Follow TV Tropes


Eccentric Mentor

Go To
"Come, boy, let's test this gravity thing I've heard about!"

"Is he — a bit mad?" asked Harry uncertainly.
"Mad?" said Percy airily. "He's a genius! Best wizard in the world! But he is a bit mad, yes."
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, regarding Albus Dumbledore

The Eccentric Mentor is an apparent contradiction, a sagacious figure who seems eccentric and possibly foolish; a font of power and respectability who acts like comic relief. Typically the Eccentric Mentor is an older male character, connected to the back story, who acts as a mentor, protector, and/or guide. They often feign senility and weakness when it is useful to do so, and rarely take pains to avoid such an appearance if it requires effort. Their eccentricity may show itself even in visual appearance, including a quirky clothing style and an aversion to shoes.

When pushed, the Eccentric Mentor easily demonstrates how they have earned their status. Those who underestimated them are suddenly confronted with heroic badassery, Sherlock Holmes-level insight, moral fortitude in the face of death, and/or staying a step ahead of everyone else. Due to their age, wisdom, and conviction, they fear death far less than a loss of integrity.

Combines aspects of Cool Old Guy, The Mentor, Old Master (sometimes), Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass, Bunny-Ears Lawyer, often Cloudcuckoolander, and Zen Survivor into one cranky, tough old biscuit. If they are an authority figure, they are The Wonka. May overlap with Loon with a Heart of Gold, if they are not villainous. They may fill any of a number of mentor roles, such as Trickster Mentor or Reasonable Authority Figure, related to their personality and their role in the story. As such, no matter how much power they have, they want the heroes to solve the problem. Mentor Occupational Hazard will likely happen at some point. Compare Simple-Minded Wisdom, when a character who appears lacking in conventional Book Smarts displays uncommon wisdom.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Ichiro Mihara from Angelic Layer, who could be the poster boy for Mad Scientist... and is also the man who invented the game itself.
  • Clow Reed from Cardcaptor Sakura. Don't let his cheerful, laid-back nature fool you. He's quite the badass wizard!
  • Digimon:
    • Qinglongmon, though it's only really clear in the dub of Digimon Adventure 02. He even has the Wizard Beard!
    • Xuanwumon from Digimon Tamers.
    • Hiroshi Yushima of Digimon Data Squad also has elements of this - it's not until a good chunk of the series is out of the way that it's shown that he's anything but an eccentric elderly fisherman with knowledge of Digimon.
  • Bleach: Kisuke Urahara, the self-described "mere honest, handsome, perverted businessman." But don't let his sanguine disposition, odd dress-sense or shameless self-promotion fool you; beneath it all lurks the soul of a true badass. A former Shinigami Captain and founder of the Soul Society Research Institute, Kisuke became a legend in the Seireitei after mastering Bankai — a powerful attack which usually takes decades of study to learn — in only three days (this record has only been surpassed by the main character who achieved bankai in two-and-a-half days). The catalyst and driving force behind the plot, it is widely believed by fans that the entire series is merely one grand game of Gambit Roulette played between him and his Manipulative Bastard rival, Captain Aizen.
  • Kame Sen'nin/Master Roshi to Goku, Krillin, and Yamcha in the first Dragon Ball. He's a Dirty Old Man who spends his days reading and watching porn, and hitting on hot women. He was also the strongest man in the world until Goku's generation.
    • Kaiō-sama (King Kai) in Dragon Ball Z is a powerful god resembling a giant blue catfish who requires his students to make him laugh before he'll start training them.
  • Makarov from Fairy Tail. He gives sage advice to his children in the guild, but he's also a Dirty Old Man and freaks out from the damage expense accrued by the guild members.
  • Hohenheim from Fullmetal Alchemist is practically a stereotypical example, though some might argue that he really is a genuinely socially awkward and emotionally crippled Cloudcuckoolander.
  • Aozaki Touko from The Garden of Sinners is very quirky and friendly, but as Cornelius Alba learned the hard way, do not fuck with Touko if you value your life.
  • Genshi Tenson from Hoshin Engi.
  • Hikaru Tsurugi from Key the Metal Idol serves as an especially eccentric deconstruction of the trope.
  • Kill la Kill's Aikuro Mikisugi: the heroine's homeroom teacher, undercover spy, scientist, resistance leader, Mini-Mecha pilot, and flamboyant compulsive stripper with luminescent naughty bits.
  • Naruto:
    • Jiraiya, one of Konoha's Legendary Sannin, and author of numerous pornographic novels. Affectionately nicknamed "Pervy Sage", he enjoys spying on naked women ("research") and is not above robbing 12 year old boys (his godson, no less) to pay for cushy hotel rooms and hookers. But he's a war hero, the Toad Sage a legendary ninja master, the man who taught the 4th Hokage amongst other shinobi greats, and a master of summoning, barrier and sealing jutsu. And he's bad ass enough to shrug off losing his arm without a glance, and spends his free time hunting down the world's most dangerous criminals.
    • Also the Third Hokage, Sarutobi, mentor of both Jiraiya and Tsunade. He serves no plot purpose other than being the foil of slapstick and giving occasional orders, usually offscreen, until his village is attacked and the audience sees for the first (and unfortunately only) time why he is held in such respect by his peers, and why in his youth they called him "the God of Shinobi".
    • Hatake Kakashi, the Fourth Hokage's protégé (seeing a pattern here?). A laid back, perpetually late ninja obsessed with Jiraiya's porn novels, which he reads even while he has his students train. But he's also the most elite Jounin the Hidden Leaf village possesses, and their ninjutsu specialist with over a thousand justu in his arsenal. He makes jokey excuses for his lateness when he is actually visiting an old comrades grave, near enough every day, and has stated that everybody he loved is dead, but he gets by considering his students and the rest of the village his extended family. He's also so legendary, professional and respected he is pretty much next in line to be Hokage, should the need arise. In fact, at one point was literally seconds away from being declared the sixth Hokage, only for Tsunade to awaken from her coma just in time to keep the position. He's also apparently legendary enough across the Five Great Countries that the Shinobi Alliance appointed him as one of their Generals.
