Mentor Archetype
aka: The Mentor

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/rsz_merlin_4.jpg

A more experienced advisor or confidante to a young, inexperienced character, particularly to a hero.

Even though this character is better skilled, faster and more experienced than The Protagonist, they aren't the Hero, either because they are not The Chosen One, because they have already grown too old for the task or have their own job to do. Their role is to introduce a new skill or sharpen the current skills of the protagonist, often hoping to pass the torch because they know their career is coming to an end. This character may die, so that the protagonist can learn to stand on their own two feet.

Compare Big Good where they tend to keep a distance on the hero's quest and run things from the throne.

Named after Mentor, Telemachus' elderly advisor in The Odyssey, who was actually Athena in disguise. For more information concerning "The Mentor" and other narrative archetypes, see Vladmir Propp's theory of narrative.

A list of subtypes can be found on the Mentor Index page.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

     Anime/Manga 

  • My Hero Academia interestingly has multiple characters like this on both the hero and villain sides.
    • Izuku Midoriya's primary mentor is All Might, the world's greatest hero, who passes on the Quirk called One For All to Izuku after deciding that he's a worthy successor. He also has a secondary mentor in Gran Torino, a contemporary of All Might's predecessor who also trained All Might himself. Both fulfill different needs, as while Izuku derives his power and ideals from All Might, Gran Torino is better at teaching him how to use One For All without destroying himself.
    • On the villain side, Tomura Shigaraki is mentored by All Might's arch-enemy, All For One. All For One knows full-well that he fulfills this trope, having taken in and raised Shigaraki from a young age after killing his grandmother and uses the twisted bond between them to encourage Shigaraki to be a better villain. Even after his arrest, he chides All Might for not embodying the trope as well as he has, because while All Might won and continues to be there for Izuku, Shigaraki's loss of a beloved mentor is going to motivate him to grow stronger and more independant.
  • Bleach: Everything Uryuu knows and believes about Quincies comes from what his grandfather taught him, including the attitude that it's wrong to blame the Soul Reapers for the Quincy massacre 200 years before. His grandfather died when Uryuu was a young child, right in front of Uryuu's eyes. Throughout the story, Souken's teachings continue to guide Uryuu via the power of flashback.
  • Naruto
    • The Third Hokage, Hiruzen Sarutobi, one of the more notable elders in his village (and in anime in general). He even dies at the hands of his renegade student Orochimaru.
    • We also have Jiraya; after he dies, Naruto goes to learn under his teacher, a frog, to become as powerful as him.
  • Father Remington from Chrono Crusade, who (once he's finished training Rosette) is so determined to make sure that Rosette does things on her own power that he purposefully keeps it a secret from her when they happen to be traveling to the same city, for fear she'll depend on him too much if she knew he was around. However, when she gets in a bind he shows up to be a Big Damn Hero.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Piccolo plays this somewhat in the first arc where he decides to train Gohan, not only to get him ready for the Saiyans who were coming, but also because he sensed his death is near and wants someone to pass on his knowledge to. He's brought Back from the Dead.
  • With the exception that he merely makes his swords and doesn't train him in using them, since he's a blacksmith, and he doesn't travel along with him, this is Godo from Berserk and how he acts toward Guts. He lets Guts stay with him for a year to train, gives him all sorts of neat weapons and equipment, and gives him plenty of insight on personal ambitions and life in his own way. He's the only guy that actually manages to make Guts shut up and think about his actions for once and puts him in his place, something that the Skull Knight can't even succeed in doing. This is one of his last great feats before he dies of old age, something that he is well aware of. He lampshaded this when Guts comes back to his house for the first time in two years to check on Casca. Because of all of this, Godo's in Cool Old Guy territory.
  • K has Kuroh Yatogami's late master, Ichigen Miwa, the Colorless King, a wise old seer who found him dying in the woods as a child, made Kuroh his Clansman, and took him in. He taught Kuroh swordsmanship, and plenty of other skills, like cooking, and piloting a helicopter - possibly because he foresaw that Kuroh would need them. He also foresaw Kuroh's relationship with the main character (mentioned in the novels), and possibly sent him on his mission so that they would find each other. There's also Kuroh's senior pupil, Yukari Mishakuji, the one who went bad. Both of them are fond of shoehorning Miwa's haiku poetry into every possible situation. (Creepy.)
  • Lyrical Nanoha
  • Clef of Magic Knight Rayearth gives the girls magic power and instructs them on its use, but leaves them to complete their journey on their own except when he is speaking to them remotely through Mokona. The anime has him Taken for Granite in the first episode and eventually become unable to communicate. He gets better in the second half.
  • There was a mysterious old man in Destroy and Revolution where Makoto had learned about the One-ness and disappeared. He was alone and had no friends or family. No one, not even Makoto knows his name.
  • Tepec, in El Conquistador. He saves Quetza of being sacrificed in the Temple, and he is a wise and intellectual teacher, a sage whom achieved his position in the Elders Council by his own sapience, not by his age or connections. He is a tutor of the Golden Age, as he misses the Toltec wisdom over the Aztec warmongery.
  • Aunt Tekla in Shaman of the Undead with Deadpan Snarkiness added. Shamans are incredibly rare and she was the previous one, so she teaches Ida about her powers and trains her to use it properly. She also manages to skirt the Mentor Occupational Hazard by dying two years before the story started and aiding Ida as a ghost.

