The 5 Best Fictional Dads in Pop Culture
Happy Father’s Day! Let’s celebrate this awesome holiday by honoring some of the best dads and father figures out there from your own geeky home and all across pop culture. They might not always be related by blood, but their fierce devotion to caring for their children, adoptive or otherwise, is worthy of celebration.
Now, we tried to write this article with a pencil that had two erasers, but it was pointless. (What, you thought there wouldn’t be any dad jokes in this thing?)
This list recognizes rad dads across a few different fandoms—Star Wars, Marvel, and more—and mediums from television to film and more. Read on to see if your favorites are among them!
5. Mufasa (The Lion King)
King of the Pride Lands and father of Simba, Mufasa is definitely the best Disney dad out there. Despite his death and brief screen time, he massively impacts the entirety of The Lion King movie.
He’s a constant source of inspiration, hope, and virtue for both his kingdom and family. Entertaining Simba’s young, rambunctious early-morning energy, Mufasa takes a tour of the Pride Lands with his son. Simba learns about the Circle of Life from his wise father, who walks that cycle with serenity and wisdom. Mufasa shows he is willing to defend his child with tooth and claw—quite literally—but never turns to violence as the first resort.
Killed by his brother Scar in a greedy grab for power, Mufasa becomes one with the trees and the sky and yes, even the antelope, but still manages to advise Simba from beyond the grave. The “Remember who you are” scene is enough to give anyone chills no matter how many times you’ve seen the classic Disney film.
4. Scott Lang (Marvel)
Scott Lang is young at heart, SUPER smart, and he’s one MARVELOUS father (Get it? Get it?). The thief-turned-hero’s every motivation revolves around his daughter, Cassie, striving to impress or care for her. In the first Ant-Man film, Scott’s entire reason for taking up Hank Pym’s mantle is to show Cassie and her mother that he’s changed for the better. That heroism restores his relationship with the whole family at the end as we see Scott’s heart of gold and unwavering adoration for his kid.
In Ant-Man and The Wasp, Scott’s on house arrest. That doesn’t stop him from being the coolest dad ever; he makes an entire obstacle course for himself and Cassie, and Scott maintains a wonderful co-parenting connection with his ex-wife and her new husband, because Scott is also simply a good man. This is made clear time and time again throughout the Marvel movies, such as when his first stop after The Snap is Cassie’s house. That’s pure love right there.
An adorkable goofball with a penchant for jokes, childish schemes, and heist hijinks, Scott isn’t your typical hero-type role model.
He is, however, the World’s Greatest Grandma. That counts for quite a lot.
3. Eddard ‘Ned’ Stark (Game of Thrones)
Eddard Stark is the Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North. If that isn’t enough responsibility for one man, he’s also father of six: Sansa, Arya, Bran, Rickon, Robb, and Jon Snow (technically he’s Jon’s uncle, but that’s complicated).
A dedicated, loyal, and honorable husband, father, brother, and ruler, Ned is probably one of the only Game of Thrones characters that never sullies his own name with any of the various crimes and revenge plots with which the show (and book series) was rife. He obeys his King. He never lies, except to protect his sister. And he loves his children fiercely.
He loves Jon like his own despite the damage Jon’s presence does to Ned’s marriage and reputation. When Arya wants to learn sword fighting, Ned finds her the best teacher available. Ned kills Sansa’s Direwolf, Lady, mercifully so that the cruel Lannisters cannot torture the animal. Even though Sansa resents him for the action, he knows what is right and good and never compromises his convictions.
After Ned’s public execution at King’s Landing, the vestiges of his presence impact Westeros’ destiny for each consecutive season. He shapes his progeny into people that change the country forever. And are the best fathers not the ones that leave their legacy in the goodness of their children?
2. Din Djarin (The Mandalorian)
Bounty Hunters shouldn’t personally care about their bounties. They also shouldn’t risk a payday and their Guild membership for one. Din Djarin, better known as The Mandalorian, gave up his lucrative livelihood for a single, small asset: The Child.
Colloquially known as Baby Yoda, The Child was supposed to be Mando’s best prize. And Mando did turn the baby over—at first. When he realized The Child would be hurt, experimented on, and held captive by remnants of The Empire, Mando stormed the facility and took back his asset. Suddenly, both The Mandalorian and The Child became fugitives, and the plot of the Star Wars live-action series was born.
Mando cares for and cherishes The Child. He goes up against skilled warriors, outgunned and outmanned, to escape The Child’s abductors. Mando considers leaving The Child on a peaceful planet to protect him despite how much it will hurt him to do so.
Somewhere along the way, The Child really becomes his child, which is most evident in the final episodes of Season One. Mando parts ways with his allies after wise words from another Mandalorian: that the baby is another foundling in Mando’s care, and they are a clan of two.
Nothing is more important to Mando than his adopted kid. That kind of single-minded focus and devotion is what ranks him so highly on this list.
1. Iroh (Avatar: The Last Airbender)
The Number One spot on this list goes to Uncle Iroh! This wise, easygoing, tea drinking Firebender is the most beloved character in the popular Nickelodeon animated series, Avatar: The Last Airbender. A steadfast companion to his hotheaded nephew Zuko, Iroh believes in the balance of the four elements and, most importantly, believes in Zuko’s capacity for good.
Iroh loses his own son during the war. Such grief alters a lot of his perception toward the Fire Nation’s supremacy and he influences Zuko to eventually follow a similar, softer path. He treats Zuko like the son he lost, acting as adviser, teacher, and guide. Iroh’s patience, gentle demeanor, and kindness balance Zuko’s temper tantrums. After Zuko betrays Iroh a few times over, Iroh also never hates him; there is only forgiveness in his heart.
The opposite of his brother, Firelord Ozai, Iroh loves Zuko and treats him with respect. He encourages his nephew to abandon pointless pursuits as well as the unrealistic expectations bestowed upon him by the royal family. With only Zuko’s best interests in mind, Iroh spends the entirety of the show protecting and serving the boy he most believes in. His positive influence on Zuko saves both Zuko and the Avatar, which saves the world.
And all Iroh ever asks for in return? A hug and a nice, hot cup of jasmine tea.
These guys didn’t make Top 5, but they also deserved to be recognized! Our honorable mentions are:
- Trevor Bruttenholm (Hellboy)
- Alfred Pennyworth (Detective Comics)
- Jim Hopper (Stranger Things)
- Master Splinter (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
- Elrond (The Lord of the Rings)
- Rick Grimes (The Walking Dead)
Before we go, do you want to hear a joke about paper? Never mind. It’s tearable.
After you’re finished laughing (or groaning), we hope you give a special shout-out to your favorite fictional dads, as well as your own parents or partners, in the comments!
Happy Father’s Day, and don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow!