As you get set to give dad another crappy tie or singing, wall-mounted bass, we're looking at the most caring — and the most callously destructive — father figures in movies, comics, and TV.
He might've been an absentee dad — almost as absentee as you can get, given that he was a dead time-traveler for much of John Connor's adolescence — but he put Sarah Connor on the path towards the future and armed her with knowledge (and knocked her up).
To be fair, much of the reason why Lee and Bill Adama had such a strained relationship is because Lee was a self-important dick. But over the course of the series, Adama the Elder proved his worth, to both his son and his fleet, time and time again.
War of the Worlds
Yes, Tom Cruise was in the middle of his bat-shit-crazy phase when this came out, so it's easy to forget that he was playing a dude way over his head who still managed to see his children safely through an alien invasion.
As Kal-El's adoptive father — the man who impressed upon his alien ward the quiet, decent, midwestern strength that would serve Clark Kent so well — Pa Kent proves that blood does not necessarily a father make.
He was a good man — attentive to his consort, as generous with his time to his son, or as generous as a Duke of the Landsraad can be — he just choose poorly when it came to real estate.
When some dads hit a mid-life crisis, they buy expensive cars, take up boating, or cheat on their wives. But the man once known as Mr. Incredible simply rediscovers the joys of superheroism — and shares them with his family.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
A single father, raising a kid in a space station on the edge of a wormhole, the kind of space-time anomaly that kicks out evil every week? It's amazing that Jake Sisko wasn't turning tricks in a cargo hold for synthahol money.
I've never seen the show (I know, jihad me), so this is what Annalee Newitz had to say: "Sam and Dean's hunter father John taught the boys everything they know about destroying evil, but also forced them to spend their childhoods on the run, always moving from town to town. When Dean's life hung in the balance at the beginning of season 2, John made a deal with Azazel: his soul for Dean's." Awwww...how sweet.
The Walking Dead
This poor survivor of a zombie apocalypse has had to put up with a whole lot since his world ended. We can't even tell you the bulk of it for fear of spoiling too much — let's just say that tying shoes has gotten difficult — but through it all he's tried to be a good father to his son, Carl.
He's a man with a lot on his shoulders: Commissioner Gordon does as much to fight crime in Gotham as Batman, but he doesn't get to skip the paperwork. And he still carries the wounds of his encounter with the Joker that left his daughter in a wheelchair. The fact that he raised a smart, tenacious woman all by himself oughta earn him a statue.
What's it like being the sheriff in a town full of screw-loose geniuses? Probably a lot like being a dad — which Jack Carter is, to his now-college age daughter, Zoe — or a shepherd.
JAMES T. KIRK
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
He's a great starship commander, no two ways about it, but Kirk didn't even know what his son looked like.
Here's a bloke who didn't even know he had children (Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver). I guess being a megalomaniacal mutant supervillain can be a distracting line of work. Have to make time for the little things...like offspring.
The Star Wars saga
It took him a long time — okay, a really long time — to do the right thing, but he did sacrifice himself to save both his children and the universe. Of course, he killed uncounted millions of people before then.
He tried to be a good dad — making it home for dinner, taking an interest in his adopted daughter Claire's extracurricular activities — but those decades of lying to his family about his gig as a mutant hunter took their toll.
But this guy makes Noah Bennet look like a Boy Scout troop leader. The ruthless head of the Pinehurst Corporation, Papa Petrelli was going to build an army of supervillains if it was the last thing he did. And, thanks to his children — Peter and Nathan — as well as Sylar, it was.
Here's a guy who actually tried his best to be a good father, to keep his son, Walt, safe from the dangers of the Island. But he made bad choice after bad choice; it got so bad that Walt won't even speak to him.
He stole another man's son and raised him — badly — as his own. It gets a little tricksy because he reached into an alternate universe and stole from "himself," but still.
The Venture Brothers
This former child science adventurer grew up hating his life and, as an adult, has transferred that hate onto his dimwitted sons, Hank and Dean.
RA'S AL GHUL
There's no denying that this villainous ressurrectionist loves his daughter, Talia — who eventually had a child with the Dark Knight. But he also raised her to take over as the head of the League of Assassins. So you've gotta question his judgment.