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An Essential Guide to Dads and Daddies

Hello, it is me, your resident expert on dads and daddies.

Pedro Pascal as The Mandalorian and Grogu sit in the cockpit of the Razor Crest

Hello, it is me, your resident expert on dads and daddies. Now, you might be thinking to yourself, “Those are the same thing,” and I’m here to tell you that, no, they are not. A dad is someone who has a child. A daddy is, as famed daddy Pedro Pascal once said, a state of mind. Anyone can be a daddy but not everyone can (or wants to) be a dad. You feel me?

And it often is subjective. Someone who I think is a daddy may differ from someone you would categorize as such. There are different levels of daddiness. The larger point is that there is an art to being a dad and a daddy, and there’s a full spectrum covering everything in between. It just takes a master’s degree in Dadism to understand how these ideas function in media.

So as your professor in Dad or Daddy studies, I will be exploring fictional dads and daddies (with some nods to our favorite actors with this same energy) to help you better understand how to separate the dads from the daddies.

What makes a dad?

Red Forman (Kurtwood Smith) peers over a newspaper in a scene from 'That '90s Show'

This is a simple category: If you have children, you’re a dad. It’s Red Forman from That ’70s Show or Al Bundy from Married … With Children. They’re there, they’re dads, and they can be hot if you’re into that sort of thing. It’s really that simple.

Is there a category for “not a dad, not yet a daddy”?

adam scott as ben wyatt loml

This category is a little harder to explain—mainly because it doesn’t officially exist and it can be applied to almost anyone. This is a fictional character who was just a hunk and eventually became a dad, so he’s hot and has kids, but he’s not necessarily a “Daddy.” I’d include Ben Wyatt from Parks and Recreation and even, like, Jake Peralta from Brooklyn Nine-Nine in this category. They’re your fictional husbands who eventually go on to be dads.

Here comes daddy

David Harbour in Stranger Things and Pedro Pascal in the Mandalorian
(Netflix / Disney+)

Now we’re in the thick of it. Your daddies. These characters do not need to have children at all. But they do need to have an energy about them. Basically every single David Harbour and Pedro Pascal character has this energy. It’s the reason we’re in love with The Mandalorian‘s Din Djarin despite not being able to see his face. Pascal’s fictional version of Javier Peña and his little hands-on-his-hips stance in Narcos? Daddy. David Harbour as Santa in Violent Night? Daddy. David Harbour as Hopper? Daddy. David Harbour as Hellboy? Daddy. And yes, Ron Perlman’s Hellboy is also Daddy.

The point is, these characters have that distinct energy whether or not they’re actually fathers—which is why almost all Aubrey Plaza characters are also included in this category.

There is a Venn diagram of these energies

Joel Miller (Pedro Pascal) stands in a dark room, holding a flashlight in a still from 'The Last of Us'

Dads who have Daddy energy do exist. They’re the Joel Millers and Jim Hoppers. They’re Tony Stark, they’re Idris Elba in Pacific Rim. The point is, the Venn diagram where dads and daddies overlap is whatever you want it to be. You can be a dad and a daddy. You can be at the midpoint between dad and daddy and whatever else you want to throw in—the point is, this journey is about how you feel about these characters and their energy. Oscar Isaac loves to live in the dad/daddy range and we do love that for him.


You have now graduated from the school of Dadism and I was proud to be your professor on this journey.

(featured image: Disney+)

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Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast.