“Done properly, parenting is a heroic act … done properly.”
Pop culture dads have come a long way in recent years, emerging from the shadows as parenting sidekicks and embracing their role as equal partners with all the attendant responsibilities and diaper changes. To celebrate fatherhood, we've compiled a list of some of our favorite pop culture dads who prove that parenting can be synonymous with passion, humor and style even when the going gets tough.
Father of the Gruyere
Bob Belcher, Bob's Burgers
Bob Belcher's puntastic burger of the day names are the ultimate dad joke. Sure, he often gets cast in the role of straight guy to his family's bizarre shenanigans, but how many dads would binge watch a show about anthropomorphic ponies and dress up as a fictional pony named Bobcephala just to get his daughter her favorite collectible pony back? Or how about the time Bob worked at the restaurant during the day and moonlighted as a taxi driver by night to pay for his daughter's thirteenth birthday party? Or painstakingly constructed a dragon costume for his kids for Halloween, one shiny sequin at a time? There's the time he attended his son's table setting competition. And the time he popped the stitches on his hands during a rock, paper, scissor competition for his kids? Weird obsession with Thanksgiving and inability to successfully fight Tina's capoeira instructor aside, Bob Belcher is my pickle for Father of the Gruyere, now and forever.
Suggested Father's Day present: An organic, free-range Heritage turkey
Small in stature, big in heart
Papa Elf, Elf
For this pop culture dad, the name pretty much says it all. Papa Elf raised Buddy at the North Pole and somehow ensured that Buddy didn't develop an inferiority complex in a world where it would have been very easy for him to feel different from his peers. He took Buddy in despite their differences and when the time comes to let Buddy go find his father he does the selfless thing and lets Buddy go. Papa Elf proves once and for all that genetics don't make a father; love and commitment does. Of course, he probably could have raised Buddy with a slightly healthier relationship with food, but if Buddy wants to believe the four main food groups are candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup who are we to argue?
Suggested Father's Day present: 100% Pure Maple Syrup from Vermont
Mr. Incredible, Incredibles 2
Sometimes throwing on a spandex suit and saving the world is easier than staying at home with a baby that shoots lasers out of its eyes but in Incredibles 2, Bob Parr accepts the call to duty. His super strength is no match for the rigors of common core math and even his enhanced durability can't save him from Jack-Jack's devil form requiring him to dig deep and perform the heroic act of parenting not for glory or fame or even personal satisfaction but for love. Bob Parr's greatest act of heroism is stepping willingly into the shadows and allowing his wife to shine while he accepts responsibility for his house and family. Now that's heroic.
Suggested Father's Day present: A math tutor
This Dad's from Mars … or Neptune
Keith Mars, Veronica Mars
It takes a unique personality and parenting style to raise a daughter with Veronica Mars' integrity, courage, intelligence and sass, especially when that parent is doing all the work as a single father. Keith Mars has an undeniably unique and humorous parenting style, giving his daughter the necessary freedom and confidence to develop into Neptune's most effective PI. He sticks to his guns regardless of the personal consequences, refusing to allow the city's richest residents to get away with murder. And he fulfills his role as loving father even when he has reason to doubt whether he is, in fact, Veronica's father proving once again that fatherhood is about love and sacrifice, not genetics. Also, Keith and Veronica's banter is hands down the best daughter-dad banter in all of pop culture. Keith Mars for Sheriff of Neptune, and Keith Mars for Everybody's Dad.
Suggested Father's Day present: Tickets to a baseball game at Shark Field
Bob Newby: Superhero
Bob Newby, Stranger Things
It is ridiculously easy to hate your mom's new boyfriend but when Bob Newby started dating Joyce Byers in the second season of Stranger Things, he stole all our hearts. Besides making a genuine effort to get to know Joyce's sons, Jonathan and Will, Bob handled the Upside Down and all its attendant freakiness and danger with ingenuity and courage. For a fairly conventional guy who founded the Hawkins Middle AV Club and prefers Mr. Mom to horror movies, Bob Newby turns out to be every inch the superhero Will believes him to be.
Suggested Father's Day present: A really nice tie, or a flamethrower