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Broken Pedestal / Literature

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  • In Agatha Christie's The Hollow it is revealed to be the motive of the murderess who used to idolize her husband and then caught him cheating.
  • Animorphs
    • For Jake, at least:
      Jake: It's all your fault! I used to see you as a hero, Elfangor. A leader. But the truth is you just couldn't see another way out! You sentenced us to hardship and pain and suffering. We were just kids! You made us question every value we had ever learned! You had no right to heap that weight on us, huge and impossible. You used us!
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    • Andalites in general for all of the kids. They start out viewing the war as a holding action until the Andalites get there to save them. It slowly becomes clear that a) this will take a while, and b) the Andalites aren't above shady tactics and won't necessarily have Earth's best interests at heart.
  • The main character is this for a whole lot of people in The Death of the Vazir Mukhtar, as he seems to have made a complete Face–Heel Turn from writing an incisive social satire to seemingly becoming one of the characters he has satirised. He realizes this too, though it's technically all rather more complex than that.
  • In Kai Meyer's Die Seiten der Welt, the heroine Furia finds a true soulmate in a young boy Severin who lives two hundred years earlier, as they are able to communicate with the help of a magical book. Then she finds out that it was him in the adulthood who caused her family's downfall and exile. Plus a war between fractions of book mages. Moreover, Furia's father was murdered and the girl and her brother barely escaped only because of the plotting of Severin's spurned lover – the latter was insanely jealous since Severin has never truly gotten over Furia. When the girl finally meets her former crush in person (elderly and broken), she is, to put it mildly, not enthusiastic.
  • The Divine Comedy
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    • As a poet, the protagonist worshipped the great author of The Aeneid, Virgil. The idolization mellows into light respect come Canto 9, where Virgil walks straight into a dead end, implies their situation is hopeless, and "reassures" the protagonist by explaining how he once helped an evil sorceress raise a ghost from the darkest pit of the Inferno.
    • Dante considered the man who taught him poetry, Brunetto Latini, a second father. Once he sees Latini burning in Hell and grieves that great poet, Dante is well prepared to find truer fathers throughout his quest to God.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Ebenezar McCoy took Harry in after he used magic to kill his evil mentor, and taught Harry all about how magic comes from human life, and how using it to kill perverts its very purpose. Which makes it all very ironic when McCoy turns out to be the Blackstaff, the one member of the White Council allowed to use magic to kill. In fact, the very reason Harry was paired with McCoy was so that someone could take him out if it happened again. It's downplayed from a normal example in that he's not terribly happy about it, and dislikes the role. Harry still doesn't take it very well.
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    • In Ghost Story, Harry's suicide has left Chicago's supernatural community in ruins, as he wasn't there to protect it against the Fomor's incursions. Molly is exceedingly bitter about this, and makes a speech to the effect of; "If you snapped under pressure, what hope is there for me!?"
    • As a result of the above and his actions in Cold Days, Butters also has this towards Harry in Skin Game, and presents, from his point of view, fairly compelling evidence that Harry's Sliding Down The Slippery Slope, which Harry himself inwardly acknowledges makes perfect sense from his point of view (which lacks some context). After all, Harry is now working for Mab as the Winter Knight, being much more secretive and living on an island which is an archetypal Eldritch Location and tends to Mind Rape anyone on it who isn't him (in the latter case, Harry didn't actually know that it was still doing this to other people and considers what it must have been like for those without his psychic defence training and Molly, who didn't have that training and also happens to be a powerful Sensitive). During the book, he steadily has the pedestal rebuilt until, appropriately, Butters becomes the new wielder of Fidelacchius, the Sword of Faith, now a holy lightsabre.
  • The Amazing Indestructo in The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy series is the most popular superhero in Superopolis, the leader of the League of Ultimate Goodness, and admired by the title character. The main characters later discover that The Amazing Indestructo is a cowardly, egotistical Jerkass who doesn't particularly care about his teammates on the LUG - he deliberately chose people with weak powers to make himself look better, and kicked out the original, more competent membership. He also isn't above making merchandising deals with supervillains to benefit himself. Ordinary Boy loses all respect for him immediately. His own team abandons him later in the series when they realize this, too.
  • A gradual thing in Fall of Damnos, but the longer Praxor - a supporter, if not believer in Cato Sicarius - spends with his idol, the more he sees that Sicarius is not The Good Captain, but a Glory Hound.
  • Jason Black to Hayleigh Griffin in Fat. Hayleigh is harbouring a massive crush on Jason, based on tv interviews, his music and magazines for teenage girls. Jeremy arranges for them to meet while she's in the hospital. Unfortunately, Jason is coked up to the eyeballs the entire time and hasn't washed in at least a week. This freaks Hayleigh out somewhat, but is actually the turning point for her, as getting over her crush on Jason is what triggers her recovery.
  • In The Fault in Our Stars, both Augustus Waters and Hazel Grace love and are obsessed with the book An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten. Augustus uses his one wish to take Hazel to meet Van Houten in Amsterdam. Unfortunately he turns out to be a total cynical Jerkass, not the wise and poetic writer they'd imagined him to be when they read the book. This is because he lost his daughter to cancer, and it is implied that Hazel painfully reminds him so much of his beloved daughter.
  • In The Giver, Jonas's parents are this to Jonas. It's especially so for the father after Jonas saw a recording of the former "releasing" a twin baby. In the sequels Jonas does not even refer to them as his parents anymore, instead calling them "the people who raised him."
  • Go Set a Watchman, the first draft to To Kill a Mockingbird, has been mistaken for a sequel by millions of readers — partly because it takes place years after TKAM so Scout is an adult returning to Maycomb.note  This initial draft reveals Atticus Finch — who was famously portrayed in TKAM as a kind, compassionate, racially-colorblind soul — was originally written as insanely bigoted against black people all along, even attending a KKK meeting. The now-grown Scout doesn't take it well.
  • Harry Potter
    • Harry's father James. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, when Harry gets a glimpse into the past via Snape's memories, he sees his father as a young man and finds out that he used to be a Jerk Jock that bullied Snape. Sirius and Lupin do concede James was an idiot but say that James he grew out of it — which, considering that James died in a Heroic Sacrifice trying to save Lily and Harry from Voldemort, is true as well.
    • It happens again in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when Harry learns that the recently-killed Albus Dumbledore once consorted with Wizard Hitler. A conversation with Dumbledore's spirit in Fluffy Cloud Heaven gives the old man the chance to admit that he was once on the road to becoming a villain until his sister's death snapped him out of it.
    • The aforementioned Wizard Hitler, Gellert Grindelwald, was this to Dumbledore himself. They met when they were teenagers, and Dumbledore, having never interacted someone on the same intellectual and magical level as him, was entranced by Grindelwald, who was all those things on top of being handsome and charismatic. He was so besotted with Grindelwald that he ignored some glaring red flags, such as the fact that Grindelwald had been expelled by Academy of Evil Durmstrang for experiments in The Dark Arts that even they found disgusting. It took Grindelwald attacking Dumbledore's younger brother Aberforth and the aforementioned death of his sister for Dumbledore to see Grindelwald for who he truly was.
  • In Hero Worship, Marvin idolizes The Core and his goal in life is to be able to use his powers to help them defend the city. After he meets Eliza, and she starts to introduce him to what they're actually like, the pedestal starts to crack. They're not bad people, but they're cynical and deal with the stress of the job with hedonism and drugs, and they've been forced to fund themselves by seizing drugs from the criminals and reselling them themselves.
  • Subverted in The High King, the final book of The Chronicles of Prydain, when Taran is horrified by Prince King Gwydion inviting him to share in the treasures of Annuvin. Luckily, a tiny Glamour Failure is enough to make Taran quickly realize that it's not really Gwydion but Arawn Death-Lord in disguise.
  • The Incredible Worlds Of Wally Mc Doogle: In the twelfth book, My Life as a Bigfoot Breath Mint, Wally goes to California and meets his Uncle Max, a famous stuntman. At first, Max seems like the cool guy everyone (including Wally) thinks he is. As the book goes on, though, it becomes clear that Max is just a shallow, selfish scumbag who only lives and cares for himself (and is a target of loan sharks), to the point that he leaves Wally to drown in a flooded stadium just to save his own skin, and then tells the media that he saved Wally when it was actually Wally's dad who risked his life to save Wally. Needless to say, Wally isn't happy when this happens.
  • Joe Pickett: In Open Season, Joe's former mentor turns out to be in bed with a Corrupt Corporate Executive and conspires to wipe a population of an endangered species. This escalates to murder, and he even attempts to kill Joe's wife Marybeth.
  • In John Brunner's Galactic Consumer Reports No. 1: Inexpensive Time Machines, the titular devices have restrictions on what eras one can travel. As the report states, it's not a matter of messing up with history - there is a Time Police from the 11th millennium which handles this far better than any built-in safeguards can. It's a matter of avoiding a this, so a Jew, for example, can set his machine to avoid accidentally seeing what really happened on Mount Sinai.
  • A Mage's Power: Eric idolized Dengel ever since he read the ancient mage's book, "The Spirit and It's Power". After he becomes a Heroic Host for Dengel, he exclaims that he keeps that book on his bed side table. Then he pulls a Grand Theft Me and Eric realizes that he's a treacherous and power hungry opportunist.
  • The Mark of Athena
    • Minor, but present in , of the Heroes of Olympus series. Hazel, who looked up to Jason as a fair and capable leader, is enraged when he votes against rescuing her kidnapped brother Nico because he thought his behavior suspicious. Everything is soon settled.
    • Later, Jason and Piper encounter Hercules, who seems a decent guy at first, but soon turns out to be a world-class jerk. Piper calls him out on it. Hercules' pedestal has in fact been crumbling since The Titan's Curse when Percy realized that Hercules was the one who betrayed Zoe Nightshade and ruined her life.
  • Nim's Island: When Nim finds out that Alex, the writer she has been corresponding with, is a girl and didn't actually do the exploring she wrote about in her books, she's not happy.
  • Redwall: In the book Martin the Warrior, Felldoh was a slave all his life, Brome was completely innocent towards the evil in the world but looked up to Felldoh as an older brother and a badass. Yet as the story goes on, Felldoh becomes darker and obsessed with killing in his quest for revenge against the slavers. To the point where Brome didn't even know who he was anymore, he hated what Felldoh became to the point where he vowed to be as un-Felldoh-ish as possible by becoming a complete pacifist.
  • The dad in The Night Of The Hunter, who is hanged for robbing a bank around the beginning. And Uncle Bertie, who for all his talk of being there to help, is uselessly drunk the moment something bad happens. And Harry Powell, although we learn he's a Serial Killer before his fans do. And, if you look carefully, you can see that Rachel Cooper is too proud of her parenting skills to realize that her foster-children are in dire need of attention lest they go crazy.
  • Pegasus in Flight has a minor example, but still depressing: while they're searching for Tirla, Carmen starts to build up an idea of her as a strong, smart and talented runaway, but who is also an innocent who needs their help. When they meet, Tirla's callousness about the horrible situation the kids she rescued are in makes Carmen quite dismayed.
  • In Protector of the Small, King Jonathan breaks his pedestal for Keladry when he accedes to Lord Wyldon's demand that she be admitted as a probationary page, despite the fact that there was no such provision attached to the law allowing girls to train for knighthood when it was signed ten years ago.note  It gets worse when she learns that he stopped his daughter from becoming a page, making Keladry one of the few female Tortallan characters who never loves King Jon. (Later she comes to understand the political necessity of such decisions, but that doesn't mean she likes it.)
  • Occurs to Gideon Ravenor between him and his mentor/father figure, Gregor Eisenhorn. Both Inquisitors start out their respective series as staunchly Puritanical in their outlook and through adversity both are required to perform increasingly Radical acts in order to win the day. In his own trilogy Eisenhorn willingly goes far, far further into heresy than Ravenor is ever forced to, and significant parts of Ravenor's trilogy—plus the continuing Bequin Trilogy by author Dan Abnett - deals with the younger Inquisitor atoning for his own actions while trying to rationalise and then eventually condemn his mentor for his.
  • In The Secret History, Julian Morrow's students look upon him as a divinity. By the end of the book, however, Richard sees his characteristic warmth and kindness as a mask for his essential lack of concern for his students or insight into their lives.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events: While nothing decisive is explicitly revealed, it is hinted in the last two books that the much-revered Baudelaire parents were involved in the murder of Olaf's parents.
