Created By: KJMackley on June 19, 2012 Last Edited By: Arivne on 4 hours ago

From Hero to Mentor

Passing on their elite knowledge to the next generation

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Everyone has a story to tell. For The Hero it is their adventures in defeating the bad guys. They likely spent years training themselves in a particular set of knowledge and skills and so if they die all of that valuable information goes to waste.

So, often when they get older, they may find someone young and impulsive but filled with a great deal of potential. So they make the step towards finding a protege, possibly even Passing the Torch as they wish to retire.

Evidently this likely happens to all Mentor Archetype characters in some fashion, but examples should be ones we actually see happen.

Compare Hero of Another Story.


Examples

Film
  • Examined in an interesting way in the Men in Black movies. The big reveal of the first movie was that Agent K wasn't looking to train a new partner, but was instead training Agent J to replace him. Thus in the second movie J was shuffled off to be the senior agent and known for neuralizing junior agents who failed to meet his standards.
  • One element brought up in Star Wars was that Obi-Wan went from apprentice to Jedi Knight to having his own apprentice all in the same day. That apprentice eventually turned to the dark side and became Darth Vader. He later lamented that he was unprepared to be a teacher and regretted his brashness. With the original trilogy we only get this mentioned in passing but with the prequels we see how it actually happens.

Live-Action TV
  • A major aspect of Scrubs is the fact that the characters learn a lot about themselves and how to become effective doctors, thus in the later seasons we see them rely less on the senior staff and instead become senior staff themselves. It is made most prominent in the last two seasons, where J.D. finds himself stepping into the same position his mentor did for him. This was hinted at as early as the first season when J.D. had to be a big brother mentor to a nervous med student and imitated the mannerisms of Dr. Cox.

Western Animation
  • Bruce Wayne becomes the mentor to Terry McGinnis in Batman Beyond as Terry becomes the new Batman. While Bruce does keep a strong presence as Mission Control, the series keeps a strong focus on Terry and in a few episode Bruce has little involvement.

Community Feedback Replies: 63
  • June 19, 2012
    KJMackley
    For some reason this was discarded 10 minutes after I wrote it...
  • June 20, 2012
    Arivne
    ^ According to the YKTTW Launch List a troper named wiseoldtabbycat decided it was too dangerous to live.
  • June 20, 2012
    Koveras
    • Similar to the Batman example, the original Nite Owl in Watchmen became the mentor to the second Nite Owl.
  • June 21, 2012
    KJMackley
    An episode of Burn Notice had a client of the week who was a friend of Michael's and an Army sniper, not too different from Michael's background. The guy refused to stay on the sidelines as Michael worked out his problem and he took his first steps into the spy world. As he was too emotionally connected to the situation he struggled with maintaining his cover (pretending to be friends with the guy who beat up his sister), but Michael had to coach him along to make the plan work.
  • June 30, 2012
    KJMackley
    This is the basic plot of The Mask Of Zorro, with the original Zorro Diego de la Vega being placed in prison for 20 years and upon escaping and seeking revenge he finds Alejandro Murrieta to train to become the new Zorro.
  • July 3, 2012
    ElCheViva
    There's a piece of a fanon which claims that the spirit which teaches the player new sword techniqies in Twilight Princess is the spirit of the incarnation of Link who was the protagonist in Ocarina of Time.
  • July 3, 2012
    WaxingName
    ^It's actually canon now, thanks to Hyrule Historia.
  • July 3, 2012
    Poprocks311
    Katara in Avatar was besically the main female lead and one of the strongest fighters in the show. As of Legend of Korra she oversaw Korra's training.
  • July 3, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 7: Buffy, the one vampire slayer of her generation, gathers all the potential slayers together to train them for when whichever one is called up when she dies. [note: for the sake of brevity I've skipped the Faith factor.]
  • July 4, 2012
    surgoshan
    • Both Alta├»r and Ezio end their lives as Mentors to the Assassin's order in the Assassins Creed games.
  • July 13, 2012
    KJMackley
    This is the character arc of Doc Hudson from Cars, once being a championship race car and growing bitter that he was discarded for the upcoming generation. After coming to grips with his past he mentored Lightning McQueen and even taught him a few drifting tricks.
  • July 13, 2012
    LittleLizard
    In Mass Effect 3, in the "Denial" ending from the Extended Cut DLC, Liara leaves all the knowledge Shepard's team gathered in hopes that the next generation will be able to stop the Reapers.
  • July 13, 2012
    Koveras
    ^ It's "Rejection", not "Denial"...
  • July 13, 2012
    MiinU

    Western animation

    • The Legend of Korra: Korra briefly mentions, to Bolin, that Katara was her waterbending master. In the previous series, Katara became one of the greatest waterbending masters in the world, and filled the same role to Korra's previous incarnation, Aang, in addition to helping him end the war with the Fire Nation, and restore balance to the world afterward.
  • July 13, 2012
    Sparklesqueak
    The hero Link in The Legend Of Zelda Ocarina Of Time becomes the Hero's Shade, teaching advanced sword moves to the hero Link in Twilight Princess, regretting that he had not been able to pass on his skills during his own lifetime.
  • July 13, 2012
    MiinU
    ^@Sparklesqueak - according to Word Of God, he and Zelda reincarnate. So, technically, Link was teaching himself (i.e. previous incarnation mentoring the current one) similar to how Aang was mentored by Roku, his past life.
  • July 14, 2012
    Achitha
  • July 17, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    So, this is the process for creating a Relegated Mentor?
  • July 19, 2012
    MiinU
    bump.
  • July 19, 2012
    KJMackley
    Relegated Mentor is when they become more and more obsolete and the hero becomes less reliant on them in either training or knowledge. This is more about the process of how they become a mentor at all.

    In another Mass Effect 3 example, squad member James Vega explains he was invited into the N7 program (the human Alliance special forces, the same group Shepard belonged to before becoming a Spectre). Depending on how you play out the conversation Shepard can coach him along with accepting the invite and beginning his training. In a more general sense Captain/Admiral Anderson grows into this role almost from the beginning and continues along this path throughout the series.
  • July 20, 2012
    ChrisLang
    Phoenix Wright sort of becomes this in Apollo Justice Ace Attorney, becoming the advisor to Apollo Justice after having been the main character in three previous games.
  • July 21, 2012
    MrRuano
    • Come Soul Calibur V, Seigfried has become a mentor over the seventeen years following his last battle with Nightmare. Over this time, he not only managed to gather the former kingdom of Wolkrone into a new incarnation of his old mercenary gang Schwarzwind, but also managed to gather along any other unique individuals and taught them what he knew about being a hero.
      • Also along this time, he has made it something of his duty to look for the next successor of Soul Calibur, in the event that Nightmare comes once again.
  • September 20, 2016
    Koveras
    • Partial example in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Strikers: the eponymous character (and The Hero in the previous seasons) is still a main heroine but simultaneously the mentor to the next generation of protagonists, particularly Subaru and Teana.
  • July 26, 2012
    HonestGent
    Metal Gear Solid 2 has this with Snake, the hero from the first game, becoming a mentor to Raiden, who's much less experienced.
  • August 11, 2012
    MiinU
    bump.
  • August 11, 2012
    sigh824
    Ninjago Masters Of Spinjistsu's second season has the titular ninjas teach Lloyd, the green ninja.
  • August 10, 2016
    DAN004
    May overlap with Veteran Instructor. I heard M Agical Girl Lyrical Nanoha has this trope but I dunno the details.

    • One Piece: Vice Admiral Monkey D. Garp is recognized as a hero of the Marines. He also mentors 2 young cabin boys Coby and Helmeppo and turn them into hardened Marine officers, and after the Time Skip he retires from duty to teach young Marines.
  • August 11, 2016
    nielas
    • On Rookie Blue Sam was a veteran undercover narcotics officer but when his cover is blown, he transfers back to uniform and becomes a training officer for the New Meat protagonists. Subverted in a later season when Andy is offered the opportunity to become a training officer. She is extremely eager to become a mentor but ends up being extremely insecure and the assignment almost ends in tragedy and Andy barely keeps her job afterwards.
    • On Justified US Marshal Raylan Givens finds out that he is going to be a father and decides that it is time to retire from field duty and applies to be an instructor at the US Marshal training academy. This is ultimately subverted because Raylan does not really want to leave field duty and he ends up stalling for so long that the mother of his child breaks up with him. He withdraws his application and stays as a field agent.
  • August 11, 2016
    vorpalgirl
    DC Comics (and Marvel, I'm sure) has done this a few times and I think the key thing here is that unlike a lot of other classic Mentor tropes (e.g. Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars) they're not yet retired from active duty, aren't necessarily killed off, and may even continue working alongside their mentees - in ADDITION to seeing the lead-up to their Passing the Torch a bit.

    A PERFECT pair of examples: Batman and the Flash. Batman, with his various Robins and Batgirls who've grown into their own heroes under his tutelage, and the Flash, who graduated from Legacy Character who Passed the Torch, to Back From The Dead and, as of now, working alongside the redheaded Wally West as they share the title of The Flash.

    In fact, each of those characters' has got a major book ongoing right now that has an arc that is in some way basically this trope as I understand it:

    • In the DC Rebirth era of Detective Comics, the story is kicked off when Batman realizes there's a Big Bad he can't take on alone that is watching a lot of the young vigilantes out there (namely, the new versions of Cassandra Cain, Stephanie Brown, and Tim Drake), so he enlists Comic Book/Batwoman to help him train them to work as a team before they get themselves killed. He plays a role in training them but interestingly Batwoman is the one who is entrusted to become the mentor figure to the younger characters (and to Clayface, for some reason, who is on a redemption arc of some sort). She's an established heroine in her own right, but her military background means she understands working in teams better than Bruce does, so Batman convinces her to take on their little group of rag-tag misfits to mentor them into a perfect crime-fighting team. It's in no way indicated that Batwoman is planning to retire, and there's no implication (yet, at least) that the popular character is being killed off; she just happens to be taking on a leadership and mentorship role to a group of newbies. In fact, Batman explicitly states that he's bringing her on because she's skilled enough and experienced enough to be a mentor, making this not only an example of the trope but one acknowledged in-unvierse.

    • In the DC Rebirth era of The Flash, the ongoing story of the rebooted book kicks off with Barry's friend getting speedster powers like his own...along with a bunch of other random civilians, in a freak Mass Empowering Event. He starts working with his friend, and then the other newbies, and notes repeatedly that he's forgotten how much he enjoyed being a teacher (mentor) to other speedsters, which he used to be for the redheaded Wally West when the latter was Kid Flash. This is in fact therefore a cyclical trope that keeps being reused with Barry Allen, who enjoys being a mentor as much as he does doing his normal superhero duties.
  • August 11, 2016
    vorpalgirl
    Perhaps it's better stated as a mentor figure who doesn't play second fiddle to their mentee? E.g. NOT Obi Wan Kenobi, but definitely The Flash and Batman (and recently, Batwoman)?
  • August 11, 2016
    LondonKdS
    Quite a few DC and Marvel superhero comics have this - the one I particularly remember is Wildcat/Ted Grant being depicted ever since the 2000s as being the combat trainer for Catwoman/Selina Kyle
  • August 11, 2016
    zarpaulus
    Webcomics
    • In the original series of Quantum Vibe Nicole Oresme was the young assistant of a 500-year-old Mad Scientist as he traveled the solar system. Five centuries later in Venus 23 she fills the mentor role to the new set of protagonists.
  • September 20, 2016
    zarpaulus
    Abandoned?

    I kind of noticed that this applies to the Star Wars CGI series.

  • September 20, 2016
    Omeganian
    As another Star Wars example, the Dark Forces Saga. Three games about Kyle Katarn, plus an expansion pack and a game about his apprentices.
  • September 20, 2016
    Snicka
    Another Star Wars example:
    • In The Force Awakens, Han Solo, The Lancer of the original trilogy, encounters the new protagonists Rey and Finn and becomes something of a mentor to them, offering Rey to become his assistant on the Millenium Falcon. He suffers the same fate as Obi-Wan Kenobi. Luke Skywalker is also set up to become Rey's mentor in the upcoming movies.
  • September 20, 2016
    CactusFace
    In pre-Conclave Crusader Kings 2 to ensure that your heir is a skilled ruler you where advised to groom him/her yourself, to ensure that he/she got good stats, traits and a good education. With the game taking place over up to 684 years, you'd probably need to repeat this multiple times.
  • September 20, 2016
    Koveras
    After some Rolling Updates, this one may be ready for launch...
  • September 20, 2016
    TropesForever
    Wait, wait, wait. How exactly is this different from Older And Wiser? It's suspicious that no one's even mentioned it yet...
  • September 20, 2016
    DAN004
    ^ if you read "mentor" then you'll get the difference. Just sayin'
  • September 21, 2016
    oneuglybunny
    Film
    • John Wayne's last film is The Shootist in which an aging gunfighter learns that he's dying of terminal cancer, and seeks a way to die with dignity. The son of the hotel proprietor where the gunfighter is staying recognizes him, and hounds the man to teach him that fearsome skill.
  • September 21, 2016
    WhirlRX
    ^^,^^^ I think this trope should be what Older And Wiser suppose to mean. I thought Older And Wiser is for a person who gain more knowledgeable over the years.
  • September 21, 2016
    Arivne
    • Examples section
      • Added a line separating the Description and Examples section.
      • Added media section titles.
      • Namespaced work names.
      • Italicized work names as per How To Write An Example - Emphasis For Work Names.
  • September 21, 2016
    DAN004
    ^^ " a person who gain more knowledgeable over the years" is Taught By Experience

    Checking Older And Wiser, I see that it's limited to the older protagonists (while here this can count in-universe "heroes" of older times), but unlike what the description says, the examples don't say much about them being mentors. (I don't think that part is necessary anyway.)
  • September 21, 2016
    Omeganian
  • September 21, 2016
    TropesForever
    ^^ Well it does say "they've come back specifically to help the people who are in the same situation they once faced".
  • September 23, 2016
    ANTMuddle
    .
  • September 22, 2016
    DAN004
    ^^ I did say "unlike what the description says". That part of the description is therefore superfluous.
  • September 22, 2016
    TropesForever
    ^But it makes it seem like all the examples that aren't mentors are actually misuse, so I'm not sure it needs a new trope.
  • September 23, 2016
    Chabal2
    Legend Of Korra: Iroh was already a mentor in Avatar The Last Airbender, but having passed away during the Time Skip during series, he's no longer able to fight alongside the main cast. Instead he offers invaluable help to the heroes from the spirit realm.
  • September 23, 2016
    sigh824
    I think this image would be perfect https://goo.gl/images/sIaxCN It's Rey and Luke
  • September 24, 2016
    TropesForever
    If you feel the need to put it in spoiler tags maybe it's not so great. It's also JAFAAC because the mentor is only barely visible on the left, and there's nothing to suggest he used to be a hero.
  • September 25, 2016
    Snicka
    Maybe an image of Obi Wan Kenobi from The Phantom Menace and A New Hope, side-by-side?
  • September 25, 2016
    CactusFace
    • In Avatar The Last Airbender this is one of the biggest powers of the Avatar: To be able to make contact with his own previous incarnations to seek guidence. Aang and Korra are making contact with their previous incarnation multiple times in morally difficult situations. In the 3th season Aang even makes contact with his previous four incarnations (Roku, Kyoshi, Kuruk and Yangchen) when he is confronted with the situation of having to kill Ozai. Each of them tells him to just do it, though he finds another way.
      • During the Avatar state the Avatar takes this a step further in getting all the knowledge and skill of all his previous incarnations.
  • September 25, 2016
    CactusFace
    I think maybe one of these collages with always the guy as a hero left and as a mentor right with multiple guys would fit this nicely. Like, from top to bottom: Obi-Wan (obviously), Bruce Wayne, Aang, ...
  • September 25, 2016
    Chabal2
    Deconstructed in Kung Fu Panda 3: Master Shifu tells Po he's going to be a teacher. At first Po panics, as he has no idea how to train others (and his first attempt at Training From Hell fails miserably), until he ends up Training The Peaceful Villagers.
  • September 25, 2016
    TropesForever
    There still needs to be a valid comparison with Older And Wiser that doesn't rely on it being misused. If you want, you could send it to TRS and get its description updated.
  • September 25, 2016
    DAN004
    ^ if the only problem os the description, you don't even need TRS.

    And I recall that Older And Wiser usage in other pages don't care much about the "mentoring" detail.
  • yesterday
    Snicka
    I agree that a sentence in the Description about how this differs from Older And Wiser would be very useful.
  • yesterday
    TropesForever
    Good. That makes sense. Just remember to add that this is a subtrope of Older And Wiser.
  • yesterday
    ANTMuddle
    Does an Old Master figure in the mix?
  • 22 hours ago
    Snicka
    ^ Only if we see them before they became an Old Master.
  • 5 hours ago
    Kartoonkid95
    My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: Twilight Sparkle was a mentor under Princess Celestia who became a princess herself and a great hero to Equestria, and is now a mentor to ex-villain Starlight Glimmer.
    • Kung Fu Panda 3: One of the major plot points is Po, coming to terms with the fact that the next step in his journey in being the Dragon Warrior is to become a teacher of kung fu, which he eventually does by reteaching the hidden pandas to take on Kai.
  • 4 hours ago
    KZN02
    BIONICLE: The Toa Metru achieve their destiny and become the Turaga of Mata Nui, where they serve as mentors to the Toa Mata who would later arrive on the island.
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