     Comic Books  

  • Surprisingly, Wolverine is this to several generations of X-Men, being a father-figure to a number of the teenaged female members.
  • Daredevil has Stick, the streetwise pool shark/sensei who trained him.

     Fan Fiction  

  • Takamachi Nanoha Of 2814: Superman is an older advisor for Nanoha. She smugly notes how her mentor can actively assist her "which other Magical Girls only dream about".
  • The Vocaloid fanfiction Vocal Vision has Luka as this for Miku. Also Gakupo for Luka and Haku.
  • Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality: The archetype is continually referred to as "the mysterious old wizard." Harry gets two, Quirrel and Dumbledore, and Hermione has some frustrations finding someone willing to mentor her. "Dumbledore refused to be my mysterious old wizard, do you know where I can write to request another one?" In the end, they decide that since Hermione is actually the hero of the story, that means Harry is her mysterious old wizard. It helps that it turns out he's technically sixty.
  • In Guardian, Lady Ginnem—the first summoner Lulu guarded in Final Fantasy X—is portrayed this way for Lulu, taking an interest in her while Lulu is living in the temple orphanage and teaching her magic. (Sadly, her Mentor Occupational Hazard is preinstalled by canon.)

     Films — Animated  

  • The Lion King: Mufasa to his son Simba, as he teaches him to become king.
  • In Kung Fu Panda, Master Oogway fills this character trope, being the Old Master to Shifu. He seems addle-minded until he dies, but the heroes realize at the end he knew exactly what he was doing. Afterwards, Shifu takes Oogway's place and plays the role of the Old Master to Po.
  • Doc Hudson hates Lightning in Pixar's Cars. However, Lightning discovers that Doc was a famous and successful race car in his day. After teaching lessons in driving and humility, Doc eventually becomes his racing coach and helps him in the final race.