  • In Seven Days in May, Colonel Martin "Jiggs" Casey is a Marine who finds out that his CO, General James Scott, is heading a conspiracy to initiate a Military Coup and overthrow the President. In The Film of the Book, Casey also gets a nice Shut Up, Hannibal! moment when General Scott demands "Are you familiar with who Judas was?" when his part of the conspiracy is unmasked:
    "Yes, I know who Judas was. He was a man I worked for and admired until he disgraced the four stars on his uniform."
  • Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: Played as straight as an arrow with Henry "Hank" Jellicoe, owner of Global Securities. In Game Over, the Vigilantes and the Big Five, particularly Charles Martin, look up to Hank and think he's the best there is. Cross Roads ends up having them lose their respect for the guy, and Charles was just upset that his friend could possibly pull a Face–Heel Turn. Deja Vu goes further and makes it clear that Hank was Evil All Along, and that it's only now that the disguise has worn thin, and nobody can deny it any longer.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Daenerys Targaryen suffers this when she learns from Barristan Selmy that the stories of her father being "the Mad King" weren't just lies.
    • In a similar vein, Cersei Lannister's view of her father Tywin was broken when she found a dead prostitute in his bed. She had always believed her father was above sleeping with prostitutes, and desperately grasps at alternative explanations to explain why this woman was in her father's bed.
    • Jon Snow has few himself:
      • He heard wonders about Robert Baratheon from his father Ned Stark, but is somewhat disappointed when he sees he's now an Adipose Rex.
      • After years of aspiring to join The Order of Night's Watch to become a first ranger like his uncle (as the Night's Watch is seen as a noble calling in the North), the Watch itself comes as a considerable disappointment to Jon. It takes him quite a while to adapt.
      • A bit with his father too. Although he loves Ned, thinks highly of him and defends him when someone puts his honor in doubt, sometimes he can not help but feel a "small voice" that whispers to him that his father did actually father a bastard out of wedlock. His refusal to reveal anything about his mother doesn't help either. Also, after aspiring to join the Night's Watch but seeing what it is actually like, Jon is disappointed - partially because of his feeling that he believes his father allowed him to join and thinks he must have known what the Night's Watch is like, though it is seen as a noble calling in the North. note 
    • Sansa is shocked to hear criticism of Baelor the Blessed from her husband Tyrion Lannister.
  • In the early Sweep books, Morgan looks up to Selene Belltower after she discovers she's a witch, admiring her power, her reputation, even the way she makes her own essential oils (for spell ingredients). Then Morgan discovers what Selene really wants from her...
  • Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note series:
    • Aya's first impression with Wakatake, Kuroki and Uesugi falls into this. Aya, like all other schoolgirl, admires them as members of Soccer Team KZ, and would want to be friends with them. But one day after school, Wakatake crashing his bike on Aya, with Uesugi and Kuroki stopping by. First, Wakatake calls Aya a "moving mailbox." And then Kuroki greets Aya as if he is picking her up. This followed by Uesugi coldly commented Kuroki for "hitting on a girl again." Understandably, it's hardly a very good first impression for her. Although her opinions on the boys were rebuilt after spending more time with them.
      Aya: My admiration for KZ had just crumbled spectacularly.
    • In The Youkai Computer Knows, Nanaki's computer mentor pretty much made Nanaki's computer system her botnet. Nanaki was extreme distressed at this development.
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: After spending all the novel swimming in Stockholm Syndrome for Captain Nemo, Aronnax has seen him crossing the Moral Event Horizon by a terrible Kick the Dog moment. And yet...
    I returned to the saloon, fearing and yet hoping to see Captain Nemo, wishing and yet not wishing to see him. What could I have said to him? Could I hide the involuntary horror with which he inspired me? No. It was better that I should not meet him face to face; better to forget him. And yet—
  • In Uprooted, Agnieszka is thrilled to hear that Prince Marek is visiting the Dragon's tower. He's a well-known hero who not only battles the malevolent creatures of the Wood without fear, but has a reputation for treating peasants fairly, and she hopes he'll help her escape. When he arrives, one of the first things he does is attempt to rape her because he thinks he's spooking the Dragon. (She uses magic to get away and then beats him nearly to death with a metal tray.) It becomes clear from that point on that Marek is quite a nasty individual, and some of his monster-slaying tales are exaggerated to boot.
  • Lissa Dragomir from Vampire Academy idolizes her loving brother Andre following his death. She learns after his death that he was a casanova who mistreated non-royal Moroi girls. She is thoroughly disappointed and crushed at the revelation, and finds it hard to accept that side of her brother. She also always believed that her father Eric was a good guy, so she's very upset to learn that he cheated on her mother once.
  • Vicious: Sydney used to idolize her older sister Serena and want to be just like her, but that pretty much goes bye-bye the second Serena tries to have her killed. By the end, Sydney wants nothing to do with her, and is relieved that they've become so different.
    Sydney: I don't want to be you anymore.
  • Vorkosigan Saga:
    • Miles Vorkosigan and Elena Bothari learning about Sergeant Bothari's mental instability and the atrocities he committed while working for Admiral Vorrutyer in The Warrior's Apprentice.
    • Emperor Gregor's depression and self-destructive behavior in The Vor Game when he first learns that his father Prince Serg wasn't the hero Barrayaran history makes him out to be, but rather whose death in a botched invasion was the best thing that could have happened to Barrayar.
    • The series also features a major inversion. Mark had been made to believe in his parents'note  alleged tyranny. (His father is undeservedly known far and wide as "The Butcher of Komarr.") Then he meets Aral and Cordelia and they're kind, loving, genuinely good people rather than what he's been led to expect. Because he'd built so much of his identity on opposing their supposed evil, the shattering effect on his worldview is just as severe as if the trope had been played straight.
  • Happens often in Warrior Cats, especially where Tigerstar is concerned.
    • In the first book, Into the Wild, the main character Fireheart puts Tigerclaw/Tigerstar on a pedestal. Then he finds out that Tigerclaw is a team-killing psycho, and they become arch enemies.
    • In the Tigerstar and Sasha manga Spin-Off, Sasha is in love with Tigerstar until she finds out about his evil actions.
    • In the Omen of the Stars arc, all of the Dark Forest apprentices except Breezepelt and Redwillow eventually have this when they realize how evil the Dark Forest is.
    • Jagged Peak from Dawn Of The Clans used to look up to Clear Sky, his older brother, until the latter kicks him out of the forest for having an unhealed broken leg. The pedestal crumbles to dust when Clear Sky starts bullying him in front of Gray Wing, causing Gray Wing to defend their brother and Jagged Peak to call him out on his behavior.
  • The Way of Kings (first book of The Stormlight Archive): Kaladin respects Highmarshal Amaram as the only "true" lighteyes, a noble general like the stories, who has done everything in his power to give Kaladin and his brother a fair chance. Then Amaram murders Kaladin's squad and brands Kaladin a slave in order to steal the Shardblade Kaladin had just won, and Amaram becomes Kaladin's symbol of everything wrong with the world. He literally dreams of murdering him on multiple occasions.
  • Wonder Woman: Warbringer: Jason. JASON. Alia adored him, and while his overprotectiveness annoyed her, she was absolutely convinced that he did it only to protect her because he loved her so much. The Reveal that he wanted her to start that war and never cared about her friends or possibly her at all is a huge betrayal to her
  • In military thriller Victoria, Captain John Rumford has always believed in the US Marine Corps, but loses his faith in it when his CO, Colonel Ryan, sides with the feminists against him. He was always hostile to the political corruption in Washington, but now he realizes that is has permeated the Corps as well. So he quits and begins his search for new ideals to believe in.
  • In Venturess, the sequel to Betsy Cornwell's steampunk Cinderella retelling Mechanica, the title character Nick goes through this with her idolized mother Margot, who turns out to be Not Quite Dead. Not only did she abandon her daughter, leaving her to be abused by a Wicked Stepmother, she's also been knowingly using the trapped souls of brutally murdered creatures to bring her mechanical creations to life.
  • Rachel of Boring Girls is introduced to metal music by hearing the music of band DED (Die Every Death) out the window of a car, and they become her favourite immediately. She idolises the lead singer, Balthazar, especially, and her love of DED leads her to meet her best friend, Fern, and starts her on her own path to stardom. And then she meets the band backstage after a show and they turn out to be self-important rapists who assault her and Fern. It breaks them both.
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