Follow TV Tropes


Broken Pedestal

Go To
Never meet your heroes.

"It's like going to heaven and finding God smoking crack!"
Riley Freeman, The Boondocks

You ever heard the warning "Never meet your heroes"?

There are people we admire, even idolize; people who are everything that we want to be. Even if we meet them only briefly, they have the power to change our lives. These mentors and idols teach us to use our full potential and do great things, and not only do we love them for it, we imagine that nothing could ever tarnish the memory that we hold of them.

Unfortunately, sometimes something does. And nowhere is this more true than in fiction.

When this trope is in play, if you look up to someone, chances are good that they're the scum of the earth. At least, they’re not what you think they are — or they were, but time has passed and the luster has faded. (This is particularly likely if the audience has just heard about them for the first time). If you're in law enforcement, you'll probably suffer the double blow of seeing their darkest secrets and having to be the one to put them in handcuffs. If your idol was your teacher, you'll find yourself repeating — with bitter irony — some maxim or mantra that you still hold but your mentor has since abandoned.


What makes a pedestal break varies, but it runs anywhere from a good person who abandoned their ideals or switched sides to a monster who was Evil All Along. Most of the time, the idol kept his shining image by hiding or suppressing anything damning, but sometimes the fault was in those who worshiped him and saw an overly idealized image instead of the real person. Or maybe others saw the signs of bad in them, but the one who supported the idol, a friend of theirs, insisted that the idol had a Hidden Heart of Gold that only they could see, only to realize everyone else was right about them all along. Expect them to ask, "Was It All a Lie?" Is also frequently a result of a Deceptive Legacy or Insidious Rumor Mill being revealed to the deceived parties.

This trope disallows real life examples, and with good reason. If you have ever had someone turn on you at least once or realize the person you looked up to and considered a friend is the opposite of what you expected, you'd concur that this trope is Truth in Television. In fact, you'll be surprised that it's more if not just as common in Real Life as it is in fiction. Should real life examples be allowed, there would be a risk of this page crashing because there's just that too much to list.


It doesn't always have to involve celebrities, either. It can also be the last person you'd expect (or want), like your Childhood Friends or your older brother (or sister), even your own parents if you're unlucky enough.

When the mentor or idol is both worthy of admiration but shows demonstrable flaws, that's Warts and All.

Related to Beleaguered Childhood Friend, Fake Ultimate Hero, False Friend and Big Bad Friend. Compare Fallen Hero and Historical Hero Upgrade. Also compare Defiled Forever, My Girl Is Not a Slut, and Unpleasant Parent Reveal. Also coincides with Nice Character, Mean Actor since an encounter with such a person can lead to this. Contrast with Evil Mentor, who was Obviously Evil from the beginning. Not to be confused with Broken Base. Also contrast Rebuilt Pedestal, when a formerly Broken Pedestal is forgiven or exonerated. Contrast with Blind Obedience where this usually isn't the case.

Due to the nature of the trope, there will be unmarked spoilers abound. You Have Been Warned!

Example subpages:

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Strips 
  • In an early Bloom County strip, Milo searches for Betty Crocker, of all people, someone he believes represents America as it should be: pure, unspoiled, and decent. Sadly, when he finds the now-elderly founder of the company, she's the same as any other CEO, and is Only in It for the Money. (Even worse, she knows nothing about actual cooking.) Still, Milo takes small comfort at the end:
    Milo: Y'know, I came looking for the real America in Betty Crocker... and know what? I think I found her. Farewell.
    [beat panel as Betty thinks about it]
    Betty: Overhyped but basically a good broad!
    Milo: Bingo.

    Films — Animation 
  • Arlo the Alligator Boy: Having been raised in a swamp until he was 15 years old, Arlo spends a good majority of the film returning to his birth home, New York City, so he can reunite with his biological father Ansel. Once he meets him however, he is devastated when Ansel claims his "son" is gone and rudely disowns him, and even tried to literally change his personality while having nothing to do with him.
  • Big Hero 6: Hiro idolized Professor Callaghan to the point of giving up underground robot fights to study under him at Tadashi's college. Unfortunately, Callaghan stole Hiro's microbots project for personal reasons and started a fire to cover his tracks, which resulted in Tadashi's death when he tried to save Callaghan. When confronted about this, Callaghan tells Hiro right in his face that it was Tadashi's own fault for dying. In the resulting violent (though understandable) fit of Heroic BSoD Hiro orders Baymax to destroy Callaghan. Callaghan only narrowly survives because Hiro's friends intervene.
  • In The Boss Baby, the Boss Baby idolizes Super Colossal Big Fat Boss Baby until he learns that he is now Francis E. Francis, the head of Puppy Co., and is working to create a product called the "Forever Puppy" in order to end Baby Corp forever.
  • In Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, Flint becomes disillusioned to Chester V when the latter intends to make the harmless foodimals into food bars.
  • In Coco, Miguel idolizes Ernesto de la Cruz, a famous singer and actor who inspired Miguel's dreams of becoming a musician, despite the rest of his family banning music after Miguel's great-great-grandfather walked out on the family to pursue his dreams of stardom. Then Miguel learns Ernesto murdered his partner, Miguel's great-great-grandfather Héctor, when he wanted to leave showbiz to go home to his family. Not only was Ernesto responsible for generations of anguish and a major rift between Miguel and his family, he then proceeded to steal the credit for Héctor's songs and use them to pave his way to stardom.
  • In Frozen (2013), after spending the entirety of the movie believing in her sister, Anna seems to have lost her faith in Elsa when in their meeting at the Ice Castle where in not only did her attempts to reconnect got completely rejeced once again but also got struck in the heart and got sicced with a giant ice monster that almost killed her. This is clearly evident by the fact that after this moment, she never tried to defend her sister for her actions (wherein she previously did when the Duke calls her a monster), even admitting to Hans that she was wrong about Elsa not hurting her during the True Love's Kiss that is said to thaw her frozen heart. And then Hans betrays her, leaves her to die, and gleefully reveals he can now kill Elsa with no negative consequences, embracing this trope to its fullest. Fortunately, Elsa and Anna save each other from him and rebuild their sisterly bond by the end of the movie.
    • In Frozen II, Anna and Elsa clearly have different feelings for their grandfather, after seeing that he murdered the Northuldrans' leader in cold blood and tried to subjugate them.
  • In Home (2015), Oh idolizes Captain Smek, even though the guy's an egomaniac and a complete moron and looks down on Oh for not being successfully socialized and believing in things like friendship and individuality. Tip's influence gradually helps Oh figure that Captain Smek doesn't need to be listened to.
  • Home on the Range: Rico is this for Buck after it's revealed that he's been Alameda Slim's lackey all along.
  • Hoodwinked!: Red Puckett is hurt when Granny's secret extreme sports life is revealed.
  • The Incredibles:
    • Mr. Incredible is this for Syndrome. As a child, Buddy Pine starts out as Mr. Incredible's self-proclaimed biggest fan and spends the entire opening sequence of the film trying to persuade the superhero into letting him become his sidekick "IncrediBoy". However, he repeatedly gets on Bob's nerves until he coldly tells him, "I Work Alone." Soon after, Buddy's attempts to prove himself cost Bob his chance of apprehending Bomb Voyage and he turns the boy over to the police to take him home. This act disillusions Buddy from not just Bob, but all superheroes in general, leading him to take his frustrations out on all Supers as the villainous Syndrome.
      Syndrome: You can't count on anyone, especially your heroes.
    • Downplayed with the two police officers that appear in the Golden Age montage that opens the film. After Mr. Incredible stops two robbers with a tree, the officers congratulate him and express their appreciation. However, after the train accident, Bob realizes he is now late for his wedding and can't help with the search for Bomb Voyage. As he drives off, the two officers look on in disbelief and disappointment.
  • In Kung Fu Panda, prior to the movie, Po had always looked up both the Furious Five and Shifu & always dreamed of learning Kung Fu to become a part of them. But then come the events of the movie. Oogway chooses him to be the Kung Fu master, but Po's initial excitement soon fades when they repeatedly demean and insult him and openly declare that he has no place in the Jade Palace, even declaring that he should leave the place. When he gets confronted by Shifu after chickening out, he not only calls him out on their behavior but also demands to know if he even can or wants to turn someone like him into a Dragon Warrior to confront Tai Lung. When Shifu has nothing to say about it, Po ultimately leaves the Palace, his dreams of being a Kung Fu master being utterly shattered by their cruel actions. Fortunately, after remembering his promise to Oogway to train Po before the former passed away, Shifu decides to train him for real, and in a way that actually works.
  • As a naïve young cub, Simba from The Lion King (1994) idolizes his Obviously Evil uncle Scar as much as he does his more noble father Mufasa. However, after Simba grows up and sees how Scar's mismanagement has ruined the Pride Lands, his admiration is replaced with contempt and Tranquil Fury, which grows even stronger when he learns that Scar killed Mufasa. It's telling that not once does adult Simba address Scar as "Uncle", showing that he no longer sees Scar as family.
  • Implied in The Little Mermaid (1989). Even before King Triton destroys the human treasures belonging to his youngest daughter, he's yelling at Ariel for simply saving the life of another living being.
  • Monsters, Inc.: Mr. Waternoose becomes this to Sulley when the latter finds out the former's involvement in Randall's plans of kidnapping children to solve the energy crisis.
  • In Mune: Guardian of the Moon, Glim is a huge Fangirl of all things Guardian and is quite impressed by Sohone, the new Guardian of the Sun, at first. When she finds out that he's a Jerk Jock Casanova Wannabe, she cools on him quickly.
  • Much the same thing happens in Muppet Treasure Island. Long John is revealed to be a pirate, after taking on a surrogate father role to the (orphan) Jim Hawkins.
  • Planes: Skipper when Dusty learned he exaggerated his accomplishments.
  • In Scooby-Doo! and the Witch's Ghost, the gang meets famed horror writer Ben Ravencroft, who Velma is a huge fan of, and they agree to help him look for a journal that once belonged to his ancestor, Sarah Ravencroft, who Ben claims was wrongfully accused of being a witch back in the 1600s, and he believes that finding the journal will help clear her name. But by the end of the movie, Ben's true colors are revealed. He was using the gang to help him find not a journal, but a spell book that belonged to Sarah, who really was a witch, and Ben planned on using it to help him bring Sarah back from the dead so that they can rule the world together.
    • Ben gets hit with this himself after Sarah is resurrected and she decides to destroy the world rather than take it over.
  • Twice in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse:
    • The Spider-Man / Peter Parker from Miles' universe is a cheerful, Happily Married, super-cool Ace whose heroism makes a huge impact on Miles, especially after he gets bitten by the radioactive spider and Peter promises to help him get the hang of his powers. Then Peter dies almost immediately afterwards, leaving Miles with some very big shoes to fill. So he's at first relieved when the portal brings in another universe's Peter Parker... until he finds out that this Peter is cynical, divorced, barely cares about anything anymore, and is not interested in being a mentor. It's Played for Laughs, but Miles expresses disappointment multiple times that of all the Spider-Men in the multiverse, he got stuck with this one. Becomes a Rebuilt Pedestal, as knowing Miles inspires Peter to get his life back together and be better once he returns to his own universe.
    • In an utterly devastating example, Miles finds out that his Cool Uncle Aaron — the one adult in his life who accepts him exactly as he is and encourages his interests, and the only relative he feels he can really talk to — is actually the Prowler, a hitman working for Kingpin, who has been trying to kill him all movie. (It should be noted that Aaron had no idea the new Spider-Man was his beloved nephew, and is horrified when he finds out.) The look on Miles' face when he realizes is a mixture of heartbreak and pure terror.
  • In Tad, the Lost Explorer, Tad was a big fan of Max Mordon's TV show, because he made archeology fun, but then detested him when he found out that Max was the head of a smuggling ring that stole archaeological finds to sell to highest bidder.
  • In Treasure Planet, Jim's trust in Silver is broken when he discovers that he is a pirate and the mastermind behind the ship's mutiny. Silver makes up for it in the end, though.
  • In Up, on arriving in Venezuela, Carl Frederickson meets his childhood hero, the explorer Charles Muntz, who has spent his life trying to capture a rare bird that lives on the plateau near Paradise Falls... and has become dangerously obsessed with his quest, to the point of killing people he even thinks are trying to get the bird back to civilization before him, and threatening Carl and Russell.


  • Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 was dedicated to Napoleon because Beethoven thought Napoleon represented all the good ideals of the French Revolution. When he got the news that Napoleon declared himself emperor, he scratched out the dedication so vigorously that he slashed a hole in the paper.
  • The Who's Quadrophenia brings us the Ace Face, a mod whom Jimmy, the album's protagonist, idolized during the Mod days. When he meets him later, he finds that he's sold out and is now a bell boy. The whole album is about Jimmy being let down by his idols.
  • Subject of the short TISM track "I'm A Genius":
    Heroes seem so from a far
    But if you meet 'em you'll think twice.
    Genius is different from the rest of us...
    Most of us are nice!
  • Robbie Williams' song "Strong", from his album I've Been Expecting You, was an attempt by Williams at invoking this trope and breaking the pedestal that some of his more Loony Fans had put him on, by painting his lifestyle as being less glamorous than they were imagining:
    My breath smells of a thousand fags
    And when I'm drunk I dance like my dad
    I've started to dress a bit like him
    And early morning, when I wake up
    I look like Kiss but without the make-up...
  • Mentioned in Daniel Amos's "The Incredible Shrinking Man" (from Vox Humana):
    The clergy dresses you in tights and cape
    And so the pressure's on to make no mistake
    In truth, there is no way that you won't break
    You're gonna fall
    You're much too small
  • The trope is interestingly deconstructed in Imelda May's "Human", in which the singer insists on being loved for her true self instead of being idealised:
    So come adore me, but know I'm gonna fall
    Off of this pedestal that I hope you've put me on
    And as God's above me, I swear I'll try to be
    All that you ever want and I'll be the best of me
    I wanna be your human...
  • Penelope Scott's "Rät" is about the songwriter's own experience of growing up admiring the scientists and technological advancements of Silicon Valley and the like, but becoming disillusioned with how corrupt the industry is.
    'Cause we're so fucking mean, we're so elitist
    We're as fucked as any church
    And this bullshit west coast dogma has a higher fucking net worth
    I bit the apple 'cause I loved you, and why would you lie?
    And then I realized, you're just as naive as I am
    Oh, you're so traumatized it makes me want to cry
  • Death Cab for Cutie's "60 & Punk" is about a fan's disgust at a rock star's drunken antics:
    There's nothing funny 'bout you slipping away
    It's nothing funny how you're spending your days
    But you're laughing like a kid at a carnival
    watched you stumbling 'round this dusty town
    I heard your bottle talking way too loud
    As the Federales tried to hunt you down
    For something you can't remember what was about

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Hulk Hogan's infamous Face–Heel Turn at Bash at the Beach in 1996 caused this sentiment in a lot of child fans of his. Sting would even call this "the ultimate betrayal."
  • Chuck Palumbo and Billy Gunn wrestled as an ambiguously gay duo Tag Team that eventually revealed they were planning to get married and hired their stylist Rico Constantino as their wedding planner. At the last minute they revealed they were in fact heterosexual, would not be getting married and that Palumbo wouldn't be Gunn's type even if he was gay. This outraged Rico, who formed Three Minute Warning with Jamal and Rosey in revenge, and the long running Christopher Street Connection exoticos Mace Mendoza and Buff E (whose own marriage failed for different reasons).
  • Silas Young said he had as much respect for Davey Richards as he did for Samoa Joe, CM Punk and the three Ring of Honor founding fathers until he saw Richards compete in a dance off against the Hoopla Hotties on the unauthorized A Night Of Hoopla, confirming to Silas that he really was the last real man.
  • Noemi Bosques gave SHINE wrestling some much welcome publicity when the and coming boxer went to their 19th show to see Niya and La Rosa Negra. However, she quickly became disappointed by Niya's behavior and defaulted to just La Rosa Negra's corner in future visits.
  • Roman Reigns was taken in by two veteran wrestlers as part of The Shield, the some kind of insane Dean Ambrose and the calculated risk taker Seth Rollins. Many familiar with Rollin's work prior to being put underneath Vince McMahon's thumb know he had a tendency to Sell-Out but it was initially the Big Bad Wannabe Ambrose that Reigns had the most problems getting along with. Then Rollins sold them both out to The Authority, just as he and Ambrose were starting to get along.
  • AJ Styles was The Heart of Impact Wrestling, having been there since the beginning, giving his all and more to the company, getting the respect of everyone and not being an embarrassment like other wrestlers. They repeatedly paid him back and others like him by sticking them in midcard hell, forever jobbing to Over-The-Hill wrestlers and WWE rejects, and when his contract was up, they offered him a contract that would have cut 40% of his salary. He turned it down and went to New Japan Pro-Wrestling and Ring of Honor and made himself the biggest name in Professional Wrestling to have never signed with WWE. Meanwhile, TNA went into a complete nosedive, being cancelled twice in two years, having most of their signature talent be signed by their biggest competitor, the aforementioned WWE, and more-or-less becoming a sinking ship. Fast forward to late 2015. TNA desperately needs publicity and a big star to help turn things around when they debut on their new channel. They contact AJ, break the bank with an offer for him, discuss storyline, merchandise, the whole enchilada. But AJ, no doubt jaded from his time with them and wishing to do what's best for his family, turned them down a few days later and went to — where else? — WWE. In this scenario, TNA has no one else to blame but themselves. If that weren't enough, TNA would then nuke the bridge into oblivion and destroy any chance of him coming back post-WWE by posting this statement on their website two days before his debut in WWE, trying to throw him under the bus and paint him as some treacherous backstabber in hopes of getting sympathy from the fans. The IWC, knowing full well how terribly AJ and other workers were treated by TNA, proceeded to put the company on blast and bash on them for trying to ruin his prosperity.

  • Inverted in Interstitial: Actual Play. Criss admits he wasn't a Keyblade master and actually flunked out of Yen Sid's tutelage, but the others are glad he felt comfortable sharing that with them, and Roxanne grows closer to him (symbolized by her Mastery link with him becoming a Heart Link).
  • In the Gemini Arc of Sequinox, the girls are sent to a world where Caiden wasn't resurrected after the fight with Scorpius. Therefore Gel, who is a huge fan of the magical girls in the main universe, hates Sequinox here because they couldn't protect her brother.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • While some Chaos Space Marines abandoned the Imperium for power, For the Evulz or simply because of spending too much time around Chaos energies, others defected (and continue to do so) because of disillusionment with the Imperium or the God-Emperor. "Death to the False Emperor!" is a common Battle Cry among Chaos warbands. Among the Traitor Primarchs, Horus turned against the Emperor after becoming convinced by prophetic visions that the Emperor would lead humanity to ruin, and Lorgar worshipped the Emperor like a god until he was given a brutal, humiliating Break the Believer session that shattered his faith and led him to turn to the Chaos Gods.
      • Horus' successor as leader of his legion, Abaddon the Despoiler, is similarly disillusioned with his own Primarch, angry that he led the Traitor Legions to defeat during the Siege of Terra and failed to kill the Emperor. He renamed his legion from the Sons of Horus to the Black Legion to symbolically wipe his and their hands of Horus' very name, and after discovering Fabius Bile creating a clone of Horus, he personally destroyed said clone without hesitation or remorse, while throwing in another disavowal as he did so.
      Abaddon: [to Clone Horus] I am not your son.
    • Commander Farsight was a loyal servant of the Tau Empire before he learned that the ruling caste were actively suppressing knowledge of Chaos from the general populace and engaging in other Utopia Justifies the Means-type behaviour. Unlike the Chaos Marines, however, he didn't fight their rule, believing that the alternative (a return to the pointless and destructive civil war among his people that had ended with the Ethereal's arrival long ago) was worse, and chose self-imposed exile instead.
      • Farsight himself became one to the soldier caste of the Tau because of his defection — to his successor, Commander Shadowsun, in particular. Her first act upon receiving his position was to go to a statue of Farsight and blow it up in front of her soldiers, to demonstrate that a new regime was now in play.
    • Roboute Guilliman's faith in the Emperor was broken after he met him face to face again in Dark Imperium and realized that the Emperor never saw him or the other Primarchs as anything but tools. He now fights for the Emperor's ideals and the Imperium, and not for the Emperor.

  • Arthur Miller's All My Sons revolves around this trope after The Reveal.
  • Death of a Salesman: Biff, the elder of the two Loman sons, is the high school football star and pretty nearly guaranteed a full scholarship to the University of Virginia...until his Broken Pedestal moment. He gets into a scrape at school and goes to find his father, the eponymous traveling salesman, with the hope that his father can get him out of it. The result is that he discovers his father is a serial philanderer. He's so disillusioned by the fall of his idol that he ends up dropping out and throwing away his very promising future.
  • To an extent Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Upon first meeting, Hamilton gushes about Burr and wanting to follow in his footsteps. He quickly comes to realize that he and Burr have very different and generally incompatible views on life, which causes resentment to build between the two for years to come until it culminates in their fateful duel.
  • The Nerd by Larry Shue revolves around the title character ruining the professional and romantic life of the man he saved in Vietnam, to the latter's increasing exasperation. Subverted in that the Nerd is an actor who was hired by a friend of said man to make him realize his priorities.
  • The Phantom of the Opera: 'Farewell my fallen idol and false friend/We had such hopes but now those hopes lie shattered... Angel of Music, you deceived me/I gave you my mind blindly.' Erik goes from being a Stalker with a Crush into a full-blown wack job when he, in a convoluted Wife Husbandry plan kidnaps Christine and threatens to kill her fiance unless she agrees to marry him (Erik, that is).
  • In That Championship Season, four of the five players of the 1952 Pennsylvania State High School Basketball Championship winning team of Fillmore High are still relying heavily on their coach, whom most of them view as a father figure, for life advice twenty years later. However, near the end of the play, one of the players reveals that Coach's philosophy emphasising winning above all else led to the incident which caused the fifth team member to turn his back on the others, and it is becoming apparent to all of them that Coach's advice revolves entirely around pep talk platitudes which may rally a team to victory in a basketball game but leave them completely unequipped to deal with the trials and tribulations of adult life, and that he is a bigoted, bullying fraud.
  • Subverted with the protagonists' relationship in Wicked, as Elphaba and Glinda, who sing about how "People come into our lives, for a reason," genuinely feel that they have been changed for the better for knowing the other, even though Elphaba has turned her back on society, and Glinda has sold out to the love of the citizens of Oz.
    • Wicked also contains a straight example in the Wizard, beloved by all of Oz and idolized by Elphaba and Glinda, who turns out to be a con man and the Big Bad. Though the revelation takes longer for Glinda to process, she eventually accomplishes more with the knowledge than Elphaba.

    Visual Novels 
  • From the Ace Attorney series:
    • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, prosecutor Miles Edgeworth discovers that the man who raised him after his father's death (and taught him everything he knows about law and prosecution) is his father's killer. And also a ruthless perfectionist who'd do anything to win, but he already knew that — he was okay with it because he assumed everyone the man prosecuted was guilty.
    • In another example for Edgeworth, he finds out that Ernest Amano, who financed his studies, and whom he respected enough that he would deliver the ransom money to his son's kidnappers as a personal favor, obstructs justice by buying the haunted house in Gatewater Land so that his son won't be exposed as a murderer, and is also affiliated with the smuggling ring. The closest he gets to a pithy statement is saying in the ending that he owes him a debt of gratitude, but he must pay his debt to society.
    • Edgeworth himself is this to Phoenix Wright, who remembers when he used to be an idealistic child who wanted to be a defense attorney. After some Character Development, Edgeworth becomes his Rebuilt Pedestal and is able to support him when Phoenix has a crisis of conscience over a client who really is guilty.
    • Kristoph Gavin, the mentor of Apollo in the fourth game ends being the murderer in the first case and the Big Bad of the game. Apollo is also livid to find out that Phoenix, a former ace lawyer whom he treated with the utmost respect, gave him a fake clue to make Kristoph confess to the murder of Shadi Smith, to the point of punching him. He only comes to work for him because with Kristoph's arrest, he's out of a job.
    • Damon Gant was the well respected chief of police. It turns out that he murdered an innocent man in order to frame a serial killer and years later killed a cop who was trying to find out the truth and let someone else take the blame for it. The Judge is not pleased to hear this.
    • Ema also has this reaction when her sister admits to forging evidence, although it later turns out that she was blackmailed into doing so by Gant, who had arranged evidence to make it seem as though Ema accidentally killed Neil Marshall.
    • Morgan Fey for Mia and Maya, who both loved their aunt and are upset to find out that she would try to frame Maya for murder out of jealousy, so that her daughter Pearl could become Master.
    • The killer was planning to invoke this trope in the second case of Dual Destinies. The reason why Florent L'Belle didn't kill Mayor Tenma as part of the plan to frame him for murdering Alderman Kyubi was so that once Mayor Tenma was convicted and exposed as the true identity of the Amazing Nine-Tails (the hero that everyone who opposed the merger rallied around), the Amazing Nine-Tails' popularity would plummet once people realized he was also a murderer.
    • In Investigations 2, Blaise Debeste becomes this for his son Sebastian after it's revealed that he's the killer in Case 4 and that he never really cared for Sebastian in the first place.
  • In Code:Realize, Arsene Lupin's mentor betrays the values and morals he'd taught him, instead turning to selfish crime.
    • Another example is Jimmy Aleister, who personally mentored Van Helsing in the latter's entire career to the point where both lost their families for their service. In a very ugly turn of events, he is revealed to be an irredeemably twisted criminal mastermind who killed his own family and Van Helsing's all with his own hands, purely for the sake of trying to traumatize and corrupt his student.
  • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc:
    • Mondo Owada is this for Kiyotaka Ishimaru. At first, he refuses to believe that Owada was the murderer of Chihiro Fujisaki in the second case, but then he is forced to confront with the truth and the poor guy suffers a Heroic BSoD. What makes the whole thing more painful is that Owada was the first real friend that he ever had, since he was never able to make friends due to his focus on studying and working on school morals.
    • This trope turns out to be a large part of the mastermind's plan. The first killing game between the student council was revealed to the world, causing shock and disbelief that humanity's best and brightest turned into murderers, under Hope's Peak Academy's watch. This and the subsequent attempt at a coverup resulted in a huge protest by the Reserve Course students against the school, and the effect of this trope was so strong that it outright caused a chain reaction leading to global anarchy and dystopia. During the main story, Junko Enoshima is trying to invoke this trope again by holding a live broadcast of the current class's killing game, in order to convince her oppressed citizens that hope is meaningless.
    • Ironically, Kyoko ends up exploiting this trope to force Junko/Monokuma to stop cheating, since if the mastermind frames the survivors for murder rather than actually pushing them to do it, she'll fail to get her point across to the audience.
  • During Hatoful Boyfriend, Sakuya only seems to have any respect for his father and Doctor Iwamine Shuu, the latter of whom developed a medicine that saved the former. He's extremely defensive about criticism to either. Sakuya has been raised to think of his father as "pure", of the utmost value and to be obeyed unthinkingly. Through his route he can come to disobey, but it's in BBL that things really change. He insists privately that "I must not disrespect him (Shuu)... because that is what father told me." but is unable to ignore mounting evidence. Eventually he despises Shuu just like everybirdie else.
  • In Heart of the Woods, Abigail was close with her sister Helena when the two were alive 200 years ago. Unfortunately, all that changed around the time Abigail died; when she agreed to become the sacrifice in Helena's place, she saw that Helena was relieved that she wouldn't have to die. Abigail was heartbroken that her beloved sister didn't try to stop her from taking her place or even thank her, and says that Helena's fear of death overpowered her love for Abigail.
  • In Murder by Numbers (2020), part of why Honor found it hard to cut ties with Ryan was because she loved him and didn't think him capable of hurting her, which K.C. had to help her with. K.C. himself falls into this trope when his drag mother Fran, who helped mentor him and get him a job in fashion, turns out to be a murderer.
  • In Shinrai: Broken Beyond Despair, Taiko Kikai doesn't admire his best friend Kotoba Gaikoku, knowing full well that Kotoba's an idiot whose perversion gets him into trouble, but he has faith in Kotoba being a decent human being and knows that there are some lines Kotoba would never cross. However, after learning that Kotoba took part in Momoko's faked murder prank (which was used to disguise her actual murder plot), and had been a Stalker with a Crush to Momoko in the past, Taiko is deeply shocked and is unable to defend Kotoba. In the ending in which Momoko is identified as the mastermind behind the plot and Kotoba survives, Taiko calls Kotoba's actions unforgivable, but hopes he'll become a better person.
  • In Sunrider Mask of Arcadius, Veniczar Fontana idolized the revolutionary Arcadius for opposing the tyranny of the New Empire and joined his cause, quickly climbing through PACT’s ranks to become Arcadius’s right-hand man. But over the course of the game, Arcadius’s increasingly megalomaniacal actions and willingness to throw away the lives of his mennote  cause Fontana to become disillusioned with him, as they fly in the face of PACT’s principles. By the end of the game, Fontana is so disgusted that he stages a coup and puts a bullet in Arcadius’s head, not that it inconveniences them much. Surprisingly, this is actually subverted: Fontana knows that “Arcadius”/Alice is really a successor to the original Arcadius (who died several years earlier), and he’s disgusted with her for dragging the man’s good name through the mud.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner: In the Strong Bad Email titled "Kind of Cool", Strong Bad describes himself as being a tall pot-bellied creepy guy before it is revealed that his description was that of Senor Cardgage whom he deeply admires despite everybody else finding the guy to be a creep. After some time though, even Strong Bad started to find Senor Cardgage to be more creepy than cool.
  • Played for laughs in If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device when Karamazov meets with Torquemanda Coteaz, who's clearly his idol. Karamazov is disgusted when he finds out that Coteaz's secret tactic of victory is using barrels full of Jokaero.
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • Agent Washington in regards to the Director of Project Freelancer. When first introduced, Washington is highly against the Director and is actively working to bring him down after seeing the horrors the Director inflicted on the Alpha AI. Season 9 then shows a younger Washington, who is highly devoted to the Director and claims the man has given him everything. The same could also be said for Agent Carolina.
    • Another example: Caboose after Epsilon-Church's Freak Out at the Blood Gulch Crew. All he ever wanted was to be Church's best friend. Seeing that Church only saw him as a problem he had to deal with daily really broke the poor kid.
    • Both leaders of Chorus. Doyle and Kimball, have the misfortune to initially believe that the BGC (with the exception of the two Freelancers with them of course) are the famed "Brave, Daring, Strong" type of heroes they've been regaled as, only for them to discover that the BGC are really just a bunch of volunteer-turned-sim troopers with an unnatural amount of luck on their side. They promptly acclimate to these facts fairly swiftly after being in their company in the months after Season 11.
  • RWBY:
    • At the beginning, Ozpin is known and revered as the wise, benign and easy-going headmaster of Beacon Academy, who's willing to admit he's made a lot of mistakes in his life. As the series goes on, however, this image starts to crack as more of Ozpin's dubious decisions, his dark secrets, and the true nature of Remnant's threats come to light. By Volume 6, even Ruby begins to suspect that Ozpin may not truly trust humanity to do the right thing, despite his constant appearance of optimism and faith in what humanity is capable of. It triggers them into asking the Relic of Knowledge to reveal what Ozpin is hiding, which is that Salem is an Invincible Villain with Complete Immortality and, while he's kept her at bay for thousands of years, he has no idea how to permanently defeat her. Upon realising this, his most loyal supporter, Qrow, punches him in the face and states that meeting Oz was the worst luck he's ever had. This breaks Ozpin in turn, and he retreats to the back of Oscar's mind where even Oscar cannot go. Oscar later tells Ironwood that the reason Ozpin kept this secret is because he was afraid it would destroy people's hope.
    • Adam Taurus was once seen as an icon of the movement to the White Fang's membership. They had so much faith in him that he was confident they'd keep following him even after the loss of Faunus life during the breach of Vale at the end of Volume 2. In Volume 5, Sienna's personal bodyguards are willing to turn on her in favor of Adam when he launches his coup against her. However, when he attacks Haven Academy, he destroys any support he once had when he tries to blow up himself and his followers just to spite Blake for attempting to stop him from attacking Haven; upon failing that, he abandons his men to be captured by the Mistral authorities while he escapes. Ilia predicts that no-one in the White Fang will support him now; when Adam returns to the White Fang headquarters, the rank and file do indeed turn on him.
    Ilia: Those in the White Fang that followed [Adam] won't support a leader that abandons his people. He won't have their help after this. He'll have no one at all.
    • For much of the series, General Ironwood is a near-mythical figure for his military forces, with several soldiers speaking about him with near-reverence and his closest subordinates expressing their absolute faith in him. But as the invasion of Atlas in Volume 8 goes on, and Ironwood begins to come unhinged from the pressure, the faith of his subordinates begins to crumble. Rank-and-file soldiers are visibly frightened of him, and Winter Schnee and the Ace-Ops struggle to accept his actions. Marrow finally breaks from the group, shouting that he believed in Ironwood, but no longer sees working for him as a honor. Ironwood's attempt to execute Marrow for insubordination further shakes the other Ace-Ops, with Elm barely remembering to get back into formation. By the end of the season, all of the Ace-Ops and even Winter have turned on him, with Winter even renouncing him and labelling him as an enemy of Atlas.
  • Sunset Paradise: At first, Auri was a very huge fan of the Funky Fource, a group of crime-fighting, dancing superheroes. But when he finds out that they plan to assassinate the Mayor of Port Aurora by brainwashing Meggy and having her take the fall, he is completely crushed.

