Broken Pedestal

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Never meet your heroes.


"It's like going to heaven and finding God smoking crack!"
Riley Freeman, The Boondocks

There are people who we idolize, and who change us forever. These mentors and idols teach us to use our full potential and do great things, and we love them for this. We will be forever loving of them; without them, we would be nothing.

And if you're a TV character, chances are high that they are the scum of the earth, or at least have come to be by the time you meet them again—especially if the audience has just heard about them for the first time. If you're in law enforcement, you can count not only on being forced to learn of their darkest secrets, but also on being the one who has to arrest them. Expect them to have abandoned their ideals, switched sides, or been Evil All Along.

The hero is likely to recite one of the mentor's or idol's old quotes to show how far they have fallen or highlight their hypocrisy.

Related to Beleaguered Childhood Friend and Big Bad Friend. Compare Fallen Hero, Warts and All. Contrast with Evil Mentor, who was Obviously Evil from the beginning. Not to be confused with Broken Base. Also contrast Rebuilt Pedestal, when a formerly Broken Pedestal is forgiven or exonerated.

Examples of Broken Pedestal include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Zaied from Full Metal Panic! is a mild version of this. Not that Sousuke really worshiped him or felt so eternally grateful to him... but Zaied was a respected memory to Sousuke of an honorable, dead comrade of the past. Needless to say, any feeling of goodwill on Sousuke's part completely vanishes when he realizes that Zaied decided to team up with Gauron and kill a bunch of his current comrades. Let's face it - Zaied's alliance with Gauron was enough to piss Sousuke off to the point where he thinks absolutely nothing of killing Zaied, and is afterwards never shown to ever think about the guy again.
  • An indirect example: In the Sakura Taisen TV series, Kohran idolizes the inventor of the kohbu armor, whom she knows only by reputation and from the notes and plans he left behind. When she discovers that he switched sides long ago and now leads the demonic forces against which she and the other Hanagumi fight, she undergoes a crisis of faith.
  • Sara Werec of Soukou no Strain learns that her beloved brother has gone insane, defected and killed her friends. (Pithy statement: "Only you can do what you've decided to do. If you feel that way, there's nothing you can't do.")
  • Zelgadis from Slayers looked up to his guardian and great-grandfather Rezo, a powerful spellcaster, as the epitome of good, nobility and selflessness. He even allows himself to be turned into a monstrous chimera (part human, part golem, part demon) in order to be stronger and more able to further Rezo's cause. Understandably, Zel is quite bitter when he finds out that everything Rezo was doing, up to and including his experiment on Zelgadis, was intended only to find a cure for his blindness.
  • Master Asia is Domon's broken pedestal in G Gundam. He eventually turns out to be a Well-Intentioned Extremist who dies seeing the error of his ways--but at the same time, his death from this is ensured that it won't be in vain.
  • Naruto recently revealed that the deaths of the Uchiha clan were overseen by the Hokage and Danzo, the end result of the village's fear and suspicion of the Uchiha clan since Madara, who acted without the clan's approval at the time, rebelled when he was denied the Hokage seat. Note that this information is dubious (it was provided by the Big Bad) but if it does turn out to be true then this trope is certainly in effect, albeit mitigated somewhat by the strike being preemptive. The Uchihas were apparently planning a new rebellion.
    • In the second Shippuden movie Shinnou turns out to be one for Amaru. Amaru is quite shocked, but separates the person who taught her medicine and served as an inspiration to save lives and the person who is the Big Bad.
    • In the Six-Tails arc, Utakata has one in his master, whom he killed as he tried to extract the Six-Tailed Beast. It's played with as Utakata hears that his master did it for his own good, but Utakata refuses to believe it until it's finally subverted when Utakata realizes, with Naruto's help, that his master wanted to help him. In the same arc, there's also Shiranami for Hotaru.
  • Its implied in episode 20 of Code Geass R2, and confirmed in the subsequent episode, that Empress Marianne is Lelouch's broken pedestal. She's certainly quite the Magnificent Bitch and Lady Macbeth, instead of the borderline Purity Sue that Lulu thought she was.
  • In Genesis Climber Mospeada (a.k.a. Robotech's Invid Invasion saga), Stig ("Scott") Bernard's mentor and hero, Major Johnathan ("Colonel Johnathan Wolff") has sold out to the Inbit, running a free town of would-be rebels while leading the most serious ones into certain death. He does experience Redemption Through Death by the end of the episode.
  • The Robotech example gets subverted in Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles. There we see Marcus Rush, Marlene's little brother who wants to avenge their (presumed for Scott) deaths. When he meets Scott, he is overjoyed and regards him with high respect... until he finds out about Ariel, at which point he goes berserk. The subversion is that Ariel IS a friend, even if she is Invid.
  • In Zatch Bell. when under Zofis's control, it seems like Koko is this for Sherry.
  • One Piece - Dr. Hogback for Tony Tony Chopper, as Chopper realizes that he was doing research on zombies, and enabling Moria to create an army of beings that should not naturally be alive. Hogback also admits that he was in medicine for the money and he doesn't particularly care what Chopper thinks of him (although he does point out that he plans to kill Chopper and reanimate his corpse with a shadow so that he can serve the doctor he admired).
  • Kyoshiro to Towa no Sora has Ayanokouji Kazuya, the presumed deceased older brother of the main lead, Ayanokouji Kyoushirou. Kazuya was originally portrayed as Kyoushirou's, unsurpassable better: the handsome, intelligent, diligent scientist who sacrificed himself in an attempt to prevent a lab accident involving the release of the Absolute Angels from destroying the world. Toward the end of the series, Kyoshiro and Kuu find out that Kazuya engineered the accident with the intent on wiping out all life on the planet so that he could be alone in his Utopia with his beloved, the most powerful of the Absolute Angels. Also, he survived the first explosion and is more than willing to try it again.
  • The second season of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha has the Lieze sisters and Gil Graham for Chrono, though they were less evil and more of the Well-Intentioned Extremist types. Naturally, he's the one who figured out their scheme and arrested them.
    • Graham could very well be one for Hayate, too, but we don't know if she knows the truth about him. Granted too, he still did a lot that was respectable, accepted he was in error and got off with just resigning his TSAB post.
    • After being rescued, by the titular character in the first episode of Striker S, Subaru had admired Nanoha almost to the point of worship and was genuinely happy that she has been given the opportunity to work with her idol. When Nanoha shot down her partner and friend mercilessly during training as punishment for insubordination and afterwards removed said partner from combat readiness during an operation she was visibly upset. The trope gets subverted after she learns why Nanoha acted the way she did: she was looking out for her trainees' well being by planning their training regimens step by step to avoid the necessity of Training From Hell, something that Subaru's partner constantly subjects herself into as Nanoha herself suffered almost career ending injuries when she was younger because of overtraining. After this, Subaru's admiration for Nanoha returned and possibly intensified even more.
  • Detective Conan loves to apply this trope to murderers and victims. The best example comes when Conan Edogawa, during the "3K's of Osaka" storyline, realizes that his idol, the famous European soccer player Ray Curtis, is the murderer of the week. Not only that, but the rumors about his heroin addiction were, in fact, true.
    • Ran goes through this twice. First, the karate champion she idolizes is Taking the Heat for his girlfriend, the true murderer. Later, she not only finds out that her favorite school teacher also was the killer of the week, but has to actually reveal the truth, making said episode a massive Tear Jerker.
    • Another instance involves a woman who worked at a pastry shop and was kind to Ayumi...who had lured her downstairs neighbor under her window and dropped a flower pot on her head. Ayumi didn't want to believe she could have done it, and was broken-hearted when it turned out she did.
    • It happened again when the Detective Boys investigated a case of "self-defense" by a man Mitsuhiko idolized and discovered it was actually premeditated murder.
  • Yoki for Shio in Waq Waq, as he turns out to be working for the villains. He's actually a bit of a Well-Intentioned Extremist Fake Defector, but his plan to kill an innocent red-blooded girl to permanently end the tyranny of the red-blooded "kami" is quite disturbing to Shio.
  • Rio Kurotori for Biko, and to a lesser degree, Muhyo and Yoichi in Muhyo and Roji's Bureau of Supernatural Investigation.
  • Gilbert Durandal in Gundam Seed Destiny. Just... everything about him qualifies.
  • Alder to Trip in the Pokémon anime.
  • Captain Sosuke Aizen to everyone in Bleach, especially to his lieutenant, Momo Hinamori.
    • Not to mention with Tousen with both his long-time friend Komamura and his vice captain Hisagi. The two are especially shocked to learn that he was motivated by the desire for revenge for his friend's death since he saw that revenge as justice and saw a peaceful life with her dead and her murderer unpunished by the Central 46 as evil.
    • In the anime-only Zanpakuto Unknown Tales arc, Koga for Muramasa, who betrays him after being freed from his seal.
    • Soifon regarded Yoruichi this way after her defection though, truthfully, it had more to do with abandoning her than breaking the law. What's worse, Yoruichi never offers her an explanation for it. Emotionally spent and, having lost the will to fight, Soi Fon submitted to her former master, in the end. According the Official Bootleg, they've since reconciled their differences and their bond is as strong as ever.
  • The mysterious prince that inspires Utena so much in Revolutionary Girl Utena is ... not so princely.
  • Kanata of Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru is Yuki's childhood friend who grew up with him in the orphanage. Yuki considers him to be like an older brother figure and looks up to him. However, as it turns out, Kanata is actually the Big Bad Reiga who tried to kill Yuki's friends numerous times.
  • The first season of Baki the Grappler has Baki looking up to his absent father and constantly training and fighting to follow in his footsteps...and then when he finally appears, he turns out to be a Complete Monster who hospitalizes Hanayama, kills the Yasha ape and presents its severed head to Baki, beats and humiliates Gaiya, mercilessly beats on Baki when the fight finally occurs even when he's knocked unconscious, kills Emi when she finally comes around to protect her son, then beats up all of Baki's friends before leaving Japan. He didn't just break the pedestal, he pulverized it.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, Crow idolizes the Legendary D-Wheeler, the first person to escape from Satellite, until he finds out that he is really Rex Godwin, the tyrant fostering the poverty and discrimination in Satellite.
  • Happens more subtly for the eponymous character of Saki toward her Cool Big Sis Teru. Kindly Cool Big Sis who played Mahjong with you in the past? The shining genius of Mahjong world? The person you want to acknowledge your Mahjong skill? Not so much after she disowns you in front of the public and you figured out that she's a massive Jerkass. The blow is somewhat dampened by Saki's girlfriend Nodoka being on her side all the time.
    • Another pedestal is smashed in its gaiden series Saki Achiga-hen. Arata really idolized Akado Harue and was greatly disappointed when the latter stopped playing mahjong after a crushing defeat in a very important match (cross-checking with Saki reveals that she lost to Sukoya). However, the pedestal is quickly rebuilt (and the parties involved make amends) when Harue become the coach to team Achiga, which is the reason Arata joins it.
  • Eureka Seven has Renton learning not too long into the series that his idol Holland is not quite what he imagined him to be. Holland beating Renton repeatedly and essentially using him as a physical outlet for his frustrations may have had something to do with that... Their relationship gets a lot better though, after Holland gets a heavy dose of Character Development.
  • In Tiger and Bunny, Kotetsu's been inspired since childhood by Sternbild's first superhero, Mr. Legend, to dedicate his life to saving others. Guess who fell into alcoholism and domestic abuse after losing his powers and career? Kotetsu is told about arrests being setup and the loss of power. Only the audience see the worst of it through a flashback revealing that the ex-greatest hero in Stern Bild was killed in self-defence by his son, Yuri Petrov aka Lunatic..
  • A major plot point in Pokémon: Lucario and The Mystery of Mew is that Lucario believed that the Knight of Aura that he looked up to, Sir Aaron, abandoned Cameron Palace in its time of need. It was not helped by the fact that, the last time Lucario saw him, Sir Aaron sealed Lucario inside of a staff seemingly for no reason at all. However, Lucario would later learn that Sir Aaron in fact did save the kingdom by sacrificing himself, and he sealed Lucario because he doesn't want the Pokémon to follow him and do the same thing.
  • In Fruits Basket, when Arisa Uotani was in junior high, she deeply admired the "Red Butterfly", a legendary gang leader. When she learned that she lived nearby, Arisa was eager to find her. When she finally did, she discovered that the tough Red Butterfly, Kyouko Honda had turned into a Doting Parent. She wasn't happy, but she eventually warmed up to her, especially after Kyouko helped her quit her gang, who weren't about to let her leave.
  • In Saint Beast, Lucifer was a mentor to Judas and Luca who were crestfallen when he was banished to hell for defying Zeus. Zeus is also subject to this considering that as a god he has no shortage of angels who worship and idolize him. Being as horrible as he is, there are also many who become disillusioned with him, such as Lucifer, Gabriel, and the protagonists.
  • Mai's friend Konami from Popotan died before the former could honor their promise of seeing each other again, making her daughter and apparently Konami herself resentful towards her.
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: One of Batou's idols was a former boxer and a silver-medalist in the Paralympics. He had the skill to easily take the gold, but her threw the fight. It's not like his life had been devastated by that decision he made, as he still lived a comfortable life. Batou find out that he's actually a very decent man, someone actually worthy of looking up to. However, he had lost his way and started spying on the country just to earn a little extra cash. Batou didn't take this revelation very lightly...


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • The Chief (Niles Caulder) of the Doom Patrol. Turns out that, believing that greatness comes from overcoming tragedy, he engineered the accidents that gave the original Doom Patrol their powers. He eventually tried to take his plan global before he was finally stopped. He's supposedly reformed since then, but let's hope the Patrol is Genre Savvy and keeps an eye on him.
    • Half of them are, half of them are just as nuts as he is, all of them follow the Manipulative Bastard even though they know full well he's a Manipulative Bastard. At least other, non-Doom Patrol, superheroes are always visibly put out of sorts when Caulder's around.
  • In The DCU, Henri Ducard, the man who taught Batman the art of manhunting, ultimately turns out to be a money-grubbing mercenary with no real interest in justice.
    • It had been established that Ducard was always an amoral mercenary, even when he was educating Bruce Wayne in the art of manhunting. Not every one of Bruce's teachers were also his heroes. He chose to learn from the best, not the noblest.
    • Whereas in Batman Begins, he turns out to be an elitist Knight Templar who doesn't mind destroying entire cities because, basically, they're ugly.
  • Space Usagi: Usagi's mentor, who happens to be his slain lord's brother and the current lord's uncle, is actually the one who hired the ninjas that killed his lord in the first place. He's also kidnapped his nephew to mind probe the location of the royal treasury. In a separate story, the person who killed Usagi's own father was someone that both of them respected and admired. Both stories lead to an inevitable showdown.
  • Subverted in Preacher (Comic Book): Jesse Custer's father figure (past the age of 5) who taught him how to fight, shoot, and grow up was Jody, the Corrupt Hick who ruined his life and killed his father. But he knew this the entire time, and eventually paid him back for it by choking him to death with his bare hands instead of using the "Word of God". His last words to Jessie before his murder at Jesse's hands "Proud o' you boy".
  • Sinestro was once considered to be the greatest Green Lantern to have ever existed and was a mentor to Hal Jordan. But eventually, it came out that Sinestro was a tyrant on his homeworld and was exiled, becoming an enemy to the Corps (especially Hal). This trope is inducted a lot when they go head to head.
  • Antos Wyrick is probably going to become this for Jarael in Knights of the Old Republic. While Jarael believed in him as a great man, he's actually a murderous psychopath who views his students only as ways to advance his own agenda.
  • Xavier is Cyclops' broken pedestal in X-Men. Since learning of Xavier's various misuses of his telepathic powers to rewrite Scott's memories and cover up old shame, Cyclops has had great difficulty dealing with Xavier's betrayal.
    • It eventually culminated with Cyclops financially seizing control of the Xavier Institute and kicking Professor Xavier out of his own home.
  • In Ms. Tree, Dan Green worshipped his older brother Victor who went MIA during The Vietnam War. Dan ultimately undertook a mission to Vietnam attempting to locate his brother's body, only to discover that Victor was still alive and living as a crimelord.
  • Lex Luthor especially in modern continuity has gone through two major cycles of this first as a Corrupt Corporate Executive and second as President Evil. In the former case, Lex was a hero to the city that employed half of Metropolis and kept his criminal activities hidden until clone degeneration affected his second body triggering a rampage. The second time, Lex rose to even greater heights as the rebuilder of Metropolis and Gotham (in the public's eyes) who won presidency as the darkhorse third party candidate and helped save the world from Imperiex, only to go crazy from Kryptonite injections as he prepared to use all his resources and goodwill to take down Superman once and for all.
  • Eddie Bloomberg aka Kid Devil idolized Blue Devil and wanted to be a hero just like him. When he made the Deal with the Devil that turned him into the superpowered Kid Devil, said Devil Neron stated that Eddie's soul would belong to him if his trust in Blue Devil was ever broken. After the deal was made, Neron told Eddie that Blue Devil had made a deal with Neron for movie stardom that accidentally (on Blue Devil's part) claimed the life of Eddie's aunt Marla. When Eddie confronted Blue Devil about it and Blue Devil confirmed it, Eddie resigned himself to becoming Neron's slave because he would never trust Blue Devil again.
  • Superboy-Prime up gave his home family and friends to save the Multiverse during the Crisis. He then was imprisoned in a pocket dimension to make sure he survived the reconstruction of creation. How is he repayed? He has to watch his heros get corrupted for years. How does he react? Not well.
  • Around the time Spider-Man finally officially joined The Avengers, Tony Stark became something of a mentor to Peter. The two gravitated to each other, being the only members of the team at the time who were scientifically minded, and after the infamous The Other storyline, Tony even designed Peter a new Spider-Man armor much like his own. This "mentorship" culminated during Civil War when Tony essentially made Peter his Number Two on the Pro Registration side. Eventually, their friendship completely dissolved when Peter learned the extremes Tony was resorting to during the event.

Film[edit | hide]

  • As everyone knows in Star Wars, Luke grows up wondering what happened to his father Anakin but his foster parents only tell him vaguely that he had been a pilot and fought and died during the Clone Wars. Obi-Wan meets Luke and tells him that Anakin was once his apprentice and one of the most noble and powerful Jedi he had ever known and that he was also skilled as a fighter pilot. Anakin was a war hero who was the very best at what he did, he could fight on sea, air, or land, even in space, and was known as the hero with no fear, his father was someone to be admired. Luke wonders aloud how such a great hero could have died and Obi-Wan tells him that his father was betrayed and killed by the Empire's dark enforcer Darth Vader during the Clone Wars and this causes Luke to hate Vader, even moreso when Vader eventually kills Obi-Wan too. However Vader eventually reveals the truth to Luke, he is Anakin Skywalker and thus Luke's father, the Empire's ruthless enforcer of terror and fear Galaxy-wide Darth Vader is Luke's father. Luke doesn't take this very well.
  • In Star Trek, Zefram Cochrane is revered as a visionary, the man who invented warp drive and ushered humanity into the stars. In person, he's an alcoholic and depressed man whose only motivation is his own self-benefit. As he puts it: "You wanna know what my vision is? Dollar signs. Money. I didn't build this ship to usher in a new era for humanity. You think I wanna go to the stars? I don't even like to fly! I take trains!" Unlike most examples of this trope, the crew doesn't actually seem that disappointed, or at the very least they hide it well. Ultimately, first contact turns Cochrane into the man that the crew remembers.
    • The idea behind their lack of disappointment is probably that by the 24th Century, humanity is a much more enlightened race than now, and thus are more capable of accepting the idea that their heroes and idols aren't what they expected them to be. Riker puts it well when he quotes Cochrane from a future speech where he says "Don't try to be a great man, just be a man, and let history make its own judgments."
  • Dr. Paul Ruth of Scanners. Turns out he's responsible for the entire Bizarre Baby Boom, he unethically tested ephemerol on his pregnant wife, and severed all connections with his two sons, the older one ending up in an insanity ward at one point until he later became a psychopathic terrorist leader, while his younger son was sent out into the world as a drifter and monitored regularly until he might find use for him.
  • Nicholas Angel relates such a story about his uncle in Hot Fuzz.

Nicholas Angel: I don't remember a time when I didn't want to be a police officer... apart from the summer of 1979 when I wanted to be Kermit the Frog. It all started with my Uncle Derek. He was a Sergeant in the Met. He bought me a police pedal car when I was five. I rode around in it every second I was awake - arresting kids twice my size for littering and spitting. I got beaten up a lot when I was young, but it didn't stop me. I wanted to be like Uncle Derek.
Danny Butterman: He sounds like a good bloke.
Nicholas Angel: Actually, he was arrested for selling drugs to students.
Danny Butterman: What a cunt...
Nicholas Angel: Probably bought the pedal car with the proceeds. Needless to say, I never went near it again. I just let it rust. But I never lost the profound sense of right and wrong I felt at the wheel of that pedal car. I had to prove to myself that the Law could be proper and righteous and for the good of humankind. It was from that moment that I was destined to be a police officer.

    • If you look carefully when Nicholas is packing up for Sandford, you can even see him taking a picture of a child in a pedalcar off his noticeboard.
  • In Up, on arriving in Venezuela, Carl Frederickson meets his childhood hero, the explorer Charles Muntz, who has spent his life trying to capture a rare bird that lives on the plateau near Paradise Falls... and has become dangerously obsessed with his quest, to the point of killing people he even thinks are trying to get the bird back to civilization before him, and threatening Carl and Russell.
  • In Treasure Planet, Jim's trust in Silver is broken when he finds out that he is a pirate and the mastermind behind the ship's mutiny. Silver makes up for it in the end, though.
  • In John Frankenheimer's Seven Days in May, Kirk Douglas plays Colonel Martin "Jiggs" Casey, a Marine who finds out that his CO, General Scott(Burt Lancaster) is heading a conspiracy to overthrow the President. He also gets a nice Shut UP, Hannibal moment when General Scott demands "Are you familiar with who Judas was?" when his part of the conspiracy is unmasked:

"Yes, I know who Judas was. He was a man I worked for and admired until he disgraced the four stars on his uniform."

  • Gordon Gekko from Wall Street to Bud Fox. Thankfully, Bud gets even.
  • Baines (who was not an actual historical character, at least not in the way he is portrayed) in Malcolm X helps Malcolm to turn his life around, but is later shown to have motives much less pure than Malcolm's.
  • In The Rocketeer, Jenny Blake greatly admires film star Neville Sinclair until she finds out he's a creep and a Nazi spy.
  • In Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Optimus reunites with his mentor Sentinel Prime, who was believed to have been lost in Cybertron's final battles. Optimus, with all due respect, offers Sentinel back the Matrix of Leadership, but Sentinel declines, saying that Optimus knows more about the human world than he does. It's later revealed that Sentinel has sided with Megatron, compromising the beliefs he taught Optimus in order to ensure the survival of the Cybertronian race. Optimus, after recovering from his shock, battles Sentinel, eventually executing him with (the now dead) Megatron's fusion shotgun.
  • Mr. Incredible is this for Syndrome in The Incredibles. As a child, Buddy Pine starts out as Mr. Incredible's self-proclaimed biggest fan, and spends the entire opening sequence of the film trying to persuade the superhero into letting him become his sidekick, IncrediBoy. However, he repeatedly gets on Mr. Incredible's nerves until he coldly tells him, "I Work Alone." Soon after, Buddy's attempts to prove himself cost Mr. Incredible his chance of apprehending one of his archenemies, and he turns the boy over to the police to bring him home. This act disillusions Buddy from not just Mr. Incredible, but all superheroes in general, leading him to take his frustrations out on all supers as the villainous Syndrome.
  • Sean to Mark in The Social Network. Mark is very admirative of Sean's power and ideas but his faith wavered when he finds out about Sean's arrest for partying and doing drugs with underaged interns.
  • In the 1980 John Ritter movie Hero at Large, Steve Nichols becomes a national hero for foiling a robbery while dressed as Captain Avenger. But when a reporter announces that the last robbery he foiled was staged, specifically to make him look like a hero, the crowd turns on him.
  • Senior narcotics officer Alonzo Harris to rookie cop Jake Hoyt in Training Day.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • The Dresden Files: Ebenezar McCoy took Harry in after he used magic to kill his evil mentor, and taught Harry all about how magic comes from human life, and how using it to kill perverts its very purpose. Which makes it all very ironic when McCoy turns out to be the Blackstaff, the one member of the White Council allowed to use magic to kill. In fact, the very reason Harry was paired with McCoy was so that someone could take him out if it happened again.
    • Subverted in that he's not terribly happy about it, and dislikes the role. Harry still doesn't take it very well.
    • He mostly gets used to it. Eventually.
  • Harry Potter's father James. When Harry gets a glimpse into the past, he sees his father as a young man and finds out that he was actually a Jerk Jock. It's hinted in the series that he grew out of it.
    • Dumbledore, The Chessmaster, briefly gets his pedestal broken in Harry Potter, both for Harry and the reader.
    • Dumbledore himself experienced this with Grindelwald, especially since Word of God's revelation and Deathly Hallows implying that there was more to their friendship, at least on Dumbledore's side.
  • The dad in The Night of the Hunter, who is hanged for robbing a bank around the beginning. And Uncle Bertie, who for all his talk of being there to help, is uselessly drunk the moment something bad happens. And Harry Powell, although we learn he's a Serial Killer before his fans do. And, if you look carefully, you can see that Rachel Cooper is too proud of her parenting skills to realize that her foster-children are in dire need of attention lest they go crazy.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events: While nothing decisive is explicitly revealed, it is hinted in the last two books that the much-revered Baudelaire parents were involved in the murder of Olaf's parents.
  • In The Secret History, Julian Morrow's students look upon him as a divinity. By the end of the book, however, Richard sees his characteristic warmth and kindness as a mask for his essential lack of concern for his students or insight into their lives.
  • In Matthew Stover's novelization of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, it is explained that Mace Windu has an abiding love of the Republic and what it represents, and thus idolizes Chancellor Palpatine as the embodiment of the Republic. So when Anakin tells him that Palpatine is actually Sidious, hoo boy...
  • The main character is this for a whole lot of people in The Death of the Vazir Mukhtar, as he seems to have made a complete Face Heel Turn from writing an incisive social satire to seemingly becoming one of the characters he has satirised. He realizes this too, though it's technically all rather more complex than that.
  • The Vorkosigan Saga features several of these, as Miles' generation encounters the fallout of some really horrible things done of the previous generation. Major examples include Miles and Elena learning about Sergeant Bothari's mental instability and the atrocities he committed while working for Complete Monster Admiral Vorrutyer in Warrior's Apprentice, and Emperor Gregor's depression and self-destructive behavior in The Vor Game when he first learns that his father Prince Serg wasn't the hero Barrayaran history makes him out to be, but rather a Complete Monster whose death in a botched invasion was the best thing that could have happened to Barrayar.
    • The series also features a major inversion, when Mark first meets his parents Aral and Cordelia and they're kind, loving, genuinely good people rather than the Complete Monsters he's been led to expect.
  • In the early Sweep books, Morgan looks up to Selene Belltower after she discovers she's a witch, admiring her power, her reputation, even the way she makes her own essential oils (for spell ingredients). Then Morgan discovers what Selene really wants from her...
  • Subverted in The High King, the final book of the Prydain Chronicles, when Taran is horrified by Prince King Gwydion inviting him to share in the treasures of Annuvin. Luckily, a tiny Glamour Failure is enough to make Taran quickly realize that it's not really Gwydion but Arawn Death-Lord in disguise.
  • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea: After expending all the novel swimming in Stockholm Syndrome for Captain Nemo, Aronnax has seen him crossing the Moral Event Horizon by a terrible Kick the Dog moment. And yet...

I returned to the saloon, fearing and yet hoping to see Captain Nemo, wishing and yet not wishing to see him. What could I have said to him? Could I hide the involuntary horror with which he inspired me? No. It was better that I should not meet him face to face; better to forget him. And yet—

  • Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels: Played as straight as an arrow with Henry "Hank" Jellicoe, owner of Global Securities! In Game Over, the Vigilantes and the Big Five, particularly Charles Martin, look up to Hank and think he's the best there is. Cross Roads ends up having them lose their respect for the guy, and Charles was just upset that his friend could possibly pull a Face Heel Turn. Deja Vu goes further and makes it clear that Hank was Evil All Along, and that it's only now that the disguise has worn thin, and nobody can deny it any longer!
  • Jason Black to Hayleigh Griffin in Fat. Hayleigh is harbouring a massive crush on Jason, based on tv interviews, his music and magazines for teenage girls. Jeremy arranges for them to meet while she's in the hospital. Unfortunately, Jason is coked up to the eyeballs the entire time and hasn't washed in at least a week. This freaks Hayleigh out somewhat, but is actually the turning point for her, as getting over her crush on Jason is what triggers her recovery.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • CSI has one of these for almost every member of the team:
    • Sara's best friend, a prosecuting attorney, is confined to a wheelchair—ostensibly shot by an unknown man who killed her husband. When Sara reopens the investigation, she learns that there was no intruder -- her friend was the one who shot her husband. (Sara doesn't quite use the stock dialogue, but does point out the hypocrisy the attorney has been demonstrating in her demands for justice.)
    • Catherine discovered that the cop who inspired her to become a CSI rather than a stripper had planted evidence in a homicide investigation. (Pithy statement: "Good evidence doesn't need help.")
    • Warrick's mentor lost it after the murder of his daughter and assaulted the suspect, who turned out to be innocent. (Pithy statement: "An eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind.")
    • Gil's mentor turns out to be just plain evil, ferreting out every weak link in the evidence, and even trying to use Gil's hearing loss to discredit him to the court.
    • Oddly enough, the trope was subverted in this show as well. The episode revolved around the murder of a psychic; one of Brass's buddies, on the verge of retirement, showed up saying that he had been consulting the psychic regarding a cold case he has been pursuing, and that his suspect murdered the psychic to stop her from providing the location of the body. The suspicion is raised that the old cop is trying to frame his suspect, but he turns out to be completely legit.
    • CSI New York gets in on the action as well, although they play around with it a little. Flack's mentor and friend is found to have tampered with a crime scene in order to protect his son, who was present when the murder took place. The mentor is arrested, but Mac is the one driving the investigation; Flack is pissed to have to go after a friend and remains bitter about the incident for some time.
  • Jack Bauer, on Twenty Four has seen this happen with two of his mentors; Christopher Henderson, who brought him into CTU, first turns out to be embezzling assets seized by the government and later becomes the point-man for a conspiracy that kills an ex-president and several of his best friends.
    • James Hellar, the Secretary of Defence, is probably the show's first Benevolant Boss and someone that Jack admits he "looked up to like a father". The pedestal gets broken over the course of three seasons as Hellar fails to live up to Jack's high standards: he obtains evidence against the President Evil but tries to use it for political leverage, he leaves Jack to rot in a Chinese prison for two years, and generally treats him like a mindless disposable resource. His remarks on Jack being "a curse" to everyone around him are particularly harsh, if more than a little true. Of course, there's the minor complication of Jack being in a relationship with Hellar's daughter...
    • Of course, no one on 24 can ever manage to retain their original loyalties throughout a season. Including Bauer himself.
  • Notable Subversion: Former Special agent Mike Franks, NCIS, mentor of Agent Gibbs. Something of a jackass, but a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, though a very small heart of gold and a HUGE jerk. Some of Gibbs's more notable mannerisms came from him, but the main difference is he retired, Gibbs didn't (not permanently, anyway).
  • Life On Mars: Gene's never-before-mentioned mentor turns up. The inevitable ensues.
  • Happens retroactively in the Star Trek the Next Generation episode "The Pegasus". The eponymous starship was Riker's first post-Academy assignment. The ship's former captain (now an admiral) was conducting illegal cloaking-device experiments until the crew mutinied. Riker defended his captain, and helped cover up the truth later. When said admiral comes back to retrieve said device, Riker admits that, given a second chance, he would have joined the mutineers instead (a claim he gets to fulfill in spirit later on).
  • In Star Trek Deep Space Nine, we get Admiral Leyton, whom Sisko admired... until he tries to usurp power and declare martial law.
    • Then we learn that Odo had not always placed justice first and 3 innocent Bajorans were executed as a result.
    • And Admiral Ross works with section 31!
    • And in "Valiant", Nog meets Red Squad, the elite Cadet group from Starfleet (whom he adored) and they are stubborn, hubris-filled and intolerant, and get themselves killed, with Nog, Jake and some girl barely escaping.
    • Probably the most poignant was in the episode "The Maquis", where Sisko's best friend from the Academy, Cal Hudson, was a double agent for the eponymous terrorist organization. When he's found out, he makes a show of disintegrating his Starfleet uniform in front of Sisko.
    • Sisko gets to play the role himself once, confessing to his log that he lied, broke laws, and was an accessory to murder in his quest to bring the Romulans into the Dominion War on the side of the Federation.
  • Law and Order: Criminal Intent: Goren doesn't find it especially hard to believe that his FBI profiler mentor might also be the Serial Killer who kidnapped his partner. The twist reveals the killer is actually the profiler's daughter, who washed out of the FBI and wants to disprove her father's theory that women can't be Serial Killers (let's just say he couldn't leave the shop talk at work and she liked to use his recordings of people being tortured as a test for prospective high school boyfriends before getting intimate with them) in a desperate bid to get his attention. Needless to say, it worked.
    • Then, in a later episode, said mentor helps Goren's archnemesis kill his younger brother, and then kills her himself, in order to become closer to Goren. Goren doesn't understand it either.
  • In Chuck, Casey's mentor comes back and is a Fulcrum agent.
    • Also, Chuck's old college girlfriend turned out to not only be a spy, but also a Fulcrum agent. In all honesty it seems like just about everyone in any way connected to Chuck is involved with Fulcrum in some way...
  • In Bones, Brennan's old professor, whom she had and currently was dating, was an expert witness for the opposing side of the case she was working on. To specify, he's not doing it in service of the truth, which Brennan would respect him for but because he's being paid to do it. Then he implies, on the stand, that she's not an objective researcher even though he and the scientific community recognize Brennan as the best and most objective in her field. He is also outright lying, since he had previously called Brennan's case irrefutable, meaning everything he said about other possibilities was wrong and he knew it. In the end she dumps him via a What the Hell, Hero? moment.

Brennan: This one isn't about winning a pasta dinner or showing up your former student. It's about putting two people away who murdered a 19-year-old girl.
Michael [the professor]: Tempe, you can't personalize the work.
Brennan: Do you remember in Central America standing in a mass grave being guarded by soldiers? We knew that they were probably the same soldiers who had killed the people we were digging up. I was just a student. I was scared. I turned to you and I asked, "What do we do?"
Michael: That was a different place and a radically different context.
Brennan: You said, "We tell the truth. We do not flinch." You flinched, Michael.


  • Scrubs does this a lot, usually JD reversing one of Dr Cox's pieces of wisdom back on him. Though Cox was a dick from day one.
    • Subverted, however, in the episode My Fallen Idol, where JD convinces himself that he's furious and disgusted with Cox for being a hypocrite about the advice he gave JD in the previous episode "My Lunch" after accidentally killing three patients, and then coming in to work stinking drunk the next day. However, JD gradually realizes that he actually doesn't care about what Cox did at all, and in fact admires the fact that even after years as a doctor, a patient's death could still affect Cox that deeply—he was just terrified over the idea of his tough, unshakable mentor being so badly shaken, and was using the things he did as an excuse to avoid him.
  • In a sketch on Little Britain, Sebastian (in love with his boss, the Prime Minister) is asked to destroy some secret papers which reveal that the Prime Minister reneged on a disarmament pact. Sebastian obeys, but sadly whispers "I thought you were perfect ..."
  • Dexter's gone through a lot of these. He adheres to the "Code of Harry", his foster father, when he kills, only going after criminals who've escaped justice. Then, in Season 1, he finds out Harry knew Dexter's biological father was alive and kept the info from him, and destroyed the file on Dexter's Harmful to Minors moment. If that's not enough, in Season 2, Dexter decides to abandon the Code -- or at least shift it to suit his means -- after finding out that Harry likely killed himself because he couldn't stand what he'd made Dexter into. He also had an intimate relationship with Dexter's mother, which was directly responsible for her murder.
    • In season 6, Dexter meets the man who inspired him to be a serial killer - the Tooth Fiary, a man who ripped the teeth out of his victims, and once dumped a fresh body on a District Attorneys lawn and sill managed to elude capture. He's become an abusive, drunk old pervert basically waiting to die in a retirement home. Granted, its not like we'd expect much more from a serial killer, but the impact it has on Dexter certainly shows elements of Broken Pedestal. Also, he apparently only dumped the body cause he was drunk and lazy - he got away by pure stupid luck.
  • In Wire in The Blood, an old colleague of Tony Hill's returns and proceeds to attempt, apparently out of pure bitterness over his failures in life, to turn Tony and DI Fielding against each other.
  • In Nip Tuck, Sean's old teacher, Dr. Grayson, shows up as a pathetic alcoholic performing underground surgery on transsexuals in a filthy apartment.
  • In a 30 Rock episode, Liz met her idol, a 1970s-era female comedy writer, discovering that she is now a lonely failure and that there's a reason she could only find work in the '70s.
  • The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien:

Conan: Tell us about this scene. This is a fight scene?
Dean the Foley artist: Yes. This is between two principal characters, Chris Meloni and James Brolin. Chris Meloni just found out that James Brolin, who is his mentor, actually killed someone.
Conan: They always do. Mentors always disappoint, just as you've disappointed me today.

  • Monk: Though not quite a mentor, a child actress from Monk's childhood favorite TV show the only TV show he ever watched and the only thing that made him happy as a child ("'The Cooper Clan' was my other family. Heck, the Coopers were my family, my family was my other family") wrote a tell-all memoir about her very sordid life and the lives of her costars. There wasn't enough Brain Bleach to help Monk after reading it...
  • In the third season, eighth episode of BBC's Robin Hood series, Robin's mentor appears, having agreed to help Prince John fake out the people of Nottingham with a lifelike wax dummy of King Richard, pretending that he's died. His reason for treason pretty much falls to Never Remove a Blood Knight From The Battlefield. He is taken off active duty because Richard believes he's gotten too old, but is given the prestigious position of guarding the crown jewels. Despite his age, he nearly bests Robin when they fight, but is unprepared for the guerrilla tactics Robin has developed in his absence.
  • Variant: On Top Gear, when James May and Richard Hammond get to drive their childhood dream vehicles (a Lambourgini Countach and a Vincent Black Shadow motorbike, respectively), they find that the real things are harder to drive and less comfortable than they had imagined.

May: And [the Countach] looked so good on the poster. In fact, I wish it had stayed there. I'm absolutely gutted. But you know it's not the car's fault; it's mine. I've broken the Golden Rule: You never, ever meet your childhood heroes. ... Stick with the memories. They're just better.

  • A minor version appears in the Doctor Who episode "The Shakespeare Code". The Doctor and Martha Jones attend the premiere performance of "Love's Labours Lost" and Shakespeare himself appears on the stage at the end. Martha is initially thrilled at the prospect of meeting the greatest writer in the English language—until he acts boorishly in front of the audience. Somewhat disappointed, Martha quips to the Doctor, "You should never meet your idols."
    • It gets even worse when he starts (quite unsuccessfully) hitting on her.
    • Played with in terms of Rose's affection for her dad, Pete. Since he died when she was a baby, he was built up by Jackie as being the perfect father- so when she travels back in time to his death, only to find that her parents were having marital problems, Pete was failing as a buisnessman and liked flirting with other women, she was upset. However, in the end, he proved to still be a good man; incredibly devoted to his wife and daughter, and willing to sacarfice his life to save others.
    • The Doctor breaks his own pedestal in regards to Amy Pond, by telling her how he truly views himself; not as a hero, but a vain mad man who's willing to put the people he loves in danger.
    • Matthew Waterhouse makes no big secret about the fact that his first day working with his hero Tom Baker was quite unpleasant.
    • The Doctor to Jack, and in turn Jack to Torchwood, both when the admirer finds out that the Doctor/Jack isn't the omniscient hero they thought he was.
  • A strange inversion occurs in Farscape. Scorpius, the Big Bad who puts a lot of value on patience and planning, makes a big deal about the intelligence and cunning of John Crichton, his archnemesis, and sees him as a Worthy Opponent. Imagine the sheer disappointment when circumstances force Scorpius to become part of Crichton's crew, and he realises that all of Crichton's victories come from Indy Ploys so frelling insane that he makes Indiana Jones look like The Chessmaster.
  • Shawn and Gus from "Psych" see a bounty hunter(played by Hercules) bringing in a thug in the prologue of "Bounty Hunters(season2 episode 9)", and immediately decide he's the coolest thing on the planet. Then he turns his head and winks at them, taking a level in awesome, and the Hero Worship begins in earnest. Years later(ie. later that same episode) they meet him again and it turns out he's a complete douche, the "wink" was just a tic, and he even tries to kill Shawn and Gus near the end of the episode.
  • The episode "Fallen Idol" of Mash. Hawkeye has to leave the O.R., due to a hangover. This breaks the pedestal Radar (and, according to Radar, many others as well) has put Hawkeye on. Hawkeye, on the other hand, does want to have the stress of being someones idol. (Just in this episode, normally, Hawkeye would not mind).
  • Gilmore Girls: Rory Gilmore's worst nightmare is meeting CNN's Christiana Amanpour and finding out she's stupid.
  • Victorious has Ryder Daniels, who has a reputation of taking girls under his wing...only to use them for class projects to help him get a good grade and then ditch them without any prior notice.
  • In an episode of the 80s Mission Impossible revival, Russell Acker - one of the founders of the Impossible Missions Force and creator of the latex mixture used for the IMF trademark masks - has started killing women and built a frame by getting caught on tape while wearing a Jim Phelps mask.
  • Subverted in the Babylon 5 episode "Atonement". Delenn is afraid that her pedestal will be broken when Lennier finds out her darkest secret. However, Lennier accepts her Warts and All.
  • Castle has quite a few of these:
    • The detective who taught Beckett everything she knew though she did chase his killer to Los Angeles
    • Castle's old school friend who inspired him to be a writer
    • Montgomery. Big time.
  • Alex goes through this on Family Ties when he discovers that his Uncle Ned, who he idolized, is an alcoholic. And then he hit Alex.
  • In the Korean Series The City Hunter, Kim Jong Shik, Young Joo's father, turns out to have been part of a group who engineered the deaths of 20 special forces soldiers in order to further his political career, as well as hid a drunk driving vehicular homicide. Young Joo, an idealistic detective, doesn't take it well.
  • Supernatural - Basically God himself. Castiel, a steadily descending angel spends most of season five looking for his father for guidance on how to prevent the apocalypse, only to discover that God just doesn't give a damn about any of them anymore, has effectively left them alone to get on with it, and doesn't care whether the apocalypse happens or not. This does not have a good effect on Castiel.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy has moments like this with Giles, although she usually eventually gets over them. Until she doesn't.

Buffy: Yep. I thought you were a grownup. Now, it turns out that you're a person.
Giles: Most grownups are.

  • In the Community episode "Mixology Certification" Troy experiences one towards Jeff and Britta. After he's spent all night listening to their advice on growing up only to learn they've also spent all night bickering over the same bar under the mistaken impression that it's two different places:

I just spent the last two years thinking you guys knew more than me about life, and I just found out that you guys are just as dumb as me.

    • Their response?

Britta: ... Duh-doy.
Jeff: Yeah, duh-doy.

  • On Heroes, Hiro grew up being told of the legendary Samurai warrior Takezo Kensei and his incredible battles against evil. When he actually travels back to the past and meets him, however, he discovers that the great Takezo Kensei is actually a Dirty Coward Con Man. And then he gets back to the present day and it gets worse: Kensei, who is still alive in the 21st century, is the season's Big Bad.
  • A Cool Teacher arrives in My So-Called Life who challenges and inspires the students, but after a few days he's carted off by the cops for some skeletons in his closet.


Music[edit | hide]

  • The Who's Quadrophenia brings us the Ace Face, a mod whom Jimmy, the album's protagonist, idolized during the Mod days. When he meets him later, he finds that he's sold out and is now a bell boy. The whole album is about Jimmy being let down by his idols.

Theatre[edit | hide]

  • Phantom of the Opera: 'Farewell my fallen idol and false friend/We had such hopes but now those hopes lie shattered...Angel of Music, you deceived me/I gave you my mind blindly.' Erik goes from being a Stalker with a Crush into a full-blown wack job when he, in a convoluted Wife Husbandry plan kidnaps Christine and threatens to kill her fiance unless she agrees to marry him (Erik, that is).
  • Subverted with the protagonists' relationship in Wicked, as Elphaba and Glinda, who sing about how "People come into our lives, for a reason," genuinely feel that they have been changed for the better for knowing the other, even though Elphaba has turned her back on society, and Glinda has sold out to the love of the citizens of Oz.
    • Wicked also contains a straight example in the Wizard, beloved by all of Oz and idolized by Elphaba and Glinda, who turns out to be a con man and the Big Bad. Though the revelation takes longer for Glinda to process, she eventually accomplishes more with the knowledge than Elphaba.
  • Arthur Miller's All My Sons revolves around this trope after The Reveal.
  • Death of a Salesman: Biff, the elder of the two Loman sons, is the high school football star and pretty nearly guaranteed a full scholarship to the University of Virginia...until his Broken Pedestal moment. He gets into a scrape at school and goes to find his father, the eponymous traveling salesman, with the hope that his father can get him out of it. The result is that he discovers his father is a serial philanderer. He's so disillusioned by the fall of his idol that he ends up dropping out and throwing away his very promising future.
  • The Nerd by Larry Shue.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Sanchez of Suikoden is an excellent example. A part of your army since the very beginning, it eventually turns out he was a spy working for the enemy the entire time, and when the Empire is close to losing he gets desperate and fatally injures your army's chief strategist. The icing on the cake and what makes the situation relevant is that your faction ultimately decides that the newly-formed government could not withstand the scandal of one of its founding members turning out to be a traitor the entire time, and he lives out the rest of his life peacefully under a secret house arrest. Publicly speaking, his image as a hero is never tarnished.
    • A subtle hint is provided since the castle is founded: if you took the time to look at the massive tablet that has the 108 stars and people's names, you'll notice he's not on the list. You'll also notice he is the only one living in the castle who's not on the list.
  • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, prosecutor Miles Edgeworth discovers that the man who raised him after his father's death (and taught him everything he knows about law and prosecution) is his father's killer. And also a ruthless perfectionist who'd do anything to win, but he already knew that.
    • In another example for Edgeworth, he finds out that Ernest Amano, who financed his studies, and whom he respected enough that he would deliver the ransom money to his son's kidnappers as a personal favor, obstructs justice by buying the haunted house in Gatewater Land so that his son won't be exposed as a murderer, and is also affiliated with the smuggling ring. The closest he gets to a pithy statement is saying in the ending that he owes him a debt of gratitude, but he must pay his debt to society.
    • Kristoph Gavin, the mentor of Apollo in the fourth game ends being the murderer in the first case and the Big Bad of the game. Apollo is also livid to find out that Phoenix, a former ace lawyer whom he treated with the utmost respect, gave him a fake clue to make Kristoph confess to the murder of Shadi Smith, to the point of punching him. He only comes to work for him because with Kristoph's arrest, he's out of a job.
    • Damon Gant was the well respected chief of police. It turns out that He murdered an innocent man in order to frame a serial killer and years later killed a cop who was trying to find out the truth and let someone else take the blame for it.
    • Ema also has this reaction when her sister admits to forging evidence, although it later turns out that she was blackmailed into doing so by Gant, who had arranged evidence to make it seem as though Ema accidentally killed Neil Marshall.
    • Morgan Fey for Mia and Maya, who both loved their aunt and are upset to find out that she would try to frame Maya for murder out of jealousy, so that her daughter Pearl could become Master.
  • Tales of the Abyss has this happening at least twice.
    • Van Grants for Luke, Tear and Guy, Legretta for Tear, possibly Ingobert for his daughter Natalia; the two ultimately reconcile after the truth comes to light, but Guy suggests that they can't necessarily go back to the way they were before.
      • Interestingly enough, Legretta, in a final letter read after her death, mentions feeling concerned that her student Tear saw her as an ideal, and hopes that Tear will follow her own path, a rare case in which the character on the broken pedestal attempts to dispel the admirer's notions.
    • Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World has Richter Abend. Poor, poor, Emil.
  • Palaxius in Atelier Iris 2.
  • You can actually point out that Aribeth in Neverwinter Nights has done this to your player as part of convincing her to come back from the dark side.
  • Played to the hilt in Jade Empire, where Master Li tries to take over the Jade Empire by torturing and siphoning the power of the newly-corrupted Water Dragon for his own, after using you in a Xanatos Gambit to remove the previous ruler... upon whose success he immediately kills you. You get better.
    • Also, The Emperor for his daughter, Sun Lian/Silk Fox. Even the revelation that Master Li is the Big Bad and the root cause of the plan to usurp the Water Dragon's power does not absolve him in his daughter's eyes.
  • Happened in Castlevania Order of Ecclesia. Turns out Barlowe is a Dracula worshipper and uses the organization and Shanoa as a tool to revive Dracula. Depending on how the game is played, Shanoa may end up following him blindly (and dying in vain), or wises up and performs a Rage Against the Mentor.
  • Frimelda Lotice in Final Fantasy Tactics A2 had this happen to her. She was revered as a powerful Blademaster, and fought alongside her friend Luc Sudarc in many battles. She, however, didn't know that Luc was hugely jealous of her, as he just wanted to surpass her but couldn't no matter how much he trained. So, he poisoned her, sentencing her to wander Ivalice as a pink zombie...until Luso and the gang rescue her. They return her to human form with the help of a special potion, and to return the favor, she joins Luso's clan. And she's cute, to boot.
  • Arc the Lad 3. The main character becomes a Hunter because one saved his life when he was young. He later finds that Hunter working for the Big Bad.
  • Played with in Persona 4. After a major character is seemingly Killed Off for Real, the protagonist's surrogate father figure, a by-the-book and thoroughly incorruptible policeman, runs off apparently to kill the man thought responsible; this is part of a Batman Gambit on the part of the writers to induce the player to kill the suspect when given the opportunity, which is a one-way ticket to the Bad Ending. Later on, after having some time to chill out (like the player characters) he was able to see that the evidence surrounding him just didn't fit and wanted to just get some more info from him.
  • True Crime New York City had Terry Higgins, a cop who helped Marcus from slipping off the slope, of course, he is presumably dead early on. It was revealed he was The Mole and was quite corrupt despite how Marcus saw him. Marcus will either kill him immediately if his ethics are less than questionable or attempt to arrest him but Terry dying.
  • Brutally subverted in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater: Snake Eater, in which we are initially led to believed that Naked Snake's mentor, The Boss, had defected to the Soviet Union. It turns out that the defection was a ruse to gain Volgin's trust and acquired the Philosopher's Legacy, but after Volgin framed The Boss for the destruction of Sokolov's Research Facility, alerting her presence to Khrushchev, the US sent Naked Snake to kill her and cover up her involvement.
    • Which essentially shifts the target of his Broken Pedestal moment from his mentor to his government.
  • In the Fire Emblem series, this applies to (in Path of Radiance) Most of the Begnion senators, and arguably (in Radiant Dawn) The god that most of the populace worshiped.
  • Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice has Super Hero Aurum, beloved by humans (and even some demons) and idolized by Almaz. By the end of the game, you discover that he has gone out of his way to make Mao into the most horrible villain imaginable, trying to manipulate him into attacking the human world, simply out of boredom from having no "worthy" opponents. And when this fails thanks to the Power of Friendship, even the demons of the party call him out for his blatantly villainous actions, with Mao declaring cowardly Almaz a far more superior hero than Aurum.
  • Captian Qwark in Ratchet and Clank Although he performs a Heel Face Turn by the third game.
  • In Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Republic hero Carth Onasi was scarred when his mentor and idol, Saul Karath, turned out to be working for the Sith. He retains a deep mistrust of all Jedi, and the revelation that the player character is the amnesiac Darth Revan, former commander of the Sith rebellion doesn't help matters.
    • Mission's quest involves finding out her brother deliberately left her behind when he left Taris.
  • In The World Ends With You, Neku is a total CAT fanboy. Later on, he discovers that Mr. Hanekoma, a guy who's been real helpful to him, is the elusive CAT, and starts fanboying even harder. Then, in the final week, Neku discovers a lot of clues that suggest that CAT is the Composer, and goes through a textbook case of denial, then losing faith in CAT as they approach the Composer's chamber. Only, as Kitaniji tells him, Hanekoma is not the Composer. The very end of the game, plus the Secret Reports, however, tell you that he's still not someone to trust, albeit better intentioned than Kitaniji or Joshua.
  • In Viewtiful Joe, Captain Blue turns out to be one for Joe, after he reveals himself as the Big Bad.
    • However, After Blue has a Heel Face Turn it seems Joe regains respect for him again.
  • Grandia II takes this trope to the extreme, making the player think that the Church of Granas has a plan to stop the resurrection of Valmar and the arrival of the Day of Darkness. As it turns out, Granas is actually dead, the Church knew this all along, and the Pope actually wants to resurrect Valmar to become the new God. In addition to that, Granas and Valmar weren't actually gods, but really powerful scientists. The Divine Sword is actually a sword-shaped spacecraft, and Valmar's Legion Of Darkness is actually a robot army.
  • In Baldur's Gate 2, Jahiera has this in regards to the Harpers during her personal quest. First, Galvarey, the regional Harper leader in Athkatla turns out to be an opportunistic Smug Snake who wants to use charname in his bid for power. Jahiera is understandably dismayed by this, especially since the other Harpers, who are unaware of Galvarey's intent, consider the incident an act of treason on her part and a murder on your part. Once that is cleared up, she discovers that Dermin, her old mentor, was actually in on Galvarey's plot, and is just as much of a Smug Snake as he was. Needless to say, the whole affair shook Jahiera to her core.
  • In Guild Wars Nightfall, Varesh Osha is seen by many as an ideal ruler of her nation. Turns out she's a batshit insane worshipper of the resident Eldritch Abomination.
  • In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Explorers of Sky, Wigglytuff's beginnings as an explorer are revealed. As a child, he met Armaldo in a deep forest. Armaldo told the then-Igglybuff that he was a retired explorer, and they went on lots of missions and found lots of treasure. Igglybuff idolised Armaldo and everything was going perfectly well... until Armaldo got arrested. He was a wanted criminal, not an explorer. Igglybuff almost had a mental breakdown and refused to believe that Armaldo was bad, even as he was being led away in custody. Whether they met again after Armaldo got out of prison is unknown. And subverted. He really did care for that kid and was curious to see how far he'd go. He comforted the kid and told him to continue exploring for him. And he promised to explore with him again once he did his time.
  • Arguably present in Pokémon Black and White with N finding out that he's nothing but a brainwashed child soldier and that his father Ghestis is a Complete Monster intent on banning Pokemon use so Team Plasma can "liberate" them all and use their power to conquer Unova.
  • Mass Effect 2:
    • Jacob Taylor's father, Ronald, vanished 10 years ago. When they receive a message and go to the unhabited planet to save them, turns out that after his ship crashed and the captain died, Ronald forced the lower crew members to eat the planet's toxic food, which caused the female members' minds to degrade, while they tried to fix a beacon to call for aid. One year after, the beacon was ready, but Ronald, who got used to living as a king and having the females as his pets, decided to stay there forever... till his own officers began feeling guilt and he drove them away, keeping all food and mechas for himself, till they ran dry and he called for aid. Needless to say, Jacob was utterly disgusted and would've killed his old man, if not for the fact he "wasn't worth pulling the trigger". Of course, if your Shepard is a renegade, you can suggest Jacob to give his father a weapon with one bullet... Or, you can pick the neutral option, and let him get killed by his own men
    • And then there is Rael'Zorah, Tali's father and a part of the admiralty board. Her father is found dead on the ship and Tali was accused of treason. When she find out what happened, it turns out Rael'Zorah was willingly endangering his own crew's lives to create a measure to control the Geth much to her horror.
    • A few people, most prominently Ashley/Kaiden (even more hardhitting if they were your love interest in Mass Effect 1), consider Shepard to be one since s/he's working with Cerberus, a terrorist organization in Mass Effect 2.
    • This is also brought up in a news story:

Newscaster: Emotions at Shepard's alleged survival are mixed. While some are overjoyed to see her/him return, others believe her/his false death was a betrayal.

    • Even before that, in the first game, you can make Shepard into one for Conrad Verner.
    • Through the first and second games, the Protheans have been regarded as a race of very advanced and powerful, but benign Benevolent Precursors. Then in the third game we meet Javik, the last Prothean warrior, and find out that the Protheans were actually a highly imperialistic society who conquered pretty much anyone they encountered and integrated them into their empire as "subservient races." Liara in particular is quite disappointed, and comes to consider her earlier writings on them as foolishly naive.

Liara: You're a Prothean! You were supposed to have all the answers!

  • Cloud got hit by this trope hard in Final Fantasy VII. As a teenager, he dreamed of joining the elite SOLDIER unit like his idol, the great warrior Sephiroth. When Cloud finally gets to go on a mission with Sephiroth, finding out that Sephiroth isn't as noble as Cloud thought he was is the least of our hero's disappointments.
  • Veronica's mentor Elijah in Fallout: New Vegas, you are told about how he wants to know more about the outside world and how the Brotherhood Of Steel should be working to help the others. Then you find out about what he has done over the events of Dead Money where he's a Complete Monster who used you to do his dirty bidding along with 3 others.
    • One resident of Megaton in Fallout 3 put the Enclave on a pedestal based entirely on their radio propaganda. When they actually show up, they rapidly break their own pedestal.
  • First Enchanter Orsino in Dragon Age II can become this to Bethany if she joins the Circle. If Hawke takes the side of the templars during the endgame battle sequence, he can get Orsino to admit that he protected the serial killer responsible for turning their mother into a Frankenstein bride, with Bethany choosing to switch sides after Orsino in his Harvester form is killed.
    • The "Legacy" DLC turns Malcolm Hawke into one with The Reveal that he was a Blood Mage. Probably the most sympathetic example of this trope ever since he did it to seal away a powerful evil, was forced to do it with a threat to his lover, and he made sure his mage child(ren) knew of the dangers associated with it. Malcolm was ashamed of his past and hoped his family would never learn of it. His children still don't take the news very well but understand why he did it.
    • The Grey Wardens can become this to Carver if he joined them, after learning that Warden-Commander Larius gave the order to blackmail Malcolm Hawke into performing Blood Magic, because they threatened to kill Leandra if he refused. Particularly as Leandra was pregnant with his older sibling at the time.
  • In the Dragon Age Origins DLC "Soldier's Peak", Sophia Dryden becomes this (posthumously) to her descendant Levi Dryden. While her goal of opposing a Complete Monster tyrant was admirable, she still resorted to Blood Magic and demon summoning when the chips were down and suffered the consequences.
  • In Corpse Party Ayumi greatly respects Naho Saenoki, an occult expert despite just being in high school. She is disheartened when Naho reveals that she died in Tenjin Elementary and in Chapter 5 laments that they could have been friends. Shortly after that, however, she finds out that the instructions for the Sachiko charm (which is what trapped them in Tenjin Elementary in the first place) that she found on Naho's blog were faulty... And Naho knew this. Ayumi calls her out on it. Naho doesn't really care and even insults "occult freaks"... until Ayumi reveals that after Naho succumbed to The Darkening, she killed her beloved mentor, Kou Kibiki. She doesn't take this revelation well.
  • In Wild ARMs 5, Dean worships and tries to emulate the famous golem hunter Nightburn. When it turns out he's The Quisling for the Veruni, his pedestal shatters.
  • Red of Solatorobo gets a Fan Girl in the Duel Ship fights. When she finds out that Red is ordered around by his 13-year-old younger sister, she declares him extremely uncool. When she tries to beat Red in a battle later to find closure, he ends up on a Rebuilt Pedestal and she declares her fangirlish love for him again. This does not please her newly acquired male fanbase.
  • Dr. Eggman looked up to his grandfather, Professor Gerald Robotnik. However, after Professor Gerald tried to exterminate humanity in Sonic Adventure 2, narrowly averted by teaming up with Sonic, Eggman doesn't think of him nearly as highly anymore.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Sluggy Freelance has an example of this when Torg finds out that Riff is working for Heriti-Corp.
  • In Kevin and Kell, Rudy is shocked to find out that his biological father had an affair that resulted in Rudy's nemesis Vin Vulpen being born; Kell suspected this but didn't know for certain. Lindesfarne, after learning that Professor Antlerhead falsified his research on stem cells, notes that the only authority figures who have never let her down are her father and stepmother.
  • Minmax in Goblins discovering his idol's Complete Monster tendencies (and the result). Go Minmax.
  • Happens in Juathuur... sort of. actually, Arvval stands by his principles from beginning to end. But when Faevv strays from her path, his bigotry becomes apparent and they don't really get along anymore.
  • Popsicleman idolizes Golden Age Popsicleman... until, by the use of 50,000 Placeb-O's box tops, he gets an opportunity to meet him. It turns out the predecessor is chauvinistic and always on the lookout for foreign spies, as well as having a hefty sense of entitlement.
  • Reynder, a.k.a. Oosterhuis in Panthera turns out to be the Big Bad of the first story arc. Truer words were never said, Tigris.
  • In Starslip, Holiday enters her crush object Vanderbeam's mind to try and free him from an alien Lotus Eater Machine. There, she discovers his long-harbored obession with the long-dead Jovia and the lengths Vanderbeem is willing to go to to get her back (i.e. throw his support behind a former criminal to gain technology that might enable him to save her, knowing the criminal wants the tech to try and regain his former power). When Vanderbeam refuses to see reason, reaffirming his willingness to do whatever it took to save Jovia, Holiday simply, and sadly says "You have no idea how much of my respect you've lost. For good." Ironically, this is enough to snap Vanderbeam out of it.
  • Antimony Carver of Gunnerkrigg Court learnt in Chapter 31 that Surma, her mother, acted as the Court's Honey Trap to lure Reynardine into the court. When she tries to confirm this unpleasant truth ("So my mother...tricked Reynardine into thinking she loved him?"), Kat's mother tries to justify with the threat Reynardine posed if he were allowed to roam free.
    • Katerina Donlan is rather upset upon learning what the founders of the Court, where she has grown up all her life, did to Jeanne and her lover. It sure doesn't help that Diego, Kat's robot-building genius hero, came up with the horrifying plan, and did so purely out of spite and jealousy.

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Kate Modern has Rupert van Helding, whose teachings are admired by so many in the Hymn of One. It's a shame he's such a hypocrite.
  • The Union series has a Captain Evan McNeil, poster boy for much of the Colonial military. While made out to be a cheerful, war-is-an-adventure type paragon of soldiering, the hard reality recruits are confronted by is that he is truly a tired, run down man, aged beyond his years, who's spent most of his adult life being flung from one incredibly bloody conflict to the next, with only the sincere desire that someone will get lucky and put a bullet through his head to end his misery.
  • Red vs. Blue has Agent Washington in regards to the Director of Project Freelancer. When first introduced, Washington is highly against the Director and is actively working to bring him down after seeing the horrors the Director inflicted on the Alpha AI. Season 9 then shows a younger Washington, who is highly devoted to the Director and claims the man has given him everything.
    • The same goes for Agent Carolina.
  • Xandra from the Neopets story The Faerie's Ruin was a powerful witch who was taken to Faerieland to study. Initially, like the rest of Neopia, she believed that the Faeries were Big Goods, but the Faeries repeatedly refused to intervene in cases where she felt they should have. Feeling betrayed and deceived, she set out to break the pedestal for everyone else. She fucking crashed Faerieland into Neopia!
  • This trope is given an interesting dimension in the Pony POV Series. Ace flyer Spitfire has a breakdown over how her team, the Wonderbolts, are useless when they actually try to help out and be heroes (a deconstruction of their poor track record in the Fi M series itself). This is then reconstructed when Dash refuses to accept Spitfire's claims of being a Broken Pedestal, pointing out how they still inspire others to be heroes.
  • In the We Are Our Avatars, Catherine Looked up to Yumiko because Yumiko was the woman Catherine desired to be and befriended her until she took a part of Alduin's soul. She, even though she stole Tomes and resurrected the dead, was suitably disgusted, callng Yumiko out in a What the Hell, Hero? speech.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • In The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, Race Bannon's old mentor (and boss) is revealed to have been working for Dr. Zin.
  • Bravestarr did this in the simply-titled episode "Fallen Idol". A bit unusually, while Bravestarr is shocked to hear that his mentor Jingles Morgan is wanted for murder, he doesn't seem to doubt the truth of it at any point. Upon his arrest, and Bravestarr's attempts to understand why, Morgan pauses to Kick the Dog by saying "I never wanted to be your 'hero'".
  • One Saturday morning cartoon special about the 10 Commandments. In the "Thou shalt not worship false idols" segment, the dumber of the kids finds himself among crumbling statues of sports and rock-and-roll idols, although exactly why these kinds of idols aren't good (other than "not being God") isn't explored or has been lost to memory.
  • Batman the Animated Series does this to some extent in the episode, "Beware the Gray Ghost". The eponymous character (voiced by Adam West) was the hero of an in-universe TV show that Bruce Wayne loved as a child, and an inspiration to the latter's own vigilantism. The actor, although not mean, is a bitter old man who has suffered from longterm unemployment, and briefly grows to hate his old role. Batman is quite disappointed when this Reality Ensues, but once it turns out that rediscovering the past is vital to solving a crime, the actor fortunately rediscovers his passion, aids Batman on his quest, and the episode ends on a very high note.
    • Also, "Baby Doll" is a rare example where a character feels this about herself. The villain, Mary Dahl, is a deformed actress who could never get any roles except as the baby in a sitcom. She goes mad and kidnaps the cast of the show, attempting to recreate the one situation in which she was happy. Eventually, when Batman tries to stop her, she initially resists, but eventually breaks down after realizing what she's become.
  • Men in Black: The Animated Series: Kay's mentor Alpha betrays him and the MIB after merging with some alien technology that allows him to combine with anything. He's basically Naraku meets Hannibal Lecter.
  • On The Venture Brothers, Brock Samson's mentor is thought to have gone rogue and Brock is sent on a mission to hunt him down and kill him. Brock is disgusted to find that his mentor, who insisted on never killing women or children, apparently killed the woman he'd slept with the night before (she turns out not to be dead, but Brock doesn't know that). In the end, we see that his mentor ran off to get a perfectly innocent sex change, and the morals he passed down to Brock invalidated the now-female mentor as a target.
    • Though as it turns out in season 4, he really did go rogue... but he wanted to do things his own way rather than following OSI's strict policies.
    • Season 3 showed flashbacks where Dr. Jonas Venture Sr. was either a complete Jerkass or just too naive to realize the damage he was inflicting on his son due to his womanizing and seeming disregard for human life.
  • The Boondocks: The Story of Gangstalicious is all about this, as Riley finds out quickly that his idol isn't exactly what he made himself out to be. Amongst other things...
  • Hey Arnold!':
    • The eponymous character tracked down his favorite author only to find that she'd become mean and surly because of years of writer's block. His insistence that she was still his favorite author - despite how terribly she treated him before and during the interview for his school report - is the catalyst for her future change of heart and eventual return to writing.
    • Eugene turned bad when he found out the actor from his favorite TV show wasn't anything like the character he plays. The same episode also subverts it when the actor saves Eugene and Arnold from falling to their deaths, at great personal risk. As a result it becomes a case of Warts and All, since Eugene realizes that for all his flaws, the actor is still a fundamentally good person.
    • Then there was the time Phoebe found out her favorite Latin pop idol is a lip-synching hack (voiced by Bronson Pinchot!)
  • The Simpsons has an episode where Lisa learns that Springfield's founder Jebediah Springfield, contrary to his rugged frontier hero image, was actually a bloodthirsty pirate who once attempted to kill George Washington. Though initially dedicated to revealing the truth to the town, she changes her mind since she didn't want to take away the inspiring (if fake) image people had of Springfield.
  • Family Guy does this with Stewie's love of fictional kids show Jolly Farm. He goes to London only to find out Jolly Farm isn't real, Pengrove Pig is a pervert in a suit and Mother Maggie hates children and speaks with a Cockney accent.
  • In Ed, Edd n Eddy, Eddy's brother was respected by most of the other kids(except for Kevin, who fears him for obvious reasons), but when he finally shows up in The Movie, they lose that respect when he beats up his own brother, For the Evulz, and Double D, just for calling him out.
  • Daria has Tommy Sherman in the episode "The Misery Chick," who disappoints and disgusts everyone who meets him, even Kevin Thompson who idolizes him. Of course, as soon as he's killed in an accident, Kevin forgets all about his problems with Tommy's character.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • This is the cause of the vast majority of revolutions. Something happens we that makes people realize that the institutions they have invested themselves into really doesn't care about them or is going to hurt them in some way regardless and they get mad. A prime example is the American Revolution. The American colonists considered themselves loyal subjects and citizens of the British Empire and all that came with that status and they were quite convinced for quite a while that King George III was going to protect them. When George III ordered troops into Boston in 1774, in conjunction with some new taxes from Parliament, the colonists finally realized that Parliament didn't consider them British citizens and the King didn't care about them, and quite a lot of people got pissed. This Broken Pedestal effect is, in particular, why George III is so often demonized, despite the fact that he had little to do with the situation.
    • In a literal example of this trope, a statue of George III had been erected after the Stamp Act was repealed in 1770. The statue was torn down later and melted down to make bullets.
  • According to its opponents, one could almost conclude that the entire point of existence of IPN, or Institute of National Remembrance of Poland, is to prove that any authority figure one can think of was either The Mole or outright agent of the Communist regime's Secret Police. The supporters' stance on the matter is that they were, making it a straight case of the trope.
  • Really, because most people are not good role models all the time, it's exceedingly common for people to admire someone for the ideals they espouse, only to discover a huge gaping hole between that and the person's actual conduct. A classic example would be Thomas "inalienable rights" Jefferson owning slaves.
    • Jefferson described slavery as 'the wolf that we held by the ears' during his era... It was a societal fact in those days, but he wished to be rid of it. As he saw it, the only way to get rid of slavery would be to endure dangerous levels of national upheaval... and the Civil War proved him right on that front, as a large part of the purpose of Reconstruction was to remodel the South into a society that didn't use slavery.
    • He also wrote some decidedly racist things about the inferiority of black people.
    • Rousseau wrote an entire book on the education of children. He also put every single one of his children up for adoption.
      • A death sentence, at the time.
  • A frequent complaint against mainstream media outlets is their tendency to build up the latest popular celebrity as a role model or as possessing a strong moral compass regardless of whether the star labels themselves as such. Inevitably when they commit the unforgivable crime of being human and thus make a mistake, the individuals who built them up will often harshly slam them from having fallen from the very pedestal they placed them on. Many gossip mags thrive on the scandals and failures of the famous.
  • Chris Benoit was this to CM Punk.
  • Happened in early 2011 with the renowned paleo artist Gregory Paul. It started out with him (reasonably) rallying against plagiarism on the Dinosaur Mailing List, but in a few days his demands became more... demanding and unreasonable. For the full story, see here.
  • It can be unsettling for Lutherans (and Protestants in general) to learn that Martin Luther was intensely anti-Semitic toward the end of his life. This was largely due to his repeated failed attempts to convert them, and was more a sour grapes situation than anything else. Unfortunately, his sour grapes inspired generations of European theological anti-Semitism.