Back around Mother’s Day, I made a list of the best mothers in sci-fi and fantasy. Fair’s fair, so now we’re having a look at the top fictional fathers out there.
It’s interesting. Whereas mother figures are often absent entirely, fathers are more commonly stern, overbearing, or abusive figures whose main role is to cut off the protagonist from parental support (they’ve been kicked out, run away, disowned, or whatever). But that doesn’t mean there aren’t still some great fathers out there in sci-fi and fantasy-land.
So, let’s get started with mine:
- Eddard (Ned) Stark (A Game of Thrones) – Ned was a naïve northerner ill-suited to the job of Hand to King Robert. But that didn’t mean he couldn’t raise his kids right. Robb and John turned out to be honorable, noble soldiers in their father’s image (even though John wasn’t really his biological son). When his tomboy daughter didn’t want to do needlepoint, he hired her a fencing instructor. Without Ned’s parenting skills, the Night King would have won.
- Kyle Reese (Terminator) – Imagine knowing that a son you didn’t father yet was actually your boss in the resistance movement, struggling to keep humanity alive. Better yet, imagine going on a suicide mission back in time to save the woman who would be mother to humanity’s savior, THEN discovering that you were supposed to be the father. And picture the son who, knowing the kind of man his father was, trusting him to go on that mission.
- Joe West (The Flash) – Despite having a solid father of his own, Barry Allen finds himself alone when Henry Allen is jailed (wrongly) for his mother’s murder. In steps Joe West. He took in a troubled, traumatized kid who’d not only seen his mother murdered but watched the justice system betray him, imprisoning his father while the killer got away. And, thanks to Joe West, Barry not only grew up to be a good man, he worked as a forensic scientist to make sure no one else was wrongfully imprisoned. Thanks to Joe West, The Flash was a superhero, not a supervillain.
- Johnathan Kent (Superman) – I gave Martha credit on this one. Superman’s dad gets a share of the kudos as well. You really can’t praise this pair enough for Clark Kent becoming Superman instead of, let’s say, Zod.
- Robert Parr (a.k.a. Mr. Incredible) (The Incredibles) – So, you’re a superhero who’s not allowed to practice his trade. You’re middle-aged, getting flabby, stuck in a dead-end job you hate. But Mr. Incredible couldn’t stop being a hero, and discovering that he could be himself allowed him to pass that self-actualization along to his kids.
Oh, and you can miss me with the “Darth Vader was a great dad” take. One redemptive act at the end of his life might have redeemed him as far as The Force was concerned. But any credit for how Luke turned out can be attributed to Obi-Wan, Yoda, and his real father figure, Owen Lars.
QUESTION: I’m sure I’ve missed plenty. What was my most egregious omission?
DISCUSSION: Respond in the comments, or join in the Facebook discussion about sci-fi and fantasy fiction’s best dads: https://www.facebook.com/authorjsmorin/posts/2120041924788734