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The best and the worst sci-fi dads

Let us know if your list of the best and worst fathers in science fiction books, TV shows, and movies differs from Wally Bahny's selections.

Father's Day is just around the corner, so we thought it would be nice to take a look at some of the fathers in science fiction that may have been a good example to their kids and thereby to all fathers out there. Then, to round it out, we also take a look at some of the worst fathers in science fiction. Take a look at my list, and then offer up your votes for the best and worst fathers in science fiction.

Spoiler alerts: Some of the text below contains spoilers about the referenced book, TV, and movie characters.

The best

Jonathan Kent - Arguably the most honorable and kind father in science fiction, Jonathan Kent is the father of Clark Kent, better known as Superman. Discovering an alien child in a spacecraft crashed on (or near, depending on the version) your farm and being willing to foster that child as your own definitely goes above and beyond. Jonathan Kent has been seen in most, if not all, iterations and versions of Superman and is a very consistently upstanding character throughout them all. It's no wonder Superman is an honorable hero instead of a powerful villain. Benjamin Sisko - One of Star Trek's few fathers, and arguably the best, is Benjamin Sisko, commander of Deep Space Nine and captain of the Defiant. Losing your wife when your son, Jake, is a small child is no picnic, but Ben Sisko pulls through, raising an upstanding son by himself. Even when the trials of commanding a space station and the tribulations (not tribble-ations) of war with the Dominion stretch their relationship across light-years, Ben Sisko retakes the station and is beyond happy to see his son once again. Jango Fett - Many of you are saying, "Jango Fett? Really?" Yes, really. In many cultures, teaching your son your chosen craft is the best thing a father can do for his son. So, teaching Boba to become a bounty hunter just like his old man was only natural. Ray Ferrier - Ray Ferrier was just your normal, run-of-the-mill divorcee dad until, one day after picking up his kids for the weekend, Martians attacked. Ray stepped up to the plate, protecting his kids all while helping to fight in The War of the Worlds. George Francisco - It's not easy being an outsider, and who could be more outside than a family of aliens living on earth? George Francisco, the main character in Alien Nation, finds out just how difficult it is to raise a family and be a good dad all while living in the middle of a race of people who can barely stand his presence.

The worst

Darth Vader - The worst father in all of science fiction is Anakin Skywalker, better known as Darth Vader in Star Wars. While Vader was aware he had a son, Luke, he was too busy commanding the galaxy as the emperor's right-hand man to seek him out, even if it would have been just to kill him. Unbeknownst to him, he also had a daughter, Leia, whose adoptive family and planet he summarily destroyed to show the might of his newest weapon. (Related Geekend post: Contributor Edmond Woychowsky wrote about why Darth Vader was his unlikely fatherhood role model.) James T. Kirk - James Kirk is a fairly stereotypical swashbuckling playboy who is completely unaware he has a son, David Marcus, by his former girlfriend Carol. To Jim Kirk's credit, he at least tried to make amends with his son, but it was too little too late. David was killed by Klingons shortly after they initially met. You might think that Kirk was the worst father in the Star Trek franchise, but I know one worse... Worf - Like James T. Kirk, Worf had a son he did not know about. Unlike Kirk, when Worf was presented with the knowledge of his son, Alexander, he sent him off to live with his own adoptive parents on Earth because "a starship is no place to raise a son" (even though the Enterprise is full of families). Later, Worf feels dishonored by his son because he is not the warrior Worf wished him to be and practically disowns him. Lucius Malfoy - While I considered Jango Fett a good father for teaching his son his craft, based on the nature of the "craft," I consider Lucius Malfoy, father of Draco, a bad father. Jango, and later Boba's, chosen profession was dangerous but manageable, while Lucius's profession of working for the sinister madman Lord Voldemort can only end badly. Bringing his son into the fold was just asking to get him killed. Luckily, Harry Potter intervenes early enough to save Draco from the fate he surely would have faced. Jaime Lannister - Disturbing familial relationships aside, Jaime Lannister, father of Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen Baratheon, did not even acknowledge that he was their father, forsaking his parental duties and leaving them to the drunken man who was considered their father. Of course, acknowledging his paternity would mean his death and the death of sister/the childrens' mother, Cersei Lannister Baratheon and the probable banishment of the three children. "The things I do for love" indeed.

Disclaimer: TechRepublic and StarTrek.com are CBS brands.

More Father's Day reading on Geekend: What geeky pursuits did your dad inspire you to discover?
46 comments
infobd4
infobd4

Some science fiction is good why some is mediocre, but that's the same with any area of literature

brettwar
brettwar

I say "Q" on Star Trek TNG is about the worst.. And in later days I think Worf turned out alright..

garyfizer
garyfizer

I love Si-Fi, Si-fantasy, and some Fantasy. Sorry I still don't think of Harry Potter as Si-Fi. (yeah I still love to read Potter anyway.) It just isn't Si-Fi, But, I did start reading the old school stuff back in the late '50s.

sjhamlettco
sjhamlettco

Bad Sci Fi Dads - Lex Luthers Dad and Supermans Real Father (Smallville)

sjhamlettco
sjhamlettco

What about John Robinson? (Lost In Space)(Guy Williams) I think he was a very good dad.

BABYLON5_z
BABYLON5_z

One of or maybe the Best Dad from Smallville, John Schneider (Johnathan Clark) Clark Kents Dad. Unless You haven't seen Smallville. Worst Dad Maybe Lex Luthers Dad.

orionluv
orionluv

My Dad taught us that reading is important. He taught us a love of comic books (how geeky is THAT!!) so I was there for the first issue of Spiderman and many of the other Marvel comic heros. He told me as a teenager that Tarzan was really a love story, thereby getting me to read Edgar Rice Burroughs. He loved Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury. While my mom taught me to read, which I will also forever thank her for, my Dad guided much of my early reading with "you would like this" or "you should try that". Or he would just talk about what the book was about in his amazing storytelling voice, instigating the desire to experience it for myself. He also did a bit of writing, and when some of that was for Boys Life magazine, he would have me read the story before he submitted it - even though I was a girl. :-) Seeing as how computers and other geeky pursuits did not come about until after my own children were born, I consider my Dad's example a good basis for the love of future geekdom.

cme2c
cme2c

Went to work every day at Spacely Sprockets, bailed his kids out of trouble, provided fatherly advice. What more could you ask for?

P.F. Bruns
P.F. Bruns

"Anakin" only has one "n"! Even the Wikipedia piece to which you link has the right spelling. I mean, granted, anyone here knows I'm a stickler for spelling and grammar, but this name should be fundamental to all sci-fi geeks out there.

Charles Bundy
Charles Bundy

Robert Heinlein's "Have Spacesuit, Will Travel"

MyopicOne
MyopicOne

No love for Slippery Jim DiGriz?

jimnorcal
jimnorcal

The father, Richard Martin (played by Sam Niel) was a pretty good dad in that film. He sticks out in my mind as a very patient, wise and loving father figure. Aren't those the top best qualities we all look for in a father?

Billb114
Billb114

Never mind that Ray was played by a consummately terrible actor, Ton Cruise, in one of his most "phoned-in" of a career of phoned-in roles, Ray manages to convey in the first 30 minutes of the movie exactly how terrible a father he apparently has been. The fact that a devastating alien invasion must happen before he "steps up" to the plate as a father is NOT a good sign in my estimation. But I guess he pads out your article - you just have him in the wrong list...

mbrown
mbrown

For something a little more contemporary, how about Walter in Fringe? He risked the desturction of two universes to save his son Peter! Ok, there is also Walternate, but that means he could be best AND worst!

metaphysician
metaphysician

Do you read? Maybe 10% of movies and television is acceptable as quality science fiction. It's such a small bit of science fiction. How about Lazarous Long? He could be possibly among the best and the worst. Tom Swift Sr. was a quality dad. Both of Honor Harrington's parents seem pretty cool. Etc., Etc. There are twens of thousands of examples in the literature.

dpaff
dpaff

Kirk stayed away from Carol Markus because that's what she wanted and he was unaware that there was a child, so rather than being a bad father he was in fact the one being wronged as she denied him knowledge of / contact with his son. For Vader, he did not destroy Leia's planet, it was Governor Tarkin who ordered that.

mgbjay
mgbjay

...OK - Here are my thoughts... ...1 of the BEST SCI-FI dad's of ALL time, ta-daaaa...Mr. Tom Swift Sr....married to his long-time sweetheart & runs one of the huge conglomerates of his time while STILL supporting his genius inventor son and assisting him in his many exploits & backing his numerous inventions, which always worked when he needed them...and which, by the way, became actual items in the real world as time wears on & all through sixty some novella episodes (books). And the WORST dad in SCI-FI history has to be the father of SPIDERMAN's super-foe The Silver Surfer... Thank you, Thank you very much...Jay in Cleveland

drowan123
drowan123

He was a provider, protecter, and wise man. He was an awesome Dad.

richard.east
richard.east

Just a small nit pick... You started the article as Sci-Fi Dads ... I wouldn't class H potter and crew as sci-fi. There's nothing science based about magic. Or is there?

sparent
sparent

If Jonathan Kent made the list, I would propose that Ben Parker also makes the cut.

MartyL
MartyL

The main character alien, the detective (played by Mandy Patinkin in the movie and Eric Pierpoint in the TV series), was named Sam Francisco. His partner, (played by James Caan in the movie and Gary Graham in the TV series), the human detective, refused to call him that and dubbed him "George" instead. Just sayin' . . .

Professor8
Professor8

No, not the silly hippie-dippie movie; the old TV series. A busy father who couldn't always be in the same space-time continuum, but he tried.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

Kirk or Worf because they didn't know the ladies were pregnant when they split up and the ladies NEVER told them about being fathers, so it isn't their fault they didn't know. Thus you can't attach any blame to them at all. They did try to get involved once they knew, but as you say, it was too late by then - a problem intentionally created by their mothers.

CR2011
CR2011

Tom Mason from Falling Sky's in the Best category ?

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

haven't, won't and never will miss Smallville, I'd rather dig my eyeballs out withe a spoon than watch it....

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Since I don't remember any bad articles, you and your father obviously did a good job. :-bd

joseph.brodnax
joseph.brodnax

Yes, a love of reading but also a deep respect for the printed word. But also, I learned about artistic expression and elegance within technology. The conservation of energy and effort, accomplishing the most with the least. Reading was more like 'comfort food' when life was crappy. Of course one can take the whole conservation thing too far. Putting music and computer programs on the same cassette tape might not have been the best idea.

Syst0s
Syst0s

Anakin has two Ns. Did you mean at the end of his name?

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

If you include Jango Fett, you have to include Slippery Jim. And what about Inskipp? Or even the Bishop?

rich.frueh
rich.frueh

But, what would have been more responsible would be telling Walternate how to fix the cure, instead of going to the other universe, and kidnapping Peter, causing the majority of the Fringe events.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Think you are more likely to find David Eddings on his bookshelf than Steven Erikson. Probably has a Buffy and Twilight shelf as well . :(

pashippert
pashippert

I was very surprised that Leto Atreides (from what is arguably one of the best sci-fi opuses in history, Dune), father of Paul Atreides was not cited as one of the best sci-fi dads.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Song of Ice and Fire, now known as Game Of Thrones.

bkfriesen
bkfriesen

I see the 'magic' in the Potter world as a type of technology. There's nothing mystical about it, and is based on hardware(wands), and cleary delineated processes (incantations and/or chemistry). As Tony H reminded us, 'a sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic'.

Hazydave
Hazydave

I took a college course in Science Fiction, and this was one of questions on the final. What it really boils down to is simple: do things behave as science ought to, or not? It's quite possible to have "magic" in a Science Fiction story, but it has to be presented as a system with laws and basically, it has to suspend your disbelief by making what we would call magic seem scientifically credible. Similarly, you might have something like a robot in a fantasy story (Wizard of Oz, Full Metal Alchemist) if their existence isn't suggested as being based on extrapolated science. Of course, suspension of disbelief depends on the era and audience. We're automatically going to accept a robot with human intelligence as Science Fiction, since it's pretty much a matter of "when", not "if", that true machine intelligence will be created. Magic, on the other hand, is fantasy unless really presented in a Science Fiction framework. Harry Potter, of course, pure fantasy -- the magic in the books has few obvious rules, laws, and lacks any explanation of how it works or even how it's powered. Incidently... got 100% on that final. But I had been preparing most of my life.

mbrown
mbrown

He might strike the heroic pose and provide a lecture after his son screws up, but come on, he lets him hang out with Dr Smith!...bad idea, over and over and over...ok, it made it entertaining for us, but talk about bad parenting!

bboyd
bboyd

Worf had the wisdom to know that he wasn't father material. I mean if you got beat up by random aliens just to demonstrate that they were dangerous as part of your regular duties how would your confidence be.

mbrown
mbrown

Had the same thought myself, the kind of dad any kid would want.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

now if I can remember which one without having to paw through 500 boxes of stored books.

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