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)

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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).

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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. 🙂

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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.

Guest Post: Mazes, Traps, and Dungeons

Today on the blog is a guest post by the awesomely prolific Charles Yallowitz of the Legends of Windemere blog. Please take it away, Charles.

Thank you to Linda for offering to host a promo/guest blog. Now to get the introduction and promo stuff out of the way. My name is Charles E. Yallowitz and I’m the author behind the Legends of Windemere epic fantasy series, where the latest one is Sleeper of the Wildwood Fugue. I also just released a 27-page short story for 99 cents called Ichabod Brooks & the City of Beasts, so you can get a quick, cheap taste of me . . . whatever. Let’s move on to the fun!

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One of the big standards of fantasy adventure books are traps and mazes. The latter isn’t as common as the former and I can already hear some people groaning about the topic because they think these are terrible concepts. Dungeon crawling in a book can be tedious and is more action than anything else. You can have part of a book involve a trap-filled ruin, but you need to try to have it be big, essential, and put some character development in there. Most importantly, the heroes need a real reason to be in there. Rescuing a kidnapped ally, finding a cure for a disease of one of the main characters, returning an artifact that could destroy the world, and things that are larger in scale than “find the random, possibly shiny treasure.”

First, mazes are relatively simple in and of themselves. Characters wander and talk while dealing with wrong turns and traps. This can be used for character relationship development, especially if you’ve built up a plot between them that has to be discussed. It helps to draw a crude map of the maze to give yourself a feel for it, though you can also get away without giving exact directions. “Time passes” and chapter breaks can be your friend here.

Second, when working with ancient ruins or dungeons or any trap-filled place, you need to consider a few questions:

  • Is this a place that can be easily accessed?
  • Is this a place that has been lost to the ages and recently found?
  • How fresh are the bodies of failed adventurers? Are there any?

The reason these questions are important revolves around the entrance. If it’s well-known and wide open, then anyone can go in there and you need to make it look that way. If it’s difficult to get to and you want it to feel abandoned, then you need a hidden door or entrance puzzle. These questions also help you figure out the trap types, because some people wonder how a trap resets if several people have sprung it over the years. Easy way to solve this is to put a living threat in the ruins that has the ability and instructions to reset the traps. Gelatinous Cubes are not acceptable.

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This brings us to traps, which are one of the standards of fantasy adventures. Any adventures really. From Indiana Jones running away from a boulder to James Bond in a booby-trapped elevator, traps are nasty surprises that an author can have fun with. In fantasy, you have magic to work with that opens a few interesting doors. Fictional poisons, spells, and monsters can play into this. You have pitfalls, arrow traps, swinging blades, fire traps, water traps, ejection traps, poison gas, boulders, illusions hiding spikes, setting off ghosts, falling into monster-infested pits, electricity traps, eternal sleep traps, explosions, Gelatinous Cubes (the bastards!), force fields, and overly complicated death machines. Just to name a fraction of them. Here are a few general tips if you plan on using traps:

  1. Create the way out before writing. One of the biggest threats to a trap is that the way out is random and ridiculous. It doesn’t have to be clear to you, but have the general idea that a character needs to do a specific action.
  2. Make it believable that the heroes can find and avoid the traps. Ignore if you plan on killing them off with the trap. But then people might realize that when they see they’re on the last page.
  3. Overly complicated traps can have simple answers and probably should. After all, if it’s a terrifying death machine, then people will think big. They might not immediately consider a simple, obvious method like looking for a button.
  4. Make sure the heroes can escape without outside influences and remember why that has to happen. People ask what the point of a trap is if there’s a way out. Here is my answer. A person who makes a trap would design it with an escape in case they fell into it or it was used against them. All you need is one gnome reverse engineering your electric fire pit trap and you’ll find it everywhere.
  5. Please make most of your traps lethal. Spitting darts the size of a fingernail without poison on them isn’t going to scare anyone.
  6. You don’t have to sacrifice a character to demonstrate the danger of a trap. Standing within a room of death or dangling over a shark pit can do wonders for suspense. It also keeps readers on their toes wondering if you’ll really kill a character.

Now, a lot of people don’t like these things in literature because they fall into the cliché category. My suggestion is to do it if it fits the story and ignore the complaints. The important part is that the traps, mazes, and dungeons make sense within the story. So don’t use them as filler and make sure to give them a purpose.

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Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn’t working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. Legends of Windemere is his first series, but it certainly won’t be his last.

Thanks, Charles! In honor of the release of Ichabod Brooks and the City of Beasts, I’m giving away two copies. Please comment below to be entered in the drawing. Winner to be announced June 17.