Mentor characters

I don’t remember seeing this topic discussed before, so I’ll throw it out there. Who are the best & worst, most interesting & annoying mentors in fiction? By ‘mentor’, I mean any type of wiseman/teacher/guru/sage/supernatural helper/grizzled veteran whose role in the story is to help, advise or otherwise provide assistant to a younger, less experienced protagonist?

Some noteworthy pop culture examples -

Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda in the Star Wars films.

Rupert Giles on the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” TV show.

Head Six in “Battlestar: Galactica.”

Merlin in “the One & Future King” (and of course all other accounts of Aurthurian legends).

Dick O’Halleran (Scatman Crothers) in “the Shining.”

Professor X from the X-Men comic books/films/cartoons.

Mr. Miyagi in “the Karate Kid.”

Who else comes to mind?

For me, the first one that comes to mind is Mentor in The Odyssey.

But my favorite is the Abbe Faria in The Count of Monte Cristo.

Henry Higgins. The name has become synanomous with a mentor.

Rhett Butler mentors Scarlett O’Hara, turning her into a female version of himself.

What? No love for Hannibal Lector mentoring Clarice Starling?

Julio Scoundrél from Order of the Stick is one of my favorites. After all, “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose as long as you look really cool doing it.”

Dumbledore, naturally.

The Sphinx, in Mystery Men. Best AND Worst, all in one. :slight_smile:

Master Splinter! (a parody of Daredevil’s mentor, Stick)

Mentor, from E. E. Smith’s Lensman series.

Father Chains from the Lies of Locke Lamora books.

Hugh Akston, Ph.D. professor of Patrick Henry University, to his three prize students Fransciso d’Anconia, Ragnar Danneksjold, and John Galt of ATLAS SHRUGGED.

Virgil of Dante in the DIVINE COMEDY.

Van Helsing to Seward & Co in DRACULA.

Nice thread.

I’ll vote for Dumbledore as most annoying. Will you sit down with the boy and talk to him for longer than a couple of minutes without being needlessly unclear so everybody knows what’s going on? For fuck’s sake already. There was no need to string out the fight against evil over seven protracted volumes, it could have been done much more quickly. (Same goes for Gandalf, really, but then, pointing out that the HP series strongly resembles LotR is hardly novel)

Also, I’m going to say that Anakin Skywalker going over to the dark side, which is usually attributed to his inherent weaknesses and evilness, is actually due to the bad leadership offered by Obi Wan and the council generally. Rather than finding fault with one individual, I think we should look at the institutions he functioned in and if we do so I think we will find that the rise of the dark lord and the empire etc. could easily have been prevented if Obi Wan had been just a little more attentive and thoughtful. Just a kind word, every now and then…

Colonel DuBois and Sergeant Zim, in Starship Troopers.

From Stranger in a Strange Land: Jubal Harshaw or Valentine Michael Smith. Who is the mentor, and who is the student?

Speaking of mentors named “Mentor”, how about the one from the 1970’s TV version of Shazam!

Glinda the Good, as depicted in the MGM version of “The Wizard of Oz,” falls into the category of bad mentors. She nominally helps the protagonist on her journey, but in a way that unnecessarily exposes her to great peril and hardship. And her annoyingness speaks for itself.

Satan in “The Mysterious Stranger” is one of the best or worst, depending on how nihilist is your own point of view (and assuming that the narrator is the protagonist, even though Satan is by far the most active character).

The Faun in “Pan’s Labyrinth” is the creepiest mentor I can think of at the moment, and one whose alignment (lawful-good? chaotic-evil?) is unclear (at least to me) up to the very end.

What should Gandalf have said that he didn’t? There was a lot he didn’t know, but it seems to me he did share his knowledge and even his guesses. (True, he didn’t go around telling everyone that he, Sauron, and the Balrog were all incarnated angels, but I’m not sure that would have been helpful.)

He didn’t mentor her. He fed her information which he pretended to have acquired by his perceptive and deductive abilities, but in fact had been given by a serial killer who was boasting to him. Starling & Crawford both realize this by the end of The Silence of the Lambs. Then, in Hannibal, he abducts, brainwashes, and rapes her.

My friend has beat be to this one, damn you Silenus. :wink:

Gandalf was neither a teacher or a mentor though.
In Highlander, Ramirez was an excellent mentor to Connor.

Hari Seldon in The Foundation Trilogy.

Nearly every movie set in a high school – Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds, Meryl Streep in Music of the Heart, Sidney Poitier in To Sir With Love, Richard Dreyfuss in Mr. Holland’s Opus, and Edward James Olmos in Stand and Deliver.

Maybe not a teacher, but in the OP’s terms, sure he was a mentor: “By ‘mentor’, I mean any type of wiseman/teacher/guru/sage/supernatural helper/grizzled veteran whose role in the story is to help, advise or otherwise provide assistant to a younger, less experienced protagonist?”
ETA: Actually, American Heritage backs this up:

men·tor (měn’tôr’, -tər)

  1. A wise and trusted counselor or teacher.
  2. Mentor Greek Mythology Odysseus’s trusted counselor, in whose guise Athena became the guardian and teacher of Telemachus.

I think you’re confusing a mentor with a svengali: svengalis are manipulative, and shape their pupils to suit their own ends rather than the pupil’s best interests.

So what do you think Gandalf should have told Frodo and the others that he didn’t? (Keeping in mind the restrictions he was under please.)

Once he learned about the Ring he told Frodo nearly everything he knew.
He had never figured out how they would actually get into Mordor.
Was he too closed mouth about the Palantir when it was first found? I’ll give you that one but it was not something he was sure of anyway.

Gandalf was not training or teaching so I still think considering him a mentor is weak. Dumbledore, Obi Wan, Mentor and the rest were really the traditional concept of a mentor. Even Merlin is some of the stories like Once and Future King was a Mentor. Gandalf really was not. You could say Bilbo was to Frodo and Samwise among others.