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Younger Mentor, Older Disciple

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In most cases, the mentor has many years of experience in the topic their student is taking lessons for. The reason for this is often because they are older and have seen more than their young disciple.

That is not necessarily the case here. For this instance, the mentor is actually a few, or even many, years younger than their disciple. The precise reasons for this may vary, but it always comes down to the fact that the younger person grasps the given subject matter better than the older student on a theoretical and/or practical level, making them a valuable source of knowledge. Think about how in Real Life, younger individuals may often find themselves teaching the older people in their life how to use newer pieces of technology and you get the idea.

Something to note is that if the mentor looks younger than their pupil, but is actually older than them, it is a case of Square Peg, Round Trope. That being said, this trope can come into play from the opposite spectrum, especially if the student looks younger than the mentor but is Really 700 Years Old.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Downplayed (since the age gap is just shy of six months) in Kaguya-sama: Love Is War with the recurring plotline of Fujiwara training Shirogane to not suck in a variety of subjects like singing, dancing, and preparing fish.
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
    • Due to her status as a Child Prodigy, Nanoha was a Veteran Instructor teaching advanced areal tactics to classes of full grown adults before she was even a teenager.
    • Fate takes on Teana as an apprentice at the end of StrikerS. Chronologically, she is three years younger than Teana due to her status as a clone, though her legal and mental age are older.
    • Being Born as an Adult, Nove is actually the same age as most of the members of Team Nakajima, and two years younger than Einhart. Likewise, Corona and Rio end up studying under Otto and Deed (who are six years their junior) in the lead up to the Inter-Middle Championship. Though like Fate, they are legally older.
    • While she is primarily Einhart's student, Fuka does receive some training from Vivio, Rio, and Corona (who are all a year younger than her).
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi starts off with this as it's premise, with the ten year old Negi teaching middle school English to a class of Japanese schoolgirls. He also mentors some of them in magic once the Genre Shift kicks in.
  • Overlord: Ainz is technically in his twenties, but his body is now that of an immortal lich. He ends up teaching magic to The Archmage Fluder, who's over two hundred years old (or rather, since Ainz was just dropped into his MMO character and has no idea why he has magic or how it works, he gives Fluder some books he found in the guild treasury that talk about magic).

    Fan Works 
  • In the epilogue of the Batman fanfiction, Anarchy for All, thirty-something Selina Kyle asks twelve year-old Damian to teach her how to sword fight as a way to bond with him now that she's engaged to his father. He gets more into it than expected, channeling a Drill Sergeant Nasty and ordering her to call him "Master." Either Damian is a great teacher or Selina is a prodigy, because two volumes later, she can keep up in a duel with Damian's Evil Aunt Nyssa, albeit still needing dirty tricks to actually beat her.
  • In Heroic Myth, Bell is several years younger than Emma, but has been an adventurer for several months compared to Emma's newbie status on top of being two levels ahead of her, leading to him walking her through the steps of adventuring despite the age gap.
  • In Later, Traitor, Frazie Aquato ends up getting tutoring in learning how to use her psychic powers from the other campers at Whispering Rock such as Lili and Phoebe, this despite the others being around the same age as Frazie's younger brother Raz.
  • The Rigel Black Chronicles: Harry develops her revolutionary "shaped imbuing" technique at age twelve without realizing that no-one else knows it's possible. Her first pupils are Professor Snape, who is able to replicate some of her results but has a much harder time of it than she does, and then Caelum Lestrange, just a few years older than herself, who is harsh and sarcastic but really really wants to learn such a groundbreaking new technique.
  • In Son of the Sannin, Naruto figures out a way to teach people Sage Mode without the need for a summon contract and promptly gathers up everyone he knows with the necessary chakra levels and control. Out of the eleven people he trains over the course of the story, seven of them were older than him (and of those seven, four were older by at least a decade).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Jacob's Ladder: Jacob's deceased toddler son Gabe guides him to Heaven, now infinitely wiser from his time in the Afterlife.
  • Star Wars: Count Dooku, who was in his eighties, was this to Palpatine, who was in his sixties at the time. However, Palpatine sought to avert this after Dooku has outlived his usefulness and sought a far younger apprentice in Anakin, and he himself would soon look far older than Dooku after his fight with Mace Windu.
  • Wizards of the Lost Kingdom 2 concerns the Child Mage Tyor learning magic from the Inept Mage Caedmon, then defeating three evil wizards to restore peace to the kingdoms. At the end, after the evil wizards are dispatched, Tyor receives a new mission from the great wizard Vanir: to re-train Caedmon, his former mentor.

  • "L'Alchimista" by N. K. Jemisin: The elderly Mysterious Stranger who visits Supreme Chef Franca's kitchen eventually asks to become her apprentice, even though he's not personally interested in the culinary trade. He's so long-lived that the rules of Alchemy have changed underneath him, and he needs her fresh, new perspective to keep the Art alive.
  • Animorphs: After the Yeerks are defeated, Jake ends up teaching members of a multinational anti-terrorism force how to morph. He hasn't even graduated high school, but everyone (including people twice his age) calls him Professor.
  • Circle of Magic: Tris, a teenager, ends up teaching an adult in magic, as she's the one who discovered him. Later, she teaches an even older adult man how to scry, as his magic went undetected for years and was mistaken for insanity.
  • In Cooking With Wild Game, inhabitants of the frontier village of Forest's Edge have only recently gained enough spare time and money that they can learn non-essential arts like cooking. (And their culture's anti-luxuries stance didn't help.) The guy they get in to teach them is little more than a teenager, but his experience in an urban restaurant and access to foreign ingredients means he knows a lot more than even the grannies and middle-aged women among his students. Unfortunately, the former often try to set him up with their eligible daughters.
  • In a downplayed example, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix has Harry become the leader of Dumbledore's Army, a DADA group dedicated to learning the self-defense skills that Dolores Umbridge refuses to teach. His "students" include schoolmates a grade or two higher (he's a fifth-year, while some like Fred and George Weasley are seventh-years).
  • In Journey to the West, Tang Sanzang is a mortal monk in his twenties or thirties at oldest, while his three disciples are all immortal demigods who are centuries old, with Sun Wukong being over 500 years old due to his imprisonment under a mountain as punishment.
  • The Red Tent: Meryt states many times that, despite being significantly older than Dinah and having more practical experience, she considers herself Dinah's apprentice in the arts of midwifery, owing to the latter's more advanced skills.
  • Star Wars:
    • In Star Wars Legends, in the early days of the New Jedi Order Luke Skywalker had some students who were significantly older than he was, sometimes by decades as in the case of Streen, but had slipped under the Old Jedi Order's radar and were just as inexperienced as the younger students as a result.
    • At the end of the Novelization of Revenge of the Sith, Yoda (who is nearly 900) becomes the apprentice of the Force Ghost of Qui-Gon Jinn, who was in his sixties when he was killed. Then again, Qui-Gon has joined his consciousness with the Force, so his age is no longer really a factor.
  • The Wheel of Time: Nynaeve joins the Aes Sedai Magical Society at age 25 to learn Healing powers, but soon realizes that one of her Achievements in Ignorance as an untrained Channeler was to improvise a Healing variant that's far superior to the Aes Sedai method. A few Aes Sedai — some of them a century or two old — swallow their pride and come to her for guidance.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Season 2 of The Mandalorian ends with Luke Skywalker taking Grogu (a.k.a. "Baby Yoda") to be trained as a Jedi, which is further shown in Chapter 6 of The Book of Boba Fett. At this point, Luke is 30 at the most, while Grogu is over 50 and still an infant by his species' standards.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In The Bible, 12-year-old Jesus teaches Jewish law to adults at the Temple. Though this was only true of His human body, given that being the Son of God meant that He had existed since eternity past.

    Video Games 
  • In Dragon Ball Xenoverse and its sequel, Gotenks can serve as a mentor for the protagonists. While no age is specified for him/her, it is safe to believe they are older than Goten and Trunks. Pan (specifically her 10-year-old GT incarnation) also counts, and Xenoverse 2 gives us Kid Gohan, at the age he was during the Saiyan to Planet Namek sagas, as a possible mentor.
  • In Overwatch, Zenyatta is the younger mentor to Genji. Zenyatta is only 20 years old, but, as an Omnic, he was essentially Born as an Adult.
  • In World of Warcraft, Thrall, who was not born until after the Orcs crossed the Dark Portal, is this to Garrosh, who was old enough to join his father (and Thrall's deceased friend) Grommash in combat when the Dark Portal opened but was unable to due to having contracted the Red Pox and was forced to quarantine himself in Nagrand (on top of becoming ashamed of his father for being partially responsible for leading the Orcs into the servitude of the Burning Legion). When they first met, Thrall was already Warchief of the Horde, while Garrosh, though a chief of his tribe, had been isolated in Nagrand for so long he had no idea of the political situation in Azeroth, and only ends up following Thrall in the first place after the former tells him of how his father redeemed himself by freeing the Orcs from their servitude to the Legion. Naturally, the age gap (as well as Garrosh's newfound pride in himself) does eventually cause friction between them, which eventually leads to Garrosh's Face–Heel Turn.

  • In The Great Wizard Transcendent: Mikhail became the older Viscount Nostra's mentor after the wizard duel. Viscount Nostra had to be Mikhail's student as part of the terms of the wizard duel.
  • Downplayed in How to be a Werewolf: Elias is a 22-year-old born as a werewolf among werewolves, who serves as an aide and personal agent to his mother the alpha of a fairly important pack. Malaya is a 25-year-old quasi shut-in who was bitten by a mysterious beast as a five-year-old girl and whose parents managed to teach her self-containment despite having to work things out as they went along. He caught her scent while she was behind the counter at her father's coffee shop, determined she was not involved in the murders he was investigating, figured out how clueless she was, and offered to help.
  • In the Quest Den story Shards, the latest generation of students gets to learn Runic Magic from a foreign teacher thanks to a diplomatic deal. One such student, protagonist Chi Sava, becomes a teacher of runic magic herself; she is hired to teach it to the royal scientists, all of them her seniors by decades.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Katara, Toph, and Zuko all serve as Aang's mentors to learn all four elements. And while Aang is physically and mentally twelve, he was frozen in ice for 100 years, making him older than all of them. Even if you don't take his actual age into account, Aang is still slightly older than Toph.
    • In The Legend of Korra, Jinora, Avatar Aang's grandaughter, is Korra's Spirit Guide. While it isn't a huge age difference, Korra is in her late teens, and Jinora is pre-pubescent.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • While Vague Age is in full effect, this may be true of Twilight Sparkle and Starlight Glimmer. Twilght was a young adult when she started teaching Starlight about friendship, and while there is no concrete age given for Starlight, it is very plausible that she is notably older than Twilight given her past, having founded a village as a full adult and ruling over it for an extended length of time.
    • Following the episode titled "Marks for Effort", Applebloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle become tutors for Twilight's School of Friendship. Keep in mind that they are still fillies and the school has students of various ages. This means that the Cutie Mark Crusader are not only the youngest of the school staff, but they are also younger than some of the students attending the school.
  • The Owl House:
    • This is set up at the end of the first season. Eda Clawthorne's mind and human(oid) form have been restored (for now) but she finds that the vast bulk of her innate magic has been stripped from her. Her de-facto ward Luz Noceda, a human teenager over three decades her junior who has been discovering glyphs that tap the Background Magic Field in order to get around her own limitations, promptly offers to teach Eda what she has figured out.
      Luz Noceda: And what we don't know, we can work out together.
    • The 'B Plot' of the second season episode "Escaping Expulsion" plays this for comedy, with Eda's older and similarly disempowered sister Lilith going full-on Teacher's Pet while Eda reverts to the sort of Class Clown that carves experimental glyph combinations into her desk (yes, there are desks) with a knife rather than focus on "boring" lectures.
  • Kamp Koral: SpongeBob. In "Hill-Fu", Nobby — who is smaller than SpongeBob and barely able to form full sentences, mostly speaking in childlike babbling — trains SpongeBob in Hill-Fu. He's shown to be pretty good at it, as SpongeBob is able to stand a chance against the incredibly badass Sandy using what Nobby teaches him.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television as it is highly likely for Technologically Blind Elders interested in learning to turn to their younger peers to teach them how modern devices work.
  • For older adults who are returning to education to finish a degree or gain new skills, this can be the case, with them being their 50s or even 70s while the professors are in their 20s and 30s.
  • Leonie Martin of Lisieux, France (known as Sister Françoise-Therese in her convent) was a disciple of her younger sister, St. Therese.
  • Will often be the case for people who transition into different jobs/careers when they're older. Imagine getting a job/career in your early to mid 20s, working said job/career for 10 years or more and then deciding you'd rather do something else. If you're starting a new career in an entry-level role, your bosses are more than likely going to be fairly younger than you.


Video Example(s):


Luz, Eda and Lilith

Played for Laughs when Luz is teaching Eda and Lilith how to use glyphs, since the latter two act as if the ages are reversed (complete with Lilith being a shameless Teacher's Pet and Eda a Class Clown).

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / YoungerMentorOlderDisciple

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