Follow TV Tropes

Anti-Mentor

Go To

A mentor who is actually terrible at the things they are teaching or bad at teaching. (Launching November 16)

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
Zerukin on Oct 26th 2018 at 9:07:33 AM
Last Edited By:
Zerukin on Nov 13th 2018 at 6:59:03 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

"I've already mastered everything you have to teach me. But I decided to disregard all I learned from you. All your moves look retarded in addition to being completely useless in a fight. See ya loser!"
A letter Dan received from Sakura, Super Gem Fighter

When training, you want to be taught by the very best. They will show you the way. These mentors claim to be among the best. However, take the lessons of these guys to heart, and you will most likely regret it.

These guys think they are great at what they do and decide to train others in their ways. However, they are more often than not the worst at the very things they teach, and thus training with them could be considered anti-training.

In some cases, their student will be well aware of how bad they are and simply attend their lessons out of pity. Others will be honest and tell them how bad they are. Then there are those students who will think they are being great teachers by showing them what not to do.

Alternatively, the teacher may actually be good at what it is that they are teaching but terrible at teaching it. In these cases, they just don't know how to get their lessons across.

A common subversion of this is when the mentor (usually an Eccentric Mentor) gives a lesson that seems outlandish (like Wax On, Wax Off), but said lesson becomes useful later, especially to better understand the real lessons.

It's not so hard for the student to surpass the teacher here, because the teacher had so little to surpass.

Compare Obsolete Mentor, who can do what they teach and are capable of teaching, but they are a bit behind in how it works. Compare More Powered Protégé, in which the disciple has more powers than the mentor (and sometimes overlaps with this).


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Cells at Work!, Red Blood Cell (AE3803) is given a Kohai Red Blood Cell to look after and mentor. Only AE3803 is the resident Cute Clumsy Girl with No Sense of Direction and gets easily distracted, while her kohai is disciplined and serious about the job. AE3803 herself lampshades she's a terrible senpai and even apologises to her kohai. Though to her credit, what she lacks in competence, AE3803 makes up in determination, continuing to deliver oxygen even during the Darkest Hour and vowing to keep going to the very end. It is this undying determination that does inspire her kohai.
  • Mob Psycho 100: Arataka Reigen is a famous esper who has the young Shigeo Kageyama (aka Mob) as his disciple, who has great esper powers. In reality, Arataka is a Con Man who has no powers and only uses Mob to manage real spirits. Partly subverted since Arataka is a father figure for Shigeo, teaching him to use his powers correctly and encourage him to not use his powers against other people.
  • Ranma ˝:
    • Ranma's father Genma is a played with example. Most of the time he is actually a very competent teacher of martial arts who does know how to instruct and motivate (although he is a jerk, morally speaking); albeit in a sink or swim, spartan way, style. However, there is the case of the "Cat Fist" technique which was a fiasco that left Ranma mentally traumatised for life and where he didn't bother reading the full manual on how to teach that technique which warned that it was dangerous and stupid.
    • Happosai, the grandmaster of Anything Goes Martial Arts. While a very formidable martial artist, he's a terrible teacher who makes Genma look proficient in comparison. All of the flashbacks of him with Soun and Genma show him forcing his students to steal food and underwear for him, rather than teaching them any proper martial arts. When he returns in the present and takes Ranma in as his student, he also adds in groping Ranma-chan's breasts and making her wear girly outfits. It's little surprise all his students try to get rid of him and at times attempt to murder him whenever given the chance.

    Literature 
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: A famous magician, Gilderoy Lockhart, is hired by Hogwarts school to teach the students Defense Against Dark Arts. However, when he gets to teach, it quickly becomes apparent that he's rather incompetent, while passing it off as "accidents". That he's revealed to have stolen all of anonymous magicians' feats in order to become famous doesn't help. This was actually invoked by Dumbledore. when questioned by staff about why he was hiring so incompetent a teacher, he said there were many things Lockhart could teach the students; how not to act, for instance.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Big Time Rush: In "Big Time School of Rocque", Gustavo creates a school in the studio for the band to go to instead of the Palm Woods school like everyone else. Every teacher he hires for the boys end up flawed, such as a temperamental and nervous man who quit to be come a "Man Band" in Germany, and WWE wrestler Chris "The Masterpiece" Masters, who made them spend their time exercising through desk lifts.
  • One episode of iCarly has Carly turn to Spencer for art lessons after being unable to even draw a decent looking rabbit. Despite being a talented artist, his mentoring included tactics such as waking her up in the middle of the night to draw his foot (which was covered in a sticky green substance), making her draw hobos in the park, and a lecture on the history of the color yellow. Carly gets fed up and leaves for a different art teacher, however she turns out to not be much better as she only got so far as teaching the class to make straight and unconnected lines before Spencer calls her out on being uncreative.
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide:
    • In "Guide To Shyness", Cookie decides to teach a bunch of shy students how to have "Cookie Confidence". He makes them to a lot of insane things he himself did, like slam-dunk a basket ball using a gigantic overpowered trampoline, use a mop-bucket slingshot, and dig tunnels through the school. Eventually, his student get fed up and turn against him when he tries to make the fight a psychopath, ironically displaying the very confidence he'd worked to teach them in telling him off.
    • "Guide to Tutors" has Ned dealing with multiple bad tutors. One is a loudmouthed Nerdy Bully; One is a Motor Mouth who can't stay focused; And one is a Jerk Jock who is willing to just give Ned the answer for a date with his friend Moze. Eventually, his science teacher Mr. Sweeney is the one to be Ned's tutor once Ned expressed his problems. Meanwhile, Mose herself was mentoring a class of fifth graders. Despite being a good teacher, she failed to teach her class anything because they were so attracted to her. She could only get them to learn by making herself hideously ugly.

    Video Games 
  • Punch-Out!!: Glass Joe is known for being the worst boxer in the franchise. That being said, he's the one who trained Gabby Jay from Super Punch Out how to box. Gabby Jay's only win is against his own mentor, and his record ends up being about the same.
  • Street Fighter: Dan Hibiki serves as a fighting mentor for Sakura and Blanka. However, both of his students are much better fighters than he is, and Sakura even tells him that his fighting style sucks in Pocket Fighter.

    Web Video 
  • Don't Hug Me I'm Scared: The "teachers" of each episode attempt to teach the main characters about something they should in theory know tons about, like a computer teaching, well, about computers. However, these lessons never teach the characters anything, are full of inconsistencies, poor logic and Blatant Lies, and succeed only in scaring or manipulating the characters into following their personal agenda. In some cases, such as "Creativity", they are actually taught not to be creative and punished when showing actual creative ability.

    Western Animation 
  • Earthworm Jim: In one episode, Jim finds a sword the claims to be a legendary sword wielded by great heroes and offers to teach Jim how to be one. Near the end of the episode however, the sword admits that nobody that ever wielded him ever won a fight. Finding this out, Jim immediately discards the sword.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Applejack and Rainbow Dash serve as this in the episode "Non-Compete Clause". While normally good teachers, their competitive nature makes them unable to teach the students the lessons on cooperation as they end up constantly arguing with one another instead. In the end though, it works out with the students assuming they showing them what cooperation isn't in order to give them the idea of what it is. Twilight was able to figure out the truth, and it shows that in the end, the two don't get any better.

Indexes: Mentor Index, No Real Life Examples, Please!, Index Failure, Character Flaw Index, Index Myopia

Feedback: 44 replies

Oct 26th 2018 at 9:11:57 AM

I had a few names for this one, so I am immediately doing a title crowner here.

Oct 26th 2018 at 10:59:53 AM

I will welcome additional title ideas. You can add it to the title crowner.

Oct 26th 2018 at 3:11:11 PM

I see a problem here:

There are cases where the teacher is indeed not good at what they're teaching, and then there are those where the teacher is good at the subject, but sucks at the teaching itself. (And then there are those who are good at the subject and a good teacher, but the student is simply more advanced at it; it's a clear-cut case of Surpassing The Teacher.)

Would you count either case, or both?

Oct 26th 2018 at 3:22:14 PM

That's a good question. Such a subject will need to be considered... While the case of being bad at what they are teaching is what I intended for this trope, the idea of them being good at what they are teaching but bad at teaching it is also a good detail that I didn't consider but will begin to now. I can say the parenthetical wouldn't count though.

Oct 27th 2018 at 2:46:50 PM

So far, it looks like the name will be Anti-Mentor... the two titles with Dan acting as a trope namer are going as well as I expected.

Oct 28th 2018 at 9:43:07 AM

I have officially changed the name based on vote, but will leave the crowner up in case numbers change. Also, at 4tell0life4's suggestion, I added to the description to include those who are good at what they are teaching but bad at teaching it.

Oct 28th 2018 at 10:40:45 AM

Would this count?

  • Dont Hug Me Im Scared: The "teachers" of each episode attempt to teach the main characters about something they should in theory know tons about, like a computer teaching, well, about computers. However, these lessons never teach the characters anything, are full of inconsistencies, poor logic and Blatant Lies, and succeed only in scaring or manipulating the characters into following their personal agenda. In some cases, such as "Creativity", they are actually taught not to be creative and punished when showing actual creative ability.

