Warning: Spoilers everywhere.
Deku has a tendency to help people to the detriment of his own progress as a pro hero. There is countless examples all throughout the series. When the reporters broke into the U.A campus Deku was unable to take control of the situation but Iida shows up doing exactly what he should have done and in the end Deku gives him the position out of reverence for his take charge attitude, on the outside this looks like a smart decision deferring to a better person who is suited for the job, even though it would have helped him grow as a hero as he states. “This is the department of heroics so it’s probably akin to guiding the group. Definitely a position that’ll build up one’s hero foundation all the faster.” Being humble today cripples him tomorrow. He helps Shoto accept his fire side because he wants to save him, not try and win the tournament which was the task he was supposed to complete. After all the people who are the explicitly noticed are the ones who made it to the podium. Saving the fake Ochako, who knows what Toga will do with that blood but it won’t be good and it’s all because he caught her when she fell and he new it wasn’t her but still went to save her even though it could have all been a trap, which it was. He has effectively crippled himself both physically and prospect wise.
These actions are caused by the foundation of hero ideals that he is made up of, which is to save and rescue people. Going out of his way to do so in most cases. It’s like he’s taking a side quest to break his neigh caps so it’s harder to complete the original quest. Deku’s only goal at the start of the series was to be a hero, as he grows and evolves he thinks about taking over the number one spot but these moments are brief with him barley focused on it. He’s determined on becoming a hero than reaching for the top as we see when Miro ask Deku what kind of hero he wants to be he replies with, “I want to be the best hero of them all.” With Miro commenting that “your goal is all over the place.” Which is accurate, to be the best hero is different from being the number one hero as we see with Endeavor who takes over the top spot and while I can assure you he does get the job done, he is a frightening person who many do not like as he cares little for other people after the day is saved.
He has no time for fans or for pleasantry’s with people who cannot help him reach his goal quicker and his personal character is lacking in the way he treats his family. To be the top hero does not always goes those who deserve it or embody the best parts of a hero’s mold. While Bakugo has effectively changed who he is since he came to U.A. When he first entered he had only one goal to be a hero so he could knock All Might of his golden number one hero throne and while the goal remains, he has changed his ways so he can get there.
Both Deku and Bakugo’s heroes journeys intertwine with both connecting goals but they cannot reach them until they fill what they are lacking inside of each other.
All Might wants the two to learn from each other and while Bakugo is beginning to, Deku has already learned from Bakugo. He’s become more decisive, confident in his abilities, when fighting he pushes through the inferiority that tries to infect him and in the end do what needs to be done. But he cannot desire to win as much as he wants to save others. As I have said before to save and rescue are key parts of his ideals of being a hero and wining is just not needed outside of these cases. The consequence of such actions is minimal to him at worst he’s left in the background, or in last place. To him glory isn’t important, as long as the people are okay that’s enough for him. So the expectance of failure in this area is to looked at with a shrug of the shoulders.
When ever someone is showing behavior that is counter productive to them being a hero, they cannot be taken aside by the arm and told through long exposition of how hurting themselves is destroying others and if they do try this method it doesn’t work, it just goes through one ear and out the other. Instead it boils down to a fight which they loose and how they acknowledge this failure that they change, wether it is a positive change or a negative one. Failure is the best teacher, she is what you make of her she can be either a friend, a foe, ally or even just there to remind you where you are. The most stubborn of students who cannot learn or progress in failure need to be melted down so that they can be re-made once broken with new pieces to replace the old ones.
Bakugo shattered in such away that he was forced to change the very core of his belief structure of what it means to be a hero. Deku has yet to be broken in such a way and I heavily doubt it will ever happen due to Deku’s personality. Deku needs a reason to fight other than just to win as he cannot fight for himself, every fight he has entered was for someone else. Taking down the zero pointer to save Ochaco, saving his friends from villains at the USJ fight, the sports festival to make All Might proud, saving Iida from Stain, the provisional license exam (Now I know what you’re thinking that this was a fight and did for himself but may I argue that he didn’t want to let All Might down as well as his classmates, so technically not winning a fight for himself in this case), the Eri arc etc.
Outside of these conditions Deku does not go looking for a fight preferring to be a spectator instead and unless called upon by an outside force he will remain stationary. Take for example the sports festival arc, not once did Deku communicate with his classmates while they were fighting there opponents but the moment Shouto wavers in himself while engaging in battle with Bakugo, Deku yells at him trying to bring him back, which works for a second before he shorts himself out. Even on the sides he still tries to save people in a situation he can do nothing but watch.
The only time I can pin point in the series where he was fighting for himself was with Bakugo and even that is a tainted fight by his morals as it wasn’t about winning or losing. Deku could see he was in pain and the only way they could talk was with his fists. Giving it his all because that was the only way Bakugo would respect him. Even in moments where Deku is fighting for himself he cannot but help others.
In his fight with Bakugo he thinks to himself. “When my feeling of I need to win Is stronger than my feeling of I need to rescue I’ll carelessly run my mouth and say bad things and though that’s supposed to be a part of me that I rather dislike in the end in my mind you’re the image of victory.” Not someone I have to surpass, not a goal, but the image itself of victory. Meaning he cannot beat Bakugo as long as he seems him in such a bright light or in other words he will never become a great hero like All Might wanted.
I can here you all typing away at your computers saying that this story is narrated by Deku saying how this is how he became the best hero of them all. Now chew on that sentence for a bit, really get what it means because to Deku being the best hero is rescuing and saving people but as All Might put it. “In the way young Midoriya longed for young Bakugou’s strength, and in the way that young Baukgo feared young Midoriya’s spirit. If your lacking in one or the other you won’t be able to maintain your own sense of justice as a hero.”
What does that mean for Deku? We have to ask what kind of hero would he be in the future because of the limitations he has put on himself. As he explains in the intro this is the story of him becoming the best hero of them all and it’s him telling us from the future so he is still a hero as he uses present tense from the past tense and we have established what he considers an ideal hero up into this point of the series. Leading us back to the question of how he shall change this world. As I explained before in a previous post (Why Sir Nighteye Is Wrong About Deku) he is more than most because he had less and because of that he found a way around what he lacks with his hero analysis and with him receiving a quirk he has risen from the minority to the majority. He can see more from the bottom and above as he has reached both depths in terms of the social hierarchy, which hero’s cannot do (except for All Might and the vigilante knuckleduster) as while some have less than impressive quirks they have never been without power of some kind. Which has lead me to two possible conclusions of his future role.
With his ability to empathise and understand both ends of the world, he’s eventually going to find that the villains are more of a symptom to a larger disease in the society of Japan and the world, and cure it in his own way instead of just fighting them like the rest of the heroes do, with them dealing with the villian at the time instead of retroactively nipping them in the bud before they bloom and keeping on top of it with his ever skilled partners. In the end his detriment will cure the world of this disease called villainy.
Or the other reason he can’t be the number one hero is because the hero association are creating hero teams and with that the eventual collapse of the hero ranking system.