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Broken Pedestal / Live-Action Films

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  • As everyone knows, in Star Wars, Luke Skywalker grows up wondering what happened to his father Anakin, but his foster parents only tell him vaguely that he had been a pilot of a civilian ship and died during the Clone Wars. Obi-Wan Kenobi meets Luke and tells him that Anakin was once his apprentice and one of the most noble and powerful Jedi he had ever known and that he was also skilled as a pilot, a great hero. Luke wonders aloud how such a great hero could have died, and Obi-Wan tells him that his father was betrayed and killed by The Empire's dark enforcer, Darth Vader, and this causes Luke to hate Vader, even more so when Vader eventually kills Obi-Wan too. Luke spends the first two films following in the footsteps of his father, seeking to emulate him as much as he can, and hopes to avenge his death at the hands of Vader. However, Vader eventually reveals the truth to Luke—he is Luke's father, once named Anakin Skywalker, and the Empire's ruthless enforcer of terror and fear Galaxy-wide. Needless to say, he doesn't take this very well. A double example, as Luke not only loses faith in Anakin, but Obi-Wan as well, who essentially lied to him to trick him into killing his own father (but also to spare Luke the Awful Truth). Thankfully, he eventually reconciles with both of them.
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  • Speaking of Luke; in The Force Awakens, the big plot of the movie was hunting down the missing Luke Skywalker, who was their last hope in fighting the First Order. After so much adventure and searching, we finally get to the scene where Rey meets Luke at the very end of the movie, her handing him Anakin's old lightsaber. The start of The Last Jedi? Starts with Luke taking and casually tossing away the lightsaber over his shoulder. We learn that Luke has become a very bitter old man and he'd rather be left alone.
  • In the second Legally Blonde movie, Elle heads to Washington to push a bill to help out animals who are used for product testing. She works under Victoria Rudd, a Congresswoman Elle has long seen as a champion and trailblazer to get ahead. Elle is hurt when Rudd's chief of staff, Grace, has been working to get a homeowners bill pushed against Elle's bill. But when Grace reveals she has nothing to do with this, Elle realizes Victoria herself was blocking her bill. It turns out a major donor will invest in Victoria's opponent if she doesn't kill Elle's bill and she went along with it. Elle realizes Victoria has long given up any of her "change Washington" spirit and independent fire and is just another career politician doing anything to keep hold of her seat. It ends up subverted as by the end of the film, Victoria comes around to support Elle, admitting that the woman's fire has reminded Victoria of the person she used to be and wants to go back to fighting for what she believes in. Elle is happy to see Victoria returning to the idol she revered.
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  • In Star Trek, Zefram Cochrane is revered as a visionary, the man who invented warp drive and ushered humanity into the stars. In person, he's an alcoholic and depressed man whose only motivation is his own self-benefit. As he puts it: "You wanna know what my vision is? Dollar signs. Money. I didn't build this ship to usher in a new era for humanity. You think I wanna go to the stars? I don't even like to fly! I take trains!" Unlike most examples of this trope, the crew doesn't actually seem that disappointed, or at the very least they hide it well. Ultimately, first contact turns Cochrane into the man that the crew remembers. Cochrane himself seems to become aware later on that he becomes a Broken Pedestal, and that the reasons he really did it will be lost to history.
    Cochrane: This other guy you keep mentioning, this historical figure? I never met him. I can't imagine I ever will.
    Riker: Someone once said, "Don't try to be a great man; just be a man, and let history make its own judgments."
    Cochrane: That's rhetorical nonsense. Who said that?
    Riker: [grinning] You did, ten years from now.
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  • Dr. Paul Ruth of Scanners. Turns out he's responsible for the entire Bizarre Baby Boom, he unethically tested ephemerol on his pregnant wife, and severed all connections with his two sons, the older one ending up committed to a mental hospital at one point until he later became a psychopathic terrorist leader, while his younger son was sent out into the world as a drifter and monitored regularly until he might find some use for him.
  • Nicholas Angel relates such a story about his uncle in Hot Fuzz.
    Nicholas Angel: I don't remember a time when I didn't want to be a police officer... apart from the summer of 1979 when I wanted to be Kermit the Frog. It all started with my Uncle Derek. He was a Sergeant in the Met. He bought me a police pedal car when I was five. I rode around in it every second I was awake - arresting kids twice my size for littering and spitting. I got beaten up a lot when I was young, but it didn't stop me. I wanted to be like Uncle Derek.
