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June 14, 2024


Who doesn’t love a good dad? They’ve got endless wisdom, awesome taste in movies, beautiful beer-bellies, and some truly unforgivable (yet amazing) jokes. With Father’s Day fast approaching, Preston (Bitesize Breakdown’s one and only dad) and I thought it would be fun to compile a list of our favourite on-screen fathers. They’re obviously no substitute for the real deal, but these fictional father-figures have entertained us, inspired us, and taught us valuable lessons about what it means to help support a family. Join us as we give a loving shout-out to some legendary dads from the big and small screen while exploring the qualities that make them worthy of our list.


Marlin (Albert Brooks) from Finding Nemo may be remembered as one of the greatest animated dads of all time, but it’s easy to forget that he didn’t exactly start that way. At the beginning of the movie, Marlin is certainly less than the ideal parent. There’s no doubt that he loves Nemo (Alexander Gould), but he’s controlling and extremely overprotective (which is, honestly, pretty understandable considering what happened to his wife). For me, the reason Marlin is such a great father is that despite all his trauma and greatest fears coming to pass, he still finds it within himself to change his ways. After an intense, harrowing journey to rescue his son, you’d expect Marlin to double down on his overprotective ways; however, he learns that for Nemo to grow as a person (fish?), he must let him live his own life. After raising his son single-handedly, travelling the ocean to rescue him, and coming out the other end as a better parent, there’s no denying that everyone’s favourite clownfish deserves his spot on our list. - Caleb


Childlike innocence and naivety are accurate descriptors for one of television’s best all-around dads, real estate agent extraordinaire Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell), the kind of endearing father that you just have to love. Way less cool than he thinks but so committed to his family to even care, his methods of “peerenting” — peer-like talk while sneaking in some parenting — is just the kind of goofy tool that the best dads use to ensure their children are receptive to the techniques necessary to make them the best version of themselves. His infectiously positive attitude and fantastically stealable dad jokes in the face of seemingly overwhelming familial trepidation is nothing less than inspiring to children who have to face a sometimes overly pessimistic world, not to mention to the dads just trying to put on their best face for those they love. -Preston


Anyone who has ever watched an episode of Bob’s Burgers knows that the Belcher kids can be a lot to handle. Between Gene’s (Eugene Mirman) wild eccentricity, Tina’s (Dan Mintz) teen angst, and Louise’s (Kristen Schaal) chaotic fits of rage, it would be pretty easy for these kids to get on their dad’s nerves. However, despite all their quirks, Bob Belcher (H. Jon Benjamin) is incredibly supportive of his crazy children. Whenever Gene wants to embrace his loud, theatrical side, Bob helps him do so instead of shutting him down. When Tina starts becoming interested in boys, Bob helps her navigate her awkward newfound feelings rather than being overprotective or controlling. On top of all that, he works endless hours at his restaurant to make sure his kids get to enjoy the fulfilling childhood he never had. Bob is as open-minded as he is hard-working, and he’ll do anything to make sure his children live their best lives. He never wants his kids to be anything other than the greatest version of themselves, and that's the mark of a great dad. Good job, Bob! - Caleb


Have you ever looked at a couple and wondered how one pulled the other? Humour, perseverance, and confidence are often the answers that not only make for a good selling point to a potential mate, but also make for amazing characteristics to a good father. Guido Orefice (Roberto Benigni) is a Jewish-Italian bookstore owner whose story is going well in winning over his eventual wife and having his much-loved son. However, his personal fairy tale is short-lived as his beloved family is split up and interned at a Nazi concentration camp. Life is Beautiful certainly demonstrates how much Guido loves his wife and family, but it focuses more on his qualities as a father by taking the entire burden of the grave situation on his own shoulders, remaining his lighthearted and goofy self in front of his son. He convinces his son that they are playing a game to encourage him and keep him safe while also giving their crooked stay a purpose. We can only hope to aspire to such stoic courage as a father. -Preston


Uncle Phil (James Avery) may be a hothead, and he may literally throw people out of his house on occasion, but he’s also an incredible role model. Throughout the six seasons of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Phillip Banks consistently demonstrates what it means to be a good husband, a good man, and, of course, a good father. He preaches the importance of respect, accountability, and integrity to Will (Will Smith) and his children, giving them (and audiences at home) someone to look up to. Uncle Phil’s relationship with Will is particularly powerful because he serves as the strong father figure Will never had growing up. This bond is highlighted in the famously tear-jerking episode “Papa’s Got a Brand New Excuse.” In that Season Four episode, Will’s biological father re-enters his life only to abandon him yet again, and it’s Uncle Phil who’s there to pick up the pieces of Will’s broken heart. Their tearful embrace made for one of television's most touching, beautiful moments, and it forever cemented Phillip Banks amongst the greatest TV dads to ever do it. - Caleb


Walter White? …like, from Breaking Bad? …an example pointing to the characteristics of a good dad?! You’re damn skippy! Walter White (Bryan Cranston) has been met by the worst of an evolving chain of events that…yeah, maybe some of which he may have caused on his own, but his first instinct is always to take care of his family. The man, who is told he doesn’t have much longer to live, makes every effort to ensure his family is financially secure when he is gone. To do so, he uses the only skills he has available to him, those of an overqualified high school chemistry teacher, to make the best damn meth the drug community has ever seen. His perseverance and courage in the face of ever-increasing danger to provide for a family that almost completely disregards his value as a man and father (F@*! you, Skyler! Not you, Anna Gunn) is a laudable value we can admire in this wayward dad. -Preston


Poor Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) has had it pretty rough when it comes to father figures. His own dad died when he was an infant, his godfather Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) spent most of his life locked away in Azkaban, and his uncle Vernon Dursley’s (Richard Griffiths) knack for cruelty is second only to Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) himself. However, throughout all of Harry’s years at Hogwarts, there was one man who acted as a responsible, dependable, and compassionate fatherly presence in Harry’s life. That man’s name is Arthur Weasley (Mark Williams). While Arthur certainly isn’t the only fictional dad to help raise someone else’s kid (see Uncle Phil above), it’s the fact that he supports Harry without having the means to do so that earns him a spot on this list. Despite already struggling to make ends meet for his own seven children, Arthur willingly accepts Harry as one of his own, caring for him, protecting him, and giving him a strong fatherly figure to guide him through the wizarding world. The Weasley kids may not have all the money in the world, but when it comes to dads, they won the lottery. - Caleb


Jim Hopper (David Harbour) is somewhat unique amongst our fictional fathers. Kind of like Uncle Phil, he takes on the role of parental guardian when he really doesn’t have to. He sees the need to be a paternal protector to a child who has felt alone, betrayed, and unprotected for much of her life. What I relate to the most is the terrifying and frustrating duty of trying to do what is best for a daughter who is dating, especially when his role is further complicated by his adoptive daughter’s powerful, but draining powers. In spite of these special abilities, he still loves her unconditionally, he accepts her fully, he puts himself to the danger, and protects her when others might be too scared. We should be so lucky to have a dad like Jim. Shout out to all the other single fathers and noble step-dads out there fighting the good fight to create a life where the qualifier “step” doesn’t even register. -Preston

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