9 amazing on-screen father figures

Many of us have father figures in our lives that are special to us. Whether that’s your biological father or a brother, grandfather, uncle, or family friend that’s been around when you needed them most, they’re worth giving a special shout-out today for Father’s Day. Another category that’s worth congratulating? The dads of television and movies.

Sure, our relationships with them are different. But in a way, we grew up with these fictional father figures too. Some of them are clumsy, some are sporty, some of them are sweet. All of them have our hearts in one way another. Here are some of our all-time favorite screen dads.

Phil Dunphy in Modern Family

Phil is the ultimate “cool” dad. He will be the first to toot his own horn, laugh at his own jokes, and take credit for any smooth moves displayed by his children. He has an undeniable knack for saying the wrong things at the worst possible times, and his kids have no problem pointing them out. In his mind, he is the super lue that holds them all together. Through his many quests to prove this, he is often cleaning up the messes he creates by trying to fix everyone else’s. As a result, “Let’s not tell your mother about this,” seems to be his accidental life motto. He may receive more eye rolls than applause, but everyone knows they can count on him to do the right thing (or at least try) and be there for them no matter what. Plus, he can finger gun and wink like nobody’s business.

Chris Gardner in The Pursuit of Happyness

Will Smith plays Gardner in this movie, showing a parent’s undeniable and unconditional love for their child. By chasing a dream that would be unfathomable for most, Chris shows his son that is not only imperative that he follows his own dreams, but his right and responsibility to achieve them. At one of his lowest points in life, Chris turns to his son (who is played by Will Smith’s son Jaden Smith) and says this: “You got a dream. You gotta protect it. People can’t do somethin’ themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. If you want somethin’, go get it. Period.” Yeah. This dad deserves more than socks for Father’s Day.

Marlin the Clownfish in Finding Nemo

Let’s be real: Is there a better depiction of a father fish’s love out there? Marlin is the only living parent to his son, Nemo, and Nemo is Marlin’s only surviving offspring. Because of the extreme circumstances, Marlin battles with extreme parenting behaviors. Nemo tries to prove his independence by touching the big “butt” and, as a result, is captured. Marlin then goes on the voyage of a lifetime to rescue his son. Along the way, he opens his heart to an unlikely friend, learns exactly what kind of father he needs to be, and abandons his comfort zone to rescue his son. He may not be funny (it’s a common misconception for clownfish), but he is the bravest dad in the big blue sea.

Harry Stamper in Armageddon

Bruce Willis plays a dad who is recruited to save the world from an asteroid that is the size of Texas, takes on the challenge, brings along pain-in-the-ass Ben Affleck (who just happens to be his on-screen baby girl Liv Tyler’s fiance), learns to love him and see why his daughter wants to marry him, forces him to return to her instead of himself, blows up the asteroid by remaining behind, and save the entire world. And he does it all to ensure the future of his little girl. Cue the Aerosmith ballad—I’m going to need a moment.

Daniel Hillard in Mrs. Doubtfire 

How many dads do you know that would commit to dressing in drag as an old woman daily just to spend time with their children? Mrs. Doubtfire’s character is one of the most hilarious and loving father roles out there. Just try not to cry while watching this film—from laughter and sorrow. (We miss you, Robin!)

Mufasa in The Lion King

The stampede scene. That’s all you need to know. Bring tissues.

George Banks in Father of the Bride

Giving your daughter away is a hard thing to do for some fathers. You could say the idea of it may even drive a dad a little insane. George Banks (Steve Martin) is the perfect example. By trying to rid his daughter of her new fiance, he finds more trouble for himself rather than the soon-to-be groom. Once he succeeds at getting his daughter’s future husband in an unfortunate position (that could potentially end the engagement), he finds that he cannot go through with it after all and convinces him to keep fighting for his daughter’s hand in marriage. George shows us that the happiness of his daughter is enough to complete his own.

Uncle Phil in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Uncle Phil is the definition of a strong father figure. He is successful, a loving partner, a generous man, and he plays by the rules. This is why watching him attempt to parent his nephew, Will, (who is infamous for finding ways to break those rules) is hilarious. They may have their differences, but the one thing they have in common is their love for each other. Like most tough guys, Uncle Phil is one really big teddy bear when it comes to those he loves. For a good heart melting sesh, watch the episode (season 4, episode 24) where Will meets his “real” dad. It is the perfect example of why love will always trump blood when assigning the title.

Danny Tanner, Joey Gladstone & Jesse Katsopolis in Full House

What do you do when you’re a dad with three young daughters that no longer have a mom? You recruit two amazing uncles to move in with you, that’s what! That’s a lot of fingers to get wrapped around. These three wannabe macho men quickly find out that they are no match for pouty lips, puppy dog eyes, and adorable catchphrases like, “You got it, dude!” Have mercy. The girls have got it made with an uncle like Joey to make them laugh, an uncle like Jesse to teach them how to be cool, and a dad like Danny to show them how to love—mostly by giving really long emotional hugs. All of this goes to show that, even when you’re missing your mom, you don’t have to miss out on love.

Charlotte Crow is the blogger for Charlotte’s Little Web. She enjoys writing about self-love, body image, sisterhood, and the comedic balance of the three. A dry sense of humor, hot sauce, and moderately priced red wine are her weaknesses. Read more on her BlogInstagram and Facebook.

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