Papa Wolf

aka: Papa Bear

"If you let my daughter go now, that'll be the end of it: I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you."

Paternal instinct can transform a Bumbling Dad into an Action Dad. If someone threatens his kids they will soon wish they'd never come within a mile of them. This is because fathers are expected to take care of their family and this naturally extends to keeping them safe. Such occasions serve as a way for a father to prove his worthiness. (See A Real Man Is a Killer). Expect his children to have a newfound respect for their father and for them to brag that My Dad Can Beat Up Your Dad. If their relationship was previously strained expect it to improve.

Often Papa Wolf incidents serve as a way to reveal that a Non-Action Guy is really a Retired Badass or a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass. In contrast to an Overprotective Dad (who sometimes thinks he's this), a Papa Wolf is always portrayed heroically because the latter is defending their kids from genuine threats instead of imagined ones.

A Team Dad may display a streak of this, but the Papa is more likely to be related to his children by blood or through formal adoption, and the children tend to be younger, which may be part of why the Papa Wolf is more oriented toward protecting them rather than training them to defend themselves. However even completely grown children can summon this response in the face of crisis because they are still his children no matter how old or strong they get.

This is the Spear Counterpart to Mama Bear. When Mama Bear and Papa Wolf team up, no force on earth can stop them.

Subtrope of Beware the Nice Ones. See also A Father to His Men. Combining this with Disproportionate Retribution can lead to a Knight Templar Parent. If the guy is a teacher instead, he's a Badass Teacher. If the guy doing this is a sibling/cousin, you get Big Brother Instinct. Inversely, see Parents in Distress for the kids rescuing the dad. Evil characters can use this too; after all, Even Evil Has Loved Ones. A subtrope of the Papa Wolf is the Badass and Child Duo, where an adult male badass takes it upon himself to protect an orphaned, unrelated young child.

Remember when adding examples that this is a male only trope. The female equivalent is "Mama Bear" so all Distaff Counterparts should be placed there.


Alternative Title(s):

Papa Bear, Papa Wolves