  • Bittersweet Candy Bowl has Alejandro, Paulo's original "coolness teacher," which was really just Paulo being messed with by the older kid.
  • Dr. Frost: Seonghyun Moon, one of the men who became a mentor to Frost and even was vital to one of his core philosophies, turns out to have even less empathy than Frost, who is clearly disturbed and even horrified when he makes a potential suicide into little more than a game...which causes Frost to see a girl jump to her death.
  • In Dumbing of Age, Billie discovers just how hard it is to break the ruggedly reinforced pedestal on which the students in her new dorm, especially Lucy, have placed her — despite her best efforts.
  • In El Goonish Shive, when Tedd first learns about Gerald he thinks he sounds like a Bully Hunter and ignores Nanase's attempt to dissuade him from holding that view. Later when he actually meets him he sees what Nanase was talking about and stands up to him when he antagonizes Nanase.
  • When Kevin Kolton in Evil Plan joins the superhero team The Company he discovers their business model is less of a peacekeeping force and more of an entertainment company. By the end of this chapter he rationalizes super villains escaping prison rather than being killed or stripped of abilities is more a matter of profit than justice.
  • The Glass Scientists: Frankenstein was Dr. Jekyll's childhood hero and inspiration to learn alchemy. When he finally meets her, she turns out to be rude, bitter and condescending and calls him a slut for "selling out mad science for money and respectability".
  • Minmax in Goblins discovering his idol Mr. Goblinslayer's tendencies (and the result, as pictured above). Go Minmax!
    Minmax: He was being a dink.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court:
    • Antimony Carver learns in Chapter 31 that Surma, her mother, acted as the Court's Honey Trap to lure Reynardine into the court. When she tries to confirm this unpleasant truth ("So my mother...tricked Reynardine into thinking she loved him?"), Kat's mother tries to justify with the threat Reynardine posed if he were allowed to roam free.
    • Katerina Donlan is rather upset upon learning what the founders of the Court, where she has grown up all her life, did to Jeanne and her lover. It sure doesn't help that Diego, Kat's robot-building genius hero, came up with the horrifying plan, and did so purely out of spite and jealousy.
  • In Homestuck, Meenah Peixes was raised to become a caretaker for her people, which she saw as glorified slavery. When she learns her Alternate Universe counterpart, the Condesce, became a violent and wealthy warlord, she's thrilled. Then she learns that the Condesce killed and enslaved most of the alternate versions of Meenah's friends, even using Mituna Captor/The Psiioniic as a living battery for her battleship. Also, now she's an actual slave to Lord English.
  • Happens in Juathuur...sort of. Actually, Arvval stands by his principles from beginning to end. But when Faevv strays from her path, his bigotry becomes apparent and they don't really get along anymore.
  • Kevin & Kell
    • Rudy is shocked to find out that his biological father had an affair that resulted in Rudy's nemesis Vin Vulpen being born; Kell suspected this but didn't know for certain.
    • Lindesfarne works for Professor Antlerhead as an assistant, but quickly learns that he falsified his research on stem cells. In a blog post in which she vaguely alludes to Antlerhead without referring him by name, she notes that the only authority figures who have never let her down are her father and stepmother.
    • Downplayed with R.L., in Kell's case. While he's never been thought of as a good person, Kell actually felt a certain amount of respect and loyalty toward him as her boss. When he fired her, a highly competent and loyal employee, on the advice of a outside contractor, that loyalty was shattered, and she only accepted his offer to rehire her because her family needed the money, particularly to pay for her stepdaughter's college education. Their relationship afterwards was cordial (even after Kell accidentally usurped R.L.'s position in the company, long story), but him acting as a mentor to her, only to seize his position back out from under her nose, ruined any loyalty she had for him for good, and she started a rival company instead, cementing themselves as bitter enemies, with R.L. constantly trying to ruin Kell's company. Still, she did express a moment of pity for him when R.L. is indicted for targeting. Which immediately disappears when she realizes the 'R.L.' on trial is a double and the real R.L. is hiding in the Wild. She promptly blackmails him into signing a non-compete clause.
  • Any convinces the rest of the M9 Girls in their eponymous comic to take an internship at the Professor's lab. She quickly develops a fascination with the Professor, which takes a hard hit when Any develops the ability to read emotions and more of his real intentions are revealed.
  • In a guest comic for Manly Guys Doing Manly Things, Jared Kowalski gushes over new arrival Chuck Norris and asks him to sign his fish... and then realizes that Norris is afraid of it (it's actually a Gyarados).
  • The Order of the Stick has a few.
    • In the beginning of the story, Elan positively adores Vaarsuvius, to the point where Elan dresses as a wizard to try to be like them. However, after Therkla, a ninja who had a crush on Elan, dies, Elan is extremely upset and Vaarsuvius is simply unconcerned about it, caring more about the danger to the world in the quest they are on. V also disintegrates Kubota without knowing what Kubota did, and accuses Elan of cheating on Haley with Therkla when he expresses sympathy for Therkla's unrequited love for him. V's cruelty causes Elan to distance himself from them.
    • Miko Miyazaki had a very troubled life, being orphaned at an early age and raised in a monastery. She found comfort in serving the Twelve Gods and Lord Shojo, serving him even when he became old and senile. Hinjo, Shojo's nephew, serves his uncle, the only family he has left, just as faithfully. When Shojo is revealed to have lied to them about his senility, the Gates, and working with Belkar Bitterleaf and Roy, just having found out an army of hobgoblins is on the way, Miko and Hinjo are both crushed. Hinjo reacts lawfully, by wanting to try Shojo after dealing with the hobgoblins. Miko takes a different approach, and cuts Shojo in half.
    • When Elan first meets his long-lost father Tarquin, each of them promptly goes onto the other's pedestal due to their extreme charisma and love of storytelling, and because Elan always wanted a father (Tarquin being absent from his childhood to conquer the Western Continent and raise Nale), and because Tarquin believed that Elan was the Protagonist of his story and would be the great hero to vanquish him when he is nearing the end of a very successful life. However, Tarquin's pedestal is broken when Elan realizes that the giant flames in the hills spelling out his name are actually escaped slaves nailed to the ground and lit on fire, and it's only further broken when Tarquin kills Nale and tries to kill Roy, Belkar, Durkon, and Elan's father figure Julio Scoundrél, as well as snapping Haley's arm without a second thought and trying to crash the airship Elan was on. Likewise, when Tarquin realizes that his son is not the hero of his story like Tarquin thought he was, he is very disappointed and goes to insane lengths to attempt to try to make him the hero of the story (by taking the above spoilered actions).
  • In Pacificators, Daryl Smithson joined Platoon 113 because two of her idols (Cinna Grossul and Muneca Powell) were on the team, but on the very first day she met them, she discovered that they do not like each other, and can barely work together. She calls them out on this after she broke up a fight between them.
  • Reynder, a.k.a. Oosterhuis in Panthera turns out to be the Big Bad of the first story arc. Truer words were never said, Tigris.
  • Popsicleman idolizes Golden Age Popsicleman...until, by the use of 50,000 Placeb-O's box tops, he gets an opportunity to meet him. It turns out the predecessor is chauvinistic and always on the lookout for foreign spies, as well as having a hefty sense of entitlement.
  • In Slightly Damned the reader is lead to believe that Sakido genuinely cares for her little brother Buwaro. While it may be that way now, it turns out she is acting as The Atoner for maiming and abandoning him 15 years ago. Her final line, recorded in a journal, really hammers home how tortured she was on that choice.
    "If you are reading this and I'm no longer around, then I've gotten what I deserved."
  • Sluggy Freelance has an example of this when Torg finds out that Riff is working for Hereti-Corp, although as Riff mentally notes shortly afterward, he had no idea how they were using the information he was sending them. Torg ultimately forgives him by the end of the arc, noting the contrast between how he treated him with how he believed Cloney was actually Aylee.
  • Sonic the Comic – Online!:
    • Following the media smear campaign and being framed for several terrorist bombings, Sonic loses the respect of the entire planet as well as his fellow freedom fighters. Tails is the only one who believes in Sonic's innocence, but unfortunately is unable to convince anyone.
    • Whatever admiration Tails had towards Dexter Bagstille immediately goes away after learning he planned (and failed) to weaponize Super Sonic against Robotnik, despite being aware of his character and Silver's warning that he would end up causing The End of the World as We Know It. What really pushes the fox over the edge though is Bagstille's continued insistence of being a hero.
      Bagstille: I came close to destroying the Egg Bastion! I could have ended the war! As all heroes have to do, I was making a big decision, a difficult decision, to take risks for the greater good!
      Tails: RISK?! Sonic trapped himself in the Special Zone to stop Super Sonic. He tried to fight Super Sonic when he couldn't win. You risked other people's lives. Heroes risk THEMSELVES.
  • Spacetrawler: Rickshaw Boans, founder of Interplanet Amity, is a huge inspiration to Krep. When Rickshaw returns from parts unknown, he's even more zealous than he used to be, while Krep has undergone Character Development and is no longer so gung-ho about Rickshaw's "shoot first, ask questions later, and take no prisoners" approach.
  • In Starslip, Holiday enters her crush object Vanderbeam's mind to try and free him from an alien Lotus-Eater Machine. There, she discovers his long-harbored obsession with the long-dead Jovia and the lengths Vanderbeem is willing to go to to get her back (i.e. throw his support behind a former criminal to gain technology that might enable him to save her, knowing the criminal wants the tech to try and regain his former power). When Vanderbeam refuses to see reason, reaffirming his willingness to do whatever it took to save Jovia, Holiday simply, and sadly says "You have no idea how much of my respect you've lost. For good." Ironically, this is enough to snap Vanderbeam out of it.
  • Unsounded:
    • Lemuel never thought his brother perfect, but he thought him better than the rest of the cowards and liars of his squad. When Duane did not immediately correct the young plat soldiers assigned to him when they say he's still never lost a lad after Jon dies something died in Lemuel. Duane was just trying not to break the children's spirits and did not actually agree, but Lem has no insight into his mind and as an older child soldier himself views things differently.
    • Duane always saw Lemuel as the ideal Ssaelit man, a strong warrior with a clear head who follows the teachings well, he stays in denial even after reexamining memories that paint Lemuel as a disturbed child soldier right up until he realizes Lemuel lied to him about Miki's death and was complicit in Duane's assassination and being turned into an undead abomination.

    Web Original 
  • In the Amazon series Betas, Zuckerberg-esque entrepreneur Zack Casper is one. Protagonist Trey wants to be like Zack, whose chatroom was a haven for young Trey after the divorce of his parents, but he later discovers that Zack frequently guts Silicon Valley startups out of greed, and has no interesting in changing the world for the better.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged takes the aspect of Trunks and Vegeta's dynamic from the source material and exaggerates it due to Vegeta being an even bigger Jerkass than in canon, to the point of Token Evil Teammate. And that's on top of Vegeta just being a bad dad to him (calling him a bastard, winding him when he pushes the Goku Button, giving no positive reinforcement in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, etc). Needless to say, at this point, Trunks is completely disillusioned with him. Then there's this bit:
    Trunks: Mom said that (Vegeta) was stubborn, but this is just asinine.
    Piccolo: Yeah, but at least he's not trying to kill us all again.
    Trunks: He tried to what!?
    Krillin: Jesus, Future Bulma, what the shit?
    • Trunks himself, on the other hand, is a bit of an inversion to Vegeta due to not pointing them at the right androids, there constantly being more than two androids (three if you count Cell) in the present, and the aforementioned Goku Button. As time flies, Vegeta starts slowly respecting him, if only slightly; he mentions that Trunks is at least almost as strong as he is, acknowledges when Trunks makes a remark that's Actually Pretty Funny, and after Trunks "thwarts his plans", he has this to say:
    Vegeta: Huh. This is a new feeling. Pride in someone else. (wipes some blood from his face) Unfortunately, it's overshadowed by all of this UNYIELDING RAGE!
    • Ultimately, Vegeta's inner Papa Wolf finally breaks loose when Cell kills Trunks, and he starts to undergo a change of heart after nearly losing his son, muttering that Piccolo 'fucking better' revive Trunks, and saying goodbye to Trunks... by flipping him the bird. Eh, still progress.
    • Unlike canon, Goku is also this for Trunks. Future Bulma, after having told him all his life that Goku was The Ace of the Z-Fighters, realizes this will happen and tries letting him down gently, to no avail. Trunks finds out firsthand that Goku is an immature Manchild whose biggest contribution to the team is being the Dumb Muscle, and much of Future Gohan's passive-aggressive comments about him begin to make sense after that.
  • Occasionally used comedically in Jon Era Game Grumps, since Jon was a long-time fan of Egoraptor's before they got to know each other in person.
    Jon: To think... To think I used to worship you...
  • In the Halo ARG HUNT the TRUTH, a number of people feel this way towards the Master Chief after footage surfaces of him seemingly attacking an interspecies peace conference. The pedestal is rebuilt when it's revealed that he was actually trying to save the delegates from human-supremacist terrorists.
  • Jesse Cox has two:
  • KateModern has Rupert van Helding, whose teachings are admired by so many in the Hymn of One. It's a shame he's such a hypocrite.
  • Xandra from the Neopets story The Faerie's Ruin was a powerful witch who was taken to Faerieland to study. Initially, like the rest of Neopia, she believed that the Faeries were Big Goods, but the Faeries repeatedly refused to intervene in cases where she felt they should have. Feeling betrayed and deceived, she set out to break the pedestal for everyone else. She fucking crashed Faerieland into Neopia!
  • Sort of semi-subverted for Fantöm in the Noob franchise, as he turns out to have been Locked Out of the Loop. He still gets a hard time from some of the characters for not noticing that things were much easier for him than they should be, which meant someone was pulling strings to give him an unfair advantage on his own.
  • At the beginning of Silver Quill's review of the Bravestarr episode "Fallen Idol," he is looking at all of the news footage centered around the Bill Cosby rape case, then talks about how Cosby was someone he looked up to when he was a kid and is pretty upset about hearing about this.
  • In Smash King, Samus becomes this towards Peach, who initially saw her as a role model before Samus and her team attempted to take Bowser to the Creator against his will. This trope also applies to Wario, as his one-sided crush on her completely vanishes once this is revealed.
  • In Son of the Mask, The Nostalgia Critic is saddened to learn that cuddly Big Good Santa Christ has become a bit of a sadist. Mostly to him.
  • The Union Series has a Captain Evan McNeil, poster boy for much of the Colonial military. While made out to be a cheerful, war-is-an-adventure type paragon of soldiering, the hard reality recruits are confronted by is that he is truly a tired, run down man, aged beyond his years, who's spent most of his adult life being flung from one incredibly bloody conflict to the next, with only the sincere desire that someone will get lucky and put a bullet through his head to end his misery.
  • In We Are Our Avatars, Catherine Grayson looked up to Yumiko because the latter was the type of person the former desired to be and befriended her until she took a part of Alduin's soul. Even though Catherine stole Tomes and resurrected the dead, she was horrified by the actions, calling Yumiko out in a What the Hell, Hero? speech.
  • In Worm, The Triumvirate becomes this for the superheroes of the Protectorate when they find out what they've done in the name of saving the world.
    • Heroes in general become this for Skitter early in the series. She idolizes them early, but quickly realizes they're just as flawed as everyone else.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Never Meet Your Heroes


Sierra sees Chris' true colors

Due to the events of the previous episodes, Chris eliminates Sierra and decides to leave her in Drumheller. Finally seeing what a colossal jerk Chris is, Sierra loses all her admiration for him and demands her mother to destroy the Chris McLean Museum/guest room once she gets home

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / BrokenPedestal

Media sources: