25 Unlikely Heroes You’ll Want To Know About

Posted by , Updated on March 24, 2024

Average individuals, who aren’t part of any military force, firefighting or policing body, often reveal themselves as unexpected heroes and come forward to assist others when no one else can. These ordinary people demonstrating incredible courage can be of any age, size, or shape, and sometimes they’re not even human — yes, animals also contribute to these acts of assistance. Would you like to learn more about these unforeseen heroes? We’ve compiled a list of 25 Unexpected Heroes You Would Want To Learn About. They show that all it really takes to make a difference is the bravery to take action.


Ace the Pit Bull

american pitbullSource: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/07/17/pit-bull-saves-deaf-boy-house-fire/12771773/

When Ace, a two-year-old pit bull, smelled fire, he knew exactly what to do. He ran into his deaf teenage owner’s room and repeatedly began licking his face. Nick Lamb, the teenager, didn’t have his cochlear implants in and couldn’t hear the fire. Without any shoes, he and Ace ran out the back door and called 911.


Binti-Jua the Gorilla

Brookfield-zooSource: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-gorilla-saves-boy-brookfield-zoo-anniversary-20160815-story.html

In 1996, when a 3-year-old toddler fell into a gorilla exhibit at the Brookfield Zoo, people looked on in horror, afraid of what the gorillas might do to him. Fortunately, a female gorilla named Binti-Jua approached the boy and cradled him in her arms before setting him down by the door, waiting for the paramedics. Her maternal instincts are believed to have kicked in to take care of the child.


Marcos Ugarte

fireSource: http://www.oregonlive.com/gresham/index.ssf/2012/09/troutdale_teen_with_assist_fro.html

When Marcos Ugarte, 14, and his father heard screams and saw an orange hue in the distance in their neighborhood, they acted quickly. They raced inside the burning house to help the family inside and successfully got them out. They even managed to save the 8-year-old boy who was trapped in a closet. When they couldn’t reach him, Marcos got a ladder, climbed it, and got through a window, guiding the 8-year-old out and to safety.


Zavi Achmed

carSource: https://www.yahoo.com/news/5-year-old-dressed-as-batman-saves-toddler-trapped-124338929642.html

When a toddler was accidentally trapped in her grandmother’s vehicle, Zavi Achmed came to the rescue. The police broke the glass to get inside but they couldn’t fit, so Zavi offered to climb in and get the keys. The best part? Zavi was wearing a Batman costume.


Kole Devisscher

drowningSource: https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/our-communities/herald/Teen-hero-didnt-think-twice-before-saving-a-life-117601199.html

Kole Devisscher saw a blue coat floating in the river and at first didn’t think anything of it. But, when he decided to take a second look, he realized someone was struggling in the water. Breaking into action, Devisscher got a rope from his truck and raced to help 10-year-old Ralph Chartrand Jr. from drowning. He pulled him to safety out of the frigid water.


Didar Hossain

rubbleSource: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-22384529

On the outskirts of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, a garment factory suddenly collapsed. Didar Hossain went to the rescue, repeatedly going into the building to free the people inside. Many had limbs trapped and they begged him to free them even if they had to cut them off. So, reluctantly, he did and ended up saving 34 people in total.


Two Beluga Whales

beluga whaleSource: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjXPS57f7wY

In China during an audition to become a trainer, a female diver got a cramp at the bottom of the tank and couldn’t swim up. Sensing her distress, two beluga whales came to her aid, grabbing her and pulling her to the surface.


James Persyn III

doorSource: http://abcnews.go.com/US/michigan-hero-teen-hides-rape-victim-attacker/story?id=18272032

When James Persyn III, 14, was home babysitting his 11 and 2-year-old siblings, a loud knock came at the door. When he opened it, a distraught female ran inside, saying someone had kidnapped her and was trying to kill her. James told her and his siblings to get into the bathroom where there were no windows, got his hunting knife, and called his dad. The attacker came to the door and started pouring gasoline outside the house and lit it on fire. Fortunately, he took off and the father and police got home in time to put the fire out.


Stray Dog

stray dogSource: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/stray-dog-rescues-abandoned-baby/

A stray Kenyan dog found an abandoned baby in the forest and carried the baby to its litter. Unharmed, the baby cried in the nearby neighborhood and a resident heard the cries. The baby was taken to the hospital and given antibiotics.


