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Mooching Master

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Alice is Bob's master. She could be a master of anything, from martial arts to cooking, anything that involves having a teacher. Bob is very thankful to Alice since her teaching was invaluable. Perhaps he has more to be thankful for: maybe Alice actually raised Bob or gave him shelter. Whatever the case, Bob is very thankful to Alice and would do anything for her.

And Alice milks it for all its worth. Alice also probably gets Bob to wash and iron her laundry, mow her lawn, and pick up her dry-cleaning.

The Mooching Master trope refers to a very particular type of teacher-student relationship, one in which the student is indebted to the master and the master takes advantage of this for personal gain. This is not merely the master asking for money; that'd be too simple. The master instead asks for favors, which run from annoying to illegal to even life-threatening. But the student owes so much to the master, he feels obligated to comply out of a desire to honor her.

This trope is almost always Played for Laughs, even in a serious work, and the master is usually not actually malicious. This doesn't mean her mooching is harmless, though, as it can actually make the student get in loads of trouble trying to please his master. And, of course, the teacher – even though she might be teaching the student with her antics – is, when all is said and done, genuinely taking advantage of him to a degree.

Compare Wax On, Wax Off, in which the chores the student is performing are genuine teaching tools. Trickster Mentors are very fond of this trope. The Svengali is a more malicious version, hobbling their students' growth to continue to take advantage of them. Compare Fair-Weather Mentor, who exploits their students for accolades instead of money.

No Real Life Examples, Please! While there are Real Life cases where masters exploit their students, having allegations on TV Tropes would be contentious and lead to flame wars and controversy.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Ranma ½, we have ancient grandmaster Happosai, and of course Ranma's own master (and father) Genma. It should be noted, though, that Ranma himself is an equally enormous mooch, so maybe he actually did learn something?
  • General Cross Marian from D.Gray-Man abuses his student Allen by making him gamble to pay off all his master's debts. The anime makes it worse when they do a filler-Episode 27: My Mentor General Cross. Whereupon, Cross has Allen doing slave labor, asks him to catch a lion for him, and corners him in alleyways to take his money.
  • Yuuko from ×××HOLiC does this to Watanuki accidentally. She has him do all the housework for her, buy her booze, be the Chew Toy for her spiritual tasks, without realizing she's teaching him and training him to eventually replace her as the shopkeeper.
  • In Mob Psycho 100, Reigen was a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who took advantage of his More Powered Protégé Mob's Psychic Powers to keep his Phony Psychic business running. However, he later received some Character Development and learned to stop taking him for granted, becoming a more genuine mentor to him.
  • In the lead-up to the Indigo League in Pokémon: The Original Series, the team caught wind of the fact that Bruno, one of the Kanto Elite Four, was training up in the nearby mountains, so Brock and Ash sought him out for his guidance. When they found him, Bruno agreed to teach them what he knew, so long as they obeyed his instructions. He then got Ash and Brock to carry water, chop wood, and carry heavy rocks uphill, which the pair assumed to be lessons of the Wax On, Wax Off variety. Turns out Bruno was just getting them to do some heavy lifting for his campsite, and he had no mystical secrets to offer.
  • In Naruto, the titular Ninja Brat gets his money confiscated by Jiraiya during the Search For Tsunade Arc, citing wanting to keep Naruto away from the three vices of ninja- money, booze, and women- and leaves some money behind so Naruto can enjoy a festival, but not too extravagantly. When Naruto finds Jiraiya later, the Pervy Sage has spent all of Naruto's money on booze and callgirls. Needless to say, Naruto was not pleased at the hypocrisy.

    Comic Strips 
  • As seen above, Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes thinks this trope is in effect with regards to his father making him do chores.

  • Chop-socky kung fu movies are LOADED with this kind of character. The old Shaolin master ordering his student to get him food and booze is practically a character type by itself. Examples include The Miracle Fighters and Shaolin Vs Lama.
  • Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny: JB thinks Kage is teaching him how to rock via Wax On, Wax Off, but he's really just cleaning up Kage's house.
  • Played with in The Grifters. One character has a flashback to asking an old Con Man to teach him how to grift. The conman tells him to give him $10 and he'll demonstrate. After putting the money in his pocket, he says to come back tomorrow, "and I'll take you for another ten."

