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Older and Wiser

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"I have learned of late that one must access calm as much as fire. So I have been, as humans say, working on myself."

This character was one of the original protagonists. They hung out, had adventures, and had the Grand Finale with the rest of the cast once the show was cancelled. Now the show has had a Sequel/Revival, and the character's back, with a twist — they're a generation older than the new cast, and they've come back specifically to help the people who are in the same situation they once faced. This role can also be filled, in a Long Runner, by a character who leaves and comes back after a significant span of time.

See also Precursor Heroes. Compare Character Development when this happens onscreen.

In long-running Tabletop RPG games, this is a common fate for player characters when a GM starts a new campaign in the same setting: even if the new game has the same players, the original characters show up as grizzled veterans, wise mentors or literal gods.

Usually ends up being a Cool Old Guy (well, depending on how old he actually is by now). Related to The Mentor, though they're less likely to die. (Of course, there's always the possibility of a nasty refrigerator accident...)

Not an Inversion of Younger and Hipper. An actual inversion would be Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb.


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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • In the Futurama film Bender's Big Score, Lars Fillmore is an older and more mature version of Fry who managed to get sent to the past and had his features accidentally changed to become near-unrecognizable.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Frenchie from Grease returns to high school (yes, as a student) to be mentor to the next decade's New Transfer Student Michael Carrington in Grease 2.
  • In The Hustler (1961), Fast Eddie is an upstart hotshot who is mentored by the older and wiser Bert Gordon. In The Color of Money, Fast Eddie is the older and wiser mentor to the upstart hotshot Vincent.
  • Don Diego Vega (Anthony Hopkins), the original Zorro, returns to train Alejandro Murrieta (Antonio Banderas) in The Mask of Zorro.
  • Though only a few years older, Nancy from the original A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) embodies this trope when she trains a new batch of imperiled kids to fight back against Freddy in Dream Warriors.
  • Star Trek: All of the cast of the original series take on this trope in various shades in the movies, particularly in The Wrath of Khan and The Undiscovered Country, where they are contrasted with younger characters like Preston, Saavik, and Valeris. Indeed, in The Undiscovered Country, it was Valeris's relative lack of perspective compared to her mentor Spock that led to her decision to betray the Federation by helping assassinate Chancellor Gorkon to try and start a war with the Klingons.
    • In the JJ Abrams movies, the trope is inverted by showing younger versions of the characters, including a particularly hotheaded Kirk. While Spock seems very collected in this continuity, we see that even he is very Hot-Blooded compared to Spock!Prime, who accidentally traveled several decades back in time into an alternate timeline.
  • Star Wars:
  • Invoked for laughs in the first Tremors film.
    Earl: "Damn it, Valentine, I'm older and I'm wiser."
    Val: "Yeah, well, you're half right."

  • The Hunger Games: Cressida, and she uses this knowledge to try and help Katniss any way she can.
  • Eskarina Smith, previously seen as a determined young witch in Equal Rites, returns in I Shall Wear Midnight as an advisor to the determined young witch Tiffany Aching.
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen:
    • As an Elder God who hasn't been active for a few millennia, K'rul may not be up to date with the running Malazan war effort, but he has the knowledge to aid his human proteges when the empire tries to set free an age-old Jaghut Tyrant in Darujhistan. He specifically aids Kruppe in assembling the people needed to fight back.
    • Apparently, spending several hundred thousand years suffering a Fate Worse than Death mellowed Draconus out a bit. All who knew of his legendary cruelty feared his return to the world, but among the first things he does when he comes back is making friends with the mentally challenged Ublala Pung.
  • Done interestingly in Robin Hobb's works with Fitz, protagonist of the Realm of the Elderlings' Farseer trilogy. He's still the narrator and protagonist when he returns fifteen years later for the Tawny Man trilogy, but the heart of the story is his attempts to guide and mentor the adolescent offspring of his old friends. So, for once, the Older and Wiser character remains the main character!
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe has Ferus Olin, who was a contemporary of Anakin in the Jedi Quest series as a teenager, was a young adult and the main character of the Last of the Jedi series, and returned in the Rebel Force books to serve as on-again-off-again mentor to Luke and Leia. He does indeed have a Heroic Sacrifice and a genuinely moving death scene.
  • Henry in The Time Traveler's Wife managed to be an Older and Wiser mentor to himself.
  • Used in each subsequent Tortall Universe series by Tamora Pierce.
  • Star Carrier has Trevor "Sandy" Gray, a young hotshot Space Fighter pilot in the early books disliked by his peers for being a "Prim" (short for "primitive," as he used to live in the flooded ruins of Manhattan without modern technology before being forced to enlist) and a "Monogie" (Prims tend to be monogamous, a practice that has fallen out of fashion in the wider world). Fast-forward 20 years during a Time Skip, he's a seasoned captain of a supercarrier on track to becoming an admiral.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Nowhere Boys: Ellen returns in the final two seasons, now a school teacher and The Mentor to the younger Nowhere Boys.
  • Tommy in Power Rangers: Dino Thunder, who returns to superheroing as the team mentor figure after taking seven years off for college, graduate school, a doctorate program, and wildly successful research on superpowered dinosaur cyborgs. It is unknown, but doubtful, if the character slept between his departure in 1997 and return in 2004.
  • Sarah Jane Smith in The Sarah Jane Adventures, as compared to her in Doctor Who three decades prior. Explicitly shown in the Who episode "Turn Left": in an alternate timeline in which the Doctor died without regenerating, Sarah Jane takes the Doctor's canon role by preventing the plot of "Smith and Jones" from coming to fruition. Though she dies in the process.
  • Colonel Samantha Carter is promoted from a member of the Five-Man Band in Stargate SG-1 to the leader of the Atlantis Expedition in Stargate Atlantis. The timespan is a bit shorter, but the concept is the same.
  • During his time on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Wesley Crusher comes across as a Book Smart yet socially naïve Teen Genius; when he reappears on Star Trek: Picard, he's a Traveler with the responsibility to protect the timeline, and he fully understands the weight of this role.
  • Although Welcome Back, Kotter didn't have any prior show, the character Gabe Kotter was a former student who comes back to his high school alma mater to teach an often unruly group of remedial wiseguys known as the "Sweathogs", of which he was a founding member.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Tyree Pride, a Haitian wrestler who competed on Championship Wrestling From Florida's Caribbean tours, was a mouth piece for Tokyo Monster Kahagas in the post territorial sytem National Wrestling Alliance, arguing that Kahagas was necessary if the NWA was to make any resurgance. However, when Ring Warriors entered the alliance in 2011, the NWA decided to use it to reestablish a presence in the Caribbean and Tyree Pride was pulled out of retirement to ensure success. Ring Warriors at this time still had a straight example in Tammy Lynn Sytch, who at first seemed to have her same self serving motivations from Smoky Mountain Wrestling, but instead was genuine this time with her demands for more female roles, in particular offering up Santana Garrett as the conceptual face of a Ring Warriors Women's division.(for the record, Kahagas exceeded Pride's expectations as wrestler, if not as a savior, but Garrett needed a little more time to meet Sytch's)
  • When the Motor City Machine Guns first stopped by Ring of Honor, it was technically an example of this for Chris Sabin, who hadn't done much of anything in the promotion till but they still amounted to pests to the Briscoes and The Kings Of Wrestling. But four years in the promotion and nine years in the business total saw them quickly become leaders of the locker room when they returned ROH in 2016 and the younger talents of promotion really needed help rallying against Bullet Club.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Pathfinder: The Tian goddess Shizuru is this to the Avistani goddess Iomedae. The two deities have much in common in terms of personality, concerns, outlooks and beliefs, but Shizuru is much older and more experienced. She has long since won her crusades and settled into the role of a ruler, and has had to temper her youthful furor with the realities of having to rule a nation. She views Iomedae's comparatively youthful zeal with tolerant amusement, much like an old veteran with a brash but talented young soldier.
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse: A handful of variants and one Heel–Face Turn'd villain exhibit this:
    • The Eternal Haka is Haka as the last surviving human at the end of time. His base power is Haka of Knowledge (as opposed to his base form's Crush), and his card art has him reading in a library.
    • Team Leader Tachyon, from a Bad Future where Legacy has become the tyrant Iron Legacy, has streaks of grey in her hair, and her base power is to support her allies as opposed to fueling her own abilities.
    • As the villain La Capitan, Maria Helena roamed the time stream to loot and plunder however she wished. Eventually, though, a much older version of hers realizes what she's done and seeks to atone as La Comodora.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Warboss Ghazkull made his first appearance in a first-edition supplement in the early 90s as a generic Warboss for the Goff clan. A few years later, he's at the head of the biggest Waaaagh! in the galaxy, has ravaged the planet Armageddon repeatedly, formed a one-sided Friendly Rivalry with Commissar Yarrick, and believes himself to be on a mission from the Ork gods.
  • The Yu-Gi-Oh! card game has lots of monsters that are older versions of other monsters, and it's kind of hard to list them all. Some notable examples:

  • Although still technically the main character, Oedipus of Oedipus at Colonus has completely transformed from his portrayal in Oedipus the King and provides a contrast with the rest of the cast which is younger.