    Danny Butterman: He sounds like a good bloke.
    Nicholas Angel: Actually, he was arrested for selling drugs to students.
    Danny Butterman: What a cunt...
    Nicholas Angel: Probably bought the pedal car with the proceeds. Needless to say, I never went near it again. I just let it rust. But I never lost the profound sense of right and wrong I felt at the wheel of that pedal car. I had to prove to myself that the law could be proper and righteous and for the good of humankind. It was from that moment that I was destined to be a police officer.
  • Malcolm X: Elijah Muhammad for Malcolm. He starts out worshiping the man to the point he says he'd gladly die for him. However, on learning that Muhammad is using his position to take sexual advantage of young women, then has the ones he impregnates expelled from the NoI, Malcolm is utterly appalled and leaves, rethinking his belief system. His public renunciation of the NoI eventually leads to his assassination.
  • In The Rocketeer, Jenny Blake greatly admires film star Neville Sinclair until she finds out he's a creep and a Nazi spy.
  • In Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Optimus reunites with his mentor Sentinel Prime, who was believed to have been lost in Cybertron's final battles. Optimus, with all due respect, offers Sentinel back the Matrix of Leadership, but Sentinel declines, saying that Optimus knows more about the human world than he does. It's later revealed that Sentinel has sided with Megatron, compromising the beliefs he taught Optimus in order to ensure the survival of the Cybertronian race. Optimus, after recovering from his shock, battles Sentinel, eventually executing him with (the now dead) Megatron's fusion shotgun.
  • Transformers: Age of Extinction: By this time, the humans Optimus and the Autobots fought so hard to protect have turned on them, with a CIA faction actively working with their alleged Creators to hunt them down. And then Optimus learns about their role in Ratchet's death.
  • Sean to Mark in The Social Network. Mark admires Sean's power and ideas but his faith wavered when he finds out about Sean's arrest for partying and doing drugs with under-aged interns.
  • Black Panther (2018):
    • T'Challa's admiration towards his father is shaken when he learns that T'Chaka killed his brother N'Jobu and abandoned his nephew Erik in the slums of Oakland as a child; said child would endure a life of racism and suffering only to grow up into the villain Killmonger. He wonders what kind of king, or what kind of man would do such a thing.
    • W'Kabi's closeness and faith in T'Challa takes a serious dent when he failed to apprehend Klaue the first time, especially since his desire for vengeance was established earlier. This basically sets him up to destabilize T'Challa's reign when Erik comes to see him with the dead Klaue.
  • In the 1980 John Ritter movie Hero at Large, Steve Nichols becomes a national hero for foiling a robbery while dressed as Captain Avenger. But when a reporter announces that the last robbery he foiled was staged, specifically to make him look like a hero, the crowd turns on him.
  • Senior narcotics officer Alonzo Harris to rookie cop Jake Hoyt in Training Day.
  • In The Innkeepers, Claire is a huge fan of former sitcom star Leanne, and is incredibly disappointed when Leanne makes her feel like a loser for not doing anything with her life. They warm up to each other, though.
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy:
    • Batman Begins, Henri Ducard turns out to be the real Ra's Al Ghul and an elitist Knight Templar who doesn't mind destroying cities because they are corrupt.
    • The Dark Knight Rises:
      • John Blake is an idealistic young cop, whom Commissioner Gordon quickly promotes to Detective, seeing something of himself in Blake. Blake looks up both to Gordon (for being an honest cop who cleaned up the department) and Batman (whose identity he figures out pretty quickly). However, he ends up being disappointed in both: at Batman for his Refusal of the Call, and at Gordon after finding out that Gordon lied about Harvey Dent.
      • Harvey Dent become this to the entire population when Bane exposes his rampage eight years ago. With the White Knight's reputation in the gutter, it doesn't take long for the population to start, in Joker's own words, "losing their minds" as they simply give up on everything and start to riot when Bane encourages them to do so.
  • In The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Robert Ford just wanted to be like his idol Jesse, but Jesse turns out to be a murderous and depressed bully who looks down on him. Part of his reason for killing Jesse is disappointment.
  • In Iron Man 2, Whiplash sets out to invoke this trope among the public regarding Iron Man.
    Whiplash: If you could make God bleed, people would cease to believe in Him.
  • Randy Robinson in The Wrestler is this to his daughter, Stephanie. After disappointing her by missing out on his promise to have dinner with her, is abandoned by her for the final time with no chance of forgiveness, which leads to his final journey to self-destruction.
  • In Eraser, John Kruger is a US Marshal working for Witness Protection and is the best at what he does, learning everything he knows from his mentor Robert DeGuerin, who turns out to be one of the key figures behind the conspiracy to sell top-secret magnetic weapons to The Mafiya.
  • The World's End: A mutual example between Gary, and then the gang to him, especially Andy. Gary has the good old days so ingrained in his head that when he meets Andy, Steve, Oliver, Peter and Sam years later, he feels like he's talking to strangers. Whereas they are concerned that he's been doing nothing with his life and making self-destructive choices that have hindered any growth in him as a person. Gary ends up disappointed that his friends and the girl he fancied at school have changed and they're disappointed that he hasn't.
  • In Cloud Atlas, Zachry and his people worship a goddess called Sonmi. It comes as a shock to him to learn that Sonmi, in fact, was a human being.
  • In Trick or Treat, Eddie, the protagonist was a fanboy of the film's Big Bad, Sammi Curr, who gradually shows his true colors over the film. When Eddie tries to break off contact with him, we get this gem.
    You got to be loyal to your heroes...they can turn on you.
  • In A Pure Formality, the inspector is a huge fan of the French author Onoff. His admiration comes to an end when he meets the author, accused of murder, in person in his office.
  • Happens in Snowpiercer, when the hero learns that his elderly mentor actually was The Mole.
  • Spider-Man 3: Spider-Man is believed to be this courtesy of a fake photo submitted by Eddie Brock that resembles Spider-Man robbing the bank. He becomes a Rebuilt Pedestal after Peter exposes the scam and gets Eddie fired.
  • "It is me, your grandfather!" "I buried my grandfather." Ichiro and Mariko, respectively, later on in The Wolverine. Right before she stabs him in the throat. Also, Yukio's look right before the latter did it suggests that she felt disappointed realizing what kind of a person the man who saved her life is.
  • The Great White Hype:
    • Mitchell Kane, after his Face–Heel Turn, to his documentary team. They idolised him and he sold out.
    • Terry. That poor kid in the wheelchair.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), April started the film admiring Eric Sacks for publicly opposing the actions of the Foot Clan, until it was revealed that not only is he a member of the Foot Clan, he is the Shredder's right-hand-man. That pedestal was completely obliterated by the end of the film when it was revealed Sacks killed April's father after the later discovered the true purpose of Project Renaissance and tried to stop the former.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, Shredder teams up with Krang to Take Over the World. Just before the climax, Krang reveals he had been using Shredder all along, and he promptly turns his back on Shredder and freezes him.
  • Mystery Date: Tom idolized his older brother, Craig, but soon learns that Craig is hiding his real life...
  • The first half of Kein Pardon is all about this: Peter has been a huge fan of entertainer Heinz Wäscher for some twenty years, then discovers what a jerk he is behind the scenes. Despite this (and the generally silly tone of the movie), the moment when Wäscher gets fired (okay, when he finally realizes it) is a Tear Jerker.
  • Terminator Genisys Done twice to Kyle Reese. The reveal that John Connor was overtaken by Skynet and became its most deadly enforcer, T-3000, is this to him after he goes to the year 2017 to stop Skynet from going online under the name Project Genisys. And this is after Kyle learned that the alternate timeline changed everything in the 1980s, so that Sarah Connor is already a battle harden soldier and not a Damsel in Distress before he shows up, and the original T-101 and T-1000 are trying to kill him so he doesn't remember that he needs to stop Skynet in 2017.
  • Hits has the Internet rally around a common citizen who rails against his city government in an effort to simply fix the pothole outside of his house. When he finally gets his triumphant moment in a live-streamed town hall, he digresses into a racist and antisemitic tirade that horrifies all of his erstwhile supporters.
  • This is the crux of The Reveal in Corvette Summer — the one who orchestrated the theft of the protagonist's prized custom Corvette Stingray was his auto shop teacher, who oversaw the car's restoration and is strongly implied to be a Parental Substitute to the protagonist. The teacher's explanation is ... inadequate, to say the least (money problems are understandable, betraying your star pupil to solve them, not so much). The car is recovered, but the pedestal isn't rebuilt.
  • In Sharpays Fabulous Life, Sharpay admires Amber Lee Adams, the star of the Brodway musical My Best Friend And Me, and spends most of the film kissing up to her and even works as her assistant so that her dog Boi can get the leading role. However, it is later revealed that Amber Lee is really a backstabbing dog-hating and even bigger Alpha Bitch than Sharpay herself. While Sharpay didn't believe Peyton about her at first, she discovers the harsh truth when she overhears Amber Lee discussing how she plans to completely write out the dog role so she can remain the star of the show leaving Sharpay heartbroken.
  • In Anchorman Wake Up Ron Burgundy, the counterpart film to Anchorman, Ron visits his mentor Jess Moondragon for advice. Moondragon recommends that Ron walk around naked in the desert. When a disappointed Ron says that isn't very helpful, Moondragon admits that he never understood why Ron looks up to him.
  • Silence: Rodrigues doesn't want to believe that his mentor Fr. Ferreira apostasized, and is horrified to find out it's true. This helps lead him to apostasize himself.
  • Scanners: The Ripe Program brings out some rather bad memories for Dr. Ruth right before Keller kills him. When Revok later reveals to Cameron that Ruth is their father, Vale rejects them both.
  • Wall Street: Bud Fox's attitude towards his idol Gordon Gekko changes when he finds out that Gekko plans to dissolve the company and sell off Bluestar's assets in order to access cash in the company's pension plan, leaving the entire Bluestar staff (including Bud's father) unemployed. Racked with the guilt of being an accessory to Bluestar's impending destruction, Bud decides to disrupt Gekko's plans by driving up Bluestar's stock before manipulating it back down by secretly allowing Larry Wildman to buy a controlling stake in Bluestar at a discount. The sequel Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps reveals that because of his actions, Gekko has been estranged with his family, primarily his daughter, as she blames him for her brother's suicide.
  • Thor: Ragnarok: When Thor finds out that his father not only hid his history of bloody conquest from him, but also hid a secret, evil half sister destined to bring about Ragnarok, he is severely disillusioned. It is implied that he also feels betrayed that Odin lied to him about being the rightful heir to the throne, and now views his father’s penchant for judging the worthiness of all his children as emotional manipulation rather than good parenting.
  • GoldenEye: James Bond's reaction changes from admiration to shock and contempt once he realizes not only is former 00 agent Alec Trevelyan alive, but has become a Rogue Agent who wants to ruin England's economy by using the titular Kill Sat for an old grudge he's been harboring for many years.
  • Eraser: Subverted. Kruger has a great deal of respect for his mentor DeGuerin, but Kruger's only real love is his job, so when DeGuerin turns out to be The Mole, Kruger simply shrugs and adds him to the list of people that need to be "erased".
  • SHAZAM! (2019): Billy Batson spent years looking for his biological mother, rejecting the foster families he's been sent to live with. When his current foster family find her for him, what he finds is heartbreaking. He remembered her as a loving mother, while the real person was a depressed and tired teen mother who was too upset with her husband getting arrested and her parents disowning her that she let him get taken by the police and put into foster care. Rather than taking him into foster care herself and explain she can't care for him, she choose to abandon him and her responsibilities as a parent. She never bothered looking for him, instead trying to move on with her life and end up with an even worse life. Billy then gives her the compass she gave him at the carnival, which she doesn't even remember, to show he no longer considers her family.
  • In Firestorm (1998), Jesse discovers that his mentor Wynt started the forest fire in order for a land developer to build a training school for fire fighters.
  • Uncle Sam: Jody is an extremely patriotic boy who idolizes his late maternal uncle, Master Sergeant Sam Harper, and wants to be just like him. He stops doing so when his mother and aunt reveal that Sam was actually an alcoholic psychopath who abused both of them to the extent they were afraid for their lives, and only joined the military so he could get a free pass to kill people.
  • Batman Forever has Bruce Wayne becoming this for Nygma, who becomes the Riddler as a result of not taking well of his rejection regarding his mind manipulating invention.
  • The Babysitter: The titular character is Bee, who babysits the protagonist Cole. Bee is gorgeous, funny, friendly, and all around an awesome Cool Big Sis, so naturally, he adores her... and is utterly horrified when he finds out she's involved in a cult that does Human Sacrifice. Surprisingly, all her good qualities are real, and she cares for Cole just as much. His final rejection of her is genuinely sad, if completely deserved.
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