Every Dad Has His Day: Fiction’s Father Figures

016Here in the U.S., we celebrated Father’s Day on Sunday. (Happy Father’s Day again, Dad! And I hope all of you other dads had a good one too.) Though the day has passed, in honor of Father’s Day, here’s a list of cool dads or surrogate dads in fiction. This list is by no means exhaustive. I don’t have enough room to list every great dad in the history of fiction books, shows, or movies. Most of these are characters of recent vintage. So please do not yell at me for leaving out an era. I wanted to include dads from various media and eras. While they aren’t perfect by any means, they are beloved. To avoid too many spoilers, I listed their names, rather than elaborate on why most of them made this list. Got a favorite? Who would you add to the list?

Sirius Black, Harry Potter’s godfather in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling (played by Gary Oldman in the movies)
Arthur Weasley, father of Ron, Ginny, Fred, George, Percy, Bill, and Charlie in the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling (played by Mark Williams in the movies)
Atticus Finch, father of Jem (not seen below) and Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (played by Gregory Peck in the film)

Hans Hubermann, surrogate father of Liesel, in The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (played by Geoffrey Rush in the film)
Gru (voiced by Steve Carell), father of Margo, Edith, and Agnes in Despicable Me (2010) and Despicable Me 2 (2013). Even a supervillain can grow to love a child.
Eduardo Perez (El Macho) (voiced by Benjamin Bratt), father of Antonio in Despicable Me 2 (2013). He may be a villain, but he loves his son. And have you seen this dude dance? Me gusta mucho.
Tenzin (voiced by J. K. Simmons), father of Jinora, Ikki, Meelo, and Rohan (not seen below) in The Legend of Korra series (2012—2014).

King Théoden, father of Théodred; uncle and surrogate father of Éomer and Éowyn in The Two Towers and The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien (played by Bernard Hill in the 2002 and 2003 films)
Lawrence Fletcher (voiced by Richard O’Brien), father of Ferb, stepfather of in Candace and Phineas in Phineas and Ferb (2007—2015).
Tonraq (voiced by James Remar), father of Korra in The Legend of Korra series (2012—2014). He certainly wins a prize for being a hot dad. 🙂


Korra with her parents, Tonraq and Senna

Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz (voiced by Dan Povenmire), father of Vanessa in Phineas and Ferb (2007—2015). Though a villain, he too is a caring dad.
Elrond, father of Elladan, Elrohir, and Arwen in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series by Tolkien
The Great Prince of the Forest (voiced by Fred Shields), surrogate dad of Bambi in Bambi (1942)

The Abhorsen, father of Sabriel in Sabriel by Garth Nix
Mr. Ping (voiced by James Hong), adoptive father of Po in Kung Fu Panda (2008) and Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)
Philip Banks (played by James Avery), father of Hilary, Carlton, and Ashley; uncle to Will in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990—1996)

George Banks (played by Steve Martin), father of Annie in the Father of the Bride (1991)
Iroh (voiced by Mako Iwamatsu and Greg Baldwin), father of Prince Lu Ten, uncle to Zuko in Avatar: The Last Airbender series (2005—2008)
The Samurai Lord (voiced by Keone Young and Sab Shimono), father of Samurai Jack in Samurai Jack (2001—2004)
Ward Cleaver (played by Hugh Beaumont) father of Theodore/the Beaver and Wally in Leave It to Beaver (1957—1963)
Dr. Eli Vance (voiced by Robert Guillaume), father of Alyx, in the Half-Life games (Valve)
George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart), father of Zuzu, Tommy, Pete, and Janie in It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Honorable mention goes to Homer Simpson (voiced by Dan Castellaneta), father of Bart, Lisa, and Maggie, and Ned Flanders (Harry Shearer), father of Rod and Todd, in the long-running animated series, The Simpsons (1989— ).

Dads Who Seriously Need Parenting Lessons from the Dads Above
Anakin Skywalker, father of Luke and Leia in the Star Wars movies. An otter can teach this dude a thing or two.
Firelord Ozai, father of Prince Zuko and Princess Azula in Avatar: The Last Airbender series (2005—2008)


See that burn mark on Zuko (left)? Guess who gave it to him.

King Lear in King Lear by William Shakespeare
King Leck, father of Bitterblue in Kristin Cashore’s Seven Kingdoms series. As creepy a dad as ever breathed.
Denethor, father of Boromir (not shown below) and Faramir in The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien (books and movies; in the 2003 movie directed by Peter Jackson, Denethor was played by John Noble)


Someone is not getting a Father’s Day card. . . .

Mac Dara, father of Cathal, in Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters series
Unalaq (voiced by Adrian LaTourelle), father of Desna and Eska in The Legend of Korra series (2012—2014)
Lucius Malfoy, father of Draco in the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling (played by Jason Isaacs in the films). Though he was a decent enough father to Draco, his unpleasantness and Death Eater status earned him a spot on this list.

If you have a minute, please enjoy this video of an otter who was voted Best Dad.

Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch found at searchingformymrdarcy.blogspot. Tenzin found on pinterest.com. The Great Prince of the Forest and Bambi found at fanpop.com. Denethor (John Noble) with Faramir (David Wenham) found at councilofelrond.com. Firelord Ozai and Zuko found at avatar.wikia.com. Gru and his daughters from bonclass.blogspot.com. Korra and her parents from w3rkshop.com. James Avery and Will Smith from tuneblaze.co.uk.

36 thoughts on “Every Dad Has His Day: Fiction’s Father Figures

  1. From the books that I have read, Atticus Finch gets my vote for best Dad. Worst Dad is Mac Wisdom in the book Pig Iron by Benjamin Myers.

  2. To be fair to Anakin, he never really got the chance to be a father. Never knew about the kids until after one stole the plans to the Death Star and the other blew it up. Also, I would put Peter Griffin from ‘Family Guy’ on the ‘needs work’ list. Twice.

    I would add to the good father list: Halt from ‘Ranger’s Apprentice’, Uncle Ben from ‘Spider-Man’, Alfred Pennyworth from ‘Batman’, Godzilla (has a kid in the old movies), Bobby from ‘Supernatural’ (Does John go on the ‘needs work’ list?), and I’m realizing how often father’s don’t turn up alive in fantasy books. Wow. Total blank outside of a few series.

    • Great additions. I started to add Alred, but realized that I was already pushing 1 a.m. So I left him off. Godzilla would have been fun too. Peter Griffin–definitely needs work.

      Anakin’s issue is that he turned to the dark side. He could have had a good life with Padme. He didn’t need to kill those younglings either. Palpatine made a fool of him.

      I had trouble with fantasy dads too. So many were dead! I guess the chosen one trope is the culprit here.

      • Somewhere along the line, all of the Griffins became total degenerates. Not sure when or why that happened.

        Palpatine manipulated everyone. He really was good at that. No idea why he got sloppy in ‘Return of the Jedi’.

      • I think Lucas just wanted to end the series. Or maybe he was biding his time until the technology he wanted could be developed. I’m glad Palpatine is gone. I’m looking forward to a new menace.

      • I haven’t read the books. So that’s like in the Dune series where they kept bringing back Duncan Idaho. At least I wanted Duncan brought back. If Palpatine returns, they’re going to have to do something more with his character. The fact that he was Sidious was too obvious.

      • If I remember correctly, which is easily not the case, I think they brought him back as a younger clone. I’ll have to ask my Star Wars knowing friends about that one. The prequels didn’t even seem to try and make any surprises.

      • I could see a younger clone working. Palpatine was never really all that interesting to me even with all of his power. I preferred how the Clone Wars series handled Dooku’s character. He was much more ruthless. And then with Asajj Ventriss–that was a great combination.

      • I think Palpatine worked best in the originals. He was the vicious master of Darth Vader. There was a cunning to him in those movies. I think the prequels revealed too much.

      • Sigh. There is a lot about the prequels that rubs us all the wrong way. When Lucas first announced that more movies would be made, I was disappointed that he went back in time, rather than forward. I’m glad Abrams will move the series back on course.

      • The thing with Lucas is that he really hasn’t been doing anything else. I’m hard pressed to think of anything other than Star Wars and Indiana Jones with him. Both great franchises, but I think those are his legacies. Hard for him not to fiddle, I guess. I know a lot of people are scared that Rowling will do something similar with Harry Potter.

      • Other than writing American Graffiti, I can’t think of anything else he’s done. I thought he would come up with something new by now. Maybe he’s working on the technology end of things, since he likes innovation.

  3. What a fabulous list and fun to think of father characters.

    Penny Baxter (Ezra “Penny” Baxter), the father of Jody in “The Yearling” – another memorable father role for Gregory Peck, aka Atticus Finch.

    • Very true, Penny. There were so many great dads in classic literature! Gregory Peck and Jimmy Stewart cornered the market on these roles!

  4. Great list. Jack Torrance could use some help in the fathering department too. Of course, in his defense, he WAS under the influence of a haunted hotel… 😉

    • You know, I had him on the bad dad list at first. But since he rallied toward the end, I took him off. But you’re right. He could have used some counseling in the parenting department.

  5. Aww, great list of fathers. Love Atticus Finch, too. I would add Andy Griffith to my list. And Etienne, in All the Light We Cannot See, even though he was Marie-Laure’s uncle.

    • Oh, Sharon! How could I have forgot Etienne??? So wonderful. I have some uncles on my list who were surrogates, so of course Etienne should be included.

    • Thank you, Nancy. Wasn’t that sweet??? I’d heard that otters were good parents. That video confirmed it. That otter needs to teach parenting classes.

  6. Atticus is my favorite. Not sure I would put Bambi’s dad on the good list. He seemed pretty absent as best I can recall. It’s been a while since I saw that movie though…

    • Shari! How are you?
      I put the Great Prince of the Forest on the list because he became a surrogate father to Bambi. I’m not sure who Bambi’s dad was. But the Great Prince watched out for Bambi when things got tough.

  7. I LOVE that you included Gru! He’s one of my faves. And seeing the name Hans Hubermann made me sigh. What a lovely character in a lovely book. Thanks for posting!

    • Gru and Hans are two favorites. Making a list of great dads was the easy part. There were so many!!! I watched Despicable Me again last week, so Gru was fresh on my mind.

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