Fathers tend not to get too much respect in TV and movies. Mothers are often portrayed as doting superheroes who put exhausting amounts of work into raising their kid (a fairly accurate representation of many contemporary mothers), while fathers are just as often seen as dim-witted, incompetent and detached, a la "Everybody Loves Raymond."
There are exceptions, so for Father's Day let's look at some of the best fathers from the big and small screens They may be fictitious, but they nonetheless showed us how fatherhood could be done.
Atticus Finch: The wise single father of "To Kill a Mockingbird" seemed never to have made a parenting misstep. There was an instructive moral in everything he said. He stood up to the bad guys without using violence. And he let his kids call him "Atticus."
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Martin Crane: TV hasn't given us a lot of shows about middle-aged men and their relationships with their fathers. But Frasier's dad forged a complex and loving relationship with his two insufferable sons.
Dan Conner: Overworked and exhausted, recognizing that he often had to take a backseat to his wife, Roseanne, he taught his kids the importance of sarcasm. He'd found a way to make ends meet, even though he was always teetering on the financial brink.
Mac McGuff: In almost every movie that has a teenager as the main character, almost every adult is stupid. Juno's father was smart, and he trusted and supported his precocious daughter even after she screwed up really badly.
Ward Cleaver: Except for letting people call his son Beaver, Ward was the quintessentially perfect TV father of the late '50s.
Andy Taylor: He was more of a friend to Opie and more of a father to Barney Fife, but he always managed to impart an instructive moral in any situation.
Ted Webb: He had a difficult and dreary life, but he made Loretta proud to be a coal miner's daughter.
Gomez Addams: Not a great role model but
the funniest dad ever. Admit it, you wanted to live in that house.
You can learn a lot from bad dads too, so here are a few that showed us how it's not done.
Darth Vader: He tried to conquer the universe for the forces of evil, he got in laser-sword fights with his son, and he said nothing through the course of three movies while his son and daughter flirted with each other.
Homer Simpson: A quarter-century of just plain bad parenting.
Batman: Technically not a father, but he forced his ward to get involved in a lot of really dangerous situations. And he made him wear a stupid outfit and never even let him drive the Batmobile.
Harry Morgan: Even after he died, Dexter's dad was there to teach his son how to be an effective serial killer.
Oedipus: He married his mother, so he became his own stepfather, his own stepson, and the stepfather slept with his stepson's wife. Besides, the stepfather killed the stepson's step-grandfather.
Jack Torrance: He made his kid spend the winter holed up in that creepy hotel in "The Shining" and then tried to kill him with an axe. He was no Darth Vader, but still.
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.