Who better to begin this list than the endearingly sarcastic and witty Mr. Bennet of Pride and Prejudice? Though he’s certainly not always a model father or husband, he’s affectionate, bookish, and always has a most perfectly clever and sardonic comeback. While he isn’t the best disciplinarian with his silly younger daughters, he does encourage us readers to laugh at absurdity and marry for love, which are, incidentally, exactly what heroine Elizabeth is determined to do. And Mr. Bennet’s special connection with Elizabeth is a bright spot of the story, as is the enjoyment he derives from relentlessly teasing his silly wife.
Screen Capture Source: YouTube
Though Matthew is never actually a father, his roles of surrogate father and friend to Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables are one of the sweetest aspects of this first book in the Anne series. Though initially shocked at meeting a girl at the train station instead of the requested boy, he is smitten with Anne’s chattiness and childlike imagination within minutes of knowing her. And throughout the story, her innocence and unadulterated trust break through his shyness and eccentricity. Though a man of few words, his love for Anne is deep, and he’s quick to make it known. His famous words to her towards the end of the book still make me well up every time:
“Well now, I’d rather have you than a dozen boys, Anne. Just mind you that – rather than a dozen boys. Well now, I guess it wasn’t a boy that took the Avery scholarship, was it? It was a girl – my girl – my girl that I’m proud of.”Photo Credit: Anne of Green Gables Wikia
What’s not to like about this hero from Father of the Bride? He’s conscientious about everything and yet has a knack for getting into serious scrapes, especially when major changes interrupt his schedule that always has to be just so. He often says the wrong thing and drives his family insane, but beneath all his antics beats an incredibly soft and loyal heart that would do anything for his wife and children.
Photo Credit: Movie Man's Guide
Couldn’t forget this guy, could we? Throughout the Harry Potter series, he cheerfully heads up his wizarding family of nine and works tirelessly in his post at the Ministry of Magic because he genuinely loves it. He’s warm, welcoming, always up for an adventure, and usually ready to crack a joke along with Fred and George to encourage Mrs. Weasley to loosen up. But raising the twins has also made him wise to trickery when he needs to be, and he’s always ready with helpful, fatherly advice for Harry. Mr. Weasley’s fascination with Muggle trinkets remains one of his most endearing qualities; I’m waiting to stumble upon a fan fiction in which Hermione accidentally shows him Google and his mind will be so blown he can’t recover.
Photo Credit: Harry Potter Wikia
Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham
And of course, a nod to stoic Lord Grantham of Downton Abbey. He’s always been one of Downton’s foundational pillars through the changes the Crawleys weather. He’s always there doing his best to run things, though he did often have to be unwillingly dragged into modern times by Mary, Tom, and even Violet. He can be a stuffy old prig, but at his heart, he is a good man with sincere love for his wife, daughters, and home. He’s a kindly landlord and devoted family man who wants the best for those in his charge, especially his daughters. His closeness with Mary is particularly enjoyable – one of my favorite moments in the entire series is actually when he encourages her to break off her engagement to the manipulative Sir Richard Carlisle and find a cowboy instead. It’s a breakthrough moment for both and such a delight to watch.
Photo Credit: Playbuzz
Do any of these men make your list of favorite fictional fathers? What other noteworthy ones have you come across lately? I'd love to hear.
*I do not own the rights to the photos in this post*