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  • Writer's pictureAlex Alexander

Movie Dad Archetypes; Which One Are You?

Updated: Dec 6, 2021

Were you influenced by Movie Dad’s growing up? I sure was.

But it’s time to rewire some of that outdated hardwiring.

One of my earliest memories of a Movie Dad was Vito Corleone. The well intentioned ‘Godfather’— A patriarch and a mobster with a strong sense of family and an affinity for horse heads. Loyal but cold, a distant, disciplinarian type.

As Dad’s of a certain generation we have been fed DAD stereotypes since we were kids.

From movies to TV, ranging from but not limited to:

Fresh Prince and Full House after school and the movie classics like Star Wars, The Godfather and Die Hard (yes I have included Die Hard as a classic)…

But has anything really changed in the way dad’s are being represented on screen?

As a Dadult I have decided to make use of the copious amount of films that I have consumed over the decades to use this knowledge for the GOOD of ‘man’kind in an aim to change the narrative and even start a moviement (Yes you read that right) . So that our kids can start to see more positive father role models on-screen.

The list below represents the 10 most common Movie Dad archetypes I have found through my extensive“research”spanning over four decades:

1. The Abusive Dad - Darth Vader

Look no further than Darth Vader (DV)… or Thanos. This is a common Archetype used in movies...because it’s their instability that creates high drama (Eg He abandoned his children and cut off Luke’s hand… that’s pretty sh*t by any measure). In the real world DV would likely be diagnosed with ‘Borderline Personality Disorder’ as he displays instability in moods, interpersonal relationships, self-image, and behaviour. Also see no.4 Narcissist Dad. These 2 are closely related.

2. Traditional Dad - The Godfather

Best represented by Vito Corleone (aka The Godfather) see above; the character traits that fulfil this archetype.

3. The Fun Dad - Mrs. Doubtfire

Think Mrs. Doubtfire. More of a playmate than a dad — He spoils the kids and is the fun one. His fundamental responsibility as an authoritative parent is neglected and usually passive. In addition, it makes Mum the sole disciplinarian or the bad parent. Often creating chaos in a family. Great when raising the stakes in a movie less so IRL.

4. The Narcissist Dad - Frank Gallagher, Shameless

Is tyrannical, selfish, and totally incapable of recognising his children’s needs, let alone fulfilling them. Gas lighting, manipulative , needy and controlling.

Think Frank Gallagher - Shameless and Tywin Lannister - Game of Thrones.

Does this sound like it could be you? If you answered yes, chances are high you are not a narcissist as they often lack self awareness 😅

5. Bad-Ass Dad - Liam Neeson, Taken

Think of Liam Neeson in Taken Who could forget his infamous line about his "very particular set of skills"? A former CIA operative who retired so he could spend more with with his daughter, He was forced to use those skills to save her from human traffickers. He didn't stop for anyone, and annihilated the people who got in his way.

What Makes a Bad Ass Dad ? Don't even think about hurting his family, because he will find you, and he will kill you…That’s what!

6. Asshole Dad - Harry Wormwood

He’s the dad that shouts and swears by the sidelines pressuring his kid to score during the weekend soccer game. He’s Harry Wormwood in Mathilda - Ignoring his gifted child, verbally abusive, neglectful, absent and deservedly paid the price of his daughters telekinetic wrath.

7. The Absent Dad - Ted Lasso

Physically, emotionally, or spiritually, leaves a void in his children’s lives that only he can fill.

Ted Lasso is physically absent, tries to be virtually present across continents but serves as a father figure to his team to feel that void.

8. Wise Dad - Atticus Finch

Atticus Finch is morally steadfast and fearless while being sensitive to his daughter’s confusion about the social upheaval in their town. He always has time to patiently sit and explain to his kids.

9. Protective Dad - Jack Byrnes

Robert De Niro as Jack Byrnes, forces Greg Focker to endure a lie detector test, emotional abuse, and a series of violent mishaps to protect his baby girl.Overprotective parenting will encourage a child to lie and kids will likely end up an anxious mess.

10. Dream Dad - Tony Stark

Tony Stark. By no means perfect, has overcome his own bad parenting cycle, BUT acts as father figure, mentor and role model to his own child and surrogate son Peter Parker. He ultimately makes the sacrifice to save humanity whilst not obliterating his own daughters existence.

Confession: I have spent the last 2 weeks trying on a few archetypes and I’m ready to reveal which Movie Dad I am.

I’ll take no.10 thanks mixed with no.8 while sometimes battling no.1 and often getting accused of being no.3 with a dash of no.4.

Unfortunately real life is a little more complicated and less binary than a top 10 list. Oh and I’ve definitely been no.9 especially with our 1st child. So basically a top 10 hot tamale mess.

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