For more stories of animals rescuing others, check out these 25 Heroic Animals Who Rescued People.


Baseball Team

baseballSource: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/09/baseball-team-lifts-car-saves-life_n_3248973.html

One afternoon, a teen girl was hit by a car in a school parking lot and pinned down. Fortunately, an entire team of high school baseball players came to the rescue, lifting the vehicle off the girl. The coach pulled her out, and she was expected to make a full recovery.


Mindy Tran

kid carSource: http://www.wcvb.com/article/lawrence-mom-used-body-as-speed-bump-to-save-twins-from-rolling-car/8197801

The moment Mindy Tran saw her twin toddlers locked in her car while it slowly moved backward, she knew she had to act to save them. To her detriment, she had to use her body as a speed bump to slow it down so that someone else could get in and stop it. Her knee was crushed, and she had a dislocated leg, but her children were saved.


Zachary Dearing

harveySource: http://people.com/human-interest/29-year-old-no-medical-expertise-takes-command-texas-shelter/

Zachary Dearing is a 29-year-old screenwriter who went to live with his father, who was fighting cancer, in Rockport, Texas. When hurricane Harvey hit, Dearing didn’t get out in time and went to the local shelter. With no supplies or management at the shelter, Dearing took charge and began organizing. He recruited 15 volunteers to help pull in food, water, and plug leaks. When police and emergency personnel arrived, everyone pointed to Dearing as the leader, and the police asked him where they could be helpful as he had “created a system.”


Masha the Tabby Cat

tabby catSource: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/16/cat-saves-abandoned-baby-freeezing-russia_n_6486866.html

An abandoned baby in Obninsk, Russia was rescued by the most unlikely source, a homeless tabby cat named Masha. The cat curled up next to the 12-week-old infant in a box, keeping him warm from the below freezing temperatures. She did this for hours before people took him away for medical attention.


Welles Crowther

welles crowtherSource: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/08/nyregion/welles-crowther-man-in-red-bandanna-911.html?_r=0

During the dark day of September 11th, 2001, Welles Crowther, known at the time as the Man in the Red Bandanna, was just a rookie equities trader from Nyack, New York, when he sprang into action and helped lead 10 people to safety as the building collapsed around them. Unfortunately, Crowther wasn’t able to get out in time and perished as the building came down.


Robert Kuba

science teacherSource: https://www.nysut.org/news/2014/february/a-modest-science-teacher-performs-a-heroic-act

When a student opened up a case he claimed was for a science experiment but was really a .22 caliber rifle, Robert Kuba, the high school science teacher, didn’t hesitate. He quickly grabbed the rifle with one hand and the student with the other. Putting the student in a secure location, he called the police and saved the day. He was awarded with the New York State Senate Award for heroic actions.


Tyler Doohan

tyler doohanSource: http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/21/us/new-york-boy-saves-family-fire/index.html

As a fire blazed inside a single trailer in upstate New York, 8-year-old Tyler Doohan was able to wake and rescue 6 people from inside, including two children, ages 4 and 6. When Doohan went back in to save his grandfather, neither of them made it out in time, dying from fire and smoke inhalation.


Brendon Garman

expoSource: http://www.kfvs12.com/story/7125623/kid-hero-saves-teacher

Elementary teacher Madonna Kenser had an allergic reaction to her dry erase pen, resulting in an asthma attack. Before she could get her inhaler, she passed out. None of the kids knew what to do except Brendon Garman, who had seen a similar thing in the movie “Are We There Yet?” He rushed to her purse, grabbed her inhaler, and gave it to her, saving her life.


Oskar Schindler

schindlerSource: http://www.legacy.com/news/explore-history/article/oskar-schindler-unlikely-hero

A much more well known but equally unlikely hero is Oskar Schindler. Schindler was a member of the Nazi party, a scheming businessman, and a straying husband. But, he sacrificed and risked everything to save a 1,000 Jews from dying in the concentration camps. He would frequently tell lies and bribe German Nazi officials, risking his life in the process.


Christina Simoes

apartmentSource: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/hero-mom-he-mattered-way-more-than-i-did/

With flames blazing inside their apartment complex, Christina Simoes and her 18-month-old son were trapped. Simoes knew the only way they’d survive if she jumped out of the window with her son. She grabbed hold of him tight, said she loved him, and lept out the window. She suffered severe back injuries with the potential of never walking again, but her son was just fine.


Christian Gunter

tornadoSource: http://insider.foxnews.com/2014/04/30/heroic-teen-saves-disabled-vets-arkansas-tornado

As a deadly tornado wreaked havoc across Little Rock, Arkansas, Christian Gunter, 19, was able to get 10 disabled veterans out of the long-term care facility where they stayed. He took them to a church close-by for safety. The long-term care home was destroyed by the tornado.


Willie the Parrot

parrotSource: https://nypost.com/2014/11/02/3-animals-who-saved-human-children/

Willie the Parrot was very talented, capable of mimicking cat and dog sounds, saying several words, and whistling the tune to the Andy Griffith’s Show. When Meagan Howard, Willie’s owner, took care of her friend’s two-year-old, she gave her a pop tart and left for 30 seconds. Within that time, Willie started flapping and shrieking, repeating, “Mama. Baby.” When Hannah went to see what was wrong, she saw the two-year-old gasping for air and blue in the face, choking from the pop tart. Hannah was able to do the Heimlich maneuver until it came out.


Jose Salmeron

homelessSource: http://www.mercurynews.com/2014/09/07/homeless-people-who-found-missing-boy-declare-were-not-heroes/

Jose Salmeron and several others lived at a homeless encampment in San Jose. When he came out of his tent one day, he saw a naked 6-year-old boy and told his campmates to come see. The boy’s name is Sergio Zepeda, an autistic boy who had gone missing. Salmeron quickly grabbed a blanket, a muffin, water, and a doughnut and gave them to the boy. They were able to contact the police to come pick him up.


Tang the Newfoundland Dog

newfoundland dogSource: http://petslady.com/articles/animal_heroes_tang_dog_63030

In 1919, a ship named Ethie crashed against the rocks during a storm in Newfoundland, Canada. With 93 people abroad and no way to swim to shore, it seemed like they were all but doomed. However, Tang the Newfoundland dog grabbed a rope without a second thought and jumped into the water, swimming to shore. Using the rope, people on the shore rescued the 93 people.


Rampaging Elephant

IndianElephantSource: https://nypost.com/2014/11/02/3-animals-who-saved-human-children/

Usually, you don’t consider a villain of the story to become the hero, but that’s why it’s so unexpected. In this case, a rampaging elephant in an Indian village barrelled through the door of a flimsy house and caused all kinds of destruction before stopping completely at the sound of a crying child. The elephant, rather than swiping the child aside, began picking the debris off the child. For the parents, it was a miracle, especially when the elephant walked away back into the forest.


Aitzaz Hasan

AitzazSource: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-25663992

In Pakistan, 15-year-old Aitzaz Hasa was outside his school with his friends when he noticed a man wearing a suicide bomber vest. Instead of running away, Hasa confronted the bomber and captured him, protecting the other students. Unfortunately, the bomber was able to detonate, killing both of them in the process. There were almost 2,000 students in attendance. Many considered him a hero for stopping the man from blowing up the school.

Photo: 25. Wikipedia Commons.com (Public Domain), 24. anonymous, Brookfield-zoo, CC BY-SA 2.5, 23 – 21. Pixabay.com (Public Domain), 20. MaxPixle.com (Public Domain), 19. (Greg5030), Beluga03, CC BY-SA 3.0, 18. Pexels.com (Public Domain), 17. Alex Ranaldi from Cicero, NY, USA, Stray dog in Rome, CC BY-SA 2.0, 16. Pixabay.com (Public Domain), 15. Белоцерковский Михаил, Anton Dolin by Belotserkovsky 14, CC BY-SA 4.0, 14. Wikipedia Commons.com (Public Domain), 13. Pixabay.com (Public Domain), 12. Wikipedia Commons.com (Public Domain), 11. New York State AFL-CIO via flickr. CC BY 2.0, 10. Photo via Twitter (Fair Use: No Free Images Available), 9 – 6. Wikipedia Commons.com (Public Domain), 5. Pixabay.com (Public Domain), 4. Bart Everson via flickr. CC BY 2.0 , 3. Flickr user DanDee Shots, Newfoundland dog Smoky, CC BY 2.0, 2. Jayanand Govindaraj, IndianElephant, CC BY-SA 2.0, 1. Mountainsoil, Aitzaz, CC BY-SA 4.0