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Disappeared Dad
"What you taught me was that I was less important to you than people who had been dead for 500 years in another country. And I learned it so well that we've hardly spoken for 20 years."
Indiana Jones to his father, The Last Crusade

A subtrope of Parental Abandonment: The father of a character or characters is missing or absent.

Perhaps he's died. Perhaps he's left and there's bitterness involved. Perhaps he's off fighting evil. Or maybe it's psychological absence — he's physically there, but is completely negligent in his fatherly duties. Regardless of what happened — and regardless of whether or not the viewers find out what happened — Mom seems to have raised her children on her own, or with the help of a father substitute.

There's a bit of a Double Standard in fiction regarding single parents. A Disappeared Dad is far less likely to have his absence explained than a Missing Mom. When he's not in the picture, it's often taken for granted that he's either dead or a deadbeat, or even worse. But if he is alive, he is more likely to either return and reconcile, or be a non-entity who sporadically appears just to remind the hero that Daddy doesn't care about them. It is also possible for the Disappeared Dad to have not ever met the child at all or even know that they exist, unlike the Missing Mom, since fathers don't actually have to be present during childbirth. Sometimes, a Disappeared Dad is not aware of being one; when that type of Disappeared Dad is actually an established character, you get Luke, You Are My Father.

However, the flipside is that if both parents are absent, the character is far more likely to be obsessed with his or her lost father. Characters who have lost both parents often do not mention the lost mother at all.

Happens most frequently in animated series, but other media are not immune.

Compare and contrast this with Missing Mom. Combine the two, and you get Parental Abandonment. Sometimes, though, Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You. If Dad is dead, we may see a Happier Home Movie. If he is simply too busy to be with his child, it's When You Coming Home, Dad?. See also Tell Me About My Father, So Proud of You, Turn Out Like His Father. Contrast "Well Done, Son" Guy.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure runs on this trope. If you're a main character in this series, it's guaranteed that you're going to barely know your father, if at all. Part 1's Jonathan Joestar's father is killed by Jonathon's adoptive brother Dio Brando; Part 2's Joseph Joestar didn't even know his father, since he died before he was born; Part 3's Jotaro Kujo's father is a career musician who is frequently away on tour; Part 4's Josuke Higashikata was conceived during a one-night stand between an elderly Joseph and a young woman he met; Part 5's Giorno Giovanna's father, Dio Brando, was killed by Jotaro during the events of Part 3; Part 6's Jolyne Kujo suffers from the same daddy issues that her father Jotaro did in his youth, although in this case it's slightly subverted as Jotaro distanced himself from his daughter for her own good; and Part 7's Johnny Joestar's father actually DOES happen to be present in his life, but he resents Johnny due to him accidentally killing his older brother. Whew.
  • Mazinger Z: Kouji and Shiro (The Hero and his Annoying Younger Sibling). They were missing their father after he died in a lab experiment gone wrong. Years later they found out he was not dead. And shortly after they found about it, got used to the idea and got over their abandonment issues he died. For real this time.
    • Sayaka Yumi -Action Girl and female lead- belongs to the "her father is physically present but he is barely there" category. Her father was Married to the Job, and getting the responsibility of saving the world dumped on his lap has not improved the situation. At least he tries to take care of Sayaka, but she knows his family is secondary to his job in the Institute, and she feels neglected.
    • Yuri, Sayaka's cousin. The main reason of she developed a demanding-attention, cranky attitude was her parents were always away, leaving her alone constantly.
    • Hiroshi, son of Dr. Kasuya, a scientist worked in the Institute. His father disappeared in a car crash, but the body was not found. He refused to accept his father was dead. How it turned out, he was right.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion. The whole awful mess started when the Disappeared Dad came back.
    • While Shinji's Disappeared Dad is a major factor to his personality, Misato has one too- she hated him until the day he saved her life in the Second Impact. Dying doing such a thing is what spurs her on to fight the angels in adulthood. It's also implied that her problems with her lover Kaji are at least partially caused by her daddy issues.
    • ANOTHER character who suffers from this is Asuka. Her dad 'disappeared' from her life (by her choice, really) after her mother got her mind sandblasted into insanity by Unit 02. Oh, and fitting the theme of Evangelion, her dad 'disappeared' to have an affair with the head nurse in charge of Asuka's mother. And Asuka knew about it, and they knew she knew. Didn't stop them, though. After that, Asuka never acknowledges anyone as her true parents.
  • InuYasha, Kagome's lack of father has sprouted some Epileptic Trees (He's really a demon, he's really Sesshomaru, he's really InuYasha, etc.) The truth? The Novel Shutetsu Inuyasha reveals that Papa Higurashi is actually dead as a doornail, and that happened in a car crash when Kagome was a little girl. This is the reason why she and her family live in the Shinto shrine, too.
  • Interestingly for a shonen, where fathers tend to at least have a prominent role in the backstory, none of the male leads of YuYu Hakusho have plot-significant fathers. Yusuke's mother Atsuko was 14 and unmarried when he was born, and his father only appears briefly in the last volume of the manga and is unnamed. Apparently fans were so unused to this that to this day, people can still be found who insist that Noble Demon Raizen was his father instead of a distant ancestor. Kurama was born to a married couple, but his father died before the beginning of the series and his mother serves as his Morality Pet. Hiei's father is completely unknown, though the fact that he was a male born to an Always Female race implies he had one. Neither of Kuwabara's parents are important, but his father appears towards the end of the manga.
  • Science Ninja Team Gatchaman: Ken Washio's Dad was another case of Disappeared Dad who was actually right there all along as the leader of Red Impulse. And then he makes an Heroic Sacrifice and Ken is left dad-less again..
  • Ash's father in Pokémon is only mentioned in the first episode, which only implied that he had gone on a Pokémon journey like his son at some point. This has sprouted some Epileptic Trees (He's really Team Rocket's boss, He's the first one to actually train a Pokémon, etc.) In a flashback, a young Ash was seen with an adult male thought to be his father, but that's as far as it goes.
    • This affects Dawn as well in the recent Diamond and Pearl season. It's even more troublesome as it seems that Dawn's father never existed at all, considering the information we are shown of her mother always traveling in contests. Then again, she's somewhat of a girl version of pre-Johto Ash with elements of Broken Bird and Stepford Smiler added.
  • Hatake Sakumo from Naruto fits this trope. After failing a mission he was basically shunned by everyone he knew, which left him depressed and eventually resulted in him committing suicide. Unfortunately this also meant abandoning his seven year old son, Kakashi, whose mother had died several years before Sakumo, thus leaving him alone and without a family in a really harsh, war torn world. This is without mentioning that Kakashi most likely witnessed it.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!, Word of God is that Yugi's dad is always traveling on business, but this is never referenced in the manga or anime.
    • Ryou Bakura's is mentioned in-story to be traveling all over the place and had given Bakura the Millennium Ring as a souvenir from Egypt but he never makes a proper appearance, and we never see Yugi's, Tea/Anzu's, Tristan/Honda's, Duke/Otori's, or any other father aside from Joey/Jonouchi and Serenity/Shizuka's drunk of a father, the dead biological parents of Seto and Mokuba, and Seto and Mokuba's adopted father Gozoboro Kaiba (manga says Seto killed Gozoboro, anime filler arc claims he disappeared into and orchestrated a virtual reality so he could take his revenge upon Seto later. And that he had a biological son who for some reason looks like a green-haired Seto.). Grandpa Moto is Yugi's grandfather and pretty much raises most of the kids when they have any parental supervision at all. Seto ends up becoming Mokuba's substitute father.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds: Yusei's father seems to have bought it during the Zero Reverse incident that split New Domino from the Satellite.
  • Yu Gi Oh ZEXAL: Yuma's father was lost in Astral World several years prior to the series.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V: Yuya's father no-showed a dueling event he was scheduled to compete in and disappeared without a trace three years ago.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. The only characters who still have dads are Nanoha and the Nakajima sisters.
    • The closest thing to a parent figure in the Yagami household would be Hayate. There's Hayate's mysterious "uncle" who supported her financially when she was young, but he doesn't seem to have much of a role beyond that.
    • We only find out what happened to Chrono's dad Clyde when the artifact that killed him becomes a plot point. His widow Lindy also adopts Fate, Erio and Caro, extending the Disappeared Dad trope to them.
    • Speaking of Fate, where's Precia's husband anyway? We don't even see a father in the flashbacks to before she lost her mind.
    • Vivio's situation would get conservatives' knickers in a twist since she Has Two Mommies. In this case, it's less of a 'Disappeared Dad', and more of a 'Dad? What Dad?'. Yuuno/Nanoha shippers, however, find evidence that he acts as a third parent; Fate/Nanoha shippers are just glad for the two.
      • Vivio suggests in the "Second Mother's Day" one shot that Fate is like her father, and gives her a gift for Father's Day.
    • Lutecia's plot revolves around her trying to make her comatose mom Megane wake up again. As for her dad... well, we don't even know what he looks like or if he even exists since he's never mentioned. She does temporarily get a father figure in Zest though.
    • If all THAT isn't enough, in Triangle Heart 3: Sweet Songs Forever, we have Fiasse (dad murdered by terrorists), Shinobu (pretty much abandoned with her maid), Miyuki (dad murdered by terrorists, adopted by relatives, new dad also murdered by terrorists)... yup, that means Nanoha's dad Shirou, one of the few in Nanoha, is dead here too. And he actually died when Nanoha was still in Momoko's womb, to twist the knife even further.
  • In Cardcaptor Sakura, Tomoyo's father doesn't seem to exist, and Sakura muses to herself that it seems to be a "complicated matter". Also, Syaoran's father passed away when he was very young.
    • With Tomoyo, it's at least hinted at the manga that Tomoyo's mother Sonomi may be a lesbian like her daughter... and likewise with a crush on a cousin (Sakura's mother). If that's the case, it's not surprising that the marriage would involve separate households. There are quite a few theories on how Tomoyo was born.
  • Many jokes have been made about the non-existent father of Kanon's Nayuki. Could he have been the secret ingredient of Akiko's jam? Also, Mai has a plot-important mother, but her father isn't seen anywhere.
  • The weirdest example I can think of is in Loveless. Ritsuka's dad is still in the vicinity, but you'd be forgiven for thinking otherwise. We seldom see him, and after Seimei's departure he doesn't do much to protect his son from his mentally unhinged mother Misaki. This is dismissed by Ritsuka as "he's working all the time," but he basically leaves his child in mortal danger. Mind you, very few people in the Loveless universe seem to give a damn about child abuse.
  • All There in the Manual with Magic Knight Rayearth. Hikaru's home life is made up of herself, her mother, her three older brothers, and the dog. (With a very anime reason for why he's not there. She beat him in kendo. When she was five.)
  • Same thing, except with Judo, was the reason for the title character's dad leaving in Yawara! A Fashionable Judo Girl.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Hohenheim left the family when Ed and Al were very young. He did have huge reasons, namely preventing his evil blood-related creation from absorbing the entire country into intself, becoming god, and conquering the world, but Ed is (understandably) still bitter about it.
    • In the 2003 anime, Envy is a bit more bitter about it than Ed is, which leads to his extreme daddy issues and eventual patricide.
  • Guyver has one of the most brutal subversions ever. Sho's father was turned into a Guyver-killing Zoanoid who damaged Guyver 1's brain. The Guyver, on autopilot, killed Mr. Fukamachi, but Sho didn't remember it. He eventually found out and developed a psychosomatic block against activating the Guyver, until Aptom threatened Mizuki and forced him to change. What's even more painful is that while this all happened in the manga (and the most recent anime repeats it all, sometimes panel for panel), the anime specifically spent much more time on strengthening Sho's relationship to his father.
  • In Captain Tsubasa, Tsubasa's father works abroad (though he makes efforts to keep contact through letters and visits) so Tsubasa is raised mostly by his mother and later by both her and Roberto Hongo, Dad's best friend. Additionally, Kojiro Hyuuga lost his father at an early age (in an accident, the manga says; of illness, the old anime says, though to be fair the issue came up years later) and runs part-time works to help the mother and siblings he adores.
  • Bu-ling's father in Tokyo Mew Mew is off training in the mountains, leaving her to raise her five younger siblings alone — kind of... cruel, considering she is eight years old and her mother is dead. Also, in a flashback, Kisshu's family is seen — him and probably a mother and a sister, but no dad.
  • In Sailor Moon, Ami's parents are divorced and she lives with her mother Saeko; her father is a painter, and apparently spends time traveling through the world. In the anime it borders on Parental Abandonment: in one episode, Ami is going to go to school overseas and the Senshi meet her at the airport, and she eventually decides to stay. Would she really not be seen off by her mother?
    • In the live-action version, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, Usagi still has both parents, but her father is a reporter who is only ever seen on the family TV set, effectively giving her a one-parent family.
  • Negi Springfield's ultimate goal in Mahou Sensei Negima! is to follow in the footsteps of his legendary father Nagi, known as the Thousand Master. Nagi disappeared ten years prior to the series start and was assumed dead, but various characters and events have stated that he is very much alive, although his whereabouts are still unknown.
    • Negi also has a Missing Mom, but for some reason he didn't seem even remotely interested finding her. Until recently.
  • Subverted humorously in Yotsuba&!. When Asagi says "Dad isn't here any more", melodrama included, in the second volume of the manga, the reader's left to assume he's gone for good, but it turns out he's just at work, and Asagi is being facetious.
  • Shobu's father from Duel Masters seems to have disappeared into thin air before the series started, which is given a Lampshade Hanging or two in the dub.
  • In Hunter × Hunter Gon's primary goal in becoming a hunter is finding his vagabond father Ging.
  • In Digimon Savers, Masaru's father Suguru is notably absent. It turns out that he was left behind on the first expedition to the Digital World and, after being imprisoned and supposedly executed by Yggdrasil, ends up sharing a body with Banchouleomon
    • The kids' relationships with their families tend to be important in Digimon. Sora's dad Haruhiko is never referenced in the first season, and her ultra-traditional mother Toshiko is emotionally distant (although she gets an awesome moment of Mama Bear when pushed). A lot of Sora's character development plays into mending their relationship, but Dad isn't mentioned until halfway through the second season: he's a famous researcher who spends a lot of time away from home. (Ironically, according to the drama track A Letter To My Father, in his wife's hometown.)
    • Jou's dad is The Ghost until the CD drama Michi e no Armor Shinka. He's emotionally distant, wants his three sons to all be doctors like him, and this causes some friction. The anime gave very little resolution to this, having Jou's decision to be a doctor seem rather sudden, but Armor Shinka and another drama track, Telephone, show that Jou decided to become a doctor because the Digital World didn't have any of its own and that his father did eventually rethink his positions and told Jou that it was okay if he made his own choices. So basically, Jou did become a doctor, but it was the way he wanted and not because of Dad forcing him anymore.
    • Iori's father, Hiroki, was a police officer who was killed protecting a political official when Iori was very young. Wanting to live up to and missing his father is implied to be the reason Iori is so serious and level-headed. Hiroki turns out to be very important to the series' back story, as it was his death that spiraled The Man Behind the Man, Hiroki's Forgotten Childhood Friend Yukio Oikawa, into the utter depression that made him easy prey for Vamdemon.
    • Juri's father isn't a bad person per se, but is very emotionally distant for reasons described under Missing Mom, and Ruki's father is nonexistent. Her mother, Rumiko, is a supermodel who had her at a very young age and they both use the father's surname, but whether he's missing because of divorce or death is contested. In the English dub, at least, Rika compares her situation to Jeri's, saying that she doesn't see her father very often, but at least she can and implies that's mostly her own choice, but the movie Runaway Digimon Express shows her to remember him fondly and might imply he's dead. Of course, that movie is also Canon Discontinuity.
  • In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, the basis for Kamina wanting to leave his hometown so badly is because his disappeared dad left for the surface years ago. His father is dead, his skeleton is found by the group in the second episode (which causes Kamina a brief Heroic BSOD), and latter Kamina dies too.
  • Black Jack. While we know what happens to his mother, Black Jack's father is initially unaccounted for...Until the man has the balls to call up his son to work some plastic surgery magic on his new wife, Renka — the woman he ditched Black Jack and his mother for. While they were both hospitalized, no less. Black Jack gets back at both of them by agreeing to perform the surgery... and making Renka look exactly like his mother - the woman Hazama Sr. ran away from.
  • You could argue this for most of the dads in the Dragon Ball Z canon. Goku's father Bardock and adoptive grandfather Gohan are both dead before the series begins and seems to be this a fair amount himself what with spending one year dead, a year training in space, dead for seven more years, and abandoning his family ten years after that to train the reincarnation of the last Big Bad. Vegeta's father, King Vegeta, was also killed off when he was a child; in the alternate timeline has himself been killed so that version of his son grew up without a father. In the main timeline, he's shown to be present but extremely distant on both an emotional and psychological level with his son, at least until his Final First Hug. His relationship with his daughter Bra is more difficult to evaluate due to matters of Fanon and Fanon Dis Continuity.
    • Dragonball Abridged plays up Gohan's developing anger issues with his increasingly absent and ineffective father.
  • One Piece: Luffy didn't even know he had a father, Dragon the Revolutionary, until informed by his grandfather. In typical Shounen fashion, he takes this in stride while his older brother Ace is revealed to be much more bitter about his own father's abandonment and says his only father is his captain, Whitebeard. And with good reason... his Disappeared Dad is none other than Gold Roger.
    • The issue wasn't about abandonment, Roger being killed before Ace was born, but due to how many unsavory people spoke badly of Roger and had a negative impact on his self-esteem.
    • This is part of Usopp's backstory. His father Yasopp left to join Shanks' crew while his wife was dying. After 10 years, Yasopp never returned and Usopp spend those years waking the entire village with the claim pirates were coming.
    • In Robin's backstory, we meet her mother Olvia, but we never meet her father. It's implied he's dead.
    • This also happened with Franky, when his subordinate Zambei revealed he's now a wanted man, he mentions his father was a pirate.
    • In the Dressrosa arc, we have a variation: the gladiator Rebecca's backstory does not explicitly show her father as a part of her life. Later on, after Doflamingo forcibly took over Dressrosa, her mother Scarlett would be killed despite protection from the Toy Soldier, and Rebecca would be raised by him as a Parental Substitute. This is because she completely forgot her father's existence. Scarlett was one of the two daughters of King Riku Doldo lll, the king Doflamingo deposed, and for that she and Rebecca were hunted down. Her husband, the legendary gladiator Kyros, however, was turned into a toy, and everyone forgot his existence thanks to Sugar's devil fruit powers. This toy would later on be revealed to be the Toy Soldier. So from Rebecca's perspective, her father completely disappeared from her life, while from the perspective of everyone who knows the truth (including the audience) her father raised her without telling her who he was.
  • Most of the characters in Air either have some sort of issue with their mother, is a mother or is playing the part of one, but only one father is shown. Subverted later on, when Misuzu's father returns for her... way too late.
  • Kira Yamato had two parents in Gundam SEED. Yet at the beginning of Gundam SEED Destiny, he's shown living with his mom Caridad ( actually his aunt). Dad's disappearance is never explained, nor is he even mentioned. His (and Cagalli's) actual father is Mad Scientist Ulen Hibiki, who is dead by the moment the series starts.
    • Cagalli's adoptive father is the King of Orb, Uzumi, and they're somewhat distanced in the beginning. He later pulls an Heroic Sacrifice to save Orb, playing the trope straight.
    • Flay's father George was a higher-up in the colonies, and Flay mentions that she cares very much for him but he's always working and away from her. He was then killed off in front of her, and she was so fucked up by the loss that she went from a mere Rich Bitch to a Yandere while seeking for revenge.
    • The father of Kira's girlfriend Lacus Clyne, Siegel, is the chairman of ZAFT. He's later killed by Patrick Zala's group.
  • Used straight and subverted in Soul Eater: Mad Scientist Medusa is Chrona's mother but no father is mentioned. Maka's dad is supposed to be the Disappeared Dad, having been kicked out by Maka's mom for his constant womanizing, but we've yet to see Maka's mom.
  • Iemetsu Sawada of Katekyo Hitman Reborn! pretty much fits this trope; he had been away from home for over two years, according to Tsuna, who once expressed the thought that he was actually dead.
    • He does do his part in the family, however, and seems to send an undisclosed amount of money to his cute wife, Nana—as she confirms this—and doesn't seem to have any kind of job. But Iemetsu is blatantly irresponsible, and has been caught dropping the toddlers, getting the toddlers drunk, and to top it all off, he's pretty much second in command of the Vongola.
    • Iemetsu seems to play the Amazingly Embarrassing Parent role in Tsuna's eyes, and would rather him remain the Disappeared Dad.
  • Several School Rumble characters (The Tsukamoto sisters, Masatsugu & Haruna Tougo, Eri Sawachika, Mai Otsuka) have absentee fathers.
    • Wordof God states that none of the characters have parents because they're not important to the story.
  • Ryuuji and Taiga in Toradora!. Ryuuji's dad is dead ( Although it is later revealed he just abandoned Ryuuji and his mother before Yasuko gave birth.) He was a yakuza, and is where Ryuuji gets his dangerous looks from. Taiga is estranged from her father, since he's treated her like crap her whole life: Mr. Aisaka pretty much just sends her money and shows up once in a while to screw with her feelings, which is one of the sources of her temper. At the end, though Taiga leaves to again live with her mother and step-father, feeling she has to fix her own broken family before she deserves to start one with Ryuuji.
  • Miyuki from Lucky Star is shown to only live with her mother. Though on the Valentines Day episode (or clip..whatever..) she said she would be giving chocolate to her father. So he's either out traveling or divorced. (Though, Miyuki's mother Yukari never talks about him either).
  • Initially played for laughs with Teen Genius Susumu's father on Wandaba Style. The girls went back in time and thought that he died in the ill-fated mission to the moon, but it turns out he's alive and well...in Canada. Later in the series, though, he decides to check in on his son, but does so without letting his son know he's back in Japan, mentally asking Ichirin to watch over his boy.
  • The apparent death of Nagisa's father in Satou Kashi no Dangan wa Uchinukenai has led to her obsession with joining the military, her brother's withdrawal from the world, and her mother's struggles to keep the family from becoming destitute.
  • Serpico in Berserk spent his life hearing from his mother that his father was a nobleman who'd seduced her when she worked as his maid. After a while, he stopped believing it. Then he became Farnese's servant, and one day her father asked about his mother. When Serpico described her, the man murmured something along the lines of "Oh, her"... and Serpico immediately caught on. Both agreed it was best for Farnese not to know about her older brother...
    • Guts himself counts, since we know what happened to all of his parental figures except for his biological father. This just brings up a slew of fan speculation of just who - or what - Guts' real dad is, especially since he has many physical attributes that suggest to some fans that he might not be entirely human. Other than that, this trope is played straight with Guts' adoptive father Gambino, since he talks more about the loss of Gambino than of the loss of his adoptive mother (justifiably, since she died when he was an infant and he appears to have no memory of her).
  • Keima Katsuragi's father, in The World God Only Knows, is implied to spend his time abroad collecting data. His absence helps newbie demon Elsee pass herself off as his illegitimate daughter. That said, he at least remembers his wife's birthday.
  • Hanaukyō Maid Tai. Taro's father does not appear in either series. It was mentioned at the beginning of the first series that he was a painter with whom Taro's mother eloped.
  • The death of Ryo's father in Princess Nine plays a huge role in the series.
  • Renton suffers from this in Eureka Seven, and is eager to find out what really happened to his dad (ep. 38).
    • In Sequel Series Eureka Seven AO, no-one except Ao's mother and the viewers know who Ao's father is, and Ao is convinced his father abandoned him and his mother. He later learns the truth is much more complicated.
  • Natsumi and Fuyuki's father in Keroro Gunsou. It is never really explained what has happened to him, and he only appears in the anime in a brief cameo in the seventh season finale.
  • Hayato's father in Future GPX Cyber Formula, who is the creator of the supercomputer system Asurada. Hayato wanted his father to see him in his races... until it's been revealed by his mother that his father was dead all along.
  • Kotetsu Jeeg has Dr. Shiba being emotionally disappeared at first (he and The Hero Hiroshi are in really bad terms since Hiroshi can't forgive him for always being away from home), then physically disappearing when The Empire he's been researching about comes back to this world and says "He Knows Too Much". A badly wounded Shiba barely manages to reach his home and dies in Hiroshi's arms. In a subversion, his brains and mentality were uploaded in the series's main computer, thus he still can act as The Professor. (Though he does get called out more than once by his aidés, and once epically by his wife/widow/Hiroshi's mother. which he takes, penly admitting he's not the best dad..)
  • In Shugo Chara!, Ikuto and Utau's father, a prominent violinst, disappeared after he was going to be forced to give up playing the violin and running the Easter company. He does return in Shugo Chara Encore though his children didn't see him.
  • Maid-Sama!: The female protagonist's Freudian Excuse to hate men was her father abandoning her, her sister and her mother and leaving them in debt.
  • Ayumu and her sister from Life only seem to live with their mother.
  • In Fruits Basket, both Tohru Honda and Akito Sohma's fathers died when they were very young. Both of said deaths marked the start of a rather unpleasant stretch of time in both of their lives though Tohru's mother Kyoko did get her act together eventually. Kyo's father is still around but refuses to interact with him at all, so he was raised by his martial arts instructor. Pretty much every other Zodiac character doesn't have a father seen onscreen, though a few are mentioned in passing: Uotani's father was a drunk who ignored his daughter after his wife left him, but it was implied that after she got her life together, she started making him fix himself up.
    • In the manga, Uotani's bad home life with her father is shown, as is her getting him sorted out once she is.
  • In Gakuen Babysitters, both of the Kamitani siblings are estranged from their father ever since their parents divorced. Though emotionally distant, they are still physically close, since their father is one of the teachers in the school.
  • The father of the Togashi household in Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai! is absent because he was on an external assignment elsewhere.
  • Kamisama Kiss begins with Nanami Momozono's dad walking out of the house and her life without giving her any real warning...and leaving her to face his angry creditors.
  • In the Pretty Cure franchise, Miki lives alone with her mother, and her brother lives with the never seen father. Yayoi is a sad example as her father died when she was young. Yuri and Ako are tragic examples, especially the former. Their fathers Professor Tsukikage alias Sabaaku and Mephisto were brainwashed by the two Big Bads Dune and Noise, respectively, and became the leaders of the villains. Professor Tsukikage was absent before, because he researched the Great Heart Tree, but he never came back because he became Sabaaku. Mephisto declared himself as the enemy of his own kingdom Major Land and left it and his family, and he created the new kingdom Minor Land. However, unlike Yuri, Ako knew what happened to her father Mephisto and she knew where he was, but she's afraid that she had to fight her father. Yuri finds out what happened with her father during her final battle against Dark Precure when he protects her with his body and lose the mask that controls him. (It is also revealed that Sabaaku created Dark Precure and that she's Yuri's biological younger sister.) Like Sabaaku, Mephisto gets de-brainwashed, too, after Ako fought him. However, While Mephisto comes back to Major Land, Professor Tsukikage sacrifices himself when he protects Yuri and Tsubomi, becoming a Disappeared Dad forever.
  • In Attack on Titan, both Mikasa and Armin's parents are dead (Mikasa's parents were murdered by slavers, while Armin's parents died exploring outside the Walls.) Eren's father meanwhile hasn't been seen by anyone since he left on a business trip in the first chapter, except for a Mind Screw-y memory of Eren's where he is apparently responsible for Eren's Titan powers. What happened to him after that is a subject of much fan speculation.
  • As if saving the world wasn't enough in Monsuno, Chase Suno's father mysterious disappearance becomes a plot point for most of season one, as he and his friends try to find him.
  • In Love So Life, Aoi and Akane's father abandons them following the death of their mother, leaving them in his brother's care.
  • The tititular character of Kubera is shown to have a missing dad in the very first chapter. Later we find out his disappearance is even more mysterious and that he's presumed dead, even though he was spotted on the last spaceship coming back from a destroyed planet. He was never seen after the landing, but on the ship he was seen uncharacteristically crying about not being able to see his wife and unborn child.

    Comic Books 
  • For many years, Plastic Man is this to his son, Luke. He doesn't man up until he has some time to think during Obsidian Age after being shattered and left on the ocean floor for a few thousand years.
  • Spider-Man became a crime fighter after his uncle Ben, who acted as a father, was killed by a burglar.
  • Shaman of Alpha Flight abandoned his daughter to learn magic. Technically, she kicked him out of her life (angry that he'd failed to save her mother / his wife as promised); but given she was maybe 12 at the time, most of the blame lies with him.
  • Empowered. Elissa Megan 'Emp' Powers knows exactly what happened to her father. She watched him drop dead of a brain hemorrhage one fine morning while she was eating her favorite breakfast cereal.
  • Amulet has an extreme version: we actually see Emily's father die before our eyes, and his death is a large part of her current personality.
  • Teddy of Young Avengers never knew his father. Cassie's was murdered.
  • Wanted starts with Wesley Gibson discovering his disappeared father was a recently killed assassin. In the movie, the one the "supposed dad"'s killer was Wesley's actual father.
  • Though previous incarnations implied it, the latest retcon of Deadpool's backstory implicitly reveals this about his father.
  • Batman, despite being a Parental Substitute to several characters, doesn't actually meet his biological son, Damian, until he is about 10 years old. And then Bruce gets lost in time shortly after, setting off Battle for the Cowl, which is mostly about former, current and next Robins Dick, Jason, Tim and Damian dealing with his disappearance.
    • Of Bruce's many, many failings as a parent, not being in Damian's life is not one of them—Talia put a lot of effort into making sure Bruce had no idea the kid existed. She put equal effort into making sure Damian was obsessed with his father's legacy, since he's a bit of a Replacement Goldfish for her vis-a-vis Batman ever loving her.
      • He wasn't there for Damian during the Batman Inc. period, either. Even when they were working together. Possibly a prepubescent who thinks of homicide as a valid problem-solving technique just gives him the wiggins.

    Fan Fics 
  • In the Tamers Forever Series, a great deal is made out of Rika's father abandoning her as a child, and the effect this has had on her personality.
  • A Mighty Demon Slayer Grooms Some Ponies gives Megan a father who ran away with another woman, causing her to harbor a grudge against men in general and giving her a Berserk Button whenever her dad is brought up.
  • In Boys Und Sensha-do, Akio's father died in a plane crash when Akio was five years old, causing him to be unwilling to take up his family's practice of Sentoki-do, or dogfighting.
  • An inversion in the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story series: Empath is Papa Smurf's only begotten son, and is the one who's missing for most of Papa Smurf's life, primarily because he was forced to live in Psychelia for 150 years. Empath himself simply doesn't know his true connection to Papa Smurf until his 150th birthday.
    • Also played straight with the other Smurfs of Empath's generation, as The Plague has killed off all their parents, leaving Papa Smurf as their sole guardian.
  • In Tomorrow's Doom, part of Aiko's backstory involves her father suffering from dementia due to having Huntington's Disease, before he finally kicked the bucket.
  • In Number XII: The Savage Nymph, Larxene's father abandoned her and her mother when she was about two years old, forcing her mother to become a prostitute to keep her daughter alive. Though considering the way he treated them, maybe it was for the better that he left.
  • In Prison Island Break, Silver has never met his father - he tells people that his mother has told him that he died AND that he just left. She also refuses to clarify when, only that Silver was too young to remember him. She has only told Silver that they're better off without him. As a result, Silver doesn't know whether his father is dead or alive, and is also confused about whether he even wants to know who his father is.

    Films — Animated 
  • As with Missing Mom, the Disney Animated Canon has more than a few examples:
    • Both Snow White's and Cinderella's fathers are dead, and the two only have their spiteful stepmothers.
    • Bambi: The Prince of the Forest barely interacts with Bambi., only showing up at important moments when his son needs help. This is consistent with nature, as fawns typically are raised exclusively by their mothers.
      • Bambi's father dropped the disappearing act and took over the parenting duties after the death of the mother, as confirmed years later in the midquel
    • In Beauty and the Beast, Chip has a loving mother in Mrs. Potts. But Mr. Potts is never mentioned.
    • The Lion King: Mufasa is killed by Scar in the middle of the movie. He does return from the dead for some encouragement.
    • The Rescuers Down Under: Cody lost his father.
    • The Aristocats: The kittens' father is never mentioned, but it really doesn't matter once O'Malley shows up.
    • Jumbo Jr., better known as Dumbo, is named after his father — whom who never see.
    • Aladdin and the King of Thieves: The eponymous character discovers that his father Cassim, who left his now dead mother to search for his fortune, is now... well, the title pretty much gives it away, doesn't it?
    • Atlantis: The Lost Empire: Milo not only had no parents, but he also lost his grandfather, who was like a father to him.
    • Treasure Planet: Mr. Hawkins runs out on Jim and his mother. This trope has a pretty heavy effect on Jim's character. In fact, the the only pre-credits song in the movie is about Parental Abandonment.
    • The Princess and the Frog: While Tiana's dad is alive in the beginning, he dies during the Time Skip. It's implied he died in World War I.
    • Plio, Aladar's adopted mother from Dinosaur, for some reason actually does not have a husband despite already having a daughter named Suri.
    • Mulan: Li Shang's father was killed in a battle against the Huns. Mulan, however, still has her father.
    • Played with in Tangled. Rapunzel grew up thinking Mother Gothel is her only parent. In reality both of her parents are alive, but she was kidnapped as an infant and raised by her kidnaper.
  • In Toy Story, Andy's father is noticeably absent, implying that Mrs. Davis is a widow or a divorcee. Shrug of God suggests that Woody belonged to him, although nothing has ever been confirmed.
  • The Iron Giant: Hogarth's father was a fighter pilot, and is assumed to have been killed during a mission.
    • Not really, but possible. We do see a picture of him boarding his fighter in a picture on Hogarth's desk, but if you listen to the rapid-fire barrage of questions from Agent Mansley before Hogarth snaps and tries to leave the house, you'll hear Mansley ask, "Been divorced long, Scout?" He may or may not have been killed, but he's definitely absent.
  • The Land Before Time does this with nearly the entire main case: Littlefoot's father left (we find out in Longneck Migration that he's the leader of a herd; and makes a cameo in the cartoon series) Spike was abandoned before he even hatched, leaving what happened to his father to be debated among fans. Ducky's father is seen in the first film but was quietly written out at some point during the sequels. Last of all, Petrie's father is AWOL.
  • Rango: Beans insists that this is what happened to her father, and that she's waiting until "the people of Andromeda Five return him safe and sound". He definitely did NOT fall drunk down a mineshaft.
  • Camille's father in Thérčse Raquin. There's pretty much no mention of him.
  • The twins' father in The Thirteenth Tale. Isabelle returns home without her husband and informs the servants that he died. Of course, he also might not be the twins' father.
  • Nod's father died prior to the events of Epic. This is mentioned several times.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Little Shop of Horrors (the original 1960 dark comedy), Seymour lives with his hypochondriac mother, who explains to Audrey at dinner that Seymour's father ran out on her.
  • In Psycho, Norman's dead father plays a pivotal role in his absence. Mrs Bates' unhealthy behaviour begins after her husband's death. Norman might have had a shot at a normal childhood if he had lived. Sadly, though, this didn't happen
    Norman: A son is a poor substitute for a lover.
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day: We know why the dad is absent: Kyle was John's father and didn't survive the first movie. We also know Sarah tried the substitute dad treatment. It never took. You'd think after, like, 6 or 7 times...
  • In The Karate Kid (both the original and the 2010 remake), there is little or no mention of Daniel La Russo's dad (the title character) other than that his death prompted Daniel and his mother to move in the beginning of the first movie.
    • In the remake, Dre's father is indicated to have died before the story starts.
  • In Freaky Friday (2003), Anna's father died a few years before the movie's events occurred.
  • Director Steven Spielberg seems to use this trope a lot, played straight, averted and subverted.
  • Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium has Eric, whose father's absence is never explained.
  • Son of the Mask: Tim is a Disappeared Dad in the fatherly duty sense of the trope. He's present and Going Through the Motions of being a father to his newborn baby, but he wasn't prepared for the kid, and finds the kid an obstacle to his career path. Since the kid's magical, he torments his father for his inattention, and finds another father figure in Loki, creator of The Mask, forcing Tim to fight for his child's affection, and learning An Aesop about being an attentive and responsible father. Just in time for baby number two to be on the way!...
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles: The children's father is audible over a phone conversation and seen on a photo. His absence is explained to Jared by his exasperated older sister. But the one time he does show up it's the ogre Mulgarath in disguise as him.
  • Independence Day: Jasmine's son Dylan's father is not Steve Hiller, but Jasmine hopes he wants the job. We're not informed specifically what the deal is with Dylan, but given Jazz is a stripper, the potential exists that he ran out on her.
  • The Shaggy Dog (2006) features Dave as the psychologically absent father.
  • The Boondock Saints had a father who was in prison for the last twenty-five to thirty years because he was a deadly mafia assassin known as Il Duce. He gets sprung from prison by Yakavetta to take on the job of killing Rocco, who Yakavetta believes is behind the killings that the two protagonists are doing, and he ends up fighting both of his sons and Rocco in an explosive shootout. It is only when Yakavetta guns down Rocco himself and the Duke walks in on the brothers delivering the family prayer to him that he realizes exactly who the two men are and finishes the prayer himself, thus revealing to them that he is their father.
  • Star Wars: Luke's father is mentioned a fair bit in the first movie, and in the second one... Well, you know. This trope is kind of pivotal to the original trilogy.
    • Anakin doesn't have a father, unless you believe the implication that Palpatine's former master, Darth Plagueis, created him by use of the Force.
    • From the Expanded Univese: Princess Allana Djo Solo of the Hapes Consortium had a father whose duties as a Jedi kept him away, and then he turned evil.
  • If Star Wars isn't a straight example, George Lucas did a big one later in Indiana Jones (as noted in the page quote).
  • In The Princess Bride the story is that when Inigo was very young, his father, Domingo Montoya was commissioned by the six-fingered man Count Rugen to make a special sword. For a very long time Domingo worked on the sword, and it was his magnum opus. The six-fingered man offered a tenth of the original asking price, so Domingo refused to sell the sword. The six-fingered man killed Domingo, and young Inigo immediately took up the sword and challenged the six-fingered man to a duel. He spared Inigo's life, but gave him a pair of awesome scars on his cheeks. When we meet Inigo, he's been training for the last twenty years to best the six-fingered man, working with Vizzini to pay the bills. "There's not much money in revenge."
    • Also in Princess Bride, there is the framing device of the grandfather reading the story to his grandson. Grandpa says, "This is the book my father used to read to me when I was sick and I used to read it to your father. And today, I'm going to read it to you." It's not mentioned why dad isn't around to read the book to the son himself, although he might just be at work.
  • Okuribito (Departures): Daigo's father left so long ago he can't remember what he looks like. At the end of the film Daigo claims his father's body and lovingly prepares him for his coffin. Daigo finds something that shows that his father still loved him despite leaving and finally remembers his face.
  • In the rebooted Star Trek film, the point of divergence includes, among other things, the death of Lt. George Kirk, James T. Kirk's father. As a result, the fatherless James grows up to be rebellious, self-destructive, cocky, and a bit more of a Jerk Ass, rather than being something of a humourless swot at the Academy and then later developing into just being a bit impetuous and unconventional.
  • Kirk's son, David Marcus was like this until the events of Star Trek II came about. David despises his dad for abandoning the family (Kirk, for his part, was only doing what Carol wanted("I did what you asked. I stayed away."), but Kirk patches things up with him in the end. Then David gets killed in the next film. Oh well.
  • Sophie wanting to determine which of three men is her father drives the plot of the film and musical Mamma Mia!.
  • In Silent Hill, Alessa's father left her mother Dahlia.
  • In Finding Neverland, Mr. Llewelyn Davies died before the film began, leaving his four sons in the care of their mother. They haven't all recovered from the loss yet.
  • Charlie's father passed away before the story begins in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. (This does not apply to the source novel or most other adaptaions. Incidentally, in the 2005 film, Violet Beauregarde's father never appears, possibly implying her parents are divorced.)
  • Charlie has one in The Mighty Ducks.
  • Cobb from Inception is one himself, though not by choice.
  • The Manhattan Project: Prior to the film, Paul's dad left his family and is now in Saudi Arabia. Paul is understandably somewhat bitter: "I guess he didn't like being married anymore. Actually he's a brilliant architect; he's just kind of a shit in his personal life."
  • In Changing Lanes, one of Doyle's primary motivations in the film is to avoid becoming a Disappeared Dad to his kids by convincing his ex-wife not to move from New York to Portland. When Gavin's selfish actions jeopardize this, Doyle gets upset.
  • In The Return of Hanuman, both Minku and Maruti's fathers have disappeared. How Minku's father disappeared wasn't revealed, while Maruti's dad disappeared because he was kidnapped and thrown into a volcano. Turns out that They were alive after all after Maruti brings all of the villagers out of the volcano.
  • Kevin Flynn in TRON Legacy, having been trapped in the digital world for twenty years.
  • In Don Juan DeMarco, both the 'real' and 'imaginary' accounts of the title character's life agree that his father was killed well before he was old enough to cope with such a loss. His doctor gradually takes over that role in his life.
  • Angus: There's a brief reference to the title character's parents being divorced, his father is never seen, and he lives with his mother and grandfather; the latter sort of being his father figure. In the original script, his father was still present in his life, and was gay - due to the potential controversy, he was written out of the movie altogether, the divorce reference was added, and plot-relevant scenes that were supposed to have Angus and his father in them were re-shot with his grandfather there instead.
  • The Poker House: The family moves away from the abusive priest father and never hears from him again.
  • In Love Actually, Sam's mom dies of cancer just before the start of the film; he's now living with his stepfather, Liam Neeson, who laments that "this stepfather thing suddenly matters much more than it did before". No mention of where his biological father fits into the picture.
  • Looper: No mention is made of Cid's father, or where he might be. It's possible that Cid's mother, Sara, doesn't know who or where he is herself.
  • The Book of Eli: Solara tells Eli that Carnegie isn't her father, leaving her real one unknown and unmentioned. There's a fan theory on who is, however [1]
  • Elysium: The father of Frey's daughter Matilda goes unmentioned and unseen.
  • In The Escape (1997) the main character Clayton (Patrick Dempsey) is an escaped prisoner wrongly convicted of murder for killing two men in self-defense. He hides out with Sarah (Brigitte Barko), revealing in a touching conversation that his father was a trumpet player who abandoned him and only showed up once, playing a song for him. It's implied this Parental Abandonment likely contributed to his downward spiral into prison.
  • In As Good As It Gets, the father of Spencer, Carol's son, is never mentioned or seen. It may be that, given Spencer's health problems, he ran out on them.
  • Similarly, in Forrest Gump, Forrest's father is unmentioned and unseen, perhaps for similar reasons.
  • In Trading Mom, the father of the kids left the family. As the kids are annoyed with their mom at the beginning, one of them remarks that their father left because he was also annoyed by their mom.
  • Sarah Packard from The Hustler, whose father left her when she was seven. Her only contact with him are the monthly checks he sends her.
  • In Godzilla (2014), Joe Brody becomes one in the emotionally absent but physically present sense after the Janjira disaster. He then becomes one in the literal sense right after he and his son Ford have finally reconciled upon the latter realizing Joe wasn't an obsessed crazyhead.
  • X-Men:
    • Charles Xavier mentions a stepfather in X-Men: First Class. In the comics, his biological father died when he was young.
    • Michael Fassbender says that Peter Maximoff from X-Men: Days of Future Past is Erik Lehnsherr's son, and the teen's comment about his mother knowing a guy who could control metal hints that he was probably the result of a one-night stand or a brief fling.
  • This is the catalyst for the plot of Winter's Bone - Ree's father has failed to show up for court, and put their house up towards his jail bond. If she doesn't find him within a few days, she and her family will be evicted.

    Literature 
  • In The Baby-Sitters Club, Kristy's father, Patrick Thomas, abandoned his wife and four children and almost never calls or writes.
  • In The Halfblood Chronicles by Mercedes Lackey and Andre Norton:
    • The Elvenbane: The titular character's foster mother is a single parent.
    • Elvenblood: The sympathetic elf lord's father disappeared when he was a child.
  • The disappearance of Meg Murray's father years ago becomes a central part of the plot in Madeleine L'Engle's novel A Wrinkle in Time. Working as a physicist on a top-secret project for the government, he'd accidentally teleported himself to another planet, where he was held captive. Meg and companions end up rescuing him.
  • Tortall Universe
    • Alanna and Thome in Song of the Lioness series have the psychologically absent version; their father has never gotten over the death of their mother and more or less ignores them. They manage to pull a Twin Switch for years despite being of different genders.
    • The absence of Daine's father in The Immortals led to Daine being branded as a Heroic Bastard and earned her much ridicule, but in the last book, she and the readers find out he was actually a god.
  • Discworld:
    • Sourcery has it in a really twisted, really weird form.
    • A more conventional version in Sam Vimes's backstory. His mother always told him that his dad was run over by a cart, Vimes's own theory is that this was a brewer's cart, and it ran him over a bit at a time for years. This is part of the reason he's so determined to be a good father to Young Sam.
  • Specific cases in Harry Potter, where if you're not missing one or both parents you will be soon enough. (Unless you're a Weasley. Lucky them.)
    • James Potter died when trying to make a Last Stand to Voldemort to save his wife Lily and baby Harry.
    • Frank Longbottom is alive, but can't really BE a father since he was driven insane by the Cruciatus Curse
    • Dean Thomas' father, as revealed by Word of God, is a wizard who left his Muggle wife and unborn child because he feared they would be targeted by the Death Eaters. He was later killed, and his family never learned the truth. This would have shown up in the text, but got dropped in exchange for Neville's story.
    • The first few books suggest Tom Riddle senior abandoned his wife and child because he didn't like magic. The sixth book revealed the much more sympathetic truth - he fled from his wife Merope after she took him off the love potion she'd been feeding him. She thought after all this time and with a baby on the way he'd feel the real thing. He didn't, and Merope later went the Death by Childbirth way. This led to Self-Made Orphan years later...
    • The Dumbledore family lost their father after he went to Azkaban prison after attacking some Muggle boys who attacked his daughter.
    • And of course BOTH of Teddy Lupin's parents are killed in the Battle of Hogwarts when he was only a few months old. He at least gets to be raised by his grandmother, and is practically a surrogate son to his godfather Harry.
    • Lucius Malfoy becomes this in the sixth book because he's sitting in Azkaban and it's the motivation for Draco to become a Death Eater, try to kill Dumbledore, and to get the Death Eaters into Hogwarts.
  • Doc Savage's father leaves him in the care of teachers while he travels around the world big game hunting and searching for lost treasure until Doc becomes a man. Then he dies of the plague.
  • Pretty much all of Jacqueline Wilson's teen books contain this. Parents are almost always divorced and the father has usually vanished into the ether (occasionally to be replaced with a Wicked Stepfather)
  • Ella Enchanted, being a literal Cinderella story, places Ella's father as a frequently-traveling merchant. He also has little to no interest in what goes on around his house in his absence.
    • By the same author, The Two Princesses of Bamarre has the king (the father of the titular princesses) as a distant, negligent man. While not bad per say, he never takes action until he's spent a ridiculous amount of time consulting a book of proverbs he carts around. When his oldest daughter comes down with a deadly disease, he vows to go out and find a cure...after having a leisurely breakfast and spending several days consulting his book. He ends up not even attending his younger daughter's wedding, because he thinks the proverbs advise against it!
  • Any books based on the life of Julius Caesar will include this trope, as he had to leave his daughter Julia behind when he was off being a badass in Spain and Gaul. Actually subverted in Conn Iggulden's Emperor series where Julia goes through a phase of teenage anger and resentment towards him, but otherwise pretty much worships her father. This is attributed to her growing up hearing the stories about her father's accomplishments but never seeing him do things like hurt his slaves, get himself drunk or punishing his soldiers. She even goes so far as to helping her father in the civil war, despite the fact that it means betraying her own husband, who is Caesar's opponent.
  • Roger Zelazny liked this one. In The Chronicles of Amber, the absence and possible death of Corwin's father, King Oberon, drives much of the action. Turns out he's not so disappeared after all, but concealing his identity. Mind you he really was captured and imprisoned in the Courts of Chaos; it was his escape and return he concealed.
  • John Cleaver's father in I Am Not a Serial Killer is absent from the book except when he sends John a letter and an iPod at Christmas.
  • The father of the titular character in Gregor the Overlander, vanished when he was eight. They find him though.
  • The Artemis Fowl series begins with Artemis Sr. missing and presumed dead, though his son is determined to find him. He succeeds by the end of the second book.
  • In Jim Butcher's Dresden Files novel Summer Knight, Harry is offered a chance at this: the Winter Lady offers him the information if he will only sleep with one of her court and ignore the ensuing pregnancy. He rejects it. Strongly.
    • In Blood Rites, Harry presupposes this after Emma's death, when he laments that her children are orphans. Jake reveals that, in fact, she had not wanted to settle down with him, but he will raise their children.
    • And then in Changes, Harry finds out that he is the Disappeared Dad to the daughter nobody told him about.
  • In Edgar Rice Burroughs's The Gods of Mars, John Carter meets a young man whose father died before he was born. Three guesses as to who his father was and whether that info was accurate.
    "With drawn swords they made for me, but before I went down beneath them they had tasted of the steel of my father's sword, and I had given such an account of myself as I know would have pleased my sire had he lived to witness it."
    "Your father is dead?" I asked.
    "He died before the shell broke to let me step out into a world that has been very good to me. But for the sorrow that I had never the honour to know my father, I have been very happy. My only sorrow now is that my mother must mourn me as she has for ten long years mourned my father."
  • Stephen King examples (his father left his family when King was two)
    • Eddie Dean in Stephen King's The Dark Tower series. He finds the Mid-World expression "forgotten the face of my father" ironic, because he wouldn't recognize his father if he met him. When he introduces himself as "Eddie Dean of New York, son of Wendell" in Calla, he thinks that leastwise, his mother always said that.
    • Ben Hanscom and Eddie Kapsbrak in IT.
    • Bobby Garfield in Hearts in Atlantis.
    • Carrie White in Carrie. Her father died in an accident before she was born.
    • Louis Creed in Pet Sematary. His father died when he was three.
    • Hal Shelburn in The Monkey (short story in the collection Skeleton Crew). His father was a seaman, like King's.
  • The Dark-Thirty, a collection of African-American ghost stories: A boy with psychic powers has an irresponsible, semi-Affably Evil disappeared dad (mom despises him but when he's around it's usually a fun time). Dad takes his son back to the city when he learns about the boy's powers and uses him to make money on horse races, but when the kid's power disappears and he's beaten by his debt collectors he promptly returns the boy to his mother, never to be seen again ("And good riddance", says his mom).
  • Matt's father died in an accident on the Aurora in Airborn, which is why Matt must work at 15 to support the mothers and sisters.
  • In Tranquilium, Gleb Marin's father was killed when he was 17 or so. It's played somewhat more straight with his own son Billy, who doesn't know Gleb is his father; the man he thinks is his father is missing as of early Part Three (when the son becomes a character in his own right) because he is a prisoner of war. He is mostly raised by his mother, who is Gleb's former lover and the wife of Billy's adapted father, and by Auntie Olive, who is Gleb's former wife. Things inevitably get rather awkward when Gleb has to rescue Billy from a conspiracy (the fact that Gleb was by this point a sovereign monarch didn't help)...
  • The Glass Menagerie: Mr. Wingfield abandoned his family before the events of the play take place.
  • In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, most of the demigods where the god is the father have never met their father and before finding out their heritage, usually are told that their father wasn't in the picture. Inverted for the godly mother, of course. In Percy's case, his mother Sally told him that his father wasn't dead but had been lost in sea. Seeing how Posideon was his father ...
  • Sam of Villains by Necessity has never known his father. Then in the climactic final battle, he learns that his father is :his nemesis, Mizzamir. This revelation does not stop Sam from fulfilling the assassination contract on Mizzamir that he had accepted at the beginning of the book.
  • Frances Hodgson Burnett seemed to love this trope as this happens to pretty much all of her main characters. Sara Crewe at least used to have a loving father, but both of Mary's parents are emotionally and largely physically absent even before they die. And then we have Little Lord Fauntleroy Cedric, whose loving father died when he was a toddler, and the plot is kickstarted when he and his mom go to England to meet his grandfather...
  • In The Lord of the Rings, Aragorn's father dies in the war when he is two; he's raised by his mother and Elrond. There are more examples of disappeared dads, which tend to fall into Parental Abandonment and Parental Substitute as well (Frodo, Éowyn and Éomer, Elrond and Elros...)
    • The Children of Húrin, Túrin and Niënor, also lose their father at a young age, which is the beginning of all their trouble -he's captured by Morgoth and released only after they've both killed themselves.
    • The prevalance of Disappeared Dads in Tolkien's work may be inspired by Tolkien himself losing his father at a very early age.
  • L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero's Daughter trilogy opens with Prospero Lost. His children still haven't found him at the end of the second book.
  • In The Mysterious Benedict Society, Kate's dad left her when she was two. It is revealed to be Milligan, who was brainswept on a mission.
  • Erika, Grünlich's daughter, suffers from this in Buddenbrooks.
  • In Warrior Cats, Tigerstar leaves his kits and their mother to join Shadowclan. There is a lot of biterness involved as Tigerstar attempted to murder Bluestar, the leader of Thunderclan, and also murdered Redtail, the former deputy. Unsurprisingly, Thunderclan does not want his kits, Bramblekit and Tawnykit, to turn out like their father.
  • The absent father is a major plot point in You Don't Know Me. The entire premise revolves around the relationship between John and his stepfather (or the rough equivalent, anyway), so the missing father is really a necessity. The details are vague at best - though a fantasized version of the father is mentioned frequently, John has little to no recollection of who he really was, his mother rarely talks about him, and the actual disappearance was sudden and without explanation: one day there, the next day gone.
  • In Paladin of Souls, it is revealed that Roya Ias' "boon companion" Chancellor Arbol dy Lutiz had essentially abandoned his latest wife and young son to attend upon his liege at court. Young Ahrys did not even remember his father but yet strove to excel in all the arts of warfare and statesmanship in the hopes of being summoned to the capital until the day the elder Dy Lutiz died. As Ahrys' half-brother (the result of their mother's long-term affair with the Castle Warder) put it:
    "Me, I had a father for all of my life, or at least all of his. Ahrys had... a dream."
  • Sunshine has Sunshine, aka Rae Seddonnote , aka Raven Blaisenote  bemoaning her absent sorcerer father. Unusually, it isn't the man himself she resents but his family, who apart from her grandmother strictly avoided contact after the divorce. Which is now a problem because their heritage is the reason she isn't normal. Which is in turn the reason she isn't dead after the beginning of the novel, but some of the time she feels like dying at the start would have been so much less painful, and she has no mentor. Except the vampire.
  • In Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Oskar's grandfather abandoned his father before he was born. He tries to apologize and explain in letters entitled "Why I'm Not Where You Are," but only one ever gets sent.
  • The In Death series: A number of characters throughout the series are much more likely to have a mother in the picture than a father. Does Nora Roberts have a problem with fathers?
  • Subverted in Time Scout. Margo grew up thinking her grandfather abandoned her mother and grandmother. Turns out she left him. And it still hurts.
  • Animorphs, another case of parental divorce, and the dad's first appearance in the series is purely to say he's moving far, far away.
    • And then we have Tobias, although Elfangor's disappearance was special circumstances.
  • In Les Misérables, Fantine's boyfriend Tholomyčs abandoned her and their two-year-old daughter Cosette. His three friends are paired up with Fantine' three friends, and men abandon their women as a joke of sorts; Fantine either doesn't have a chance to tell him or finds out just afterwards that she's pregnant.
  • In L. M. Montgomery's Jane of Lantern Hill, Jane believes her mother a widow for many years before learning her parents were separated.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: King Robert, in direct contrast to how his dear friend Ned raised his bastard, entirely ignores the existence of fifteen of his illegitimate children and does his best to avoid Edric Storm, the sixteenth. Gendry, one of his eldest children, doesn't even know that Robert is his father.
    • He isn't much better to his legitimate children, being the "psychological absence" type who wants nothing to do with them, leaving their mother, Cersai to raise them. Of course, they aren't his, but neither he nor they know that.
  • Antonia's father dies before the events of the The Monk, leaving her to be raised in relative poverty and obscurity.
  • In Dragon Lance, Kitiara Uth Matar's father, a Solamnic Knight, leaves the family when she was seven years old. She later sets out to find him, never managing to do so, but becoming a mercenary and adventurer on her journey.
  • In Michael Flynn's Up Jim River, the harper was raised by her mother alone, with only some information about her father. When her mother disappears, her quest for her also has the unspoken desire to find her father.
  • In Sarah A. Hoyt's Draw One in the Dark, Tom's father threw him out of the house at gunpoint when he found he turned into a dragon. (His mother had already left.)
  • The main character of Wonder Show, Portia, is actually missing both of her parents, but more emphasis is put on her father since he's the only one she remembers well. Most of her motivation in the story comes from trying to find him or get her hands on a file containing information on him. In the end, she finds out out he died long before the main events of the story.
  • In Seanan McGuire's October Daye novel Ashes of Honor, Etienne reveals he has a daughter whose mother never told him about her, until she calls him up one day and furiously accuses him of kidnapping her.
  • The father of the main character in Esther Friesner's Gnome Man's Land/Harpy High/Unicorn U trilogy stepped out to get a newspaper and never came back. It was revealed in the middle book that this was due to his becoming Champion of the Sidhe.
  • In White as Snow, Draco goes off and creates a new capital city with a new queen who gives him sons and forgets Arpazia and Coira. Played with in that they don't miss him and soon leave the city themselves.
  • The House of Night: Zoey's biological father left when she was two years old.
  • The Last Dragon Chronicles: Lucy's father. It wasn't his fault he left; not really. She and her mother get him back.
  • In A Brother's Price, Jerin and Ren have this in common, both having deceased fathers. Jerin's died of an accident a few months before the start of the book, resulting in Jerin's Promotion to Parent to his younger siblings. Ren thought her father had died of illness, but when Jerin, now betrothed to Ren and her sisters, is moved into the palace's husband quarters, he finds evidence that his predecessor, Keifer, was involved in killing the princesses' father with poison.
  • Don De Lillo placed the Disappeared Dad trope at the innermost core of his monumental novel Underworld. Protagonist Nick Shay believes that when he was a boy his father had been abducted and murdered by the Mob, because Italian fathers do not leave their families; they just don't. Told in backwards chronological order, the novel finally reveals that his father had secretly left in a case of Parental Abandonment after all.
  • Sixty Eight Rooms: Jack is raised only by his mother. The lack of a father isn't a plot issue, but their lack of money is.
  • First Light: An aspect of their community. Children are raised by their mothers and never know their fathers. Thea eventualkly finds hers, however.
  • In the Karen Traviss-penned Gears of War expanded universe novels, Anya Stroud was raised by her single mother Helena. Helena refused to tell Anya who her father was(or if he was even still alive) before her death, and Anya is understandably a little bitter about it.
  • This happened to two of the main characters in The Hunger Games, as Katniss and Gale's fathers were killed in the same mine explosion when they were eleven and thirteen, respectively.
  • The Reynard Cycle: Reynard's father abandoned him when he was very young (he doesn't even know his name.) Later, he came down with a bad case of Missing Mom, leading to a full blown case of Parental Abandonment.

