Rage Against the Mentor

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.


Harry: Do you - do you think I want to - do you think I give a - I DON'T CARE WHAT YOU'VE GOT TO SAY! I don't want to hear anything you've got to say!

Dumbledore: You will. Because you are not nearly as angry with me as you ought to be. If you are to attack me, as I know you are close to doing, I would like to have thoroughly earned it.

Curse that Cryptic Conversation-loving Trickster Mentor! His insistence on being vague and mysterious to look "cool" is costing lives because Poor Communication Kills. Well, the hero isn't going to stand for it! He's Calling the Old Man Out on his vagueness with cries of "I want answers now!" or "You lied to me!"

Whether the mentor did it because he's trying to protect the hero from knowledge he doesn't need to know, or would expose him to danger, or reveals the good guys as bad, the net effect will actually be to endanger the hero and hamper his attempts to capture the villain. Despite the name, this trope can refer to any ally of the hero who gets called out for withholding important information.

Expect the aloof mentor to defend his arguments by saying You Are Not Ready, or that he told the hero "what he needed to know, not what he wanted to know", or even that "From a Certain Point of View" he did tell the truth. But if the mentor doesn't immediately dish out some good Backstory or Exposition after being called out, then his protégé will turn his back on the mentor for breaking his trust and (believe it or not) being incredibly disrespectful and irresponsible with the lives of others.

When the Mentor does this to their protégé, it's What the Hell, Hero?.

Rage Against the Mentor is the usual outcome of being mentored by The Svengali, though this does also depend on how bright and/or strong-willed the mentee is.

Examples of Rage Against the Mentor include:


  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: The new Darker and Edgier Judai threatens to flush his Spirit Advisor's, er, spirit down the toilet unless he gets some straight, concrete answers.
  • Samurai 7's Katsushiro does this after having been disillusioned by his mentor, who he had previously been holding up as a paragon of samurai virtues.
  • Resident Badass Normal Teana from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS does this to her mentor Nanoha (and almost drags Subaru into it, as well) when she grows frustrated of seemingly not making any progress because Nanoha "deliberately holds her back". Of course, this being Nanoha, it is resolved in a very heartwarming fashion and Nanoha's training eventually proves good enough for Teana to take out three Numbers at once without any backup, whereas most other named characters have trouble taking them on one on one.
    • But not before the mother off all "befriendings" where Teana, a sixteen-year old orphan, mind you, gets dressed down by Vita, blasted into unconsciousness by Nanoha, removed from active duty, and then punched in the face by Signum.
      • Maybe so, but Tea is only three years younger than Nanoha! And the blast from Nanoha is in the middle of a mock battle where Tea is trying to blast Nanoha, and goes too far. Also, Nanoha has been working at this level for ten years, since she was only nine (and as yet untrained), and just might know what she is doing...
  • Code Geass C.C. does this quite a bit in regards to the nature of Geass and her own past. Then again, Lelouch doesn't try hard to crack her most of the time, since he's busy with other things. When he does try to make her talk, C.C. usually gets out of it by reminding Lelouch she's his trustworthy co-conspirator. In reality she's trying to use him to get out of her curse of immortality.
  • In Prétear, Himeno demands that the Leafe Knights tell her the origins of the Princess of Disaster. When they eventually break down and tell her the truth, she's so stunned by the backstory that her confidence drops drastically and for a time she can't even use her powers—which just proves the Knight's reservations in the first place.
  • In Katekyo Hitman Reborn, a villainous example is found with Xanxus towards the Ninth. Being an extremely violent and ill-tempered Spoiled Brat, he overreacted to the discovery of the Ninth not telling him that he's actually not the Ninth's child, and therefore can't become the next Vongola boss. To the point where he readily tricks Tsuna into accidentally killing the Ninth with little remorse or regret.
  • In Monochrome Factor, Akira's attempts to find out more about the Shin and kokuchi are frequently rebuffed by Shirogane until Lulu reveals to Akira that Shirogane is a King of the Shadow. He then forces Shirogane to reveal that Akira is the reincarnation of the King of the Rei, or light.

Fan Works

  • The four in With Strings Attached are not pleased when the Fans (mostly Jeft) refuse to tell them important things, like, for example, why did George's ring stop working for a while? They do a fair bit of protesting against this behavior. Luckily for them, Shag takes their side and overrules Jeft's attempts to be mysterious.
    • Of course, he's being mysterious because mystery makes for a better game.
  • Ponies Make War: Once they're reunited, Twilight really tears into Celestia, calling her out how she manipulated Twilight to make her into the perfect soldier. Celestia tries to mend things between them, but Twilight points out that the way she's doing it is just another manipulation.


  • Kung Fu Panda: Tai Lung feels betrayed by Master Shifu as the latter did nothing when he wasn't chosen as the Dragon Warrior, despite training Tai Lung from childhood for that.
  • Megamind: Titan becomes enraged at Mega Mind's refusal to join him as a crime team, dating the woman Titan is stalking and "Lying to Space-Step-Mom!"
  • All the Presidents Men: After Woodward and Bernstein screw something up and lose credibility, Woodward demands that his source (Deep Throat) start revealing real information.
  • Star Wars's Obi-Wan: "So what I told you was true, From a Certain Point of View."
    • In the original novelization, Yoda states before his death that "Obi-Wan would have told you (that Vader is your father) long ago, had I let him...", which renders Luke's railing at Obi-Wan immediately thereafter somewhat redundant.
    • In the chronologically earlier trilogy, Anakin throws tantrums (and worse) because he thinks that Obi-Wan is withholding important things when he isn't. (Though considering what Anakin slowly becomes during the last two movies, maybe Obi-Wan (and Qui-Gon, for that matter) should have withheld a few things.
  • Subverted in The Matrix movies. Neo and Morpheus realize that the Oracle has been holding out on them and ask questions but they're not angry because her telling or not telling them things is usually for the better.
  • Rocky In the first movie Balboa lashes out at Mickey, but they quickly make up and Mickey helps him "not be a bum".
  • Mr. Furious gets somewhat sick of The Sphinx's gobbledygook in Mystery Men and manages to corner him:

Sphinx: Your temper is very quick, my friend. But until you learn to master your rage...
Mr. Furious: Your rage will become your master? That's what you were going to say, right? Right?
Sphinx: ...Not necessarily.

  • In Dragonheart, the hero spends years training the prince to be an honorable knight, only to discover years later than the prince was just a bully who couldn't care less about honor when the prince attacks him.
  • Happens in the third film of the Transformers Film Series. Sentinel Prime, Optimus' mentor and father figure, turns out to be a traitor in league with the Decepticons and trying to enslave humanity to rebuild Cybertron, going against everything he taught Optimus. Optimus confronts him about it, but Sentinel merely replies with his Well-Intentioned Extremist beliefs that rebuilding Cybertron is more important than humanity's freedom. Optimus doesn't accept that and ultimately executes Sentinel for what he's done, though it's not easy for him.


  • Thorn has a very violent reaction to Gran'ma Ben's explanation of her past in Bone, culminating in a two-and-a-half book suicidal streak that was only halted by Fone Bone and Smiley Bone's You Are Not Alone speech.
  • In Batman, every single freakin' Robin. And most of the Batgirls at some stage. Jason Todd, of course, is first on the leaderboard ("Why in God's name is he still alive?!"). It's especially poignant since Batman is also a father figure to most of them.
    • Subverted in one issue of The Outsiders. Dick is furious at Bruce for what he believes was an attempt to exert control over the new Outsiders by providing them funding through a subsidiary of Wayne Industries and secretly providing Arsenal with intel. Bruce explains that he really was just trying to help the new team by funding them—they needed money, and he has money. Bruce just didn't want Dick to feel like he owed him anything. Dick calms down, but says it was still wrong of Bruce to pass on intel to Arsenal without telling him. Bruce responds by telling Dick that he hasn't spoken to Arsenal for over a year. Dick immediately calls Arsenal to warn him, only to find out that Arsenal is currently meeting with "Batman". Woops, I mean Deathstroke.


  • Harry Dresden does it to his mentor Ebenezer McCoy in The Dresden Files, specifically in Blood Rites. The catalyst is the reaction McCoy and a mercenary named Kincaid have upon realizing that Dresden has recruited both of them for an attack on a bunch of Black Court vampires. Later, Harry confronts McCoy, who tells him the truth about his job -- that he's the Blackstaff, whose job is basically to do the White Council's dirty work. That pretty much means ignoring all of the principles and values the White Council upholds, and the resulting shock to Harry causes him to shun McCoy for at least three books.
    • Not only that, but Harry's been the mysterious mentor for an awful lot of people, especially Murphy, and he never lets himself forget how much trouble they could avoid if he only told them the forbidden Lovecraftian information.
    • In Proven Guilty, Harry and Ebenezer take steps towards a reconciliation a couple days after Molly's trial, when Harry realizes that someone had to have spoken on his behalf during his own trial, despite the fact that Ebenezer claimed not to have been present.
  • Harry Potter tries this on Dumbledore a few times.
    • He really lets Dumbledore have it in The Order of the Phoenix, after an entire year's worth of bad communication ends in the worst way possible. Dumbledore recognizes that not giving Harry the information was "an old man's mistake", and asks for the chance to explain just how badly he messed up.
    • Subverting/averting this then becomes the plot for Harry Potter. Sure, Dumbledore didn't spell it all out immediately, but he was giving Harry more help and equal treatment than several other vague mentors put together. If it hadn't been for his love of the Gambit Roulette, he might have even revealed it all to Harry by book's end.
      • More so during the exposition scene in the last book, when Harry confronts him with the fact that even then, there were still things being kept from him. Harry doesn't need to scream here; Dumbledore's guilt is written plainly on his face, to the point where he breaks down and cries.
  • Fairly early on in David Eddings' Belgariad, Garion rages against his 'Aunt' Polgara, whom he's recently discovered to actually be a centuries-old sorceress of nigh-unsurpassed wisdom and power, who quite clearly isn't actually his aunt... Granted, there really IS a lot of rathersignificant things she isn't telling him, for reasons that aren't really explained anywhere in the series itself (it's All There in the Manual, though, or in this case, the stand-alone Polgara The Sorceress faux-biographical tome), but he was still somewhat out of line, claiming that lives of 'ordinary people' like him were mere pawns and playthings to her. Especially considering that she's spend the last several centuries personally safeguarding his line...
    • And technically she was his aunt, just substantially more times removed than he previously thought.[1]
  • The mysterious and highly ambiguous Deth in the Riddle Master Trilogy by Patricia Mc Killip, who borders on being a Treacherous Advisor.
  • Deus Ex Machina Mentor the Arisian is the target of wails of angst from one of his advanced students in Children of the Lens, when she's told that the breeding programme she's the ultimate expression of makes her "...in some ways, even less human than I am myself...".
  • In Quantum Gravity, Lila gets a bit of this against Sarasilien, when she finds out that he was lying to her about quite a lot, the tipping point being the fact that he lied about his name. She gets over it as much as she can when he readily admits to lying to her and says that, though he cannot tell her everything, he can tell her when there is something he can't tell her.
  • In the Hunger Games, Katniss spends a lot of the third book angry with Haymitch.

Live Action TV

  • A stellar example of this appears in Babylon 5, in the third-season episode "Interludes and Examinations." After a season and a half of evasions and mysteries from Dungeon Master Kosh, Captain Sheridan snaps, and refuses to back down until Kosh gives them the help they need, ignoring all dire warnings and accusations of impudence. This example plays out with more subtlety than most, as neither Sheridan nor Kosh is definitively wrong in this confrontation: it's portrayed more as a conflict between two characters of strong will, who think they know what is best, and a case can be made for both of them. And then Kosh dies. Ouch.
    • It gets worse. Kosh wasn't giving the help because he knew that the MINUTE the help was given, he would be murdered.
  • Merlin: Merlin seems to have had little enough patience with the Great Dragon throughout, but in the last episode, he turns on the Dragon for good after learning that its sole motive in helping him was to secure its own release.
    • Well, considering what the Dragon does after being released, his hesitation is more than justified. Even more, when Merlin asks the Dragon to promise not to hurt Camelot, the reptile refuses to promise anything.
  • Mulder confronted Deep Throat about this in the first season finale of The X-Files. Of course, Deep Throat's motives were always open to interpretation.

Tabletop Games

  • In the backstory of Warhammer 40,000, the primarch Alpharius of the Alpha Legion rebelled against the Imperium mainly out of resentment and anger towards Roboute Guilliman, his brother and teacher who looked down on Alpharius' dishonorable tactics. Also possibly a factor in Horus' rebellion against the Emperor.
    • Arhra's rebellion against the other Asur was also strongly implied to be inspired by this trope.

Video Games

  • Subverted/averted by Auron in Final Fantasy X, who was always forthright about the nature of Sin. It was Tidus who didn't want to hear it or realize it, so Auron never went out of his way to cram it down Tidus' throat (though Auron did goad him with the knowledge to slowly force him to accept it).
  • In Persona 3, after doing some research into a mysterious explosion at their school ten years prior to the game's setting, Yukari Takeba calls Mitsuru Kirijo, a fellow member of SEES and resident Ojou, on knowing more than she's letting on about the Shadows. Mitsuru reveals that the Kirijo Group, her family's corporation, had been conducting secret experiments on Shadows using the school as a secret laboratory. The experiment went out of control, and the resulting explosion dispersed the Shadows across the city. Mitsuru tries to justify her withholding of this information by saying that it "never seemed relevant."
  • In the Knights of the Old Republic games, and other accompanying media, this is pretty much the catalyst for Jedi involvement in the Mandalorian War- and thus, the reason for the Jedi Civil War.
  • In Kingdom Hearts 358 Days Over 2, it is Axel's evasiveness about Xion and Roxas' natures that directly leads to Roxas' leaving the Organization. For the most part, Axel keeps the information under his hat because he believes it to be something Roxas really doesn't need to know. That doesn't stop it from undermining Roxas' trust in him, though.
    • Done again in Birth By Sleep: if Master Eraqus had simply told Terra that "Xehanort is evil and he's using Ven to further his plot" instead of outright attacking Ven while Terra watched, the two of them might not have had to fight each other, and unfortunately, this Rage Against the Mentor went a bit farther than most did. To his credit, he does seem to realize he's made a mistake and both of them are immediately regretful.

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • Used by the kids in the Dungeons and Dragons episode "The Dragon's Graveyard", when despite their mentor's protests (they're planning to... ahem, take care of Venger once and for all), they get some straight answers from Dungeon Master regarding Tiamat and their own weapons.
  • Speedy Red Arrow in Young Justice vehemently called out the Justice League (by extension, Green Arrow) and quits, seeing that the Justice League didn't take him seriously and treated him only as a sidekick. Robin, Kid Flash and Aqualad did a minor one, where they threatened to leave also. The League relented and Young Justice was born.
    • However, as of the season one finale, Red Arrow completely goes back on this when it is revealed that he was being subliminally pushed by Cadmus programming to act this way. It is also unknown wether or not the real Roy would act this way, because the Red Arrow on the show at the moment is a clone of him.
    • Aqualad/Kaldur'ahm in the second season, against Aquaman, for having lied to him about the identity of his true father, Black Manta, for years, which plays part in his Face Heel Turn.
  • In the DCAU, Dick Grayson quitting as Robin and becoming Nightwing instead was a result of one of these. Although the two patched up things somewhat later, Batman Beyond implies he's still somewhat bitter about this, seventy years later.
  1. Specifically, Polgara is his great-great-great-etc. grand-aunt, being the twin sister of Garion's ancestor Beldaran from circa 3000 years up his family tree.