The world of sci-fi is full of hulking heroes but these shining lights of science fiction didn’t get where they are today without a little help. Most had their knowledge and mad skills passed down to them by an older and more learned elder; though they maybe old, these teachers and nurturers hold the key to legacies much greater than our own so deserve our recognition and respect…
Ramirez (real name, Tak Ne) didn’t have the best start in life: after being run down by a runaway street cart, he was banished from his city – on the plus side he did become immortal. Wondering the globe, he clashed with many hardened soldiers, and even fought under the Spartans for a spell. By 1541 he was living in Spain and working as the chief Metallurgist to King Charles V before he sought out the Highlander and taught him the rules of the Immortals, warning him about the Kurgan, who ironically returns to claim Ramirez’s life and as well as his head. Highlander, Connor MacLeod, buries his mentor but retains his Katana sword. No tears, though, as Ramirez is resurrected in 2024AD to help his young charge once again.
Franchise: Starship Troopers
Mentor to: Juan Rico
One-armed history teacher Mr Rasczak goes from classroom disciplinarian to battlefield general in one foul swoop but is just as comfortable in both roles. Fitted out with an artificial, robotic arm, he becomes the leader of the ‘Roughnecks’ and leads his young troops in the fight against the Bug forces. A tough exterior is eventually broken by Rico when he slam-dunks a bomb into a mammoth bug, leading to his eventual promotion and a bond with the grizzled platoon leader. It’s just a shame the relationship between student and mentor doesn’t last long, as Rasczak dies in battle trying to recover two wounded soldiers. Lieutenant we salute you.
Also known as ‘Jaga the wise’, this elder warrior was once regarded as the greatest of all the ThunderCats. Based on the Jaguar, he is an advisor and protector of the lord’s family, and it was revealed that it was Jaga who gathered the nobles of the ThunderCats to take Lion-O and the eye of Thundera to a safe haven. However, due to his age and battered body, he did not survive the journey to Third Earth but like fallen Jedi, Jaga does return in spirit form (often only seen by Lion-O at first) to offer advice and guidance. Jaga was once the keeper of the Sword of Omens and was a brave warrior, which makes him the perfect choice to mentor Lion-O. A little time spent with Snarf wouldn’t go amiss either.
“With great power comes great responsibility” – never a truer word has been spoken and it’s the ethos that Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, lives by. Adopted father of Peter, Uncle Ben is tragically killed at gunpoint by an assailant Spidey failed to pursue – a source of great inner turmoil for the webslinger. Along with Aunt May, Ben helps to instil Peter with the sensibilities required to be an honourable and just superhero. One of the few comic characters to actually ‘stay dead’, Ben often appears in flashbacks, providing moral guidance whenever it is needed. More than just a parental figure, without Ben would there still be a Spider-Man?
First Patrick Stewart and now Anthony Head – why do British guys make the best mentors? Because we know it all, that’s why. Despite coming from a long line of Watchers, it was never Giles’s dream to enter into the family business, in fact, he admits that he actually wanted to be a fighter pilot or a green grocer, but that wouldn’t be nearly as exciting as watching an adolescent girl kick endless vampire ass. After excepting his calling as a Watcher, Giles dropped out of Oxford University and began to explore dark magic before meeting a certain Buffy Summers, whom he begins training for her future as a Slayer. Never far from Buffy’s side, Giles and Summers swiftly establish a father/daughter relationship with Rupert using his immense knowledge of demonology and Slayer combat to keep her safe. Fluent in several languages and fairly mild mannered, he also has a dark side, exposed when he viciously beat Angelus with a bat and tried to set him on fire. A friend and confident to Buffy, she would have never released her true Slaying potential had Giles never walked in to Sunnydale.
From the moment Morpheus shows Mr Anderson just how deep the rabbit hole goes, he becomes his guide to the mixed up computer-generated world known as the Matrix. Teaching Neo to forget what he thinks he knows and trust only in him, Morpheus takes ‘The One’ on a strange journey, which culminates in the end of the human/machine war and the destruction of the Matrix. A spiritual as well as an influential leader, Morpheus is convinced that Neo is, indeed, the one of legend and so tries to protect him at all costs and helps escort him to the ‘Source’ before returning to protect and eventually help free Zion. Skilled in numerous forms of combat and sporting some killer shades, he has to take the title of coolest mentor on our list.
A whacking great ninja rat might not necessarily be your first choice for a mentor but he deserves his place in this list as much as the next man, or wizard, or little frog-thing… oh forget it, he’s a good teacher and that’s all you need to know. Teaching his mutant turtles the way of the ninja, Splinter is both a Sensei and a father figure to the pizza-chomping crime-fighters. Possessing a reputation as big as his move set, Splinter rarely loses a confrontation, as, like master Yoda, he is extremely agile for his advanced years. Raising the mutagen-afflicted turtles from mere hatchlings, he makes a home in the sewer and turns them into Shedder’s worst nightmare. More brains than Krang and more moves than the whole Foot Clan put together, Splinter is one rodent you don’t want to mess with.
The body of Charles Francis Xavier houses one of the world’s most powerful minds. A scientific genius, his high-level telepathy allows him to control and influence peoples’ minds, a trait many would use to do evil but one Professor X only uses to promote peace. Founding Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters, he is a mentor to many and leader of the X-Men, respected by various governments and trusted by other superhero teams, X is an advocate of mutant rights, a trait he installs in all of his students. Despite having a manipulative streak, Professor X has a close relationship with his pupils and super-mutant team, which include the likes of Beast, Cyclops, Iceman and later Wolverine. The ying to Magneto’s yang, Prof X tries to uphold the decency of mutant-kind, devoting his life to protecting humanity from evil mutants as well as safeguarding mutants from human oppression. Smart, sophisticated and solemn, Xavier is very much the brain behind the X-Men’s brawn.
Gandalf the Grey (or white depending on your taste in shades) is leader of the Fellowship Of The Ring and mentor to the hairy-footed folk known as Hobbits. Sharing a strong bond with both Bilbo and Frodo, Gandalf is the archetypal wizard and is everything a good mentor should be: wise, powerful and ever vigilant over his flock. Kind to the young but quick to rebuke folly, Gandalf craves neither power nor praise but attracts both. Battling everything Middle-earth has to throw at him, he is a powerful man – no Balrog, Nazgul or evil eye of Sauron could stand in Gandalf’s way. Taking the likes of Aragorn under his wing, the G-unit helped them all to defeat their demons and fight for freedom, even staging a fearless last stand at Minas Tirith and distracting Sauron’s forces so that his young friend could destroy the ring. Gandalf eventually sails with Frodo and Bilbo to the Undying Lands so, like his legend, he will live on forever.
Not just a mentor to young Jedi-in-the-making Luke Skywalker, Yoda has been an authority figure to Jedi for nearly 900 years. Despite appearing frail and broken when he first showed up in Empire, showdowns in the Star Wars prequels proved that he was once an extremely agile pugilist and possesses Force powers beyond all others. Revered for his wisdom and insight, he served a vital role on the Jedi council and his advice held great weight among his peers. When young Padawans began their first foray into Jedi training they did so under Yoda’s guidance and the little green guy was responsible for training many of the Republic’s greatest warriors. However, his teachings also involved ‘unlearning what you have learned’ and that the Force must be used for knowledge, never attack. Before Yoda became one with the Force, he managed to train Luke and ensure the rebirth of the Jedi order… clever he is.