Smartsiness: They don't have to be a brain surgeon, but I do like to imagine the character possesses a brain. My ideal hero doesn't forget things when it's convenient for the plot, or struggle with simple plot problems because it makes their head overheat. My ideal hero is reasonably clever.
Common sense: Similar to smartsiness, but different. This is the character who decides not to go into the basement during a midnight thunderstorm because they heard a noise. This is the character who takes warnings into account and knows that if the sky is cloudy it might rain.
Wit: I love characters with a sharp sense of humor. This is hard to pull off, because humor is so subjective, but yeah, I like it when they're funny.
Strength: To do what is right, even when it hurts. Especially when it hurts.
Wisdom: To know what is right. To consider other people's feelings. To make difficult choices. To step up to a challenge when no one else will. To question things others won't.
Good heart: For me, this is a must. It doesn't have to be obvious -- even darker anti-heroes can have good hearts -- but it must be there. It must inform their choices, their sense of duty, and give them honor.
This may seem like a pretty strict set of requirements for my ideal hero, but it's really not. There's room for all kinds of characters with all kinds of personalities. It's unreasonable to expect a character to have all that all the time. It leaves no room for growth if they're already perfect, and character growth is one of the things that makes characters fascinating. I love watching a hero develop the strength and confidence to take on the world. I love watching their wisdom expand, their wit evolve.
Flaws make characters interesting. They make characters relatable because who here is perfect? (You with your hand up -- do you fart rainbows? YES??!?? There's medication for that. Seek help now.)
What about you? What quality do you admire most in a hero?
Jodi Meadows is the author of INCARNATE, book one of the Newsoul Trilogy. (January 31, 2012 - HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books.)
She lives and writes in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, with her husband, a Kippy*, and an alarming number of ferrets. She is a confessed book addict, and has wanted to be a writer ever since she decided against becoming an astronaut. You can find her on her website and blog.
*A Kippy is a cat.