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Renowned Selective Mentor

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Occasionally The Hero will be mentored by someone who holds an important position in their community. It may be the group's leader, someone with a special job that only takes on one trainee in their lifetime, or perhaps an old hero who is retired and normally no longer trains anyone. Sometimes the mentor is chosen by someone else, but for the most part it is their own decision to take the character under their wing. Perhaps they see some sort of special ability in the hero. Perhaps, especially if the character is young, they want to be an influence in the pupil's life, trying to make them grow up in a certain way.

Whatever the reason, it is almost always a big honor to be chosen by this person. Because of this, the choice may result in someone becoming jealous of the hero, possibly turning them into a rival.

Sub-Trope of The Mentor. Mentor Occupational Hazard may also occur.

Examples of this trope:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dr. Orson from A Cruel God Reigns can be seen as this since he is retired and ill, but chooses to counsel Jeremy for free.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Master Roshi is implied to be this. When he offers to train Goku, Yamcha (watching nearby) comments on how the master never takes on students, and when Krillin comes asking for training, Roshi simply tells him to go home. Then he changes his mind when Krillin shows him some dirty mags. Later when Yamcha ask to become one of his students he turns him down, saying that two was his limit. He quickly changes him mind when Bulma says that she would come and visit if he took Yamcha in.
    • Master Roshi's rival, the Crane Hermit, is also picky about who he trains. As far as we know his only students are his younger brother, Tao, Tien, and Chiaotzu.
    • Master Korin, Goku's other teacher, only teaches those who can climb Korin Tower. He trained most of the original cast.
    • Much like Korin, King Kai only trains those who make it to the end of Snake Way. Although he trains Piccolo, Tien, Yamcha, and Chiaotzu, Goku is the only one he teaches the Spirit Bomb and Kaioken to.
    • In the entire series, Piccolo only trained Gohan, although he does help Goku teach Goten and Trunks the Fusion Dance.
    • Goku himself falls into this. By the end of Dragon Ball Z, he only personally trained Gohan and takes Uub as his student.
  • Played with Zeref in Fairy Tail. He's the most powerful wizard in history, and is a boogeyman for wizards all over the continent and he takes in Mavis and her friends- Yuriy, Precht and Warod, the founding members of the eponymous guild- as his students. His decision wasn't because he saw potential in them, but simply to repay Mavis for her act of kindness toward him. They would all later on become the most powerful wizards in the series.
  • The Forwards in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS have been handpicked for a year-long personal training by the eponymous character. Most combat mages in the setting consider themselves lucky to get Nanoha to act as their OPFOR for half a day. Not to mention that she normally only teaches advanced aerial combat to squadron-sized classes (as opposed to one-on-four training from basics up for the Forwards).
  • Jiraiya in Naruto fits this trope to a T. He only had two groups of students before Naruto, and in both cases one of them was an insanely gifted shinobi who became a legend. He chose to train Naruto because he reminded him of the Fourth Hokage, his previous student and Naruto's father.
    • His fellow Sannin can also be considered this—Orochimaru is only known to have trained Anko, Kabuto, and Sasuke, while Tsunade is only known to have trained Shizune and Sakura.
    • Kakashi can be considered this, as until Team 7 came along, no one passed his Genin Exam.
    • The Hokages seem to follow this paradigm closely Hashirama & Tobirama ==> Hiruzen ==> Tsunade/Jiraiya(Jiraiya didn't acually become Hokage but was nominated for the position more than anyone else in the series)==> Minato ==> Kakashi ==> Naruto.
  • Precarious Woman Executive Miss Black General has Marshal Turtle, an Expy of Master Roshi who constantly belittles his would-be students. He's also a Dirty Old Man, in that being a good-looking girl is enough to get his approval for training. The Chaste Hero mentioning that he has several attractive women throwing themselves at him infuriates him to the point of accepting him for training... so he can dish out a beating out of sheer envy.
  • Koumyou Sanzo from Saiyuki puts his chosen successor, Kouryuu (later Genjyo Sanzo)) in a tough place by making him the favored disciple. The rest of the monks at the temple are explicitly jealous, and spread rumors of Koumyou choosing him for other reasons.
  • Played with in Soul Eater with Dr. Stein, who, while being the best meister the DWMA has ever had, has mentioned wanting to dissect Maka, his best student. No one even wants to visit his home, let alone take Maka's place.
  • Kaname Sengoku in Welcome to the Ballroom is a downplayed example. He's a world-class dancer who ends up mentoring Fujita (in a very informal way), but it's only much later that the viewer (and Fujita) learns that he's never taken a student before and even turned down several prospective ones. Despite being an excellent dancer, he's still new at being a teacher and fumbles with teaching on occasion.
  • In YuYu Hakusho, Yusuke has to enter and win a tournament in order to train under Genkai. Unfortunately, she has no concern for the moral character of her student and successor, so Yusuke must also win to prevent the technique from falling into the wrong hands.

    Fan Works 
  • In Child of the Storm Doctor Strange is noted as very rarely taking apprentices - and considering that he's believed to be anywhere between several hundred and fifteen hundred years old (the actual answer, thanks to time travel, is somewhere in the region of 500,000), is often not seen for decades at a time, and is generally much preoccupied with his job and his grand Xanatos Gambit (this specific version of the character is a member of the Omniscient Council of Vagueness), people rarely get the opportunity to ask. He's reluctant to teach, as he doesn't think he's very good at it. When he does take a student, therefore, it is a notable event. By the time of the story, there have only been two that have been named: Mordo and Wanda Maximoff.
    • Ghosts of the Past has a significant In-Universe shock when he adds a third named student: Harry. He's also currently pretending to be a teacher in Magic Music at Hogwarts.
    • Later in Ghosts it is revealed that he had a fourth named student, before Wanda: Margaret McCoy a.k.a. Margaret Le Fay, the mother of Harry Dresden. She came to study with him after striking out from the White Council, seeking out the most powerful practitioner who famously disagreed with the Council's non-interventionist attitude (though she left after deciding - incorrectly - that he was too cautious). Later, they ended up on reasonably good terms, however, and the only reason that Strange didn't go out of his way to avenge her death was that he felt her dying revenge was poetic justice.
  • In Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, Professor Quirrell has studied Muggle martial arts under one such master. The master ended up teaching him one of the most important lessons in his life - how to lose. Unfortunately, the master then ran afoul of Voldemort, who also wanted to learn from him only to be rebuffed. Voldemort then went Pai Mei on the dojo (only with magic).
  • General Ty Jun's mentor, Lady Sho, is described as such in Kyoshi Rising; a reclusive martial arts master who lives on Ember Island, she has turned away many students including the Fire Lord, and if she shows interest the only way to stay on as her student appears to be a Trial by Combat.
  • Ranma Saotome, Chi Master has an extremely skilled Indo-Chinese guru living in Hong Kong, one very well-known among practitioners of chi manipulation. She rarely takes students, but those she accepts almost invariably become influential members of the martial arts world. Ranma spent a year as her apprentice, which led to him becoming a good deal stronger and more skilled than he was in canon.
  • It's treated as a big deal when Obi-Wan becomes Dooku's Padawan in Star Wars: Lineage, after Qui-Gon isn't available anymore. This is understandable, given that Dooku is a Council member and one of the most renowned Jedi in the Order, as well as having trained only one Padawan that we know of, Qui-Gon, himself a Living Legend.
  • In the Transformers fanfic Things We Don't Tell Humans, Terratron is this. It's a big deal that he offers to train Prowl and Jazz as kids, given that they will have to relearn a lot of it when they get their adult frames. The training each one receives is their own private business unless they have permission to tell close family members, and no more than one of his students are ever seen in public with him at a time. Any one student might not know who the other current and former students are. It's a very big deal when Terratron finally breaks these rules.
  • In the Vocaloid fanfic Vocal Vision, Luka has finally wanted to train Miku because of her resemblance with her former friend.


  • Akata Witch: Sugar Cream, an ancient scholar who's attained the highest possible rank in the Leopard Person Magical Society, finally accepts Sunny as her first and only student. Sunny helping to defeat a dreaded Leopard Person Serial Killer and singlehandedly banishing an apocalyptic Satanic Archetype overcomes her misgivings about her.
  • In Belisarius Series an emperor hires one of the greatest warriors in India to train his daughter as a warrior. Later she and her mentor get married and they become a Battle Couple.
    • Toyed with later in the series. Rajiv was the eldest son of the near legendary warrior Rana Sanga, and wound up learning from one of the only two men who had ever even survived a duel with him... a lowborn Roman soldier named Valentinian.
  • In Trudi Canavan's The Black Magician Trilogy, the heroine, Sonea, becomes "The High Lord's favourite". He supposedly takes an interest in her unusually powerful magic and talent (and he does) but it's actually also so he can keep an eye on her and use her to blackmail her friends into keeping his ability to use Black Magic a secret.
  • In the first Chronicles of the Kencyrath book, God Stalk, Master Penari—who's known as the greatest thief in the city of Tai-tastigon—takes Jame as his apprentice. For fifty-six years, ever since he stole the Eye of Abarraden, everyone's wanted to be his apprentice, but Jame is the only one he ever takes. He chooses her to screw over the rest of the Thieves' Guild.
    It was obvious now why Penari had chosen her, a Kencyr, to be his apprentice. After decades of pressure to make him reveal his secrets, he had taken revenge on them all by choosing to confide not only in an outsider but in one whose very race was to him a guarantee of her incorruptibility.
  • In Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic series, there is a rule that any mage that discovers magic in someone is responsible for teaching them or finding a mage with the same kind of magic to take over instruction. Mages who can control lightning like Tris are both rare and tend to get themselves killed young so famous vision mage Niko chooses to train her himself.
  • In Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, Mazer Rackham is this to Ender.
  • The Giver is an example of this trope. The task of the Receiver of Memory is to remember the details of their history and how the world used to be, only when a successor is chosen does the Receiver take on the title of "Giver" as he begins to transfer these memories to his replacement. Usually this is a once in a lifetime kind of thing, but the current Receiver had a protege that failed many years ago and has had to carry on as the remember for a long time while waiting for the next suitable replacement. Jonas becomes the Giver's student, and he is considered to have a special rank in the community.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Harry has a much closer relationship with the headmaster, Dumbledore, than is usual for a student, to the point of the Professor being almost a surrogate father. In the sixth book Dumbledore even gives him special lessons.
    • The founders of Hogwarts had specific standards for students. Salazar Slytherin refused to teach anyone who was not of pure magical lineage and who also possessed a crafty nature. Godric Gryffindor would only teach classical heroes (brave, noble etc.). Rowena Ravenclaw focused exclusively on those naturally smart and academic. Helga Hufflepuff is notable for being an inversion of this trope, teaching anyone and everyone and "treating them all the same". This is why Hogwarts has four separate houses and why being sorted into Helga's house is considered shameful by many; she accepted everyone so going to her house means you're not special.
  • Heralds of Valdemar: In Owlsight, Darian certainly has this reaction when he finds out Firesong K'Treva, a talented Healing Adept who helped save the world from The Cataclysm, has moved to k'Valdemar Vale specifically to train Darian in their shared Gift.
  • Mistborn: The Original Trilogy has Vin becoming (in)famous for, amongst other things, being trained by Kelsier, the Survivor of Hathsin and One-Man Army.
  • Halt of Ranger's Apprentice is Shrouded in Myth, and has only trained one apprentice so far, Gilan, before taking on Will. This gets treated to a Reconstruction in Book 7: On the one hand, stepping out from the shadow of a Living Legend is very tough, but on the other, because you've been trained by someone that good, you're better than you think you are.
  • Star Wars:
    • In the Jedi Apprentice series, Qui-Gon Jinn is this to Obi-Wan Kenobi. Because of his previous apprentice's Face–Heel Turn, Qui-Gon had been reluctant to accept a new one, despite the fact that the position of being his Padawan was highly sought after. Nevertheless, fate conspired to bring the two of them together.
    • To an extent in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Jedi Knights and Masters are encouraged not to choose Padawans out of duty simply because that Knight or Master wouldn't put in as much effort into the Padawan's training vs a Padawan the Knight/Master actually wanted to train.
  • The Stormlight Archive: Princess Jasnah Kholin is a world-renowned scholar and Iron Lady who was known for refusing any request to become her ward. She finds Shallan's academic knowledge lacking, but is impressed enough by her tenacity and the fact that she's entirely self-taught to accept her as a ward, hugely elevating Shallan's status in the Alethi court.
  • In Thief of Time, everyone is shocked when Lobsang becomes the apprentice of Lu-Tzu The Sweeper. Even if they don't recognise The Sweeper in person, they are shocked by his rep, and because he never takes apprentices anymore. In fact Lobsang's apprenticeship is a punishment posting for both of them in different ways.
  • In the Thursday Next series, Miss Havisham trains Thursday for Jurisfiction in Lost in a Good Book. She's specifically described by Mrs. Dashwood as being highly selective, and she herself says as much, warning Thursday that she could easily lose the privilege of studying with her.
  • In Warrior Cats, it is considered to be a huge honor to be mentored by the Clan leader or, to a lesser degree, the deputy. It occurs only a couple times in the series, most notably in the first book when Bluestar, the leader of ThunderClan, chooses the main character Firepaw as her apprentice. It is also considered an honor to train as the medicine cat's apprentice, because it is such an important position; each medicine cat only trains one apprentice in their lifetime. In that case, however, it usually isn't a surprise because the younger cat already has an interest in healing and helps out the medicine cat for a while before officially being apprenticed.

    Live Action TV 
  • The butler Carson, of Downton Abbey, is like this for the servant trade. Normally very gruff, he's willing to assist lower-ranking servants if they show talent, humility, and a willingness to take instruction. This shows with Alfred, whose employment Carson originally views with suspicion (he makes a faux pas at a Fancy Dinner, serving like a restaurant waiter rather than a footman; he's about three inches taller than the generally-accepted maximum for footmen; and he's O'Brien's nephew, to boot), but who proves to be quite down-to-earth and devotes himself to learning the proper trade of a footman. This leads to this exchange:
    Thomas: You're taking a lot of trouble with Alfred. I feel quite jealous.
    Carson: I don't know why. He asked for help. You never did.
  • This is how House manages to have so many new candidates for his team in season four. They all know he's an ass, but his reputation is so powerful by that point that there are over a dozen highly trained adults basically fighting to work for him. They're willing to sabotage each other, grant House special favors, and attempt ridiculous (and sometimes illegal) challenges, such as stealing a hospital admin's panties. While she's wearing them. All while enduring House's verbal abuse, just for the chance to have him as a mentor.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • The Elder Scrolls series has the Psijic Order, the oldest monastic order in Tamriel, founded during the ancient times by an Aldmeri sect who rejected the transition to Aedra worship from ancestor worship, known to them as the "Old Way" or "Elder Way." They settled on the island of Artaeum, the third largest island in the Summerset Isles, which has been known to disappear for centuries at a time for reasons only known to the Order. Thousands of years later, they are now more well known as a reclusive order of immensely powerful magic users, who have Sufficiently Analyzed Magic to the point where they can utilize magic in ways (and on a scale) unmatched by any other extant group in Tamriel. Many magically adept prospective students seek to join the Order from all over Tamriel, but very few are ever accepted. It is said that the Psijics use a "complex, ritualized method" for selecting initiates that is "not understood by the common man." In the roughly 500 years between Artaeum's reappearance in the 2nd Era until 3E 430, only 17 initiates were taken on by the Order. However, from 3E 430 to 3E 432, leading up to the Oblivion Crisis, the Order accepted an unheard of 30 initiates.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV, Jehantel is a legendary archer revered as the "Godsbow" for his unparalleled skill with a bow. Countless Gridanian archers have sought his tutelage so that they might achieve the same level of mastery. But he refused each and every one of them until the Warrior of Light meets him not to learn archery but to learn singing and poetry as he'd offered the Archers' Guild in the past. The Warrior's honest desire to learn convinces Jehantel to train the Warrior as a bard, allowing them to excel at both Magic Music and archery.
  • Discussed by some NPCs in Might and Magic VI. Some NPC gossip reveals that master level trainers, who grant the best possible bonuses to using skills, live in remote areas to avoid being swamped by prospective students. Said trainers will not only usually ask for a high rank in the skill in question, as well as Expert rank, but will also expect students to have high stats or a Prestige Class (or honorary title).
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, Master Orgus Din hasn't taken on a new Padawan since his last was killed a decade ago in the Sacking of Coruscant. Then he decides to train the Jedi Knight Player Character.

    Web Original 
  • Circe of the Whateley Universe chooses Phase to mentor. Circe has only chosen an apprentice about once a decade or so. Downside: all of Circe's apprentices end up dying horribly.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life