     Films — Live-Action 

  • This is a recurring theme throughout the Star Wars saga, having been heavily influenced by the Hero's Journey.
    • The most obvious example is the former Trope Namer Obi-Wan Kenobi, who mentored both Anakin Skywalker (with tragic results), and his son Luke (which went better).
    • Another well known example is Jedi Grandmaster Yoda After Obi-Wan's death Yoda took over Luke's training, and states that he has been training Jedi for over 800 years.
    • Obi-Wan himself was trained by Qui Gon Jinn, who was noted to not get along with the Jedi Council and disagreed with several of their views. Jinn was the one who originaly wanted to train a young Anakin, but after his death Obi-Wan took the responsibility.
    • In The Force Awakens, Han Solo of all people, take this role on for rising heroes Finn and Rey, an irony given his rocky relationship with Obi-Wan in his younger days. He even suffers from Mentor Occupational Hazard.
  • X-Men: First Class: Sebastian Shaw to Magneto. Professor X to the team. Magneto to Mystique.
  • The Hunger Games: Haymitch Abernathy.
  • Rufus in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure guides Bill and Ted while they navigate through history.
  • In The Matrix trilogy, Morpheus in most respects fills the role of the mentor but is the only one of the three regulars to survive to the end. He tries to sacrifice himself for Neo as early as the first film, but gets rescued.
  • Fr. Merrin in The Exorcist is the mentor to Fr. Karras, showing up with a wealth of experience and skill and then dying in time for Karras to finish the demon all on his own. It doesn't end up too well for Karras either...
  • In the first Highlander movie, Connor MacLeod's mentor is Ramirez, played by Sean Connery. He's killed by the Kurgan, leaving Connor himself to face him more than five hundred years later.
  • In The Mask of Zorro, the original Zorro, Don Diego de la Vega, plays the Mentor to his chosen successor, Alejandro Murrieta.
  • An interesting variation of this occurs in Men of Honor. The racist Bill Sunday (Robert De Niro) makes Carl Brashear's (Cuba Gooding Jr.) life miserable but still guides him in his quest to be a Navy diver. He even coaches Brashear personally when he's disabled and must re-hab in order to continue.
  • In Judge Dredd, Chief Justice Fargo has most of the qualities of The Mentor (mentors Dredd, dies partway in to give him a motive for revenge, provides Exposition, etc.).
  • Bishop from The Mechanic (1972) is this to McKenna, giving him the skills or "tools of the trade" to become a good Professional Killer. At least, until the Twist Ending...
  • Chubbs from Happy Gilmore is a comedic but very straight version of this trope. He helps Happy get his start in golf, teaches him the basic techniques, tries to teach Happy maturity, dies, then puts in a kinda-sorta appearance as a Spirit Advisor. Also, the fact that he's not The Hero is better justified than in many stories: he may know the game and techniques much better than Happy, but in golf being one-handed is a major handicap.
  • Timothy Spall's character (a mentor to Mark Wahlberg) in Rock Star. On the DVD commentary (Word of God), the director describes him as "a demented Obi-Wan Kenobi."
  • In Kingsman: The Secret Service, veteran secret agent Harry Hart acts as a mentor to Gary Unwin, aka Eggsy, and persuades him not to waste his life and talent in crime and join the undercover espionage agency Kingsmen to save the world from James Bond type villains.
  • Veteran Irish street cop Jim Malone teaches the younger Treasury agent Eliot Ness how to deal with Capone's forces in Chicago beyond conventional legal methods in The Untouchables.
    Jim Malone: You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way! And that's how you get Capone. Now do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that? I'm offering you a deal. Do you want this deal?

     Literature  
  • In Dragon Queen, the old man tries to be this, but is hilariously ineffective.
  • Trope Namer: Mentor himself or possibly Athena herself in The Odyssey.
  • The Sisters of Orion, especially Vasja'ri, in Alterien filled this role for Oberon and the other early Alteriens.
  • A few people played this role for Caspian in Astral Dawn. The most notable mentors he had were Magali, Peleus and Ixchel.
  • Gandalf in Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit plays this role to Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, and indeed to many of the Fellowship in Lord of the Rings.
  • Haymitch Abernathy to Katniss and Peeta in The Hunger Games. All past victors are brought back each year to mentor the new tributes from their district, though Haymitch definitely keeps this up long after the Games themselves are over.
  • A Mage's Power
    • Basilard is a squad five senior. His job is to teach Eric, Tiza, and Nolien how to be proper mercenaries and develop their respective skills.
    • Dengel is a classical example in that he is both older than dirt and regarded as a sage. He teaches Eric high-level and esoteric forms of magic.
  • The Reynard Cycle: Reynard and Isengrim play this role to several characters throughout the series. Notably, Isengrim mentors Reynard, and vice versa.
  • Soul Seekers: Paloma, Daire's grandmother, is this.
  • In Jeramey Kraatz's The Cloak Society, Lone Star was this to the Junior Rangers. Alex realizes how much when he comes to talk Alex out of his My God, What Have I Done? reaction to having caused a death.
  • In The Dresden Files, Ebenezar McCoy was this to Harry when he was still learning how to use magic. While his previous guardian, Justin DuMorne, taught him how to use magic through direct methods (such as throwing baseballs at him to teach him how to make a physical barrier), Ebenezar taught him that the power of magic comes from passion and emotions, and how important it is to follow the Laws of Magic. It comes to a shock to Harry when he learns that his teacher, who taught him the importance of the Laws of Magic, was the Blackstaff, or the one person on the planet who can legally break them if he feels he needs to.
  • Osip Bazdeev mentors Pierre Bezukhov and turns him on to becoming a Freemason in War and Peace.
  • Chiun mentors Remo Willaims in the Destroyer.
  • The old priest in Nation. Defied by the fact that the young hero, Mau, doesn't want to hear a damn thing he has to say — in the wake of the tsunami that devastates their area of the Great Pelagic Ocean, the old priest is clinging to his faith, while Mau violently rejects it... despite being continually harassed by the spirits of his ancestors and Locaha, the god of death. Played straight, though, in that he helps Mau become the leader the refugees desperately need.
  • Doctor Morgenes of Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow and Thorn plays this role for Simon, taking the wayward kitchen boy under his tutelage and giving him some rudimentary schooling. He's really a member of the League of the Scroll, a group of scholars dedicated to preventing the return of the Storm King, and Simon isn't quite what he seems either. Then, Morgenes dies in a Heroic Sacrifice to allow Simon to escape from Evil Sorcerer Pryrates. True to the trope, he continues to appear to Simon in dreams, attempting to warn him of the Prophetic Fallacy that is about to befall the heroes.
  • In TimeRiders, Foster is a mentor to the team and is constantly helping them, although he appears less and less until City of Shadows, when he dies, but not before giving Maddy a crucial clue to the Agency's true nature.
  • The Wheel of Time:
    • Moirane Damodred Sedai mentors all the Two Rivers youths, Rand in particular, and "dies" protecting him from Lanfear as a result. Predictably, she comes back in a weaker form in Towers of Midnight.
    • Thom Merrilin to Mat Cauthon and Rand Al'Thor. He helps them escape from Trollocs and is the reason they survive "in the real world." He then "sacrifices" himself by battling a Fade, giving them time to escape. He even gives Rand some knowledge about Aes Sedai and channelers later on and gives Mat a great deal of mentoring from the time of the Band onward.
    • Elyas Machera to Perrin Aybara. He even has the "hermit" characteristic, seeing as how he freaking lives and speaks with wolves. He mentors Aybara in coming to terms with being a Wolfbrother and in using his abilities.
  • Blackstone, from Wearing the Cape and Villains Inc., was a retired US Marine when he had his breakthrough and became one of the founders of the Sentinels. Ten years later, as the last surviving and active Sentinel of the original five, he is both the spiritual mentor to the newer Sentinels and the team leader.
  • Vatra and Noble provide this role in Of Fear and Faith, mentoring the group and helping them out in certain situations, on top of dragging them all along on their epic journey to begin with.
  • Creation Man And The Messiah by Norwegian poet Henrik Wergeland has an exaggerated version: A nameless sage that teaches all of humanity in the essential wisdom of religion, God, trade, politics and social relations.
  • Subverted in the Railway Series Sir Handel/Falcon and Peter Sam/Stuart assume Duke is 'dead' in the present day of the books, (or it's heavily implied), but it turns out in book 25 that he's fine and rescued.
  • Wolf Hall portrays the relationship between Cardinal Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell as that of mentor and protege. The two share an affinity as extremely intelligent but lowborn men having to deal with the gameplaying and tantrums of Upper Class Twits and Social Climbers in Henry VIII's court. Even years after Wolsey's death, Cromwell often remembers tidbits of his advice and frequently asks himself what Wolsey would do in a given situation, and comes to regard him as having been a Parental Substitute. Cromwell also serves in this role himself for his ward Rafe Sadler and the small army of apprentices, orphans, and urchins he looks after at his family home, wanting to give other smart but resourceless boys the same good fortune he had.

