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Top 10 Bad Dads Gone Good

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Nick Spake Maybe you're not such a bad dad after all. Join WatchMojo.com as we count our picks for the Top 10 Bad Dads Gone Good in Movies. For this list, we're taking a look at fathers in movies that don't always do well by their children, but redeem themselves and prove their love in the end. Special thanks to our users Gary Harper for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Nick Spake

Top 10 Bad Dads Gone Good


Maybe you’re not such a bad dad after all. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 bad dads gone good in movies.

For this list, we’re taking a look at fathers in movies that don’t always do well by their children, but redeem themselves and prove their love in the end. As you may expect, a SPOILER ALERT may be in order, since we’re revealing the full arcs of these characters.

#10: Fletcher Reede
“Liar Liar” (1997)

As the title of this Jim Carrey comedy suggests, lying is in Fletcher’s nature – he is a lawyer, after all. He’s constantly making empty promises to his five-year-old son, even on his birthday. So, when young Max wishes for his father to go one day without fibbing, Fletcher has no choice but to abide. While the setup makes leeway for great comedy, it also opens Fletcher’s eyes to the truth that he’s been a bad father. When Fletcher is at risk of losing Max forever, he strives to prove that he can keep a promise – even if it kills him.

#9: Henry Jones, Sr.
“Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989)

The first ever James Bond playing Indiana Jones’ dad? That actually sounds about right. Despite sharing a common love for adventure, archaeology, and women, Henry Jones rarely bonded with his son throughout his youth, instead opting to teach him self-reliance. Nevertheless, Indy of course stages a daring rescue upon learning that Nazis have captured his father. Even after saving his ungrateful dad, though Henry persists to undermine his son and refer to him as “Junior.” When it really counts, though, Henry shows Indiana that his love for him is even more powerful and priceless than the Holy Grail.

#8: Royal Tenenbaum
“The Royal Tenenbaums” (2001) Even with a better father figure, the Tenenbaum children would still likely be a dysfunctional bunch. That being said, the fact that Royal Tenenbaum abandoned his family for 22 years certainly didn’t help. While his children are all successful, they grow up to be overprotective, suicidal, and unable to express emotion. With nowhere else to turn, Royal eventually comes crawling back to his estranged wife and kids, fake cancer diagnosis in hand. Although some are understandably unwilling to take him back at first, Royal does theoretically rescue his family from the wreckage of a destroyed sinking battleship.

#7: Paddy Conlon
“Warrior” (2011)

Redemption is a familiar theme in almost every boxing movie and “Warrior” is no exception. In an Oscar-nominated performance, Nick Nolte plays Paddy Conlon, a recovering alcoholic that tore his family apart long ago. Now Paddy wishes to make things right with his two grown sons. While Joel Edgerton’s Brendan is open to reconciliation, Tom Hardy’s Tommy is more reluctant. Paddy knows that he may never completely atone for his past mistakes, but he can at least take solace in seeing his boys forgive each other in the end.

#6: Sonny Koufax
“Big Daddy” (1999)

If you’re a five-year-old, having Adam Sandler’s Sonny as a father – biological or otherwise – might sound awesome. In “Big Daddy,” Julian gets to eat ketchup as a meal, never take a bath, and basically do whatever he wants. Sonny soon finds, however, that letting Julian call all the shots might be damaging in the long run. The man-child gives the actual child some much-needed guidance, stepping up as a father and adult and proving that being a dad doesn’t necessarily require shared DNA. While many still judge Sonny’s parental abilities, he demonstrates his love for Julian in a cheesy, yet admittedly touching, courtroom scene.

#5: Mason Evans, Sr.
“Boyhood” (2014)

Mason Sr. isn’t the worst father on the planet, especially compared to Mason Jr. and Samantha’s various stepdads. He clearly loves his kids, looks forward to their visitations, and even writes them a heartfelt lullaby. Regardless, Mason Sr. is also an irresponsible slacker. However, we slowly see him become progressively more reliable and active in his children’s lives. It just goes to show that some men mature the minute their children are born, but others need a little more time to grow up.

#4: Stoick the Vast
“How to Train Your Dragon” (2010)

When you’re father’s a brawny, renowned Viking like Stoick the Vast, it isn’t easy living up to expectations. Stoick often has trouble relating to his scrawny wimp of a son, Hiccup. Matters only get more complicated between them when Stoick learns his boy has not been fighting dragons – as is the way – but has instead been training one, which Hiccup claims to be peaceful. While Stoick is forced to disown his son, doing so visibly breaks his heart. In the eleventh hour, this dad realizes that Hiccup was right all along, embracing both his son and the beasts he once hunted.

#3: Ted Kramer
“Kramer vs. Kramer” (1979)

Ted Kramer is far from the perfect parent at the beginning of this Best Picture winner. But unlike Billy’s mother, at least he didn’t just leave when things got tough. Making the transition to full-time dad while maintaining a job isn’t easy, and Ted even takes his frustration out on Billy multiple times. When Billy needs him the most, however, Ted verifies that being a father is his top priority. He refuses to let anything stand in the way of raising his son, even when his ex-wife reenters the picture.

#2: Gru
“Despicable Me” (2010)

Here’s a man that not only goes from bad dad to good dad, but also goes from bad guy to good guy. Initially, this super villain is only interested in adopting three orphaned girls as a means to execute his evil schemes. He doesn’t even care when spikes seemingly impale one of them. The girls grow on Gru, though, and soon he begins to question his outlook on life. Stealing the moon may be tempting, but making it to his children’s ballet recital is just as important.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Jack Byrnes
“Meet the Parents” (2000)
- Edward Bloom
“Big Fish” (2003)
- Sean Archer
“Face/Off” (1997)
- Ian Malcolm
“The Lost World: Jurassic Park” (1997)

#1: Darth Vader
“Star Wars” franchise (1977-2005)

Darth Vader might be a Sith Lord and he might’ve blown up an entire planet. To give him credit, though, at least he didn’t cut off his son’s hand…oh wait. Learning that his archenemy is also his dear old dad comes as a major shock to Luke Skywalker and the audience. But that doesn’t stop Luke from trying to pull Anakin Skywalker away from the dark side, nonetheless. Eventually seeing the error of his ways after pulling off some of the most evil acts the galaxy had ever seen, Vader uses his last ounces of strength to save his son, reveal his face, and say goodbye.

Do you agree with our list? Who’s your favorite bad dad gone good? For more entertaining Top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.

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