    Live-Action TV 
  • iCarly: Carly/Spencer's father is in the military. Freddie's father is never mentioned and his mother seems to have raised him on her own.
    • Sam's father's abandonment is finally addressed in "iParty With Victorious":
    Sam: Yeah, and my dad told my mom he was coming back.
  • Battlestar Galactica: Does Kara "Starbuck" Thrace even have a dad? All we know is that he was a piano player. There's no mention of him when she talks about her abusive mother.
    • Late in the series, we learn what happened to him. When Kara was young, her mother forced him to choose between his family or his music. He chose music some of which was written two thousand years ago by Sam Anders (or possibly Bob Dylan) on Earth, leaving Kara with a woman who thought Drill Sergeant Nasty was a valid parenting method.
    • Not to mention the original (male) Starbuck of the original series. He grew up without a father, then one day a con artist shows up and hints at possibly being his father as part of a scam. Surprise-surprise, the con artist was really his father (which shocked the heck out of him). In the end, Starbuck's dad pretends that he is NOT Starbuck's father so he won't drag his son down (that and the part was played by expensive and elderly actor Fred Astaire)
    • Bill Adama is stated to have been this to Lee and Zak during their childhood, what with hardly ever being around.
  • Teen Wolf: Scott's absent father. It's hinted that he's dead.
  • The Brady Bunch: A Disappeared Dad was in its Back Story before the show's timeline begins officially and Carol married Mike.
    • Creator Sherwood Schwartz's original concept for the show had been for Carol to be a divorcee, but the network deemed this too controversial for the era and demanded a script change. One description of the pilot (a result of this change) has Carol being a widow (the reason why Carol's first husband apparently has no contact with his daughters), although her actual background is never explicitly stated in any of the scripts.
    • In the final episode of the series, "The Hair-Brained Scheme," Robert Reed's bitter objections to the script (Greg's hair turning orange as the result of using a non-FDA approved hair tonic) resulted in what turned out to be a one-episode "Disappeared Dad" ... just in time for Greg's high school graduation. Had the series been renewed for a sixth season, Schwartz contends that Reed would have been fired, with possible scenarios being that Mike Brady would have either been killed off (off-screen) or sent on a season-long out-of-town architectural project. (The other possibility was hiring a new actor to play Mike.
  • On Mom: Alvin, Christy's father and Bonnie's true love, abandoned them right after Christy was born. Christy tracks Alvin down years later and after a rocky introduction, Alvin decides that he should try and make an effort to get to know Christy and her family, even introducing Christy to her half-brothers. Unfortunately for Alvin, the decision ends up costing him his current marriage.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Buffy's dad pretty much disappears after the second season premiere, even when Buffy's kicked out of her mother's house she doesn't go to him and she tells Angel that he never even came to Joyce's funeral. Further, attempts to replace him were disastrous as well.
    • We never see Willow's father (and her mother is only in one episode, at that). Xander's parents are occasionally mentioned and do make one appearance, although it's pretty evident that Xander wishes they had disappeared.
    • Angel is this for Connor for a while in Season 9, refusing to see him or even answer his phone calls. Angel, being Angel, does this because he thinks Connor will be better off without him. Angel gets the appropriate What the Hell, Hero?? from Faith. It gets even sadder when Connor reveals that his surrogate family doesn't remember him anymore since the magic went away.
  • Firefly:
    • Mal himself is described as being raised by his mother and "about forty hands". No mention of a father.
    • Jayne, similarly, appears to be the sole breadwinner in his household, sending money back to his mother and ailing sibling. No mention of a Mr. Cobb is made in Jayne's letters.
    • Emma Washburne has this as well now that her father has passed on/
  • Angel: Angel himself was absent from his son's life for most of it due a Plot-Relevant Age-Up in another dimension, and wavered a bit over his involvement when he was there. Like when he threw him onto the street and then went to Vegas.
  • JAG: Harm's father was shot down over Vietnam on Christmas Eve 1969 when he was a kid, and Harm's attempts to find him were a recurring subplot for the first three seasons.
  • Chuck: After years of absent and/or neglectful non-parenting, Papa Bartowski finally left his children at some point before the series started.
    • He did have a good reason for it, as he didn't want his kids to be caught in the crosshairs of enemy spies who wanted his secretsnote 
    • Stephen promptly disappears again after the end of Season 2, before being lured out of hiding by Shaw. No sooner does he promise Ellie that he'll never leave again, than he's shot and killed by Shaw.
    • Other disappeared dads include Sarah's conman father, whom although she was very close to, still couldn't rely on him (which "Jack" himself acknowledges).
    • Casey himself was a disappeared dad to his daughter, Alex, after faking his death in Honduras to join an elite black ops unit. He later reconnects with her after Daniel Shaw threatens the team's families.
    • The whereabouts of Morgan's father are never addressed.
    • Alexei Volkoff was a disappeared dad to his daughter, Vivian, though he did keep close tabs on her and secretly was grooming her as his eventual successor. The relationship was played around with even further at the end of the season, when it's revealed that Volkoff is actually Stephen Bartowski's friend Hartley Winterbottom, another scientist on the Intersect Project, who was turned into Volkoff by a malfunctioning early version of the Intersect. Hartley never even knew he had a daughter.
  • Good Times: The Evans' family patriarch, James, is killed in a car accident to start the 1976-1977 season, the character being dropped after John Amos was fired (after disputes with the production staff). The explanation: He had left to close a partnership deal with an old friend in Mississippi, the resulting career opportunity making it possible to move his family out of the Chicago slums, and on the way back was involved in a car accident where he was fatally injured.
  • Heroes
    • The Big Bad Sylar's dad walked out on him and his mother when he was very small. This may be what made his mother quite so obsessed, and contributed to his Freudian Excuse and Momma's Boy issues.
      • The mother he killed wasn't even his real mother, who happens to NOT be Angela Petrelli...who also abandoned him.
      • It also turns out that he was abandoned by two fathers. His birth father (a taxidermist) sold him to his uncle (the watchmaker), who only wanted him so that he could abandon his annoying wife with a clear conscience. Birth daddy also killed birth mommy while young Gabriel watched.
    • Micah's dad was a now-you-see-him-now-you-don't sort of disappeared dad. He was in jail, then came back, then died, then faux-returned in flashbacks before being gone altogether.
    • Claire is a weird twisty aversion. She was a complete Parental Abandonment case with both Missing Mom and Disappeared Dad, but she has since been adopted by loving parents. And she knows now who her Missing Mom and Disappeared Dad are.
    • Hiro is a particularly tragic example. He began with Missing Mom Ishi, but his father Kaito was murdered by a vengeful Adam Monroe just as Hiro and Kaito had finally found common ground after a lifetime of Hiro never measuring up to his father's standards, and right after they'd finally begun bonding. This completes the loss of his parents and makes Hiro an adult onset Parental Abandonment case.
      • Hiro's example is more complicated than that. Throughout season 1, Hiro was made to work at the lowest levels of his company. When his father brought him and his sister in to name the proper heir to the company after retirement, he names Hiro initially, but when his sister protests, arguing that she already ran three divisions of the company, Hiro relinquishes. His father was feigning much of the disappointment he displayed and it was revealed near the season's end to be part of his plan. His father secretly knew about Hiro's powers and had greater expectations in mind, this was brought to light in the episode where Hiro meets his father dressed in traditional Samurai/Shogun robes and they spar with katanas.
    • Matt Parkman is a triple-sided example.
      • His own father disappeared when he was 13 only to show up later as a villain, whom Matt defeats.
      • Matt is technically the Disappeared Dad of his own child when his wife left him. It's believed that said kid wasn't actually his, as his wife Janice has been cheating on him... but "Fugitives" confirmed Matt as the baby's father, making him a genuine Disappeared Dad; now that he know's the truth, it appears he'll stop being one as he protects his son from The Government.
      • And Matt is not the Disappeared Dad, having adopted Molly Walker, who is an orphan thanks to Sylar killing and freezing her parents early in Season 1.
    • Mohinder Suresh's father Chandra abandoned his family after the death of Mohinder's sister Shanti to pursue his research into weird genetic superpowers. (Not quite directly afterwards, as Mohinder was the second child and was born some months after Shanti died.) Then only days prior to the start of the pilot episode, Chandra Suresh is murdered by Sylar.
    • Arthur Petrelli, the father of Peter and Nathan, committed suicide six months before the start of the series. As it turns out, not so much. He's the Big Bad of Season 3.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles has the same Disappeared Dad as The Movie from which it spawned.
  • The cast of LOST seems to have an inordinate amount of father issues — usually resulting in an absence from the character's life at one point in time. The only problem is that they don't stay absent and quite often appear in flashbacks.
    • Jack — Turns his alcoholic dad in for malpractice, dad vanishes to Australia. He then dies, and Jack was supposed to bring his lifeless body back... in the Oceanic Flight.
    • Kate — She murders her stepfather and runs to her dad for help; her dad refuses and we have yet to see him again.
      • Actually the man she thought was her stepfather was actually her biological father. The guy she thought was her biological father wasn't.
    • Locke — He doesn't know his biological father until he appears and steals a kidney from Locke (don't ask). When confronted about this, he pushes Locke from a window, paralyzing him.
    • Sawyer — His father kills his mother and then commits suicide.
    • Hurley — His dad is completely absent from his life until he wins the lottery (and then only appears for the money). To be fair, both Hurley and his mother forgive his father and his father formed a strong bond after Hurley came back from the island.
    • Claire — Her father was absent. And considering he was Jack's dad as well...
    • Walt — His mom raised him away from his biological father, Michael. His step-father then gave Walt's custody to Michael. And let's not mention all the things Michael did for his son after the crash...
    • Miles—Never knew his father and was told by his mother that his father hated him. Miles eventually discovers that Pierre Chang is his father and that his father always loved him. Miles eventually convinces Pierre to abandon his mother and his infant self in order to save them...time travel is weird like that.
    • Daniel —He never had any idea who his father was and was raised entirely by his mother. His dad turns out to be Charles Widmore, so this may have been for the best...kinda.
    • Jin — Seeks to be a success and is ashamed of his father, a poor, uneducated fisherman.
      • Who might not be his biological father, though Jin doesn't know it. Jin's mother was a prostitute who abandoned him shortly after his birth. His father raised him anyway, telling him that his mother had died and leaving out the part where she was a prostitute in order to prevent him from feeling further shame about his parentage.
    • Sun — Wants to run away from her crime boss father. She later out-gambits him and takes control of the business.
  • Monk's father was, until recently, a Disappeared Dad. He is still not the greatest at fatherhood, but he's trying.
  • Pushing Daisies has a recursive one that starts out messed up, and just keeps getting worse:
    • Ned, not knowing how his power worked, revived his mother from her death, causing the permanent death of Chuck's father.
      • Only to dig him and bring him back to life. Soon after, the father departed again, this time stealing Ned's car.
    • Still not knowing how the power worked, Ned didn't stop his mother from kissing him goodnight, causing her second and permanent death.
    • Ned's father abandons Ned in boarding school, and ran off to start an entirely new life (complete with new wife and new sons), ignoring his eldest son entirely from that point on. And later he abandons those sons as well. At a magic show.
      • In one of the last episodes of the show, Ned's father has reappeared, and is evidently supplying Ned with covert assistance.
    • Emerson Cod is an involuntary Disappeared Dad; he and his daughter became separated while she was still an infant. He is writing a book hoping to get it published and lead her to him.
  • Supernatural: Sam and Dean's father John raised them, but for most of Season 1 he's missing — in this case, the absence is of the "off fighting evil" variety. But still, he doesn't come when Dean is dying or even when Dean leaves him a tearful "Please help me" message when they're having problems with their old house. He does apologize for most of it in the last few episodes of season 1, and admits that his sons are right to resent him.
    • John was pretty much a Disappeared Dad for most of Sam and Dean's childhood. He would go off hunting monsters leaving them alone for days and later months at a time. He finally does something decent for Dean in a Redemption Equals Death type moment; later, Dean finally faces up to how much of his psychological problems is John's fault in a Journey to the Center of the Mind.
      • John fathered Emergency Backup Angel Suit Adam Milligan about seven years after his wife died, and was very occasionally present in the kid's life. He was much warmer and more pleasant with Adam than with the kids he was actually raising, but Adam never considered him family.
    • God would probably count as this too, actually.
      • The archangels' (and then Cas') abandonment issues about God drive the plot of at least two seasons. That Dean and Sam's reactions to John's bad parenting partially parallel Michael and Lucifer's relationships with God is just this side of Anvilicious in Season Four.
      • And when Castiel spent Season Five persistently looking for God in the expectation that his father would fix everything, and Dean and Sam came back from heaven with the message via Joshua that God expected them to "Clean up their own messes" it was devastating.
  • Power Rangers Wild Force - Viktor Adler "finished off" both of Cole's parents shortly after finding the remains of the original Master Org.
  • Power Rangers Dino Thunder - Both of Trent's parents died before the series began, and, contrary to what you might expect, that's it.
  • Power Rangers Mystic Force starts off with Nick as a total Parental Abandonment case (sort of, he does have a foster family somewhere), which morphs [ahem] into a subverted Missing Mom case, and then, a Disappeared Dad case before the family is happily reunited, subverting all three tropes. The series ends with the three of them riding off on motorbikes so Nick can introduce them to his foster parents.
  • The Vampire Diaries, Caroline has the "Gay Dad" variety.
    • There's also Elena's biological father.
      • As of "Isobel" we now know that it's John Gilbert.
  • In VR Troopers, Tyler Steele, Ryan's dad, was turned into Dark Heart by Grimlord.
    • In Choujinki Metalder, Top Gunder (Dark Heart's counterpart) was nobody's father (since he and Metalder were robots). However, in Jikuu Senshi Spielban (the other Metal Heroes show that was adapted into VR Troopers), Dr. Bio (General Icebot's counterpart) was Spielban's missing father, Dr. Ben.
  • Reba kicks off with Dad running off with his secretary; the two later show up and become regulars (much to Reba's annoyance).
  • The Middle Man begins with Wendy playing with a Zippo that's the last memento from the dad who vanished when she was 14. It turns out to be something of a sticking point with Wendy.
  • Sam Tyler in Life On Mars winds up being responsible for his dad's disappearance; turns out, the guy was a murderous criminal, and Sam decided that, given the choice between two terrible alternatives, he didn't want his mother and his younger self to go through the public shame of an arrest.
    • Considering that it all took place in a reality that was basically purgatory for policemen, chances are that his dad was just your run-of-the-mill deadbeat dad. Unless you subscribe to the theory that he was the one that killed Annie...
  • Criminal Minds loves playing with this trope. Morgan and Elle's fathers are both dead; Reid's ran out on him and his mentally-ill mother; Garcia apparently got her last name after being adopted by her stepdad; Prentiss's has gone significantly unmentioned in comparison to her overbearing mother; meanwhile, Gideon's implied to be a Disappeared Dad to his son and becomes Disappeared Dad to the team when he leaves the series (because face it, Gideon is Dad, Hotch is Mom), and Hotch is trying desperately not to become one. (JJ apparently sprung full-grown from the forehead of Zeus.)
    • Reid gets a Reappeared Dad when a case triggers disturbing memories. Reid starts to suspect his dad was a pedophile. When they're reunited (along with Reid's mom) it turns out he left because he thought his wife killed a pedophile when in fact she had unwittingly identified him to the leader of a vigilante mob (her paranoid schizophrenia getting worse didn't help either). It was really just a case of poor communication kills.
  • The titular character of Merlin would seem to have been raised by his mother. There's yet to be a single mention of his father, which, due to the legends about him has led to endless speculation amongst the fans.
  • The Secret Life of the American Teenager has a few, which isn't surprising for a teen drama.
    • Grace's dad dies in a plane crash during the series. She later gets a stepdad, but she's rather cold towards him due to the fact that her mom married him fairly soon after her dad's death.
    • Adrian doesn't meet her dad until she's 16. He blows her off at first since he "has another family now." He later abruptly dumps them, gets involved in Adrian's life, and marries Adrian's mom.
    • Jack's dad is dead before the series starts, but he has a good relationship with his stepfather.
  • On Glee, Finn has a dead father while Puck's is a deadbeat. This gives them both a nice Freudian Excuse to try to be there for Quinn when she reveals she's pregnant.
  • On How I Met Your Mother, Barney's father abandoned him when he was very young, and his mother doesn't seem to know who his father is either. She tells Barney his dad is Bob Barker, former host of the Price is Right, which he deludes himself into believing is true. His friends go along with it in order to spare his feelings.
    • He finally meets his father in Legendaddy. Ironically, he did spend time with him as a boy, but at the time believed he was just "Uncle" Jerome. They manage to reconnect and start to build a proper father-son relationship.
  • In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air episode "Papa's Got A Brand New Excuse" Will Smith's dad played by Ben Vereen shows up after abandoning Will and his mother years ago. He gets Will's hopes up about spending time together but then splits again leading to one of Smith's big dramatic moments on the show.
  • Richard on Castle doesn't know who his father is. In a curious aversion from numerous others in this trope, however, although the lack of a prominent male role model in his life has left him as something of an immature Man Child he appears to have otherwise adjusted quite well to this state of affairs, with a notable lack of Wangsting in the episode where this trope is a prominent focus.
    • An interesting case is that Castle has stated in earlier seasons that he doesn't <b>want</b> to meet his father, because as long as he's missing then he can imagine him as having a really awesome job, like being a spy. Which becomes heavily ironic in the fourth season reveal that he actually <b>is</b> a spy, when he appears to help rescue his kidnapped granddaughter from an old enemy. It also turns out that, despite not being there in person, he has kept tabs on his son throughout his entire life, and was even directly responsible for Castle becoming a writer in the first place.
  • In The X-Files, Mulder must leave behind Scully and their newborn son, William, to go into hiding.
  • Deadliest Catch:
    • While the dads of the crews usually return, they're gone for so long and in such dangerous conditions there (multiple) divorces are not uncommon and actually a deterrent for one young father who was thinking of joining the family business.
    • Jake Anderson's dad literally disappeared, although he wasn't a crew member.
  • Misfits: Nathan's father. Implied to have been the "psychologically absent" type before leaving Nathan and his mother altogether. Apparently he cheated on Nathan's mother, walked out on her, and has another son he'd never bothered to mention. Oh, and he also left Nathan alone and unattended in Ikea for three hours on his eighth birthday, during which time Nathan ended up having lunch with a known pedophile.
    Nathan: That sick pervert cared more about me than dad ever did...he would've taken me to the zoo.
    • The father of the baby in 1.5. as well, which inspired his power of making any man he comes into contact with want to be his dad. Kelly suggests his mother bring him to his real father at the end, so this can make him want to stick around.
  • Jeremy from Peep Show, who is in many ways an unmitigated Jerkass, broke down and wept at one point in series 6 on account of his father abandoning him at the age of ten. It was unexpectedly touching.
  • This happened a few times on Charmed.
    • Victor was forced away by Grams and Patty because he didn't want his girls to be raised as witches and to be put into danger. Apparently, Grams also used magic against him.
    • Sam, Paige's father, had to abandon Paige because of his fears of what the Elders would do to her because she's half whitelighter.
    • Chris from the future had suffered from this in his childhood. Leo, in his time, had Elder duties that kept him away from his family. He has issues with that.
  • On Mash, Radar mentions that his father had him at 63 and died when he was young.
  • An episode of According to Jim had Jim look after a karate classmate of his daughters (on whom both girls have a crush) whose father is hours late. When the boy's parents arrive at Jim's home to pick up their son, Jim makes the startling realization that the boy's Dad is his own, who left when Jim was 10, 35 years prior. No mention is made of Jim's daughters unknowingly crushing on their half-uncle, possibly to avoid the Squickiness of the concept.
  • Wings started with the Brothers Hackett reuniting thanks to the posthumous machinations of their prankster father. Ended in a similar fashion, as well.
  • Doctor Who - Rose's dad was hit by a car when she was still a baby. Befriending an alien with a time machine gives her a chance to meet him, but then she tries to stop the accident, and..
  • On Home Improvement, Tim's dad died when Tim was eleven years old. Judging by the way Tim talks about him and reacts to others mentioning him, the death was utterly devastating and traumatizing to him as a child, and still haunts him with unusual severity throughout the series.
  • In The Young Ones episode Boring this is an exchange between Vyvyan and his mum:
    Vyvyan: 'ow's Dad?
    Vyv's Mum: Oh honestly, Vyvyan, I wish you wouldn't ask me that. You know I have absolutely no idea who he is.
  • Step by Step: The reason why Carol Foster is single in the series' pilot. Her first (unnamed) husband, with whom they had three children (Dana, Karen and Mark) had died about two years before the series' start.
  • Family Matters: Why Rachel Crawford is a widow and baby Richie has no father. (Robert Crawford had died of an illness shortly after Richie was born, about a year before the series began.) Carl Winslow, Richie's uncle and Rachel's brother-in-law, becomes the father figure in his life.
  • Happy Days: As a child, Fonzie's father had abandoned him and his mother, something that Fonzie remains bitter and resentful about for years. All that the father had left his son was a locked box without a key; the box's contents are eventually revealed to be ... the key that would have opened the box! In a later episode, Fonzie receives a letter from his father (delivered to him by a sailor, who unknown to Fonzie is his father), which reveals that his father had joined the Navy and that he didn't have the courage to face his son and explain why he left. The explanation brings some closure to Fonzie's feelings about his father. (At a point late in the second season until the series' conclusion, Howard Cunningham is the de facto father figure in Fonzie's life.)
  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation's Morgan Brody-Ecklie's dad left when she was 14.
  • Wataru of Kamen Rider Kiva has a missing father. Part of the show focuses on the events that led to his father's disappearance and any other event that resulted in what is happening presently.
  • The Partridge Family: Shirley Jones' character was a widowed mother of five. The group's manager Reuben Kincaid sometimes acted as a father figure.
  • While 90210 has its share of missing mothers and is a big practioneer of the Estranged Soap Family generally, the show is very fond of this trope. Adrianna's father is simply absent and his whereabouts or whether he is even alive or not have never been so much as hinted at. Liam and Navid both have convicts for fathers: Liam's dad is on the run and has no contact with his son, while Navid's father was also on the run for quite a while before turning himself in. Annie and Dixon's father is divorced from their mother and doesn't seem to be in their lives much. Naomi, Teddy, Austin and Ivy have merely Jerkass estranged fathers they want nothing to do with.
  • In My Mad Fat Diary, Rae’s dad left her and her mum sometime during her childhood and has not been heard from since. Rae believes he is living in Scotland before she discovers it is actually her mum sending the postcards to her.
  • In Alphas, the father of Skyler's daughter Zoe is never mentioned, nor his absence explained.
  • Worf spends most of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as this to Alexander, who is understandably resentful at being left in the care of the Rozhenkos with little to no contact. So much so that when he turns up on the Rotarran, he introduces himself as "Alexander Rozhenko, of no house", instead of "Alexander, son of Worf".
    • Data thought his creator was dead, until Soong made contact. Unfortunately, Soong's idea of looking him up was to brainjack Data and force him to come, putting a young boy at risk. Guy's never heard of email?
  • Towards the end of Hey Dad..!, Martin Kelly goes to Saudi Arabia for a highly-paid job, and a friend of the family will play the father's role instead.
  • In Two and a Half Men, Charlie and Alan's father (as well as several stepfathers) died, leaving them with some serious Mommy Issues.
    • Averted with Jake. His parents are divorced, but he spends the weekends with his dad.
  • Marti's father's disappearance in Slingers is her primary motivation for joining with the rest of the crew.
  • Punky Brewster's woes began when her dad ran out on her family and then her mom abandoned her at a grocery store. Then, Henry Warnimont came into her life.

