Fantasy-Forbidding Father aka: Fantasy-Forbidding Father
A father, mother, or guardian (these last two are less common) disapproves of their child or ward reading "fairy stories", playing fantasy or scifi games, sports, and even such "useless" hobbies as astronomy, boxing and being literate. In extreme cases, anything the child likes that isn't directly and concretely tied to whatever it is their dad does for a living (or that he wants them to do for a living) is seen as an utter waste. The dad may even break, burn or sell anything of this nature their child owns, possibly even punishing or locking them up.
"Fantasy" in this trope isn't about the genre, but "fantasy" from the father's perspective. To the Overprotective Dad, any and all of these "distractions" are a Tragic Dream waiting to happen that will ruin their child's chances at life. For narrative purposes, this is basically anything that the kid likes that'll move the plot forward via alienating them from their dad (possible later reconciliation optional but heartwarming), which puts the Fantasy-Forbidding Father into an antagonist role, though with rare exceptions he is not a true villain.
What's cruelest about this attitude is he probably does hold his child's best interests at heart, but is too close-minded to consider that there are many valid careers and hobbies for their child, and that they are capable of choosing for themselves. In these cases the dad does come around to accepting their child's interests and vocation with a little coaxing. A more sinister possibility is the dad is trying to somehow make their child co-dependent or at least clip their wings so they never leave or get out from under his thumb, either forcing them to follow a family legacy or just out of sheer malice.
Unfortunately, this is Truth in Television.
See also "Well Done, Son" Guy. Compare Education Mama. A close-minded Caretaker usually takes this attitude. Keep an ear out for "You Watch Too Much X."
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
In Otomen, the main character Asuka secretly loves knitting, embroidery, cute things, cooking and girls' manga. It's a secret, because Asuka's a guy, and his mother constantly warns him he must be manly, lest he ends up like his father who decided he wanted to be a woman and consequently left Asuka's mother.
Yu-Gi-Oh!: A flashback reveals that Gozaburo asked his adopted Kaiba what he would do if he was in charge of Kaiba Corp. Kaiba says that he wants to make Kaibaland (which is very much like Disneyland) for kids to enjoy. However, Gozaburo is an Arms Dealer, so he is completely unable to comprehend such a thing. So he decided to take away Kaiba's toys. Considering that Gozaburo was very abusive towards Seto Kaiba at least, this would indicate that he simply wanted to keep Seto under his thumb.
That Kaiba eventually overthrows him is laser guided karma, that he would eventually build Kaibaland and it was successful is desecrating the grave of somebody who deserved it
Hiroko's father in AKB49 - Renai Kinshi Jourei strongly disapproves of her aspiration to become an Idol Singer, which led to a heated confrontation between him and her when he found out that she had joined an idol group.
RanmaOneHalf's Genma Saotome often gets this in Fan Fic; it's a logical extension of the character's canon attitudes. Most often used in deconstructive/more realistic versions so that Ranma has a credible reason to break away from martial arts and try to do something else with his/her life, because supposedly he'd been bullied into his martial arts excellence unwillingly by Genma.
While they're not related, Tsubasa and Angie from Asu no Yoichi! fit this trope fairly well. Angie, The Caretaker for Tsubasa, tries to keep anything that doesn't advance the latter's learning of martial arts away (such as manga), to the point where Tsubasa has a breakdown in one fight and basically cries I Just Want to Be Normal, after she experiences what its like to be a normal schoolgirl for one day.
In Ouran High School Host Club anime, Kyouya's father actually slaps him when he finds out exactly what his son's after-school club is about. In the manga, Tamaki's father forces the club to shut down briefly near the end, but it's subverted later when it's revealed that he likes the Host Club, and was only shutting them down as part of a plan to get his mother to step down as head of the company.
Nagisa's father in AKB0048 is initially dead set against his daughter becoming an Idol Singer, but it's hard to blame him when he lives in a Crapsack World where music is outlawed and the Culture Police tend to shoot first and ask questions later, and his concerns are more about his daughter's safety than anything else.
In Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo, Nanami's parents does not support Nanami's aspirations to be a voice actress, which forced her to work for her own expenses in Tokyo. Sorata wonders if her Plucky Girl personality arises from this.
In Saki, Nodoka's father doesn't think much of Mahjong, saying that it's purely a game of luck, that training camps are a waste of time and that the friends Nodoka makes through it won't be of any use in a "hick town" like where she lives. He seems to tolerate her playing mahjong as long as it doesn't interfere with anything more important, and reluctantly decides to "consider" letting her stay where she is if she wins the nationals, though.
The prequel, Saki Shinohayu Dawn Of Age'' has Shino's uncle, who tells her to get over Mahjong. He even tries to sell the Mahjong set which they used to play Mahjong together with (failing because it's missing a tile)— and by 'they', this includes Shino's disappeared mom, as he believes that Mahjong will only serve to remind Shiho of her mother's absence and cause her pain. Ultimately, after seeing her participating in a tournament and enjoying herself despite not winning, he apologizes and returns the set.
In Girls und Panzer, Hana's mother is horrified by her pursuing tankery because she, head of the Isuzu school of flower arrangement, considers tanks barbaric, and disowns Hana when she makes it clear that she will not abandon it. She later undergoes Character Development, reconciles with Hana after admitting that participating in tankery has helped her flower arranging, and actually seems to enjoy the match between Oarai and Black Forest.
A few parents in Bakuman。 dislike their children getting involved in manga for various reasons, such as Mashiro's mother (out of the belief that she doesn't think he could succeed), and Shiratori's mother (who dislikes manga and thinks it would bring harm to the Shiratori family reputation).
Walter of ClanDestine disapproves of Rory and Pandora's superhero aspirations, going so far as to threaten to have them raised separately in order to negate their Wonder Twin Powers until they're adults. However, while he does think that "superhero" is an impractical job choice, he's also worried that they could get hurt — they're twelve years old at this point. There's also the risk that someone could find out about the family through the twins' activities — the last time that happened, two of the Clan died. In this case, the eventual solution is a compromise: the kids get to continue their superhero careers, but only when an adult relative can chaperone them.
Dr. Manhattan's father in Watchmen could be seen as an example, or technically a Fantasy-Fostering Father. His son is at first eager to follow in his footsteps as a watchmaker, but he forces him to abandon this (by throwing his tools out the window of their apartment) and pursue a career as a nuclear scientist after the Atom bomb is dropped at the end of WWII. His father's reasoning was based on Einstein: what use is a watchmaker if time is an illusion? Interestingly enough, the chapter ends with Einstein's quote about how he should have become a watchmaker if he had known what his research would lead to.
In the prequel miniseries Before Watchmen: Nite Owl, young Dan Dreiberg's father burns all of his Nite Owl stuff because he doesn't like the boy's obsession with the superhero. (Incidentally, mini-series writer J. Michael Straczynski had the same thing happen to him as a kid.)
Wonder Girl's mother in Young Justice is a brilliant archaeologist who puts a lot of pressure on her daughter to excel. She's overall a supporting parent, but is very hesitant and strict when her daughter becomes a superhero, making sure she doesn't neglect her schoolwork. At one point, she even gains the ability to take away Cassie's powers if she needs to, making her a literal example of this trope. The two are estranged for a while when Wonder Girl is older, but eventually reconcile.
In the Girls und Panzer fanfic, Girls und Panzer, to the sky, Chris Walsh's father doesn't like him getting involved in dogfighting, saying "You are a Walsh, you do not partake in such violent activities," and has him transferred to Oarai, which has no dogfighting program. Fortunately for Chris, Oarai decided to restart its dogfighting program the year he came, not unlike how it restarted tankery the year Miho came in canon.
In DOOM: Repercussions of Evil, John Stalvern has a flashback to when he was a child, where he tells his father about wanting to "be on the spaceship" and fight monsters. His father tells him not to, as he "will BE KILL BY DEMONS". Though this is somewhat justified, as his forbidding was more out of concern for his son's well-being. He grows up to fight monsters anyway.
Film - Animation
Epic has an inversion, the father is looking for proof of fairies while the daughter would rather he focus on the here and now of the real world, since his obsession ruined his career and marriage.
The Secret of Kells has the Abbot and uncle to Brendan, who is (reasonably) worried about a Viking invasion and wants the entire abbey to focus all of its energy into building a wall. He looks down on every creative endeavor Brendan has, and finally locks him in after he goes into the woods too many times and works on illuminated manuscripts. Interestingly for this trope, he comes to regret his decision immensely once the Vikings invade anyway and he believes Brendan to have been killed. He spends years living in misery over the regret. Early character designs even had him as the main antagonist.
In Disney's Tangled, Mother Gothel kept Rapunzel's desire to leave the tower she was living/prisoner in in check for most of her life by a combination of belittling her and telling terrifying tales of the outside. In this variation, however, Gothel has no interest in protecting Rapunzel's feelings or well-being, and keeping her in the tower is directly related to Gothel's own gain.
In Kronks New Groove, Kronk's father was shown to be this, disapproving of his dreams of being a chef. In the end though, he comes to accept his son's lifestyle since he has a lot of friends (and a girlfriend).
The lord of Swamp Castle in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, who won't let his son sing (or do anything else except marry the girl with great tracts of land that he's picked out).
Actually the son's not fit for doing much of anything else.
Homer "John" Hickam Sr. in October Sky discourages his son's interest in building rockets and tries to get him to accept his destiny as a coal miner like almost every other man in town. He gets better at the end, though.
Rad has the mom disapprove of her son's BMX'ing, and doesn't want him to participate in a local competition. The reason? It might interfere with him taking his SAT test months down the line. It wasn't even a question of the son having to balance school and biking, just random opposition to pad the movie.
In School of Rock, Zach's dad forbids him from playing rock music and insists on him only playing assigned classical guitar pieces, which doesn't exactly make sense as part of learning classical guitar is all the possible styles and genres you can play in.
Though his reasoning was rather illogical. He seems to believe that Luke + leaving the house to see the galaxy = automatically becoming the a Sith, when Luke didn't even know anything about the Force prior to Obi-Wan telling him.
Step Brothers: Robert mentions that his dad made him give up being a dinosaur at age seventeen so he could get a job. ("But you're a human. You could never be a dinosaur.")
In Super 8, deputy Jackson Lamb felt his son helping with the costuming and makeup of friend's film hobby was something to be outgrown, and was intending on sending his son to a baseball camp for maladjusted kids. Eventually after a lot of outside pressure piled up on him (and his son befriended the daughter of the man he blamed for his wife's death) he forbade him from associating with them again. Most of this was due to him being emotionally disconnected from his son after his wife's death.
In Pan's Labyrinth, Ofelia is chided for reading too many fairy stories when she's supposed to have outgrown them.
In Sister Act II, Rita's mother is determined to squash her dreams of becoming a singer. She won't even allow her to join the school choir as an extra curricular because she thinks she should be spending all her time studying to get into a good college.
Which is a little misguided, when you consider that college admissions isn't just about your GPA and SAT numbers, and participating in extra-curricular activities can help.
Rita's mom also objects on the ground that her husband pursued a career in music and was an utter failure.
A milder example; Doris Walker (Maureen O'Hara) in Miracle on 34th Street didn't expose her daughter to fairy tales, believing that she should be truthful with her child. While her decision in this regard was informed by her backstory, she was never cruel to her daughter, just pragmatic.
Robert, the little girl's father in Enchanted has a similar attitude; he discourages his daughter's interest in fairy tales by playing up the heroic achievements of real women such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Harriet Tubman. Even with his disillusionment about "happily ever after", Robert's ideas actually make sense for raising a girl in these days.
