The 14 worst dads in movie history

The filmic dads will not be winning any Father's Day awards

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  • Mason Storm in Hard to Kill (1990) Steven Seagal is framed! And in a coma for seven years! He awakens! Quickly regains use of his atrophied legs! Breaks some bones with aikido! Oh, and then remembers he had a son. Wonder if he's still alive? Was he killed? It's cool, the police lieutenant has been raising the kid as his own. Seagal takes him back after shoving a pool cue through the bad guy's neck. I think that's part of custody rights.

  • Mr. Goodson in Risky Business (1983) Mr. Goodson (Nicholas Pryor) is the type of stick-up-his-ass dad who owns cool stuff-but you can't so much as breathe on any of it. "Joel, do you hear something odd? Something unpleasant?" he says, needling his virgin son Joel (Tom Cruise) about the equalizer settings on the stereo. "A preponderance of bass, perhaps?" And don't even dream of driving daddy's Porsche, but do everything you can to get into an Ivy League school. "My house, my rules," he says. It's no wonder he bred a sexually paralyzed kid who thinks rebellion is listening to Bob Seger in his underwear.

  • Jim Baker in 16 Candles (1984) Paul Dooley eventually redeems himself during a late-night heart-to-heart with his daughter Samantha (Molly Ringwald) in John Hughes's breakthrough as a teen-angst auteur. But no good dad forgets his daughter's 16th birthday. Can you call DCFS for that?

  • Dan Gallagher in Fatal Attraction (1987) Michael Douglas's cheating heart puts his family in extreme danger when his mistress Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) turns out to be a total psychopath. In one shocking scene, Alex fatally boils his daughter Ellen's beloved bunny in a pot of hot water. It's just what happens when Dad selfishly thinks with his little head.

  • Rand Peltzer in Gremlins (1984) Thanks, Dad, for a gift that requires constant, meticulous care, and one that an old Chinese mystic warned you to not purchase. The entire town was almost eaten by monsters because you felt guilty for constantly being on the road trying to sell a Swiss Army toothbrush.

  • Elliot Hopper in Ghost Dad (1990) Fatherhood author Bill Cosby was a fairly absentee father in his TV series, swooping in from hanging out with jazz legends to offer up some parenting clichés to Theo, Rudy and the rest of the Huxtable clan. But in this completely forgettable film-which is somehow directed by Sidney Poitier-he's only there for his three kids to the extent that he haunts them after his untimely death.

  • Thornton Melon in Back to School (1986) Kids, you think it's bad that your dad is on Facebook? What if he showed up as your college roommate? Sure, he might knock down a wall and create a deluxe suite with a hot tub, but that just means that you have to see Dad naked.

  • George McFly in Back to the Future (1985) No skateboarding, guitar-playing teen wants to fight his wimpy, greasy-haired, peanut-brittle-munching father's battles. Particularly if you have to time-travel back to the '50s, get hit on by your own mother and duke it out with a Goliath numbskull just so you can one day be born. But as Huey would say, that's the power of love.

  • Tom Eckert in Red Dawn (1984) Harry Dean Stanton is a solid go-to dick dad (see: Pretty in Pink). Here, he tells his teenage sons to grab a bunch of sporting goods and head into the hills to fight a trained national army and avenge his death. First of all, he's not dead. Second of all, all the kids get shot. Because, you know, a quarterback with a hunting rifle will not take down a tank. I think Sun Tzu said that.

  • Jor-El in Superman (1978) I know the comics want you to belive shooting your baby into space is the ultimate act of parental protection, but he shot his baby into space in a hollowrock. Then the guy has to be a dick and butt back in and lecture the kid his entire adult life via magic crystals, despite the fact that Pa Kent did all the hard work. He also enabled Zod to exist.

  • Lincoln Hawk in Over the Top (1987) We're pretty sure that Take Your Son to Work Day is not meant to be stretched into a season on the road with a professional arm wrestling league (or robot boxing league, in the case of the direct knock-off Real Steel). The oily trucker Lincoln Hawk was such a fantastically bad father that Dan's wants-to-be-one-of-the-kids dad on Gossip Girl (who sleeps with one of Dan's friends) named his alt-rock band Lincoln Hawk. I'm convinced this was an overt nod. Gossip Girl could have used more arm wrestling, however.

  • Stan in Charlotte For Ever (1986) And you thought recording a pop song called "Lemon Incest" with your preteen daughter was fucked up? (It is.) How about casting said real-life daughter in a movie in which you play a suicidal alcoholic and make her hold a gun to your head? Serge Gainsbourg made some extremely cool records and shaped pop culture, but he's not winning any parenting awards.

  • Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood (2007) Plainview treats his son so horribly this entire film, I kind of overlooked the fact he beat him to death with a bowling pin at the end. It was almost moot at that point.

  • God in The Passion of the Christ (2004) God, that's so metal.

Mason Storm in Hard to Kill (1990) Steven Seagal is framed! And in a coma for seven years! He awakens! Quickly regains use of his atrophied legs! Breaks some bones with aikido! Oh, and then remembers he had a son. Wonder if he's still alive? Was he killed? It's cool, the police lieutenant has been raising the kid as his own. Seagal takes him back after shoving a pool cue through the bad guy's neck. I think that's part of custody rights.

Darth Vader and Jack Torrence are obviously terrible fathers—too easy. Likewise, the comedy genre is largely based on buffoon dads—Homer Simpson, Clark Griswold, any idiot played by Kevin James or Adam Sandler. So when we drew up a list of our favorite awful patriarchs in film in honor of Father's Day, we gravitated to the sleeper screw-ups, men were meant to look noble, thoughtful, traditional or heroic but actually come off as bad examples. We almost could have stuck exclusively to '80s flicks set in Chicago. Why was it that the dads in John Hughes movies were always such dicks? "My father loves this car more than life itself," "Hey, smoke up, Johnny," etc.


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