Father’s Day is this weekend and when I first proposed this article, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to focus on the best or worst fathers. Since articles on sweater wearing, advice spewing, child nurturing dads would be kind of boring, I went with the worst. This being a Geek related website, I’m sticking mostly to those genres we geeks tend to favor. So although Don Corleone and Chinatown’s Noah Cross were pretty terrible parental figures, you won’t find them on this list. Herewith then, I present to you:

8 of the Worst Fathers in Pop Culture


8.) Anthony Cooper (Lost)


Anthony Cooper (if that is indeed his real name) was the father of John Locke, the tragic, self proclaimed “protector” of the island. Cooper was also a con man, and no one was conned more than his own son. Having been abandoned at birth, Locke hired a private investigator to find his biological father. At first Cooper acted happy to be reunited with his long lost son, taking him on hunting trips in which to bond. But it was just a ruse to con Locke out of giving Cooper a kidney. He later rebuffed his son’s attempts at reconciliation, faked his own death and in the ultimate dick move, pushed Locke out an eighth story window, leaving him paralyzed.


7.) Balon Greyjoy (Game of Thrones)


I know there are a number of more vile characters on GoT, but I felt Balon fit the best in this category. First off, he willingly gave up his only remaining son Theon as a hostage to Ned Stark, as penance for starting a bloody uprising.  Upon Theon’s return nine years later, instead of happily welcoming him into his arms, Balon belittles him. He questions Theon’s loyalties and chooses Theon’s sister Yara to lead their army against the north, leaving Theon to command a single ship called the Sea Bitch. Later, Theon is taken prisoner and tortured by Ramsay Snow, who cuts off Theon’s penis and sends it to Balon, as a warning to withdraw his troops from the North or Ramsay will continue sending pieces of Theon. But Balon simply ignores the warning and his son’s fate, stating that since he can no longer further the Greyjoy line, he’s basically useless. Ouch.


6.) Deathstroke The Terminator


A lot of Deathstroke’s failures as a father can be attributed to bad luck or poor judgment. First off, during an attempt to rescue his kidnapped son Joe, he gambles that he can react fast enough to save him. Although he did save Joe’s life, he was unable to prevent one of the bad guys from slashing his throat, rendering him mute. He’s inadvertently responsible for his oldest son Grant’s death by refusing a contract from HIVE to kill the Teen Titans (a contract that Grant accepts, receiving special powers from HIVE which erupt and eventually kill him). He drives a sword through Joe (now a hero known as Jericho)’s chest when Jericho is possessed by the souls of Azareth. He’s even manipulated his daughter Rose into the mercenary business, drugging her with a specially designed serum to heighten her hostility and push her over the edge. Unfortunately, the process also resulted in her being driven somewhat insane and she cut out her own eye.


5.) Dr. Evil (Austin Powers)


Poor Scott Evil. First his father proves to be the ultimate absentee dad, having been frozen for the better part of Scott’s life, then he announces disappointment in him on national television for not being evil enough (“You’re quasi- Evil”). Dr. Evil constantly mocks Scott, especially when it comes to ideas of how to kill Austin Powers. He chooses clone Mini-Me over his own son, shrugging off Scott’s concerns that Mini-Me will kill him. He has a 101 ways to make him stop talking (“Okay zip it. That was a pre-emptive “shh!” Now, I have a whole bag of “shh!” with your name on it.”) Then when Scott finally embraces his dark side and turns evil, Dr. Evil switches sides. Kid just can’t catch a break.


4.) John Winchester (Supernatural)


John actually falls into the lesser realm of bad dads, but he still pretty much sucked. When his wife Mary was killed by a demon, John was left as a single dad to young Sam and Dean. But instead of guiding and nurturing them, John took on the role of demon hunter, often leaving the young boys to fend for themselves, usually in cheap motels. He possibly used them as bait, leaving 10 year old Dean to care for 6 year old Sam so he could search for a demon that, as it turns out, was hunting the boys. He denied Sam and Dean a childhood, raising them in a militaristic style, and is particularly hard on Dean. He constantly rides Dean, frequently taking out his anger, frustration and pain on him and letting him know he’s not good enough.

When Sam decides to leave the “family business” and go off to college, John flips out, telling the younger Winchester not to come back and cuts off all contact. He’s emotionally repressed and inaccessible. At one point a character says to Sam “When my dad used to look at me, there was hate in his eyes. Do you know what that feels like?” to which Sam replies “no.” He doesn’t even bother to show up when Sam calls him and informs him that Dean is near death. And as the final slap in the face, Sam and Dean eventually discover John had another son, whom he shielded from hunting, and acted like a real father toward, teaching him poker and taking to ball games. Still, for all he did wrong, he did give up his life in order to save Dean’s.


3.) Norman Osborn (Spider-Man)


Norman Osborn was a neglectful father to son Harry, concentrating more on making his business succeed and amassing a considerable fortune. When he did pay attention to Harry, Norman was often frustrated by his failure to demonstrate academic excellence or a competitive drive. He regularly belittled Harry and inflicted severe emotional damage on him, eventually driving him to drugs. Then Norman became the Green Goblin and developed a fixation with Spider-Man; an obsession which eventually lead to his (supposed) death. Harry eventually went insane and followed in his father’s footsteps, taking on the mantle of the Green Goblin, which eventually lead to his own death.


2.) Ed Wilson (Natural Born Killers)


Ed Wilson is a scumbag, plain and simple. He’s verbally and physically abusive, and molests daughter Mallory blatantly in front of his wife. He makes no excuses for his behavior and what’s worse, is totally flippant about his acts (“I’ll show her a little tenderness, after I eat. When I get up there, she won’t see my face for an hour”). He spits when he talks, and just oozes disgust. (“So you move it upstairs and take a shower. And make sure it’s a good shower, ‘cause I’m coming up after to see how clean you are.”) His son Kevin is the result of a drunken night of sex with his wife because he thought he was in Mallory’s room. (“You mean Mallory’s my MOM?”) He threatens to kill Mallory’s boyfriend Mickey. With all he crap he put her through, it’s no wonder Mallory became a psychotic serial killer.


1.) Darth Vader (Star Wars)


Some kids think their dad is the worst dad in the world. Well, Darth Vader turned out to be the worst dad in the galaxy. He tortured his daughter Princes Leia for information, and oversaw the destruction of her adopted home planet. Sure that was bad, but he was even worse to son Luke: he cut off his hand, killed his mentor, demanded Luke join him on the Dark Side of the Force or die, tortured his best friend, then froze him in carbonite (something he intended to do to his own son). And lets not forget he nearly killed both kids in-utero by choking their mother. Clearly, Darth was not cut out for parenthood.


About Author

Dave Zagorski

Dave Zagorski is a filmmaker who has yet to achieve his potential. He has written and directed two movies under his MAD Z Productions banner: “Killing Brooke” and a remake of the euro-horror exploitation movie “The Devil’s Nightmare.” He enjoys long walks on the beach, lesbians and putting his friends through hell on set. He hopes to one day win an Oscar, but until then he’ll make due with his son Oscar.