    • The current Hokage herself, Tsunade, is also a lot like a female version of this. She is a gambling addict, a terrible one who was constantly on the run due to all the money she owed. She's also vain enough to use a life threatening jutsu to make herself look decades younger than she is (which meant that her true form is actually decades older). She also has the training regime from Hell whereby she teaches evasion by trying to smash you with her Super-Strength attacks, enough to crack the Earth with a finger. But she is a popular leader and a legendary medic, who has suffered a great deal of personal tragedy.
    • Kishi loves this trope. Maito Gai is a genuine goofball, but he is a serious and dedicated mentor and the Leaf's most prominent Taijutsu master. Chiyo of the Sand is an 80 something old hag who spends all day fishing and enjoys making people (esp. her brother) think she's dead for a prank, but she is a puppet master and an especially deadly poisoner, with some medical skill. The Raikage and Killer Bee of the Hidden Cloud both seem to have shades of this in relation to their subordinates, despite both being eccentric weirdos in their own right (though both are, in their own way, genuinely hotheaded, reckless and the Raikage might be a bit of a warmonger). Hell, even the parents tend to be this trope.
    • The Raikage hasn't been stated to have a student, but Killer Bee is this way to his new protégé Naruto.
  • Jack Rakan of Negima! Magister Negi Magi is kind of like this, although he's much more over the top than other examples.
  • Vice-Admiral Garp from One Piece is a goofy, lovable father figure (complete with a silly hat)...who also gleefully dispenses Training from Hell, throws cannonballs like baseballs, and provokes a rare Oh, Crap! reaction from Monkey D. Luffy himself.
  • Ping Pong: Both Mr. Koizumi and Obaba have their personal quirks and considered themselves "married" to their respective trainees. Bonus points to Obaba for play flirting with Peco, despite being roughly fifty years his senior.
  • Subverted in Princess Tutu. Drosselmeyer always seems odd (to put it lightly), but he's the one who gives the main character her powers in the first place, and he seems to want to push her along in helping the Prince. However, it quickly becomes apparent that he really is quite crazy, and to top it off he's the Big Bad and his main goal is to trap the characters in an endless cycle of tragedy for the sake of his "art".
  • Cologne in Ranma ½, although while she is generally laid-back she is always demonstrated as highly competent and is not used as comic relief, beyond occasionally finding it diverting to trick or play games with other people. Happosai is another subversion. He has extreme expertise, appears to be just as skilled as and far more powerful than Cologne, but is also entirely driven by impulse, is practically never serious, lacks common sense and is easily tricked, can't read his own (gibberish) handwriting, and is a Poke the Poodle Plucky Comic Relief or flat-out antagonist more often than not.
  • Rebuild World: Kibayashi is Akira's Friend on the Force (the Hunter's Office) who lives as a Challenge Seeker and Thrill Seeker, sponsoring talented hunters in hopes of enjoying their battle footage. Government employees who hear that Akira is being sponsored by him feel pity due to how he gets those he sponsored killed with their impossible assignments. He's also quite willing to bend the rules to help those who do succeed under him. As for his Hidden Depths, Kibayashi actually has shades of a Social Climber: He'll exaggerate how volatile and unreasonable Akira is, and then sell favors for 'talking him down', raising his own influence.
  • Hiko Seijuuro from Rurouni Kenshin is a borderline case. So is Okina.
  • Shinigami-sama of Soul Eater hides his frightening power and appearance behind a cartoonish mask, goofy antics, and childish speech. This is so he doesn't frighten the students at his Extranormal Institute. About halfway through the series, it's revealed that he can't leave the city because he bonded his soul to it in order to keep the Kishin sealed in its can, which is why he needs others to go do the heroing for him. Not that being unable to leave the city ultimately slows him down much. Shinigami is far more knowledgeable about the history of the current conflict than he lets on, having been previously involved in every known side of it (witches, the Gorgons, Asura and his fellow Eldritch Abominations). He's genuinely nice, but his staff and students are right to be genuinely wary of him at times.
  • Ha Jinsung from Tower of God, the mentor and martial art instructor of Jue Viole Grace. He dotes on his student a lot and is really cheerful and polite, though sometimes overly friendly, but his mood can swing at the drop of the wrong hat into murderous Tranquil Fury and even when he's cheerful people around him feel extremely threatened.
  • Chairman Kaien Cross from Vampire Knight.

    Card Games 
  • The Gaian Tarot, created by Joanna Powell Colbert, has such a card called the Teacher (also known as Holy Fool and Crazy Saint). According to the description, "Crazy saints speak in riddles, they tease, they laugh uproariously and act intentionally ridiculous. At the same time, they are guileless, transparent and open to a sense of wonder."

    Comic Books 
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): While Dean Strikt mostly just comes of ass strict she also does such things as arrange a school gathering she's scheduled to speak at and instead of showing up prowls the school looking for any girls who opted to skip and didn't hide well enough.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): Diana unknowingly picks up an eccentric mentor figure while enslaved by the Sangtee Empire since H'Elgn reigns in her eccentricities while enslaved. After they escape she really likes her pranks, including introducing Diana to the new hologram tech by making it look like they were being attacked by the Empire and getting a good laugh out of Diana taking a flying leap at the intangible holograms.

    Fan Works 
  • In Child of the Storm, Dumbledore is, as ever, this trope.
    • However, the prize-winning example is Doctor Strange, who's millennia old, a Living Legend renowned throughout the Nine Realms, and a Seer and Time Master without equal, appearing borderline omniscient. He's also quirky to say the least. He enjoys winding up the entire cast, and you would be forgiven for wondering how he accrued his reputation as The Dreaded. Then comes the finale of Book 1, where he conducts a Wizard Duel with a Physical God Humanoid Abomination while simultaneously giving someone else a pep-talk on the other side of the battlefield via Astral Projection. Then, once he finishes the pep talk, he wins the fight, comfortably, and as the book rounds off, it's revealed that all of it has been part of his grand Xanatos Gambit, in which he he played everybody like the strings of a harp. After that, you stop wondering (though in the true spirit of this trope, he goes right back to playing The Gadfly almost immediately afterwards).
    • The epilogue of Book 1 also explains why he didn't just step in and solve it all, explaining that letting matters play out as they did, manipulating them only a little, stopped a number of problems before they got bigger, and serves as a hardening experience for the main cast and the Earth as a whole, which it'll need - after all, Thanos is coming.
    • And then, in the sequel, he demonstrates this more directly, when he starts teaching Harry directly. This comes shortly after a period when - for a number of entirely understandable reasons - he sort of lost his marbles.
  • The dwarven prince protagonist of Dragon Age: The Crown of Thorns deliberately allows, even encourages, the other six wardens, plus companions, to assume and believe a lot of erroneous things, including that he might really be a kinslayer, just so the shock of later revelations, like the fact that he actually faked Trian's death and painted himself the murderer on purpose, can prompt them to grow wiser.
  • Dumblydore in My Immortal is at first an Alzheimer's-ridden, headache-prone old man who swears at everybody. Whether he sides with Enoby or conspires to piss her off is not clear until he saves her from Voldemort and his band once, even going on to tell the "enitre school and Misery of Mogic" that Ebony can defeat Voldemort.
  • Hasim, one of the Immortals in Keepers of the Elements serves as this to the Keepers. He has been around for hundreds of years, yet he is a cheerful guy who loves his jellybeans and can kick some serious bad guy ass when he needs to.
  • In The Little Prince, a Harry Potter/The Chronicles of Narnia crossover fanfic, Dumbledore and Grindelwald were both students of Coriakin (an eccentric sage from Chronicles of Narnia), and it is implied that Dumbledore got many of his quirks from Coriakin (for instance, his love of music).
  • The Potter Puppet Pals version of Dumbledore, vastly more eccentric than J.K. Rowling ever intended.
    "Naked time!"
  • In The Vow, Ah-Ma the Soothsayer is a wise old lady and a seer who just loves giving advice in vague riddles and ripping off his old foster child Shen's silk clothes to irritate him.
  • Grunnel the Thinker, to a point, in With Strings Attached. He's a jolly guy who latches onto the four because they're interesting. At first he seems a bit goofy, with quite a sadistic sense of humor, but the four realize quickly that he's extremely intelligent and well-educated. He ends up helping them a lot when magic starts to pour out of the sky on them. He also teaches them about Baravadan society, and they teach him about Earth in return. Subverted in that he backstabs them in Ehndris in order to get control of both Paul and the third piece of the Vasyn.
  • Ghost in Yet again, with a little extra help teaches Naruto various skills by throwing him off cliffs, throwing exploding cows at him, covering him with women's underwear and dropping him in the middle of the female baths... and teaching him the importance of a well rounded breakfast. He also insists upon acting as random as possible to fool people on your true intentions and mindset.
  • A Hero's Wrath: Much like his canon counterpart, Augus is just as much of a Blood Knight to his students. It is strongly implied that his cocky attitude towards his students is why he was the perfect teacher for Asura; his Training from Hell by design exhausts one's patience, thus it is perfect for training those with Wrath Mantra.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The owner/operator of 7 Faces of Dr. Lao mostly plays the part of the stereotypical Chinese man (complete with Engrish), and occasionally reveals himself to be a powerful and wise being.
  • Uncle Herbert in The Big Brawl
  • Merlin in the 1981 film Excalibur comes across this way.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Albus Dumbledore. The movies didn't have room to squeeze in all of his eccentric moments, but they made up for it by coming up with a few of their own.
      Harry: He's free. We did it.
      Dumbledore: Did what? Goodnight.
      [Harry and Hermione share a nonplussed look]
    • Nor do the films skimp on his moments of wisdom or badassery. A great example of the latter comes from a scene in the fifth movie in which he is confronted by four Ministry officials. He proceeds to calmly inform them that he has no intention of being arrested, and before they can react, he somehow uses Fawkes to disappear in a blaze of fiery light. As Kingsley puts it, "Dumbledore's got style."
    • Half-Blood Prince really drives it home beautifully. Dumbledore's massive fire ring against the Inferi is one of the most awe-inspiring visuals in the whole series, and a fantastic Moment of Awesome for Dumbledore.
  • In keeping with the source material, Gandalf gives off a more enigmatic, even untrustworthy air throughout much of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The movie even plays up the other characters' perceptions of his apparent ineptitude.
    Bilbo: And who is the fifth [wizard]?
    Gandalf: Well, that would be Radagast the Brown.
    Bilbo: Is he a great wizard, or is he... more like you?
  • Mr. Miyagi, in The Karate Kid. An elderly Okinawan man who doesn't say much and tries to catch flies with chopsticks, his training methods are odd, to say the least, including teaching Daniel the muscle memory for blocking attacks via Wax On, Wax Off. However his Retired Badassery is firmly established when he curbstomps several members of the Thug Dojo to rescue Daniel, and further cemented with the revelation that he earned the Medal of Honor serving in Europe in World War II.
  • Ian McKellen plays this up in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (although, like in the books, he becomes a more serious character in the following two installments). He was even asked to play Professor Dumbledore himself at one point.
  • The New Guy gives us Luther, a crazy-eyed con who teaches Dizzy Harrison how to be cool by giving him a haircut, dance lessons, a prison tattoo, and then setting him on fire.
  • Star Wars:
    • Yoda's appearance in The Empire Strikes Back. He also teases Obi-Wan a bit in Attack of the Clones, but he is younger (and teaching the younglings) at the time.
    • This trope was actually one of the early concepts for Obi-Wan himself (even after Sir Alec Guinness had already been chosen for the role). Remnants of this remain, as Uncle Owen claims to Luke that Kenobi is merely a crazy old man, and Han later calls the Jedi Master a "damn fool".
  • Jetfire in Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen.
  • Fin Raziel, in Willow, is of the rare female subtype.

  • 1Q84: Komatsu is Tengo's editor who is more respected than liked within the literary scene. One of his habits is calling Tengo very early in the morning despite being told repeatedly not to do that.
  • Grandpa Smedry in the Alcatraz Series.
  • Mr. Wednesday from American Gods may be the slippery character this side of the Colorado, but he most certainly fits the description. He even pretends to be senile in order to get the cashier at the gas station to accidentally pay for his gas.
  • Belgarath from The Belgariad by David and Leigh Eddings. A case of deliberate Obfuscating Stupidity here, he specifically has clothes tailored to look like he found them in a trash can so that he could pass unnoticed.
  • Catherine Ling: Hu Chang, the Chinese folk medicine expert and master poisoner who took Catherine in as an adolescent, who fools around with chemicals and herbs seemingly for his own amusement and takes very little completely seriously. In the first book he spirits her son away out from under the noses of both the CIA and the Nebulous Evil Organization targeting Catherine, and later puts a mook under chemical Mind Control as part of the Batman Gambit to take out the organization's leader.
  • Coriakin from The Chronicles of Narnia, who is believed by Dufflepuds to be evil, but turns out to be a wise magician with a sense of humor. Always walking barefoot is among his idiosyncrasies.
  • Dallben from Lloyd Alexander's The Chronicles of Prydain seems like a quirky old man for the first four books, practicing a little light divination, complaining about young people these days, and doling out sage advice between naps. Then comes Book 5, and he proves why he's the Big Good for Prydain and The Dreaded for the Big Bad.
  • Cradle Series: Eithan often gives Lindon and Yerin bizarre orders that make no sense, such as locking Lindon in a room with monsters for two weeks. He will explain himself when pressed, and everything he does ultimately has a reason behind it. Yerin grudgingly admits that this isn't too different from how her master trained her; the difference is she doesn't trust Eithan enough to obey his seemingly random orders.
  • The mysterious wise woman of the streets from The Days Go So Slow by Nicasio Latasa, who helps the main character Curren change his life. She is also a seer with precognitive powers.
  • Lu-Tze shows up in several Discworld books, playing the Eccentric Mentor in Thief of Time. Actually, Lu-Tze has more or less made his living appearing to be a weird little monk, on the basis that, since no one notices weird little monks who are just sweeping up the place to begin with, he's far more stealthy and better equipped than the most highly trained of ninja. Not least because, in addition to being able to seriously inconvenience someone about twenty-seven different ways with a broom, if the floor gets dirty you can take care of that too.
  • Fizban the Fabulous, from Dragonlance, an apparently senile wizard who may or may not have actually been the god Paladine in disguise. It becomes fairly obvious later in the series.
    • Also Zifnab of The Death Gate Cycle; essentially the same character in a different series written by the same authors.
      • The latter lampshades his status as an Expy in his first appearance: he starts to call himself Fizban, but then corrects himself.
      • Zifnab is very different from Fizban in at least one major way, though- Fizban is a god using Obfuscating Stupidity, whereas Zifnab is genuinely insane with only occasional moments of lucidity. He's still incredibly powerful, but it takes some serious effort (usually from his dragon) to get him to reveal important information rather than, say, going off on a long rambling monologue about how he's really James Bond. Or Dorothy Gale.
    • And also from the same authors is Zanfib of the Starshield series. However, he's insane only due to a slightly flawed resurrection. Oh, and he's an agent for the Sentinels.
  • Noish-pa, Vlad Taltos's grandfather, sometimes fits this trope in the Dragaera novels, albeit with the comic relief coming less from his own remarks than from Vlad's reactions to them.
  • Shiro from The Dresden Files novels. He may act a little senile at times, but he's actually a seriously badass paladin and one of the only people in history to take on Nicodemus in a sword fight and win. Too bad he's Too Cool to Live.
    • Though he's not as... easygoing and jovial as the trope specifies, though Arthur Langtry is the oldest and most powerful wizard alive, and the head of the White Council, with the title of 'Merlin', he seems to be generally underestimated, and perceived as a figurehead. Until he shows off the strength and depth of his power by doing such things as, oh - holding off Outsiders with a single ward and turning chaos into order by broadcasting a mental map (with voiceover) to the entire council, whilst attempting to contain an omnilethal nasty with the sheer force of his will. 'not [gained his position] by collecting bottle caps' indeed.
    • As the series goes on, the eponymous Harry Dresden becomes this to his student, Molly Carpenter. To Molly, he's just her kooky, slightly grumpy teacher who often quotes Star Wars and can't function without coffee in the morning. A person who'd never seen him in battle would never guess that he's defeated two of the aforementioned [[spoiler;Outsiders]] and obliterated an entire vampire species when they threatened his family.
  • Philantha from The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal is another female example: a quirky sorceress who completely flouts social conventions, and who becomes a mentor to the protagonist.
  • Bayaz in The First Law is introduced as the typical grumpy, eccentric old wizard who interacts with the protagonists. Since the series is a Deconstructor Fleet of traditional fantasy, it turns out that he's a cruel Tautological Templar of a megalomaniac who is the closest thing the series has to a Big Bad.
  • Elminster from the Forgotten Realms setting.
  • Master Wu of The Gone-Away World is an Old Master (and founder of a secret society of kung fu mimes) who runs a martial arts school that the protagonist trains at. He teaches moves with names like "Walk Like Elvis", gets into arguments about the location of the moon, and cheerfully admits to making up ancient wisdom on the spot.
  • Harry Potter: Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.
    • In the fifth book, when fighting Voldemort, Dumbledore fires off a spell that is never identified, but is clearly VERY powerful. Voldemort blocks the spell, and taunts Dumbledore that he does not seek to kill him. Dumbledore calmly responds, "We both know there is more than one way to destroy a man, Tom." He also mentions how merely killing Voldemort would not satisfy him.
    • Also from the fifth book, the scene where Dolores Umbridge and her cronies confront Dumbledore in his office and then try to arrest him.
      Dumbledore: Well — it's just that you seem to be labouring under the delusion that I am going to — what is the phrase? "Come quietly." I am afraid I am not going to come quietly at all, Cornelius. I have absolutely no intention of being sent to Azkaban. I could break out, of course — but what a waste of time, and frankly, I can think of a whole host of things I would rather be doing.
    • When one of the Aurors reaches for his wand, Dumbledore has this to say:
      Dumbledore: Don't be silly, Dawlish. I'm sure you are an excellent Auror, I seem to remember that you achieved "Outstanding" in all your N.E.W.T.s, but if you attempt to — er — "bring me in" by force, I will have to hurt you.
