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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Compare Obsolete Mentor, who can do what they teach and are capable of teaching, but they are a bit behind in how it works. Compare More Powered Protégé, in which the disciple has more powers than the mentor (and sometimes overlaps with this). Compare Sabotutor for those who deliberately train their pupil wrong. For characters generally giving advice for things they know nothing about, see The Blind Leading the Blind. See also Anti-Role Model, when a character is presented as someone the audience should not emulate. Contrast Uncertified Expert, where the character is actually good at what he does, but never got the training or license for it.

Mooching Master and Fair-Weather Mentor are subtropes about mentors who may or may not be able to teach, but take advantage of their students either way.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Tondemon Higashi from Battle Club, like Genma below, is a Played With example. He led Swan Academy to eight successive all-Japan championships but is shown to be Secretly Selfish and shown to be something of a Jaded Washout. Kuniko Mukoda Start of Darkness was a wrestling prodigy like his first student Ginkakuji Tamami. However, he saw her as little more than a Poor Man's Substitute and never believed that she could make it. He quickly planned on replacing her upon meeting Tamami’s daughter.
  • In Cells at Work!, Red Blood Cell (AE3803) is given a Kohai Red Blood Cell to look after and mentor. Only AE3803 is the resident Cute Clumsy Girl with No Sense of Direction and gets easily distracted, while her kohai is disciplined and serious about the job. AE3803 herself lampshades she's a terrible senpai and even apologizes to her kohai. Though to her credit, what she lacks in competence, AE3803 makes up in determination, continuing to deliver oxygen even during the Darkest Hour and vowing to keep going to the very end. It is this undying determination that does inspire her kohai.
  • My Hero Academia: Downplayed with All Might, who can competently guide a workout regimen, but the nuances of regular teaching are beyond him. He lives up to his reputation as the Symbol of Peace a little too well, since he originally got a grasp on his powers so quickly that he didn't really need to learn the basics. As such, All Might legitimately has trouble understanding Izuku's much slower progress, and much of his well-meaning advice is uselessly vague. He's not much better with the other 1-A students, accidentally coming across as a bumbling Sink or Swim Mentor. One of All Might's own mentors, Gran Torino, bluntly lampshades that the world's greatest hero is a terrible teacher. However, after burning out his powers, All Might starts to get better about it, if only because he's been reading "Teaching for Dummies" books.
  • Ranma ½:
    • Ranma's father Genma is a Played With example. Most of the time he is actually a very competent teacher of martial arts who does know how to instruct and motivate, although quite a Sink or Swim Mentor (and generally a jerk, morally speaking). However, his attempt to teach the "Cat Fist" technique was a fiasco that left Ranma mentally traumatized for life, because Genma didn't bother reading the full manual on how to teach that technique which warned that it was dangerous and stupid.
    • Happōsai, the grandmaster of Anything Goes Martial Arts. While a very formidable martial artist, he's a terrible teacher who makes Genma look proficient in comparison. All of the flashbacks of him with Sōun and Genma show him forcing his students to steal food and underwear for him, rather than teaching them any proper martial arts. When he returns in the present and takes Ranma in as his student, he also adds in groping Ranma-chan's breasts and making her wear girly outfits. It's little surprise all his students try to get rid of him and at times attempt to murder him whenever given the chance.

    Fan Works 
  • Androgyninja's A Drop of Poison: Kakashi blatantly favors Naruto and Sasuke over Sakura; she's convinced this is due to her civilian background. Doesn't help that he uses any moment where she shines to encourage the boys not to let her outdo them, and expects her to play peacemaker and 'help keep the boys in line' even as he refuses to do anything about Sasuke blatantly calling her Cannon Fodder. While he claims that "those who abandon their allies are worse than trash," he repeatedly fails to teach his students how to work together. That said, he occasionally steps up, such as when he berates Naruto for endangering his teammates and overriding Sakura's decision to bow out of the Chunin Exams.
  • The Leviathans to all the various Citadel races in Incompatible System. By giving the Citadel races eezo technology, they locked them out of the far more powerful WIMP Tech Tree (eezo destabilizes violently when exposed to WIMP fields, to the point where even a few milligrams could level a city).
  • A Savage Nature: Rognak, the first orc druid, is an absolute prodigy who can perform almost every druidic spell, including a particularly powerful werebear transformation. But his talent along with the fact he's self-taught makes him an atrocious teacher. He can tell his students what they should be trying to do, but not how to do it. Thankfully, by the time he has students, he and they are all being taught by Cenarius, who is even more naturally talented but has over ten thousand years of experience at teaching.

    Films — Animated 
  • Peter B. Parker in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is ultimately a failure of a mentor to the hero, Miles Morales. Though he's actually a pretty accomplished Spider-Man, he sucks at teaching the skills, and ultimately admits that the best advice he can give is for Miles to not bother imitating him and to try figuring out his own path to becoming Spider-Man. The third act is Miles putting that advice into action.
    Peter B. Aim with your hips! Look where you want it to hit! Square your shoulders! Don't forget to follow through! Don't shoot off your back foot!
    Miles: That's too many things!
    Peter B. Then stop listening to me!
    Miles: That's the best idea you've had all day!
    Peter B. Come on, go easy on the kid. He had a terrible teacher!

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Cradle Series:
    • Lindon soon learns that no one in the Sacred Valley has any idea what they're doing. Practically everything they do to advance their sacred arts is horrendously wrong, hamstringing their own development to the point that no one in the Valley has reached Gold-stage in centuries, which the outside world considers the first stage of real sacred artists. Their cruelty towards Lindon ends up working in his favor, as they refused to teach him all these things that would have seriously crippled him.
    • Carried over to Uncrowned and Wintersteel where Orthos was forced to rebuild Wei Shi Kelsa's Iron Body because the residents of the Sacred Valley did not know that they could or should be tailored to your individual path.
  • Dungeon Crawler Carl: Most of the game guides vary between "not very good at their jobs" and "actively screwing over the crawlers." Donut theorizes that they hate their jobs and are taking it out on the crawlers. Mordecai mentions financial incentives to make the guides do their best, but apparently those aren't particularly effective. Special mention goes to Frank and Maggie's guide (who told them the only way to advance was to murder other crawlers, leading to the death of their daughter), and Meadow Lark's guide (who seems mostly good at her job, but once she becomes a manager she just checks out and treats the whole thing as a vacation). The Popov brothers' guide told them that taking the nodling race would give them an "extra life," but it actually merged them both into one body; they're kind of pissed about it. Though it turns out this was a trick to get past the people running the season. Once the Popovs die, they're reborn as two baby ogres... and as babies, they're exempt from the Crawl. They're teleported out of the dungeon and to safety.
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: A famous wizard, Gilderoy Lockhart, is hired by Hogwarts School to teach the students Defense Against the Dark Arts. However, when he begins teaching, it quickly becomes apparent that he's utterly incompetent, while passing his numerous failures off as "accidents" or demonstrations on things to avoid. That he's revealed to have stolen anonymous witches and wizards' feats in order to become famous doesn't help.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A frequent criticism of America's Next Top Model is that Tyra Banks and the judges claim to be modelling veterans offering to help the contestants break into the business when a lot of the advice and criticisms they offer are impractical and have almost nothing to do with how the model industry works. Tyra's more interested in making the contestants engage in wacky, dangerous and embarrassing challenges, making them help her shill her own products and fostering drama between them for the cameras. Jay Manuel and J. Alexander, the two judges who most frequently lead the show's photoshoots, are a former make up artist and runway coach respectively with no professional experience in photography, leading to them often telling the inexperienced models to go out and direct themselves during shoots and disparaging them whenever they do a poor pose or the photos come out bad.
  • Big Time Rush: In "Big Time School of Rocque", Gustavo creates a school in the studio for the band to go to instead of the Palm Woods school like everyone else. Every teacher he hires for the boys end up flawed, such as a temperamental and nervous man who quit to be come a "Man Band" in Germany, and WWE wrestler Chris "The Masterpiece" Masters, who made them spend their time exercising through desk lifts.
  • One episode of iCarly has Carly turn to Spencer for art lessons after being unable to even draw a decent looking rabbit. Despite being a talented artist, his mentoring included tactics such as waking her up in the middle of the night to draw his foot (which was covered in a sticky green substance), making her draw hobos in the park, and a lecture on the history of the color yellow. Carly gets fed up and leaves for a different art teacher, however she turns out to not be much better as she only got so far as teaching the class to make straight and unconnected lines before Spencer calls her out on being uncreative.
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide:
    • In "Guide to Shyness", Cookie decides to teach a bunch of shy students how to have "Cookie Confidence". He makes them to a lot of insane things he himself did, like slam-dunk a basketball using a gigantic overpowered trampoline, use a mop-bucket slingshot, and dig tunnels through the school. Eventually, his student gets fed up and turns against him when he tries to make the fight a psychopath, ironically displaying the very confidence he'd worked to teach them in telling him off.
    • "Guide to Tutors" has Ned dealing with multiple bad tutors. One is a loudmouthed Nerdy Bully, one is a Motor Mouth who can't stay focused, and one is a Jerk Jock who is willing to just give Ned the answer for a date with his friend Moze. Eventually, his science teacher Mr. Sweeney is the one to be Ned's tutor once Ned expressed his problems. Meanwhile, Mose herself was mentoring a class of fifth-graders. Despite being a good teacher, she failed to teach her class anything because they were so attracted to her. She could only get them to learn by making herself hideously ugly.

