"Hero" is a collective title given to the protagonists of the Dragon Quest series, as the player chooses their name (and in some cases, gender). The Hero is typically the most well-rounded character accessible to the player, skilled with both swordplay and magic. They typically have a wide range of equipment available to them, including the most powerful weapons and armor. As a result, the Hero is generally the character that the player will use the most throughout their quest.
The Hero is given the title "Legendary Hero" (伝説の勇者) in Theatrhythm Dragon Quest and Dragon Quest: Monster Battle Road; in other instances, such as promotional material, their name is Arus (アルス, occasionally romanized as Arusu). However, at the end of their adventure in Dragon Quest III, the Hero receives the title of Erdrick (ロト, Loto), which becomes their most widely known moniker. They are the first Hero to have male and female variations, though neither choice affects the story in a major way. Erdrick is a fabled Hero in the lore of the Dragon Quest universe, known for their bravery in saving Alefgard and its surrounding lands from both the Archfiend Baramos and the Master Archfiend Zoma. They are the ancestor of the Heroes from Dragon Quest and, by extension, Dragon Quest II. These characters belong to a group known as the "Descendants of Erdrick" (ロトの子孫たち, Descendants of Loto). The legendary armor the Hero of the game wears at a later point, which goes on to reappear in several other games in the series, serves as the inspiration for a downloadable Mii Swordfighter costume, under the name "Erdrick Outfit."
The default names for the male and female Heroes in-name are Solo (ソロ) and Sofia (ソフィア), respectively; these names are also used for their appearances in later games. In the audio drama, the Hero is named Ray (レイ), and in the official novelizations, his name is Yuuril (ユーリル). From a young age, the Hero was prophesied to defeat the Demons and restore peace to the world. They were raised by foster parents in a hidden village, protected from the outside world until they became an adult. Following a failed assassination attempt led by Psaro the Manslayer, the 18-year-old Hero finds themselves alone in a ransacked village. They soon set out on a quest to discover their true identity and fulfill the prophecy.
In the manual for the PS2 version and in promotional screenshots, the Hero's default name is Eight (エイト). His ally, Yangus, also calls him "guv" as an informal nickname. The Hero is an amnesiac who lives in Trodain Castle, serving as the captain of its guard upon becoming an adult. He is always accompanied by a small mouse-like creature named Munchie, who resides in his jacket pocket. After the villainous court jester Dhoulmagus sets a curse on the land of Trodain, the unaffected hero and his companions set out to defeat him, ultimately learning about his origins and the true nature of the curse.
The Hero is commonly referred to as the Luminary (勇者, Hero) or Eleven (イレブン). The Luminary is said to be the reincarnation of a legendary warrior who defeated the darkness. On his sixteenth birthday, he participates in a coming-of-age ceremony in his hometown of Cobblestone, wherein he learns of his destiny and sets out on a journey to fulfill it. However, he conflicts with the Kingdom of Helidor, as its king instead believes he is the Darkspawn, an entity doomed to spread darkness across the world.
During the E3 2019 Nintendo Direct, the Hero was confirmed to be included in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as a DLC fighter, alongside Banjo & Kazooie. The Hero was released on July 30th, 2019 along with the stage Yggdrasil's Altar and several music tracks and Spirits from the Dragon Quest series as part of Challenger Pack 2.
- Luminary, the protagonist of Dragon Quest XI and the default Hero. He wields the Supreme Sword of Light and Erdwin's Shield.
- Erdrick, the male protagonist of Dragon Quest III. He wields the Sword of Kings and Shield of Heroes (also known as Erdrick's Sword and Erdrick's Shield, respectively).
- Solo, the male protagonist of Dragon Quest IV. He wields the Zenithian Sword and Zenithian Shield.
- Eight, the protagonist of Dragon Quest VIII. He wields the Dragovian King Sword and Dragovian Shield. His mouse companion Munchie resides in his pocket.
According to a Famitsu column by Masahiro Sakurai, there are restrictions from Square Enix regarding which Dragon Quest protagonists can encounter each other. However, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was given special exception in order to have the different Heroes as alternate character costumes. Eight's addition as an alternate character costume in particular was due to requests from Western fans for the character.
When the Hero originally began development, he was planned to be silent, similar to previous Dragon Quest protagonists. However, with the addition of voice acting in the Japanese version of Dragon Quest XI S (as the localized version of the original Dragon Quest XI had voice acting from the beginning), plans were changed and voices for all four Heroes were added. This is the first game with official voice acting for Erdrick, Solo, and Eight, and Sakurai shared some interesting pieces of trivia about each of the Hero's voice actors and their recording sessions:
- Luminary's voice actress, Mitsuki Saiga, reprises her role from Dragon Quest XI S (thus technically making Ultimate her debut voicing the character), but was directed to have more energy in her vocals to better fit the style of Smash.
- Erdrick's voice actor, Nobuyuki Hiyama, had also notably voiced Adult Link in Ocarina of Time, Smash 64, and Melee. Of the four Heroes, his recording session was completed the fastest due to his extensive experience. Sakurai also notes that his performance can be recognized as Guy Shishioh from The King of Braves GaoGaiGar.
- Solo's voice actor, Takeshi Kusao, asked for a lot of detail on the backstory of the protagonist to help improve his performance.
- Eight's voice actor, Yuki Kaji, apparently dreamed of doing voicework for the Dragon Quest and Super Smash Bros. series, and he was enthusiastic to fulfill both at the same time in Ultimate.
- Currently, the Hero has the most one-hit KO moves out of all the fighters, with three in his moveset. He is also the only fighter that has an instant KO move that KO's himself.
- Hero is the second Square Enix representative in Smash Bros, after Cloud Strife.
- Because of heavy controversy regarding Hero as anti-competitive in Ultimate due to the large amount of randomness in his moveset, Hero is the fourth character to have been officially banned from any tournament matches, the first three being Meta Knight from Brawl, and Cloud and Bayonetta from Smash 4.
- Each of the four playable Heroes come from a different decade; Erdrick debuts from the 1980s, Solo debuts from the 1990s, Eight debuts from the 2000s, and the Luminary debuts from the 2010s.
- Hero is the only fighter who is placed in order based on their iteration rather than the character's debut. Prior to Version 8.0.0, his placement was based on the release date of Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age (July 28, 2017) rather than the release date of the original Dragon Quest (May 27, 1986). Starting from Version 8.0.0, his placement is now based on the release date of Dragon Quest III: The Seeds of Salvation (February 10, 1988).