the cruel tutor himself, Pai Mei
One of my favorite character types is the gruff/grizzled old mentor. Tough as nails, mean or cranky on the outside but with great knowledge or support to offer when you know them, or when they know - and trust - you.
I've talked about them before but some of my favorites are Pai Mei from Kill Bill, Stick from Daredevil, John from Supernatural and Wade Garrett from Roadhouse. This character is past their prime, allegedly, with their powers (natural or otherwise) in decline, and don't come across as the most pleasant or personable. Actually Wade from Roadhouse is an exception to that: as tough and gruff as he is, he's pretty zen and does his business as a bouncer with a friendly smile, keeping things calm.
blind assassin Stick - just the kind of warm, understanding teacher a young boy needs!
In my life I've known a few of these types. Barflies, hilbillies and scrap collectors who can come across as intimidating, but also have an earthy wisdom to offer. They tend to be free of a lot of the anxieties of younger or more civilized people, and they have an honesty and purity in a way that is inspirational. They have the power to recognize a good person as well, and effortless B.S. detectors.
Oh, and they - and their exaggerated fictional counterparts - have a toughness to them forged from long experience, and have seen things many of us can only imagine. They can - sometimes surprisingly - throw down at a level that leaves other characters - and audiences - slack jawed and stunned!
Sometimes this happens when the Protagonist has to fight them due to some betrayal - the Mentor-turned-villain is not the trope I'm talking about, though. My favorite version is when the Tough Mentor saves the Protagonist's skin! I also like it when the Mentor doesn't die - although that can be a powerful moment of course, and is very common to send the Protagonist into their final challenge.
Wade Garrett's getting old? He's still the best!
It's a wonderful type of character who I always like to see.
What you think of these types of mentors? Got a favorite?
Have a good'n,
Banes at 12:00AM, March 25, 2021
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