Welcome to Five by Friday!
Sunday is Father’s Day here in the states and in honor of that, today’s Five By Friday is all about our favorite fictional Fathers! There’s a lot of them, but often, they’re not actually all that great of dads. Fiction is filled with parents who leave their children to their own devices, whether by premature death, absenteeism, or simply being bad at parenting. But the vast world of film, television, and literature has also given us an abundance of fantastic parents who uplift and support their children. We wanted to focus on those.
We also made the decision to bar ourselves from overlap this time around, in order to cast light on 15 different fantastic fictional fathers. While each of us has named only five, know that for each of us, many of the dads you’ll see below overlap in the lists of our hearts.
Join us in the comments or on your own blog–we’ve even provided a graphic for you, which you can either save to your own space or link from tinypic using the following HTML code: <a href=”http://avengingforce.com”><img src=”http://i59.tinypic.com/2d9318w.jpg”><*/a> Just remove the asterisks, and you’re all set!
I’d like to put in a disclaimer before we get to my list, and that is: THIS WAS REALLY HARD FOR ME. Turns out, there are a lot of fictional fathers that I love. So to make my selection easier, I eliminated any characters that started out as Garbage Fathers, but then, after a period of enlightenment/self-discovery, become Great Fathers. There are too many fictional fathers who are great the whole way through to give a spot on the list to a character who was at any time a Garbage Father.
5) Jean Valjean, Les Misérables
I’ve been introducing my kids to Les Misérables for the first time this week (the verdict so far: “even better than Hamilton,” “not as sad as The Iron Giant“) and every time I try to shed light on the relationship between Valjean and his adopted daughter, Cosette, I get choked up. Despite Les Misérables being a story about, well, misery, Cosette is one of the few characters to get a happy ending, due in large part to the lengths Valjean is willing to go to for her. Not only does he take her in in the first place and raise her with love, thanks to a deathbed promise to her mother, whom he barely knew; he also decides not to flee France when he learns his daughter is in love, and instead risks capture and braves the barricade to bring her true love home safely.
4) Adam Braverman, Parenthood
In a list of fathers, I obviously had to pick at least one character from the show built around parenting, and Adam Braverman is the obvious choice. Throughout Parenthood, Adam works hard to be the best father he can be to each of his three kids, including starting a charter school for kids with special needs aimed at helping his son Max, who has Asperger’s. Does he make some bad calls? Sure (what parent doesn’t?), but even when he screws up, it’s evident how much he loves his family, and how hard he’s trying.
I’d also like to state for the record that if it wasn’t for the infuriating character assassination in Season 5, Joel Graham would also be on this list.
3) Eric Taylor, Friday Night Lights
I think it’s safe to say that Coach Eric Taylor was probably far more comfortable on the football field than during most conversations with his teenage daughter, Julie. While sometimes he struggled with how to shift from Coach Mode to Dad Mode, it was clear he was trying his best. Eric also had one of the strongest marriages on TV, and together with his wife, Tami, they presented a united front and a great example of a functional relationship for their daughters. Coach Taylor also functioned as a surrogate father for several of his football players who lacked a strong male role model, from rugged screw-up Tim Riggins to Julie’s off-and-on boyfriend, the soft-spoken, unduly burdened Matt Saracen. Whether or not they were related to him, it’s safe to say that a lot of the kids that came out of Dillon, TX owed much of their character to Eric Taylor.
2) Joe West, The Flash
Joe West is hands-down my favorite dad on TV. After Barry’s dad was unjustly imprisoned for killing his mom, Joe took Barry in at a young age and raised him as his own alongside his daughter, Iris. While that resulted in some… interesting… sibling dynamics, there’s no mistaking the genuine love and affection between Joe and each of his children. You can see it in Iris and Joe’s heart-to-heart discussions over pizza and beer, in the way Barry brings his laundry home and jokes about moving back in, in the way Joe rushes to protect both of them when they’re in danger, despite Iris being a fully capable, tough woman and Barry being an actual superhero. I’ve said a lot this season that The Flash may mess up the plot, but it gets the characters right, and when it comes to Joe West, it’s always gotten it very, very right.
1) Matthew Cuthbert, Anne of Green Gables
Anne of Green Gables was one of those formative childhood stories for me. It’s to blame for my love of sassy, smart heroines, delicious slow-burn romances, and cocky boys with crooked smiles and hearts of gold. And it most definitely is responsible for cementing shy, kindhearted Matthew Cuthbert as my lifelong number one pick for fictional father. From the moment Matthew brought Anne home, even though he was expecting a boy, and mustered up the courage to tell his sister Marilla that he thought they should keep her, I loved him. And when he crept up to the counter at the general store to order Anne the dress with puffed sleeves she’d dreamed about (along with 20 lbs of brown sugar and a garden rake…in the dead of winter), he had my heart forever.
I started off thinking this would be an easy list to compile, but it turns out that it was also SUPER HARD for me as well. In order to narrow it down to just five dads, I had to leave quite a few fantastic fathers characters off my list. But never fear, Joe West, Sheriff Valenti, Ned Stark, and Eric Taylor (to name a few), just because you didn’t end up on the list doesn’t mean you aren’t still some of the very best out there.
5) Bob Belcher, Bob’s Burgers
While most of the animated Dads on TV are pretty terrible, Bob is the absolute opposite. He works incredibly hard to make sure his family has a place to live and food on the table, yet he spends as much time as he can with his kids. He shows genuine interest in their hobbies (no matter how weird), he supports them by showing up for all their events, performances, and shows, and he encourages them. He loves them unconditionally, weird quirks and all.
4) Burt Hummel, Glee
I know, I know, Glee was a terrible show (even if I watched it all the way to the bitter end), but Burt Hummel was one of the few shining spots. When Kurt came out to him early in season 1, despite not really knowing how to initially relate, Burt was supportive and there for his son. He protected him, even when it might cost him his own relationship, he included him in family decisions, and he learned the Single Ladies dance just for him. Most importantly, he knew when it was time to let him go out on his own and pushed him to get there.
3) Arthur Weasley, Harry Potter
Not only is Arthur an incredible and encouraging father to his own seven children, he gladly welcomes Harry and Hermione into the fold without batting an eye. He worked hard to provide for his family, yet he still spent loads of time with them for family dinners, trips, and holidays. He supported his kids in their various (and sometimes unique) career opportunities and was proud of them no matter what they choose to do.
2) Sheriff Stilinski, Teen Wolf
I started watching Teen Wolf because of some sort of weird friend pact, but I stayed because of the amazing parents on the show. And, despite still not knowing his first name, Sheriff Stilinski is the best parent of the bunch. He knows the kids’ supernatural secrets and he helps them, protects them, and supports them as best he can.
1) Keith Mars, Veronica Mars
Most of the dads on Veronica Mars left something to be desired; luckily for us, Keith more than made up for all of them. He worked hard to give Veronica a good life, and his love for her shone through in every interaction they had. He always wanted what was best for her, and while sometimes he wasn’t so sure she would be able to figure that out for herself, he always let her be exactly who she was. And he was so proud of that person.
I went back and forth a few times, and even had a blurb half-written for one dad before cutting it out and replacing him with another. There are so many great fictional dads out there, how could I pick only five? Ten of them had been taken out of the running (I was the last to compile my five), but even that didn’t help all that much. My love for the dads on Sarah and Lauren’s lists–Joe West, Keith Mars, Arthur Weasley–is great, and there are dads that didn’t make the list below that almost did (Atticus Finch, Ned Stark, Danny Tanner). It was hard to choose, but here we are.
5) Jack Bristow, Alias
Sydney and Jack’s relationship began in a pretty rocky place on Alias, but over the course of the story you see that it started that way because he purposely distanced himself due to the nature of his secret life as a spy, not because he didn’t love his daughter. As their storylines come together in a way that finds them working together, we are allowed to see the truth of their relationship: Jack is protective, he loves his daughter completely, and he would do anything–anything–to ensure her safety and happiness. By the end of the series, Jack (or Spydaddy, as my friends and I lovingly call him) was one of my favorite characters on the whole show, if not on television overall.
4) Charles Ingalls, Little House on the Prairie
I may be bending the rules a little bit here, as he’s based on an actual person, but I’m counting him anyway. Pa Ingalls is an all-around amazing guy, honestly. He is the kind of man who packs everything into a covered wagon and ventures off into the unknown because he has an insatiable curiosity and wanderlust. He’s out in the frontier with his family trying to make a living, and he’s also raising his children. He’s a man of good character, strong morals, and rock-solid faith. He taught his children with optimism, honesty, and perseverance. With a dad like that, you know the Ingalls kids were set up for great things.
3) Michael Bluth, Arrested Development
Michael is the one person in the Bluth family who, despite a lifetime of privilege and wealth and ridiculously lax parenting, somehow managed to become a level-headed, reasonable adult. When he is forced by circumstance to bring himself and his son George Michael back into the rest of his family’s immediate circle, the clash between his ludicrously out-of-touch family and his own reasoned life with George Michael is what made this show so famously hilarious. Through all of their ups and downs, his dedication to being a good father to George Michael remains a constant, and it’s refreshing how well he maintains it all, despite his own extended family being obstacles to sanity.
2) Gomez Addams, The Addams Family
“What? This man lets his children play with guillotines!” you must be shouting. However, consider that the Addams Family’s entire life is based in a world where their bizarre medieval horror house is normal to them, it’s not strange at all for a disembodied hand to crawl around the house, and electrocuting your brother is genuinely fun and games. In this world, Gomez Addams stands out as a man who is eternally devoted to his wife, dotes endlessly on his children, and is a fun-loving, train-set-enjoying dad who will always show up at his children’s school events, as boring as he may find them. He’s a complete joy to watch. His enthusiasm is infectious, and he never hesitates to step in and stand up for what he believes is right.
1) Mr. Bennet, Pride & Prejudice
Mr. Bennet is one of those quieter dads. He is happy to sit back and watch his daughters live their lives, have their squabbles, and only step in when absolutely necessary. However, his devotion to his family is unquestionable, and when he sees his beloved Elizabeth possibly being forced into a marriage she doesn’t want, he steps in and puts an end to the madness. His only concern when Mr. Darcy proposes to Elizabeth is that she is genuinely happy. He wants what is best for his girls, and he will not stand by and allow them to be miserable. His joy at Elizabeth’s joy is a pure expression of a father’s love.