Father’s Day is a day meant to celebrate our dads, grandfathers, and other male role models in our lives. I’ve been blessed to have a great relationship with my own dad, but unfortunately, fathers in fiction tend to get a bad rap. They’re usually portrayed in a negative way, if they’re present in the story at all.
Despite this, I still believe there are a lot of good fathers and father figures in stories, you just have to look closely for them. Since I did something similar for Mother’s Day, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite fathers, grandfathers, and father figures in fiction.
Joe Solomon from Gallagher Girls
As the title of the series implies, Gallagher Girls is mainly focused on the female spies-in-training, but there are a handful of male characters as well. The most memorable is Joe Solomon, who teaches the Covert Operations (or “CoveOps”) class at the Gallagher Academy. Though he comes off as strict and rough around the edges, it’s clear that he cares about making sure his students are prepared for the dangerous careers ahead of them.
Joe Solomon also becomes a mentor and father figure to the main character, Cammie Morgan. He was friends with Cammie’s father, Matthew, before he disappeared in the field. Because of this, he takes responsibility for Cammie, hoping to prevent her from meeting the same fate. Though he’s reserved, Solomon is clearly loyal to the people in his life.
Henry Spencer from Psych
In Psych, Shawn Spencer is a restless guy with a knack for noticing little details. Due to some… unique circumstances, he ends up masquerading as a psychic detective for the local police department. This, of course, leads to a series of hijinks as Shawn attempts to solve strange crimes, but the show adds another interesting dimension by including Shawn’s father, Henry, as a main character.
Despite being tough on his son, Henry generally does so in order to encourage Shawn to grow as a person (because let’s face it, Shawn has not accomplished much in life up to this point). Their relationship is sometimes tense, but Henry is repeatedly there for his son no matter what, even when it means coming out of retirement to work for the police department again. Perhaps he doesn’t display his care in a way one might expect, but Henry’s attempts to turn Shawn into a responsible, mature(ish) adult are a good indicator.
Blain Charleston from Steelheart
The first book of Brandon Sanderson’s Reckoners series only gives us a glimpse of Blain – in fact, we don’t even learn his name until later – but it says a lot about his character. While negotiating with a banker in the book’s prologue, we see that Blain is doing everything he can to provide a safe home for his son, David (the main character). Though tired and worn, he isn’t ready to give up.
This scene also reveals something else about Blain – he has hope that despite the villainous Epics that are attacking the city, there will be heroic Epics that will also rise to fight back. While most scoff at him as being naïve, his belief seems rather admirable. The world is getting bleaker every day, but he still chooses to look for the good rather than the bad. He even has faith that Steelheart – one of the most powerful Epics – could be more than a villain.
Though Blain dies in this prologue, these qualities of determination and optimism make him a refreshingly positive portrayal of fathers in fiction.
Abram Beaumont from Savvy
Everyone in the Beaumont family has unusual abilities, from generating electricity to controlling the wind and rain – except for Abram. The abilities come from his wife’s side of the family, which means that their children have them too. You might think that being the “odd one out” would make Abram a distant father, but on the contrary, his dedication to his family is one of his defining characteristics.
Though Abram isn’t present for most of Savvy, the glimpses we do catch of him show that he’s a good father, and his children look up to him – after all, the entire plot of Savvy is his daughter, Mibs, going on a quest to save him. Though he may not have supernatural abilities like the rest of his family, as Mibs remarks towards the end of the story, his savvy is “not giving up on anything or anyone.”
Iroh from Avatar: The Last Airbender
After losing his own son to war, Iroh becomes a mentor to his wayward nephew, Zuko. Zuko is eager to earn his way back into the good graces of his father, and so he zealously chases after the Avatar (this story’s “chosen one”, if you will). Iroh joins him on this journey, despite his misgivings about its goals.
Throughout the story, Iroh is continually patient with his bitter and misguided nephew. Even when Zuko gets angry with him, he stands by his side and offers advice and encouragement in hopes of bringing Zuko back on the right path. He teaches Zuko what he can, but also lets him fail and learn from his mistakes. Whether Zuko likes it or not, Iroh is always there to help him when he needs it, and he gives his nephew the strong role model he needs.
Plus, he likes tea.