2. Self-interest orientation (What’s in it for me?) (Paying for a benefit)
Level 2 (Conventional)
- 3. Interpersonal accord and conformity (Social norms) (The good boy/girl attitude)
- 4. Authority and social-order maintaining orientation (Law and order morality)
Level 3 (Post-Conventional)
- 5. Social contract orientation
- 6. Universal ethical principles (Principled conscience)