For Father’s Day: Our 15 Favorite Movie Dads

Published 5 years ago by , Updated August 7th, 2012 at 1:16 pm,

fathers day banner For Fathers Day: Our 15 Favorite Movie Dads

Everyone has a dad but not everyone has a father. Anyone can bring a child into this world, but it takes a true man to be a father. Fathers aren’t always perfect either, which is what makes them so special. They have their flaws just like everyone else – but they try to overcome those flaws for the sake of their children.

Movie fathers, for the most part, are exactly the same way. I’m not talking about the Al Bundy or Peter Griffin buffoon father figures that get laughs by acting un-father-like. I’m talking about the forthright, honest, dependable and yes, sometimes flawed men that have inspired us onscreen to be better fathers in real life.

So while we at Screen Rant take today to spend it with our fathers (if they haven’t passed away), and/or with our children, for your reading pleasure we’ve decided to list our 15 Favorite Movie Fathers


15. Darth Vader (David Prowse / James Earl Jones) – Star Wars Saga

anakin skywalker For Fathers Day: Our 15 Favorite Movie Dads

Now before you go all “fanboy” on me for putting Luke’s father on the bottom of our list just wait to see who made the top 3 and then tell me if you would put Skywalker above them. Anakin falls easily into the category of “Flawed Father.”  He loves the mother of his children but ultimately kills her, hunts down his daughter and takes her into captivity, and then unknowingly cuts off the hand of his son. Way to go dad! But in the end, this father recognizes the error of his ways, turns from the dark side and sacrifices his own life to protect his children. And that’s why this master of the dark side of the force is on this list at all.


14. Professor Henry Jones (Sean Connery) – Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

professor henry jones For Fathers Day: Our 15 Favorite Movie Dads

Professor Jones is another one of those types of fathers that means well and although he loves his son (Indiana Jones), he ends up ignoring him. But what he lacks in emotional nurturing he makes up for in intellectual nurturing as is evident by Indiana following right along in his father’s footsteps. For all their differences of opinion and banging of heads, the son still loves his father and vice versa – and both will do whatever it takes to protect the other. The moral here is: You don’t have to always get along with your dad to love him.


13. Jor El (Marlon Brando) – Superman

jor el For Fathers Day: Our 15 Favorite Movie Dads

I know when it comes to my own children that I would sacrifice anything to keep them safe, including giving up my own life to save theirs. That’s what every good father would do in the same situation. The best example of this is Superman’s father Jor El. He gave his life to protect his son from a dying planet before it exploded – but he didn’t stop there! Jor El thought ahead and provided a new family and place of solitude for his son so that he wouldn’t ever be alone. Jor El provided for his son in death as he did in life. Jor-El sets a fine example of a father’s love.


12. Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) – National Lampoon’s Vacation

clark griswold For Fathers Day: Our 15 Favorite Movie Dads

Just because a father jokes around and gives his kids a hard time occasionally doesn’t mean he loves them any less. Clark Griswold may be a bit on the clueless side but all he wants is to give his family the vacation they so richly deserve. Every father ultimately wants the same thing for their kids. Nothing is going to stand in his way either – not the desert nor flat tires or even an amusement park being shut down… He is going to give his family a good time come hell or high water! I may never pull a gun on a security officer just to ride a theme park rollercoaster but I’ve done plenty of things I wouldn’t normally do just to make my kids happy; besides, that old woman in the toy line last Christmas didn’t need a Tickle Me Elmo anyway…


11. Bob Parr / Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) – The Incredibles

bob parr For Fathers Day: Our 15 Favorite Movie Dads

Many young children look up to their fathers as superheroes, but only in movies and comic books can those fathers actually BE superheroes. Such is the case with Bob Parr: He loses his way and becomes self-involved with being a superhero, something that makes him feel good – while he neglects his wife and kids, shutting them out of his own little world. Ultimately, Bob realizes that it’s not what you do that makes you a superhero but rather who looks up to you – in this case his kids. This is a lesson that every father can learn, your children would rather spend time with you then watch you try to save the world.

Continue to the Top 10 Movie Dads…

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  1. Big Daddy shouldn’t be on this list at all. I’m not morally against the movie, but looking at strictly from the point of view “Was he a good father?”, he obviously isn’t. That kid is going to be emotionally and psychologically screwed up for the rest of her life. He turned his child into a criminal and a murderer. Regardless of his intentions, that isn’t a good upbringing.

    And where is The Man (Viggo Mortenson) from The Road? He should have been Top 3, without question.

    I also disagree with Capt Trapp at #1. Strictly from a fatherly perspective, he put his family at risk because he didn’t want to serve as a Nazi. A great example of his personal integrity.. but less so much of his concern for his family. I could see him dropping much lower on the list, when compared to the likes of everyone else in the top 5.

    • Bobby,

      Great suggestion (The Road). You know, that annoying thing about putting a list like this together, is even when you have a bunch of people contributing something obvious always seems to slip through the cracks.


  2. Darth Vader did save Luke at the end but considering killing his mother, attacking him on several occations, and cutting his hand off. i wouldnt consider him a great father – Replace with John McClane from Die Hard

    Jor El – was only in the begining and sure save his son but he acted more like a robot in the Fortress of Solitude and not a father – Replace with Thomas Wayne from Batman Begins

    Big Daddy seems cool but in actuality he shot his daughter and constitly put her in harms way for his own vendetta. Replace with Lester Burnham from American Beauty

    Mr. Mom was a terible movie – Replace with Mufasa from Lion King

    George Baily wasnt really focused on as a father, so i dont think he’s big enough to be on this list – Replace with Ted Kramer from Kramer Vs. Kramer

    Von Trapp i just dont like,

    Marlin from Finding Nemo should be #1 no question, if you disagree, then you havnt seen Finding Nemo. he searches the ocean fighting sharks, birds, and jellyfish to save his son. come on

    • Great suggestions. Especially Mufasa from Lion King. He gave his life for his kid, after spending his entire life being the perfect Dad. What more can you ask?

      Finding Nemo should be on there as well. Not so sure about Lester Burnham or John McClane though.. neither one of them screams “Great Dad” to me.

    • i know John McClane is a bit of a stretch but i’m thinking of mostly from the forth movie, the one that actually has one of his kids as a character

      and Lester Burnham was kinda cool. he spent his midlife crisis doing what ever he always wanted. yeah lusting after a teenager was a little weird but when the time came, he choose against it.

      • Lester Burnham is a great character no doubt, but he wasn’t really a great dad. He loved his daughter for sure, but his character arc was more about him learning to be more selfish (not a bad thing in the context of the film) than selfless.

        As for Thomas Wayne, he was a noble guy who certainly had a lasting impact on his son but ultimately Alfred was more of a father to Bruce.

        Marlon is definitely a great pick.

    • There are plenty of other dads that could be listed on here but then the list would be super-mega long and what would be the point in that? This way the readers have something to contribute.

      This was the list of OUR favorites so they may not mesh with yours but that’s OK. That’s for the suggestions, you had some great ones.

  3. Totally agree with @nowheredan. Marlin should be at least in the top 3. I’d also add Mufasa from The Lion King, what a great character and father he is/was.

    Nice addition with the photos at the end. Ben (Kendrick) is the one who bears the most resemblance to his dad :)

    Happy Fathers Day.

    • That’s because I’m adopted :)

  4. Hmm… we hadn’t considered animated dads. :)


    • Yes we did hence Bob Parr :)

      • I’m thinking he meant non-human animated Dad’s.

    • I thought the list was very good. Of course there are some you miss but whatever. Very nice for father’s day :D

  5. Happy Fathers Day to everyone!

    P.S. It’s A Wonderful Life is one of my all-time favorite movies and James Stewart is my favorite actor! Glad George Bailey made it on this list!

  6. I just have to give a shout out to Mr. Mom!
    I Loved that Movie!

  7. Oh, I forgot. Another of my favorite dads in film: Dustin Huffman in Kramer vs Kramer. A great film also.

    • *Hoffman* I don’t remember the name of the character…

      • Ted Kramer, i put him on my list, i love that movie

  8. Well you got Taken’s Liam Neeson right.

  9. I think atticus should ne number one. Good list

  10. I consider the fact that Atticus is not number one an outrage. I mean, c’mon! And I would put George Bailey at number 2.
    Love the choice of Liam Neeson from Taken though.

  11. When Paul wrote this up he had “Favorite” instead of “Best” in the title. I’ve decided to change it back to what he had originally. :)

    Happy Fathers Day!


  12. The Comedian (Silk Spectre II’s father) from Watchmen.

    • The Comedian was a terrible person and father! He raped a woman, killed a pregnant girl, and was basically a completely corrupt superhero.

      • Maybe I should put “j/k” when I’m joking, even when it should be obvious?

        • Oops! Haha, I should have figured.

  13. Ooooh. Now I’m gonna have to watch “Life is Beautiful” again. Loved that movie.
    Would like to throw Mrs. Doubtfire into the mix (might make my personal top 10 on this list)… great father with a screw loose. And the father from “The Road” has got to be on the top of my list of favorite fathers in literature as well. He would be my number 1 on this list.

  14. Where is Gerard Butler’s character from Law Abiding Citizen? He couldn’t save his daughter, bet he made up up for it.

  15. marlin from finding nemo should be number 1 i mean come on he badled sharks he got swallowed by a whale trying to find his son. also i feel john mclaine should be on the list as well

  16. Sorry, hated Pursuit of happyness and don’t get its appeal. Should not be on the list. Good suggestions for whoever mentioned Marlon, the Man from The Road, Mufasa, and Mrs. Doubtfire.

  17. Alfred Pennyworth, John Mcclain, Maximus, Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibbson The Patriot) and Frank Castle The Punisher

    I would have to have those on the list.

  18. Darth Vader “unknowingly cuts off the hand of his son”? Perhaps I’m misremembering, but weren’t the loss of hand and the “Luke, I am your father” reveal part of the same saber fight?

  19. I’d just like to point out that Liam Neeson/Bryan Mills from Taken is essentially the same as Arnold Schwarzenegger/John Matrix from Commando.

    That is all.

  20. Lol @ Matt yea I thought your joke was pretty obvious and funny

  21. Homer Simpson. He might be a self-centered, bumbling doofus, but he always ends up doing what he needs to do for his kids. I think that describes ALOT of people. Homer is an exaggeration of all the best and worst qualities of fathers.

  22. In John Q, he doesn’t kill himself, he plans to, but in the end they find a donor from a car crash and he ends up going to jail in the end and his son gets the heart from the car crash victim.

  23. I could only see dads 15 through 11. In any case, there are dads, and then there is Atticus Finch.

  24. I just realized a glaring omission: Vito Corleone (The Godfather)!!!

  25. some glaring omissions that should have made the list

    Dean Proffitt (Overboard, though he strives to be more a friend than father in the end what he really wants is to provide a mother for his children)

    Mufasa (from Lion King for reasons stated above)

    Marlon (Finding Nemo, again for reasons stated above)

    There are more but I am drawing a blank at the moment.

    • lol @ Dean Proffitt! :-p

  26. What about Martin Sheen in Wallstreet? He was a good dad …

  27. Andy Garcia in “Desperate measures”: A father that from the very beginning you find out how much would he do (breaks into a FBI building) to save his son.

    Kang-Ho Song in “The Host”: He’s introduced to us at the start of the film as a sort of “Not fully there” type of Father/Person but at the end of it all you see how far will he go to save his daughter from this “Mutated Fish-monster”.

    Russell Crowe in “Cinderella Man”: A story about a boxer who sort of lost his way but shines and pretty much proves he’s at his best when it comes to the well-being of his children.

    Couple of Honorable (at least to me they were)mentions would be John Travolta in “Domestic Disturbance”, THE GOVERNATOR in a whole mess of movies saving/avenging his son/daughters life, Bruce Willis in “Armageddon”, Kurt Russell in “Poseidon”, John Cusack in “2012″, Tom Cruise in “War of the Worlds” and just for kicks… Ethan Mars from the “Heavy Rain” Video Game (The Game was like a movie that would be the only reason for my mentioning it and he was a heck of a father to go through all of that for his kid).

  28. What a warped view of Fathers Day cinematic heros.


    • Lol, not really warped to me since they’re “Cinematic Heroes”… warped to me would be like Michael J Fox as Marty Mcfly going into the future (back to the future 2) to save his son then going back in time to the past to make sure that his present is the same as it was when he went there by the end of the first movie but stays in the past making his sons future somewhat shady…lol. I got lost there i think somewhere…

  29. gepetto should be on the list.. pinochhio’s father. he’s a perfect model showing that being a father figure to someone is also worth celebrating on father’s day.