An Inappropriate Role Model is a person who is uncouth, unsavoury, or insane; A person who really shouldn't be idolised or emulated, yet (s)he is, often by some poor misguided fool.
- Meowth from Pokémon fawned over Giovanni, Team Rocket's boss, ignoring the fact that Giovanni is actually a jerk who doesn't really like him, Jessie, or James.
- Ollie Osnick idolised Dr. Octopus, even building his own tentacles in hope of working with him. After Octopus tried to kill him, he switched to idolising Spider-Man instead.
- Captain America villain Crossbones idolizes the Red Skull and ends up as his devoted minion (in a dark parallel to Bucky's relationship with Cap).
- Harleen Quinnzel a.k.a. Harley Quinn picked the worst possible role model to become obsessed with — The Joker.
- Invoked in the Supergirl storyline Red Daughter of Krypton by Guy Gardner, who believes Supergirl should stay with her cousin Superman instead of staying with his Red Lantern squad because the Red Lanterns -a group of berserker, battle-hungry, moody, mad-like-hell anti-heroes- aren't exactly role models even at their best .
- In the first Problem Child movie, Junior idolizes the Bow Tie Killer. Well, until the Bow Tie Killer escapes from prison and visits his "youngest fan". With clearly murderous intentions.
- Played for Drama in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, where Jean Brodie sees herself as a mentor and role model for her 'Brodie Set'. But she's a rampant fascist with all sorts of dangerous ideas. She plans to groom one girl into having an affair with the art teacher (in her place) and another is influenced to run off to fight in the Spanish Civil War.
- In an episode of The Brady Bunch, Bobby suddenly considers Western outlaw Jesse James as his hero.
- On The Parent 'Hood, youngest son Nichaolas decides to do his Black History Month presentation on Buckwheat from The Little Rascals, even going so far as to dress up as him. Everyone else in the family is offended because Buckwheat engaged in Uncle Tomfoolery, giving black people a bad name.
Another father at the show: Who's he going to be next year, the guy who posed for the Lawn Jockey statue?
- Nicholas doesn't explain himself until the presentation, where he describes Billie Thomas [the actor who played Buckwheat] doing the best he could given the times.
- In an episode of Herman's Head, Herman had an opportunity to meet a role model of his who was a writer. Intellect was delighted with this, but the other aspects of Herman's personality kept trying to offer better role models. After Compassion listed "Albert Schweitzer in Africa, Mother Teresa in India...", Paranoia added, "Peter Lorre in Casablanca." This caused Intellect to snap and yell that no one in his right mind considers Peter Lorre in Casablanca to be a role model.
- Morrissey's song "Last of the Famous International Playboys" is from the point-of-view of a man in prison who wanted to impress Reggie and Ronnie Kray, English organized crime bosses.
- South Park:
- In the first Halloween Episode, Eric Cartman comes to school dressed as his hero, Adolf Hitler. The so-called adults try to fix things by quickly making him a "ghost" costume, which looks like a Ku Klux Klan robe. Chef is not amused.
- In a later episode, Cartman fawned at the feet of Rob Reiner, a Jerkass anti-smoking activist.
- In the Futurama episode "Bender Should Not Be Allowed on TV", Bender becomes the new star of All My Circuits and many kids, including Dwight, Cubert and Tiny Timmy, start idolizing him to the point of copying his bad language and habit of stealing stuff.
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002): Odiphus idolises villains, performing illicit acts in the hope of being allowed to "join up."
- Iron Man: Armored Adventures: Justin Hammer idolises Nero, a very twisted Roman emperor. Tony even brings up Nero's faults in front of Hammer.
- Batman Beyond: The Jokerz are a street gang with a clown motif inspired by the original Joker. Ironically, another street gang, the Ts, imitates the appearance of superhero Mr. Terrific.
- Kaeloo: Stumpy's role model is Mr. Cat, who is an Ax-Crazy sadist.