No offense to our real dads, but we’d be lying if we said we didn’t learn a life lesson or two from the great Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird) or Chris Gardner (The Pursuit of Happyness)—better known as our imaginary guardians. Sure, not all of them are realistic (we’re looking at you, Mrs. Doubtfire), and some have their flaws, but it’s safe to say that these on-screen patriarchs left quite an impact on us over the years. So, in honor of Father’s Day, we’re taking a moment to highlight the 25 best movie dads of all time.
25 Best Movie Dads of All Time, from Atticus Finch to Gomez Addams
1. Gomez Addams From “the Addams Family”
He may be “mysterious and spooky,” but there’s no denying that he’s also a generous, attentive and compassionate father. Gomez genuinely cares about his children and often puts their needs before his own, offering support even when he doesn’t fully understand their interests.
2. Mac Macguff From “juno”
Elliot Page may be the brightest star of this flick, but their character’s dad also deserves props for being such a patient and supportive parent. While most fathers would throw a tantrum after learning that their teenage daughter is pregnant, Mac handles the news with grace and maturity, then proceeds to offer support (and plenty of dad jokes).
3. Nick Parker From “the Parent Trap”
The lovable vineyard owner definitely has his flaws (especially when it comes to dating), but if there’s one characteristic we admire, it’s his loyalty to his daughters. Remember that one standout scene, when an upset Meredith insists that Nick choose between her and his own kids? Classic.
4. Atticus Finch From “to Kill A Mockingbird”
Atticus Finch’s sense of morality is unparalleled. And seeing him instill so many great life lessons—like the importance of living with integrity—is always inspiring to see. But more importantly, the attorney practices what he preaches and leads by example, regardless of how it affects his public image.
5. Chris Gardner From “the Pursuit Of Happyness”
Will Smith brings the incredible Chris Gardner’s story to life in this poignant film, proving that the best fathers persevere through adversity to ensure a better future for their kids. Even as Chris struggles to find a steady job and provide for his son, he doesn’t give up, setting a strong example of how to handle life’s curveballs.
6. Jason “furious” Styles From “boyz N The Hood”
Ten-year-old Tre gets the wake-up call of a lifetime when his mother sends him to live with his father, Furious, in a dangerous L.A. neighborhood. His fearless dad strategically keeps him out of trouble by giving him a heap of chores, while also teaching him the importance of responsibility and confidence.
7. Maverick Carter From “the Hate U Give”
It’s always refreshing to see role models who don’t embody the “absent Black father” stereotype. In The Hate U Give, Maverick, a former drug dealer, is a nurturing and devoted father who teaches his children to stand up to injustice.
8. Daniel Hillard From “mrs. Doubtfire”
No, we’re not saying that it’s OK to dress up in drag so you can manipulate and spy on your family. But even with his questionable actions, Daniel proves that his love for his kids is unconditional. Talk about dedication.
9. Peter Mitchell, Michael Kellam And Jack Holden From “three Men And A Baby”
We know, we know—the film initially assumes that men are inept when it comes to caring for babies. Still, we can’t ignore that it challenges gender stereotypes. At a time when women are seen as primary caregivers, this film proves that men can also succeed at parenting.
10. John Riggs From “prancer”
One thing’s for sure: This struggling apple farmer and widower works hard to provide for his kids. You might recall one memorable scene, where he insists that they will not starve as he prunes the trees…because they have “stewed apples and baked apples and dried apples and apple butter.”
11. Andrew Shepherd From "the American President"
The father-daughter duo may not share too many scenes together, but it’s clear that they have a genuine and playful bond. Still, Andrew knows when he needs to put his foot down, and Lucy doesn’t hesitate to call him out or list dating tips to spare him embarrassment.
12. Kim Ki-taek From “parasite”
He’s far from perfect, but much of what Kim Ki-taek (AKA Mr. Kim) does throughout the movie is driven by his desire to succeed and provide for his family.
13. Tom Baker From “cheaper By The Dozen”
Being the father to a dozen kids is no easy task. And yet, Tom still manages to juggle that responsibility with his coaching job. Regardless of how chaotic and stressful things get, Tom is still loving and extremely patient with each of his kids.
14. Juan From “moonlight”
Juan isn’t Chiron’s biological dad, and he doesn’t have his life together. Still, these things don’t stop him from becoming the loving father that Chiron needs after saving his life. Juan takes him in and guides the young boy on his coming-of-age journey by encouraging him to embrace his identity.
15. Sam Baldwin From “sleepless In Seattle”
Given his kind, sensitive nature and love for his son, it comes as no surprise that countless women flock to the widower after hearing his story. Even as Sam continues to grieve his late wife, it never gets in the way of his fatherly duties.
16. Ted Kramer From “kramer Vs. Kramer”
It takes some time for Ted to develop a bond with his little boy. But after they finally get to a good place, he’s forced to deal with his worst nightmare: a custody battle with his former partner. Due to his love and devotion, he doesn’t give up without a fight.
17. Noah Levenstein From “american Pie”
Not every dad would cover for their son after a sexual apple pie incident. And not all dads would offer an abundance of support while driving their son to the hospital after damaging his, uh, private parts. But Noah certainly would. All thanks to his incredible patience and understanding.
18. John Quincy Archibald From “john Q”
Of course, we don’t condone his methods, but John is a classic example of how far a determined father will go to protect or save his children. In this thriller drama, John Q resorts to taking hostages when he learns that he can’t afford the cost of his son’s life-saving operation.
19. Dill Penderghast From “easy A”
Arguably one of his most memorable roles to date, Stanley Tucci steals practically every scene that he’s in. And though there aren’t that many, he still comes across as a quirky, charming and incredibly supportive dad (who would totally take a bullet for Olive).
20. Marlin From “finding Nemo”
He may be a clown fish, but his character arc truly demonstrates how parents can come to terms with their flaws and become healthy role models for their children. Throughout the movie, Marlin goes from being an anxious, overbearing father who’s terrified of the ocean to being a supportive dad who’s confident in his son’s abilities.
21. Graham From “the Holiday”
Jude Law is phenomenal as the charming single dad, who simply can’t resist doing “Mr. Napkin Head” for his little girls to make them laugh. Though he’s raising them on his own, the widower is incredibly patient and kind to them. And the fact that he waits to introduce them to Amanda shows how protective he is of his family.
22. Charlie Hinton From “daddy Day Care”
Charlie bites off way more than he can chew when he decides to co-run a new daycare center out of his home. When he and his pal welcome a group of preschoolers (including Charlie’s son), they learn to navigate the ups and downs of fatherhood.
23. Monty James From “daddy’s Little Girls”
Idris Elba stars as Monty, a hard-working mechanic and single dad who has a loving relationship with his three daughters. He's the kind of father who immediately ditches his job and risks getting fired to ensure the safety of his children. He’s also determined to win an ugly custody battle—even though the odds are stacked against him.
24. Mason Evans Sr. In "boyhood"
Mason doesn’t set the best example in the beginning because he’s rather immature and neglectful. But as the movie progresses, he evolves and becomes a role model for Mason Jr., often sharing wisdom and guidance when it comes to topics like dating.
25. Captain Richard Crewe From “a Little Princess”
Captain Richard Crewe spares no expense to make sure that his daughter, Sara, is living comfortably like a princess. And judging by her attitude throughout the film, it’s clear that he also instilled the right values—like kindness and generosity—to keep her from becoming self-centered and spoiled. (Seeing him rescue his daughter towards the end of the movie gets us every time.)