->''"Seek counsel of him who makes you weep, and not of him who makes you laugh."''
-->-- '''Arabic Proverb'''

You've got to pick yourself an advisor, but, you have a problem. Everyone around you is a YesMan: spineless, coddling, and/or too concerned with gaining your favor or attaining their own aims to give the truth. Luckily, there's at least one person who isn't afraid to tell it like it is.

This kind of advisor isn't cruel, just [[BrutalHonesty blunt and outspoken]]. They'll never let their charge take the easy way out, never sugar coat the truth, and never be afraid to criticize. As a result, their wisdom is either completely appreciated by their students, or [[CantTakeCriticism violently rejected if said student is the egotistical type]].

If he isn't a mentor, but a regular part of the group instead, then he's usually the DeadpanSnarker, the constant criticizer, and more or less the one that annoys everyone but still gets their complete respect. All in all, this is who you want when it comes to finding a most trusted ally, and it's probably better to find people like this than your average minion.

TheGoodChancellor is this as a matter of course. Often the role of TheJester in a royal court, getting away with mouthing off to the king either by couching criticism in satire, or by being (or [[ObfuscatingStupidity appearing to be]]) [[TheFool mentally incompetent]] and thus not a threat. Another term frequently used in the past was "Naysmith" (which survives in the modern surname Naismith), meaning the one person in a royal court who could openly say "no" to the king's plans without fear of censure, forcing the king to accept criticism--the opposite of a YesMan.

See also HireTheCritic, TheConsigliere and InsurrectionistInheritor.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''Manga/YuYuHakusho'':
** Genkai in is one, whose favorite pastime is to call her student a dumbass/moron/dimwit/etc. and outline just how stupidly he's dealing with the current situation. All in all, she isn't afraid to [[TheTrickster trick]], [[DrillSergeantNasty insult]], or [[SinkOrSwimMentor nearly kill Yusuke]] if it means he'll finally stop fooling around and see things clearly. Ironically, this is the very reason Yusuke respects her so much (not that he'd ever admit it of course), because she's the only adult in his life that doesn't screw around with him.
** Also Kurama, who is both kindhearted and brutally honest, due both to hundreds of years of experience being a bandit and to experiencing the redeeming [[ThePowerOfLove Power of Love]] firsthand. He lampshaded this with his training Kuwabara. Hiei, by his sense of honor, would hold back while training him. Kurama will show him clearly just how much he is outclassed.
* ''Anime/CodeGeass'': CC is this to Lelouch because she calls him on his bullshit and points out things he doesn't want to recognize, but she's not a perfect example. While she is generally honest, she also has a habit of withholding important information as well. [[spoiler:Like the reason she gave him Geass in the first place, or the fact that she knows what happened to his mother (as well as knowing her personally).]]
* This is a central trope in ''[[LightNovel/HaruhiSuzumiya The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya]]''. The eponymous character is initially a self-centered jackass who finds it difficult to understand that other people have feelings, and may even disagree with her. Unfortunately, she's also an extremely powerful RealityWarper who may have created the universe, and because of this, very few people are willing to tell her when she's wrong. That is where Kyon, the series' POV character, comes in. He is deeply pessimistic and rarely a moment goes by when he does not insult Haruhi... but he's also the only person willing to tell her the truth, and it's his unwavering honesty that kickstarts her CharacterDevelopment into a better person. Haruhi, for her part, usually pretends to ignore him, but the first season's finale makes it pretty clear that she values him more than any other person, and he's the deputy of the group she forms in all but title.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''{{Franchise/Batman}}'': [[ServileSnarker Alfred]] is like this to Bruce Wayne, and, as a result, he's one of the people Batman respects the most.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* ''Fanfic/HopeForTheHeartless'': When the [[Disney/TheBlackCauldron Horned]] [[VillainProtagonist King]] is [[ResurrectedForAJob resurrected]] by [[CosmicEntities the Fates]] for his forced and fixed-term (and only) {{redemption quest}}, they provide him the [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Invisibles]] as servants and advisers. As the creations and minors of the Fates, they're powerful creatures of their own right and unable to be hurt physically, thus listing them among those few who are completely unafraid of the [[TheDreaded Horned King]] and unhesitant to give him sound suggestions on how he should treat [[MoralityPet Avalina]] or call him out when he treats her cruelly.

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* Jiminy Cricket is like this for {{Disney/Pinocchio}}.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Franchise/StarWars'':
** [[http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Daine_Jir Daine Jir]], an Imperial officer from ''Film/ANewHope''. He only appears in one scene, but he criticizes Darth Vader to his face ''and Vader listens''. Also he always listens to his stormtroopers and fighter pilots because they're the people on the front lines. He just doesn't get along with anyone else.
** The Franchise/StarWarsExpandedUniverse establishes that Vader is a FatherToHisMen when it comes to the front line troops, but that he typically has a hate-on for the officer corps. That said, any officer sufficiently sharp to keep up while working for him can face rapid promotion ([[YouHaveFailedMe probably due to how the insufficiently sharp officers are disciplined]]), so Vader presumably respects officers who have proven themselves capable. In this case, Daine Jir had proven himself a capable officer with a bluntly honest manner about him and Vader was impressed enough to promote him for it.
* In public, Stephen of ''Film/DjangoUnchained'' seems to be a textbook SycophanticServant, sucking up to his masters and snapping at anyone who seems to oppose them. This is simply because he knows Candie, like any slave owner, would never stand for a slave or any black person showing himself to be smarter than him. In private, Stephen gives Candie meaningful advise that he highly values, [[{{Hypocrite}} despite thinking black people are of biologically inferior intelligence.]]
* ''Film/{{Syriana}}'': Prince Nasir offers Bryan Woodman's company a lucrative contract, partly out of guilt over the accidental death of Woodman's son. A still-grieving Woodman ''rips into him'' with [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtcaIA9SU7o what he really thinks of Nasir and Arabs in general, then accepts the offer]]. Clearly bearing the page quote in mind, Nasir takes it right on the chin and on-the-spot hires Woodman himself as an economic advisor.

* Creator/NiccoloMachiavelli advises princes to avoid flatterers, although their advisers shouldn't be seen as disrespecting them either.
* William Cecil does this for Queen Elizabeth I in Creator/PhilippaGregory's ''The Virgin's Lover''. Not sure how close to the truth the book is though.
* The prophet Nathan to David in [[Literature/TheBible The Old Testament]], making this OlderThanFeudalism.
* Discussed in the {{Dystopia}} novel ''The Unincorporated Man''. When the main character becomes the leader of a group of rebels, he has a BlackShirt as his advisor, because he thinks the group is out of touch with what normal people think. (Mind you, he's smart enough to choose someone who considers him a friend and won't betray him.)
* In ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'', Davos Seaworth is this to Stannis Baratheon. This works in his favor, as Stannis is [[BrutalHonesty brutally honest]] to a fault, hates people sugar-coating their words or turning the flattery on, and makes Davos his [[TheGoodChancellor Hand]] and a Lord for giving good and honest advise, saying there is nobody more fit to be his Hand.
** King Robert calls Ned Stark to the south to be this. Stark nearly loses his job for doing it too well.
** [[DeadpanSnarker Tyrion]] [[TheTrickster Lannister]] is an errant Honest Advisor (with no fixed advisee, let alone abode) who shamelessly uses the contempt others hold for his being a dwarf to act the role of TheJester when needed: from Jon Snow to Catelyn Stark, his own father, his sister and brother, Joffrey (comes with free insults) and anybody else he comes in range of, he can and will give blunt, honest (various shades of), well-thought-out (given what he knows) and ''accurately'' on the nose advise along with the cutting humour and wordplay. [[DeconstructedTrope However, it comes back to bite him, as snarktastic advice can be made to sound like a threat if a wounded party chooses to make it appear that way.]] There's also the fact Tyrion is knowingly helping out a tyrannical and usurping regime as he's related to them, despite his claims to [[TokenGoodTeammate help the common people]] he knows full well Lannister rule is horribly oppressive to the smallfolk.
* In Creator/MercedesLackey's ''Literature/HeraldsOfValdemar'' books, it is built into the Heraldic system that the King or Queen always has a Monarch's Own Herald, ready to serve as trustworthy friend, confidant, and brutally honest advisor if needed. Part of their purpose is to call the Monarch out on anything questionable, stupid, or pointless they try to do. The breakdown of this relationship between Queen Selenay and Queen's Own Herald Talamir causes numerous political problems and plot points in the main time period covered by the books.
* The ''Franchise/StarWarsExpandedUniverse'' has Captain Pellaeon, second-in-command to Grand Admiral Thrawn. Pellaeon is a reasonably smart man, and is always pointing out apparent flaws in Thrawn's plans. Usually Thrawn has already accounted for said flaws, but tolerates (even invites, at times) the criticism because Pellaeon will occasionally point out something he hasn't thought of, and Pellaeon is always respectful about it in any case.
* Victoria Rione is this to Captain (later Admiral) John Geary throughout ''Literature/TheLostFleet'' series, which is just as well given he became FamedInStory to near-Messianic levels while sojourning as a HumanPopsicle. Some of her criticisms have turned out to be wrong, but she still serves the vitally important role of preventing Geary's fame from going to his head. Captain Desjani takes on this role as well, once she gets past her FanGirl tendencies.
* In ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'':
** The Seanchan Empire codifies this role with the Truthspeaker: a servant of royalty who is required to ignore the Court's exacting code of etiquette and be a voice of unflinching BrutalHonesty to their master. In an empire where a servant even making eye contact with a royal can be a deadly insult, one famous Truthspeaker was not punished for [[RefugeInAudacity slapping]] the Emperor before the entire court.
** The Aes Sedai claim this reputation, since they make a magically binding vow never to lie. Though almost every ruler has an Aes Sedai counselor, their actual reputation is as undisputed masters of ExactWords, [[YouDidntAsk tactical omissions]], and otherwise stretching the truth to its limit. Pragmatic rulers just recognize that the Aes Sedai are one of the best-informed organizations in the world, so there's much to be learned from [[IKnowYouKnowIKnow trying to work out their real agenda]].
* Folta from ''Literature/PavaneInPearlAndEmerald'' was chosen by the emperor to be one of his daughter's handmaidens because he thought it would be good for her to have someone as bluntly honest and intelligent as Folta around.
* ''Literature/HarryPotter'': Later books show that while most people on the good guys' side will follow Dumbledore without question, Minerva [=McGonagall=] is one of the only people who will challenge his beliefs and actions, readily voicing disapproval when he does something she disagrees with. That said, once she's spoken her piece, she will follow Dumbledore's orders regardless. Dumbledore, in turn, clearly appreciates her input, if appointing her his second-in-command is any indication, and as ''The Deathly Hallows'' shows, Dumbledore has made some terrible mistakes in his past and has good reason to doubt his own judgement.
* Archie Goodwin is Literature/NeroWolfe's legman, gofer and dogsbody more than an actual advisor, but it's frequently implied that one of the main reasons Wolfe keeps him around is because Archie is willing to puncture his pomposity with sarcasm and snark and is able to call him out whenever he feels Wolfe is crossing a line that shouldn't be crossed.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/BabylonFive'':
** Londo Mollari is [[ArrangedMarriage unhappily married]] to three wives: One (Timov) who unabashedly criticizes him at every turn, and two others (Muriel and Daggair) who act nice to him in person while plotting behind his back. When he's permitted to divorce two of the three, Timov is the one he keeps even though she's given him no reason to like her. When she asks why Londo chose her, he explains that she was chosen because he would always know where he stood with her, unlike with his other two wives.
