Jack Bauer, on 24 has seen this happen with two of his mentors; Christopher Henderson, who brought him into CTU, first turns out to be embezzling assets seized by the government and later becomes the point-man for a conspiracy that kills an ex-president and several of his best friends.
James Hellar, the Secretary of Defence, is probably the show's first Benevolent Boss and someone that Jack admits he "looked up to like a father". The pedestal gets broken over the course of three seasons as Hellar fails to live up to Jack's high standards: he obtains evidence against the President Evil but tries to use it for political leverage, he leaves Jack to rot in a Chinese prison for two years, and generally treats him like a mindless disposable resource. His remarks on Jack being "a curse" to everyone around him are particularly harsh, if more than a little true. There's the minor complication of Jack being in a relationship with Hellar's daughter...
No one on 24 can ever manage to retain their original loyalties throughout a season. Including Bauer himself.
In a 30 Rock episode, Liz met her idol, a 1970s-era female comedy writer, discovering that she is now a lonely failure and that there's a reason she could only find work in the '70s.
Angel: Fred looked up to and idolized her former physics professor, Oliver Seidel, until the events of "Supersymmetry," when she discovers that he was the one responsible for banishing her to the demon dimension Pylea as a means of Crippling the Competition. As soon as she finds out, Fred is outraged, disgusted, and out for blood.
Fred: I idolized him, and he sent me to hell. Me and God knows how many others who didn't make it back. So-so sure! I'll calm down when he's dead!
Arliss used this several times, most notably when Arliss helps a retired ballplayer accused of beating his second wife. His first wife says that the two were together but then confesses to Arliss that she's covering for her husband. When Arliss asks why, she responds "why do you think we got divorced in the first place?" and she'd rather the world think her husband a cheater than a wife-beater. Arliss is rocked to discover his idol is this way and, while not calling him out on it, does drop him as a client.
In Arrow, Oliver Queen always believed that his father and mother had worked to better Starling City. After his father's yacht went down, he admitted to Oliver that he was responsible for much of the corruption, greed and crime plaguing their city.
Gordon is one at the start of season three. He is in the process of divorcing Carrie, living in a messy apartment away from the family home, descended into alcoholism, regularly using prostitutes, and even starts flirting with his assistant DA. However he manages to bounce back halfway through the season.
The chief of the Kinaho Reservation Police has long since given up on trying to stop the illicit activities on the reservation, and claims he is "too old" to begin caring about bringing Chayton in.
In the Black Mirror episode "USS Callister", programmer Nanette Cole starts a new job at Callister Inc., where she meets one of her idols in the field, programmer and CTO of the company Robert Daly. When she wakes up aboard a simulated starship, however (the titular USS Callister), she discovers that Daly has built a sadistic, narcissistic fantasy world for himself, using the consciousnesses of his colleagues as playthings. Pedestal smashed.
Brennan's old professor, whom she had and currently was dating, was an expert witness for the opposing side of the case she was working on. To specify, he's not doing it in service of the truth, which Brennan would respect him for, but because he's being paid to do it. Then he implies, on the stand, that she's not an objective researcher even though he and the scientific community recognize Brennan as the best and most objective in her field. He is also outright lying, since he had previously called Brennan's case irrefutable, meaning everything he said about other possibilities was wrong and he knew it. In the end she dumps him via a What the Hell, Hero? moment.
Brennan: This one isn't about winning a pasta dinner or showing up your former student. It's about putting two people away who murdered a 19-year-old girl. Michael [the professor]: Tempe, you can't personalize the work. Brennan: Do you remember in Central America standing in a mass grave being guarded by soldiers? We knew that they were probably the same soldiers who had killed the people we were digging up. I was just a student. I was scared. I turned to you and I asked, "What do we do?" Michael: That was a different place and a radically different context. Brennan: You said, "We tell the truth. We do not flinch." You flinched, Michael.
Also Brennan's brother, who left her shortly after their parents were forced to flee their past. They reconcile later.
One episode of Boomtown has the officers trying to defuse a hostage situation at a sporting goods store. Ray gets excited when he finds out the manager was the star of a television series he used to enjoy and volunteers to go in undercover. The pedestal starts to crumble when he sees how washed up the former star is and completely breaks when he fails to recognize his own Catchphrase. The broken pedestal is further pulverized when Ray discovers the former star was collaborating with the criminals.
Walter White from Breaking Bad has progressively become this more and more for his protege and partner-in-crime, Jesse, over the course of his slide into evil, as Jesse becomes more and more troubled and guilt-ridden over his actions and what Walter orders him to do. It seems to reach a head after Walt's rationalization over a child's murder and seeing through his manipulations. But it has finally culminated in him figuring out that Walter had Brock poisoned.
Mike from both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul was this to his son, Matt. Matt was a cop, just like his father, and saw him as a hero and inspiration. When he found himself faced with the opportunity to take a cut from some drug bust money, he called up his father, looking for advice. However, Matt found out that his father was not the beacon of goodness he thought he was, but, in Mike's own words, "down in the gutter with the rest of them." Although Mike had a very good reason. He knew that in a precinct full of Dirty Cops, not being down in the gutter with the rest of them meant you were almost certainly going to be killed, just in case you were thinking of ratting on everyone. Hearing this from his father broke Matt, but ultimately convinced him to take the money. Unfortunately his hesitation was reason enough for two of his fellow cops to kill him anyway.
Peralta is initially thrilled to meet his idol, reporter Jimmy Brogan, who wrote a true crime novel about 1970s New York cops that inspired Peralta to become a cop. He gradually becomes disillusioned with Brogan's hard-edged "old school" ways until he eventually punches Brogan after Brogan uses a homophobic slur about Captain Holt.
Holt is thrilled to have a case involving a classical musician he admires. Naturally, it turns out the musician staged the whole thing as an attempt at insurance fraud.
Holt: I finally understand the old adage that you should never meet your heroes. This is like when I found out that Robert Frost was from... California.
Terry goes through something similar while working with an author he loves. He's innocent, but the experience is still disappointing.
Jake and Rosa are excited about working with legendary tough cop Melanie Hawkins...then they find out she's corrupt and running a gang of bank robbers. And that's before she has them framed for her crimes.
Amy loves filling out forms and sees it as a "perfect system." Then, when having to get a permit, she discovers how bloated and ridiculous the entire thing is. She meets a woman who she gushes about being a "legend" in the filing world with a great system. Not only is she now a Crazy Cat Lady but it turns out her "system" was a combination of sloth, incompetence and dyslexia.
Played for laughs when Rosa meets Marshawn Lynch, who she's long admired for his famously tight-lipped media appearances which inspired Rosa's own "never say more than you need to" attitude. She's naturally thrown when Lynch spends the entire interview talking non-stop about his lunch habits and refusing to shut up.
Holt and Amy are excited to get help on a case from Dr. Yee, hailed for using flies to determine the right type of blood on a crime scene. Rosa and Terry are suspicious and accuse Yee of faking the results. Holt is so outraged that he's about to fire them on the spot...at which point, Yee confesses they're right. He wasted millions of dollars on his "system" which doesn't work at all and was faking the results, leaving Holt and Amy stunned. Downplayed as, when Rosa bluffs a confession out of the killer, Holt and Amy say Yee "solved" the case after all and "we should tell him, it'll make him feel better" as Rosa and Terry gawk.
Buffy has moments like this with Giles, although she usually eventually gets over them. Until Season 7, when Giles conspires with Robin Wood to kill Spike behind her back; Buffy tells Giles point-blank that he's taught her everything she needs to know and shuts the door in his face.
Buffy: Yep. I thought you were a grownup. Now, it turns out that you're a person. Giles: Most grownups are.
Wishverse Buffy was built up to be the one to save the world. Not only is she personally not nice, she fails.
Dawn hero-worships Spike throughout Seasons 5 and 6 and looks up to him as a surrogate big brother, but finding out from Xander in "Grave" that Spike tried to rape Buffy completely shatters that. When they next interact in Season 7, Dawn outright threatens to set him on fire if he hurts Buffy without batting an eye. Nonetheless, upon the reveal that Spike regained his soul, they eventually begin to rebuild their friendship, with Dawn readily defending Spike when Andrew asked by Buffy was so desperate to save him from the First.
Burn Notice has Tom Card to Michael, who turns out to have been responsible for the whole of Michael's woes.
Various NBC Saturday morning sitcoms like California Dreams would have the plot of a character meeting their singing idol and showing off songs only to have the idol steal them as his own and put down the character for how the music business really is.
The training officer who taught Beckett everything she knew betrayed her for a chance to find a treasure, though she did chase his killer to Los Angeles. Just two episodes after this, Captain Montgomery, who was her mentor as a detective turns out to be involved in her mother's death.
Castle's old school friend who inspired him to be a writer.
While having a brief relationship, Castle also looked up a lot to Sophia Turner, a CIA agent who inspired one of his characters. You can thus imagine his reaction when it's revealed that not only is Sophia working with a terrorist group trying to start World War III, but she's actually a KGB mole who infiltrated the CIA only to be left on her own when the USSR collapsed and has never been loyal to America.
"The Final Frontier": The cast of Nebula 9 (a Star Trek clone), specifically Captain Max Rennard and Lieutenant Chloe, for Beckett. She used to love the show (which only lasted 12 episodes) despite the cheesy premise, over-the-top acting, and awful-looking aliens and cosplayed as Lieutenant Chloe. Then, while investigating a murder at a 'con, Beckett meets the actors playing them. Rennard's actor is a pompous Jerkass and a washed-out actor who can't get a decent role and seems to think he really is Captain Rennard. Besides acting the "Nebula 9 Experience" to ridiculous extent, he tries to pick up any woman in the vicinity. Chloe's actress is a bitch who hates being type-casted because of the show and turns out to be the killer, trying to prevent the revival. Despite this, Beckett resolves not to let her affect her memories of the show. After all, her idols were the characters, not the actors playing them.
Also, Chuck's old college girlfriend turned out to not only be a spy, but also a Fulcrum agent. In all honesty it seems like everyone in any way connected to Chuck is involved with Fulcrum in some way...
Not exactly. Nowhere in the episode is it stated that Ty Bennett was working for Fulcrum, and he is instead set up as having instead been working independently and forming his own mercenary/terrorist organization. It's revealed in a later episode in which Casey is reunited with his former commanding officer—another Broken Pedestal who is now working for the Ring—that Bennett was actually working directly with or for him.
Daniel Shaw makes for one huge Broken Pedestal. Set up as Chuck's mentor in using the Intersect, and a great spy and everything Chuck was aspiring to become once accepting his destiny as a hero (YMMV how well this was played). Then he gets manipulated, broken, and turned by the Ring to become one of the most dangerous villains in the entire series. Only Quinn in the fifth season came close to hurting the team as deeply and personally as Shaw did.
In the Korean Series The City Hunter, Kim Jong Shik, Young Joo's father, turns out to have been part of a group who engineered the deaths of 20 special forces soldiers in order to further his political career, as well as hid a drunk driving vehicular homicide. Young Joo, an idealistic detective, doesn't take it well.
One episode of The Commish features Scali's friend who is working in Drugs' Department - an upright man who also spends his free time training children to refuse drugs. When he is murdered, Scali swears to bring whoever did it to justice. Turns out the murderers were the friend's kids, whom he had beaten regularly for the slightest mishap. He beat his wife too. Ouch.
In the episode "Mixology Certification", Troy experiences one towards Jeff and Britta. Troy has spent all night listening to their advice on growing up, only to learn they've also spent all night bickering over the same bar, believing that this bar was actually two different places:
Troy: I just spent the last two years thinking you guys knew more than me about life, and I just found out that you guys are just as dumb as me. Britta: ...Duh-doy. Jeff: Yeah, duh-doy.
Inverted, again with Troy, in "Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking". Troy asks Pierce for a picture of Levar Burton. Burton shows up in person, much to Troy's shock... because he was worried about disappointing Burton.
CSI has one of these for almost every member of the team:
Sara's best friend, a prosecuting attorney, is confined to a wheelchair — ostensibly shot by an unknown man who killed her husband. When Sara reopens the investigation, she learns that there was no intruder — her friend was the one who shot her husband. (Sara doesn't quite use the stock dialogue, but does point out the hypocrisy the attorney has been demonstrating in her demands for justice.)
Catherine discovered that the cop who inspired her to become a CSI rather than a stripper had planted evidence in a homicide investigation. (Pithy statement: "Good evidence doesn't need help.") She points out that he threw away his integrity, which is the thing that he himself taught her that you can never give up.
Warrick's mentor lost it after the murder of his daughter and assaulted the suspect, who turned out to be innocent. (Pithy statement: "An eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind.")
Oddly enough, the trope was subverted in this show as well. The episode revolved around the murder of a psychic; one of Brass's buddies, on the verge of retirement, showed up saying that he had been consulting the psychic regarding a cold case he has been pursuing, and that his suspect murdered the psychic to stop her from providing the location of the body. The suspicion is raised that the old cop is trying to frame his suspect, but he turns out to be completely legit.
CSI NY gets in on the action as well, although they play around with it a little. Flack's mentor and friend is found to have tampered with a crime scene in order to protect his son, who was present when the murder took place. The mentor is arrested, but Mac is the one driving the investigation; Flack is pissed to have to go after a friend and remains bitter about the incident for some time.
Also from New York, Stella discovers that the Greek professor she looked up to since she was a little girl was part of an antique smuggling ring.
Dexter has gone through a lot of these. He idolizes his foster father Harry, adhering rigidly to the "Code of Harry" when he kills, only targeting criminals who've escaped justice, and never taking risks of being caught. Then, in Season 1, he finds out Harry knew Dexter's biological father was alive and kept the info from him, and destroyed the file on Dexter's Harmful to Minors moment. If that's not enough, in Season 2, Dexter decides to abandon the Code — or at least shift it to suit his means — when he finds out that Harry likely killed himself because he couldn't stand what he'd made Dexter into. He also had an intimate relationship with Dexter's birth mother, which was directly responsible for her murder.
In season 6, Dexter meets the man who inspired him to be a serial killer — the Tooth Fairy, a man who ripped the teeth out of his victims, and once dumped a fresh body on a District Attorneys lawn and still managed to elude capture. He's become an abusive, drunk old pervert waiting to die in a retirement home. Granted, it's not like we'd expect much more from a serial killer, but the impact it has on Dexter certainly shows elements of Broken Pedestal. Also, he apparently only dumped the body cause he was drunk and lazy — he got away by pure stupid luck.
"The Three Doctors": The Doctor goes through this when he meets Omega, one of the first Time Lords who apparently died giving the Time Lords the power source of time travel. Omega survived and is trying to drain away the Time Lord's power, driven mad by millennia of isolation.
The Doctor suffers it again in "The Five Doctors", in which Borusa, his old Academy tutor, who he never exactly liked but deeply respected and who was a major influence on his life, turns out to have gone mad with power and become the story's Big Bad.
"Father's Day": Played with in terms of Rose's affection for her dad, Pete. Since he died when she was a baby, he was built up by Jackie as being the perfect father so when she travels back in time to his death, only to find that her parents were having marital problems, Pete was failing as a businessman and liked flirting with other women, she was upset. However, in the end, he proved to still be a good man; incredibly devoted to his wife and daughter, and willing to sacrifice his life to save others.
The Doctor to Jack, and in turn Jack to Torchwood, both when the admirer finds out that the Doctor/Jack isn't the omniscient hero they thought he was.
A minor version appears in "The Shakespeare Code". The Doctor and Martha Jones attend the premiere performance of Love's Labours Lost and Shakespeare himself appears on the stage at the end. The Doctor is initially thrilled at the prospect of meeting the greatest writer in the English language until he acts boorishly in front of the audience. Somewhat amused, Martha quips to the Doctor, "You should never meet your heroes." It gets even worse when he starts (quite unsuccessfully) hitting on her.
"The God Complex": The Doctor breaks his own pedestal in regards to Amy Pond, by telling her how he truly views himself; not as a hero, but a vain mad man who's willing to put the people he loves in danger (although considering the situation, part of this may have been him exagerating).
In "Kill the Moon", the Twelfth Doctor inadvertently breaks the pedestal Clara has put him on by abandoning her on the Moon and forcing her to make a world-changing decision, after which she gives the Doctor a The Reason You Suck speech and terminates her relationship with him. In the following episode, "Mummy on the Orient Express", Clara agrees to go on one last trip with the Doctor as a last hurrah, during which the pedestal is rebuilt.
At the end of audio drama "Zagreus" the Doctor says this has happened with all his Time Lord heroes, Omega, Borusa, Morbius and Rassilon.
An Eighth Doctor comic strip sees the Doctor 'betray' the human-factor Daleks he created in his second incarnation to save a group of humans the Daleks were keeping prisoner to ensure word of their existence didn't get out, although the Doctor mused that it would have been impossible for him to live up to the human-Daleks' expectations of him anyway.
ER did an arc about Drs. Benton and Carter being taken under the wing of the illustrious Dr. Vucelich, the only doctor at County General to have never lost a patient. This is because he's a slimy cheat who drops every patient he knows is going to die from his care ahead of time.
Alex goes through this on Family Ties when he discovers that his Uncle Ned, who he idolized, is an alcoholic. And then he hit Alex.
Played a bit straighter in other situations, usually involving the Peacekeepers:
Captain Durka was a legendary figure among the Peacekeepers, and his ship, Zelbenion, was rightly feared throughout the Uncharted Territories. Then it's eventually learned that Durka was actually a coward and probably psychotic as well, faking his own death and surrendering to the Nebari when they attacked his ship.
A later episode has Sub-Officer Dacon, a legendary Peacekeeper officer who sacrificed his life to safely end an assault on a monastery filled with nothing but women and children. When the crew gets accidentally sent back in time to this event, turns out Dacon is just a cook. He is a decent person though, and it turns out his commanding officer was the real hero of legend, so there's that.
"Harrison Wells" becomes a pariah to most of the city after the particle accelerator explosion, but is venerated by every promising mind in the Arrowverse. Caitlin, Cisco and Barry still look up to him as a hero and a mentor and Felicity and Ray admire him, but cracks start to appear in his pedestal when Hartley Rathaway returns seeking revenge on "Wells" for ruining his career after he discovered the particle accelerator was intended to fail. "Dr Wells" manages to retain their faith in him by finally owning up to his mistakes, but then the plot happens and Barry starts to suspect that he is actually the Reverse Flash. Cisco and Caitlin are reluctant to believe him, but then it is revealed he is a villain and not Wells at all.
Eobard Thawne turned on The Flash when he discovered the two were "destined" to become enemies, and then he swore to be the Reverse-Flash.
"Jay Garrick", the Flash of Earth-2, became good friends with Team Flash, even starting a romance with Caitlin, while they try to defeat Zoom. When it appears he is killed by Zoom, Barry constructs a small monument to Jay, with his helmet in a glass case, vowing to honor him. Unfortunately, when they start noticing certain clues about Zoom, they have Cisco use his powers to confirm what they're figuring out... "Jay" is Zoom. It would later be revealed his real name is Hunter Zolomon, a serial killer who kidnapped the real Jay Garrick from another Earth and stole his identity, and has been making Barry get faster to steal his speed. In a literal sense of this trope, when Barry gets suspicious, he shatters the glass container on the pedestal Jay's helmet was resting on.
Barry Allen was seen by his fellow Arrowverse heroes as the paragon. However, after Zoom murders Henry Allen Barry creates a time aberration called "Flashpoint" to recover his parents, then he has to undo it all. Although Thawne agrees to undo Flashpoint, a few things were not quite the same. In the Invasion! event, Cisco forces Barry to confess his time aberration and almost everyone gets disappointed on him, excluding Supergirl, Felicity, Oliver, Martin and Jax.
An intriguing turn in season 5 where the breaking is intentional. When his grown daughter Nora arrives from the future, Barry helps her in his own time. Barry realizes that because he vanished when she was a child, Nora has grown up on stories of the Flash and seen him as nearly perfect. When she fails in a mission, Nora is beating herself up on how she has totally failed her father's legacy. Barry shows her video of his first few years to illustrate he made tons of mistakes with his speed and misjudgements. Nora thus realizes the Flash isn't so perfect but it actually lets her appreciate her father more.
Played with on Frasier; after discovering that his mentor and Roz are having a relationship, Frasier believes he's experiencing this (and it's not helped by the fact that he saw his mentor wearing nothing but Roz's robe) but he comes to realize that it's actually jealousy that Roz has become attracted to someone very similar to him whilst having never demonstrated any kind of attraction towards him.
Roz: Frasier, did you ever stop to think there may be something special about not being picked? Frasier: Roz, that didn't work when I was cut from pee-wee football, it's not gonna work now.
Jon's discovery that the Night's Watch is an Army of Thieves and Whores rather than the ancient and noble order he believed them to be. He is even more disappointed to learn the Lord Commander turns a blind eye to Craster's depravity because he's too valuable an asset.
Sansa idolizes Cersei ("I'll be a queen just like you!") until the events of "Baelor" and "Fire and Blood".
Daenerys always assumed (as her brother believed) that the rumours about her father's madness were just Malicious Slander until Barristan explains they are true. Later, she tells Tyrion that if she ever returns to Westeros, she will not return to the old form of feudalism that created something like her father and that she will break from her family traditions as well.
Olly clearly idolizes Jon but is definitely not pleased to learn Jon really means to ally with the wildlings since his entire village was slaughtered by them.
Bran is disappointed when his visions of the past reveal that his father Ned stood no chance against Arthur Dayne in their duel and Ned only won because Howland Reed stabbed Dayne in the back. Ned had earlier told him that he had defeated Dayne in single combat. He is even more stunned to learn that his father lied to everyone about Jon Snow'sparentage in order to protect Jon — who is actually Ned's nephew and the son of Ned's sister Lyanna.
Robb breaking his marriage vows ended up causing him to become this to his men in the third season.
Stannis is this to Davos, especially after he learnt that he agreed with Melisandre to sacrifice Shireen.
After training under the Maesters of Oldtown for a while, Sam Tarly gets fed up and leaves when they don't take his warnings about the White Walkers and the Army of the Dead seriously and reveal they have no interest in using their knowledge to improve society, only in maintaining the status quo.
Downplayed with Rhaegar Targaryen. Oberyn had made fun of all of Elia's suitors but even he was taken by Rhaegar's charisma and good looks. He became rightfully angry when Rhaegar spurned Elia and absconded with Lyanna Stark. In the "Conquest and Rebellion" series, Jaime, as well, thought that Rhaegar could have been a better ruler than Aerys II until his affair with Lyanna which made him conclude that Rhaegar is Not So Different than his father.
Oberyn: My sister loved him. She bore his children. Swaddled them, rocked them, fed them at her own breast. Elia wouldn't let the wet nurse touch them. And beautiful, noble Rhaegar Targaryen... left her for another woman.
Gilmore Girls: Rory Gilmore's worst nightmare is meeting CNN's Christiana Amanpour and finding out she's stupid.
On The Good Fight Maia Rindell is rocked when her father is arrested for running a massive Ponzi scheme. At first thinking he might be innocent, Maia realizes he is guilty and stole the life savings of thousands of people (including Maia's godmother, Diane) which leads to Maia's own life ruined. Worse, Maia discovers that not only did her mother know about what her father was doing but has been sleeping with Maia's uncle.
In Growing Pains, Ben is devastated to find out that his favorite rock singer (Brad Pitt in an early role), who he believed to be a nice guy devoted to his wife, is actually an ill-tempered serial cheater.
On Hawaii Five-0, medical examiner Noelani is kidnapped by gangsters who also hold her long-time mentor, Dr. Chu. The two are being forced to work on a surgery for one gangster's father. When Noelani tries to escape, Chu pulls a gun on her. It turns out that after being forced to take the fall for a malpractice suit at her hospital, Chu has become an underground surgeon for crooks. Noelani lays into her on how "I looked up to you more than my own mother" and heartbroken her mentor turned out this way. Even after Chu sacrifices herself to save Noelani's life, Noelani can only cry over her body on "you think you know someone..."
On Heroes, Hiro grew up being told of the legendary samurai warrior Takezo Kensei and his incredible battles against evil. When he actually travels back to the past and meets him, however, he discovers that the great Takezo Kensei is actually a Dirty CowardCon Man (who's not even Japanese). And then he gets back to the present day and it gets worse: Kensei, who is still alive in the 21st century, is the season's Big Bad. However, the trope is ultimately subverted when it's revealed that the legend of Takezo Kensei was actually based on Hiro all along.
In "The Examination For Lieutenant / The Fire Ships", Horatio is a wide-eyed admirer of Living Legend Captain "Dreadnought" Foster, whose nickname says it all, and thinks that the Indefatigable could stand to follow his fighting example. Then, after he ends up commanding a supply ship that is also under quarantine, Foster insists on taking provisions from it before the period is up. Hornblower realizes that Foster is just a Fearless Fool who disregards the lives of everyone around him as well as his own.
Captain Sawyer in the second series. Horatio notes bitterly that he and Archie got totally drunk in celebration when they learned they would be serving under him and have learned painfully that despite his past heroism, Sawyer is now The Paranoiac verging on insanity. Lieutenant Bush similarly arrives full of admiration for Sawyer, but over the course of the episode sees the destructive effect his behavior has on the ship.
In Hyperdrive, Henderson idolises the Show Within a ShowCaptain Helix, and finally gets to meet the actor only to find out that he's an alien spy who's hypnotised Henderson into stealing Britain's new superweapon.
The opening episode of Imposters has Ezra discovering his new bride, Ava, is a con artist who just took him for everything. His father wants to go after her but Ezra says if they do, Ava will reveal the contents of a folder. He slaps it down before his father, who he's worked for and admired for years and the man blanches saying "no one has to know."
Ezra: Know what? That you've been cheating on Mom for 20 years? With a woman named... what is it? Chanterelle? ...Or that you stole the patent for the Bloom heel from Uncle Joe?
Maddie works with Max and Sally, a pair of older grifters who took her under their wing, working cons and teaching her the ropes. Maddie especially sees Max as an almost father figure. She's thus devastated when she learns Max sold Sally out to the ruthless Lenny, knowing she'd be killed and did it without hesitation to save his own skin and just shrugging it off as "rules of the game."
Innocent: Yusuf's opinion of his mentor and former police chief Cevdet deteriorates over the course of the series. He even discusses this trope as he tries to persuade him to do the right thing, warning he will fall in the eyes of others if he doesn't.
Yusuf: You're a hero in that station. Don't walk in there in handcuffs.
Kamen Rider Gaim has a self-inflicted version of this: Micchy starts off the series viewing Kouta as the big brother he never had. Unfortunately, then they get caught in Triang Relations: both Kouta and Micchy like their teammate Mai, but she obviously likes Kouta. As a result, Micchy starts gradually changing his view of Kouta, viewing him as a naive idiot whose idealism only causes trouble. This leads to Micchy pulling a full FaceHeel Turn, to the point where it looks like he's going to become the show's Big Bad. However, Kouta never stops viewing Micchy as his friend even after he finds out, and his Heroic Sacrifice to save Micchy from a life-draining Lockseed is what starts Micchy's path to redemption. It's ultimately subverted, as at the end of the series they're even stronger friends than they were at the start, and Micchy follows the example Kouta set with his determination to protect all his friends, even supposed "lost causes" like himself.
Goren doesn't find it especially hard to believe that his FBI profiler mentor might also be the Serial Killer who kidnapped his partner. The twist reveals the killer is actually the profiler's daughter, who washed out of the FBI and wants to disprove her father's theory that women can't be Serial Killers (let's just say he couldn't leave the shop talk at work and she liked to use his recordings of people being tortured as a test for prospective high school boyfriends before getting intimate with them) in a desperate bid to get his attention. Needless to say, it worked.
Then, in a later episode, said mentor helps Goren's archnemesis kill his younger brother, and then kills her himself, in order to become closer to Goren. Goren doesn't understand it either.
In an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Stabler discovers that a retired astronaut that he had idolized growing up, to the point of making him his oldest son's namesake, had killed the Victim of the Week after comparing his fingerprints on a model rocket to the one found on a necklace.
Legends of Tomorrow: Professor Martin Stein meets his idol Albert Einstein via time travel... and is dismayed to find he is an obnoxious Dirty Old Man, plus he stole many of his ideas from his ex-wife. Stein ends up punching him out (to save his life).
Lifelong crook Mick Rory is jarred when he realizes legendary pirate Blackbeard is a coward who doesn't hesitate to give up secrets or sell out his own crew to save his own skin.
In a sketch on Little Britain, Sebastian (in love with his boss, the Prime Minister) is asked to destroy some secret papers which reveal that the Prime Minister reneged on a disarmament pact. Sebastian obeys, but sadly whispers "I thought you were perfect ..."
Making History (2017): History teacher Chris is heartbroken to actually meet some of his idols and heroes and find out that they're kind of jackasses and not the larger-than-life figures he expected. Reaches its breaking point when his hero John Hancock tricks him into urine.
The episode "Fallen Idol" of M*A*S*H. Hawkeye has to leave the O.R., due to a hangover. This breaks the pedestal Radar (and, according to Radar, many others as well) has put Hawkeye on. Hawkeye, on the other hand, does not want to have the stress of being someone's idol. (Just in this episode; normally, Hawkeye would not mind).
From Merlin, Arthur is a huge "Well Done, Son!" Guy who's basically spent his entire life having it hammered into him that whatever he does, his father Uther does it better. After about three years of ruling as king, he gets a chance to contact Uther from the otheworld, who immediately reams him out on all the"stupid"decisions he's made to bring equality to the land. Arthur's heartbroken, and accidentally lets Uther's spirit free, who proceeds to wreck the Round Table, attack Percival with an ax, and tries to set Guinevere on fire. Arthur's in denial for a lot of this, but he finally breaks and realizes just how terrible a man his father was.
Mordred also experiences this in early series 5, when he is reunited with Morgana, only to discover that the kind woman who saved him when he was a young child is now practically mad with hatred. He ends up stabbing her in the back (literally) to prevent her from killing Arthur.
Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers had this happen in the episode "Rita's Pita." One of Tommy's karate students, Danny, looks up to Tommy. That is until Rita plants a monster inside Tommy's stomach that makes him crave nothing but junk food. Danny is pretty upset about this, especially since Tommy just gave him a big speech about the importance of healthy eating. When Tommy gets the monster out of him, he apologizes to Danny for the way he acted and Danny's respect for his teacher returns.
In an episode of the 80s Mission: Impossible revival, Russell Acker — one of the founders of the Impossible Missions Force and creator of the latex mixture used for the IMF trademark masks — has started killing women and built a frame by getting caught on tape while wearing a Jim Phelps mask.
Monk: Though not quite a mentor, a child actress from Monk's childhood favorite TV showthe only TV show he ever watched and the only thing that made him happy as a child ("'The Cooper Clan' was my other family. Heck, the Coopers were my family, my family was my other family") wrote a tell-all memoir about her very sordid life and the lives of her costars. There wasn't enough Brain Bleach to help Monk after reading it. Not only that, the child star herself is later revealed to be a murderer.
Murder in the First: Police captain Ernie Knubbins, whom Terry had respected and looked up to, is revealed to be the "head man" of the corrupt police group called the Union.
On Murphy Brown, Murphy is happy to interview Nick Brody (Martin Sheen), a counter-culture icon of the 1960s whose book taking on "the establishment" inspired numerous people like Murphy to fight back. The interview starts with Brody snapping on how terrible Ronald Reagan was as a President and Murphy smiles... only to hear Brody's complaint that Reagan was too liberal. He then slams "the liberal wimp in Republican clothing" George Bush. Murphy is utterly stunned to hear this ultra-liberal icon spouting the most right-wing rhetoric imaginable ("fairies in the military, you know what that's done to my defense industry stocks?"). He also slams his book as nothing but "the rantings of a snot-nose kid who had no idea what the real world is like" and is only happy it made him a ton of money. Murphy can just sit horrified to realize one of her most loved heroes of the 1960s has become the most right-wing guy imaginable (even calling Pat Buchanan "the most enlightened figure since Moses."). To top it all off, she had once slept with Brody back in the '60s and it turns out he always thought "that hot blonde was Diane Sawyer."
It does lead to a discussion where Frank admits that he does think "some folks on welfare could work harder to get more jobs." Murphy is then pushed to admit that she's worried about hits to her income due to taxes, wanting more police presence for her kid and "at 7-11, trying to buy pampers and wishing everyone could just speak English." Thus, Murphy basically realizes she'd be a Broken Pedestal to her own past self.
A Cool Teacher arrives in My So-Called Life who challenges and inspires the students, but after a few days he's carted off by the cops for some skeletons in his closet.
Subversion: Former Special agent Mike Franks, NCIS, mentor of Agent Gibbs. Something of a jackass, but a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, though a very small heart of gold and a HUGE jerk. Some of Gibbs's more notable mannerisms came from him, but the main difference is he retired, Gibbs didn't (not permanently, anyway).
This trope is the basis for Gibbs' Rule #73: "Never meet your heroes."
In Nip/Tuck, Sean's old teacher, Dr. Grayson, shows up as a pathetic alcoholic performing underground surgery on transsexuals in a filthy apartment.
Hook three times in Once Upon a Time season 5. First with Emma, who turns him into a Dark One against his will and tries enslaving him with Excalibur, pushing his Berserk Button. Then in the mid season finale. Young Killian Jones is rocked to find out his father had abandoned his sons and sold them into servitude. Especially when earlier on in the episode, he told his father "I want to be just like you".Then later with Liam, who as it turns out was more flawed and less noble than Killian had thought he was.
The Partridge Family plays this for laughs in "Me And My Shadow." When the money-grubbing Danny finds out a wealthy author deliberately lost a contest so he would have to donate $25,000 to the Children's Home, he says, "Another idol bites the dust."
A villainous example from Prison Break. Kellerman sees Caroline Reynolds as a cool and effective boss, a brilliant mastermind and follows her believing she can change the country for the better (the fact he has a huge crush on her helps). In season 2, being cut out of her main circle soon leads Kellerman to realize that rather than being the boss, Reynolds is nothing but a pawn for the Company and has little real power of her own.
Shawn and Gus from Psych see a bounty hunter (played by Hercules) bringing in a thug in the prologue of "Bounty Hunters" (season 2 episode 9), and immediately decide he's the coolest thing on the planet. Then he turns his head and winks at them, taking a level in awesome, and the Hero Worship begins in earnest. Years later (i.e. later that same episode) they meet him again and it turns out he's a complete douche, the "wink" was just a tic, and he even tries to kill Shawn and Gus near the end of the episode.
Cheryl Blossom loved her twin brother Jason and clearly thought the best of him. When Veronica is "slut-shamed" by a football player, she discovers other girls at the school were and they share how the players kept a book "keeping score" of their conquests. Cheryl rejects the idea as Jason would have told her given how they shared everything. She joins Betty and Veronica to discover that not only does the book exist but Jason's name is all over it with several conquests, including Betty's sister, Polly, who suffered a breakdown after their encounter. Cheryl (who had long thought Polly a crazy ex-girlfriend) is rocked to realize her brother wasn't this saintly man and apologizes to Betty for what he did and what she's thought of Polly.
Veronica Lodge had believed her father was being set up on charges of corruption and imprisoned falsely. She also accepted her mother as a moral compass helping her get through it. Veronica soon discovers that her father is not only guilty but, from his prison cell, is still running his plan to devalue the real estate of Riverdale so he can "tear it down and start over." Worse, her mother not only knew of her father's corruption but is helping him in his scheme.
