Great animated films share many attributes: stunning visuals, heartfelt emotion, humor. But many of them also share another trait: no mothers. If you are an animated character and your name is Bambi, Nemo, or Belle (to name just a few), you grew up without a mom (though occasionally, as in “Toy Story,” the single-parent trope is reversed).
Whatever their motherless status means for Disney and Pixar characters’ socialization is up for debate, but what it means for audiences is that there’s a big selection of great dads in Disney and Pixar films. So for Father’s Day, let’s take a look at some of the best animated dads from Disney and Pixar.
In fact, let’s pit them against each other in a competitive ranking to find out who the five best Disney Pixar dads truly are.
#5: Zeus (‘Hercules’)
Young Hercules meets his biological dad when he’s a teenager, so Zeus isn’t exactly a model of present parenting. But he makes quite an impression in the introductory scene in which we meet him, and his message to Hercules is enough to set him on a quest that will change his life.
#4: Dad (‘Inside Out’)
The very best thing about the dad in “Inside Out” (named simply, Dad), is that is voice comes from Kyle MacLachlan, who provided the greatest male hero ideal in the history of kindness in his iconic portrayal of Special Agent Dale Cooper in “Twin Peaks.” The fact that Dale Cooper is anybody’s dad is a notion that fills me with complete Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler).
But in the context of the film itself, Dad is also a pretty good dad. He’s not perfect (he wants Riley to be happy all the time, a lesson she needs to unlearn with the help of her own conflicted emotions), but he clearly loves his daughter.
#3: Bob Parr (‘The Incredibles’)
“The Incredibles” has excellent family characters of all sorts, but Bob, as the story’s main protagonist, goes on a journey that may be most worth modeling: He makes mistakes as a husband and a father, but he confronts them and addresses them. He’s lucky to have the family he has, and he knows it (eventually).
#2: Marlin (‘Finding Nemo’)
Marlin is an overprotective parent, but his love for Nemo is palpable. And I mean, what kid wouldn’t hope that their dad would face all his own fears in order to find and save them when they are lost? Well, Nemo doesn’t hope that, because he doesn’t think it’s possible. But learning the depths of his dad’s love is the journey that he himself goes on in the film, while Marlin is out facing sea monsters and detours. Marlin is a great dad.
#1: Mufasa (‘The Lion King’)
There’s no better animated dad than Mufasa. He’s not only full of wisdom and power (he sounds like Darth Vader!), but he’s full of kindness and spiritual depth. When he appears to Simba as a ghost later in the film, he gives “The Lion King” mysticism and wonder -- and he proves that parenting never stops, even when you die.