Science fiction and fantasy dads are often a little weird. Fathers can meet their sons before they are born. Fathers can end up being cyborg death lords. Fathers can end up being overgrown boy scouts—the list goes on. Faced with a lack of real children though, some SFF fathers will go to whatever lengths are necessary to show off their parenting skills: including building their own kids.
Here are our favorite SFF Dads who created kids who aren’t quite human.
The Inventor (Edward Scissorhands)
An inventor of all sorts of things (but mostly machines that make really delicious-looking cookies), Vincent Price’s role in Edward Scissorhands is as the delightful man who creates Edward. Did he decide to make the boy out of loneliness, or maybe a desire to impart all the knowledge he had amassed in his lifetime to another being? We’ll honestly never know the reason. Despite being a loving paternal figure, the Inventor unfortunately made the choice to piece Edward together, bit by bit, and that choice ultimately leaves Edward without hands. Perhaps a better way of going about it would have been to create all the parts before assemblage?
While we’re tempted to snark about father/son control issues (a puppet? With strings? Really, Geppetto?), to be fair, poor Geppetto had no idea what he was getting into when he started carving that block of magical wood. Suddenly, he’s a single father raising a small wooden boy (with distinct behavioral issues) as his very own son. Pinocchio doesn’t make it easy on him, but in the end, both father and son live happily ever after through the magic of good parenting, tough love and a little bit of actual magic.
Dr. Frankenstein (Frankenstein)
Probably a contender for “worst dad award” (see also: Dr. Eldon Tyrell), Dr. Frankenstein is one of the great early examples of the father/creator character, but he sure isn’t a great parent. It ultimately doesn’t matter which incarnation we’re talking about here (despite them all being wildly different), Dr. Frankenstein is always a little selfish, and his poor monster is always just trying to do his own thing. The Monster could never live up to unrealistic expectations of this demanding dad. It’s easy to write The Monster off as just a bad seed, but we don’t buy that—the poor guy just wanted to be happy. Maybe if they’d just learned to communicate a little better…
Professor Farnsworth (Futurama)
Professor Hubert Farnsworth, mad scientist and owner of Planet Express, is one of the more deranged dads on our list, but even he’s capable of fatherly affection toward his young son/clone, Cubert. At 160, Farnsworth decided to clone himself in order to have someone carry on his life’s work (building doomsday devices and other crazy inventions, mostly)—though he and the stubborn young Cubert got off to a rocky start, the two quickly learn to get along and behave like father and son in the face of alien attacks, Horrible Gelatinous Blobs, and a trip to the Near-Death Star.
Dr. Tenma (Astro Boy)
When Dr. Tenma’s son tragically dies, his grief leads him to create a replacement—but this one has rocket feet! The recent film version of Astro Boy is such a damn tearjerker, we’re somewhat inclined to put it on right now. All things considered, Dr. Tenma seems like a pretty nice and wonderful dad, and if we were going to replaced by robots, we don’t think any of us would mind if our dads hooked us up with some rocket feet. Right?
Rusty Venture (The Venture Bros.)
Super-scientist Dr. Thaddeus S. “Rusty” Venture might be a narcissistic, amoral, pill-popping mess, but deep down he loves his children. He might be willing to casually endanger sons Hank and Dean at the drop of a hat (especially if there’s a quick paycheck involved), but on the other hand, he does genuinely care about them, even if he rarely shows it. As warped as it is, the secret room full of Hank and Dean clones in the Venture Compound demonstrates the fact that he’s looking out for the boys—even if he’s a little too comfortable with the fact that they’re going to wind up dead, every once in a while. (At least they have Brock Sampson watching their backs )
Dr. Noonian Soong (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
While Enterprise retroactively made him a descendant of Arik Soong, one of the creators of the Augments, Dr. Noonian Soong is probably best known for his own “offspring”: he famously fathered the androids Data, Lore and, sadly, B4. No matter what anyone says, the episodes in which Brent Spiner plays his own father are awesome. Noonian Soong also programmed his android children with Asimovian robot ethics, which mostly worked. Except when it didn’t. Was he a good father? Maybe not, but his kids were certainly interesting.
Jango Fett (Star Wars: Episode II)
In light of all the dysfunctional family stuff in the Star Wars universe, Jango Fett is oddly one of the better parents (though technically Boba is his genetic clone, raised as his son). Sure, Jango puts Boba directly in danger by having him hang out with him on Slave I, but he seems like he genuinely cares for Boba and wants his son to learn from him. We like to think that if Mace Windu hadn’t beheaded poor Jango, there’s a chance he would have retired from bounty hunting and just hung out with Boba full-time.
Erik Heller (Hanna)
There are a lot of great father and son teams on this list, but it’s a bit harder to come up with SFF creator-dads who raised daughters (it’s a little bit baffling, really). Happily, secret agent Erik Heller and his surrogate daughter Hanna are a force to be reckoned with—without totally spoiling the film, for those who haven’t seen it, Erik saves the infant Hanna (the product of a secret government experiment) from shadowy operatives bent on her assassination. Escaping to a remote cabin in northern Finland, Erik raises her as his daughter—while also training her to be a lethal killing machine, capable of defending herself against their enemies. He’s not her biological father, but he’s responsible for who she is, in terms of both genetics and personality. The two have an odd, but quietly touching relationship, and Erik dedicates his life to trying to ensure Hanna’s safety and well-being, against all odds.
Honorable Mention: Trevor Bruttenholm/Trevor Broom (Hellboy)
Professor Trevor Bruttenholm technically finds his surrogate son (rather than constructing or cloning him) when Nazi occultists summon an infant demon up from Hell during WWII. Discovered by Bruttenholm and the Allied Forces, the professor raises Hellboy as a son, and the two share a deep bond, working together to combat the forces of evil. In spite of Hellboy’s demonic origin, Bruttenholm (called “Broom” in the movies) teaches him to choose his own path in life—in terms of the whole “Nature vs. Nurture” child-rearing debate, Trevor Bruttenholm is the Patron Saint of “Nurture” winning out, so we figured he deserves a mention!
Happy Father’s Day, everybody—we hope you enjoy celebrating your own favorite dads (hopefully in the geekiest ways possible)!
Stubby the Rocket has no father. Stubby was conceived by the midichlorians. (Actually that’s not true. Stubby’s father was either a land-dwelling submarine or Michael Caine. But Stubby will never tell.)