     Live Action TV  

  • Angel: Lorne, sort of.
  • Giles, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is a watcher. His job is to train a slayer.
  • Megan in Privileged becomes this to the twins as well as their tutor.
  • Hornblower has two important mentor figures in the miniseries adaptation Horatio Hornblower:
    • Captain Pellew takes a special interest in Hornblower because he sees a promising officer in him. It's with the interesting twist that he sometimes pretends to be furious with Horatio just to mess with him. It takes Horatio some time to figure out when Pellew is joking.
    • Matthews is Da Man among lower deck characters. He can offer his insight even to officers who respect him and listen to him because Matthews is experienced, reasonable, respectful and concerned for the good of the ship.
  • In The Shazam!/Isis Hour there was a character actually named (or at least called) "Mentor." And he drove around the country in his RV with a young kid he wasn't related to. And no one ever seemed to find that odd.
  • Supernatural:
    • John Winchester (the father) to his sons the Winchester Brothers. We never see him training them, but we know that he taught them everything they know about hunting.
    • Bobby Singer becomes a mentor figure after John dies for several seasons until Bobby dies, and continues to guide Sam and Dean from the afterlife until they put him to rest.
  • Carter Hall/Hawkman plays this role in Smallville. As one of the last surviving members of the previous generation of superheroes, he becomes a mentor to the current generation of superheroes, most notably Clark Kent. In the show's tenth season, Carter informs Clark that he has fought against and defeated that season's Big Bad Darkseid on at least two previous occasions, but is then killed in battle by another villain who had unknowingly become a minion of Darkseid later in that very same episode.
  • Chin often plays the mentor to his cousin Kono in the new Hawaii Five-0. Suitable since he's an experienced if disgraced cop, and she is just coming up to graduation to the HPD at the start of the series.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Rikidozan to BI Cannon in the Japan Wrestling Association. Unfortunately, he never got to finish the job as he died from a stab infection after a Yakuza attack, causing his two disciples, Giant Baba and Antonio Inoki, to tear the promotion apart in his absence.
  • When his in ring career began to wind down Bobo Brazil took to mentoring the hot new talent and potential superstar Rocky Johnson.
  • Kenta Kobashi served as one to Kenta Kobayashi, the future ace of Pro Wrestling NOAH, prior to his learning excursion to South America. The name similarity was just a coincidence, with the latter going by KENTA to distinguish himself.
  • The Místico gimmick originated around Fray Tormenta mentoring one of his orphans who desired to become a luchador. CMLL had planned for there to be multiple mentored luchadors, starting with El Sagrado, but when he proved to be unconvincing, the angle was abandoned, with Místico being the only reminder of it's existence due to his breakout status.
  • In Gateway Championship Wrestling's latter days, MsChif mentored Jackal and Cabal, originally for the purpose of defeating her enemies, her own mentor Johnny Greenpeace and Daizee Haze, the trainee of her tag team partner. Jackal ended up taking her place in the light heavyweight division when she left too.

     Toys  
  • The six original Turaga from BIONICLE to their respective Toa warriors and the adventure-seeking Takua.

     Video Games  

  • Wynne in Dragon Age: Origins if the player wishes. Verges on a parent/child relationship with a mage protagonist.
  • Kyu in HuniePop... in regards to teaching the player to become a Casanova.
  • Peppy from Star Fox, as he is stated to be the oldest one on the team, was a member of the original Star Fox crew with Fox's father and also acts somewhat as a mediator between the more hot-headed Falco and the other teammates.
  • Knights of the Old Republic:
    • While Jolee Bindo seems to fit in terms of character, in terms of the role in the plot Bastilla actually serves this role. She is the one who shows the Player Character that they are a Jedi and serves as his/her mentor throughout the game, despite probably being younger. This is justified by both her raw power in the Force as well as the fact that she was bonded in the Force with the protagonist. Though she fails to stay in charge, it is for a reason as she was never meant to be in charge. Her purpose was not to act as a mentor but to utilize the protagonist's visions to find the mysterious Star Forge, as he turns out to be the amnesiac former Sith Lord Darth Revan.
    • Jolee Bindo does however serve as something of the Yoda role as a wise and seasoned former Jedi (and a hermit, to boot) who left the order because he found its refusal to acknowledge love's influence in a Jedi's life. It's never made clear just how much of Jolee's Grumpy Old Man routine is really an act, but he is shown to be the wisest follower you meet. He even figures out, on his own, that the protagonist is actually Darth Revan. He just doesn't think it's his right to say it.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II:
    • This game puts your character, a Jedi exile severed from the Force and rediscovering his/her power, in the hands of Kreia, a mysterious Force-user who's apparently neither Jedi nor Sith. She's a considerable subversion of the trope however: although she genuinely grows to love you, she also lies to you constantly, manipulating you (and everybody else) to achieve her Machiavellian purposes. Eventually, she reveals herself as the Big Bad, forcing you to take her down yourself.
    • The player character him/herself can actually be this as well. There are a handful of party members whom the Exile can train in the ways of the Force. It's most noticeable with Handmaiden, since Atris herself will call Handmaiden out on jumping ship from Atris's mentorship to the Exile's, and in cut content where Handmaiden has to fight her fellow sisters, she remembers the lessons she learned from sparring with the Exile in order to win.
  • Dragon Age:
    • Duncan acts as Alistair's Mentor; having been his Senior in the Grey Wardens and a surrogate father figure for months by the time you meet him in your Origin Story. Duncan's involvement with the player character is too limited for him to count as his/her Mentor too, though he does save your ass in each of the Origin Stories. He has an Obi-Wan Moment in the disastrous Battle of Ostagar, however, they Never Found the Body.
    • In Dragon Age II, despite having been deceased for several years prior the start of the game, Malcolm Hawke is frequently referred to as being this to a Mage!Hawke and Bethany. Despite giving up his magic when he married Leandra, when he discovered that his children possessed his gifts, he immediately set about teaching them to hone their abilities and how to blend in, so they could keep their magic a secret from the Templars, in addition to teaching them how to use their magic responsibly.
    • Keeper Marethari serves as this to Merrill, having trained her to eventually succeed her in leading their Dalish Clan. Even though Merrill enters a self-imposed exile, Marethari still offers her advice to her and relies on Hawke to curb her growing obsession with the Eluvian.

     Web Animation 
  • A Day With Bowser Jr: Kamek serves as a wise mentor to both Ludwig and Bowser Jr. (Not that Ludwig ever listens to him, though...)

     Webcomic  

  • In Freefall, Florence explains to Helix that space is unforgiving and he must learn from Sam, who has been there before, and ask Florence whenever he doesn't understand why Sam is doing something. Sam finds it briefly cool to be a mentor before he realizes that it could also be Florence assigning him a watchdog.
  • Lord Frey from Alfdis And Gunnora seems to be something of a mentor to young Alfdis.

     Web Original 

  • Becca Stone, in the Whateley Universe, is summoned by the Tao to come to Whateley Academy and teach Bladedancer how to become one with the Tao. Becca doesn't fight, though: she's way over a hundred and was trained as a nurse back when she was a normal human.

     Western Animation  

  • Batman Beyond: In the future, Batman, the ultimate badass (and still an elder badass if forced by circumstances), became a mentor a new younger Batman, giving advice by radio.
  • Grandpa Max, in Ben 10, was a Man in Black when he was younger, and retired to have some peace and quiet, spend time with his grandkids... Once the Imported Alien Phlebotinum the show revolves around latches onto his grandson's wrist, Max's experience is invaluable (especially since the sender intended it to go to Max in the first place).
  • , from Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • The Airbending monk, Gyatso, is a kind mentor to protagonist Aang, then eventually dies. When Aang discovers his death 100 years later, it sends him into Heroic B.S.O.D. mode and awakens the Avatar State.
    • Uncle Iroh is a mentor to Prince Zuko and not only helps to protect him, but also helps him in his destiny to side with Aang to stop the Fire Nation's conquests. Interestingly, he is also the Obi-Wan to Zuko's Anakin Skywalker.
  • Princess Celestia from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Located and taught protagonist Twilight Sparkle toward her coronation. an probably feel safe from the mortality, as she appears to be immortal.


Alternative Title(s): Mentor, The Mentor

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MentorArchetype?from=Main.TheMentor