    Video Games 
  • Donkey Kong has Cranky Kong, who was the Donkey Kong from the original arcade games. Unfortunately, while he's older and wiser, he's so much so that he's more Grumpy Old Man than anything else.
  • Fallout: Mayor Robert Joseph MacCready of Fallout 3 is a child with a Cluster F-Bomb vocabulary and universally unlikable attitude. Mercenary Robert Joseph MacCready of Fallout 4 is a polite man with a strong Papa Wolf mentality, a likable personality, and a total refusal to use foul language. The last decade really humbled him.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy IV: Rydia joins the party as a child, and when the ship your party is on gets destroyed is taken to the Land of Monsters, where time flows faster than in the regular world. When she rejoins the party later in the game, she is a fully-grown adult, complete with additional powers.
    • Final Fantasy X: Auron would fit this trope perfectly, except we see it backwards. Near the beginning, he emerges from obscurity to join the younger crew and teach them what's what, but only as the game progresses do we gradually learn what happened the first time around.
  • Fire Emblem:
  • In Galaxy Angel II, the Moon Angels from the first Galaxy Angel trilogy act as mentors to their successors in the Rune Angel Wing. They're a downplayed example as only four years have passed between trilogies, and they still very much retain their quirky personalities.
  • God of War (PS4): Kratos has had a lot of time to think about everything he did in the original trilogy, and it shows. His famously Unstoppable Rage has been reigned in, and when he does get angry, it's a Tranquil Fury. Kratos clearly regrets everything he's done, and he wants nothing more than to keep his son Atreus from repeating his mistakes.
    Atreus: So I'm a man now? Like you?
    Kratos: No. We are not men. We are more than that, and the responsibility is far greater. And you must be better than me. Understand?
  • Golden Sun: Isaac and Garet show up for the tutorial levels of Golden Sun: Dark Dawn. Garet plays the trope straight, having matured from a Hot-Blooded source of Plucky Comic Relief to a more sedate parent struggling to keep a leash on his even-more-temperamental teenage son, but Isaac subverts it almost to the point of a total inversion— he's gone from a quiet momma's boy with a bad case of Chronic Hero Syndrome to a rather reckless fellow more interested in putting Matthew through obstacle courses than getting Tyrell out of life-threatening danger.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Mortal Kombat 11: Happens a few times, given that time-travel is involved.
    • Johnny Cage has mellowed out considerably since his days as a smug Hollywood star. When his past self shows up again, Present-Johnny is the one most annoyed by him.
    • Hanzo Hasashi (aka Scorpion), has likewise calmed down considerably since being resurrected, finally avenging his family, making peace with Sub-Zero and the Lin Kuei, and working to rebuild the new Shirai Ryu clan. He tries to get his past undead self to see that there can be more to his existence than vengeance, and that even if the bloodline of the old Shirai Ryu was wiped out, it doesn't mean the end of their clan as long as there are worthy successors to carry on their traditions.
  • Police Quest: Sonny Bonds, the hero of the original games, is your SWAT unit's commanding officer in the tactical First-Person Shooter SWAT 4. For the record, that means the last time we saw him, he was a Detective Sergeant in Homicide. A minimum of ten years later (due to physical SWAT requirements), he has been promoted to the rank of Captain. At least. One hell of a meteoric rise.
  • Sakura Wars (2019) sees the return of Sumire Kanzaki after her retirement from active duty, now serving as the commander of the new Imperial Combat Revue. She is no longer as haughty and boastful as she was in her youth, and has mellowed out considerably, although she still caries herself with the pride of being a top actress back in her day.
  • Soul Series: Soul Calibur has two examples:
    • Siegfried changes from an arrogant bandit from a knightly background who unknowingly murders his own father and winds up letting Soul Edge turn him into the next Nightmare to a regretful and determined paladin-like figure determined to redeem himself even in the face of horrific crimes and almost certain death.
    • Seong Mi-na is the same age as Siegfried, and starts out as a naive and Hot-Blooded girl. In later installments, Yun-Seong looks up to her as a cool big sis, and her father remarks that she has grown.
  • Star Fox: Peppy Hare was part of the original Star Fox Team and now fights alongside his fallen teammate's son. He even gives up piloting his arwing after Star Fox Adventures, becoming more of a Mission Control figure.

    Visual Novels 
  • Fate/stay night: Gilgamesh is a conceited Jerkass due to having his personality in this incarnation modeled on how he was early in the tales written down in The Epic of Gilgamesh. When the protagonists of Fate/Grand Order time travel to Mesopotamia to find the Big Bad's final Holy Grail, they meet a Gilgamesh who has lost Enkidu, failed at his quest for immortality herbs, and is settling down as the wise God-King of Uruk. And it shows, Uruk citizens are really capable, content, and happy with his rule. He only acts rude towards the protagonist because of the sheer stress of running his kingdom and fighting the war against the Three Goddess Alliance. In the game proper, this version is summonable as his Caster-version.

  • Girl Genius: Apparently a biological feature of Jagermonsters; while the "young" ones (who can still be a century old) are very excitable Blood Knights with an intense love of fine clothing, the older ones seem a lot saner, with the generals still dressing well but cracking jokes about things like one of them missing a hat (when younger ones find lacking a hat themselves to be rather awful), and have no real thirst for fighting, enjoying a good scrap but having no unnatural drive; if they fight, it's because they chose to. We get a closer look at this when Captain Vole, so bloodthirsty he got kicked out of the Jagercorps, is accidentally aged hundreds of years in one sitting. While a part of it can be trauma, he finds himself utterly confused by how much his insanity waned; he used to care a lot for clothes, but not quite as much now, he doesn't really think he wants to fight anymore, and his dreams of watching Europa burn are gone; he doesn't want that anymore, and he doesn't really have another dream to replace it. And he even laments the carnage he caused, at least a little.
  • Clark from Shape Quest, who complains that they feel he's way too old for adventuring, despite being 35.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life