Bad Dads: A Top Ten List

As I celebrated fiction’s worst mothers in honor of Mother’s Day, I think it’s only fair I celebrate fiction’s worst fathers for Father’s Day. In an effort to combat the sentimentality of the day, here are five spiteful, violent, or just plain neglectful fathers from fiction and music. I happen to be an expert in the bad dad category (not that I have one anymore) – why yes, I’m being flippant about abandonment and death here – distasteful jokes for the win.

Jack Nicholson has a complicated family lineage of his own. In no particular order:

In literature:

5. Heathcliff in Wuthering Height by Emily Brontë. I consider Heathcliff a bad guy all around. Suffer, son, for I’ll never allow you to live near my enemy.

4. Humbert Humbert in Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. Even though he’s not her real father, it’s still inexcusable.

3. King Lear in King Lear by William Shakespeare. He wouldn’t know good thing if it stood in front of him. Obviously.

2. Tywin Lannister in A Song of Ice and Fire Series by George R. R. Martin. I cannot tell you how excited I am for the upcoming season, I’ll be positively gleeful after…

1. Jack Torrance in The Shining by Stephen King. Although you can blame the hotel all you want, Jack wasn’t exactly the model image of fatherhood before The Overlook overtook him.

In music:

5. Cat’s in the Cradle by Harry Chapin. It took me a long time to realize how sad this song was.

4. Janie’s Got a Gun by Aerosmith. Janie’s got a gun – and a good reason to use it.

3. Country Death Song by Violent Femmes. Just…no. Violent Femmes have some good options – runner up Gone Daddy Gone.

2. The Father Who Must Be Killed by Morrissey. Morrissey – always the picture of good cheer.

1. Story of Isaac by Leonard Cohen. God commands Abraham to sacrifice his son. Anything I have to say on this topic could easily be skewed as disrespectful (which is probably because it would be).

As always – thoughts? Suggestions? Obvious omissions aside from George Michael’s Father Figure…


10 thoughts on “Bad Dads: A Top Ten List

  1. Tywin Lannister in A Song of Ice and Fire Series by George R. R. Martin. I cannot tell you how excited I am for the upcoming season, I’ll be positively gleeful after…

    Yeeeeessss, next season is going to give me life with all the Lannister drama *cackles* But yes, Tywin would definitely not be shortlisted for best father of the year in Westeros.

    Great list! 🙂


    1. As Tyrion is my favorite character of the series, I am greatly looking forward to that particular event. Not to mention that Shae is hideously annoying on the show. So two birds and all that…!


    1. That is an excellent choice! I can’t believe I forgot about Everclear, I loved them in the ’90’s. And as I still love the ’90’s, they are an excellent option to include. When I was an early teen, I adored So Much For the Afterglow in its entirety.


    1. Well if the child doesn’t look like you, you don’t have to own up to it. right? I mean just because you have continuous unprotected sex with someone doesn’t mean you create a child. I love Edward, but his treatment of Adele is a drawback.

      I think it was your post that made me feel comfortable including my own poor-taste joke. It started with a Catholic joke, right…? I make Catholic jokes all the time – in Latin – as I am former Catholic (I knew all that Sunday school had to be useful for something)..It’s good to know that someone in a similar circumstance can appreciate my joke in the manner it was intended – a humorous jab at the macabre reality.


      1. I’ve never had a dad (though a biological father, certainly), so it’s never been something I’ve celebrated. I have this awful tendency to not be sentimental enough about anything.

        I share you doubts about the sincerity of the holiday (of most holidays actually).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: