The Disgrunted Dad is an Always Male
character who is touted as being a "good", sympathetic, or relatable father despite the fact that they don't seem to know anything about raising a child.
In fiction, a consistent stereotype is that Men Are Uncultured
. Although fathers were once seen as the head of the family
and old-school family values used to focus on his wisdom and devotion
, in later years, this has become discredited
Although examples of "good" fathers still exist, the focus has become less about the father's wisdom and devotion, and more about his ability to protect. Today, examples of "good" fathers tend to be Papa Wolves
, with the ability to protect
his children (usually violently) or to suffer on their behalf taking precedence over everything else. Often, even if the dad is an idiot
, the narrative will still focus on how good of a person he is if he goes on a Roaring Rampage of Rescue
or makes himself utterly miserable
to save them.
You rarely if ever see them doing any effective parenting besides this. Often, the act of rescuing or protecting the child will strengthen the bond between the man and his children. If a mother is present in the setting, she is either the one living with the children (when divorced) or she constantly berates the father for his failings. Naturally, family counseling is either never brought up
or the father hates that he's been reduced to it.
If the mother has remarried or is dating someone else, the new guy is usually used as a foil to show how unheroic he is compared to the first dad. This usually overlaps with First Father Wins
- John McClane of Die Hard is characterized this way throughout the series. In the first movie, he's separated from his wife and children and in the fourth, they're divorced. He spends the fourth movie reconciling with his daughter by killing as many of the people who kidnapped her as he can find.
- Ethan in Heavy Rain becomes this after he's fallen on hard times. Though he lives with his son, they've become more and more emotionally distant, and the entire game is focused around the sort of pain and abuse Ethan is willing to put himself through to save his son after he's been capture by the Origami Killer. In fact, this trope is the killer's entire motivation.
- Dojima in Persona 4 fits this trope as well. He's not quite a Disappeared Dad, but he might as well be, considering his daughter practically raises herself and does all the cooking and cleaning while he's busy at work (and occasionally drinking). He actually confesses to you that he sucks as a father (which only makes him want to give up more) and one of the ways you can try to convince Nanako that he loves her is to say he throws himself into his policework to make sure she's safe. Later, he puts himself in the hospital trying to save her from the killer. If you go through Nanako's Social Link, she eventually comes to understand that her father loves her and is protecting her even if he's not there. If you go through Dojima's, he realizes that he's been using policework (and tracking down his wife's murderer) as an excuse to avoid living with a daughter that reminded him of his dead wife. He resolves to spend more time with her . . . and then chases after some random thugs less than a few seconds later (albeit at his daughter's cheers).