To celebrate Father’s Day this year, we're remembering some of the best dads on-screen. Cuddly, wise, supportive or inspirational, these are the fathers that never let their kids down.
Evil, manipulative, or just plain incompetent, from Homer Simpson to Darth Vader, many of TV and film's most iconic dads are utterly terrible fathers. So to celebrate Father’s Day this year, we're remembering some of the best ones instead. Cuddly, wise, supportive or inspirational, these are the fathers that never let their kids down.
1. Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird
Lawyer Atticus Finch is the very definition of a moral dad, a man who lives up to his ideals and fights for justice. Gregory Peck is excellent in portraying Finch in the 1962 film, as the character sets the standard for inspirational fathers across cinema and literature.
2. Chris Gardner, The Pursuit of Happiness
A dad struggling with adverse conditions – an eviction that leaves him homeless and an internship that doesn’t earn a living – makes the best effort to care for his five-year-old son and not give in to despair. Definitely the best of the dads Will Smith has played.
3. Daniel Covey, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before
A widower with two young girls, Daniel Covey does his best to be there for his daughters, especially during Lara Jean’s teen crisis. He’s supportive, he’s caring and he doesn't shy away from the tough topics. A single dad doing a inspirational job.
4. Daniel Hillard, Mrs Doubtfire
It could certainly be argued that Robin Williams’ character didn’t go about things the right way when deciding to lie to his ex-wife and pretending to be an elderly nanny just to be close to his children, but a lot of this desperate dad's flaws can be forgiven because of how funny the film is.
5. Edward Bloom, Big Fish
This film is all about showing how the things that annoy you about your dad turn out to be the things you end up loving the most about them. 'Big Fish' follows Will Bloom as he reconstructs the exaggerated, magical stories his dad had always told him about his life. The pair are brought closer together as a result, while sickness threatens Edward Bloom's life.
6. Guido Orefice, Life is Beautiful
Jewish-Italian dad Guido Orefice, arrested by police and brought to a Nazi concentration camp with his family, does everything he can under terrible circumstances to shield his son from the horror of the Holocaust – one memorable scene shows him giving an extremely funny and bizarre translation of a camp’s guard order. The film won several awards, including Cannes’ Grand Prix in 1998, and Roberto Benigni won an Oscar for Best Actor.
7. Howard Langston, Jingle All The Way
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Howard Langston does not start as a great dad. Too busy with work to be there for his son when it matters, he’s actually pretty terrible. But he rises to the occasion when he has to keep a promise to his son about getting him a toy for Christmas, which unfortunately appears to be sold out in every shop in the city. A simple story of redemption for a bad dad who finally comes through.
8. Joseph Cooper, Interstellar
You could argue that Joseph Cooper isn't the greatest dad for disappearing from the lives of his two children for basically a lifetime – but he’s doing so to save them, and the planet. When Earth is threatened by choking dust storms, Cooper, a former NASA pilot, leaves his beloved daughter to look for an inhabitable planet. We think he certainly makes up for his absenteeism by saving humanity, and for the way his love for his daughter transcends time and space.
9. Marlin, Finding Nemo
Nemo’s dad travels some 2,000 kilometres to find his lost son – quite a lot for a tiny clown fish in the big ocean. Isn’t he the greatest dad in the world?
10. Mufasa, The Lion King
If the tragic fall of Mufasa into a canyon full of crazed wildebeest isn’t among the first heartbreaks of your life, consider yourself lucky. Simba’s dad is majestic, authoritative and yet immensely patient and wise. It might not be a human dad – but he certainly set the bar high for fatherhood.
11. Phil Dunphy, Modern Family
There’s no doubt Phil Dunphy’s priority in life is being a dad and being there for his family. He defies classic tropes of toxic masculinity, he cries, has the best advice and he’s endlessly funny. He’s the modern dad TV needed.
12. Uncle Phil, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
There’s more to fatherhood than being someone’s biological father and Uncle Phil proves it. Will’s uncle is also a great father figure in his nephew’s life. He’s strict, for sure, but it’s because he cares about his family. He’s our example of a tough-love dad who’s a very good guy.