Oct 30th 2018 at 4:03:45 PM

  • Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets: a famous magician, Gilderoy Lockhart, is hired by Hogwarts school to teach the students Defense Against Dark Arts. However, when he gets to teach, it quickly becomes apparent that he's rather incompetent, while passing it off as "accidents". That he's revealed to have stolen all of anonymous magicians' feats in order to become famous doesn't help.

Oct 30th 2018 at 3:10:02 PM

All the other standards have been met for hatting, and there are just enough examples in the draft for me to hat this. With more examples waiting to be added in the comments, I'm guessing the Needs More Examples tag won't be needed for too long.

Oct 31st 2018 at 3:32:56 PM

Bump for visibility and more crowner votes.

Nov 1st 2018 at 11:16:14 AM

For my proposals, I prefer to have about five examples. One more, then I'll take it off.

Nov 1st 2018 at 2:45:29 PM

^ You should have way more or it'll be cut for being a stub.

Nov 1st 2018 at 5:35:18 PM

I'm sorry. I meant ten. I was just having trouble with the internet where I was when I typed that and rushed my answer. Still got a ways to go.

Nov 1st 2018 at 9:47:31 PM

I am not sure if this trope must not have real life examples, due to the defamatory potential.

Nov 1st 2018 at 10:47:45 PM

^ You raise a good point. I will take it into consideration. If anybody provides real life example that befall what you said, I will immediately enact that rule. (may enact it anyway)

Nov 1st 2018 at 10:58:02 PM

The Harry Potter one was actually invoked by Dumbledore: when questioned by staff about why he was hiring so incompetent a teacher, he said there were many things Lockhart could teach the students: how not to act, for instance.

Nov 2nd 2018 at 12:50:56 PM

Ooh. An Invoked Trope. You've also given another way the students will react to the anti mentor.

Nov 4th 2018 at 10:35:09 AM

Does anybody know how to close the title crowner. It's pretty clear what the winning title is. Then there is the matter of getting a few more examples. got five so far, but I am certain there are at least a few more.

Nov 9th 2018 at 3:30:56 AM

Anime and Manga:

  • Mob Psycho 100: Arataka Reigen is a famous esper who has the young Shigeo Kageyama (aka Mob) as his disciple, who has great esper powers. In reality, Arataka is a Con Man who has no powers and only uses Mob to manage real spirits. Partly subverted since Arataka is a father figure for Shigeo, teaching him to use his powers correctly and encourage him to not use his powers against other people.

Nov 9th 2018 at 5:53:30 AM

In Ranma One Half, Ranma's father Genma is a played with example. Most of the time he is actually a very competent teacher of martial arts who does know how to instruct and motivate (although he is a jerk, morally speaking); albeit in a sink or swim, spartan way, style. However, there is the case of the "Cat Fist" technique which was a fiasco that left Ranma mentally traumatised for life and where he didn't bother reading the full manual on how to teach that technique which warned that it was dangerous and stupid.

Nov 9th 2018 at 12:17:18 PM

So far, so good. Only need at least one more hat before launch. Maybe another example or two would also be good.

Nov 9th 2018 at 7:50:42 PM

So this trope is basically me xD

Anime and Manga

  • In Cells At Work, Red Blood Cell (AE3803) is given a Kohai Red Blood Cell too look after and mentor. Only AE3803 is the resident Cute Clumsy Girl with No Sense Of Direction and gets easily distracted, while her kohai is disciplined and serious about the job. AE3803 herself lampshades she's a terrible senpai and even apologises to her kohai. Though to her credit, what she lacks in competence, AE3803 makes up in determination, continuing to deliver oxygen even during the Darkest Hour and vowing to keep going to the very end. It is this undying determination that does inspire her kohai.

Nov 10th 2018 at 12:04:36 AM

A common subversion of this is when the mentor (usually an Eccentric Mentor) gives a lesson that seems outlandish (like Wax On Wax Off), but said lesson becomes useful later, especially to better understand the real lessons.

Nov 10th 2018 at 10:50:08 PM

  • One episode of iCarly has Carly turn to Spencer for art lessons after being unable to even draw a decent looking rabbit. Despite being a talented artist, his mentoring included tactics such as waking her up in the middle of the night to draw his foot (which was covered in a sticky green substance), making her draw hobos in the park, and a lecture on the history of the color yellow. Carly gets fed up and leaves for a different art teacher, however she turns out to not be much better as she only got so far as teaching the class to make straight and unconnected lines before Spencer calls her out on being uncreative.

  • Big Time Rush: In "Big Time School of Rocque", Gustavo creates a school in the studio for the band to go to instead of the Palm Woods school like everyone else. Every teacher he hires for the boys end up flawed, such as a temperamental and nervous man who quit to be come a "Man Band" in Germany, and WWE wrestler Chris "The Masterpiece" Masters, who made them spend their time exercising through desk lifts.

  • Neds Declassified School Survival Guide:
    • In "Guide To Shyness", Cookie decides to teach a bunch of shy students how to have "Cookie Confidence". He makes them to a lot of insane things he himself did, like slam-dunk a basket ball using a gigantic overpowered trampoline, use a mop-bucket slingshot, and dig tunnels through the school. Eventually, his student get fed up and turn against him when he tries to make the fight a psychopath, ironically displaying the very confidence he'd worked to teach them in telling him off.
    • "Guide to Tutors" has Ned dealing with multiple bad tutors. One is a loudmouthed Nerdy Bully; One is a Motor Mouth who can't stay focused; And one is a Jerk Jock who is willing to just give Ned the answer for a date with his friend Moze. Eventually, his science teacher Mr. Sweeney is the one to be Ned's tutor once Ned expressed his problems. Meanwhile, Mose herself was mentoring a class of fifth graders. Despite being a good teacher, she failed to teach her class anything because they were so attracted to her. She could only get them to learn by making herself hideously ugly.

Nov 11th 2018 at 11:46:49 AM

Agreed with Those Who Cant Do Teach for the title.

Page quote:

"Remember: those who can, do; those who can't, teach."
Jane, Man and Superman

Theatre:

  • George Bernard Shaw's play Man and Superman has Bob complain about his teacher criticizing his novel. Spawning a famous idiom, Jane tells him not to listen to the teacher, on grounds that they wouldn't be teaching if they could write novels themselves.

Nov 11th 2018 at 12:58:24 PM

  • When Link first joins the pirate crew in The Legend Of Zelda Wind Waker, a pirate named Niko teaches him how to swing from ropes and sets him a basic rope-swinging test. When Link boards the pirate ship later in the game, Niko challenges him to try the advanced rope-swinging test; when Link passes, Niko is amazed since he hasn't been able to complete the advanced test yet. (Downplayed trope, possibly?)

Nov 11th 2018 at 2:01:18 PM

^^ Wait! This draft is for characters who can't teach.

Those Who Can't Do, Teach is about someone who can't do their expertise, but can teach.

It's a major distinction!

Nov 11th 2018 at 2:04:45 PM

Isn't that a stock phrase, anyway?

Nov 11th 2018 at 2:18:58 PM

^ That trope isn't about using the phrase itself. And I don't know, but it's a saying, which gets a pass, I think?

Not that I mind changing the title.

Nov 11th 2018 at 2:20:28 PM

^ The stock phrase rule means we can't even have titles that just sound like someone speaking.

Nov 11th 2018 at 4:33:54 PM

Now that was released few time ago, this should be related with, compared with or even should be sister trope for More Powered Protege, in which the disciple has more powers than the mentor (and sometimes overlaps this)

Nov 11th 2018 at 4:37:03 PM

^^^^^Well, it fits the first half of the definition, "mentor who is terrible at the things they're teaching".

^^I stand by my standard response: The stock phrase rule is an over-cited load of crap that leads to picking overcomplicated page names over preexisting terms.

Nov 11th 2018 at 4:38:23 PM

^ Sure, but it's still a rule...if we ignore it, the trope'll be unlaunched.

Nov 11th 2018 at 4:51:13 PM

^^ thinking about it again... There's "not being expert enough makes you terrible at teaching" (which is what this draft is about) and then there's "even if you're not good at what you're teaching, you know enough that you can teach well" (covered by the other draft).

The question: would the two fall into the same place, or are they sufficiently different?

Nov 11th 2018 at 4:59:35 PM

They're pretty different as far as I can tell...

Nov 11th 2018 at 5:11:20 PM

The more I look at it... yeah. They are a big contrast. Maybe I'll take over the other one and rework it to where it uses the examples of being able to properly teach despite the lack of skill, then it can be added to this page as a contrast. Gonna need to work on the name though. Maybe Teaching What They Cant Perform...

Nov 13th 2018 at 3:57:27 AM

Also from Ranma 1/2:

  • Happosai, the grandmaster of Anything Goes Martial Arts. While a very formidable martial artist, he's a terrible teacher who makes Genma look proficient in comparison. All of the flashbacks of him with Soun and Genma show him forcing his students to steal food and underwear for him, rather than teaching them any proper martial arts. When he returns in the present and takes Ranma in as his student, he also adds in groping Ranma-chan's breasts and making her wear girly outfits. It's little surprise all his students try to get rid of him and at times attempt to murder him whenever given the chance.

Nov 13th 2018 at 6:59:03 PM

So what are we going to do with the other draft?

Top