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.
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.
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.
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More Father’s Day reading on Geekend: What geeky pursuits did your dad inspire you to discover?