Character Archetypes: The Mentor

We’re all familiar with the Mentor Archetype. In fact, I would wager that, aside from the Hero Archetype, this is the one that most of us would identify off the top of our heads next. That may be because the Mentor Archetype is so intricately tied into your classic Hero’s Journey. For every Frodo or Bilbo Baggins, there is a Gandalf. For every Harry Potter, there is a Dumbledore.

Common Aspects of the Mentor Archetype:

  • Acts as a mentor or guide to Hero Archetype character
  • Usually old and wise
  • Introduce Hero to knowledge they will need to complete their quest
  • Typically are not present at the conclusion of the quest
  • Can be either gender

But, for all the commonalities and omnipresence of Mentor Archetypes, there are a lot of variations. Sometimes a Hero character has more than one mentor, or a mentor that leads them toward evil versus good. While most mentors disappear from the narrative from some point (often through death), some are there constantly, especially in an ongoing series (such as Alfred from Batman). Mentors can help with the larger quest or only be present for a smaller side quest.

Additionally, Mentor characters can morph into other archetypes as narratives go on. A Hero may eventually learn more than his original mentor, thus becoming the master (to quote Star Wars) themselves. A mentor may become a good friend over time, moving more into a love interest or sidekick role.

Mentor Archetypes are extremely common across all genres and forms of media. Buffy has Giles, King Arthur has Merlin, Luke has Obi-Wan, Dorothy has Glinda the Good Witch.

Who’s your favorite Mentor Character, Squiders? Can you think of examples where a Mentor character has morphed into another archetypal character?

Next: The Evil Character with a Heart of Gold


One response to this post.

  1. […] Mentor archetype, again, is very common. Almost all archetypal heroes have a mentor who helps them on their way. […]


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