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The most weird and wonderful fictional fathers

With Father's Day on the horizon (Sunday 18 June), we celebrate some of fiction and film's most lovable dads

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Sam Baldwin in Sleepless in Seattle

Sleepless in Seattle

While the story centres on the never-having-met relationship of Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, by far the luffliest relationship in this film is that between grieving widower Baldwin and his young son Jonah - marked by its candour, humour and warmth.

"You're my family. You're all I've got. What if something happened to you?" 


Marlin the clownfish in Finding Nemo

Finding Nemo

It would take a hard heart not be touched by Marlin's search across the ocean for his funny-finned son.


Dr Iannis in Captain Corelli's Mandolin

Captain Corelli's Mandolin

The mythology-obsessed village doctor Dr Iannis's advice to his daughter is particularly poetic: 

"Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident."


Daniel Hillard -better known as Mrs Doubtfire

Subterfuge, creepy prosthetics and a disregard of divorce law aside, the sheer dedication of Robin Williams's depiction of a separated father has marked this film out as a family classic. His speech to children of divorce at the end is well worth a watch. 


Guido Orefice in Life Is Beautiful

Life Is Beautiful

Anyone who's seen this 1997 Italian film will be familiar with the plot of the devoted father who, when separated from his wife and put in a concentration camp with his son, manages to keep the gravity of the situation from his child by pretending it's a game. Highly recommended if you haven't seen it - but do have a box of tissues at the ready. 

Giosué Orefice: I didn't like the train.
Guido [to his son]: Me, neither. We'll take the bus back, okay?
Guido [to the Nazis]: Did you hear that? We're taking the bus back!


Christopher Gardener in The Pursuit of Happyness 

Not strictly fictional, as the film is actually based on a true story. Will Smith acts alongside his real life son Jaden as a single father struggling with homelessness while trying to build a better life for them both. 

"I met my father for the first time when I was 28 years old. I made up my mind that when I had children, my children were going to know who their father was."


Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird 

To Kill A Mockingbird

Atticus's refusal to talk down to Scout is just one of the many things that makes him one of the greatest literary dads of all time.

"When a child asks you something, answer him, for goodness sake. But don't make a production of it. Children are children, but they can spot an evasion faster than adults, and evasion simply muddles 'em."


Daniel in Love Actually 


Recently bereaved, Daniel and his step-son Sam are muddling through the mourning process when Sam develops a crush on a girl at school. Neeson proves to be the stepdad with at least some of the right answers when they matter most.

Sam: Well, the truth is... actually... I'm in love. 
Daniel: Oh, well, okay... right. Well, I mean, I'm a little relieved. 
Sam: Why? 
Daniel: Well, because I thought it would be something worse. 
Sam: [incredulous] Worse than the total agony of being in love? 
Daniel: Oh. No, you're right. Yeah, total agony. 


Mr Brahma in Bend It Like Beckham

Bend It Like Beckham

It's hard not to warm to the quiet father of principal character Jesminder, as he learns to respect his daughter's ambition and value her talent.


Mr Bennet in Pride and Prejudice

Father of five girls and long-suffering husband to the loquacious Mrs Bennet, Lizzie Bennet's father bucks social convention by insisting his daughters marry for love, not convenience.

"An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.'' 


Walter Stratford in 10 Things I Hate About You 

10 Things I Hate About You

The seen-it-all gynaecologist obsessed with protecting his teenage daughters from the evils of sex and drugs,  Stratford's (ultimately affectionate) over-protectiveness makes for excellent viewing.

"You know fathers don't like to admit it when their daughters are capable of running their own lives. It means we've become spectators. Bianca still lets me play a few innings - you've had me on the bench for years. When you go to Sarah Lawrence, I won't even be able to watch the game."


Phil Dunphy in Modern Family


The former cheerleader who loves magic tricks, can't do DIY to save his life and is, quite frankly, in thrall to his wife Claire, is currently one of television's most endearing father figures. 

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Last updated: over 1 year ago