    Music 
  • In Ayreon: The Human Equation the protagonist's father is a womanizing jerk who left his mother long ago. He appears in his comatose hallucination to mock him ("Day sixteen: Loser"), the grudge the protagonist held on him was essential in igniting his rage and letting him wake up four days later.
  • A Disappeared Dad is among the Wangst (Played for Laughs) of The Offspring's "She's Got Issues":
    You told me a hundred times how your father left and he's gone
    But I wish you wouldn't call me daddy
    When we're gettin' it on
  • And let us not forget Johnny Cash's 'A Boy Named Sue' in which the abandoned son hunts down his father for giving him that name.
  • Cat's In The Cradle by Harry Chapin is this trope told from the dad's perspective. It's also a bit of a Tear Jerker.
    • Although this one is less about a truly disappeared dad, but rather about one who was emotionally distant.
  • Jason Meadows's 18 Video Tapes concerns a man who dies from an unspecified illness before his son is born. Before he dies, he makes a set of tapes-the titular 18 video tapes-to impart wisdom to his son from beyond the grave.
  • Pink Floyd's The Wall, the song "Another Brick in The Wall part I" starts with the lyrics "Daddy's flown across the ocean/leaving just a memory/a snapshot in the family album/daddy what else did you leave for me?" It's implied that he went to war and died overseas, just as lead singer Roger Waters' dad did during World War II.
  • The Mexican group Mana, in the song "Relojito cucu" ("Cuckoo little clock") its about the last moments of a kid with its father and how the family grew-up without him after the father death. By the way, lead singer Fher lost his own father as a kid, maybe the song its about his own story...
  • Marie Claire D'Ubaldo's song "My father's eyes" ("Los ojos de mi padre", in Spanish) is from the POV of a girl who misses her father and angsts quite a bit about it.
  • Part of the persona of Unknown Hinson is that he is named after his disappeared father: "Says right there on my birth certificate. Momma: Mrs. Hinson, Daddy, Unknown."
  • Country music singer Red Sovine, whose specialty was recitations about truck drivers, recorded at least two songs about disappeared dads:
    • "Giddyup Go," which actually is told through the eyes of a "disappeared dad." A No. 1 country hit in 1966, the main protagonist is a truck driver whose wife and son had left him about 20 years earlier (and provided no contact information); to the son, who was very young when his parents' marriage ended, he was a "disappeared dad" ... until the day they had a chance meeting at a truckstop, the happy reunion told in the song's climax.
    • "Teddy Bear," about a young parapeligic boy who lost his father in a road accident a few months earlier. The boy, who uses his citizens-band radio to keep in contact with his father's former truck driving friends, says his dream of spending the summer on the road with his folks also died in the accident ... until the teary-eyed truckers decide to make his dream come true. The resulting song, recorded and released at the height of the CB-radio craze, was a No. 1 country smash (and minor pop hit) in the summer of 1976.
  • Lupe Fiasco's He Say, She Say.
  • AJ McLean's "Sincerely Yours," a case of Calling the Old Man Out.
  • A recurring motif in the works of Tom Waits, whose dad ran out on the family.
  • "Tiberius Rising", by Ookla The Mok, is from the perspective of a father who misses his now-grown son, Jimmy, and is almost an inversion of this trope, since it's the son who was always the distant one. If you pay attention to the subtext, you'll realize that Jimmy is James Tiberius Kirk.
  • Belgian artist Stromae sings of an absent father and the excuses his mother makes up in Papaoutai (a phonetic spelling of papa, oů t'es?, meaning daddy, where are you?), while the video shows a young boy singing to his present but silent dad. This is Stromae's own story, he's seen his father only very few times in his life, and he is quoted as saying his father was already gone for him before his death.
  • "Biological Didn't Bother", by NBA star and part-time rapper Shaquille O'Neal, is a simplified version of Shaq's real-life abandonment by his biological father. The track ends with the words "Phil is my father", referring to his stepfather Phillip Harrison.
  • "No Man's Land" by John Michael Montgomery. The father is out of the picture for unexplained reasons, and the song is mainly focused on the single mother trying to raise the family by herself.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In Dilbert, the title character's father, who never appears in the comic, has been living in an all-you-can-eat restaurant in the mall since Christmas 1992; he won't leave until he's literally had all he can eat. When Dilbert's girlfriend Liz expresses astonishment that neither he nor his mother have so much as visited him in all this time, Dilbert replies, "We're waiting for a sale." The joke is recycled for the animated series, where the father, still living in the restaurant (since 1979 in this version), does appear, but his face isn't shown.

    Theater 
  • In the musical version of Les Misérables, we are told that Cosette's father abandoned her and her mother when she was very young, although without most of the detail that's in the original novel.
  • In William Inge's Picnic (as well as in the 1955 film adaptation), the father of the Owens family has long since abandoned them.
  • In Chess, Florence's missing father, who may or may not have been killed by the Soviets in the 1956 Budapest Revolution, is brought up many times, in most versions eventually becoming a an important part of the plot when it's revealed that he may, in fact, be alive in a prison in Russia... but Florence will have to give up her Soviet defector boyfriend if she wants him released. (Meanwhile, her mother is rarely mentioned.)
  • In A Chorus Line, Maggie's father left the family sometime after her birth when he realized Babies Don't Make Everything Better.

    Video Games 
  • Going to meet the missing father is what kicks off the plot of Another Code.
  • Silent Hill: Shattered Memories: Harry Mason to Cheryl.
  • This is a main plot hook in Fallout 3. Not long after, he pulls a Heroic Sacrifice to stop the Enclave from getting Project Purity. Unfortunately, Colonel Autumn recovers.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, Rose of Sharon Cassidy states that her father John Cassidy left her and her mother not long after she was born.
    • Arcade Gannon's father, a member of the Enclave Remnants' squad, was killed while away on a mission when he was an infant.
  • This is also the main plot hook in Mega Man Star Force.
  • As with similarities to its anime adaptation, all the Pokémon games in the main series seems to suffer from this, with the rival's included. The only games that seems to avert it is Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald in the Hoenn generation, where it was solely because your father was a major figure in the game, and Diamond/Pearl/Platinum in the Sinnoh generation, where your rival's father is the champion of the Battle Tower. The most mention of a father in the original games is a mention that "dad would like this" about a TV program.
    • As far as spin-offs go, the player character of XD's dad is explicitly dead.
  • In Neverwinter Nights 2, the protagonist's father is mentioned exactly once, to establish that nobody in West Harbor has ever met him. Of course, seeing as their mother is only mentioned a handful of times and they are raised by a friend of their mother that is understandable.
  • Naturally, this happens a lot in Final Fantasy:
    • Cecil Harvey and Kain Highwind have one each in Final Fantasy IV. Kain's was a valiant Dragoon who died in battle. Cecil's was a moon-man named Kluya. Who was also Golbez's dad!
    • In Final Fantasy V, King Tycoon's disappearance in the prologue becomes a plot point and one of Lenna's motives. And Faris', it turns out. Bartz's father passed away a few years before the game and asked his son to travel the world, which Bartz does.
    • In Final Fantasy VI, Relm's parents are only directly referred to in her equitable Orphan's Plot Trinket, whose description says "departed mother's love protects from instant death attacks". Shadow, the ninja, can also wear it and has nightmares of siring a daughter and abandoning her after the mother suffers Death by Childbirth.
    • Even more in Final Fantasy VII:
      • Tifa's father was murdered by Sephiroth in his Nibelheim rampage. In front of young Tifa, to make it worse.
      • Then we have Dyne, Marlene's biological father and Barret's old friend, who passed the Despair Event Horizon after Shinra's destruction of Corel Village and unwillingly getting an Arm Cannon; after that, he's pretty much an Empty Shell of the man he once was. He becomes a full DD when Barret defeats him in combat; he then begs him to keep taking care of Marlene and throws himself off a cliff, despite Barret's pleas.
      • Aerith's father was Professor Gast Faremist, a scientist who was Hojo and Lucrecia's "partner" in the experiments that would lead to Sephiroth's birth. He left Shinra shortly afterwards and later lived with a Cetra woman, Ifalna, and fathered Aerith with her, but was gunned down by Hojo while trying to protect his wife and daughter; Ifalna dies some time later, but manages to entrust Elmyra with bitty Aerith before kicking it.
      • Cloud himself has a mother, but his father is never mentioned. (Wild Mass Guessing abounds.)
      • Sephiroth, on the other hand, appears to have known Hojo was his father, which means the man was entirely too present in his life—but emotionally, there was no father there. Meaning he invested a lot of emotion in the mother of whom he had only a name, 'Jenova.' Which wasn't even his actual mother, exactly, but it did make it easier for her to get into his head...
      • In the prequel game Crisis Core, major character Director Lazard turns out to be motivated by this—he's President Shinra's illegitimate son, and resents the man fiercely. And presumably Rufus, too.
    • Jecht from Final Fantasy X messed up his kid by disappearing for ten years, then messes him up even more by not being quite the same upon resurfacing. It turns out that Jecht became the Final Aeon for the last Final Summoning, resulting in him becoming the current Sin because of the Vicious Cycle perpetuated by Yu Yevon.
    • Ritz from Final Fantasy Tactics Advance has mentioned her mother before, but never her father.
  • Crono's father in Chrono Trigger.
    • Not only Crono's, but Magus's father never appears during the game, either. It is vaguely stated by an NPC that Queen Zeal (Janus' mother) hasn't been the same since the King died, at which point she started neglecting her children and unwittingly turned Janus' sister Schala into his mother figure.
    • The sequel, Chrono Cross, continued this with the noticeable absence of Serge's father, although we see Serge's mother at the beginning of (and various times throughout) the game. It is eventually revealed what happened to Serge's father; he's Lynx.
  • Wild ARMs 4's Jude lost his father before he was even born. He later finds out what happened to him when he fights him to save the world, and later convinces him to finally let his spirit rest after the battle.
    • This seems to be a pretty common trope for Wild ARMs protagonists, Virginia from Wild ARMs 3 was abandoned by the father who taught her to use her ARMs. This is doubled when we later find out that her absent father was also a substitute father figure for fellow playable character Jet. Then, after he seemingly comes back, it's revealed that he's actually a "recording" of sorts of her real father made by a electronic library, a mere projection. Virginia then has to "kill" him when she destroys the library. Abandoned again.
  • The prologue to Dragon Quest III shows the hero's father, Ortega, fighting a dragon on the rim of a pit. They both fall in, and are never seen again. Until you get to near the end of the game, where the dragon kills him, and then you finish it off for him.
    • Which totally inspires Fridge Logic when you realize Ortega's been missing/presumed dead for about ten years. In all that time in, presumably, the Dark World, he not only managed to reach the Charlock Castle without the rainbow bridge, but failed to become stronger than his son/daughter, despite the fact that he was already much, much stronger than that, considering the fact that he's on the final floor of the last dungeon in the game? What the hell?
  • An inversion of this trope occurs in Dragon Quest V. You are the Dissapeared Dad to your son and daughter, having been turned to stone along with your wife by the villains shortly after they were born. Eight years later, however, they manage to find you and turn you back to normal.
  • Tales of Symphonia: True to the trope, Lloyd's father isn't really gone. He's one of three millennia-old beings running counteracting plans. His having a family was the major reason he broke off his alliance with the Big Bad.
  • In the Purple Moon games, Sharla's father walked out on her and refuses to take her to a father-daughter function previous to her teenage rebellion, which is implied to be partially caused by this. Nobody knows where Dana's father is, either, but she certainly doesn't like her stepfather much.
  • In Earthbound, Ness's father is always away, and can only be contacted by telephone. In fact, in the ending credits his sprite is the telephone.
    • Same goes for MOTHER. MOTHER 3 is the only game in the series with a father that's present, though he does disappear for about half of the game while searching in the mountains for Claus.
  • La-Mulana's Kosugi family has at least two instances of this. Shawn dumped his son on his own father to go looking for the ruins of La-Mulana, and Lemeza himself had to go into hiding during the gap between La-Mulana and La-Mulana 2, leaving his daughter Lumisa alone at some point.

  • In Seiken Densetsu 3, Duran's father died while on a quest to defeat the Dragon Emperor. This becomes an important plot point for Duran's story later on, as a setup for a Luke, I Am Your Father scene with the Darkshine Knight.
  • In Sam & Max: Freelance Police Season 2, it is revealed that Bosco was a test tube baby (courtesy of an instant-baby-generating contraption that extracts DNA from saliva samples), due to the fact that his mother was a feminist who wanted total independence from men. The source of Bosco's paternal DNA (and thus his biological father) is revealed to be then-president John F. Kennedy, who his mother met (but apparently did not recognize) about two and a half months before his death.
  • Sparda from the Devil May Cry series. He's treated as gone, but what exactly happened to him hasn't been elaborated on. Dante doesn't think much of his father, though.
  • An interesting take on this trope occurs in Rune Factory 2 where the missing dad is the main character. Instead of the game following him when he leaves his family, player control switches over to his son/daughter who embarks on a quest to find out what happened to his/her father.
  • In all of the main series Pokémon games (with the exception of Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald), the player's father is never even mentioned.
  • Princess Zelda's father is ostensibly the King of Hyrule, but he's missing from almost every game in the entire series, leaving his underaged daughter to run the kingdom. And in one of the only two games where he is seen (The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)note , he's murdered by the Big Bad.
    • Lest we forget, her father was in the dreaded CD-I games.
    • Link himself is even worse off. His mother is mentioned in about one game (Ocarina of Time, again) and his father never. The closest relatives he ever lived with was an uncle, a grandma and a little sister. He even played Knight Templar Big Brother to the later.
      • It's worth pointing out that many (but not all) of the Links are related, and that the Triforce is passed down from parent to child. So, Link's absent father may very well be another Link. Nintendo has confirmed that the Hero's Shade in Twilight Princess is the Link from Ocarina of Time (from whom the Link in Twilight Princess inherited the Triforce of Courage). The Shade even calls Link "my child". (Although, the creators have stated that the Twilight Princess Link isn't the Ocarina of Time Link's descendant; he's a reincarnation.)
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, Anju lives with her mother and grandmother, but her father has died (a fact you'd learn if you speak to Anju while she is making lunch on the First Day). In an obscure cutscene, she and her mother talk about fleeing to the ranch, and it's revealed that Anju's father mysteriously left years before and was never seen again. This is part of the reason Anju's mother is so angry at Kafei and is skeptical that he'll return.
  • Star Fox: James McCloud, Fox' father, disappears in the backstory. He has been on-screen a few times, but likely as a hallucination every time.
  • In the game Persona 4, Kanji Tatsumi's father is implied by his mother to have collapsed while Kanji was somewhere else. He was proclaimed dead at the hospital.
  • It is never explained what happened to Lara's parents in the first Tomb Raider series, although according to the backstory of Legend, Richard Croft died/disappeared during an expedition in Cambodia. She has a Missing Mom too, so that's Parental Abandonment.
    • Underworld reveals the details of what happened; Lara's mother became a zombie upon being transported to the Norse underworld and Lara's father was killed by the Big Bad for not co-operating with her plans
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, the Dwarf Commoner origin is sad. You're a lowlife thug, born as a Casteless, forever shunned by the rest of your kind, without almost any rights and stuck in the aptly-named Dust Town. Your sister is on her way to become a pseudo-prostitute and your mother is a bitter alcoholic. Your father? Left to find a new life on the surface. You should really feel sorry for yourself.
    • In the Awakening expansion pack, Oghren is revealed to have run off on his new family to join the Grey Wardens because as a Blood Knight he simply could not accept peace. By raising his approval, it's possible for the player character to convince him to be a part of his son's life through letters.
  • In Dragon Age II, Feynriel's father Vincento walked out on his mother when he discovered she was pregnant, partly because his work as a trader couldn't allow family time, but mostly because he wasn't interested in having a son. It obviously had quite an effect on Feynriel, because in "Night Terrors," the Desire Demon's Lotus-Eater Machine scenario involves him being accepted by Vincento and taken along with him on his travels.
  • Mass Effect 2: This comes up in three of the loyalty-securing missions.
    • The first: Jacob learns that his father, who has been presumed dead for ten years, might still be alive. He admits that they hadn't spoken for ages even before the man vanished, but he naturally wants to investigate. He doesn't like what he finds.
    • Second: Thane, who is the absent father trying to reunite with his son Kolyat... so he can stop Kolyat from following in his footsteps as an assassin. It's even called "Cat's in the Cradle".
    • Third: Tali'Zorah's father (as mentioned Mass Effect 1) was a "Well Done Daughter" Gal type, and as we find out come 2, he was also a "going through the motions" type in day-to-day, because he was so focused on reclaiming the quarian homeworld as a "gift" to her. He wound up being killed by an experiment gone wrong.
    • Subverted with Shepard themself if you choose the Spacer origin, while Shepard's mother is briefly interacted with in the first game and mentioned many times as a highly respected navy captain in the second. Shepard's father is never mentioned at all.
    • There's also Liara's "Father" (Asari are an all female race) who Liara never met. She only knows it's another Asari, and received the typical backlash about being a "Purebreed". You meet her father, Matriarch Aethyta, in the second game, and can even reunite the two in the third.
  • Mass Effect 3: What little James Vega mentions about his father doesn't paint their relationship in a good light. As the Reaper invasion means Shepard has a lot less time to sort out their teammates' personal issues, whatever caused the falling-out remains a mystery the whole game. The Homeworlds comic shows what happened.
  • Scaler's dad left when he was little. It later turns out that Leon is his father - and had been stuck in a different world.
  • In Assassin's Creed II, you get to see Ezio's father "disappear"... executed by hanging.
  • In Suikoden III Chris' father has been missing since she was little. She meets up with him again as he is dying.
  • In Evolution Worlds, Mag's father, Asroc Launcher has been missing for three years when the game starts.
  • In Car Battler Joe, Joe's father has been missing for years, and Joe sets out to find him.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Fire Emblem Akaneia: Marth and Ellice's dad Cornelius was murdered early on. Linde's dad Miloah died at the hands of Gharnef. Yumina and Yubello's dad, Ludveck, is killed too.
    • Fire Emblem Jugdral: Alvis and Azel's dad was Spurned Into Suicide. Not only that, but Sigurd and Ethlyn's dad Vylon, Deirdre's father Kurth and Briggid and Aideen's dad Ring were murdered in a conspiration. (And Ring was killed by his own son Andorey's hand) And later not only Quan died in the Yied Massacre and Eldigan was executed by Chagall, but Sigurd and all of the guys in his group who were paired up (Save for Lewyn, but that's another bag of cats) died in the Battle of Barhara.
      • And Thracia 776 adds Miranda's father aka the King of Alster, murdered by the Empire for sheltering Leaf years ago; Miranda is very, very angry at Leaf because of that. Not to mention there's Mareeta's father Galzus, but unlike the others he comes back as long as you don't get him killed off — and if he lives to the end of the game... he leaves her again in the care of her adoptive mother Eyvel, since he thinks he's too bloodstained to stay with his child, but promises to visit Mareeta regularly.
    • Fire Emblem Elibe: The deaths of Lilina's father Hector and Eliwood's father Elbert end up being very important in the plots of the games they're in. Aside of that we have Ninian and Nils's father... the local Archnemesis Dad, Nergal. Roy is a notable Aversion, because he's the only main character in the entire series whos father (Eliwood) is still alive by the end of the game.
    • Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones: The game starts with the death of a father: Eirika and Ephraim's dad, King Fado. And the death of Lyon's father Vigarde is just as important since it triggers Lyon's fall into despair, as well as the start of his experiments with Black Magic. A background case is Franz and Forde's father, a famous knight of Renais who died in the job years ago, when Forde was a teenager and Franz was a kid.
    • Fire Emblem Tellius: Ike and Mist's father Greil dies quite early on.
    • Fire Emblem Awakening:
      • The previous Exalt of Ylisse (the father of Emmeryn, Chrom, and Lissa) died when Emmeryn was only nine years old.
      • The Avatar was taken away from his/her father shortly after being born, as the father was intending to use him/her as a vessel for Grima. When said father (the Evil Sorcerer Validar) returns... uh, things start taking turns for the worst.
      • ALL the men who got married and fathered kids become this in the Bad Future. The case of Chrom and Lucina is specially... complicated.
  • Julian Gardna-Brennan, the Player Character of X2: The Threat and X3: Reunion, is the son of the previous game's Player Character Kyle Brennan. His parents divorced when he was two, his mother got custody, and they moved halfway across the galaxy which resulted in him growing up without ever knowing his father.
  • In Dishonored, there is no mention of Emily's father. It is however hinted that Corvo himself might be her biological father.
  • The disappearance of the main character's father during the prologue is what kickstarts the plot of Nostalgia.
  • In The Night Of The Rabbit, Jerry Hazelnut's father is nowhere to be seen in the opening sequences of the game. But late in the game we find out that his father was trapped in the space between worlds and the memories about him were erased from other people. Fortunately he is restored back to normal.
  • It's widely accepted that Dr. Light thinks of Rock, Roll and Blues (Proto Man) like children. However, Mega Man X got stowed in a capsule for a hundred years, and his "father" died before X was "born" (activated). Poor X has nothing but holochambers to remember Light by.
  • In Robopon, Cody's dad leaves on a business trip at the very beginning of the first game and is never seen again, even in the sequel.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ever 17: The Out of Infinity: You's father was a researcher at Leiblich Pharmaceutical, and disappeared under mysterious circumstances a year after You was born.
    • Rare protagonist example: Takeshi becomes one to Hokuto and Sara, though in his case, at least he had his reasons (not to mention he didn't know they existed.
  • Emiya Kiritsugu in Fate/stay night for Shirou and also Ilya. Tohsaka's father, Tokiomi, died in the last holy grail war, at the hands of Kotomine Kirei. Both are fairly important due to their absence, the former more so than the latter.
  • In Tsukihime, Kiri Nanaya is this to Shiki Tohno. He was killed by Kishima Kouma, along with the entire rest of the Nanaya clan aside from his six-year-old son, who was forced to watchnote . Shiki Nanaya, who doesn't have the Laser-Guided Amnesia that his other self has, is understandably a little bit bitter.
    • Makihisa Tohno also became this shortly before the Visual Novel begins. Nobody really cared too much.
  • In Katawa Shoujo, we have Emi Ibarazaki's father. He died eight years ago, either in the same accident where Emi lost her legs, or few days afterwards. His death mentally scarred Emi a LOT, but she hides it.
    • Lilly Satou's father lives abroads, and so does her mother. Lilly's sister Akira pretty much raised her, and she's not exactly happy about it; she loves Lilly very much but clearly knows that she cannot replace their parents.
    • Hanako Ikezawa's father died in the fire that left her scarred and fully orphaned.
  • In Umineko: When They Cry Maria's father is nowhere to be seen, having left her mother Rosa before she was born; Rosa claims that he's on a "business trip." Later on, she makes comments about Maria that seem to imply that she was born out of wedlock. In EP7 it's revealed that since Rosa violently denied her father's existence every time Maria asked about him, she eventually became convinced that God was her father and she was conceived the same way Jesus was.
    • To a degree, all the dads become this when they get killed off in different continuities.
  • In Super Dangan Ronpa 2, during Chiaki Nanami's Free Time Events she mentions her father in the past tense, making Hinata wonder if he died. It turns out Nanami's "father" is Chihiro Fujisaki, the Super High School Level Programmer who died back in Dangan Ronpa; Nanami is an Artificial Intelligence that he created.
  • Because of the strong female influence on the Fey clan in the Ace Attorney games, the fathers of prominent characters, sisters Mia and Maya and their cousin Pearl, are never mentioned, and explained to have either died or left the family for financial or personal reasons. The clan itself has an abnormally high divorce rate, and seeing all these divorces is why Pearl wants Maya and Phoenix to get together.
    • This also seems to be the case with the Apollo Justice game on Apollo himself after Lamiroir is revealed to be his birth mother, with only a passing mention that his father died in an accident a long time ago.
    • In Investigations, Lauren Paups's father left before she was old enough to even remember his face, which is why she never noticed that the butler Oliver Deacon actually was her father. He was in hiding from the law and thus couldn't reveal his identity to her.
    • It's unclear whether her mother is alive or not due to her vague mention of going to live with her 'mother's family', but Kay Faraday's father dies very dramatically when she's ten. A young Edgeworth solves the case but the killer isn't brought into custody until seven years after the murder.
    • The entire plot of Case 1-4 centers around the death of Edgeworth's father, and how he was affected by it.

    Web Comics 
  • Count Your Sheep has a Disappeared Dad in the form of Marty who we only ever hear about in flashbacks or wistful reminiscences. He's explicitly dead, though.
  • Narbonic both inverts and averts the trope, as the first time we hear about Helen's father it's implied Helen's mother served him for dinner, and then once the truth is revealed, we discover there never was a dad — Helen is a clone; it turns out to be a Should've Seen That Coming due to the fact that Helen's mother is a Mad Scientist.
  • In Fans!!, many of neurotic Ice Queen Shanna's issues stem from the fact that her father abandoned her and her insane mother when she was just a child. Unlike many of the fathers on this page, however, when he does finally appear he's treated somewhat sympathetically; whilst his abandonment of his wife and daughter isn't condoned he's depicted as an uptight-but-decent man who just snapped under the pressure of his life and later genuinely regretted his actions, but felt too ashamed of himself to return.
  • Jodie's father (from Loserz) is missing, as told here.
  • In Misfile, Emily's father disappeared before she was born, never to return. His only contribution to the plot (apart from Emily obviously) was to ensure Emily's mother became the Education Mama we all know and...er...know. A fan theory has been advanced that Rumisiel could even be her father. We pray that it gets Jossed quickly.
  • In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, the first time Molly ever hit anybody was when Galatea taunted her for not having a "real" daddy. (Molly felt very guilty afterwards for hitting her.)
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court Annie's father left her and her dead mother shortly after his wife passed away, without telling anyone where or why. He has refused to contact his daughter since. It is stated, though, that this behaviour isn't exactly new for him...
  • Kimiko's father hasn't really been around much in her life in Dresden Codak, aside from giving her a bunch of money when her mother died.
  • Faerun of Juathuur.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Susan's father left after being caught cheating and going through the ensuing bitter divorce. Neither Susan nor her mother handled it very well.
  • In Girl Genius, both of Agatha's biological parents and her uncle Barry have been missing for years. Her mother has since reappeared (sort of), but given that Lucrezia Mongfish is also The Other, Agatha would probably have been better off if she had stayed missing.
    • There is also a case of Baron Kalus Wulfenbach. His son Gilgamesh spent his early childhood knowing nothing about his father. It was supposedly done for his protection.
  • In The Dreamer, Alexander's dad left the family (or rather, his mom kicked him out) when he was about 10 years old. He's never seen him since.
  • In Out There, Miriam's mother makes occasional appearances, but the first time Miriam mentions her father, she implies she hasn't seen him for awhile, if ever.
  • In The Order of the Stick, Elan's father was one of these, until recently. Haley's father has apparently been kidnapped. Roy's father, however, has been quite active in his son's life, even though he's dead. Durkon's apparently was this from a very young age.
    • Eugene is an interesting case. It seems that he wasn't active in Roy's life until he died; prior to that he seems to have been quite neglectful, was bitter that Roy became a fighter instead of a wizard and showed clear Parental Favoritism to Julia. However, he specifically passed up a chance to defeat Xykon because it would have involved abandoning the family and possibly putting them in danger, but specifically lied to Roy saying he would have left them if given the chance.
    • Haley's reunion with Ian was contentious, since she's abandoned the paranoia-happy way he tried to raise her. However, they smoothed things ago again before the plot went on from him.
    • In a flashback, Durkon's father is referred to in the past tense even when he was a very small child — apparently he died, possibly even before Durkon's birth.
  • In Overlordof Ravenfell, Razin's father was a feared Evil Overlord who was killed in a battle against a hero.
  • In Strays, Meela's father never appears; she also dreams of a boy whose father was murdered.
  • In Memoria, Cazula's Back Story.
  • Eiji of 9th Elsewhere; he claims to see his father at family dinners once in a while, but his mother points out that he hasn't been to one in months.
  • In The Adventures of Shan Shan, this lends weight to It Was a Gift: she received it just before he disappeared.
  • In No Rest for the Wicked, The Boy's father threw him out — as he did in the Fairy Tale. Even his sunshiny nature can't ignore it entirely; he's wistful seeing how much November's father loves her.
  • But I'm a Cat Person runs Miranda through multiple flavors of Parental Abandonment, including this one.
  • In Impure Blood, Dara's Secret Legacy is tied up with her father the Ancient they are looking for.
  • In Dragon Mango Mango doesn't even know her father's name.

    Web Original 
  • While what actually went on is unclear, The Nostalgia Critic still lives with his abusive mother. His Dad, who Critic still appears to have scary memories of, is implied to have left the family a while ago and it's also likely that he died before the Alaska review. (This is all in-character, of course, Doug's parents are lovely and helpful.)
  • Two versions in Demo Reel, as Tacoma's dad is in jail, and Donnie's dad left when he was little. Both turn out fairly dark, as the former was exposed by Tacoma, making his family hate him, and the latter leaving was partly the catalyst for Donnie's mom to commit suicide.
  • The De Noir family's only son has one in Dusk's Dawn. It turns out he's an evil sorcerer.
  • Erikas New Perfume: So far there has been no mention of the patriarch of the Swanson family in the original story or in any of the sequels or related comics. He does end up appearing eventually. According to the author, there was an ugly divorce, which is why he didn't show up for some time; Veronica (Mrs. Swanson) was likely deliberately avoiding talking about him.
  • In The Gamers Alliance, Omaroch vanished from the lives of his sons Refan and Kareth but later returned to guide them. It turns out he was kidnapped by his brothers who then tortured and brainwashed him to serve the dark god Mardük, and he returned only to use the sons for fulfilling an ancient prophecy about Mardük. He eventually snaps out of it, but by that time it's too late; the damage has already been done, and he has not only lost the trust of his sons but also indirectly causes the Cataclysm and the birth of the Godslayer.
  • Dr. James Melfton of Lightning Dust is the neglectful variation to his son Klaus.
  • Will Scarlett in Sherwood Forest tells Shaima that he was raised by Robin and Marian; if his biological parents are still alive, it hasn't been mentioned. So you can imagine how well it went over when his only father figure took off to fight in a Crusade for two years, leaving Will to fend for himself after Marian was kidnapped.

    Western Animation 
  • As Told by Ginger: Ginger's dad is divorced. And he's been making promises to Ginger and letting her down for years. By the end of the series, he's only visited Ginger a few times, and most of those meetings weren't exactly Kodak moments.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Katara and Sokka started out with a Missing Mom, followed by their father Hakoda becoming a Disappeared Dad when he left to fight the Fire Nation, leaving Gran-Gran doing the raising and a full-on case of Parental Abandonment. Their father does come back, only to have Katara angrily tell him off before they definitely reconcile, and then he is gone again, captured by the Fire Nation.
      • In fact, Katara and Sokka's entire village has a case of Disappeared Dad. All the men have gone off to fight the war against the Fire Nation. All of them. Sokka is the oldest male around.
    • Zuko's father Ozai the Fire Lord only appeared as silhouettes and partial face shots for the first two seasons. Given that he disfigured and banished his only son, he qualifies as the "missing in fulfillment of fatherly duties" sort anyway. Fortunately, Zuko has a substitute father figure in his kind uncle Iroh
    • Aang is a full-on case of Parental Abandonment, as far as anyone knows, but he had some substitute father figures: Monk Gyatso, Avatar Roku.
    • Toph is an almost forced-inversion example. Her parents are present, but sheltered and narrow in their thinking. They're also so inattentive of their "tiny, helpless fragile" child that they leave the overwhelming majority of her caretaking to servants. Because of this, Toph is able to secretly become a master Earthbender under their noses. And upon finding out, instead of being impressed, Mr. Bei Fong tightens the yoke of parental overprotectiveness, which results in Toph abandoning her parents and running away with Aang's group. The trope would later apply to her own daughters, both of whom state that neither of them knew who their fathers were, only that they were sired by two different men.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends
    • Mac and Terrence's father is a Disappeared Dad, though Word of God tells us he's dead.
    • Frankie, however, is a total Parental Abandonment case, as Madame Foster is her grandmother and we see no signs of her parents. Given her age, she just might have moved out of her parents' house, but she has also appeared in old copies of the annual house photo, giving the impression that Madame Foster raised her.
    • Goo on the other hand, is an aversion. Her parents are alive, just mostly offscreen.
  • Johnny Bravo is a Momma's Boy, but there's no mention of what happened to his father.
  • The Powerpuff Girls foe Princess has a father who's present, but he mainly is a walking bankroll who isn't there for her in any way that doesn't involve throwing money at her.
  • Rocket Power
  • In The Weekenders, Tino's father seems to be disappeared.
    • It's later revealed that Tino's mom divorced him, and that he lives on the other side of the country, so he can only visit once or twice a year. He does show up in a few episodes.
  • W.I.T.C.H., Will's father: In the TV series, he returns tries to make amends for being absent so long. However, in the comics Mr. Vandom had a gambling problem so huge it was ruining his family life, so Susan ended divorcing him and moving away to protect Will. He later hired a private investigator and threatened to take custody - only for blackmailing Susan into giving him more money.
  • There's an episode of Batman: The Animated Series wherein the ex-con father of a little girl can turn invisible with some Applied Phlebotinum, which makes him literally a Disappeared Dad. Not only that, but his ex-wife tells him:
  • And then there's Batman Beyond, where Terry McGuinness's father dies before the Third Act of the pilot movie. Then the finale to Justice League Unlimited reveals Bruce Wayne as Terry and his brother Matthew's biological father, due to some genetic tinkering by Amanda Waller.
  • At the start of Home Movies, Brenden's (divorced) dad is an example of this trope, but he then reappears and awkwardly attempts to connect with his son.
    • Until he has a kid with his new wife Linda and disappears again completely
  • In Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, Gadget's father Geegaw is dead.
    "He's not coming back. I lost him over a year ago."
    • Though not explicitly, as her adventurer father could have just as easily been "lost" on an expedition.
  • In Pepper Ann the title character's parents divorced years before the beginning of the series, her father is often mentioned but never shown until the Christmas episode. He does appear in a few episodes after that, though.
  • Skwisgaar Skwigelf of Metalocalypse has no idea who his father is and likely never will, due to his mother, a faded former beauty queen, being... just a TAD promiscuous.
  • In Street Sharks, the disappearance of the protagonists' father is one of the running mysterious. He shows up very briefly in the first episode, during which time he is turned into an unseen monster by his Mad Scientist college, but he never shows up again after that (though he is mentioned in other episodes)
  • An interesting case on ReBoot - Dot and Enzo Matrix's father was responsible for the explosion that nullified Mainframe's twin city, turning everyone there into nulls, mindless energy-draining slugs, as well as splitting the virus that his gateway drew to the system into recurring antagonists Megabyte and Hexadecimal (Hex later begins to think of herself as Dot's sister because of this). The null that was Wellman Matrix was taken by Megabyte to be a pet, referred to as 'Nibbles.' (Or, on one occasion, 'Father.')
  • Professor Membrane from Invader Zim: though he technically is the one raising his kids, he's at the lab so much that many episodes have him communicating with his family through a floating screen (which many fans suspect uses recordings rather than live messages). Their Missing Mom makes this practically a full case of Parental Abandonment.
  • On Phineas and Ferb, no mention is ever made of Phineas and Candace's biological father, though their stepfather cheerfully takes up the role.
  • In Minoriteam, Fasto never knew his father because his mother said she didn't know who he was. As an adult, he discovered his dad was an alien from the planet Blackton and his mom had lied to him the entire time. "Wait, so you pretended you didn't know who my father was? Damn, that's like the opposite of every other kid in the ghetto."
  • The Fairly Oddparents: Cosmo's dad shows up in a home movie, but now Mama Cosma is noticeably single. Crocker also has a single mother, even when he's ten.
    • It was shown that Cosmo turned him into a fly, with possibly no way to reverse it.
  • For having one of the most extensive casts, it becomes all the more noticeable to see the absence of Marge's dad, whose fate has only been casually mentioned.
  • The dingo family's father in Blinky Bill is virtually nonexistant.
  • In Winx Club Bloom suffers from this for the first three seasons. Her birth parents are missing, but she DOES have her adoptive parents.
  • Jonny Quest. Hadji is an orphan whose parents are never mentioned.
    • Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures provides a backstory where Hadji's father was a sickly man and died young. His uncle and cousin force his mother to flee and attempt to have Hadji assassinated. His would-be assassin took pity on the kid instead and later handed him over to Dr. Quest to be given a new life in America.
  • In Hurricanes, the main female character is a teenage girl who inherited a soccer team from her deceased Dad.
  • Wheel Squad: Emilie's biological father is never mentioned. Fortunately her stepfather is happy about filling the role.
  • Lance's father, Edward in Sym-Bionic Titan.
  • It's eventually revealed in Doug that Roger's parents are divorced and his dad lives out of town.
  • Atomic Betty: Betty's mother's father. For 30 years.
    • Also, Sparky's Dad was never mentioned even in episodes where his mom appears.
  • In Teacher's Pet, Leonard's dad never appears nor is mentioned in the series. It could be possible that his dad died or his parents divorced prior to the events of the series.
  • In Western Animation/Scaredy Squirrel, Nester is only seen with his mom. The whereabouts of his dad is unknown.
  • In season 3 of Bro Town, it was discovered that Sione has a missing dad named Ralph Tapili.
  • The Mighty B!: Bessie and Ben are only shown with their mom, Hilary.
  • In Peace on Earth the father of the two squirrel children is nowhere to be seen.


Parental AbandonmentParental IssuesMissing Mom
Dirty Old ManAlways MaleDisguised in Drag
Conveniently an OrphanOrphaned IndexDon't Split Us Up
Disadvantageous DisintegrationAdded Alliterative AppealDisarm, Disassemble, Destroy
Disability as an Excuse for JerkasseryCharacters as DeviceDisaster Scavengers
Broken BirdOverdosed TropesHalf-Human Hybrid
Decoy DamselMen Are ToughDouble Standard: Abuse, Female on Male

alternative title(s): Disappeared Father; Absent Dad; Absent Father; Missing Dad
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