  • He has the capacity to be nurturing, but Professor Horace Slughorn of Harry Potter sifts through and lavishes attention and extra help on the students he believes will go on to fame, success and fortune; he can then enjoy receiving attention, company, and correspondence with prize-winning politicians, professional athletes, researchers and powerful witches and wizards of all kinds. He enjoys the implication that he can shape the decisions of these people and that he's influential enough to get fat on gifts from members of his Slug Club.
    "Horace," said Dumbledore, relieving Harry of the responsibility to say any of this, "likes his comfort. ... He has never wanted to occupy the throne himself; he prefers the backseat—more room to spread out, you see. He used to handpick favorites at Hogwarts, sometimes for their ambition or their brains, sometimes for their charm or their talent, and he had an uncanny knack for choosing those who would go on to become outstanding in their various fields. Horace formed a kind of club of his favorites with himself at the center, making introductions, forging useful contacts between members, and always reaping some kind of benefit in return, whether a free box of his favorite crystallized pineapple or the chance to recommend the next junior member of the Goblin Liaison Office." Harry had a sudden and vivid mental image of a great swollen spider, spinning a web around it, twitching a thread here and there to bring its large and juicy flies a little closer...

    Live-Action TV 
  • Mildred accuses Charlie of being this to Amita, in NUMB3RS. She raises a couple of fair points about how he uses Amita's time, attention, research, and resources for FBI work. This leads to Amita carefully distancing herself . . . a little.
  • In Arrested Development, Carl Weathers offers to give Tobias acting lessons, but he ends up talking more about getting free food than actually teaching.
  • House. Give him students and he will send them to get him cable. And donuts.
  • Played with in Cobra Kai. Daniel attempts to resurrect Miyagi-do as a proper dojo (to compete with the reborn Cobra Kai), even using Miyagi's famous Wax On, Wax Off method to train his students. Several of them leave, assuming that this trope is in play instead. Demetri turns out to be savvy enough to catch on to what Daniel is doing - not that it stops him from complaining about it

    Video Games 
  • Astrid, Rorona's alchemy master from Atelier Rorona. Right at the beginning of the game, her workshop is in danger of being closed and she gets commanded by the king to either do assignments she's requested or forfeit the shop. What does she do? She changes the workshop's name to Rorona's and saddles her with the job. And throughout the game, she's constantly ordering Rorona to do near-suicidal tasks while also treating her like crap, always running from her responsibilities by throwing them on Rorona. Rorona ends in tears constantly at the stuff she does. It's played for laughs, really.
  • In the Raidou Kuzunoha games, Raidou's boss, Narumi, lounges around the headquarters of his detective agency while his apprentice runs all kinds of dangerous errands for him. (He's not a bad guy, though, and does get a bit more involved in the case in the second game.)
    • In the tie-in novel, Raidou Kuzunoha vs. the Dead Messenger, this trait gets greatly exaggerated, as Narumi not only makes Raidou handle agency business by himself but keeps Raidou home from school to do his (Narumi's) housework, spends the money he's given for Raidou's upkeep on fancy new clothes, and threatens to kick Raidou out if he doesn't show proper gratitude.
    • Even in the first game, it's revealed Narumi is a serious case of Brilliant, but Lazy - he's used to fine dining but absolutely loathes work, and winds up racking a significant tab on several joints. That being said, both the first game and the Raidou manga make it very clear that, lazy as Narumi is, he is no stranger to danger and is a Badass Normal capable of infiltrating the Subterranean Shipbuilding Facility (which at the time was filled with demons he could neither see nor damage and Special Forces Units), enduring hours of the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique by Navy thugs and dealing heavy damage to Raidou's opponents. Additionally, he is a competent detective. He's simply too lazy for his own good, and he's not above abusing the contacts Raidou provides for him, but ultimately his interests lie solely with him, as seen when he feels he won't be able to pull off the above-mentioned infiltration and carries it out himself.
  • This is Rean and Sara's relationship in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel. Rean, the student, has to put up with a lot of things from his master, Sara. Some of it is basically Rean helping out the student council on jobs she should be doing herself, investigating the old schoolhouse, and having to reconcile his other classmates with their tense relationships.

    Web Comics 
  • Mob Psycho 100: Reigen is a Phony Psychic who keeps his ghost exorcism business afloat because Mob, a very gifted Psychic Child, thinks he's an expert. Reigen hands off all the work to Mob, under the pretense of it being below him, and pays him almost nothing. That said, when it comes to teaching Mob responsibility and maturity, Reigen is actually quite astute. It is eventually revealed that Mob knew all along that Reigen is phony, but sees him as a guiding figure for morality and everyday life instead. When it comes to developing his Psychic Powers, Mob does not actually need nor want any teaching.
  • A downplayed example occurs in Joe vs. Elan School. Christy makes a big deal about Joe becoming a "full coordinator," then later a "re-entry" student, but in reality she only does it to force Joe to stay at Elan School longer and run Elan 8 for her without being paid for it. Ron eventually returns to call Christy out for turning Joe into her slave.

    Western Animation