What Does “Never Meet Your Heroes” Mean? (Full Explanation)

Throughout our lives, we’ll often hear sayings and adages that people advise us to follow and live by. While we’re all familiar with these sayings, sometimes, we forget to take the time to understand them. Take ‘never meet your heroes,’ for example. What does this mean exactly? Let’s find out.

What Does ‘Never Meet Your Heroes’ Mean?

‘Never meet your heroes’ means exactly what it sounds like. It’s advice to ‘never meet your heroes’ because most of the time, we have put our heroes and idols on such a high pedestal that meeting them exposes us to their weaknesses and imperfections and usually leaves us disappointed.

never meet your heroes meaning

Heroes and idols are people we have personal fantasies and ideas of. They are people we consider heroes because they do something admirable and respectable.

Once we consider someone our hero or our idol, our minds tend to make up an image of them or a fantasy of them having the qualities we’d like to see in someone else. Most often than not, when we haven’t met our heroes, this is all that we see from their facade–the good things and the noble acts.

The thing is, even our idols and heroes are humans, and all humans are not perfect. Once we meet these people whom we once called heroes, we also get to know more of them as a whole, including the bad and the ugly, which everyone has.

But because of the already perfect image we have of these heroes inside our heads, sometimes, seeing their imperfections and mistakes tends to ruin the image we have of them, and it leaves us disappointed and appalled, especially when we don’t have the heart to accept their flaws.

Because of that, it has become a common adage and advice even to ‘don’t meet your heroes’ or to ‘never meet your idols’ because you’ll only be left disappointed and disheartened.

Of course, this isn’t always true, especially if you have the heart to accept your idols and all the good and the ugly. Sometimes, it’s also fun to get to know someone deeper than the facade they tend to show others.

Origin of the Quote ‘Never Meet Your Heroes’

We consider ‘never meet your heroes’ an adage, and like most adages, there’s no origin as to when exactly or who exactly this phrase came from. All we know is that it’s been a saying for a long time. Though non-verbatim, many similar phrases have existed since a few centuries back.

An adage is a saying or a proverb that expresses an experience that is generally true for most people or one that has gained credibility for existing for a long time. Like most adages, ‘never meet your heroes’ is an adage that has no clear origin.

While there is no clear answer as to who said ‘never meet your heroes’ first, the phrase and the many other variations of it have existed since way back.

One of the oldest accounts of the phrase is from ‘Madame Bovary,’ a novel by French writer, Gustave Flaubert. The original French quote goes, ‘Il ne faut pas toucher aux idoles: la dorure en reste aux mains,’ which roughly translates to ‘don’t touch your idols: a little gold always rubs off.’

An article from Madison Magazine, Volume 31, Part 2, entitled ‘Real heroes?’ also mentions the phrase ‘never try to meet your heroes’ which was published in 1989. American writer and musician James McBride has also quoted this phrase.

Some refer to the adage to contradict what it points out. An example is Johnny Depp who said ‘They tell you to be careful because maybe you don’t want to meet your heroes. I’ve met pretty much everyone, and I’ve never been let down.’

Final Thoughts

‘Never meet your heroes’ is a common adage most of us know. What it means is exactly what it’s trying to imply. Because we often make fantasies and perfect images of our heroes inside our minds, meeting them and seeing their flaws may leave us disappointed, thus the advice.