In season 3, episode 8 of BBC's Robin Hood series, Robin's mentor appears, having agreed to help Prince John fake out the people of Nottingham with a lifelike wax dummy of King Richard, pretending that he's died. His reason for treason falls to Never Remove a Blood Knight From The Battlefield. He is taken off active duty because Richard believes he's gotten too old, but is given the prestigious position of guarding the crown jewels. Despite his age, he nearly bests Robin when they fight, but is unprepared for the guerrilla tactics Robin has developed in his absence.
The gang is happy to have movie star Johnny Dakota come to the school to shoot an anti-drug ad. Lisa is tongue-tied, Zack finds Johnny cool and Kelly goes with him to a party. But there, she finds Johnny smoking pot and the gang realize the guy is a huge hypocrite and refuse to do the shoot.
Mr. Belding's brother, Rod, comes to teach the class and shows himself as a really cool guy. Zack especially loves his attitude and how he doesn't put too much strict stuff in teaching and leading the kids in a camping trip. Before that happens, Zack overhears a fight between Belding and Rod where Rod is blowing off the trip for a hot date. It comes out that Rod has a long history of slacking off responsibility and doesn't care how the kids will be hurt at him not coming along. Belding covers by claiming Rod is sick and he'll lead the trip but Zack knows the truth.
Belding: I guess Rod always was the cooler Belding. Zack: Maybe. But we got the better Belding.
In the College Years spin-off, Zack and the gang are happy hanging out with a legendary player from the college. Until he turns out to be a total jerk who kicks Kelly out of a limo when she refuses his advances.
Scrubs does this a lot, usually JD reversing one of Dr Cox's pieces of wisdom back on him. Though Cox was a dick from day one.
Subverted, however, in the episode My Fallen Idol, where JD convinces himself that he's furious and disgusted with Cox for being a hypocrite about the advice he gave JD in the previous episode "My Lunch" after accidentally killing three patients, and then coming in to work stinking drunk the next day. However, JD gradually realizes that he actually doesn't care about what Cox did at all, and in fact admires the fact that even after years as a doctor, a patient's death could still affect Cox that deeply — he was just terrified over the idea of his tough, unshakable mentor being so badly shaken, and was using the things he did as an excuse to avoid him.
The Ancients, big time, in Stargate SG-1 and its related spinoffs. At first, everyone practically hero-worships them, and desperately wants to learn more about them, even meet them, if at all possible. However, after a number of demonstrations of just how badly they ended up screwing up (e.g. the creation of the Wraith... and the Pegasus Replicators... and the way that the Ascended Ancients let Anubis do more or less as he wished so long as he didn't use his ascended powers), plus their general apparent apathy as Ascended beings, most of the cast end up rather soured on them. And that's before a surviving ship full of Ancients turns up and unceremoniously boots the Expedition out of Atlantis. As Teyla observes, her people, the Athosians, found 'the Ancestors' to be a grave disappointment.
In the Starsky & Hutch episode "Birds of a Feather," Hutch finds out that his old mentor Luke Huntley, who was the reason Hutch became a cop in the first place, has been trading information to criminals in order to pay off his wife's gambling debts.
Happens retroactively in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Pegasus". The eponymous starship was Riker's first post-Academy assignment. The ship's former captain (now an admiral) was conducting illegal cloaking-device experiments until the crew mutinied. Riker defended his captain, and helped cover up the truth later. When said admiral comes back to retrieve said device, Riker admits that, given a second chance, he would have joined the mutineers instead (a claim he gets to fulfil in spirit later on).
Riker: I wasn't a hero, and neither were you! What you did was wrong, and I was wrong to support you, but I was too young and too stupid to realize it! You were the captain; I was the ensign. I was just following orders.
Happens also in The Drumhead - Picard is initially thrilled to have the revered Admiral Satie on board to assist their investigation into a possible saboteur on the Enterprise, but his pedestal is quickly broken when Satie starts ruthlessly persecuting his crew, including the captain himself.
In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, we get Admiral Leyton, whom Sisko admired... until he tries to usurp power and declare martial law.
Then we learn that Odo had not always placed justice first and 3 innocent Bajorans were executed as a result.
And Admiral Ross works with section 31!
Played straight and subverted in "Valiant": Nog meets Red Squad, the elite Cadet group from Starfleet (whom he adored) and they are stubborn, hubris-filled and intolerant, and get themselves killed, with Nog, Jake and some girl barely escaping. However, said girl still maintains her blind admiration of the group's leader, Tim Watters, refusing to accept that he was responsible for the whole disaster.
Sisko gets to play the role himself once, to the audience. The entire episode uses a Framing Device of a log over the past week or so. During this week, he lied, broke laws, and was an accessory to murder in his quest to bring the Romulans into the Dominion War on the side of the Federation.
An in-universe example, Kor (one of the Original Klingons) joins Worf and General Martok on a raid in Dominion space. He is able to captivate the crew with tales of fighting the Federation. However, during the battle with the Dominion, when command falls to Kor, he believes he is fighting the Federation with his long-deceased friend Kang. This nearly destroys the ship.
In a Peter David-written novel, Kira and Ro work together to stop a plague hitting Bajor and Kira seeks an old trusted member of the resistance. She's stunned when the man first demands payment in gold for his help and then when Ro reveals the guy is into smuggling and even child slavery. At first, Kira thinks the guy had to be broken somehow by the war. However, meeting other former fighters into criminal behavior, Kira is forced to acknowledge that these people were never as high moral as she thought, they were always corrupt and fighting the Cardassians were all they had in common.
Kai Opaka, a wise spiritual leader of Bajor until her death, once provided the Cardassians with the location of a Bajoran resistance cell so they could destroy it. She did this because she believed it was the best option -had she not given up the rebels, the Cardassians would have obliterated the entire area, killing thousands of others- but Kira is still shocked and disgusted to learn that such a beloved figure had aided the regime that enslaved their people. When details of this secret threatened to become public knowledge, Vedek Bareil decided to take the blame rather than allow Opaka's reputation and legacy to be tarnished, even though doing so utterly destroyed his own chances of becoming Kai and meant Vedek Winn was free to take the position for herself.
In Star Trek: Enterprise, T'Pol meets her hero, Ambassador V'Lar, who has just been accused of criminal misconduct. The pedestal collapses as V'Lar admits that "there is no defense" against the charges. Then it turns out that the charges were fabricated to draw attention from her mission to bring down a criminal syndicate, and she's a hero again.
One episode later, Archer finds himself on the pedestal when an alien named Zobral asks for his help in fighting a war, having heard how Archer defeated an entire army to save thousands of oppressed Suliban. He's disappointed to learn how exaggerated the stories are (Archer and his crew defeated a small Tandarin Redshirt Army to free 89 Suliban), and Archer tells him that even if the stories were accurate, that's not why he's out in space.
On Star Trek: Voyager Janeway talks of how she was inspired to join Starfleet by the stories she'd been told of her ancestor, Shannon O'Donnell. Janeway speaks with pride on how Shannon single-handedly created a special Millennium Gate Tower against massive opposition and became a star at NASA. But going over some old Earth records, Janeway discovers the truth: Shannon was never an astronaut, she was only a consultant on the project and there was no opposition to it. Chakotay points out that Janeway shouldn't be upset with Shannon as the woman had no idea she would have to live up to Janeway's expectations. Janeway tries to brush it off by saying her big concern is how to break it to her aunt that the great family legend is false.
In the Supergirl episode "Medusa", Kara discovers her father Zor-El is responsible for creating a bioweapon capable of killing any non-Kryptonians.
Supernatural - God himself. Castiel, a steadily descending angel spends most of season five looking for his father for guidance on how to prevent the apocalypse, only to discover that God just doesn't give a damn about any of them anymore, has effectively left them alone to get on with it, and doesn't care whether the apocalypse happens or not. This does not have a good effect on Castiel.
Castiel later becomes this to the Winchesters and the angels who follow him in the Angelic Civil War after it becomes clear that he has become a ends-justify-the-means Well-Intentioned Extremist and is making deals with demons.
Metatron invokes this when he positions Castiel to become a leader again during the Second Angelic Civil War, only to then frame Castiel as the mastermind behind a series of suicide bombings. The undecided angels respected Castiel for stopping the Apocalypse and thus flocked to him until Metatron's scheme showed them Castiel's flaws. Disillusioned, Castiel's followers switch their allegiance to Metatron. Castiel then turns it right back on Metatron by showing Metatron's most loyal followers what a Manipulative Bastard Metatron really is.
It comes up majorly in season 11 when God who's been living as writer Chuck is shown to have been in hiding for so long. Metatron lets him have it over how he's been praying to him all this time and God just dismisses it as nothing really changing. A big bit is Metatron talking of how happy he was when God chose him to be his Scribe only to learn that he was chosen simply because he was the closest angel.
Time After Time: Wells feels this for the future rather than a person. He had expected a utopia where war, hunger and other ills had been overcome, but instead discovers those things are still very much around in 2017, to the point of him almost crying while he watches the news. Ironically as this series is related to The Time Machine, that was one of his novels where the future isn't depicted as a utopia.
Conan: Tell us about this scene. This is a fight scene? Dean the Foley artist: Yes. This is between two principal characters, Chris Meloni and James Brolin. Chris Meloni just found out that James Brolin, who is his mentor, actually killed someone. Conan: They always do. Mentors always disappoint, just as you've disappointed me today.
Variant: when James May and Richard Hammond get to drive their childhood dream vehicles (a Lambourgini Countach and a Vincent Black Shadow motorbike, respectively), they find that the real things are harder to drive and less comfortable than they had imagined.
May: And [the Countach] looked so good on the poster. In fact, I wish it had stayed there. I'm absolutely gutted. But you know it's not the car's fault; it's mine. I've broken the Golden Rule: You never, ever meet your childhood heroes. ...Stick with the memories. They're just better.
Mentioned again — but blatantly averted — by Hammond in another episode in which he gets the chance to drive two more of his dream cars.note a Porsche 959 and a Ferrari F40 He giddily enjoys every moment behind the wheel of both.
Hammond: So often it is, "Don't drive your heroes." Not this time!
On Veep Selina Meyer talks warmly of her father, a great businessman who built the family fortune, bought her a horse as a kid and always brought her snowglobes for family vacations. To her, he was a much better parent than her cold mother who sold the horse off. But during a visit home, Selina finds out the truth: Her father had been cheating with his secretary for years and in fact, died during sex with her. He was the one who sold the horse to pay off debts as he was a horrible businessman and her mother had converted the barn into his private place to be with his mistress so not to be caught in a hotel. Every "business trip" was just him off with the secretary and she was the one who bought Selina the snowglobes. Selina is so upset that she ends up destroying the office her dad had and realizing how she ended up marrying a guy just as slimy as her father.
Victorious has Ryder Daniels, who has a reputation of taking girls under his wing... only to use them for class projects to help him get a good grade and then ditch them without any prior notice.
Voyagers!: "Bully and Billy" has Jeff encountering Billy the Kid, who he thinks is not honestly such a bad person. He changes his mind after seeing how mean and dishonorable he could be.
White Collar: Neal when he realizes that nothing matters to his dad more than himself. He makes it clear he's not above hurting his son to avoid even the chance of getting caught and Neal looks absolutely shattered.
The White Queen: In Episode 7, the pedestal that Richard of Gloucester had placed his eldest brother on now shows cracks as large as Edward IV's girth. The former has dedicated most of his life to serving his king, but his veneration transforms into disgust when Edward participates in an orgy while the Queen is in labour on the floor above. ("I don't believe that [whoring] is the best way to celebrate the birth of your child.") Richard's outrage solidifies during their war against France.
Richard: Dear Anne, our campaign is a farce. King Louis has offered Edward terms of peace and he has taken them. His son is to marry Edward's daughter, so she will be the next Queen of France, and lots of gold. I cannot forgive him for this betrayal. I have always been heart and soul for my brother Edward, but now I cannot meet his eye. We have become like merchants, haggling a price.
In Wire in the Blood, an old colleague of Tony Hill's returns and proceeds to attempt, apparently out of pure bitterness over his failures in life, to turn Tony and DI Fielding against each other.