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Stern Teacher

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"Transfiguration is some of the most complicated and dangerous magic you will learn at Hogwarts. Anyone messing around in my class will leave and not come back. You have been warned."
Minerva McGonagall, Harry Potter

For the Evulz? Not on their watch.

Unlike a Sadist Teacher, the Stern Teacher is always "tough but fair": a person who's got high expectations but is ultimately a Reasonable Authority Figure. The students might not be too fond of them personally, but they always respect them in the end and often achieve the best results in education (which does make it Truth in Television).

While cold and aloof at first glance, a stern teacher truly loves and cares for their students deep beneath and genuinely wants them to succeed in the best way possible at life. Constructive Criticism is their stock in trade.

Teachers of this type are firm believers of You Are Better Than You Think You Are, but, befitting their just-yet-harsh nature, they will always use the more firm version of the aforementioned trope. Then again, they're likely to be a Fun-Hating Confiscating Adult; woe betide the Class Clown who tries to get away with goofing off in their classroom.

They'll often be on good terms with the Cool Teacher. The opposing teacher types will usually butt heads over their vastly differing philosophies (whomever is proven right depends on the work, if there's a right answer at all) but there's often a mutual appreciation between the two in understanding that the other cares deeply for their students. On the other hand, they're often a Foil to the Enthusiastic Newbie Teacher, who they will see as a hopeless Wide-Eyed Idealist and who may see them as The Killjoy. (The Newbie will probably earn their respect eventually, but only once they've proven they actually are serious about education.)

Expect them to strongly disapprove of the lack of professionalism or care displayed by the Apathetic Teacher, and to be staunchly opposed to the behavior of the Sadist Teacher and Evil Teacher. Opposition to the latter two in particular often acts as an Establishing Character Moment demonstrating that this teacher really does care about their students.

Interestingly, in cases where a good teacher is forced by circumstances to teach their own child or other younger relative, they will adopt this persona to a greater degree with their relative than with the other kids, as an (over) reaction to the Embarrassing Relative Teacher stereotype.

Dmitry Vladimirovich Beklemishev, a near-legendary figure at MIPT (roughly, the Russian equivalent of MIT) once said in an interview that he tried many personas on during his long teaching career and found this one to be the most effective for the purpose of doing a superb job.

Sergeant Rock is the military version of this. Compare also with Tough Love. This kind of teacher is likely to have a Teacher's Unfavorite Student.


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  • In one ad, a runner recalls his coach, who was never fully satisfied with his performance, telling him "You can do better" after a practice run. When the runner finally succeeds, his coach isn't surprised, and says "I knew you had it in you."
  • The first ad in Burger King's 1985 "Where's Herb" series includes a clip of Herb's former teacher; who falls squarely into this trope in explaining how one had to talk to the young boy.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Moriaki-sensei of And Yet the Town Moves. Unfortunately for him, he's the homeroom teacher of Hotori Arashiyama.
  • Karasuma from Assassination Classroom is a very strict teacher but his students actually like him for it and he in turn cares for them very much.
  • One of the teachers in Azumanga Daioh is this kind of teacher, scolding the entire class for not doing their homework, but deciding to go easy on Chiyo-chan because she is younger and obviously scared by his style of teaching. He only appears once, leaving Yukari, Nyamo, and Kimura to be the main three teachers in focus during the show.
  • Sebastian from Black Butler is shown to be this in flashbacks.
  • Bloom Into You:
    • Riko Hakozaki is polite, serious and no-nonsense. She insists on being called "Hakozaki-sensei," rather than "Riko-sensei," will assign extra classes to students who don't make the grade, and frequently takes the opportunity to remind students of their obligations, but those who respect and obey her generally get along well with her. It's implied that this may be out of concern over how she presents herself professionally since she keeps the fact that she's in a relationship with another woman firmly under wraps.
    • The director of the theater troupe Touko joins is shown to be fairly strict and intimidates Touko enough that she refers to the older woman as a "demon" once. In one scene, she berates Touko for not getting the subtle nuances of her character right. That said, she is said to be strict with people she believes has potential.
  • Doraemon: Mr. S is a strict teacher who often punishes Noby for failing his tests, being late to school, or forgetting his homework which range from standing in the hallway to sweeping the classroom after-school. The Running Gag is extended to the point that if Noby simply meets the teacher in the streets, usually during holidays, Mr. S will have Noby admonished for his lack of school performance.
    • Defied in "Soap Bubbles". When Noby sees Mr. S, he realizes that Mr. S will be stern about his assignments. Noby defies this by using the Soap Bubble Straw to make Mr. S sad and willing to take the blame.
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • Piccolo when he eventually warmed up to Gohan (who admitted he was a better teacher than Goku, who was too soft). No such luck with Goten and Trunks though, since by the time he had to train them up they were in the middle of the Buu crisis.
    • Goku did get a bit better about being too soft after he'd experienced becoming a Super Saiyan. Compare Goku's utter lack of training methods in the Saiyan Saga, to him training Gohan in the Cell Saga, then him perfecting it right around when he begins to train Uub.
  • In Food Wars!, most of the Totsuki teachers and staff set very high standards for passing, but are also fair to students who come from non-prestigious backgrounds or use unorthodox cooking methods. Though the new staff after Azami Nakiri's takeover aren't as open-minded.
  • Izumi Curtis in Fullmetal Alchemist is the embodiment of this trope. She becomes almost like a replacement mother to Ed and Al.
  • Coach Kamogawa from Hajime no Ippo is a very grumpy old man who's not above hitting his boxers (especially Takamura) for screwing around. He's still a good guy that cares very deeply about them.
  • Austria of Hetalia: Axis Powers was one of these, particularly towards Chibitalia, giving "her" plenty of hard work to do. But Austria isn't all that bad, as he did allow Chibitalia a day off when "her" first love Holy Roman Empire had left and he saw that Chibitalia had tears in "her" eyes... and willingly took up "her" share of work.
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War: Kaguya had a very harsh upbringing where even the smallest of mistakes were met with physical punishment. She follows a similar ethos when she takes Ishigami under her wing (to the point that he thought she was trying to torture him during their first study session), though the primary difference between her and her own tutors is that she actually has his best interests at heart and is quick to reward him when his hard work pays off.
    Kaguya: I can train you, but I only know how to be strict. Surely you can handle that, right?
  • Kalos Eido from Kaleido Star walks the wire between this and Sadist Teacher.
  • Shirai-sensei from Kodomo no Jikan is introduced warning her students that if they stand up or speak out in class, she'll inform their parents of their "irresponsible behavior". This makes Kuro form a mild crush on her and then said crush starts her on the Defrosting Ice Queen path.
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
    • The title character of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS. Justified, since she's essentially a drill sergeant who habitually makes friends by beating the tar out of them.
    • Vita's a better example. While Nanoha balances a grueling training regimen with her cheerful, affable nature, (even letting the recruits call her by her first name) Vita, by her own admission, hardly ever compliments the students and is quite quick to berate them for their mistakes or what she sees as stupidity, but at the same time, cares deeply for their development and is described as kind at heart. Unforgettable is how she verbally trashes Teana after trying something way too dangerous that would almost have hurt her partner Subaru.
  • Ms Nanako Kuroi of Lucky Star fits the stern but fair type: she understands what it's like to be a student, but has a job to do. She's not the most mature teacher out there, but nobody's perfect.
  • Shrogane-sensei from Mahoraba is also a mix of this and slightly Sadist Teacher since whenever someone forgets their homework, they are taken to a different room.
  • Lucrezia Noin from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, to the Academy cadets she was in charge of at the beginning. She was a borderline Drill Sergeant Nasty to them in training, but also comforted a dying young man when Wufei bombed their dorms and took the attack on them very seriously.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • Shota Aizawa, aka "Eraser Head", one of the pro heroes teaching at UA Academy. Initially played off as a Sadist Teacher who threatens under-performing students with expulsion, he is actually a very fair mentor who nonetheless will chew out any pupil who steps out of line. It turns out that while he expelled the class he had before Class 1-A, he immediately re-enrolled them as a Scare 'Em Straight move. However, during the Hideout Raid Arc, after a handful of his students go to rescue Bakugo from the League Of Villains against his orders he asserts that if not for the dire circumstances they were currently in he would've expelled the entire class.
    • Endeavor minces no words when mentoring interns and sidekicks under his care, expecting them to keep up with him no matter what and not accepting any excuses for poor performance because people's lives are on the line. But any advice he does give is incredibly helpful and insightful thanks to his experience and own hellish training to reach his current point.
  • Maria Graceburt from My-Otome intimidates most of the students (and even Headmistress Natsuki, in the manga), but she always makes sure that the rules are followed and that all students are treated fairly.
  • Naruto gives us Iruka Umino, the Big Brother Mentor of the title character in his youth. He has no problem berating his students, but it's always for laziness and mischief. When he sees hard work, he never fails to acknowledge and praise it.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
    • Nitta is generally shown acting like this. It's partially subverted later on, as outside of class activities he's actually a pretty nice guy.
    • Fate Averruncus becomes this when he takes over 3-A's class. Fans have described him basically as a Trolling Teacher.
  • Miss Haruna from Sailor Moon is shown to be rather strict towards her students, especially Usagi, whom she constantly has Standing in the Hall as punishment (usually for either being Asleep in Class or Late for School). That said, she is only trying to help her students prepare for the best, plus she is shown to be on good terms with Usagi and her buddies outside of school hours.
  • Nozomu Itoshiki of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei. Once you get past the fact that he's so depressed and suicidal. He can act harsh sometimes but it's never because he bears any malice towards his class, he just wants them to understand the bleakness of the real world. Also, per the trope, he's loved (sometimes a bit too much) by all of his students (except Kaere... and that's only halfway, since Kaere's Split Personality, Kaede, is in love with him too).
  • Ryonan's coach Moichi Taoka from Slam Dunk. Not to say he doesn't have his flaws: his method to try and drive Fukuda to improve was to cricitize him while praising Sendoh, which resulted in Fukuda snapping at him. Nevertheless, he learned from his mistakes and was able to earn his players' utmost respect.
  • Gouri-sensei from Torako, Anmari Kowashicha Dame da yo is a teacher in a Dustbin School full of delinquents, so it's no surprise that he's strict. Yet, even as he opens his classes with things like "Sit down, fuckers!" and openly calls his students morons, he acknowledges that there are serious students among them and when Torako tells him I Just Want to Have Friends, he tries to help by suggesting she join a club. When Torako's Lethal Klutz tendencies turn that into a massive failure, Gouri makes the Pet Raising club take her on threat of disbandment. That said, he is accused, not entirely inaccurately, of foisting Torako on someone else after the failures before.
  • Wolf Children: Nirasaki is gruff and doesn’t mince words but genuinely helps Hana learn farming once he sees her resolve.
  • The Principal from Yandere Kanojo. Has no problem with hitting (or, hell, brainwashing) delinquents, but treats everyone who follows rules nicely (even "redeemed" delinquents) and being fair toward all of his students.

    Asian Animation 
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Slowy's serum in episode 2 is meant to give any object it touches the personality of a strict teacher. Unfortunately, it turns the objects it touches outright violent towards the goats instead.

    Comic Books 
  • The Legend of Wonder Woman (2016): Alcippe is Diana's very no-nonsense mentor and martial arts instructor, who refused to take her on as a student until Diana had proven her dedication. She also teaches Diana about the way things used to be and does not deny that the outside world may yet stand despite the claims of the Olympians that the rest of the Amazons do not dare question publicly.

    Comic Strips 
  • Clara Godfrey from Big Nate runs a tight ship and has zero tolerance for the title character's antics, but seems to have a good relationship with her other students. Nate sees her as a Sadist Teacher, naturally.
  • Miss Wormwood from Calvin and Hobbes, although from Calvin's viewpoint she's a Sadist Teacher.
  • Dr. Ting (Paige's biology teacher) from FoxTrot. Also, Peter's unnamed physics teacher.
  • Mrs. Olsen from Frazz is this underneath her general meanness.

    Fan Works 
  • In Azumanga und Panzer, Ami Chouno becomes this, even though she could charitably be described as hands-off in Girls und Panzer. She demands that everyone on the Oarai tankery team pass all classes with high marks, but offers to help anyone who's struggling.
  • The Boy Who Cried Idiot: Mrs. Johnson in this story is a huge cross-patch and yells at students.
  • Monster X in The Bridge is this while teaching Aria Blaze how to use the powers she's gained that are similar to his. His method of making sure she has good control of her human form's body includes running her through full-contact sparring, where he lectures her about how to improve during the bought. He also infuriatingly refuses to give in to her demands to be taught about the energy projection side of being a Gravity Master, taking it in steps. However, the training does work to get her to understand the powers and vastly improves her fighting technique.
  • Child of the Storm has the canonical example of Professor McGonagall, while the sequel adds Magneto as a slightly softer variant - he's an excellent teacher who's not only brilliant but capable of explaining his lessons to someone without multiple degrees in the hard sciences, but innovative in his training methods, opening Harry's mind to the potential of his abilities. He's somewhat brusque during lessons, expects a lot of Harry (because he knows he's able), and doesn't hesitate to point out Harry's mistakes, but softens the criticism with praise where he feels it is deserved.
  • In It Takes a Child to Teach a Village, Izuku threatens gangs into stopping their brawls by saying anyone still fighting by the time he counts to five is banned from class. Whether he's teaching a poor girl in the slums or Tomura Shigaraki, Izuku is very strict about making sure everyone follows his rules. However, he still does his absolute best to make sure they succeed, such as giving Shigaraki the name of a history-based videogame to play since the young man is so interested in videogames. Within half a year of first becoming a tutor, Izuku spends more time teaching his students than doing anything else other than sleeping and attending school.
  • Played With in The Karma of Lies. After Miss Bustier loses her job and Principal Damocles is pressured towards accepting an early retirement, their replacements and the rest of the faculty at Francoise Dupont work to restore order at the school and enforce the rules. Alya and her classmates see this as incredibly unfair, as they were used to Bustier's lackadaisical approach. Thus, things like having to study during study hall or not being permitted to goof around during class get treated as 'unreasonably stern'.
  • Lady Sho from Kyoshi Rising; she constantly calls Kyoshi an "idiot girl", gives Kyoshi vague instructions on performing tasks (and then hits Kyoshi with her fans or thrown sticks if Kyoshi gets the task wrong/questions the task), and keeps Kyoshi relatively isolated from the rest of the world. However, her training does produce results, and Kyoshi is able to learn quickly and win some respect from the master.
  • In Necessary to Win, Masae Atago, while nowhere near as strict as Shiho Nishizumi, is serious and no-nonsense, expecting her students to meet her standards, obey her and show her the appropriate professional respect. That said, once her students have proved themselves, she's willing to relax her standards a little as appropriate.
  • In One Year, Chihiro Takizawa, who's Yu's homeroom teacher at his old school, as well as club advisor for the drama club, is this. She's strict and serious and requires her own niece to show her the same respect as everyone else does. She also takes her job seriously and practices what she preaches by working hard, dressing professionally, and being courteous to the students.
  • In Professor Arc: Student of Vacuo, Jaune is very personable and friendly outside of class. During class, however, he's strictly no-nonsense and doesn't hesitate to point out (and exploit) his students' weaknesses, such as making the four most combative members of teams RWBY and RAVN work together to capture a superior opponent. After his first class, the highest average grade for any team is only a 70%, but he does take the time to make sure each team knows what they did wrong and how to improve.
  • In Savior of Demons, there's Mr. Taarun, who was shown in one scene to be a young Frieza's tutor/mentor.
  • Subverted in The Thorny Rose 2: A Bustle in Your Hedgerow by Occlumency tutor Madam Hagen. During her introductory meeting, she came off as, according to Harry, "a cross between McGonagall and an East German shot-putter" but was much kinder and more personable during Harry and Ginny's first lesson.
  • Dr. Curt Connors in Ultimate Spider-Woman: Change With The Light teaches classes that are highly sought after by Empire State University students because of how well he explains the material and how good an instructor he is. However, he also has high expectations of his classes and isn't shy about telling students when he thinks they aren't applying themselves. Mary Jane Watson runs into this problem when her Triple Shifter responsibilities keep her from studying as much as she wants. On the other hand, once she organizes things better and can focus more on her studies, she does much better and Dr. Connors praises her improved effort.
  • Izuku in chapter 21 of A What If gives out detention in five of his six classes on his first day teaching Quirk Theory, though partially to prove he is an authority figure to students his age or older. He also insists on having Hitoshi moved to the Hero Course, citing that the boy's Quirk is amazing for hero work and he only failed the entrance exam because it doesn't work on robots. On the flip side, Izuku argues that Bakugo should be expelled as he assaulted a faculty member (namely "Deku" himself) with his Quirk.
  • In Where Talent Goes on Vacation, Yukari Nagato is described as a tough-but-fair teacher, insisting that her daughter Chiyuri show her the same respect that she shows other teachers when class is in session and being no-nonsense, but also being a good source of advice for her students.

    Films — Animation 
  • Hardscrabble from Monsters University, is a Stern Head Dean. She expressed a great deal of Tough Love to the lead characters, mostly because she didn't believe in their potential. However, in the ending, she tells them that while she has to expel them for their antics, they did manage to pleasantly surprise her and hopes that they continue doing so.
  • The Tale of the Princess Kaguya: Sagami, though she admits that Kaguya performs better when not in her lessons.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • John Kimble in Kindergarten Cop, who after his first total failure with the children his partner should be taking care of, decides to put them through a mild version of Drill Sergeant Nasty style training. He finally wins their respect and begins to appreciate them more. On one occasion, he beats the shit out of one of his student's abusive father, and didn't continue it since the children are watching them.
  • Legally Blonde: Professor Stromwell, the teacher in Elle's first class at Harvard Law, is incredibly strict and intimidating. She throws Elle out of the class after berating her for not being aware of the assigned reading. Emmett admits to Elle that when he took Stromwell's class he once cried in his room because she was so harsh on him. Despite her tough methods she's actually a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who encourages Elle not to quit and in the Distant Epilogue gives her a glowing introduction at graduation.
  • Dong-ju from Korean film Punch!, who is gruff and insulting with his students, and doesn't hesitate to use Corporal Punishment, but clearly cares about them and wants them to do well.
  • Coach in Slaughter High, who punishes Marty's tormentors, but doesn't seem that sympathetic towards him.
  • Discussed in the movie Brick:
    Brendan: I gave you Jerr to see him eaten, not to see you fed.
    Ass. VP Trueman: Fine, and very well put.
    Brendan: Accelerated English. Mrs. Kasprzyk.
    Ass. VP Trueman: Tough teacher.
    Brendan: Tough but fair.
  • In The Getting of Wisdom, Mrs. Gurley is a quintessential example of this trope. The first thing she does is lay down the rules of the boarding school, which she expects Naïve Newcomer Laura to uphold to the letter. Later, she chastises Laura for playing Beethoven's "Sonata no. 21 in C Major" on the piano instead of the kind of music that she's expected to play

