Film, TV + Theatre

Iconic dads in movies and TV that deserve all the love

Raising the bar


By Marissa Chin

Iconic dads in movies and TV that deserve all the love

Father’s Day is coming up this Sunday 16 June, which means it’s time for another round-up of memorable men that fit the bill (psst, have you checked out our Guide to Hollywood Daddies? It’s a lot of fun, we promise). This year, we’re celebrating the occasion by gleaning iconic on-screen fathers who raise the bar for dads—and aspiring parents—watching around the world. Ahead, find our picks for the best fathers in film and TV.


Din Djarin, The Mandalorian

Courtesy of Disney+ Hotstar

Pedro Pascal isn’t called the Internet’s Daddy for no reason. A pension for taking on endearing fatherly roles, Pascal’s portrayal of Din Djarin in Disney’s The Mandalorian as the stoic fighter with a green alien baby for a sidekick is as adorable as it gets. Seriously, every scene where Din Djarin is cradling Grogu in his arms is screenshot-worthy.

In the hit series, audiences see the fighter’s walls come down as he grows an incredible bond with Grogu and protects him with his life. From his stern yet gentle parenting style to their funny antics together, we’re jealous we’re not part of this kickass family.


Uncle Phil, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air


Those who watched this iconic 90’s sitcom would know that while Lou was Will’s biological dad, it was Uncle Phil who was his real father. Abandoned at age five, the teenager moved into his wealthy aunt and uncle’s Bel-Air mansion. From then on, Uncle Phil ensured he was a constant in Will’s life and raised him to be a standup guy.

In one powerful episode where Lou leaves Will again, Uncle Phil’s outburst and comforting hug show how much he cares for this nephew. This iconic scene cemented Uncle Phil as one of the best father figures in TV history.


Dill Penderghast, Easy A

Every now and then, we are reminded that Stanley Tucci portrayed one of the best dads in teen comedy. Premiering in 2010, Easy A’s Dill Penderghast was truly ahead of his time. Forget strict and scary fathers—Dill is the epitome of a cool, hip dad. Openly saying homosexuality is okay? Yes! Always reminding his adopted son he’s loved? Of course. Quick-witted, sassy, and utterly supportive of his daughter’s right (and wrong) doings, Dill is the parent we all aspire to be for our children one day.


Mufasa, The Lion King 

While he’s not in the film for very long, Mufasa’s presence in The Lion King has a huge impact and can be felt throughout the movie. From teaching his son Simba responsibility and how to rule the Pride Lands as a good leader to sharing about the circle of life, those precious moments of the pair together melt the heart—especially after Mufasa’s tragic death. The scene where Mufasa appears in the clouds and tells Simba to remember who he is remains spine-chilling and tear-jerking. With the upcoming prequel film, viewers will get to see how Mufasa grew up to be a fair leader and father.


Samuel Perlman, Call Me By Your Name


The relationship between Oliver and Elio is all-encompassing in Call Me By Your Name—so much so that you don’t realise Elio’s dad’s presence in the movie until his monologue hits you like a ton of bricks. When Elio is heartbroken over his breakup with Oliver, Samuel is nothing but gentle and understanding as he reveals that he was aware of the relationship the whole time.

His moving speech is one to remember, as he tells Elio not to hide his emotions but to feel the grief and sadness in its entirety to grow from it. It’s a beautifully tender moment between father and son which we want to see more of in cinema.


Marlin, Finding Nemo


We don’t know about you but a dad who is willing to traverse the ocean to find his son is an A1 father in our books. In Finding Nemo, Marlin is first depicted as overprotective and has strict rules for Nemo as the ocean is dangerous for small clownfish. In his quest to get Nemo back after being separated, Marlin learns to love is to let go. With a deeper understanding between the two, the touching relationship between Marlin and Nemo makes this film a timeless masterpiece full of valuable lessons.


Phil Dunphy, Modern Family


You can’t talk about iconic dads without mentioning Phil Dunphy. Sure, his occasional lack of social awareness and farcical antics can be a lot to deal with sometimes but you can’t deny that having a father like Phil won’t be fun. Known for his sense of humour and laidback disposition, there’s no such thing as a dull day in a household with Phil.


Mohan, Never Have I Ever


This comedy series follows Devi’s rollercoaster high school years but at the heart of it is her relationship with her father, Mohan. The two shared a special bond as viewers saw how Mohan encouraged his daughter’s harp-playing and cheered her on no matter what.

His sudden death was incredibly hard on Devi, which led her to act out and grow distant from her mother. Despite all this, it was her memories with her father and his advice that always led her back on the right path.


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