Some fictional fathers are good, caring men who help their children (and sometimes children from other families) turn into better people.  In other cases, their progeny would be better off without him.

In honor of Father’s Day, here’s a list of some fictional fathers, ranked from worst to best.

Jack (The Shining) – insane dad running around with an axe, trying to kill mom? Yeah, I defy you to find worse.

George Bluth Sr (Arrested Development) – he bankrupts the family business and then makes things tough for his smartest, most responsible son from prison.

Peter Griffin (Family Guy) – he’s like Homer Simpson… with an IQ high enough that he should at least know better.

Homer Simpson (The Simpsons) – choking his son on a regular basis, not showing much interest in his daughters… drinking heavily…

Joe McCoy (Friday Night Lights) – he may want great things for his future-star-QB son J.D., but he not only pushes him WAY too hard, but there’s also the incident where he repeatedly smacked the 15 year old outside an Applebees.

Al Bundy (Married with Children) – he’s not a role model, but he does stick around his kids, works hard to provide for his family and puts up with their crap

Randy “The Ram” Robinson (The Wrestler) – he wasn’t around for his daughter, and though he does try to make amends, he doesn’t show up when it matters.

Michael Sullivan (Road to Perdition) – his job isn’t something his child should necessarily be pulled into, but he does want to spend time with them.

Buddy Garrity (Friday Night Lights) – he cheats on his wife, but he tries really hard to maintain a relationship with his kids. His commitment to the young men of Dillon, Texas should also be considered.

Stoick the Vast (How To Train Your Dragon) – at the beginning of the story, he doesn’t believe in his son, but by the end he really makes things right and acts like a father.

Royal Tenenbaum (Royal Tenenbaums) – he pushes his young children to succeed, but he doesn’t necessarily seem to care from them until later in life. He does well in eventually making amends.

Walt Kowalski (Gran Torino) – though he’s not actually the father to Thao and Sue, he does have significant impacts on their lives where that’s not something they had without him. In the end, he makes a huge sacrifice for them to make the world a better place.

Darth Vader (Star Wars) – he teaches Luke through some tough love (I still don’t believe he meant to cut off his hand), tries to recruit him so they can work together to maximize their power and leave a legacy for his son (who I believe he wants to get to know better), and in the end he sacrifices himself to stop him from being harmed.

Mrs Doubtfire (Mrs Doubtfire) – he drives his wife away from him, but to be with his children, he dresses up as an old woman. He does lie to them every day in the process, but his dedication and the reasons are genuine.

Leon (Leon The Professional) – he’s not the father to Natalie Portman’s character, but he takes on that role and not only keeps her from being killed, but he enriches her experience along the way, even if she doesn’t see him as a father figure.

Mr Fox (Fantastic Mr Fox) – initially he ignores the gifts of his son because he’s too enamored with his nephew, but in the end he makes it right. He doesn’t have the most honest job, but he’s doing things for the right reasons.

Bryan Mills (Taken) – have you heard of a father who will go to the ends of the Earth for their children? He does… and he kicks ass along the way. He might’ve lost his wife, but his dedication to his daughter later in life is put ahead of his own well-being.

Cobb (Inception) – everything EVERYTHING he does is for his kids. Some of that involves killing, but it also involves a ton of planning and he puts his life (and sanity) at risk just to get back to see them.

Jackie Elliot (Billy Elliot) – a single father who’s doing his best for his family, and even though it goes against everything he knows, Jackie supports his son the best he can when he realizes the possibilities for Billy, given his talent.

Clark Griswold (National Lampoon’s Vacation movies) – though the results aren’t always great, Clark Griswold just wants his family to have a great time, whether it’s in Europe, going to an amusement park, at Christmas, or in Las Vegas.

Steve Bartowski (Chuck) – He was forced to be a single father when his wife abandoned them, and though he was gone for a little while as well, he still does everything he can to provide for both his children.

Peter Darling (Hook) – though he initially works too much and doesn’t live up to his promises, he does go to Neverland to get his kids back and works extremely hard to remember his roots and turn into the hero which can help bring his kids home for good.

Sam Dawson (I Am Sam) – limited mentally, Sam makes up for it with the devotion he shows to his daughter.

Jason Seaver (Growing Pains) – he doesn’t always have the perfect answer, but he instills some great values in his children.

Tim Taylor (Home Improvement) – he often made missteps in raising his kids, but his intentions were great, and he always found a way to best interpret Wilson’s advice, making things right for his family.

Phil Dunphee (Modern Family) – he means well, and his results are typically sound, but his methods aren’t always well thought-out.

Jor-El (Smallville) – he saved his son from being destroyed with his home planet, sent him to Earth (a planet he supposedly hand-picked), sent along interactive technology to provide guidance and comfort to his son, while giving him a link back to his heritage. He did show tough love in the process, and he might’ve taken it a bit far at times, but he is responsible for Clark Kent realizing his Kal-El / Superman potential

Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird) – the values he instills and enforces make him one of the greatest heroes in history.

Michael Bluth (Arrested Development) – Not only is he a single father, but he also has to clean up the mess made by HIS father and his siblings.

Furious Styles (Boyz N The Hood) – in a tough neighborhood, he insists on high standards for his son

Christopher Gardner (The Pursuit of Happyness) – his sweat-equity into making a better life for his son is inspiring

Eric Taylor (Friday Night Lights) – not only is he a good father to his daughters, but he also becomes a de-facto father to dozens of kids (many father-less) through his football team

Jonathan Kent (Smallville) – he adopts Kal-El as his own son and helps a Kryptonian adopt human values. Teaching a young man that “might doesn’t make right” is a tough thing when that young man can throw your tractor miles.

Danny Tanner (Full House) – his wife dies and he raises his three daughters with very few female influences. He did have help, but his advice was never misguided.

Mike Brady (Brady Bunch) – he not only has to raise his three sons, but he helps raise three young women who aren’t his daughters.

Phillip Banks (Fresh Prince of Bel Air) – He took in his nephew to give him a better life and dealt with all the hijinx along the way to help Will be a better man.

Cliff Huxtable (The Cosby Show) – a great father who always taught the right lessons and met the needs of all five of his children, and his son-in-laws, and his grand-children, and the neighborhood kids. He defines good father.

We’d love to hear what fathers you think should be on this list, where you’d put them, and any changes you’d make!


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