** Londo's assistant (and eventual successor as ambassador) Vir Cotto was one of these ''by accident'', due to the sheer [[NaiveNewcomer naivete]] he had regarding the way the Centauri political system functioned. Much later on, when Londo was [[spoiler:next in line for the throne, and Vir was not only the Centauri ambassador on Babylon 5 but also surprisingly influential overall for such a [[ReassignedToAntarctica joke position]]]] he wondered how Vir could have come as far as he did, done what he had, and still have both a personal moral code AND faith in others. "I wonder if you have even been paying attention!"
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'':
** Ned tells his king what he needs to hear, not what he wants to hear. Telling Robert "You're too fat for your armor!" isn't a comment Robert would've accepted from many people and least of all would have laughed at. This is also the reason why Robert asks Ned to join up as Hand of the King.
** Davos also tells his king what he needs to hear. As Maester Cressen puts it, Stannis is surrounded by fools and fanatics and Davos is the only one who tells him hard truths.
** Kevan often questions his brother Tywin's orders candidly but respectfully. Although he refuses the job, it's clear he would be one for Cersei. Being an experienced soldier and a member of her family, he's no YesMan.
--> '''Kevan:''' I did not return to the capital to serve as your puppet. To watch you stack the Small Council with sycophants.
** Tyrion takes this role in Tywin's war council and in King's Landing whenever he's not acting as an executive power himself. Tywin listens to his input, but Joffrey and Cersei do not. Tyrion eventually becomes Daenerys's honest advisor once he's recognized as this after a single conversation.
* ''Series/TheInspectorLynleyMysteries'': DS Barbara Havers is this to her partner, DI Lynley. Although it took her some time to earn the position, by the end of season two she can get away with saying things no one else could because she has earned his trust repeatedly over the course of their partnership, and though he might snap at her, she knows that's as far as it will go.
* ''Series/{{Revolution}}'': Captain Jeremy Baker is this to General Bass Monroe. [[Recap/RevolutionS1E10NobodysFaultButMine Episode 10]] had Baker discussing the possibility of capturing Miles Matheson alive with Monroe. Then in [[Recap/RevolutionS1E17TheLongestDay episode 17]], [[spoiler: when Monroe decides to execute Baker because he thinks Baker tried to have him assassinated, Baker decides to give his friend the total truth and a The Reason You Suck Speech. He still got killed off, but he was spot on with everything that he said]].
* ''Series/TheWestWing'': All of President Bartlet's senior staff are fully capable of speaking truth to power; it's absolutely necessary, given who they're advising! Leo and Toby tend to give out the most unmitigated criticism, but Josh, Sam, CJ and even Charlie know not to hold back when the President needs a clear and unvarnished analysis of the situation at hand. Will has difficulty with this at first - in fact, he's given a SecretTest for it by Bartlet, and fails - but gets better at it as he settles into his new senior staff role.
* The BBC miniseries ''Gunpowder, Treason & Plot'' (about the Stuart succession and the Guy Fawkes plot) has two of these: Bothwell is the harsh but intelligent adviser to Mary, Queen of Scots, and probably the only person around her she can really trust, even if she takes too long to realize it. In the second episode, Lord Cecil is this trope for King James, basically masterminding the fullest way to exploit the gunpowder plot and the anti-Catholic sentiment surrounding it.
* ''Series/{{JAG}}'': Admiral Chegwidden is depicted this way in his onscreen dealings with the two [=SecNavs=] during his time in office.
* Louis Howe is this to Franklin Roosevelt in ''Film/WarmSprings'' and in RealLife. He tells Franklin to get back into politics, and to stop wasting time building a polio rehab center in Warm Springs.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* The Office of Vizieral Council in ''TabletopGame/ChangelingTheLost'' is supposed to hold this role for the reigning Changeling monarch, which is a tough job when most Changeling freeholds have four monarchs who rotate the crown in time with the seasons and are usually rivals. However, the MagicallyBindingContract of the Office states that a Vizier who betrays their current master loses {{the ageless}}ness and protection from SanitySlippage that the position confers, so when a Vizier turns traitor, it is immediately, terrifyingly obvious.
* ''TabletopGame/Warhammer40000'' novels:
** Malcador the Sigilite in the backstory of the game as well as the ''Literature/HorusHeresy'' is shown to have been the Emperor's closest confidant and advisor despite his unassuming appearance. Not only did he manage the Imperium with incredible efficiency and helped established vital institutions like the what became the Inquisition, but also had the privilege of being blunt and frank in his comments (and criticisms) on the Emperor. And the Emperor, for all his disdain against people questioning his views or decisions, ''approved'' of him.
** Roboute Guilliman, Primarch of the Ultramarines, kept his old nanny around (her life extended via rejuvenat treatments) because he knew she would tell him the things he didn't want to hear.

[[folder:Video Games]]
%%* Soren in ''[[VideoGame/FireEmblemTellius Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn]]'' (GC).
* ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'':
** Arl Eamon is this towards [[spoiler:Alistair]] if he takes the throne of Ferelden. His brother, Bann Teagan, comes off as one as well in his interactions with Loghain and the rest of the bannorn.
** Loghain himself spent much of his life being this to King Cailan, usually successfully, and it's implied that it was Cailan's refusal to listen to reason (in Loghain's eyes,) in the case of the Blight that convinced Loghain Ferelden would be better off without Cailan.
* Stern the Destructor of the ''VideoGame/MagicalGirlLyricalNanohaAsPortable'' games is this to her Lord Dearche. As she always says [[spoiler:[[HeroicSacrifice and later shows]]]], she's absolutely loyal to her Lord and [[ServileSnarker truly does respect her]], but as the [[TheSmartGuy Material of Wisdom]], she could not abide by any plan or opinion of her Lord that is illogical or counter-productive to their goals. Lord Dearche, for her part, tends to relent when Stern argues against her, but not without a lot of grumbling first.
* Despite his name, Yes Man of ''Videogame/FalloutNewVegas'' is capable of telling the player when they make decisions that he considers strategically unwise, ranging from allying/ignoring factions he considers potential threats (most notably the Brotherhood of Steel) to even destroying your SealedArmyInACan. Granted, he tends to be somewhat passive-aggressive regarding most of his criticisms, but he'll still make it clear what he thinks.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* ''Webcomic/GirlGenius'':
** Baron Wulfenbach states early on that he prefers his men criticize him when possible, rather than see flaws but be too afraid to voice them.
** Also, Agatha and Gil seem to prefer to have advisers who know how it is and aren't afraid to tell them off as well, Agatha with Von Zinzer, while Gil nearly always works with close friends rather than minions.
* In ''Webcomic/GunnerkriggCourt'', Jones acts as this to the administration of the titular Court and later to Antimony, as a neutral party untouched by Court and Forest interests. Being [[spoiler:an EmotionlessGirl as [[TimeAbyss old as the Earth itself]]]] makes her pretty reliable in that capacity.
* Part of the reason King Samrick of ''Webcomic/CharbyTheVampirate'' decides to recruit Sadick to his Royal Justicars is that he ''"appreciate[s Sadick's] honesty and constancy"'', giving the same complaints about the king's rule to his face as he has been saying elsewhere.
* In ''Webcomic/StickyDillyBuns'', the [[HairTriggerTemper Short-Tempered]] RightlySelfRighteous [[TheIngenue Ingenue]] Ruby somehow finds herself delivering doses of the obvious to {{Cloudcuckoolander}} CampGay Dillon. She finds this quite annoying.
-->'''Ruby:''' How can I possibly know more about being gay than a gay man? I've been in this house too long!!!

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* On ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'', Mr. Burns hired Lisa (who hates him) as his assistant after listening to his yes men caused him to lose his fortune.
* The reason WesternAnimation/FoghornLeghorn keeps taking WesternAnimation/{{Daffy|Duck}} under his wing in ''WesternAnimation/TheLooneyTunesShow''.
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'':
** Applejack ''would'' be this if she had any interest in politics. However, she plays one in the pageant from the "[[Recap/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS2E13HearthsWarmingEve Hearth's Warming Eve]]" episode, Smart Cookie. Her boss Chancellor Puddinghead was such an arrogant [[TheCaligula nutjob]] that Smart Cookie had long since degenerated into a DeadpanSnarker.
** Owlowiscious to Spike in "[[Recap/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS4E23InspirationManifestation Inspiration Manifestation]]".
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'', Bolin becomes this accidentally when he mentions that the businessman [[{{Cloudcuckoolander}} Varrick]] is not [[ItMakesSenseInContext actually levitating.]] Varrick takes a shine to him for it, and fires the lying swami on the spot and scolds all his [[YesMan yes men]] for not telling him and letting him look like an idiot.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Companies and governments often have the position of [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ombudsman ombudsman]]. Parliamentary governments, in particular, enshrine the "honest advisor" position in their very function: in the parliamentary system, the opposition party's traditional responsibility is to challenge new bills and policy proposal to reveal unexpected loopholes and ensure that they stand up to close scrutiny.
* [[Series/TheXFactor Simon]] [[Series/AmericanIdol Cowell]]: "I'm not being rude, but..." He wasn't interested in making friends or sparing feelings; he often delivered hard truths the contestants needed to hear as they'd likely had a lifetime of coddling by people more interested in stroking their ego than nurturing any talent they might have had. On the other hand, it has often been said that if Simon gives someone praise, then they probably really deserved it and had some real talent.
* Italo Balbo, TheDragon of UsefulNotes/BenitoMussolini, who didn't trust the Germans and advised Mussolini to continue with the alliance with France and maybe build up an alliance with UK as well. Mussolini refused and Balbo answered with ''"You will all wind up shining the shoes of the Germans."'' Guess what Mussolini's last job was.
* Creator/WaltDisney had a notorious hatred for [[YesMan Yes-Men]]. He would actively seek out people like Bill Peet and Creator/WardKimball who were known to disagree with him on pretty much everything, because he wanted to hear as many opinions as possible in order to make his films as good as they could be.
* The old Imperial Chinese Bureaucracy had the anonymous memorandum system, where any official could send straight to the Emperor (bypassing the entire bureaucracy) a critique of what was wrong with the current state of administration (up to and including denouncing him in name). [[ShootTheMessenger Pity the poor sucker who had to give the memo to the Emperor, though.]] Others went up to tell him to his face, [[HonorBeforeReason and then would kill themselves if they were really serious about it.]]
* In ancient Imperial Japan, there was a position known as "nacon" (納言, literally "one to take words from"), they act as the speakers and advisers to their superiors, which in certain cases just so happen to be the emperor himself. Although the position is no more, its legacy can be found in the names of some red bean breeds, named so because of their toughness and thus aversion of breaking when cooked, not unlike how real nacons tend to keep their bellies intact despite their job description and the prevalence of ordered harakiris.
* Many of the (successful) leaders of the [[Literature/RomanceOfTheThreeKingdoms Three Kingdoms of China]] had at least one of these, though whether or not they listened varied. The uber-example of these would be Zhang Zhao, who served Sun Quan of Wu. Historically, he was legendary for telling Sun Quan exactly what he thought whenever he thought Sun was in the wrong, and the fact that he'd known Sun from his youth meant he could get away with outright scolding his boss. It wasn't unusual to have both Sun Quan and Zhang Zhao [[VitriolicBestBuds screaming at each other when they disagreed]].