Great movie fathers... we've got that covered with our Top 10 Movie Dads. But who would top a list concerning the other side of the paternal coin? There is a huge laundry list of those fathers who fail miserably at their job across Hollywood history and in honor of the upcoming Father’s Day holiday -- Movie Fanatic proudly presents our Top 10 Worst Movie Dads!
10. Dr. Evil in Austin Powers movies
Mike Myers created the Dr. Evil character as a hybrid of all the great villains in the James Bond movie series for his Austin Powers movies. He probably never thought he was also creating one of movies' worst fathers.
I mean, how terribly does he treat Scott? He looks at him repeatedly and asks, “Are you gonna cry? Are you gonna cry?” What father does that? Then, when he turns on Mini-Me later in the series, Dr. Evil only further proves why he deserves to be on this list.
9. Ed Wilson in Natural Born Killers
The catalyst for Juliette Lewis and Woody Harrelson’s murderous rampage in Natural Born Killers (also one of the Top 10 Robert Downey, Jr. movies) has to be rooted in the evil papa of Lewis, played by Rodney Dangerfield. He is slimy. He is disgusting. And he deserves the bloodied fate he meets, although all those other people they kill… probably not so much.
8, Peter McCallister in Home Alone 1 and 2
This selection may be a surprise, given all the bad dads out there, but come on! Peter McCallister in the first two Home Alone movies, played by John Heard, in our opinion so deserved to be on this list. I mean, at least Catherine O’Hara’s mother character worries about the son they left at home.
But, Peter would rather watch It's a Wonderful Life than worry about his young boy fending off evildoers in the first movie. The fact that he is so nonchalant about leaving a child at home in the middle of winter in Chicago is simply as horrifying as what Jack Nicholson does in The Shining.
7. Tie: Col. Frank Fitts and Lester Burnham in American Beauty
Fitts and Burnham are twin towers of bad parenting in the Oscar-winning American Beauty. Where the Colonel is simultaneously cruel and distant to his son, Burnham matches him note for note, simply for trying to seduce his daughter’s best friend.
It is fitting that each other’s fate will meet in that garage at the end of the movie. Each, in their own way, makes you want to take a shower after watching Sam Mendes’ brilliant work.
6. Dwight Hansen in This Boy’s Life
Robert De Niro has played mobsters who were nicer to people than his Hansen character was to Leonardo DiCaprio in This Boy’s Life.
5. Denethor in The Lord of the Rings
John Noble nailed the character we first met in the pages of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings series. If it was not enough that he sent his son into a battle that he would surely not only lose, but perish along with some of the best fighters in the kingdom, when he comes home barely alive, his father puts him on a stack of firewood to burn him alive. Yeah, he’s a bad dad… bad dad!
4. Bill Maplewood in Happiness
Having a pedophile as a dad all but guarantees you a spot on our list of Top 10 Worst Movie Dads. Need we even say more other than Todd Solondz has crafted quite a few bad dads in his time? It’s just Maplewood is his worst of the worst.
3. Darth Vader in Star Wars series
Although he may redeem himself by the end of Return of the Jedi, what Darth Vader does to his twin children, Luke and Leia, is completely unforgivable through a majority of the Star Wars movies.
As voiced by James Earl Jones, the personification of evil in George Lucas’ world rules with an iron fist and even cuts off his son’s arm. And that’s right after he tells him that he is his father. “Search your soul, you know it’s true.” Yeah, I know it’s true. You’re kind of a jerk, dad... and you cut off my arm!
2. Noah Cross in Chinatown
John Huston is the worst of the worst and nothing says bad dad like the (spoiler!) incest at the heart of Roman Polanski’s chilling Chinatown. How he treats his daughter (played by Faye Dunaway) is nothing short of evil personified and poor Jack Nicholson is left to pick up the pieces.
1. Jack Torrance in The Shining
Jack Nicholson has had many roles that he should be remembered by when he hangs up his acting career.
But, there are few that are as permeating into popular culture as when he played the father to a young boy in Stephen King’s The Shining. The hell that he puts his son through, and his wife for that matter, is nothing short of a true horror.
Honorable mentions: Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis ) in There Will Be Blood, Dad Deiks (Bill Paxton) in Frailty, Jerry Blake (Terry O’Quinn) in The Stepfather, Brad Whitewood Sr. (Christopher Walken) in At Close Range, Wayne Szalinski (Rick Moranis) in Honey I Shrunk the Kids and Norman Osborn/Green Goblin (Willem Defoe) in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies.