Worst fathers in pop culture

This weekend, Father’s Day reminds us all to appreciate and give back to our fathers. So, to see how awesome your dad really is, let’s look at how bad fathers can be. These guys do a great job of showing us what not to do. Some of them inspire vitriolic comments and some seem nice enough, until you think about it. (And if you’re in need of some warm fuzzies at the end of this post, vote on the best pop culture dads in this week’s Hub poll.)

1. Walter White/Heisenberg: Depending on the moniker, this guy could be evil or very evil. The mild-mannered chemistry genius becomes a gourmet meth cook and pushes through the ranks of the criminal underworld to pay for chemo and somehow bestow the rest to his family after succumbing to cancer. So, if you’re looking to make dad look like a real stand-up guy, hop on Netflix and binge on the delicious evil of Walter White in Breaking Bad. *Spoiler Alert* Here’s a video that shows Walter White’s descent.

Walter White

2. Frank Costanza: Anyone familiar with the name Costanza (Can’tstandya) knows that aside from producing the most annoying people on the planet, the family is second to none in family dysfunction. “The Feats of Strength” during Festivus are enough to make a son cringe. Add in his stopping short and you’d be screaming “serenity now,” if he was your father.

 For general laughs, watch this video. For further proof, start at 9 minutes.

Frank Costanza

3. Don Draper: This emotionally despondent alpha male has little time for his family. He’s an alcoholic, womanizing antihero who is carrying on a cycle of abuse handed down from his father. Don Draper’s parenting style will almost certainly make your father look like Mike Brady. Here’s a famous scene from Mad Men.


4. Frank Gallagher: Showtime’s Shameless features a father of six who spends his disability checks on alcohol and gets into hairy situations. The man’s reckless behavior keeps the show’s narrative going, but also allows us to examine what a bad father really is. Those of us with bad parents know that sometimes taking care of them makes you stronger. Here’s a clip from Shameless.


5. Frank Reynolds: *Spoiler Alert* He might not be the real father of Dennis and Dee Reynolds, but he certainly raised them (if that’s what we’re calling it). Whether you would condemn him for pretending to be his daughter’s lover in order to wrench money from her real father, tricking his daughter into thinking she’s eating human meat or taking his kids to their mother’s funeral under the guise of a barbecue outing — Frank Reynolds is awful. Not just an awful father, but just plain awful. Here’s proof.

Frank Reynolds

6. Homer Simpson: The longest running sitcom in television history became so popular largely on the back of this dopey character who, whether we like to admit it or not, we can all relate to. Homer makes some of the worst decisions in his life and it’s always to great comedic effect. Conan O’Brien’s rise to fame can be tracked right back through Homer Simpson’s antics and his accidental endangerment of not only his family, but Springfield and the entire human race, at times. Homer is not only one of the worst dad’s in pop culture, but one of the most lovable as well. See a clip here.


7. George Oscar Bluth Sr.: The patriarch of the Bluth family has countless affairs, cheats his family out of money on a regular basis and teaches lessons in some of the worst possible ways, often involving a one-armed man. George Bluth seems to channel dysfunction, much like Frank Costanza, but more successfully. The presence of his wife Lucille (Loose Seal) Bluth seems to amplify his deceptive and outright destructive schemes that leave his family in a constant state of “Arrested Development.” Here’s his parenting at work.


8. Archie Bunker: This conservative father has trouble catching up to the times, but he loves that about himself. The relentless confidence Bunker exudes makes him the most charismatic and hilarious of all the bad fathers in pop culture. The Bunkers have a stymied family dynamic, due to the overbearing nature of Archie. While he might not be the worst guy in the world, he inhibits growth in his family. The next moment, he will show us why conservatism is far from the load of bull excrement his son-in-law claims it to be. The balance of this character is something to really take to heart. In times of divisive politics, maybe Archie Bunker can teach us something about politics and a little about parenting to boot. His thoughts on democrats can be found here.


9. Tony Soprano: Tony Soprano may have had a therapist, but therapy doesn’t seem to do much good when you’re the head of an infamous crime family. Soprano commits some of the most heinous acts in television history (thanks HBO). So, it should come as no surprise that this short-tempered serial murderer isn’t that good with kids. While we know he loves them, he just can’t do what’s right for them. Walter White and Tony Soprano are often compared in this respect, justly so. If there wasn’t a Tony Soprano, there wouldn’t be a Walter White.



10. Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader: His involvement in Episodes 1-3 is enough to condemn one of the strongest jedis ever. OK, just kidding. His story in Episode 3 wasn’t as terrible as it could have been, that’s worth something (right?). All jokes aside, Anakin Skywalker’s monomyth journey is heartbreaking and his relationship with his children obviously suffered. “No, I am your father” might be one of the most misquoted lines in pop culture, but that’s because it’s a huge moment in the lives of the father-son duo. It sticks out to us the way the movies blended all of these stories into a cohesive story that seems like Shakespeare must have written it (either he or Marlowe). I mean, c’mon. Luke kissed his sister directly due to Anakin’s awful parenting. He spends most of Episodes 4, 5 and 6 trying to kill his children. This guy might have been under some weird Sith mind control, but that’s no excuse. Vader reminds us to make the right decisions early in life, if not for us, for our children. Here’s the most attention Luke ever got from his father.