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Sensei for Scoundrels

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"Think of me as Yoda. Only instead of being little and green, I wear suits and I'm awesome. I'm your bro. I'm Broda."
Barney Stinson, How I Met Your Mother

Are you a Chew Toy, A Woobie, a Dogged Nice Guy or just generally pathetic? Are women avoiding you like the plague? Do you feel existentially lost in a cruel and uncaring universe?

The Sensei for Scoundrels might be the answer to your prayers. He is everything you wish you could be as a man: strong, attractive, fearless and a huge success with women. Of course, he's also probably deeply disturbed, and possibly very evil. You may find him at the Thug Dojo, but a School of Hard Knocks is more likely.

The main character winds up following the Sensei for Scoundrels in the hopes of becoming the kind of man he always wanted to be. In a Lighter and Softer story, the main character will very often end up rejecting the sensei's advice by the end and win the girl on his own terms. In Darker and Edgier works, the hero very often ends up becoming as bad as the mentor and loses all of his positive characteristics in the process.

Of course, it's also possible the mentor is perfectly respectable and our protagonist will end up better for the experience.

These guys also exist in real life, though they're usually not quite as psycho and probably are financially motivated.

Compare and Contrast the Big Brother Mentor whose relationship with the protagonist is a bit more friendly and has fewer unfortunate drawbacks. There's a certain amount of overlap with the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, considering both are slightly unhinged characters who encourage a tightly-wound protagonist to relax and have a little more fun in his miserable life.

See also Evil Mentor.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Bleach Bount arc. Maki Ichinose left the Soul Society in despair after his Captain was killed. While wandering he was almost killed by a hollow but was saved by Jin Kariya. Ichinose swore to follow Kariya and help him defeat the Soul Society. He eventually learned that Kariya planned to destroy the entire Soul Society and turned on him.
  • Kensei Ma and Sakaki Shio of Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple. Their training methods often involve perversion and getting drunk, respectively.
  • Great Teacher Onizuka is a teacher with a history as a notorious delinquent leader. When Onizuka's students decide to bully their teacher, they soon find out that he isn't pulling any punches, and soon their disdain is exchanged for admiration.
  • Jack Rakan of Negima! Magister Negi Magi. He might be smart, but he's definitely crazy and perverted, to the point that the only techniques he doesn't make up on the spot are the ones used to harass females. Of course, Negi specifically begins training with him because he wants to learn how to be more of an idiot.
    • Considering how many girls are already tripping over each other just to be near Negi, he doesn't need the help.
  • The Hentai anime The God of Groping.
  • Kozue Takanashi does this for Yachiyo Todoroki in Wagnaria!! - Yachiyo is looking for advice on what she should do to get ready to hang out with a male co-worker, without any designs on romance. Kozue, a Hard-Drinking Party Girl who isn't shy about, well, anything, basically gives advice on how to get laid. Most of it flies over Yachiyo's head, though what doesn't manages to be useful.
  • Kanta Mizuno from Desert Punk, a Lovable Rogue who tutors young Kosuna in the ways of being a ruthless criminal scumbag to survive After the End. His final lesson takes the form of betraying her for his own selfish gain and aligning with the Big Bad, forcing her to bring him down.

    Comic Books 
  • Subverted in Green Arrow during DC Comics Missing Year when, feeling he's gone soft, he hires a literal sensei for Scoundrels to teach him and his family to fight dirty. He becomes a Sink or Swim Mentor when he recruits his former student to give Green Arrow a trial by fire.
  • Taskmaster is a literal, for-hire version of this trope, providing combat training to Mooks and aspiring Super-Villains.

  • Tyler Durden from Fight Club. See literature for more information.
  • Frank T.J. Mackey from Magnolia, is definitely one of these, though we don't learn much about any of his students. His famous mantra is "Respect the cock and tame the cunt."
  • Dr S. Potter in School For Scoundrels 1960 is this kind of character, offering courses in Lifemanship; the art of making other people feel lesser than you. As is his counterpart Dr P in The Remake, School For Scoundrels 2006
  • The titular Roger of Roger Dodger.
  • Trent and Sue from Swingers.
  • Robert Morse's character to Walter Matthau's in A Guide For The Married Man.
  • Will Ferrell's part in Wedding Crashers.
  • Talby in Day of Anger. He takes Scott, the much-abused young hero, on as a sidekick and turns him into a gunslinger; it takes Scott most of the movie to realise that his mentor is evil.
  • Changing Lanes: Gavin's father-in-law and senior partner, Stephen Delano (played by Sydney Pollak.) Part of Gavin's Character Development throughout the film is his realization that Delano is grooming him to become an Amoral Attorney while getting Gavin to do the majority of the firm's dirty work.
  • Stanley Ipkiss' unrestrained Superpowered Alter Ego The Mask in The Mask, is this to him as he is a Extreme Doormat which he decides to help him get the woman he loves to come to him even if it's through robbing a bank and causing trouble. Though The Mask does genuinely care about and loves Stanley unlike in the comic which makes him far more heroic than most.
  • Peter Cook's Satan is this to Dudley Moore's hapless Everyman Stanley, in Bedazzled (1967), where he offers the standard Eternal Soul contract to a guy hungry for the love of a particular woman.
  • Cedar Rapids: Dean Ziegler, a hard-drinking, foul-mouthed Jerk with a Heart of Gold, to Tim Lippe. Tim does his best to reject Dean's tutelage, only to learn that despite his flaws, Dean's a stand-up guy who does right by his friends (and that most of Tim's other "friends" don't).
  • Kreese from The Karate Kid may just be the Trope Codifier. An arrogant jerk who runs a Thug Dojo that turns vulnerable kids into power-tripping bullies through Training from Hell.
  • The title character from Hitch is one of these as well, though relatively benign and only slightly screwed up. He also tries to help his clients find love instead of simply getting laid.

  • Yunior from The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao tries to be this to Oscar, but fails miserably.
  • This trope was initially named for Tyler Durden in Fight Club, who teaches the nameless protagonist to stop being so emasculated and to go Fight Clubbing as well as some other... matters.
    • Tyler is an especially interesting example of this trope, as he's not actually a real person, but rather a wish-fulfilling, disassociated identity of the protagonist that does all of the things the protagonist wishes he could do.
  • The Game (2005) is based off of Neil Strauss attending seminars on how to become a pickup artist. He eventually became one of the teachers himself.
  • This features in the plot of Macho Man (German title) by Moritz Netenjakob. Daniel, the protagonist, has no success with women because he is "too soft" to be taken seriously as a potential boyfriend. When he meets Aylin, who is a very attractive Turkish entertainer at the hotel where he's staying, he is very surprised that she is attracted to him. They start dating and he discovers that Turkish culture values different gender roles and a more "dominant" kind of masculinity. He learns to fit in due to the influence of Turkish men. This leads to his breakup with Aylin since she was originally attracted to his softness and non-macho behaviour. But he apologizes by singing the Smurf song to her and thus regaining his softer image.
  • Dean Moriarty in On the Road is the first type, where the narrator eventually becomes disillusioned with this character. The ending portrays Dean as actually being rather pathetic.
  • Lord Henry to the titular character in The Picture of Dorian Gray. It ends badly.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel:
    • Illyria can't believe Angel is wangsting over being the head of a multi-billion dollar conglomerate. She sets him straight with this speech.
      Illyria: So much power here! And you quibble at its price. If you want to win a war, you must serve no master but your own ambition.
    • Angelus also served as this to Spike, as revealed in "Destiny." Spike states outright in that episode that while Drusilla was the one who sired him, Angel was the one who actually made him a monster.
  • Tully is this to George on Being Human, but with added Ho Yay and Squick.
  • Sam Adama from Caprica is this to his nephew Willie Adama.
  • Jordan Chase in the 5th season of Dexter is the evil version of this trope.
  • The CSI: Miami episode "The Score" featured a man who ran classes on how to pick up women.
  • Parodied in The Fast Show 's Swiss Toni.
  • Barney especially wants to be this to Ted on How I Met Your Mother, although Ted rarely listens. In general though Barney will take any opportunity to be this to anyone, such as Randy in season 3, or the two guys he meets on the side of the road in season 9.
  • Russell acts as one to an Amish boy on his Rumspringa in the Rules of Engagement episode "Twice".
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Garak. More than once, he responds to an idealistic character being suspicious of him with, "You're learning," or, "There may be hope for you yet," to the point where the latter is almost a catchphrase for him.
  • An unintentional example in Cobra Kai: Johnny Lawrence grows up into one, reforming Cobra Kai's image but teaching his new students how to fight with pragmatic methods. Unfortunately, he doesn't reform the underlying philosophy, and his students turn into the same types of bullies that they sought to deal with. The great tragedy in all of this is that Johnny never intended to be one. He saw himself as giving bullied kids a fighting chance and firmly believed that Kreese was what turned his generation of Cobra Kai into bullies and thugs, rather than their adherence to the Cobra Kai philosophy. He almost breaks down during the All-Valley tournament, when his self-perception smacks straight into what his teachings have turned his desperate and emotionally vulnerable students into.
    • Kreese, on the other hand, intentionally seeks to be one and takes great pleasure in it. He actually encourages far worse behavior in the students in this series than in the films, to the point that his Cobra Kai students are more or less outright criminals and make Johnny and his former gang look like saints.

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 
  • In Double Homework, Morgan gives Amy lessons on how to mug people. After some laughable failures, Amy successfully scares Dennis into running away.

  • Sam Starfall decides to take this role to Florence in Freefall, although, by his scavenger species' Blue-and-Orange Morality, this is simply being a good mentor. Prior to the comic starting, he had also provided similar education to Robot Buddy Helix, and he has been known to be generous to people who successfully scam him.
    Chief: Breaking and entry. Unauthorised access to cyber assets. Assault. Theft. Trespassing.
    Sam: She was law-abiding before she met me. Am I a good teacher or what?
  • Bro Strider from Homestuck dedicated himself to training and raising Dave in preparation for when he would play Sburb and enter the medium, but his methods often involved depriving him of food and subjecting him to constant physical abuse. Early on, Dave admired and looked up to his bro, but after being around his friends and having time to internalize his life up til that point, later considered him a sociopath, and that raising a kid was some kind of game to him.
  • The perfectly-respectable variant is used in The Order of the Stick preceding Elan's literal level in badass. The mentor in question is named Julio Scoundrél.
  • In Zap!, Gunner Strife tried to be one of these to Zap while training him in the use of psychic powers. It worked up until Gunner told him to use his psychic powers to make Leona fall in love with him. Zap decided to block Gunner from telepathically contacting him instead. Gunner didn't take it very well.

    Web Original 
  • This episode of Wainy Days, which demolishes real-life pickup artist "Mystery" with a knock-off played by Paul Rudd.
  • The SCP Foundation: SCP-3512 features a pick-up artist's guide written by such an individual, which takes a sharp turn for the arcane and the unhinged from the twelfth chapter onward. Following its instructions does strange things to you, and worse to the women you try its teachings out on.

    Western Animation 
  • A Pimp Named Slickback from The Boondocks is this in his second appearance, in which he teaches Tom to stand up to his wife (who he suspects of being unfaithful with Usher). It backfires and Hilarity Ensues.
  • Hondo sees himself as this in Star Wars Rebels.
    Hondo: Wait, wait! Does this mean I am not getting my finder's fee?
    Ezra: You never were.
    Hondo: Perfect answer. I am So Proud of You right now. I never had a student learn this quickly.
  • Parodied in Venture Bros. by the character Henry Killinger who is basically Mary Poppins for Super Villains, helping them to be the best antagonists they can be.
  • The Mask: The Mask is this as always which he tends to help Stanley with the people who are awful to him and when they both exist at the same time wants Stanley to have a great time and not to worry about anything at all showing as always just how much he cares about Stanley and loves him like a little brother.

Alternative Title(s): The Tyler Durden, Bad Influence Buddy