Top 10 Teachers from Science Fiction and Fantasy Fare

These wise and wonderful leaders made a different in pop culture

The following fictional characters left an indelible mark on their students and, sometimes, us.

10. Professor McGonagall (“Harry Potter’)

She has ample patience, is fair, and is there for the Hogwarts students. She is unwavering in her loyalty to the school as well as fighting the Dark Lord.

9. Severus Snape (‘Harry Potter’)

He has the difficult task of preparing students for the war he knows is coming while playing both sides. Ultimately, he trusts Dumbledore and his love of Lillian Potter

8. Rupert Giles (‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’)

Buffy couldn’t have asked for a better mentor to help her prepare for the challenges ahead. He’s knowledgeable, gets in the trenches with her and is supportive when she’s most in doubt.

7. Professor Charles Xavier (‘The X-Men’)

The X-leader provides protection and a safe haven to students who are outcasts, treats them all with dignity and prepares them for a difficult life ahead. He’s always positive about the future.

6. Obi-Wan Kenobi (‘Star Wars’)

He makes major mistakes as a young teacher with Anakin Skywalker (who goes on to murder billions in the name of justice and peace) and then ultimately gets it right with Luke (who defeats the Empire, brings peace to the Galaxy and balances the Force). Kenobi realizes (too late) that Darth Vader deeply feared loss and death and it results in more loss and death and so he shows Luke, with the ultimate sacrifice, that death is not the end. To let go and let the Force flow from within.

5. Professor Dumbledore (‘Harry Potter’)

Dumbledore never wavers in his support of Harry and even though he can’t tell him everything he will not leave him without resources. The greatest thing about Dumbledore is that he never forgets, even in the chaos of war, that the students are still boys and girls going through their own maturation process. He holds space for them as children and as the future.

4. Yoda (‘Star Wars’)

The Yoda from the first three “Star Wars” installments, or prequels, doesn’t make this list. He’s an average teacher and leader, period. The Yoda from “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” definitely qualifies. Yoda on Dagobah is humble, wise and a sometimes cautious teacher. He’s aware now that his student could easily join the dark side and so tempers his teaching with open doubt. He knows that “The Cave” is a necessary cruelty in preparing Luke for what lies ahead.

3. Ra’s al Ghul (‘Batman Begins’)

There are many versions of Ra’s, so this just pertains to the “Dark Knight” trilogy. Ra’s is Batman’s mentor, and like Yoda, has the unenviable task that all mentors do of unmasking the father to the student. Students can’t move forward and reach their full potential until the King and Queen (father and mother) have been dethroned.

2. Merlin

Merlin is the mentor of Arthur, who unites the kingdoms and rules by right, not just might. The table is round. Honor, courage and justice reign in Arthur’s time as king and that’s in no small part to the teaching of Merlin and his view that humanity can be united and live in harmony with nature.

1. Morpheus (‘The Matrix’)

Morpheus is the brilliant “deprogrammer” who helps his pupils realize that, “what’s up is down, what’s down is up” in the most gentle and humanly way possible. He is painfully aware that the “allegory of the cave” is as much an emotional and spiritual journey as it is cognitive. Cognitive dissonance is a vulnerable time for all students and he tackles it with a bit of humor and patience.

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