A Little Princess: as in the book, the power of storytelling is a major theme, but Miss. Minchin's opposition to it is all the more pronounced in the film. In the book she flatters all of Sara's tendencies, including her imagination, until the girl falls from grace. In the film, she is outraged from the start at Sara's flights of fancy and just gets all the more enraged when she finds that Sara's imagination has survived the reversal of fortune. Minchin believes in the girls learning to be 'productive and useful' where the story shows how Sara's imagination is her last and best weapon against degradation and despair.
Mama Boucher in The Waterboy ("You playin' the foosball behind my back Bobby Boucher?!!")
Dangerous Minds: One student's mother pulls him out of high school because he's being taught poetry, when she needs him to get a job to support the family.
Parodied in Yellowbeard. Betty disapproves of her son Dan reading books because the last time she read a book she was raped.
Played straight in the film adaptation of The Neverending Story - Bastian's father in the opening scene tells his son to get his head out of the clouds because he's failing in school as a result. In the end, if not for Bastian's vivid imagination Fantasia would have been destroyed forever.
In High School Musical Troy's dad is a downplayed variant. He disapproves of Troy becoming a singer, but (unlike Troy's jock friends) does not try to sabotage him.
Many a heroine of a Pony Tale was saddled (no pun intended) with parents like these, when they weren't obstructive in some other way to her dream of becoming an equestrian.
In Born To Run, book one of Mercedes Lackey's SERRAted Edge novels, Tania ran away from home because her parents strictly forbade her from having any form of entertainment - no media or activities that weren't purely educational, no foods that weren't chosen based on nutritional fads. When they discovered and burned her tiny stash of fantasy novels, lecturing her about her "betrayal" and how reading such things would ruin her mind and prevent her from being accepted into college, it was the last straw. (The end of the book suggests that they realized their mistake after she ran away, and presents Tania's upcoming reunion with them in a hopeful light.)
In the Earthsea Trilogy, Ged's father, a blacksmith, is always telling him his fantasies will do him no good, and that learning to make a living as a blacksmith is the only realistic way for Ged to get by in the world. He's proven wrong when Ged becomes a wizard.
Of course, one might consider the whole Eldritch Abomination incident to be an argument in his father's favour...
Thomas Gradgrind in Charles Dickens' Hard Times. He's got a utilitarian's love of Fact, and regards poetry and fiction as "destructive nonsense". His views have bad consequences for his daughter Louisa, who represses her emotions and enters a loveless marriage with her father's business associate.
The Dursleys throughout Harry Potter, especially Uncle Vernon. He very specifically tried to crush the potential for magic out of Harry with all sorts of means.
Matilda: Matilda's parents not only don't understand her love of reading over watching brainless gameshows and soap operas all day. Her father even goes as far to rip to pieces a library book she'd borrowed in front of her. Then there is the scene where her mother explains to her teacher Miss Honey why she thinks being pretty is more important than education. They much prefer her brother who is being trained to take over his father's used car place.
Michael's father in the Knight and Rogue Series does not approve of his youngest son going off and playing Knight Errant. His first major attempt to force Michael to quit is to legally require him to become a steward, and when Michael still refuses he has his son branded as a criminal and stripped of legal rights to try and eliminate all options other than being steward.
Yanus, Menolly's father in the Harper Hall Trilogy of Dragonriders of Pern was this way. Because centuries-old cultural tradition held that women could not become Harpers, Menolly's musical talent inconvenienced and embarrassed him. She disgraced him and his Hold simply by existing. He once beat her with a belt across her back for playing one measure of her own creation when she was supposed to be playing a traditional ballad.
Anais Nin recounts a Real Life example of a fantasy-forbidding mom in The All-Seeing. Writing about a friend, possibly the occultist Jean Carteret, Anais talks about his collections of exotic objects, then says:
A violin hung on his wall. His violin nailed to the wall and never touched since the day his mother had said to him: "So you failed to get the prize you struggled for? You're hurt, you're humiliated, but I'm happy. Now you will stop playing the violin and wasting your life. You will be a man like your father, not a fiddler. I'm very glad you did not win the prize. You would have gone to Paris to study and become a good-for-nothing. We never had musicians in our family." With one phrase she had destroyed his first passion. He hung his violin on the wall. The strings snapped gradually and hung dead... He is condemned to wander outside of his violin, yet in every object around him I could place my ear and hear the music his mother was unable to silence."
Dean Koontz has a rather tragic variation: The Twilight Before The Dawn features a severely atheist father determined to raise his son with the same views. The man's wife dies and the young son begins trying to pray, to his father's angry frustration. When the little boy gets cancer and then dies the father still refuses to accept the boy's hope and faith until far later.
Randyll Tarly of A Song of Ice and Fire is a particularly vicious example, who attempts to jolt his soft, overweight, book-loving son Samwell away from reading and into manlier pursuits by any means necessary. He even goes as far as chaining him to a wall for three days for the horrible crime of wanting to be a maester. When his efforts don't pay off, he gives Sam the choice of forsaking his birthright and being packed off to the Wall, or be involved in a "hunting accident".
Legacy of the Dragokin: Daniar doesn't want Benji to follow in her foot steps so she does everything she can to keep him away from battle and danger.
In Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Dreams, the protagonist's (single) never read her and her sister any stories, but just taught them facts. (Though, in the present, when the kids are grown up, he seems pretty mild-mannered.) The girls managed to use their imaginations, anyway, to the extent of "We are from Zanzibar, we are from Ireland, our mother is the Queen of Potatoes."
Prince Caspian's evil uncle Miraz is this to Caspian, regarding the tales of old Narnia:
"That's all nonsense, for babies...Only fit for babies, do you hear? You're getting too old for that sort of stuff. At your age you should be thinking about battles and adventures, not fairy tales."
Justified (from the story's perspective, anyway) by the fact that Miraz along with most of the rest of the Telmarine leadership wants to stamp out the memory of the fact that they stole the land from the talking beasts who had lived there before.
Live Action TV
Smallville: The end of the Pilot Movie sets up the Monster of the Week for the next episode, a teenager who's really into bugs - collecting, classifying, etc. A budding entymologist. His mother dislikes his hobby, partially on the grounds that he can't make a living at it.
Well, that and the fact that he spent a lot of his time stalking and peeping on Lana, complete with videotapes.
Mike Chang's father on Glee. They temporarily disown each other when Mike refuses to quit the school musical.
The Star Trek: Voyager episode "Tattoo" has Chakotay's father be against him leaving his tribe and abandoning their ways to join Starfleet. SF Debris noted the racist overtones of the prohibition.
This whole story is structured to make it seem like Chakotay was just some stubborn teenager who couldn't accept the wisdom that his father was trying to instill in him. And yet we have seen this scene so many times before— reversed. For some reason this time we're supposed to be on the side of the isolationist zealot. "All good indian boys shouldn't ask questions and should just blindly follow their elders."
In Freaks and Geeks, all Nick wants to do is play drums, but his father sells his drum set "for his own good," causing Nick to move out of the house.
Shawn's father in Psych rarely lets his son have any fun. He especially hates Shawn reading comic books, as they usually depict cops as useless in order to justify vigilante justice meted out by superheroes. Being a cop himself, he sees no other future for his son.
Inverted in Political Animals - Bud genuinely wishes his son TJ would find a career path that involves the piano, as it's clear that he enjoys playing, and it's far healthier than his other hobbies (like drugs and affairs with married men.) Unfortunately, TJ finds the notion of a stable, happy life boring.
Disney's Believe on the Disney Cruise Line has a milder version in Dr. Greenaway, who at least TRIES to accept his daughter's belief in magic. He's just a little too scientific to believe in magic and it takes Genie showing up to help him learn
World of Warcraft's King Varian Wrynn is this regarding his son's class choice, wanting him to be a warrior like he is rather than the priest Anduin wants to be. At one point in the novel Wolfheart we literally see him thinking about how he needs to start discouraging his son from spending so much time with their religion, which is "obviously a bad influence".
Raz's father in Psychonauts, who is opposed to him learning to use his psychic powers. He's only trying to protect Raz from his family's enemies by keeping him out of the world of psychics, and is actually a psychic himself.
Garrus' father in Mass Effect is mentioned as hating Spectres for having nearly unlimited power but very little government oversight. He apparently pulled some strings to prevent Garrus from pursuing this career after his mandatory military service was up, so he could join C-Sec like he did.
In a comic focused on Garrus, he remembers his childhood, with his father teaching him to shoot. As he's defending his HQ from three gangs on Omega, he calls his father to say good-bye and tell him he was right. When asked why the rush, Garrus replies that there are too many targets. His father immediately brushes off any attempts at father-son reconciliation and goes all business on him: how many targets? what are their tactics? Then Garrus sees an N7 uniform in his scope and tell his father he'll call him back.
Sakuya Le Bel Shirogane is forbidden from plebian pursuits like the arts by his birdy bigot father, who convinces him that the Le Bel family must prove their status by remaining Idle Rich. Sakuya has a passion (and a talent) for music, which he represses unless the heroine pursues him and hones her Charisma to persuade him to chase his dreams, which gets him disowned.
ThunderCats (2011) has Claudus feel this way towards Lion-O's fascination with mythical technology in Thundera's world of Medieval Stasis. Of course, it comes in very handy once it's revealed that there are pockets of Lost Technology in the outside, and the Big Bad is invading with it. He then proceeds to realize the "trinkets" he's been repairing on and off for years are time bombs and uses them to tear through enemy tanks and allow his and his allies' escape. Of course, had Claudus known his son was tinkering with bombs without first knowing what they were, he'd have been very justified in his opinion but for entirely different reasons.
The antagonist of Tinker Bell & The Great Fairy Rescue is Lizzy's father, an overly skeptical scientist who gives her grief for her 'flights of fancy'. When he learns she's filled her journal with everything she's learned about fairies, he starts ripping down all her pictures and throwing everything all, claiming it's 'high time she grows up'. Because being nine years old clearly equals adulthood.
A variation/deliberate subversion in the South Park "High School Musical" parody; musical star/Zac Efron Expy Brydon's dad is a Camp Gay musical enthusiast who is outraged that his son wants to play basketball.
This is a recurring trend on King of the Hill, where Hank's reaction to whatever Bobby's current interest is varies somewhere between annoyance, shame, and outrage. How extreme of a Fantasy-Forbidding Father Hank is varies from episode to episode; sometimes it's just a quick sigh for the audience's amusement and sometimes it's trying to urge Bobby to stop. But when Hank is being particularly close-minded and shaming of whatever Bobby's into that week, he'll usually learn to appreciate his son and the two of them will share a tender moment (with Bobby often learning that his father wasn't so much trying to bust his chops as he was trying to protect him from becoming a target for bullies). One episode took this literally when Bobby began to get absorbed by a Fantasy book series in the B-Plot and Hank repeatedly told him to stop reading it in favor of a typical Boy's Adventure book.
Episode 2 of Become Jehovahs Friend has the mother (who looks like Mel from Coraline) successfully guilt her son Caleb into throwing away a plastic Sparlock the Warrior Wizard toy on the grounds that God hates magic.
Mr. Wilter of ChalkZone has this opinion regarding cartoons. Though at least one episode shows that he does have a point (he gives Rudy lunch detention so that he can finish the assignment that they were given before summer vacation, which Rudy spent drawing a comic book of an adventure he had in Chalk Zone that no one in class would think actually happened.)
Parodied at the end of The Simpsons episode "The President Wore Pearls" where Homer shoots down all of Lisa's dreams out of laziness (driving 45 minutes to take her to a fancy new school, getting up at 6:30am).
One episode of Sponge Bob Square Pants showed that Neptune was like this to his son Triton, who didn't want to be a chaos bringer. Eventually, Neptune trapped him a cage and left him on an island. When Triton was finally freed by SpongeBob, he was so consumed by revenge that he devastated Bikini Bottom, which surprisingly, caused Neptune to be proud of him and for them to make up.