[Note: Every Friday on First Thoughts we host a discussion about some aspect of pop culture. Today’s theme is father in television and movies. Have a suggestion for a topic? Send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Father’s Day was last Sunday, but it’s never too late to appreciate good ol’ dad. Here are several categories and candidates for best fathers in film and television:
Best Protector: Bryan Mills (Taken) – Chances are you won’t recognize the name even if you’ve seen the good-but-forgettable 2008 action flick Taken. So why does Mills make the list? Because when faced with every father’s worst nightmare (his his 17-year-old daughter is kidnapped in Paris and forced in the sexual slave trade), Mills uses all his skills and knowledge (he’s a former CIA agent) to find her and bring her home. While the action is pure Hollywood, the message is universal: We dads will do anything in our power to protect our children.
Honorable Mention: The Father (The Road)
Best Cartoon Dad: Marlin (Finding Nemo)
Honorable Mention: Bob Parr (The Incredibles)
Best Father Figure: Colonel Adama – A case could be made that Adama was a father figure for all the remaining survivors of the thirteen colonies. But it was to Kara “Starbuck” Thrace, the fiancé of his dead son, that he best exemplified the role of daddy substitute. Their relationship was one of the best father-daughter roles on television.
Honorable Mention: Alfredo (Cinema Paradiso)
Best Liberal Dad: Steven Keaton, Family Ties
Best Conservative Dad: Hank Hill (King of the Hill)
Best Tough Father: Jacob McCandles (Big Jake) – When his estranged adult son James calls Big Jake “Daddy,” the Duke knocks his son on his can and announces: “You can call Dad, you can call me Father, you can call me Jacob and you can call me Jake. You can call me a dirty old [SOB], but if you EVER call me Daddy again, I’ll finish this fight.” Lesson learned.
Honorable Mention: Red Forman That ’70s Show
Best Father to an Alien: Jonathan Kent (Smallville) – Most people wouldn’t know what to do if an alien landed in their field. But Jonathan Kent not only took in the strange child but raised him to be both a good Kansas Methodist and the World’s Greatest Superhero.
Honorable Mention: Trevor “Broom” Bruttenholm (Hellboy)
Best Dead Dad: Mufasa (The Lion King) – Not since the Ghost of Hamlet’s father has a dead dad had such a direct impact on a young prince.
Honorable Mention: Frank Sullivan (Frequency)
Best Widower Father: Andy Taylor (The Andy Griffith Show)
Honorable Mention: Ben Cartwright (Bonanza)
Best Stepfather: Mike Brady (The Brady Bunch)
Honorable Mention: Frank Beardsley (Yours, Mine and Ours)
Best Listener: Ward Cleaver (Leave it to Beaver) – Has there ever been a dad who listened to their children as much as Ward?
Honorable Mention: Charles Ingalls (Little House on the Prairie)
Overall Best Movie Dad: Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird): I thought the book was overrated and the movie a bit bland. But Atticus sets the gold standard for dads in film.
Overall Best TV Dad: Cliff Huxtable (The Cosby Show) – Possibly the only thing better than having Bill Cosby for a father would be to have Cliff Huxtable as your dad.
Add your own category and nominees in the comments section.