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Ask the Mary Sues: Who Is Your Favorite Pop Culture Father Figure?

It's Father's Day weekend, buy the dad in your life a steak.

the mandalorian

Father’s Day is tomorrow, that special time of year when you celebrate the man in your life by giving him yet another novelty tie. But this Father’s Day will be more poignant than most, as folks can finally gather and celebrate together in-person. Naturally, this got us thinking about our favorite fathers in popular culture. Film and television is littered with beloved father figures that run the gamut from gruff but loving to gruff but loving with a beard. I mean, can you name a single mother in the Disney animated universe? It’s dads for days.

Naturally, we had to take a moment to give tribute to our favorite pop culture father figures. These are the dads that lifted our spirits when we were feeling down, that made us roll a tear in more emotional moments, and that set the standard for all future fictional fathers to come. Dads, we salute you.

Briana Lawrence:

There are so many anime characters to choose from, but when I think of fictional dads I think of Shoto Aizawa, Class 1-A’s teacher in My Hero Academia. I know he’s not anyone’s biological dad, but this tired “I just wanna take a nap” man cares so much about his students. Currently, he’s fully embracing his “Dadzawa” vibe because of Eri, the child they rescued from the villainous Overhaul back in season 4, and Shinso, the student he’s been training because he felt he deserved a chance to get into the hero course. Aizawa always comes in with sound advice, sees the good in his students when others don’t (he’s defended Bakugo countless times), and despite his grumpy demeanor he truly is a great “dad.”

Rachel Leishman:

Asking me to pick a favorite fictional father is like asking me to pick a favorite child. I won’t do it! So I will briefly mention my love of Tony Stark, good dad and Jim Hopper on Stranger Things, but my main love will go to the filmography of Pedro Pascal, primarily with the character of Din Djarin on The Mandalorian. The Himbo King of Mandalore suddenly was given a 50 year-old child to take care of and became the galaxy’s best dad and I love him with my whole being.

Dan Van Winkle:

Piccolo! Sure, it’s hard to blame Goku for dying to save everyone at the beginning of Dragon Ball Z, but the idea of Piccolo as Gohan’s father figure while Goku—supposedly our hero—is an absentee dad is endlessly entertaining. What can I say? Lovable grumps are just so much fun, and Gohan taking up Piccolo’s fashion sense and techniques? Adorable.

Princess Weekes:

Benjamin Sisko from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is a great father and leader among men. His devotion to his son, Jake is beautiful to watch and he ends up being a surrogate father figure for many people. I loved how often the show took the time to focus on their bond and make it stand out as one of the best relationships period between two humans.

Lyra Hale:

Jim Hopper from Stranger Things developed a bond with Eleven that changed him forever. Sure, he wasn’t perfect and yes, he messed up here and there when it came to being her dear ol’ dad. But he tried and that’s half the battle in my book. Plus, that letter he left Eleven last season? Pure dad move. I really can’t wait for their reunion because it’s going to happen and their will be tears. Mainly mine.

Vivian Kane:

Over the last few years, we’ve all been doing a lot of reassessing of the pop culture we grew up with. A lot of it doesn’t hold up but there’s one thing not even viewing J*ss Wh*don through a modern lens can take from us: our love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Rupert “Ripper” Giles. Giles was the perfect father figure for Buffy (and the rest of the Scooby gang to varying degrees). He was tough when he needed to be, but ultimately made sure she felt protected not just physically but emotionally as she was repeatedly tasked with saving the world. Buffy had to put her life on the line over and over and lived bearing a weight no teenage girl should have to. But at least she had her friends and a beautiful relationship with one of the best paternal figures ever to grace our televisions.

Chelsea Steiner:

We’ve seen plenty of post-apocalyptic films about fathers protecting their families. But few are as compassionate and capable as Lee Abbott (John Krasinski) in A Quiet Place. Lee is an intelligent, even-handed engineer whose survival skills keep his family safe and sane for a lot longer than, well, most of humanity. He clearly loves his family, which comes across in his tireless work to keep them safe. The loss he’s endured would see other men crumble and fall apart, but Lee remains a loving, thoughtful father until the bitter end. If there’s anyone I want to be stuck in a dystopia with, it’s him.

Who is your favorite pop culture father figure? Let us know in the comments!

(image: Disney+)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently lives in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, son, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.