    Video Games 
  • Portal 2: Wheatley tries to give Chell whatever advice he can throughout their time together, but his advice is always terrible. Figures since he was literally designed to be a moron.
  • Punch-Out!!: Glass Joe is known for being the worst boxer in the franchise. That being said, he's the one who trained Gabby Jay from Super Punch-Out!! how to box. Gabby Jay's only win is against his own mentor, and his record ends up being about the same.
  • Street Fighter: Dan Hibiki serves as a fighting mentor for Sakura and Blanka. However, both of his students are much better fighters than he is, and Sakura even tells him that his fighting style sucks in Pocket Fighter. The ironic thing is in Pocket Fighter, the ending happens after Dan beats Sakura so in that case Dan's fighting was superior.
  • Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom: Reckless veteran Maniac teaches rookie Catscratch some flight maneuvers. catscratch almost gets shot down trying them out in his next mission, and you have to choose whether to complete your own mission or rescue the rookie.


    Web Original 
  • Cobra Kai: An older Daniel LaRusso eventually opens the Miyagi-Do dojo in order to pass on the teachings his late mentor taught him. However, in his obsession over defeating Cobra Kai once and for all, he merely teaches his students how to fight to defend themselves, failing to pass on the lessons Mr. Miyagi taught him on pacifism and how to solve problems without violence. This failure greatly contributes in the disaster that is the second season finale.
  • Don't Hug Me I'm Scared: The "teachers" of each episode attempt to teach the main characters about something they should in theory know tons about, like a computer teaching, well, about computers. However, these lessons never teach the characters anything, are full of inconsistencies, poor logic, and Blatant Lies, and succeed only in scaring or manipulating the characters into following their personal agenda. In some cases, such as "Creativity", they are actually taught not to be creative and punished when showing actual creative ability.

    Western Animation 
  • On Big Mouth, pretty much every Hormone Monster encourages sexual activity, but also tends to try to push their kids to become juvenile delinquents. Nick, Andrew, and Jessi in particular are prone to complaining that their Hormone Monsters are more of a hindrance than a help.
  • Earthworm Jim: In one episode, Jim finds a sword the claims to be a legendary sword wielded by great heroes and offers to teach Jim how to be one. Near the end of the episode, however, the sword admits that nobody that ever wielded him ever won a fight. Finding this out, Jim immediately discards the sword.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: In "The Big Lablooski", Mac - after being kicked off Madame Foster's bowling team in favor for Bloo - gets lessons from an imaginary friend named Bowling Paul, who supposedly won all the trophies on display in the bowling alley. But when he tries to put his lessons (which are mostly of the "one with the ball" variety) to practice, he ends up wrecking the place. Turns out Paul was the imaginary friend of the owner, who won all the trophies, and Paul himself has no bowling skills whatsoever.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Applejack and Rainbow Dash serve as this in the episode "Non-Compete Clause". While normally good teachers, their competitive nature makes them unable to teach the students the lessons on cooperation as they end up constantly arguing with one another instead. In the end, though, it works out with the students assuming the duo were showing them what cooperation isn't in order to give them the idea of what it is. Twilight was able to figure out the truth, and it shows that in the end, the two don't get any better.