A father is meant to be his daughter’s first love and his son’s first hero. But what happens when that father turns out to be an insane serial killer? The movies have given us some of the most dastardly dads we could think of. We’re talking everything from verbal and physical abusers to child molesters to cold-blooded killers. So, this Father’s Day, give your old man a hug and thank him for not being like one of these horrible movie patriarchs.
Note: The writer of this feature truly believes, with all of her heart, that both Darth Vader and Jack Torrance are two of the worst fathers in cinematic history. However, her esteemed co-worker Joseph Oliveto beat her to it and included those two despicable men in his list of The 5 Worst Cinematic Fathers. So she set out to make a brand new list, besides there’s enough awful fathers to go around.
5. Mr. Harry Wormwood – Matilda
Harry Wormwood is a worse father than he is a salesman. He shamelessly sneers at his gifted daughter Matilda (Mara Wilson), and openly refers to her as a “mistake.” He plays favorites. He’s a cheat. And his fatherhood philosophy is this: “I’m smart, you’re dumb; I’m big, you’re little; I’m right, you’re wrong; and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
- Played by: Danny DeVito
- Parenting Style: Neglectful, disengaged, unsupportive, verbally abusive
- Despicable Dad Moment: He tears up her book and forces her to watch television instead.
4. Colonel Frank Fitts – American Beauty
Frank Fitts is more than a strict parent. He’s a closeted gay homophobe who abuses his son when his rules aren’t followed. We realize that Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) is no ‘Father of the Year,’ and that American Beauty has some serious parenting issues, but Mr. Fitts takes the cake. Did we mention he’s also a murderer?
- Played by: Chris Cooper
- Parenting Style: Verbal and Physical Abuse, Dogmatic, Demanding, Strict, Killer
- Despicable Dad Moment: The closet case beats his son for thinking he might be gay.
3. Bill Maplewood – Happiness
Bill Maplewood appears to be a family man with the perfect life. He’s a suburban psychiatrist with a wife and three kids. But he’s got a terrible, dark secret. He’s a pedophile. And totally twisted. Though Dr. Maplewood doesn’t abuse his own kids, he does sodomize his son’s 11-year-old friend and rapes another young boy.
- Played by: Dylan Baker
- Parenting Style: Pedophile, Mentally Unstable, Child Molester, Rapist
- Despicable Dad Moment: When his son asks if he would ever rape him, he replies, “No, I’d jerk off instead.”
2. Ed Wilson – Natural Born Killers
They say the apple never falls far from the tree, and in this case, they’re right. Mass murderer Mallory Knox (Juliette Lewis) had a nasty father, whom we meet in a sitcom-style flashback. Ed Wilson is a creep who makes jokes about abusing his wife and raping his daughter. The laugh track only adds to his despicable behavior. He’s proud to be on this list.
- Played by: Rodney Dangerfield
- Parenting Style: Verbal and Physical Abuse, Overbearing Behavior, Molester, Nasty
- Despicable Dad Moment: The whole flashback scene where he’s making jokes about abusing his wife and molesting his daughter.
1. Noah Cross – Chinatown
Noah Cross has a nasty reputation, and we’re not referring to the way he runs Los Angeles. He rapes his own daughter Evelyn Mulwray (Faye Dunaway) and impregnates her with her daughter/sister Katherine. He’s also guilty of drowning Evelyn’s husband in his own home, and getting her killed in a shooting. This man’s a total tyrant!
- Played by: John Huston
- Parenting Style: Abusive, Incestuous, Murderer, Control Freak, Rapist
- Despicable Dad Moment: Though we only hear about it, raping and impregnating his daughter is absolutely dastardly.
Other Horrible Fathers We Loathe:
- Adam Trask (Raymond Massey) – East of Eden
- Dwight Hansen (Robert De Niro) – This Boy’s Life
- Dr. Evil (Mike Myers) – Austin Powers series
- Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) – American Beauty
- Darth Vader (Various) – Star Wars saga
- Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) – The Shining
- Samuel (Marc Anthony) – Man On Fire
- Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day Lewis) – There Will Be Blood
Who’s your favorite worst father? Who should be on the list but didn’t make it?