  • Melissa "The Schoolmarm from Hell" Mailey in Eric Flint's 1632 series. Her tough-but-fair approach is lampshaded at one point with a complaint to the effect of, "Who cares about 'fair?' So she makes us all read this crap equally and with no favoritism! Big deal." Also once made then-teenaged roughneck Harry Lefferts write "I will not be a smartass in front of a way smarter teacher" 200 times on the blackboard; an older Lefferts later admitted, "I was being a smartass, and she is smarter than me."
  • Angela Nicely: Miss Boot, just like in the parent series, is extremely grumpy and strict and has a bad rap among the students.
  • Ascendance of a Bookworm: Benno and Ferdinand, Myne's mentors for the merchant trade and priesthood respectively, are very strict to her. This is because she will otherwise get eaten up alive by merchants trying to get the most out of her for a minimal cost to themselves. In the priesthood, meanwhile, the higher rungs are made out of the youngest and bastard children of Decadent Court style nobles and the lower rungs of orphans who depend on what resources the higher rungs are willing to spare them to survive, resulting in a quite strict pecking order.
  • Rita Desjardin, the gym teacher in Stephen King's Carrie, is one of the only people who offers emotional support to Carrie White even as her mother abuses her and the rest of the school horrifically bullies her. She is far less kind to Carrie's bullies, assigning them a week of boot-camp detention for the prank they pull on Carrie in the gym showers with the threat of refusal of their prom tickets if they don't show up, and informs them of this via a "The Reason You Suck" Speech in which she tells them point-blank that the only reason they're not getting worse is that the administration wouldn't let her. Unfortunately, Miss Desjardin's attempt to stand up for Carrie sets off the first of the Disaster Dominoes that leads to tragedy at the senior prom.
  • At Tyentyetnikov's school in Dead Souls. Sadly, this great teacher passed away before Tyentyetnikov would do his courses, which is blamed for his incompetence in life.
  • Prince Nigel Haldane, Duke of Carthmoor in the Deryni novels of Katherine Kurtz. The "Iron Duke" trains the pages in the royal household, and he's generally called "tough but fair". With pages in a royal hunting party in Deryni Rising: "No, no, no," Nigel was saying. "If you ever address an earl simply as 'Sir' in public, he'll have your head, and I won't blame him. And you must always remember that a bishop is 'Your Excellency.' Now, Jatham, how would you address a prince of the royal blood?" In The King's Justice, he's shown training two young pages in the rudiments of riding, catching one boy by his tunic and belt when he falls and putting him back on the warhorse: "They [Kelson, Morgan, and Dhugal] could not hear what Nigel said to the lad, though his words brought an immediate flush of scarlet to the downy cheeks."
  • Xanthos, nicknamed Xanthippos, from Detectives in Togas. But even if he scolds the boys permanently, he's still on their side, always.
  • Dirty Bertie:
    • Bertie has a teacher named Miss Boot who is quite shouty and intimidating, but not evil.
    • Averted for the substitute teacher Mr Weakly, although Bertie did act strict when pretending to be Mr Weakly once.
    • Downplayed for Miss Darling, Angela's teacher, who has her stern moments but is mainly very upbeat.
  • Susan Sto Helit from the Discworld novels becomes one of these in Thief of Time, contrasting highly with the wishy-washy other teachers at Madame Frout's school. Having cool powers probably helps.
    • Teachers at the Assassins' Guild School, with the exception of the odd sadist and the hapless Mr Lamister, tend to fall into this category. Miss Alice Band, who sends her disciplinary cases out to target Sam Vimes and thereby learn humility, is a typical example.
  • In Dragon Bones, Aunt Stala is this. She's a fighting instructor, but not a military one, she's just the head of the castle guard. Her nephew Ward is quite exhausted after fighting her, and that says a lot, as he's a Gentle Giant and has to bow down for her to kiss him goodbye. She's stern, but not unnecessarily cruel. (Using the sand-throwing trick in fights is necessary cruelty, after all, a real enemy would use it, too)
  • The Empirium Trilogy: Taliesin "Tal" Belounnon is Rielle's mentor and the head of one of his country's temples. He's quite stern about her using her powers, but he cares for her wellbeing all the same.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Minerva McGonagall is so strict that she tends to subtract more points from her own students when they do wrong because she holds them to higher standards. She's also so beloved that Harry is able to summon up the hatred necessary to perform the Cruciatus Curse when Amycus Carrow spits in her face, which is something he couldn't even do when his own father-figure was killed.
    • Madame Hooch is another, mostly forgotten example. As her subject (broom-flying) is so dangerous, the penalty for breaking rules in her class is expulsion. Not point loss or detention. Expulsion.
      Madame Hooch: [movie version] If I see any brooms flying around while I'm gone you'll be out of Hogwarts faster than you can say 'Quidditch'.
    • Depending on the student, Severus Snape varies from "stern" to "bully". He is fair but still strict towards Slytherins, a bit meaner to Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs, nearly falls over into Sadist Teacher for Gryffindors, and bloody well swan-dives off into the black wherever Harry, Hermione, Neville, or Ron are concerned.
  • Mr. Perboni from the Italian novel Heart by Edmondo D'Amici. He scares the crap outta male lead Enrico and the other kids when he comes into the classroom, but his fatherly behavior towards them makes him very well-loved soon.
  • It's Not the End of the World: Mrs. Singer, Karen's teacher, is one — she won't loan money to kids who forget their milk money and she gave Karen a D on a book report for which Karen had obviously not read the book. Remembering what a Cool Teacher Mrs. Singer used to be before she got married and looking at her parents' relationship, Karen decides it's getting married that made Mrs. Singer Take A Level In Jerkass and vows to never get married.
  • Governess Miss Minton from Journey to the River Sea is the embodiment of this trope. When she first meets protagonist Maia, she tells her the story of how she broke her umbrella on the back of a boy. When asked why, she explains that he tortured a puppy. Maia agrees that he had it coming, and they become good friends, as Maia is eager to learn, and doesn't protest (much) against Miss Minton's insistence that she stick to her learning routine even while seasick on a ship.
  • In the Australian children's series Kyla May Miss. Behaves, Kyla May is constantly in trouble with her head teacher because she can never focus and is always distracted from her schoolwork because of her overactive imagination. (The exact reason is never said, but she very much comes off as having ADHD.) Her teacher continually scolds her and gives her detention, causing Kyla May to view her as a Sadist Teacher, but at the ending of the first book, they reach an understanding when the teacher sits down with her after a particularly unpleasant detention. The teacher explains that the reason she's so hard on her is that she realizes Kyla May is very smart and has the potential to do extremely well, but her inability to focus is seriously hindering her education. She also acknowledges that she had similar problems when she was a child, and that's why she knows she isn't misbehaving just for the sake of it. After that, while Kyla May still often gets reprimanded for forgetting assignments and losing focus, she and her teacher have a much better relationship, and she comes to view her as this; strict and sometimes humorless, but well-intentioned and fair.
  • Miss Nelson Is Missing: A very nice teacher with an unmanageable class suddenly goes AWOL from her class for a period, and the class celebrates... until the mean, hard-nosed Viola Swamp takes over as substitute. The class is ultimately so grateful when Miss Nelson returns that they shape up and start behaving better. At the very end, we discover that Ms. Swamp was actually Miss Nelson in disguise.
  • Broxholm, the titular alien teacher in My Teacher Is an Alien, is this way in his human guise, "Mr. Smith". He is very boring, no-nonsense, and hates music. It turns out in later books that his ultimate mission is to help redeem humans of their violent tendencies.
  • Muriel Spark's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie subverts the trope all to hell, specifically the "tough but fair" part. Miss Brodie deliberately designates one of her girls as a "stupid" victim, marking her for life. She's a charming, intelligent, and vivacious fascist.
  • The Fat Controller from The Railway Series is more of a Stern Controller. He reprimands the engines for their accidents (intentional or even unintentional), and would punish them for rudeness, arrogance, or other habitual vices, but he does care for the engines and always makes sure they to do their best.
  • Ratburger: Zoe's teacher Miss Midge is stern, short, and obsessed with dark history.
  • In The Sorceress's Orc, the titular sorceress is this. She doesn't have much patience with lazy students, but if someone wants to attack her students, then only over her dead body. It's a good thing the titular orc is there to protect her.
  • Stan Alto from Vampire Academy, instructor in Bodyguard Theory, is stern but ultimately fair. He presses students, especially Rose, hard and does not let misbehavior slide. He also acts as if constantly pissed off, but praises achievement when it occurs.
  • Warrior Cats: In Yellowfang's Secret, Yellowpaw's warrior mentor Deerleap is pretty strict: she makes her get up earlier and catch more prey than the others, and her praise has to be earned. While Yellowpaw wishes she had it as easy as her denmates, she ultimately feels that the training has made her the best warrior she can be.
  • In The Witchlands, Mathew is a very stern tutor to Safi, to the point that he's the only person in the world (and that's including actual Empresses) around whom she doesn't act like The Gadfly. He's also her bodyguard and her uncle's spymaster.
  • The World According To Humphrey: Mrs. Brisbane disciplines her students much more sternly than Ms. Mac, not tolerating any troublemaking in her class and lamenting that she has to keep an eye on Humphrey on top of everything. For this, Humphrey hates her and thinks she's too mean. However, he eventually sees that she genuinely cares for the students, and when she keeps them inside for recess, it's because she wants to talk with them and figure out how to solve their behavioral problems. She also softens up on Humphrey over time when she sees the positive impact he has on her class and even her own family.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Abbott Elementary:
    • Barbara is old-school and has Seen It All, and her students don't dare act up while she's around. However, she's very fair, and will always go the extra mile to help a kid who's in crisis. Despite her strict nature, most of her students absolutely love her.
    • Melissa is hotheaded and will put the fear of God into students and parents alike, but very clearly knows where the line is. She takes her job very seriously and wants the kids to learn and have fun, and is shocked when another teacher at Abbott actually lays hands on a student, calling it the one thing a teacher absolutely cannot do.
    • Gregory is strict and humorless with his students, and sometimes takes this trope too far in that he has no idea how to connect with them. He's dedicated to teaching them and keeping them safe, but has no idea how to manage them having emotional outbursts and getting off-topic, as little kids are wont to do. A large part of his Character Development is learning how to loosen up and make learning fun once in a while.
  • Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World.
    • Mr. Turner seems to be this at first when he gives the kids a tough assignment, causing Cory to call him "Feeny with an earring." He mellows out into a Cool Teacher, however.
  • Betty Gore from the Based on a True Story series Candy (2022) is this, giving her whole class detention after a few students egged her house. She even extends this trait to her foster son Davey.
  • Ms. Kwan from Degrassi: The Next Generation fits this role. She's very stern, not letting any talking in the class go uninterrupted (her interjections are sometimes humiliating), taking Spinner's Walkman from him (and breaking it in the process), and other similar things. Spinner and Jimmy grow tired of it in Season 1 and play a series of pranks that escalate quickly and end with Ms. Kwan taking a leave of absence. Eventually the two learn that her husband was very sick at the time, and come to realize that even their teachers are humans. Ms. Kwan and Spinner have a friendly relationship after she returns that lasts the rest of the series (even after Spinner is forced to retake her class). As time goes on, we discover that, despite her stern nature, she cares about her students very much and often is quite lenient, bending the rules to allow students extensions or do-overs quite often. Plus, her class is very creative and involves much creative writing and performing plays and scripts.
    • It looks as though "Snake" Simpson has been pushed into being this in Season 10 by students' behavior in the first couple of months of his principalship. Hate-crime assault, a spiralling vendetta leading uncomfortably close to attempted murder, and near-prostitution and rape (the last three on the same night) will do that.
  • Prof. Loftus in Doctor in the House has a strict, no-nonsense approach to teaching medicine, as he takes it very seriously and demands that anyone planning to become a doctor do likewise. In the episode "It's All Go..." he paralyses nervous student Michael Upton with terror by shouting that if he cannot answer an anatomy question correctly, his (imaginary) patient will bleed to death in 30 seconds. However, he recognises talent when he sees it, and privately admits to one of Upton's fellow students that he is so hard on him to make him rise to the challenges of becoming a doctor, if only to show him up.
  • Drake & Josh
    • Mrs. Hayfer can be this and Sadist Teacher. She's is very kind to Josh who is a good student, but treats Drake with enormous contempt for his lazy behavior, and openly dislikes him.
    • Mr. Roland is an extremely strict chemistry teacher who will lock you out of class if you are even a second late. When Drake made Josh late for a test, he didn't even care for Josh's excuses and told him he would take the test on a weekend and be marked down a letter grade. However, when Josh completely aces the test, he doesn't mark him down. And despite not caring about Drake's personal problems, he lets Josh talk his problems out with Drake after he reaches his breaking point.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Septa Mordane though only towards Arya, due to the girl's complete lack of interest in the feminine duties the woman is trying to teach her. She is more of The Mentor towards the more willing to learn Sansa.
    • Shireen is not exactly this, but she is very insistent about teaching Ser Davos to read.
      Shireen: You're late...I thought you weren't coming.
      Davos: The Hand of the King doesn't have much leisure time.
      Shireen: You won't be a very good Hand if you see the word "knight" and say "ka-nigit".
      Davos: That happened once, weeks ago. You're your father's daughter, no mistake. Bloody relentless, the both of you.
      Shireen: [handing him a book] It's a new one today. Lots of tricky words. But I think you can manage. [Davos begins reading, lips moving] You'll never read well if you move your lips. That's how children do it.
  • House himself in House, the few times he actually shows up to teach med students. Goes along with being a Dr. Jerk misanthrope, really. Though as he notes with Brutal Honesty, being a medical professional requires it:
    House: It is in the nature of medicine that you are going to screw up. You are going to kill someone. If you can't handle that reality, pick another profession or finish medical school and teach.
  • Most of the teachers in iCarly, especially Howard and Briggs, fit this trait but they’re not necessarily evil because they apparently there are lows they won’t go unlike some of the others does.
  • Subverted in the Key & Peele "Substitute Teacher" sketch. Mr. Garvey, the title character, is a veteran inner-city teacher shown taking over a class of bored, mostly white suburbanites. He reads their names off the roll as if they were Ghetto Names (inverting that trope in the process), and gets extremely confrontational when the students gently correct him, even sending one to the principal's office, assuming that they're just giving him attitude.
  • The title character in the Japanese drama 3-Nen B-Gumi Kinpachi-sensei.
  • Mr. Sweeny from Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide is this and a Sadist Teacher depending on the episode, though as the series goes on he leans more towards this trope.
  • Our Miss Brooks: At Madison High School, Miss Enright, Miss Brooks' personal and professional rival, is always described by Miss Brooks and others as a very competent teacher. However, she appears to be much stricter than Miss Brooks. In "Stretch the Basketball Star", the episode introducing Dumb Jock Stretch Snodgrass, Walter Denton and Harriet Conklin plot to have the student athlete moved to Miss Brooks' class. They view "old lady Enright" as being unsympathetic.
  • Professor Kingsfield is the law school equivalent in the TV series adaptation of The Paper Chase. He is relentless but fair, even advising a student who wanted to take his teaching position when he retired to actually practice law and get real-world experience first.
  • The CBBC gameshow Raven's titular character is this. He's pretty stern, makes his "students" (so to speak) jump off high trees, swim through freezing lakes, and solve riddles and puzzles, pits them against "demons," and if one's unlucky enough to be in last place they have to go through what can only be described as the lovechild of Scrappy Level and Nintendo Hard. If they do well, however, he praises them and treats those who have to leave with dignity.
  • In the Channel 4 historical reality show That'll Teach 'Em, all the teachers are like this, as per the 1950s/1960s setting, although Dr. Szydlo, Dr Wilde and Matron are distinctly less so.
    • Some of them are borderline Sadist Teachers in their overbearing approaches, particularly Mr. Warr (in season 3, at least), Mr. Williams and Mr. Stanley.
  • Young Sheldon: In "An Introduction to Engineering and a Glob of Hair Gel", Prof. Boucher runs his classroom like an army camp, to the point of using military time. Once his class starts at 0900 hours, he locks the door and won't allow latecomers inside. Sheldon likes this at first, until Boucher starts being stern with him.

