Happy Father’s Day: The Top 10 Dads in Pop Culture

dads in pop culture

Every day is a good day to appreciate your father; nonetheless, Father’s Day is an opportune holiday to show your dad you care about him and appreciate all he has done for you and your family. Unfortunately, no dad is perfect, and pop culture television and movies has, in many cases, excellently illustrated the fallibility of our parents. In honor of the holiday, we’ve put together a list of our vision of the top 10 dads in pop culture—the sort of dads who aren’t perfect, but who have done their best.


For the sake of subjectivity, the characters listed are not put in a particular order; furthermore, you have been warned: spoilers ahead!


  • Stoick the Vast, How to Train Your Dragon (2010).

Featured in the DreamWorks Animation franchise, How to Train Your Dragon, Stoick the Vast is the father to our lanky protagonist, Hiccup. Stoick’s ignorance and intolerance is the source of tension between him and his son, but Hiccup’s determination and Stoick’s love for Hiccup creates an upward character development that creates a strong father and son relationship.


  • Homer Simpson, The Simpsons (1998–present).

The well-known animated American sitcom, The Simpsons, tells the story of a 5-person, middle American family with Homer as the careless, comedic father and husband. Homer Simpson falls within our top 10 not just because of his acclaim in pop culture but as a character that embodies the negative working class stereotype—neglectful, alcoholic, ignorant—but nonetheless dedicated to his family.


  • James, Fallout 3 (2008).

Fallout 3, a first-person, open-world roleplaying video game, is a vision of a post-apocalyptic world devastated by nuclear warfare. The player character is raised by his father, James, a former denizen of the wasteland, in an advanced, long-term fallout shelter. James is featured on this list for his dying sacrifice for his offspring and the wasteland: clean, un-irradiated water.


  • Hank Hill, King of the Hill (1997–2009).

King of the Hill is another animated American sitcom to feature a famous dad in pop culture: Hank Hill. The television show takes on a more realistic yet comedic approach to the middle class family where Hank Hill is an honest, hard-working dad but with a streak of the traditional, politically conservative man struggling to show emotion. Despite his personal deficiencies, Hank is a loving father and husband and an important dad in pop culture.


  • Hawkeye, Avengers (2012).

As far as the Marvel Cinematic Universe goes, we don’t discover Clint Barton’s family until Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), when the Avengers ensemble take refuge at Barton’s secret homestead. As a special agent of a fictional counter-terrorism agency, it must be difficult to fight terrorism (and sometimes extra-terrestrial beings) while worrying about a family back home. By the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Hawkeye retires and returns to his family. For his loyalty as an Avenger and to his family, Clint Barton makes it on our list as a top 10 dad in pop culture.


  • Joseph Cooper, Interstellar (2014).

Christopher Nolan’s dismal yet hopeful vision of a dystopian, post-truth future features the widowed ex-NASA pilot, Joseph Cooper, and father of the fiercely intelligent daughter, Murphey, and practical son, Tom. Cooper makes it on this top 10 list for his extraordinary sacrifice: risking his life and his relationship with his children to embark on a space-travel mission to save humanity—and most importantly his children—from extinction, when all odds are against him and his team.


  • Burt Hummel, Glee (2009–2015).

Making it onto our top 10 dads in pop culture is a character from the comedy-drama Glee: Burt Hummel, father of Kurt Hummel, a member of the glee club at fictional William McKinley High School. One of Kurt’s driving storylines is his identity as a homosexual teenager and his resulting struggle against abuse and prejudice. Burt makes it onto this top 10 list because of his refreshing acceptance and love for his son.


  • Weasley, Harry Potter (1997-2007).

What top 10 dads in pop culture list would be without at least one father from Harry Potter, the fantasy novel series by J.K. Rowling? Mr. Weasley makes the list for his devotion to his enormous family and compassion in pseudo-adopting Harry into the Weasley clan. Open-minded to the point he, a pure-blood wizard, is interested in muggle artifacts and staunchly loyal not just to his family and friends but to a cause—particularly against a certain dark lord—Mr. Weasley is an important dad to consider in pop culture.


  • Uncle Phil, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990-1996).

The quick-tempered Philip “Zeke” Banks, otherwise known as Uncle Phil in the 1990s series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air starring Will Smith, often shows his frustration for nephew Will and daughter Vivian’s antics. However, under the surface, his strictness is only an indication of his desire to be a strong-willed, exemplary figure in his children’s lives. Though Uncle Phil is not Will’s actual father, he plays a fatherly role in Will’s live driven by a deep love and care for his family.


  • Darth Vader, Star Wars (1977–present).

A primary antagonist in episodes four through six of Star Wars, a protagonist in the infamous prequels as Anakin Skywalker, and with references and cameo appearances in other Star Wars media, Darth Vader is an iconic figure in pop culture and should certainly make it onto a top 10 dads of pop culture list. Originally Anakin Skywalker, Darth Vader turned to the dark side of the Force to save his wife and children; when that failed, he would later sacrifice his life to save his son—and restore balance to the Force.


Happy Father’s Day from UWA Online Continuing Education!


Stay tuned for more fun holiday activities, insights into the Livingston area, and advice on continuing education! To see what classes we have to offer via our Continuing Education e-Learning programs, call 205-652-5100, or visit www.uwa.edu/ce!

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