In most of the Disney movies we millennials grew up with, Disney Dads were shoved into inconsequential parts of the “B storyline” while only a few rose to the occasion of being a productive parent. If we made you some flash cards, how many dads could you name. Be honest. 4-5 at most. “Oh, oh, yeah…um that’s…he’s the guy from that movie…umm, The Princess & The Frog, right?” would not count as a solid answer. Here they are, by name, non-comprehensive from worst to first in order of relevant dadness.
14. The Sultan – Aladdin Hands down the worst dad represented in the Disney universe, right? From the awe-shucks bumbling idiot routine to trying to marry off his teenage daughter into an arranged marriage this guy really isn’t doing dads any favors. He is the establishment and Jasmine can do better, you know what we mean?
13. Chief Powhatan – Pocahontas We have a huge uptick in quality of dad between 14 & 13 here. Powhatan isn’t that bad, right? Aside from being a bit too much like The Sultan and trying to marry off his daughter to a bad match, he has most of his kid’s best interests at heart. Points off for trying to kill off John Smith, though. Take a breath daddy! Can’t you see she loves him?
12. The King of Arendelle – Frozen The #1 reason your kids are screaming the lyrics to “Let It Go” over and over is that The King was a bit of a jerk to Elsa. The trolls make it pretty clear what to do but the King must have been too busy refreshing his Twitter feed to pay any attention. So his plan is to shut her off from the rest of the kingdom and tell her to bury her emotions? No chill, man. No chill.
11. King Fergus – Brave Fergus, all in all, is a pretty good dad. We only see his grumpy side when his three boys are all up in his grill and, really, what dad wouldn’t get annoyed at three wild boys running amok? While he isn’t shipping off Merida into an arranged marriage, he did tell everyone that no boy would be good enough for her. Enough with that. Let her make her romantic choices down the road, dad. Also, let’s tone down the fighting a wee bit, shall we Fergy?
10. King Triton – The Little Mermaid Like father like daughter does not always a happy family make. Both are so stubborn and strong-willed that they constantly are clashing. Add on her affinity for humans and his xenophobia towards them and we have the set up for a disastrous relationship. Maybe Triton should be a couple of places higher on our list but he really redeems himself at the end of the movie with the whole rainbow over the boat bit. So progressive of him.
9. Geppetto – Pinocchio How great is the moment that Geppetto realizes that Pinocchio is alive? We have all had that same exact moment when our own kids arrive into our world and everything changes all at once. Geppetto is a pretty great dad, going to great lengths to find his lost son. If only we all had a Blue Fairy for when tough times hit.
8. Pongo – 101 Dalmatians Pongo makes the top ten based on his patience alone. He is the dad to 99 kids (insert Jay-Z joke here). We have trouble with 1 or 2 but this guy deals with nearly 100! Throughout it all, he keeps his composure and saves his family from becoming fur coats. Can we talk about how morbid this storyline is btw?
7. James – The Princess and the Frog We don’t get a lot of James in the movie but he proves that even in his absence he can be a relevant dad. Like many fathers, he has lofty dreams for his daughter and his family but does not get to realize them. The great moral we can learn from James is that even if you don’t always get what you want, take comfort in the things you need and love.
6. Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible) – The Incredibles The gif above could be a live look into RD HQ. Bob is an everyman, just punching the keys for a paycheck while dreaming of saving the world and doing incredible things. While he loses himself a bit along the way, in the end, Bob is a great dad because he realizes that no matter how great his powers his best adventure in life is his family. We can all relate to that.
5. Fa Zhou – Mulan Fa Zhou is one of our favorite Disney Dads. While he is a bit of a jerk to Mulan he totally redeems himself in the final act when he comforts her after her battle loss. She comes to him thinking that she has brought him shame and dishonor but this boss just tells his little girl, “the greatest gift and honor is having you for a daughter.” Sniff.
4. Maurice – Beauty and the Beast Oh Maurice, you lovable huggable old goof. How do you not love this dad? He’s wacky (aren’t we all) and unintentionally humorous. He invents to better his life and his daughter’s prospects, and although he has a horrible sense of direction he means well. We really just want to see a Maurice/Mrs. Potts spinoff, amirite?
3. Mufasa – The Lion King Mufasa is one of the best dads in the Disney catalog and he is one of the best dads portrayed on film period. His short time in The Lion King gives us so many teachable moments, from explaining how to treat all living things with respect to how to be brave without being reckless. His death was for many millennials was a seminal moment in our lives and one of the iconic moments in cinema.
2. Marlin – Finding Nemo The ultimate Disney dad is Marlin, hands down. Sure he is overprotective and his jokes are classic #dadjokes but we love him for it. We all know a dad like Marlin, overprotective, a little bit shy, nervous and they tend to overthink everything. No matter how overprotective he is Marlin’s epic journey to find his lost son is inspiring. He overcomes his own fears and insecurities because at the end of the day he loves his son and that is the most important thing in the world to him. We all have to overcome some fear to be a dad, right?
1. Elias Disney – Father To Walt Disney Elias failed at most everything he did in life, from gold rusher, farmer, railroad man, newspaper man, mailman he skipped through zip codes and job across America with his family never finding entrepreneurial success. But he sure showed his family an adventure along the way. His aspirational gene wore off onto his son Walt and although Elias didn’t understand Walt’s art, one would have to think in the end he accepted it. Our fathers shape who we are for better or worse. Elias was strict, hard-working, and had a rigid belief system on religion and politics but all of these traits shaped Walt into the man he became. For that, we and our kids have to be thankful.