  • In episode three of Mystery Show, one of Hans Jordi's students described him as a relentless perfectionist, which made the sight of his cowboy casualwear quite a surprise.

  • Parodied with Gavin Stone in The Lenny Henry Show; a former soldier who did two tours of duty in Iraq and is prone to treating his primary school class like they're soldiers. While this makes him quite strict and a bit shouty, he never quite slips into Drill Sergeant Nasty territory, and shows he cares about the kids with his overly dramatic reactions to the minor injuries sustained by a boy called Billy ("Stay with me, son! Don't go into the light!")


    Video Games 
  • Duncan in Dragon Age: Origins, which can even be invoked by the Warden mentioning that their first impression of him was that "he's firm but fair". However, it's also shown on a few occasions that Duncan does occasionally let his humour show through.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Instructor Aki in Final Fantasy VIII will lower a SeeD's rank when they're caught committing an offense within Balamb Garden. There's a reason why most players would miss him the entire game. Slightly subverted in that nobody likes him.
    • Serah becomes one between Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIII-2, at least that's how she's described by the kids of New Bodhum. You actually get to see her display a bit of this during the story, where she gives a stern lecture to miniflan after beating them in battle in the Sunleth Waterscape 400 AF.
  • Hogwarts Legacy has Aesop Sharp, the Potions professor somewhat reminiscent of Severus Snape. Despite being a strict Broken Ace, he's also a Reasonable Authority Figure who cares for his students and wants to instill caution and responsibility in them.
  • Jedi Master Vrook Lamar in the Knights of the Old Republic series, a Grumpy Old Man who's very critical of you both times you meet him. In the first game, he's very much against training the Player Character as a Jedi for good reason, and is quick to provide a stern lecture. In the second he knew the Player Character as a Padawan and regarded them as a "mediocre Jedi" whose ambition would lead them to the Dark Side, and when meeting him again in the present day he chastises the player when they rescue him. Despite his abrasive nature he's loyal to the Light side, and if the player helps him save Dantooine he regards them more warmly and teaches them a new technique before calling their form "sloppy" but reassuring them they'll get the hang of it in no time with practice.
  • Lux-Pain's Aoi Matsumura seems to be the only teacher at Kisaragi School to take her job seriously.
  • If she survives Mass Effect 2, Jack becomes this in Mass Effect 3. In this case, her crass but extremely protective nature and pride in her students, despite her tough teaching style and light ribbing, makes her absolutely adored by them.
  • Raine Sage in Tales of Symphonia is noted for being cool, strict, and practical, and even smacking her students around when they're being particularly stupid. Which makes it a very sweet moment when, late in the game, she admits that she's so hard on the hero in particular because she knows he's strong enough to handle it and wants to see him grow up strong.

    Visual Novels 
  • Kuzuki of Fate/stay night. It's noted that he plays an excellent balance to Taiga. Unfortunately, he's also an assassin at heart (if not practice... possibly) and the Master of Caster, so he only survives in one route. Where he isn't even revealed.
  • Professor Conrad Schuyler in Shall We Date?: Wizardess Heart defaults in manner to blunt and sardonic; he's quick to criticize his students' failings, and reacts with exasperation to the protagonist's repeated magical mishaps. Prefect Klaus Goldstein is also well on his way. On his route, he appoints himself the protagonist's personal drill instructor with the object of making sure she qualifies as a student to the Wizarding School, and though he's a merciless taskmaster he genuinely wants her to improve and his methods of instruction are consistently helpful. Despite being promised a position in the Bureau of Magical Justice on graduation, when Headmaster Randolph suggests that he could instead become a teacher, Klaus reacts with the open glee of someone who's just been offered the keys to the candy store.
  • Himuro Reiichi in Tokimeki Memorial Girl's Side 1 is very stern indeed - in addition to being the protagonist's homeroom and math teacher, he's also the advisor of the school's brass band, and where any other club will allow you to miss two mandatory practices, Himuro will kick you out if you miss even one. True to the trope, though, he's also genuinely committed to helping his students learn and takes real pleasure in seeing them succeed, which is one of the reasons (the other being his good looks and sexy voice) that he's so popular at Habataki High School in spite of his strictness.
  • C14 Dating: Augustin, the chief archeologist at the dig site in which Melissa is having a summer class, is quite friendly as a person. As a teacher, his lectures to those who make mistakes while excavating are dreaded. This is because minor mistakes can have a big impact of the relevance of found items to further research.

    Web Animation 
  • Kanon's RomCom Mangas: Hyoka was a strict teacher which earned her the name "Ice Queen" but deep down she deeply cares about the students' futures especially Hyoma who she has feeling for.
  • RWBY:
    • Glynda Goodwitch. Blunt and direct to her students and even her boss, any praise she gives you will likely be followed by some... constructive criticism.
    • Bartholomew Oobleck may buzz around history like a hummingbird while drinking a cup of coffee— but don't screw around in his class. He will not be happy.
    • Winter turns out to be this to Weiss. She Dope Slaps Weiss when she feels her younger sister is being silly, and in Weiss' Volume 5 trailer, she tests Weiss by throwing a horde of summoned Beowolves at her and then disarming her with a blast of ice; she only stops the training when Weiss is pinned to the floor, visibly terrified and cries out for Winter to stop, then steps in and coldly admonishes Weiss and reminds her that she won't always be around to save her; a telling contrast when compared to Yang's trailer, where she saves Ruby from a huge Grimm and lovingly tells her that she'll always be there for her little sister.
  • Shishihara: Tasao is a math teacher who is infamous for being overly strict to his students, he also punishes anyone who is late even for one second by shaving their hair. He develops a personal grudge on Sota for being a popular student in the class, so he uses several tricks to make him late and shave his hair. He eventually changes his way after being called out by Sota.

  • Professor Dominic Deegan, during his short stint as a teacher. He warmed up a bit, too, after he learned his vision/prediction that half of his students would drop his class didn't come to pass, and actually gained a new student in the process.
  • Mr Raven in El Goonish Shive is an extreme example, to the point where he initially came across as a Sadist Teacher. What keeps him in this category is that he doesn't arbitrarily pick on students because he dislikes them (in fact, the students he's hardest on are the ones he thinks have the greatest potential), he attempts to do what's right for his students (not always correctly, such as thinking Grace needed to be in a remedial class) and he will defend the school and its occupants with his life, if necessary.
  • Jupiter-Men: As the only one on the team with actual experience as a Star Guardian, it falls to Nathan to train the others to get them in fighting shape. He's tough on all of his teammates, Quintin and Jackie especially, because of the enormity of their duties. But this is also Deconstructed, as while Nathan means well, his Workaholic attitude and inability to dole out praise for their efforts results strains his relationship with them. The chaos of Episodes 31-33 happens because the other Jupiter-Men don't want to look to him for guidance unless they have to because they know he'll chew them out.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Ensi Hotakainen's brief appearance in a flash-back has her forbidding a young Lalli that she's taking with her for training for the first time from touching her rifle, and threatening to leave him back if he does anything without her explicit permission. Since she's teaching him magic and scouting for fast-moving monsters, the strong discipline is likely to be the best chance she has to keep Lalli alive during his training.
  • Voldemort's Children: As a Deconstruction Fic of Harry Potter, this comes up with Minerva McGonagall, who applies the same uncompromising standards and teaching methods to every student, regardless of whether they're a privileged pureblooded wizard or were raised by Muggles in ignorance with severe learning disabilities. The Rant observes that "stern, but fair" can be a euphemism for "neglectful of their students' needs". It's actually a case of the author completely missing the point, as McGonagall is talking about her standards for punishment (i.e. Purebloods and Muggleborns will be marked off equally for misbehavior), not for education.

    Web Originals 
  • Several teachers at Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe. Mr. Ramirez, who teaches intro Spanish; Dr. Yablonsky, who teaches the lab for Powers Theory and has been likened to a forcibly-retired Batman as a teacher; ... All these people were probably really tough superheroes in their prime. The martial arts teachers, too, especially Ito-sensei, who seems to be one of those teachers that really pushes his students' limits. And he's a Badass Normal who can kick most of his superpowered students' asses.

    Western Animation 
  • Mr. Ratburn from Arthur was one of these, though the stories about him before we meet him make him out to be a Sadist Teacher. Several episodes of the show, most notably the one where his sister, a Misplaced Kindergarten Teacher, substitutes for him, show how having a stern teacher can (sometimes) be a good thing. Dr. Fugue, Arthur's piano teacher, was also thought as a Sadist Teacher but was this trope instead. It showed again when he taught Arthur's music class.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Master Pakku is this to all of his students.
    • So are Toph and Zuko to Aang, on the latter's earthbending and firebending training. Which really helps a lot since Aang has a tendency to shirk from his training to goof around, and these two are the best ones who can make him take training seriously efficiently and effectively in order to prepare him for the Final Battle against Ozai.
    • The Fire Nation schoolteacher from "The Headband" will send you to the salt mines if you misbehave but that is not his goal. His goal is to create bright and patriotic students. Sadly, what they're teaching is pure propaganda thanks to the militaristic rule of Fire Nation.
  • Some of Code Lyoko's teachers could count as this:
    • Mrs. Hertz, Mrs. Mayer, Mrs. Kensington for the female teachers.
    • Mr. Fumet, Mr. Delmas, and Jim for the male teachers. Chardin's the only exception.
  • Doug: Mrs. Wingo, "You're knocking on trouble's door."
    • Same with Mr. Bone—though at first glance he seemed like a Sadist Teacher, he was more of this than that. You just need to catch him on his good side. He recognized that kids often need a firm hand but was also willing to listen to reason when it was pointed out to him, and given that Principal Buttsavich was nowhere to be seen Mr. Bone often had his hands full. In "Doug Battles the Rulemeister", Bone, an assistant principal mind you, points out that since he's at a higher position than him, Buttsavich can talk about him with or without his knowledge or present, implying he can overrule a decision by a staff member, Bone included, depending on the situation. Doug uses this knowledge when Bone catches him making fun of him in a comic. However, it's returned after Doug is informed that he broke a rule. While Bone may be viewed as harsh, he admits that he too is subject to the same school rules as Doug, his classmates, and the teachers. This could also imply Buttsavich could be subject it to them as well, although it's unclear since he's never seen.
  • Dr. Pappas from Growing Up Creepie: He's always spying on Creepie and the other students at Middlington Middle School. Dr. Pappas never cuts anybody a break if they're late turning in a class assignment or homework. Dr. Pappas is a stickler for rules. Though strict he has shown he does care for his students, especially Creepie a.k.a. Miss Creecher.
  • Kaeloo:
    • Kaeloo takes on the role of one in the episode "Let's Play Teachers".
    • Another episode showed that in an Alternate Universe, Kaeloo's counterpart is a very strict teacher who forces people to study all the time.
  • Mr. Barkin in Kim Possible seems to be somewhere between this and Sadist Teacher; no one thinks he's really that bad of a guy, but they wish he'd be less of a hardass.
  • My Life as a Teenage Robot: Vice Principal Riczynski is a very strict man, and isn't too fond of the teenage robot in his school, but he is fair in dealing out punishment.
  • Subverted in Recess, as Miss Finster is a stern playground monitor/administrative assistant, most notably supervising the kids out at recess, frequently enforcing the rules and calling them "hooligans." She's even somewhat of a Sadist Teacher in this position in the first season. But in the Grand Finale movie Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade, Miss Finster actually becomes the main kids' fifth grade teacher (after the teacher they were supposed to have suddenly transfers out), and thus plays this trope straight, assigning the kids lots of tests and homework. Understandably, a random boy in the class bursts into tears at the thought of having Miss Finster as a teacher for the whole school year. However, it's shown on a few occasions that she does care for the kids despite her gruff exterior.
    Finster: Blast you Detweiler, just because I give you a detention doesn't mean I don't like ya!
  • Ms. Choksondik in South Park, although her students walk all over her at first. Also, Mr. Mackey.
  • Principal Wartz in Hey Arnold! fits it well, even though he is a principal and not a teacher. Even though there are times when he was somewhat of a sadist teacher, however, in "Principal Simmons", it is revealed that the stresses of being principal got to him, including changes in curriculum, teacher complaints, and misbehaving students, even Wartz has seen the error of his was as he addresses that no self-respecting principal should call a small child a wicked-minded animal, "Even if it's true.", but he does make sure the rules are followed.