This is the hero that doesn't start out as the hero of the story. Or the writer indicates that he is, but the heroine doesn't see it!
Perhaps a best friend of the hero or heroine.
Someone who is always there, maybe as shoulder for the heroine to cry on, the man to offer support as she goes through her disastrous relationships.
The guy who loves her just as she is, but she doesn't know it!
Raquel Byrnes has an excellent post, using Sweet Home Alabama as an example and goes into much deeper explanations. It's awesome. She calls this guy the Bad Boy with Potential.
I see him as the Beta Hero. Not as dominating or successful as the Alpha Male, but with many alpha qualities that quietly come to the fore. Qualities that have us truly rooting for him. The galant knight who doesn't stand in the spotlight - that's not his thing.
Nicola Marsh has an awesome article on her site giving explanations about the differences between the Alpha and the Beta hero. Things like, Beta heroes are more laid back, but the Alpha is driven; Beta's seem to be able to express themselves better than the Alpha - (possibly to do with that laid back attitude!).
To tell the truth, i've always preferred the Beta hero in the movies! Maybe that's because we are made to realise very early in the story that he is the true hero? Hmm.
My hero for my story with Matt and Emma, he has been the beta hero for most of Emma's life, before the story starts. The difference is that she has always loved him. (Maybe she has been the beta heroine? Hmm, that bears some thought!)
What do you think? Have any good examples either from your own writing or fav books or movies?
What the qualities you like best in a hero - Beta or Alpha!