    • Think about how Dumbledore progresses throughout the books. We go from "Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! and Tweak!" to the most powerful wizard in the history of the Wizarding World to a broken man who is grief-stricken over the loss of his sister, Ariana, whom he may have killed (and considers himself to blame regardless of whether his curse was the one that killed her). A fan-favorite quote that epitomizes Dumbledore's transition from "cool grandpa" to "ancient monk badass" came in The Goblet of Fire:
    At that moment, Harry fully understood for the first time why people said Dumbledore was the only wizard Voldemort had ever feared. The look upon Dumbledore's face as he stared down at the unconscious form of Mad-Eye Moody was more terrible than Harry could have ever imagined. There was no benign smile upon Dumbledore's face, no twinkle in the eyes behind the spectacles. There was cold fury in every line of the ancient face; a sense of power radiated from Dumbledore as though he were giving off burning heat.
    • In Order of the Phoenix, after Dumbledore spends most of the summer supporting Harry in his assertion of Voldemort's return, the Ministry of Magic threatens to strip Dumbledore of his (many, many) titles, and indeed kicks him out of his own school. Dumbledore doesn't care, as long as they don't take him off the Chocolate Frog cards. At the end, however, he has the balls to create an illegal Portkey right in front of the Minister, tells said Minister that he can graciously provide half an hour of his time to explain what's been happening, and tells him "letters addressed to the Headmaster will find me."
  • In The Machineries of Empire, Shuos Jedao's attempts at teaching Cheris some strategy are rather unsual, making extensive use of games and Cheris' brainwashing.
  • Professor Savant in The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles. When the children first meet him, he rambles about extinct imaginary creatures, and goes on to complain about how nobody ever pays attention to the world around them before nearly getting run over because he's too busy appreciating the world around him to notice an oncoming car.
  • Gandalf, from The Lord of the Rings. Even more so in The Hobbit.
    "Good Morning!" said Bilbo, and he meant it. But Gandalf looked at him from under long bushy eyebrows that stuck out further than the brim of his shady hat. "What do you mean?" he said. "Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?"
    "What a lot of things you use Good morning for!" said Gandalf. "Now you mean that you want to get rid of me, and that it won't be good till I move off."
Although much less eccentric after he came back to life. Though he does pretend to be old and feeble to trick the guards of Meduseld into letting him keep his staff (which he refers to as his "walking-stick") when going in to see Théoden. It works, too, though it's implied in the film (and all but stated in the books) that Háma sees through the ruse, but lets it go anyway because he believes (correctly) that the visitors can help. What is almost completely left out in the movies is that Gandalf also likes to give the impression of himself as an unpredictably dangerous powerhouse. Frodo, who has known him for decades, is at one point genuinely afraid that Gandalf had burned poor Barliman Butterbur to death for failing to deliver a crucial letter. Also, when Frodo refuses to answer to his knocks, he threatens to blow Bag End's door in, and all the way through the Hill.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Hannibal Smith from The A-Team often Invokes this trope if/when he meets clients and/or confronts the weekly bad guys in disguise in an episode.
  • Around The Horn's Woody Paige may qualify as this.
  • Babylon 5
    • Draal is both this and a Large Ham.
    • Although he didn't play the fool by any means, Kosh is sort of this to Sheridan, as his statements are usually very cryptic, his "lessons" are rather ambiguous, and a lot of people (Sheridan included) even lampshade this with statements like "spoken like a Vorlon".
  • Cobra Kai: Johnny Lawrence. The sheer depth of his Disco Dan tendencies, Book Dumb ignorance and Testosterone Poisoning, along with an alcohol consumption which is only just small enough to qualify him as a Functional Addict, provide a significant amount of comedy to the series. His underage students are generally more sensible and emotionally mature, and sometimes pull double duty as the Cloudcuckoolander's Minder... but in spite of all of that, Johnny is a damn good sensei, who was able to turn an untrained kid with asthma into a tournament winner in less than six months.
  • The Doctor from Doctor Who often resembles this kind of character.
    • The Seventh Doctor served as a combination mentor and Parental Substitute to his companion Ace. He was as bonkers as any other incarnation, playing the spoons, rolling his Rrrrrs, acting the Large Ham, and getting his metaphors mixed up ("a stitch in time...saves space"), amongst many, many other acts of eccentricity. He's also renonwned as being the Chessmaster Doctor, master of the Breaking Speech, and capable of being very, very ruthless. Just ask Davros. Or all of the Daleks on Skaro. Or the Cybermen. Or Lady Peinforte. Or Fenric...
    • In particular, David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor embodies this trope to a tee. The Family of Blood sought to steal his immortality, and thought he was a doddering pathetic man. BIG. MISTAKE.
    • Matt Smith as the eleventh Doctor plays this to the hilt, He openly admits to being a "Madman with a Box," often acts foolishly, and dotes on grown adults as if they were small children but is almost always in control of the situation and can often manipulate his foes into doing his work for him (he also looks about 25, adding another layer of dissonance).
    • This wonderful bit of dialogue from the Tom Baker story City of Death (which was co-written by Douglas Adams): "My dear, I don't think he's as stupid as he seems." "My dear, nobody could be as stupid as he seems."
    • The Eleventh Doctor gets one of his own in the form of The Curator, who seems to be a far, far future regeneration of himself (who has taken the face and personality of the Fourth Doctor again, apparently because it is his favourite).
  • Bertram Cooper from Mad Men may seem like your run-of-the-mill elderly eccentric, but in reality he is just as shrewd a businessman as Don or St. John Powell.
  • Principal Pal from Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide is very much a non-magical, Americanized version of early Dumbledore.
  • Power Rangers:
    • Ninjor from Mighty Morphin' is a master shinobi and powerful ally who made the Rangers' Morphers. But his fascination with modern lingo and snarky attitude are played for laughs. Also, his voice sounds like Dudley Do-Right.
    • R.J. from Jungle Fury is like a surfer dude, who can do kung fu, and is genuinely wise as well.
  • Max Madigan from True Jackson, VP is an eccentric and often straight-up silly multimillionaire, and True's boss and mentor.
  • President Bartlet from The West Wing, in his "Uncle Fluffy" persona.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Aughra, in The Dark Crystal, appears a little crazy and perhaps even dangerous, yet has an uncanny wisdom for the harmonies of existence. She was involved in the last cycle and has studied the system for centuries at least, she just incidentally went insane in the intervening time.



    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed: Odyssey: Socrates is a major character, and every conversation with him involves lots of pointed questions designed to force people to think, even if that requires Socrates to contradict what he just said thirty seconds ago. The one thing everyone agrees on is that talking to him is a pain in the ass.
  • Asura's Old Master Augus from Asura's Wrath is one of the most powerful warriors in the setting, and his strength is said to be on par with Deus'. He's also a crazy hedonist who has no goal in life beyond enjoying the pleasures it offers: carnal knowledge of beautiful women, fine wines, good food, and the sheer joy of battle.
  • Seraph Lamington from Disgaea.
    • As of Disgaea 4, Flonne also qualifies.
      • Valvatorez also acts as a mentor for the younger members of the team (Fuka, Desco, and Emizel), and he's odd enough to qualify for the "eccentric" title.
  • Flemeth from Dragon Age: Origins is an odd blend of this trope and Retired Monster. If even half the stories you hear about her are true, she skipped over the Moral Event Horizon centuries before the story even began. However, despite her vast power and alleged ruthlessness, she never actually does anything openly antagonistic, and has actually helped the protagonists on several occasions (including saving them from what would have otherwise been certain death). She often speaks in riddles and seems to enjoy playing up her crazy-old-woman-who-lives-in-a-swamp persona.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
  • Wataru in Ensemble Stars! is this for Hokuto and Tomoya in the Theatre Club - he's an incredibly talented actor who is considered a young prodigy, but he is also an unpredictable Large Ham who never seems to take anything seriously. He does take mentoring his juniors seriously, but even when he shows this effort, his methods are hard to keep up with - in Cinderella he helps Tomoya out with his difficulties getting into character by giving him a totally different script (as Anzu had edited a standard Cinderella script to be more comical while Tomoya was given an Original Flavour one) so he'd be forced to improvise based on how the actual Cinderella would act under these circumstances.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Galuf from Final Fantasy V is an old man who loves booze, avoided blame by using his amnesia as an excuse, and is the king of a kingdom. Who happens to fight alongside his soldiers because he's just that good. Oh, and he knows a lot about how to fight the Big Bad because he was one of the previous four warriors who defeated him in the first place. He also starts with a slight strength and stamina boost, making him well-disposed for this. .
    • Strago from Final Fantasy VI, and the whole town he lives in, which practices awesome magicks, but keeps it all under the radar of the The Evil Empire. When he joins the heroes, he still comes off a doddering geezer most of the time, but in magical combat, he brings the hurt like nobody else. Also, he learns his most awesome spells by letting monsters use them on him first, and surviving.
    • Auron from Final Fantasy X is a mild version, but is good at projecting casual deference when it's handy.
  • Yan the Samurai Smartie from Giants: Citizen Kabuto is a powerful Smartie wizard that Delphi seeks out for further training in her magical abilities. He is capable of surprisingly effective plans, and does teach her both how to wield magic and how to set up bases, but he's also incredibly goofy. A Running Gag is his problem with creating portals in that he tends to place the exit portal too high in the ground. He deliberately talks like an old stereotypical Asian mentor for his own amusement, and he initially mistakes Delphi as his bastard daughter by Sandra Myrtle from Chillchuck Island despite the fact that they are clearly different species.
  • Gammel Dore from GrimGrimoire, like Dumbledore but not as eccentric.
  • Samos the sage from the Jak and Daxter games.
  • Ford Cruller from Psychonauts is a rare example where his unwise behaviour is involuntary (his mind literally falls apart when he's away from a psytanium deposit).
  • Guildmaster Wigglytuff, in the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers games is a lovable Cloud Cuckoo Lander who has an obession with Perfect Apples...who is completely immune to the poisonous gas attack of Team Skull and can make the earth tremble with his voice alone when angry or sad.
  • Erasmus, the pun loving archmage from the Quest for Glory series of games. He has a rat familiar who is actually a pretty powerful magic user in his own right. Erasmus is a rare male wizard of great power in the QFG setting, where the most powerful magic users tend to be women (for example, Erana, Katrina, Aziza, Kreesha etc).
  • Kaepora Gaebora from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time qualifies, considering who he eventually turns out to be. (The Gossip Stones say he's a reincarnation of a Sage.)
  • Voodoo Lady from the Monkey Island series. Granted, the whole series has a baseline loco level that makes her brand of unhinged seem not as apparent in context.
  • Bo' Rai Cho from Mortal Kombat. He's a constantly drunk, fat man who attacks by farting and vomiting, yet he trained many legendry heroes in the past, and also many in the present day, including Liu Kang and Kung Lao. He's also Been There, Shaped History several times; for example, after Muso Gonnosuke was defeated by Miyamoto Musashi, Bo' Rai Cho would help him improve his jujutsu by using a four-section staff instead of a six-section one.
  • Silver Hoshipon of Patapon 3 may qualify. However, the badassery part of the trope has more to do with him being able to fuse together the god of the Patapons (you) with a half-dead member of the race, namely your hero, and then still keeping the energy to revive other 3 patapon.
  • Yukari Yakumo from Touhou Project sleeps for 12 hours a day, hibernates through winter, spends her waking time seemingly just messing around with people, doing things that only make sense to herself, and has a philosophy that appears to be based upon some kind of Taoism as (mis)interpreted by a member of The Fair Folk. She's also The Archmage of Onmyoudo, a Chessmaster who manipulates other masterminds into doing her bidding, a youkai with powers that undermines the very foundations of reality and a Trickster Mentor who, if she decides that you need to be competent at something, will whip you into the shape of a grandmaster on the subject... just bear in mind that if Yukari takes time out of her day to be your mentor, she needs you to be good at something for her purposes and you've officially been promoted to the position of her latest Unwitting Pawn.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney's Damon Gant is an odd example of that plays to this tropes applied to a villain. At one point, he even starts switching between lovable eccentric and sociopath within seconds.
  • A clearer distaff counterpart, Professor Potsdam in Magical Diary, who appears to be a hippie with a few screws loose most of the time. Don't make her mad.

