Once again, it's Father's Day, and, as I did last year, I've got a batch of Terrible Dads who, one hopes, makes you more grateful for you own (if they don't then, damn, I'm sorry!)
Last year, there was some question in the comments thread over whether or not step-fathers should count. I think they do -- after all, saying they don't would be an insult to the good step-dads (and step-moms) who prove it takes more than a sperm (or egg) to make a parent. (cue that song about stepfathers that always makes me cry:)
Ahem. Where was I? Oh, yes...
WORST MOVIE DADS:
Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) and Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) in the Godfather films. For obvious reasons. Also, Carlo Rizzi (Gianni Russo), as suggested by AnnPW and by my mom. Carlo didn't immediately register with me as a dad, just as a rotten husband. But he did get Connie pregnant, although, as AnnPW noted, "he was, um, prevented from contributing more than a Y chromosome."
Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) in The Omen (1976). Parents deal with the loss of a child in many different ways. Still, accepting a substitute baby for the one who died, without telling anybody, including your wife, might have negative consequences down the line. Especially if the adopted boy is the Antichrist. And you're slow to pick up on that little detail. Until the demonic nanny pushes your wife out a window.
Darth Vader (James Earl Jones), the first three Star Wars films. Faced off his own offspring in battle, lopped off his son's hand, then took that moment to bitch out the kid for never sending him a Fathers Day card or a Pick-Me-Up Bouquet. Wasn't any better to his daughter, whom he held captive as a political prisoner, tortured with a levitating Hoppity-Hop, and later sold as a sex slave to a repulsive monster. (If a woman tells you her dad treated her like a Princess, find out which Princess she means. If it's Elinor Donahue from Father Knows Best, it's probably safe to book a second date.)
Dwight Hanson (Robert DeNiro) in This Boy's Life. (1993) I wouldn't want him as my dad in this or any other life (suggested by Scott).
Joe St. George (David Strathairn) in Dolores Claiborne (1995). So evil, Dolores (Kathy Bates) is my hero. Except I don't think she let him suffer enough.
Mr. Childers (Robert Duvall) in Sling Blade (1996). Kept his mentally challenged son in a shed, and later handed the boy his prematurely born baby brother to "take care of"(i.e., kill). Can we get a ruling on whether Doyle Hargreaves (Dwight Yoakam) also belongs on the list? Though he might be one of the most loathsome movie villains of the '90's, he never actually marries Frank's mom, and though he's planning to move in, doesn't quite get around to it.
(Scott: I'd say he was a promising candidate, who was saved from infamy by procrastination. Which, now that I think of it, probably foils more potential supervillains than James Bond and the Justice League of America combined.)
Glen Whitehouse (James Coburn) in Affliction (1998). His proudest moment as a dad was seeing his son turn into the same abusive asshole who drives people away that he was.
Billy's dad* in An Angel Named Billy (2007). I think we can also include Mark (Robert Lewis Warren), who wasn't creepy and disturbing at all, at least not to the director.
*The character wasn't identified by name in the movie, but looking at the entry in the Internet Movie Database, by process of elimination, I think he's the character identified in the credits as "Steve Houston", in which case he's played by Edgar Allan Poe, Jr., who's done as much for his family's name as Billy Carter did for his.
WORST TV DADS
Al Bundy (Ed O'Neil) on Married...With Children. The exact opposite of Ed's character on Modern Family (see below) in every possible way.
Jack Malloy (Geoff Pierson) on Unhappily Ever After. I was hesitant to include this character, because frankly, this show sucked, with a perfect suckiness, more than a sitcom had a right to suck. And the suckiest thing in this suckfest was the dad. Whether he was having imaginary conversations with a stuffed rabbit, going off on a misogynist tirade, or leering at his daughter in a way that suggested something other than paternal affection, Jack always left viewers wanting a shower after every episode.
Robert Layton (Rob Lowe) in the made for TV movie The Christmas Shoes. What a tool.
Javier Delgado (Benjamin Bratt) on Modern Family . We'll let his ex-wife Gloria (Sophia Vergara) explain: "When Manny was six, Javier took him to the petting zoo. I learned later that Petting Zoo was a strip club. A real petting zoo would have been cleaner." (Fortunately, Manny's stepfather, played by Ed O'Neil, is a great dad.)
Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) on Dexter and Frank Gallagher (William H. Macy) on Shameless. (both suggested by my mom).
Alas, I don't have premium cable and have not caught up to these on DVD. But, as my mom observed, Frank "never does anything for his family," and, now that Dexter's a dad, he might want to take a different career path.
And, finally, as a special musical treat, I give you: