I’ve recently become a father, and as a student of pop culture I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how dads are portrayed in fictional settings. And in that there are some dads that I secretly want to be, and in a way look up to for their parenting skills.
At first glance Greg Universe doesn’t have much going for him. He runs a car wash, lives in his van, and his only son lives with three magical aliens that are training him to use his special powers. However, once you get to know him it becomes clear that not only is Greg a great father, but he really cares about Steven and his wellbeing.
But why would I want to be Greg? It’s because he gets to live adjacent to some seriously awesome science fiction drama without having to be directly involved. I would like to have his laid back attitude and approach towards life. He’s very much the kind of person who lives in the moment and doesn’t let the stress of the world grind him down, and I admire that.
The honorable Ned Stark is the best father he can be in the context of the world he lives. He has expectations for his children but he understands that they’re individuals with their own strengths and weaknesses. He deeply cares for all of them even as he feels pulled by duty to his kingdom. Ned tried his best, before his untimely end, to instill a strong sense of identity and duty in each of his children.
Doing the right thing isn’t always easy, especially in a world styled in European feudalism. But Ned honestly does care for his region, his people, and his children. I hope that I can instill the kind of sense and duty into my child that Ned has into his, and if my daughter wants to take lessons on how to master the blade? I’ll take a page from Mr. Stark’s book and encourage her.
I know what you’re probably thinking on this one. Homer Simpson? Seriously? I know that Homer might seem like an odd choice given the topic, but there are a lot of examples where Homer really shows that he’s a good dad (or at least tries to be) and cares deeply for his children. In one episode Homer takes a second job working all night to afford the steep price it costs to keep a pony, all for Lisa’s love.
Homer is also carefree and fun, which are aspects I hope I retain as I move further into fatherhood. He has a childlike sense of wonder that allows him to relate to his kids in ways that a lot of fictional dads struggle. I admire that about Homer, even if a lot of his traits can cause him to be something of a jerk to most people he meets.
Arthur is the kind of father that you don’t really appreciate until you’re older. It’s never fun when you’re young and you can’t afford to buy everything you want, but as you grow up you start to understand the sacrifices your parents made for your happiness. Arthur is a family man who focuses on happiness in his work and making a positive and powerful impact on his household.
Arthur also manages to balance his job and his family with some real political activism for a cause he strongly believes in. Joining the Order of the Phoenix can’t have been an easy decision for someone like Arthur, with so much to lose on a personal level. But he makes the right decision and fights the dark wizards even though as a pure-blood himself he and his family wouldn’t have anything to worry about. That’s conviction I can really get behind.
Yondu is the adoptive father of Peter Quill in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. The gruff and impolite leader of a Ravager faction kidnapped Peter when he was only ten years old, and instead of transporting him to Ego as he was paid to do, he saved Peter’s life by taking him on as a member. He was able to teach Peter the life skills necessary to survive in the far reaches of the galaxy Peter lived in.
But I’ll be honest here for a moment, I want to be Yondu because it would be a lot of fun to travel throughout space as a pirate and control a magical arrow. He wasn’t a perfect father, and arguably wasn’t even a very good person, but he had an interesting life and he did sincerely care for Peter (even if he showed it in weird ways).