    Web Animation 

  • Master Surya from The Beast Legion. This page explains it all.
  • Aodan, a country-accented Charizard from CharCole who is developing a habit of appearing out of nowhere during the main character's freakouts.
  • Though introduced with some foreboding, Fa'lina of Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures is Rare Female Example #4 (but as a succubus she doesn't exactly show her age). She does look older than most of the cast though. Hell, she even has the biggest bustline in the comic!
  • Donovan Deegan of Dominic Deegan is a very capable bard and swordsman, but spent decades mangling the orcish language because of Rule of Funny.
  • Invoked in El Goonish Shive by Tedd for his dad. Most of the time, Mr. Verres is a typical Bumbling Dad... who works for the government, knows everything, is a VIP in the supernatural world for currently unexplained reasons, and is a powerful wizard that will go absolutely apeshit on anyone that harms his family, or anyone under his protection.
    • Also, Mr. Raven for the non-Muggles that are not under Mr. Verres' care. Though, Raven seems to be a bit more stern that your typical Dumbledore, but he does make it up in overtheatrics.
    • And for a more literal sense, we have Jerry. Self-proclaimed Fat Bastard, (though of the jolly sort, not the jumpy sort,) has had more than a few weird ideas about what to do with his time, and looks strangely like Santa Claus. However, he's also a 200 year-old Immortal with ludicrous amounts of power simply by being that old, sage wisdom for Susan, Grace, and Sarah, and powered the Hyperspace Mallet ability that, evidently, every female on the planet had access too. Granted, he's in the process of dying so he can be reborn properly, but he's also sworn himself to repay the debt Immortals owe Susan, making him a weird case. Did we mention he's a master of Serenity-Inducing Fluffy Animal Attack?
  • Uncle Ted of Freakwatch was this to Jessica before he died.
  • Shojo from The Order of the Stick. May only be a borderline case, considering he couldn't avoid having his cover blown and was killed by Miko when she learned of his deception. Then again, she did immediately pay a high price for it.
  • Sensei Feng from Sluggy Freelance is an Old Master who trains the deadly assassin Oasis in both mind and body, yet resembles an old hobo as much as a martial arts master, mooching pizza rolls whenever he can, and displaying such incredible fighting techniques as literally putting his foot in his mouth.
  • Zonama/Discord from Star Mares, as one might expect. While it's normal for zebras to speak in rhyme, she sometimes breaks from the normal mode of couplet rhymes in favor of triplets, limericks, and the occasional sonnet. At one point, she drank a milkshake that her student was daydreaming about. She also has fetish masks of Spiderman and Deadpool on the walls of her hut.

