We’ve seen our fair share of fathers on television and film — and it’s been a pretty rocky road. There’s a reason plenty of our favorite characters have major daddy issues, or that some are suffering from inferiority complexes because their fathers are just too darn cool.
Spurred by Father’s Day, and this pretty thorough but kind of troubling survey of favorite TV and movie dads by ThingsRemembered.com (why is Cliff Huxtable still in the top 3?), we decided to compile our own list of the best dads from the screen — and some of the worst.
NED STARK, GAME OF THRONES
The patriarch of the Stark family was honorable, loving and played by Sean Bean — which of course meant he had to die. But that wasn’t before he was able to instill a sense of heroism and duty in his children (and give us some super sweet scenes with the tomboyish Arya). While that nobility either got his kids killed or was forgotten altogether for the sake of survival, he’s still a better father than the majority of the men in Westeros.
MUFASA, THE LION KING
The coolest lion dad to ever exist, Mufasa taught his irresponsibly son Simba how to rule as a good and just king. Sadly, he was tragically offed by his treacherous brother Scar (this seems to be a pattern with good fathers). But his parenting skills miraculously brought him back as a mirage in order to put Simba on the right path. His best dad status was clear even from beyond the grave.
ATTICUS FINCH, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
The first hot dad. Atticus Finch (played by the glorious Gregory Peck) killed it on the court of law and in the parenting arena. An excellent lawyer and a good man, he taught Scout all about how not to be racist, and was essentially miles beyond the rest of the close-minded town ofMonroeville, Alabama.
DANIEL HILLARD, MRS. DOUBTFIRE
We know he was a kind of immature goof who didn’t have a job, but you can’t deny that Robin Williams’ Daniel Hillard didn’t love his children. Daniel concocted a whole fake persona, cross-dressed and learned how to cook just to spend time with his kids. He was ironically a better father as Mrs. Doubtfire than as himself, but it just makes his best dad level go up higher.
KEITH MARS, VERONICA MARS
Keith is just the greatest dad a teenage private detective could hope for. He knew Veronica was whip-smart and didn’t hold her back in any of her shady dealings, but still cared about her and tried to father her as much as he could. He couldn’t get her the pony she wanted, but he had a killer catch phrase.
DARTH VADER, STAR WARS
It’s hard to be a great dad when you don’t know your kids existed until you kill their father figure/mentor. But Darth Vader doesn’t do a much better job afterward — he tries to bond with son Luke Skywalker by persuading him to join the dark side. Cutting off Luke’s hand was probably the last straw. He does kind of redeem himself in the end, but still, it was a rocky and short-lived relationship.
ANTHONY COOPER, LOST
Conning your son into giving you his kidney is pretty low. Paralyzing him by pushing him out of an eight-story window after he confronts you about it is probably the lowest. Anthony Cooper was the worst dad to John Locke from the moment he met him — luring him in with kindness and golf, while conning him into donating his kidney and ruining Locke’s relationship with his girlfriend.
JACK TORRANCE, THE SHINING
Jack may not be a dull boy, but he sure is a bad dad. Taking his family out to a hotel in the middle of nowhere probably sounded like a good idea at the time, but it ended up being a pretty bad time for Jack and co. He gets possessed (?) by the haunted hotel and tries to kill his wife and kid. Pretty sure that automatically lands you on the worst dads list.
GEORGE BLUTH, SR., ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT
You can have a comedically dysfunctional family without the most dysfunctional patriarch. George Bluth Sr., didn’t hate his kids per say, but he certainly scarred them for life. Teaching them lessons with the help of a one-armed man was effective (and hilarious) but probably a little disturbed. And he left his completely incompetent kids to their own devices by getting arrested. Shame.
How do you foster years of animosity between brothers while giving one of them an insane inferiority complex? By being Odin. We know he takes punishment a little out of hand with his banishment of Thor, but then when he’s confronted by Loki for lying about Loki’s birth parents, he goes into a self-induced coma. What kind of irresponsible parenting is that?! On top of that, when Loki reveals he did everything for his daddy issues, Odin completely rejects him. It’s a wonder Thor’s not more messed up.