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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.

Fan Works

  • The Metroid: Kamen Rider Generations trilogy has these following examples:


  • 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.
  • Takeshi Hongo/Kamen Rider 1 (Ichigo) is portrayed as this after the end of his series, serving as a role-model to his successor Shiro Kazami/Kamen Rider V3 and to the other subsequent Showa Riders up to Kamen Rider Stronger. Come Kamen Rider Taisen, and later the 2016 Kamen Rider 1 film, Hongo is now a Badass Grandpa, and has met majority of the Heisei Riders, with the most notable examples being Kouta Kazuraba and Takeru Tenkuji. In Kamen Rider Taisen, Hongo challenges Kouta (as well as the Heisei Riders) to prove that he is worthy of being a true Kamen Rider. While in the 2016 film, Hongo lectures Takeru what it means to cherish human life.
  • Ultra Series:
    • Ever since his debut, Ultraman Zero started out as cocky and reckless, but has since mellowed out. After countless battles against Ultraman Belial, Zero has become a role-model for other Ultras that come after him.
    • Ultraman Z: Both Jugglus Juggler and Riku Asakura/Ultraman Geed return and they played a significant role in both Haruki and the titular Ultra's lives. Juggler appears to have become a different person than he used to be, let alone assisting the heroes if he felt doing so and at the same time posing a threat to Haruki and Z if possible. Whereas Riku proves to be as knowledgeable as an Ultra after his ordeal against his father, Ultraman Belial in his home series.
  • Cobra Kai: The returning cast of The Karate Kid sure have changed though...
    • Daniel LaRusso is a straightforward example now that he runs the Miyagi-Do and at the same time is a successful businessman.
    • John Kreese is a Deconstruction. He's already in his 70's but is still the same sociopath that he was in the original films with that same Social Darwinist bully credo he has taken to heart, and his inability to let go of his personal grudges. And his flashbacks of his troubled childhood and the Vietnam War did not help matters either. However, the fourth season plays the trope straight when he consoles Tory, confronting Amanda over his student's firing by explaining the hardships of a parentless child having to fend for herself, reminding Johnny should have trained his son.
    • Terry Silver is another villainous example and easily overshadows his war buddy Kreese. Back in The Karate Kid: Part III, Silver is prone to losing his temper when things didn't go his way. In Cobra Kai, he remains, and always is the calm, charming, collected, manipulative and scheming psychopath that we know about him. Not to mention, he stands out as the most experienced and powerful martial artist in The Karate Kid franchise to this day. Like in Part III, Silver is still proficient at psychological warfare, brute force, and underhanded tactics.

Professional Wrestling

  • Chris Jericho, even at his early 50's, is easily looked up to by current generation of wrestlers, especially while performing in AEW.
  • Triple H has been semi-retired in the squared circle ever since transitioning to executive role in the WWE. Given his accomplishments, it's no wonder he's been looked up to by the NXT roster.
  • Edge, ever since his return in early 2020, shows signs of this. He cuts his promos added with a dose of Tranquil Fury, best exemplified in his feuds with Randy Orton and Roman Reigns.


  • 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.
  • Grand Theft Auto V: Eight years after the game's main storyline, Franklin Clinton returns in The Contract DLC for GTA Online as a major hustler and enterprenur, establishing his agency F.Clinton and Partner, catering to celebrities' need to deal with high-society problems. Of note, Franklin is married to his childhood friend and then-ex girlfriend Tanisha Jackson and had children, as confirmed in one of the missions involving him and Lamar.


  • 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.

Real Life

  • World leaders and political figures by the end of their tenure of their respective government/political position transition back to their private life. They would write down memoirs of their time in office as a means leaving behind their legacy for the next generation to come.
  • Criminals serving time in prison changes their outlook in life, for better or for worse; depending on their choice on the way of turning over a new lease in life and leave behind their life of crime.
  • Growing up in general. And how it changes a person's life and worldview from childhood to adulthood, for better or for worse, and how one can make a difference for the next generation of youth.