    Web Videos 
  • Spencer from lonelygirl15, although younger than most examples. What a strange little man.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Iroh is this, especially in Book 1, to Zuko. In Book 2, also briefly becomes this to Toph and, at the end of the season, Aang. Part of it seems to be part of a Sad Clown act, as he's been through a lot, and is watching his nephew head down the same evil path as the rest of his family. His eccentricity notably declines as the series goes on, but for good reasons, mostly.
    • King Bumi, even more so. At one point, he asks Aang to choose which Earth Kingdom warrior he wants to fight, presenting him with two intimidating young soldiers. Aang chooses Bumi. Wrong choice. Later, when the Fire Nation conquers Bumi's fortress town Omashu, they keep him as a hostage to prevent rebellion. To prevent rebellion by Bumi, they put him in a metal box that doesn't let him move anything except his mouth (so that he can breath and be fed). They think that will make it impossible for Bumi to use his very powerful Earthbending talents. They thought wrong. Later, it was revealed that in The Day of Black Sun, he retook his city all by himself and even took down a towering statue of Ozai. After defacing it with a crude smiley face, no less.
    • Monk Gyatso, Aang's guardian at the Southern Air Temple. He was a major reason for Aang's cheerful, happy-go-lucky demeanor. And, like most people, he died while Aang was frozen, and took a surprisingly large group of super-charged Firebenders with him. Surprisingly large, because Airbending is a defensive art. He killed them with ''defensive'' bending.
  • Uncle from Jackie Chan Adventures. Equal parts crotchety old man and master sorcerer.
  • Grampa Smith from Monster Buster Club. A senile old alien in disguise as a senile old human, he probably knows more about the "monsters" the kids encounter than anyone else, but is far too concerned with the upkeep of his garden to do anything other than offer hints, info, and advice.
  • Miss Frizzle in The Magic School Bus is a bit young, but otherwise fits this trope quite well.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Princess Celestia is an unusual case. Unlike most other examples, whose eccentricity often causes other characters to unfairly discredit them, Celestia is highly regarded by all of her subjects — too highly, in fact, as it leads them to frantically worship the ground under her hooves while feeling terrified that any tiny mistake on their part will provoke her royal fury. In reality, Celestia is not only the most easy-going character in the whole series despite her position (to a point: she's nice but can be utterly merciless when need be. Cozy Glow, a child, learned that the hard way, twice), but enjoys pranks and despises formality to such a degree that the Season 1 finale has her inviting the Mane Six to the illustrious Grand Galloping Gala purely to enjoy the chaos she knew their presence would wreak. Then in Season 4, it's revealed that the old castle that she and Luna used to inhabit is full of secret passages, trapdoors, an organ (that controls the secret passages and trapdoors), and numerous other oddities (the hallway with legs sticking out of the walls) that are pretty much solely designed to turn the place into a gigantic funhouse.
    • Then there's Discord of all people taking on this role (briefly) in the Season 4 premiere and afterward.
  • Sabrina: The Animated Series: The Wise Warlock from "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?" episode. At first he appears to be a phony and a grumpy old man, seemingly unwilling to help Sabrina and instead trying to sell her items from his shop; however, at the end he turns out to be really wise, and gives Sabrina an important piece of advice. It is likely, though not outright stated, that his "phony/grumpy old man" persona was deliberate pretense. Oh, and he's also perpetually barefoot.
  • The Curandero from Scooby-Doo! and the Monster of Mexico is a wise old healer/mystic/shaman... who also happens to have a personal website, When Daphne expresses surprise about this, he replies with a hint of a smile: "As I said: expect the unexpected".
  • Glossaryck, from Star vs. the Forces of Evil, is the living embodiment of Star's spell book (and magic in general), and her instructor in the craft. He often gives bizarre or cryptic advice, has a fixation on pudding, and sometimes even refuses to help out of disinterest. It's later revealed that he doesn't always use this method of instruction when teaching owners of the spell book, but he believes it's the most effective way to teach Star. Many of the seemingly random things he says and does over the course of the series ends up coming back in some important way. Yes, even the pudding.
  • The Ancient One in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003), seems to be channeling shades of Bo'Rai Cho; a dwarfish, obese, flatulent, and ill-mannered little man who started off the Master-Apprentice Chain that led to the main characters, and is surprisingly insightful.

    Real Life 
  • Socrates was possibly the Ur-Example of this, known for his many eccentricities (like an aversion to shoes), and for being one of the founders of philosophy itself.
  • Jesus was also this: for instance, when asked if an adulterer should be stoned, Jesus wrote or drew something in the dirt with His finger instead of answering. Some writers tend to make this into Jesus Was Way Cool or Hippie Jesus.
  • Benjamin Franklin was the Eccentric Mentor to the other founding fathers — he was significantly older than the rest, was a noted humorist (and, despite his age, ladies' man), and was respected as the preeminent intellectual of the group.
  • Richard Feynman. Aficionado of the bongos (not to mention mad songs about orange juice), player of epic practical jokes, irreverent, completely unconcerned with the mores and manners of polite society, and the inventor of branches of particle physics you would never understand if you studied for several lifetimes. He's also the guy who demonstrated the fatal flaw in the O-ring design that led to the Challenger disaster. He also chose to do so in the most humiliating way possible to ensure that the press would drag those responsible over the coals.
  • G. K. Chesterton. Anyone who's read his books will know he's actually much funnier than any philosopher/theologian has a right to be, and in books like Orthodoxy, he states a great many things about Christianity that makes him look...a bit odd. However, he influenced the likes of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, two of the biggest names in popular Christian literature.
  • Albert Einstein. When he taught in the university of Berlin his students would usually agree he was the funniest teacher they ever had since he would crack jokes at every opportunity. He was also somewhat forgetful, like when he arrived to work in slippers and not in shoes. Coupled with him being a Deadpan Snarker, he could very well fit this trope.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Senile Badass, The Dumbledore


Monkey King

The Monkey King, Sun Wukong, has a tendency to season his lessons with his trademark overconfidence and lackadaisical attitude - and a healthy side of goofball antics.

How well does it match the trope?

4.93 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / EccentricMentor

Media sources: