Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Top 10 Teachers/Mentors in Fiction

In honor of World Teachers’ Day last Monday (October 5), this is a list of my favorite teachers or mentors in fiction.  For this list, the picks and rankings are based on how likable, inspiring, cool, and effective are they in training, instructing, and impacting their protégés or students.  In addition, they don’t necessarily need to be professional teachers or part of the academe in order to qualify for this list, for the real essence of being a “teacher” goes beyond a mere license or official credentials.

First of all, here are some Honorable Mentions: Iruka Umino (Naruto), Eikichi Onizuka (GTO), Sean Maguire (Good Will Hunting), Obi Wan Kenobi (Star Wars), Jiraiya (Naruto), Biscuit Krueger (Hunter X Hunter), Izumi Curtis (Full Metal Alchemist), Gen Kai/Jeremiah (Yu Yu Hakusho), Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez (Highlander), Gandalf (LOTR), Hiko Seijūrō XIII (Samurai X), Mr. and Mrs. Friedrich Bhaer (Little Men, Jo’s Boys), Dewey Finn (School of Rock), Minerva McGonagall (Harry Potter)

Now, for the top 10…


Robin Williams played another notable mentor character in Good Will Hunting (as Sean Maguire), but I like his character on Dead Poets Society, John Keating, much more.  Through his English lessons, Keating inspires his students to “seize the day” (carpe diem) and not settle with mediocre lives.  He’s on this list, essentially on that alone.  Carpe diem has become somewhat of an emphatic philosophy to everyone, not only to his students in the story, but to those who have seen the movie as well.


It’s impossible not to like Giles.  Everyone who loves Buffy the Vampire Slayer can’t help but to adore this nerdy but amiable Watcher.

Giles possesses an extensive, encyclopedic knowledge that permits him to effectively train and instruct Buffy in being a Slayer.  In addition, he not only serves as an invaluable advisor to Buffy and the “Scooby Gang”, but as a father-figure as well.

He has a mild-mannered personality, but when there’s a need for violence – especially when it comes to protecting Buffy – he has no reservations of employing it.  He can hold his own in a fight as he possesses some range of fighting skills and some magical aptitude.


Gandalf is objectively the better wizard.  But even though the men, elves, dwarves, and hobbits rely on his wisdom to guide them in saving Middle-Earth from the dire threat of Sauron, I think Dumbledore has a slight edge on him as far as being a mentor is concerned.

Not only is Dumbledore acknowledged in the Harry Potter universe as the most powerful wizard in the world – rivaled only by the Dark Lord, Voldemort – but he has also proven to be perceptive and wise; devotedly protective of Hogwarts and its inhabitants; and a master strategist.  And Harry Potter benefited greatly from these qualities while being under Dumbledore’s protection and tutelage.

Dumbledore kept Harry safe, and guided him into becoming a capable wizard.  Even after his death, Dumbledore was still making an impact.  Before his demise – something that he arranged in his own terms – he had laid down all the necessary groundwork and components that would direct Harry into fulfilling his heroic destiny.


Master Splinter has different origin stories, depending on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles version.  In some versions, he’s the mutated pet rat of ninja master Hamato Yoshi, and in others, he’s Yoshi himself who was mutated into a man-sized rat.  Regardless of the version, Splinter has always served as the mentor and surrogate father to Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Rafael.  He’s the definitive “zen” martial arts master – consistently calm, profoundly wise, and highly proficient in martial arts, particularly ninjutsu.  

Under his training, the Ninja Turtles have become immensely skillful ninjas themselves.  But whenever they find themselves in a pickle, they can always expect on Splinter to have their backs or to bail them out.


Mr. Miyagi is a U.S. Army veteran, a Medal of Honor recipient, and a karate master – hence, he’s a bona fide badass.  Other than being an expert martial artist, he has also shown to be deeply insightful and philosophical.  Thus, when he encountered and took under his wing a troubled and bullied teenager named Daniel LaRusso (go see the Karate Kid movies for the whole story), he successfully whipped him into shape.  Not only did Daniel learn karate from Mr. Miyagi, but he also learned life principles that helped him into becoming a better person.

Oh, yeah.  Plus points for catching flies with chop sticks.

5.) YODA

Through the Star Wars narrative, Yoda has always been a transcendent adviser/mentor figure.  His many years and great mastery of the Force has venerated him above other Jedi Masters.  He is much respected, and his wise counsels are highly valued.

In the original trilogy, set wherein the Jedi Order has already fallen, he is the one who trained Luke Skywalker into becoming the awesome hero he has turned out being.  Sure, Obi Wan Kenobi is the one who initially trained Luke.  But it can be argued that it was only when Yoda mentored Luke that the latter has completely mastered the ways of the Jedi.


Charles Xavier, one of the most powerful mutant telepaths on Earth, longs for a world where his kind can co-exist harmoniously with humans.  Fueled with this dream, he founded Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, wherein he begun training young mutants and shared them his philosophy.  Though not perfect, many mutants – most of them becoming X-Men or members of mutant superhero teams sympathetic to the X-Men’s cause – owe their lives to Xavier, as he helped them defuse their fears when they first learned of their real identities and powers, provided them a sanctuary and home, trained them in the proper use of their abilities, and gave them a purpose for living.  Many of his former students have become mentors and teachers themselves.


Reborn is a famed hitman and an Arcobaleno – a group of legendary individuals who are experts in their fields that have been transformed into infant form and became guardians of seven magical pacifiers.  He has been commissioned to tutor and train the heir of the Vongola Family, Tsuna Sawada, into becoming a proper Mafia boss.

Reborn is fiercely dedicated in his job.  He cares for nothing more than making Tsuna stronger and more powerful.  Everything else – even any personal benefits or the wellbeing of others – is secondary to it.  Thus, throughout the manga/anime series, in every circumstance or challenge that is encountered, he would make sure to make use of it in improving Tsuna and his Vongola family.


Yankumi, as she’s affectionately called by her students, has already been featured in a few of my past lists.  This yakuza heiress prefers to be a teacher than inherit the “family business.”  With great patience and enthusiasm, she manages to touch her trouble-making students with her genuineness and dedication, and inspire them into becoming better individuals.  Moreover, trained in martial arts due to her background, she is capable of kicking the butts of anyone that would dare harm his students.


Like Yankumi, Kakashi has been in several of my past lists.  It can’t be helped since he’s just an awesomely multi-faceted, complex fictional character.  Part of what makes him interesting and appealing is being a terrific mentor.  He’s the quintessential “cool teacher” character.

He is very intelligent and well-rounded, but he’s not the intimidating kind that people around him would have a hard time approaching.  He is calm, cordial, and relatable.  He has never been keen of receiving personal glories, but delights in building up those that are put under him and emphasizing the supreme value of being a team.  Hence, he is as much liked as he is respected.

No comments: