Older and Wiser

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

This character was one of the original protagonists. They hung out, had adventures, and had the Grand Finale with the rest of the cast once the show was cancelled. Now the show has had a Revival, and the character's back, with a twist—they're a generation older than the new cast, and they've come back specifically to help the people who are in the same situation they once faced. This role can also be filled, in a Long Runner, by a character who leaves and comes back after a significant span of time.

Related to The Obi-Wan, though they're less likely to die. (Of course, there's always the possibility of a nasty refrigerator accident...)

Examples of Older and Wiser include:

Anime and Manga

Comic Books

  • The DCU often has Golden Age superheroes filling this role, especially Jay Garrick (the Golden Age Flash) and Max Mercury to Wally West (the Post-Crisis Flash) and Impulse.
  • The X-Men are often shown as teachers to young, teenage mutants—which many of the X-Men were when introduced.


  • Don Diego Vega (Anthony Hopkins), the original Zorro, returns to train Alejandro Murrieta (Antonio Banderas) in The Mask of Zorro.
  • Frenchie from Grease returns to high school (yes, as a student) to be mentor to the next decade's New Transfer Student Michael Carrington in Grease 2.
  • Though only a few years older, Nancy from A Nightmare on Elm Street embodies this trope when she trains a new batch of imperiled kids to fight back against Freddy in Dream Warriors.
  • Obi Wan Kenobi over the course of the Star Wars films, who starts off as an apprentice to Qui Gon Jin, but becomes more of a wise and experienced Jedi master, culminating in him teaching Luke, his former padawan's son, about the Force in the beginning of episode IV. Luke goes through a similar development going from a whiny teenager in episode IV, to a wise, up-and-coming Jedi master himself in episode VI.


  • Henry in The Time Traveler's Wife managed to be an Older and Wiser mentor to himself.
  • Used in each subsequent Tortall series by Tamora Pierce. Especially Alanna (Song of the Lioness) to Kel (Protector of the Small), and George (Song of the Lioness) to Aly (Trickster books).
  • Done interestingly in Robin Hobb's works with Fitz, protagonist of the Farseer trilogy. He's still the narrator and protagonist when he returns fifteen years later for the Tawny Man trilogy, but the heart of the story is his attempts to guide and mentor the adolescent offspring of his old friends. So, for once, the Older and Wiser character remains the main character!
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe has Ferus Olin, who was a contemporary of Anakin in the Jedi Quest series as a teenager, was a young adult and the main character of the Last of the Jedi series, and returned in the Rebel Force books to serve as on-again-off-again mentor to Luke and Leia. He does indeed have a Heroic Sacrifice and a genuinely moving death scene.

Live Action TV

  • Sarah Jane Smith in The Sarah Jane Adventures. Explicitly shown in "Turn Left": In the Doctor-less alternate universe, Sarah Jane takes the Doctor's role in averting a disaster he stopped (or would have stopped) in the episode "Smith and Jones", though she dies in the process.
  • Tommy in Power Rangers Dino Thunder, who returns to superheroing as the team mentor figure after taking seven years off for college, graduate school, a doctorate program, and wildly successful research on superpowered dinosaur cyborgs. It is unknown, but doubtful, if the character slept between his departure in 1997 and return in 2004.
  • Barney Collier from Mission: Impossible appeared in some episodes of the revival series, while his son was one of the main characters (and their actors were father and son, too).
  • Steed in The New Avengers
  • Although Welcome Back, Kotter didn't have any prior show, the character Gabe Kotter was a former student who comes back to his high school alma mater to teach an often unruly group of remedial wiseguys known as the "Sweathogs", of which he was a founding member.
  • Colonel Samantha Carter is promoted from a member of the Five-Man Band in Stargate SG-1 to the leader of the Atlantis Expedition in Stargate Atlantis. The timespan is a bit shorter, but the concept is the same.
  • When Faith first appears in Buffy the Vampire Slayer she's a cynic, a Blood Knight and especially because she is a Slayer she can have and do whatever she wants. Now she tries to teach other Slayers that With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility and With Great Power Comes Great Insanity, is on the lookout for those who might go Knight Templar, and is insightful enough to know that Angel created monsters, and tears himself up over having to live with them.

Tabletop Games


  • Although still technically the main character, Oedipus of Oedipus at Colonus has completely transformed from his portrayal in Oedipus the King and provides a contrast with the rest of the cast which is younger.

Video Games

  • Ryu and Ken in Street Fighter III, and Terry Bogard in Garou: Mark of the Wolves
  • Solid Snake in Metal Gear Solid 2, since he'd become so Badass that it could no longer be constrained by the limits of gameplay.
  • The Moon Angels in Galaxy Angel II.
  • Dekar of Lufia II joins the party in Ruins of Lore, but calling him wiser may be a bit of a stretch...
  • Bleu (Deis) from the Breath of Fire series, especially in Breath of Fire II (provided that you can find her...) where she proves to be one of the best spellcasters in the game.
  • Averted in Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn in which the cast of Path of Radiance all make appearances as major characters and despite some maturity still have their own problems and issues to deal with.
    • Finn and Oifey, from Genealogy of the Holy War, are straighter examples ; you had them in the first generation as young apprentices, in the second generation they are back as mentors to Leaf and Nanna, and Celice and the other children at Tilnanogue respectively. Levn, who comes back as Celice's strategist, also counts, though this may be because of his resurrection and Laser-Guided Amnesia
  • Dante in Devil May Cry 4.
  • Phoenix Wright in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. Some argue that this transition wasn't entirely natural, however...
  • The main character of Dig Dug, to the main character of Mr. Driller.
  • Rydia from Final Fantasy IV. She joins the party as a child, and when the ship your party is on gets destroyed, she is taken to the Land of Monsters, where time flows faster than in the regular world. When she rejoins the party later in the game, she is a fully-grown adult, complete with additional powers.
  • Auron in Final Fantasy X would fit this trope perfectly, except we see it backwards. Near the beginning, he emerges from obscurity to join the younger crew and teach them what's what, but only as the game progresses do we gradually learn what happened the first time around.
  • Dark Forces/Jedi Knight series hero Kyle Katarn becomes the mentor to new player character Jaden Korr in Jedi Academy He's also the Final Boss if you turn to The Dark Side, and actually puts up one hell of a fight.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, the Hero's Shade teaches Link several advanced sword techniques, and there are multiple nods at him being a previous Link (eventually confirmed to be the one from Ocarina of Time).
    • Similarly, Ganondorf himself returns older and wiser in The Wind Waker, now sporting a surprisingly effective Beard of Evil, having become much more calm and calculating than he was in his youth, preferring to control events from the shadows as opposed to in everyone's face with his magic and hordes of evil. Fittingly, however, he reverts to his fury of the old days during the final battle.
  • Sonny Bonds, the hero of the original Police Quest Sierra point-and-click adventure games, is your SWAT unit's commanding officer in the tactical First-Person Shooter SWAT 4.
    • For the record, that means the last time we saw him, he was a Detective Sergeant in Homicide. A minimum of ten years later (due to physical SWAT requirements), he has been promoted to the rank of Captain. At least. One hell of a meteoric rise.
  • Liese in Atelier Annie. Not that you'd be expected to know. She's also a kind of Trickster Mentor, since she's testing and spying on Annie for her grandfather.
  • Leo Stenbuck from Zone of the Enders, returning in The Second Runner less mopey and with added levels in Badass.
  • Flik and Viktor in Suikoden II.
  • The Donkey Kong series has Cranky Kong, who was the Donkey Kong from the original arcade games. Unfortunately, while he's older and wiser, he's so much so that he's more Grumpy Old Man than anything else.
  • Peppy Hare, from Star Fox, is seen as this, having been part of the original Star Fox Team. He even gives up piloting his arwing after Star Fox Adventures.
  • Soul Calibur has at least two examples:
    • Siegfried changes from an arrogant bandit from a knightly background who unknowingly murders his own father and winds up letting Soul Edge turn him into the next Nightmare, to a regretful and determined paladin-like figure determined to redeem himself even in the face of horrific crimes and almost certain death.
    • Seong Mi-na is the same age as Siegfried, and starts out as a naive and Hot-Blooded girl. In later installments, Yun-Seong looks up to her as a Cool Big Sis, and her father remarks that she has grown.


  • Clark from Shape Quest, who complains that they feel he's way too old for adventuring, despite being 35.

Web Original

Western Animation

  • A now old and retired Bruce Wayne in the futuristic Batman Beyond.
  • Egon in Extreme Ghostbusters (while his three colleagues made a cameo Not as You Know Them).
  • A rare villainous example is Ravage from Beast Wars. One of the last surviving original Decepticons from the era of the Cybertronian Wars (a.k.a. the original cartoon), he's moved up in the world since we saw him last, and he learned a thing or two from his millenia of war.
  • In the Futurama film Bender's Big Score, Lars Fillmore is an older and more mature version of Fry who managed to get sent to the past and had his features accidentally changed to become near-unrecognizable.
  • Porky Pig was a child in the earliest of Looney Tunes shorts, and as such he was a naive and awkward kid, his stuttering far more painful sounding and annoying.[1] It wasn't until around 1937 that he started to be portrayed as an adult, the stuttering became funny, and he became the Only Sane Toon (more or less) among the LT cast.
  1. This is even worse when you discover his voice was being done by a man named Joe Dougherty, who had an actual speech impediment. Watch the cartoons knowing that, and you really feel sorry for poor Joe.